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 all 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,…
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…
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…
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…
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.
Ceylan expends much effort and considerable craftsmanship mystifying death, peasants, women, and basic weather patterns. The skillful body hunt scenes in the nighttime Turkish countryside give away to an almost painfully bad game of hide the the philosophical salami in the last hour. Zeki Demirkubuz should be winning these awards.
An excruciatingly slow film about an early morning search for a buried body in the wilderness of Anatolia, a small province in Turkey, by a police inspector, his underlings, a doctor and the two criminals responsible for the murder, and the subsequent journey back to the police station and autopsy. Shot in a series of long takes with minimal dialogue, the film occurs in almost real time and as a result I found it incredibly challenging to maintain any interest in these characters or the story. While beautifully shot and superbly acted with subtle naturalism by all, the film took 4 sittings for me to eventually finish it.
The standout scene, and my reason for giving it 1.5 stars, is…
Yang paling suka dari film ini adalah suasana yang dibangunnya. Sungguh filosofis. Shoot-shoot jarak jauh mengesankan betapa kecilnya manusia di alam terbuka dengan langit yang membentang luas penuh misteri.
The pacing wasn't my main issue here, I just didn't find anything to catch my interest. What was Ceylan's intention? I have read many great reviews on this film here now, and I see their points to why they like this so much, but during the film I didn't find them significant.
That said, there's also a lot to love here. Cinematography is probably the biggest plus for me. Also loved the natural acting from just about everyone involved.
In "Mourning and Melancholia," Freud said, "The melancholic seems puzzling to us because we cannot see what it is that is absorbing him so entirely." Such melancholy absorbs a number of the men in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, especially Dr. Cemal (Muhammet Uzuner). There is so much to say of this quietly ravaging film, which spends its first hour in absurdist tedium before unearthing a dead body, getting real and making said tedium an ideal inverse. This blurb will not do it justice, but neither will an essay or a book. That, indeed, is the vital theme coursing through this film: Language, especially of the legal and clinical form, seeks clarity yet fails to grasp what remains unspoken.…
A restrained, haunted crime procedural stripped down to its very bones and focusing on the search for a body rather than the killing of it. A quiet yet layered examination of masculinity and the deceptive challenges of living "simple lives". A handful of haunting moments stand out, particularly the film's ending.
Essentially Ceylan’s take on the police procedural, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia provides an intimate, contemplative view of the genre’s world-weary characters, while at the same time, highlighting the expansive backdrops (both personal and geographical) more than the precise details. Even so, it can feel surprisingly tense and claustrophobic, as Ceylan builds on the brooding morality and ominous landscapes of Three Monkeys - suggesting, through more than just its running time, a maturing of his aesthetic. And while it’s the most leisurely-paced of Ceylan’s films so far, the slow-burning humanity - along with the humidity - are what continue to linger.
In preparation for the release of the Palme d'Or winner Winter Sleep I watched the previous film by this Turkish director. It's a slow burn, depicting the investigation of a murder. A group of investigators follows the guidance of the suspected murderer and it's not a smooth process. The investigation doesn't really matter though, the film is more interested in the relations between the characters assigned to this investigation and how their histories and conversations shed light on life, death and happiness in the hills of Anatolia. The cinematography is highly praised in this film and it is easy to see why as the landscapes are beautiful, but I was disappointed by the lack of connection between the landscape and…
It was bound to happen sooner or later and today was the day: I doze off whilst watching a movie and by that I do not mean to say that my eyes closed for a few seconds, but that I went to dreamland for about forty minutes. The sad thing? I hadn’t missed a thing when I woke up again. I fully appreciated the first hour in which we see the beautiful Anatolian landscape and a bunch om men undertaking an investigation whilst actually doing not much more than wandering around and talk or drive towards their next location and talk. It felt very natural and the conversation were casual, but interesting. After a while though, it became clear that…
- Only God Forgives
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Spring Breakers
- A Field in England
- The Captive
- Clouds of Sils Maria
- Goodbye to Language
- The Homesman
Originally a list made prior to Cannes 2014.
This is every Palme d'Or nominee since the festival began in 1946.…
- Leon: The Professional
- Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby
- Grave of the Fireflies
- Whisper of the Heart
With so many reviews on the site now it is easy to miss the good ones so I thought a…