Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

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Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby A » Tue Jun 21, 2005 4:18 am

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
A
 


Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby trevor826 » Tue Jun 21, 2005 3:54 pm

Uzak has some great moments, it also made me think, it's so easy to give up on your goals and settle into a routine existence which is why I described it as a wake up call for the middle-aged in a previous (now lost) post. It's a grower of a film as well, I wasn't too sure how I felt after seeing it the first time but elements of it stuck in my mind and I found I appreciated and enjoyed it more on subsequent viewings. I haven't seen any of the directors other films but I would like to.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby arsaib4 » Tue Jun 21, 2005 10:43 pm

Good reviews, A. I prefer Ceylan's earlier work (Kasaba/Clouds of May) over Uzak. It just felt overly familiar to me. Kiarostami of course have been an influence, but for stretches it felt like I was watching a Tsai-Ming Liang film set in Istanbul.
arsaib4
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby trevor826 » Wed Jun 22, 2005 6:20 am

I can see the similiarity with Tsai-Ming Liang, although at times I felt I was watching a Kaurismki film, the difference for me is I could unfortunately associate more with the central character in Uzak, not something I'm too happy about.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby A » Fri Jun 24, 2005 7:22 am

Yes, Tsai Ming-liang is a good comparison, though I find his characters and views more subtle. My initial enthusiasm has worn off a bit again, but the two films were a good double-feature. I could also associate myself with the central character, but he was very unsympathetic (is that a word?) to me, meaning I didn't like him at all :)
A
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jun 24, 2005 10:04 am

the difference for me is I could unfortunately associate more with the central character in Uzak

By this I meant he's everything I don't want to be but everything we could all easily slip into, losing your dreams and ideals and living everyday in a dull routine.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby A » Fri Jun 24, 2005 6:25 pm

Yes, I agree with that. It's also what I meant, only with a bad tendency, if I look at myself...
A
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby trevor826 » Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:07 pm

Originally posted by Sara 9/25/05

What an interesting film. Lots of snowy scenes - adding to the loneliness one feels here - and distance between people - if only they would talk to each other. So much introspection and introversion.

Ceylan was a great lover of Tarkovsky. And there were clips on the TV set (that the character was watching) of Stalker and Solaris - (when the character didn't switch it to a porno DVD!)

There were long takes of the faces and you could feel their thoughts. Things were paced beautifully.

Ceylan is a bit like Bresson, I think, in that he does not use "actors." And there is not a lot of talking.

The scenes are beautiful - especially the snow scenes and those by the river with the boat going by.

It moves slowly. And there is humor. But I was left with a feeling of loneliness at the end.

Included on the DVD is a short film by the director called "Cocoon" (or "Koza" 1995) that featured the director's mother and father (both old) and a young boy. Black and white. Please, if it is on the DVD you see, tell me what in h*** it is about. I am lost on this.

But Distant is good, and I recommend it. The faces are beautiful.

I have not told you about the plot or reviewed the film. Go to IMDB for that.

Or maybe some of you have seen it and will talk about it here.

Sara
trevor826
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby trevor826 » Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:09 pm

Originally posted 9/26/05

Koza (1995) (Cocoon) seems to me to be full of reflective memories brought to life by the surrounding sounds and images. I would guess that the child we see was the old man and though we often see the woman, she has either moved or passed away.

The photos, sounds and sights collectively trigger these responses in someone alone and left with a lifetime of memories wrapped up in his own cocoon.

As for Uzak - Distant, I enjoyed the film, surprisingly so did my sons. It has certainly taken a lot of influences from elsewhere including films from directors such as Tsai Ming-liang and Tarkovsky of course.

Cheers Trev.
trevor826
 

Re: Uzak + Clouds in May - not quite a review + Koza (Turkey)

Postby trevor826 » Mon Jul 23, 2007 1:12 pm

Originally posted by Sara 9/27/05

Thanks, trevor, for the insight into Koza. I need to see it again sometime. Somehow I thought the boy was Ceylan - as the credits say both the man and woman are his parents. But even so, what you say about being alone in a cocoon makes sense to me.

Glad you liked Distant. I had never heard of Ceylan, and from now on I will be on the lookout for any new films he directs.

Sara
trevor826
 

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