The best that cinema has had to offer since 2000 as picked by 177 film critics from around the world.…
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 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…
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…
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.
The film's opening scene, shot very long and very wide - the one alluded to on the poster artwork - is its high point. The way it vividly sets up the film's story, its meticulous painterly composition, the way it patiently holds long enough for the natural light to change - how often do you see that in a movie? - were exciting, a sign of a commanding filmmaker at work. Sadly, "Once Upon a Time in Anatolia" was mostly a challange and not enough reward from there on out.
The film's meaning and themes remained elusive, its overall impact too diffuse, buried deep under layers - at times, absurd - of procedural minutiae and seemingly irrelevant banter. Throughout, there…
So pretty. I watched this with my mom and she said this is the slowest movie she's ever watched and I was like, did you not see "La Novia" directed by Paula Ortiz??
Don't watch this
"What do you want to do with that cigarette?"
Beautiful cinematography within Turkey's countryside. Grim story about the evils of men. What's not to like?
The first time I watched the film it was slow and powerful as the different threads of the story began to weave together. The second time I watched it was even more remarkable as there was a lot more going on than I initially thought. Filled with stunning images and careful framing, it's a delicately constructed film that gives each of the characters moments as we get to know them with the bulk of the film consisting of scenes of people waiting as they search for the body of a murdered man with the suspects in the case. Filled with ambiguity the film doesn't attempt to explain everything in detail, but immerses us in the scenes and gently shifts perspective between the characters. Haunting and beautiful filmmaking.
The director of this movie is known for long and deliberately paced pieces, and this move is not an exception, pushing the thread even further as its events encompass 24-hr period. While not a whole lot seems to happen, it's subtle details and revelations that comprise the story.
The strongest quality of this film is the visuals. The Anatolian landscapes, the natural lighting, it all looks stunning.
The themes and plot were interesting, but the way they're stretched over two and a half hours makes the film tiresomely slow. I believe this was very much Ceylan's intention so I can't fully fault the film for that, but that doesn't mean I liked it either.
Overall it wasn't bad, but there are other equally slow films that have more substance.
The unbelievable landscapes and foreboding darkness serve as more than just a backdrop to Ceylan's immense procedural. If patience allows, one is treated to a wonderful collection of natural conversations and the slow burn of true character development.
Recently, I've become aware that certain films are able to transcend the medium by being completely self-assured in their atmospheres…
Think I feel comfortable with this again? The best. Chronological. Constantly in flux.