Just came back from watching two films by acclaimed turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and I'm not quite sure what to make of it. Despite travelling problems - though the films were shown in the same city i live, i travelled 1and1/2 hours there and 3 1/2h back - i nevertheless enjoyed 4 1/2h of european auteur cinema.
First I have to admit that I had very high expectations, especially for Uzak, (which must have won almost all major film awards it seems) and also a bit for "Clouds in May".
Though Uzak imo isn't quite the masterpiece it could have been, the themes of alienation in a big city are presented in an original way. A director who has lost (and maybe betrayed9 all his former ideals (He wanted to make films like Tarkovski once) lives in Istanbul, where a male relative comes to stay with him for a short time, searching for work, and turning the loners regulated and terribly boring and redundantive life upside-down. Confronted with his despicable self and his cynism, the protagonist (great performance by Mustafa zdemir) must at the end realize that his life(concept) has failed, while the visitor returns as suddenly as he has appeared. In one very impressive sscene the protagonist is shown with his great fear of life and love, his wounded heart and the scars that he's received during his life at once exposed. It is only a minute in a car in the midst of a breathtaking countryside, and two or three words of dialogue. In between we see two short talks with the ex-wife who is moving with her new husband to Canada to start a new life. At the first of the two meetings she tells the protagonist, that she can't have children any more, probably because of a former abortion during her divorce with the protagonist. This most intimate scene in the whole film is filmed static (as the whole film) and very laid back, with no change in the framing, mise-en scene, lightning, or anything else than where Ceylan has filmed the characters watching TV. The very static takes and minimalist dialogue establish a mood in the film that is at the same time hyper-realistic and hyper-sensitive/, somewhere between Kiarostami, Ozu and Bergman. There is also a dream sequence in the film, which hardly stands out from the rest. Under a carpet of snow the films Istanbul seems like an unidentifiable moloch that sucks out the souls of its inhabitants, while seemingly staying the same over the year. As one character exclaims in "Clouds in May" one cannot distinguish the seasons in Istanbul. The characters are helplessly lost and trapped in their lives and any escape is only an escape from oneself. Nevertheless at the end of the film there is almost a feeling of hope, as a new day begins, if not for the protagonist, at least for the viewer who has learned a life lesson in only two hours in the dark.
Clouds in May from 1998 Ceylan's second film (about the filming of his first) must be somehow the second part of an (until now?) unofficial trilogy, with Uzak at its end. The same protagonists are presented here though not yet as disillusioned and estranged by life. Three generations are presented in this tale of birth and death, showcasing nature and mans place in it he tries to find. While shooting a fake documentary the protagonist fails to record (Ceylan does it instead for us) the wonders of life happening around himself, and is unable to connect with his fellow people. Traditions are vanishing, family's fAlling appart, in short, life is moving on without anybody noticing. At the end we have a beautiful finale where the sense and fulfillment of one life are shown, and the viewer is released with a feeling that he has somehow become a better person.
Now 7 hours later at 7 o'clock in the morning the two films appear to be better than when i saw them.
Strange, how writing about a film can change our opinions of it.
My initial rating of **1/4 / **** for clouds in may has jumped from **1/2 / **** two hours ago, to **3/4 / ****, and Uzak is Now on ***1/2 / **** and maybe a masterpiece after all...
I'll report if my opinion of the films will be even higher tomorrow :lol :lo:eek