Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

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Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:08 am

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Re: Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Jul 06, 2007 5:14 am

KASABA (Turkey / 1998)



Narratively abstract and formally austere, Kasaba (The Small Town), the debut feature from Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is based on a short autobiographical story by his sister. Set in a provincial Turkish town (much like Ceylans earlier short, Cocoon [1995]), the film seamlessly unfolds over four seasons and poignantly touches upon the lives of three generations of an extended family. A classroom is the primary setting of the opening winter segment. Ceylans exquisite B&W establishing shots of the snow-covered hills and streets come into play as a morose teacher gazes outside at the sterile environment, while the children are heard reciting words that deal with the notions of companionship and mutual support. Next, we follow a couple of kids, including the young girl earlier witnessed at school, as they walk home through the fields. Spring is in full swing. The wondrous elements of nature get refracted through the psychology of children. Most of the films second-half consists of a conversation between the elder members of the kids family who are gathered around a fire (featuring Ceylan's real-life parents Fatma and Mehmet Emin, parts of this segment exert their presence in the director's subsequent effort, Clouds of May [2000]). The cousin (played by late Mehmet Emin Toprak, a prominant figure in Clouds and Distant [2002]), who was earlier seen adrift in an amusement park, is an aimless and disaffected young man trying to escape the static village life but doesnt have many other options. The discussion, listened to by the half-asleep kids, evolves from distant history to the realities of modern day Turkey, ultimately focusing on personal values and responsibilities. Ceylans reality-based aesthetic takes a back seat during the impressionistic, dream-like sequence which follows. It perfectly bookends this elegant and graceful film from a burgeoning authority in world cinema.

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*KASABA premiered at the 1998 Berlin Film Festival. Now available as part of a 2-disc set from Artificial-Eye (U.K.).
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Re: Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby A » Thu Jul 26, 2007 2:25 pm

Clouds of May (Turkey / 1998)



Mayis sikintisi 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 as in Uzak 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 he tries to find in it.
While shooting a fake documentary the protagonist fails to record the wonders of life happening around himself - Ceylan does it instead for us - and is unable to connect with his fellow people. Traditions are vanishing, families are 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.

My initial thoughts on this film. My comments are a bit sparse, and my response to the film wasn't entirely positive. During the screening I saw (a double-bill that included "Distant") I had to eke out an access to it. My problem was the unsympathetic male protagonist (portrayed as maybe an even bigger @#%$ in Uzak). Thinking about it now, it seems that Ceylan's films are to me some of the most sickeningly melancholic films I've seen. I'm an extremely melancholic person myself, and as such it's very hard to enjoy his offerings. Ceylan's latest film isn't an exception.

The best I can say about him is that he is self-reflective and sometimes achieves the poetic mood in Orhan Pamuk's novels. "Clouds of May" gets better with time, and I'm sure it's one of the films which gain much on subsequent viewings. His films also say a lot about present day Turkey in a similar fashion Kiarostami is dealing with his native Iran in his films from the 90s.

Ceylan may present embittered characters, but he himself is not without hope.
A
 

Re: Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:01 pm

Hey, don't copy my style.

I spent quite a bit of time researching the true world premiere year for Clouds of May. You mentioned 1998, which isn't listed a lot but I've seen it before. Mostly, it's 1999, which is what Artificial-Eye has used. But on Ceylan's official site, it's noted that the film had its WP at the 2000 Berlinale. That said, the site also uses 1999 at other points. But at a recent retro, 2000 was the year catalogued by Mr. Quandt, and that pretty much solidified my stance.
arsaib4
 

Re: Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby A » Thu Jul 26, 2007 11:55 pm

I've noticed your listing of the date in the thread's title, but as you might know, I always use a film's year of completion as my point of reference. I'd be glad if we could keep both (with this explanation the reader also sees where the differing dates are coming from).

I adapted your style, because you opened the thread and I thought it would look unitary. I'm glad you appreciate it
A
 

Re: Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Jul 27, 2007 2:13 am

In fact, I wasn't aware of your policy. How do you usually come up with the year of completion and, more importantly, what purpose does it serve?
arsaib4
 

Re: Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby A » Fri Jul 27, 2007 4:50 am

If I don't see it on the actual print (usually at the end or the beginning), I try to find out through research. It works pretty well in most cases. The difficulty gets bigger, the older the film.

It doesn't serve any particular purpose. I just never understood why the date a film was released is used, instead of the date it was copyrighted (imo that means the film was finished as a complete work at that point). I think it's more important to know when a film was made than when it was seen by a wider audience.
A
 

Re: Ceylan x 2: Kasaba (1998) & Clouds of May (2000)

Postby arsaib4 » Fri Jul 27, 2007 5:22 am

It doesn't matter whether a film is seen by a "wider audience" or not. The world premiere occurs when a work receives a public screening. Needless to say, the term can't be contorted to include the so-called completion date, which in some cases is long after the premiere. (Sokurov just edited The Second Circle, so should we reconsider the year it should be recognized by? No, of course not.) While I certainly give more weight to the WP, it's not all black and white: many communist-era films didn't receive a screening for decades.
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