Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
A group of men set out in search of a dead body in the Anatolian steppes.
There is a scene in this film, a background scene, that completely encapsulated the film for me.
It is a scene of two shopkeepers judiciously sweeping the bits of sidewalk and road immediately in front of their place of business. In between the two sweepers lies a huge mound of sand.
No matter how many times they sweep, within minutes any trace of their work will have disappeared.
It will have made no difference.
They keep sweeping.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan takes a microscopic look at the mundane in the form of a crime. A murder has been committed. A man is dead. All those involved in the business of crime, from the criminal to the prosecutor to the police to…
This movie is slow. It's dark. It's foreign. And it's 157 minutes long. But don't run away just yet. Because there's a lot to appreciate here. Starting of course with its deliberate and contemplative slow pacing that fits like a glove for the type of film this is and the type of mood it tries to convey. The film takes place during a night and day and it follows a group of men in search of a recently buried corpse. The group consists of police officers, gendarmerie forces, the two prime suspects, a doctor and a prosecutor. During this search we come to know these people and get a glimpse inside their lives, what are they like, what interests them,…
This is my first meeting with a Nuri Bilge Ceylan film, and I was not disappointed. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a long, tiresome and difficult watch, and perhaps not for the restless, but it is a masterpiece, and the best of it's kind.
Through the night, three cars carry a small group of men around in the rural surroundings of the Anatolian town Keskin, in search of a buried body. The group involves police officers, a doctor, a prosecutor, two grave diggers, army forces, and two brothers, both homicide suspects. The darkness and the seemingly visual indistinctness of the barren landscape do not help, each spot looks the same.
It's an uncompromising film, seemingly possessed by some…
There is a magical sequence in Once Upon A Time In Anatolia that has a dream like quality and works like some fresh air in a movie filled with linguistic violence, skepticism, despair and hopelessness: in the middle of a dark night a young girl enters the room with a lamp and serves the guests with glasses of tea. The girl’s beauty, innocence and honest look is the only source of hope and faith in this movie, it is the sequence that I will never forget.
This is not an easy movie to watch, it is 150 minutes long and it has a quite slow pace, but the main thing that makes…
Not a traditional crime story by any stretch, but this kind of slow-art-film-meets-procedural has its own set of traditions (just one other example in this subgenre would be Police, Adjective). This is a beautifully shot and composed film, though, and it does manage to throw in more than its share of real surprises. There's a sequence involving the elusive corpse that drives the plot that slowly evolves into particularly black comedy, and an autopsy-room-climax that comes as close as you can to Grand Guignol with sound effects and a couple drops of blood.
I'm making this sound like a much simpler movie than it actually is, though - I almost want to watch it again as soon as possible just to untangle all of its mysteries. It's a real masterpiece, definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.
Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9
These two Bible quotations, in my humble opinion, encapsulate the entire statement of Ceylan's new thought-provoking and mysterious crime story, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. Leaving the crime plot elements aside, which are just the engine of the story, the answers are left intentionally unclear, but the messages are not.
First, appearances are deceiving, and the heart is an intrinsically evil mystery, even to ourselves. Our scope of things is incredibly limited, and in our attempts to rationalize events around us, past…
I think the director meant to make us feel as the characters we feeling, which was mostly fatigue and frustration, due the sad and tough nature of their jobs. Therefore the director created an experience, not just entertainment. Still there are moments of beauty and appreciation.
In the middle of it there is a key scene: an apple drops from the tree, rolls down a hill, finds a water flow and the water left it by other rotten apples. A provoking metaphor for the meaninglessness of life. This is the kinda film you have to be strong to stick with it to the end, but if you do, the film will also be strong to stick with you too.
Having watched Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Palme d'Or-winning Winter Sleep a couple of weeks ago I felt the need to see Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, the well-regarded non-conformist crime drama the director made a few years earlier. Both films are set in the same mountainous region of Anatolia and both are shot by Ceylan's regular cinematographer Gökhan Tiryaki, who certainly has a flair for photographing the desolate, largely-bare landscape. Yet where Winter Sleep seemed to draw back from the region's inclement weather by 'hibernating' with its main characters inside a cliff-top hotel, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia is for the most part set outdoors, and follows a group of people moving necessarily from one indistinguishable spot…
A meandering 157-minute drive through the Turkish countryside that is never less than gripping. I can't think of any film that uses location so effectively. The wind should get an actor credit.
I developed a serious man crush on Muhammet Uzuner.
It took a second viewing to get it but I'm glad I've spent five hours on this film and all the gloom and doom in the never ending steppes.
I was eager to see this Turkish movie, not really knowing what to expect. The best thing I can say about it is that it really is incomparable to your average Hollywood or even European flick. For one, the pacing is glacial. Secondly, there is a lot to read between the lines the characters say. Thirdly, the cinematography is beautiful, rarely have I seen as gorgeous night shots of vast empty landscapes as here.
To sum it up, viewing this is much more a process to go through, and it will take some thinking afterwards as well. There are some honest truths to take home (e.g. that it is always the children who will pay for our sins), yet still I couldn't fully get into the movie for its duration.
Watched as part of "Letterboxd Season Challenge - 2015/16"
Week 6: October 11th-17th
Eastern European Week
Your weekly challenge is to watch at least one previously unseen movie from one of the following directors; Czech Jan Švankmajer, Polish Krzysztof Kieślowski, Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan or Hungarian Béla Tarr.
Film #2 of the 2015 Scavenger Hunt November Challenge!
Task #23. A film where the title begins with "Once Upon A Time In..."
Full List of Films Here
I'm not entirely sure what I think about this film. The atmosphere that it created was so real, and every shot looked beautiful. The cost for the fantastic atmosphere, however, was the film being quite boring occasionally. Things that take 10 seconds…
I cannot recall a movie that seemed so deliberately long; where every moment, almost every encounter, is drawn out and seemingly allowed to occupy real time.
I really don't know what to make of it except that it's exactly the kind of movie that's beginning to appeal to me with age.
Glacially paced, but utterly mesmerising at the same time. This took me a while to get through because I kept on putting it on late at night and nodding off to the sound of the breeze on fields of grass and trees in the dead of night, punctuated by the philosophical musings of Turkish policemen. Stunningly shot, beautifully acted, this is a great film.
Film #5 of the Letterboxd Season Challenge
Week 6: Eastern European Week
Superbly written, masterfully directed, accompanied by strong performances and cinematography that makes each shot look like a singular painting. This is a slow burn gripping drama that doesn't feel its length. Only, the conclusion is stretched out too much.
Nuri Bilge Ceylan strikes again!
Bilge Ceylan has a similar style to Farhadi and I might even say he's better.
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