Nuri Bilge Ceylan

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Winter Sleep Review


This may be a three-hour 15-minute Turkish movie, but it's utterly riveting in the way it explores big issues through lively, edgy characters. The winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, there isn't a dull moment in the film, which grapples cleverly with issues of justice and conscience in a fascinating rural setting. But the conversations could take place anywhere, and in the end, the film also becomes a witty, surprisingly moving exploration of how the growing gap between rich and poor is changing the world.

But it's always about the people, centring on middle-aged Aydin (Haluk Bilginer), who worked as a stage actor for 25 years before returning to central Anatolia to run the family's hotel, which like much of the local village is partially carved right into the rocks. Aydin lives with his intelligent young wife Nihal (Melisa Sozen) and his sardonic sister Necla (Demet Akbag), and has a faithful assistant in Hidayet (Ayberk Pekcan), but he has no idea that the villagers think of him as a wealthy land owner who sends his goons to harshly collect their back rent. Aydin discovers this when a young boy (Emirhan Doruktutan) throws a rock through his car window and he reluctantly begins an ongoing conversation with the boy's on-the-edge father (Nejat Isler) and far too smiley uncle (Serhat Mustafa Kilic), a local imam. But as Aydin tries to make sense of this, he opens Pandora's box with both his wife and sister.

All of these characters are utterly fascinating, real-life people with big personalities who speak their minds even when they probably shouldn't. At the centre, Bilginer is magnetic as Aydin, a likeably bullheaded man who simply can't see his own flaws (although everyone else sees them!). All of the performances are earthy and natural, which makes every encounter utterly riveting. When these people talk about the social changes taking place around them, it's easy to see these same issues in our own lives. When they argue about the morality of resisting an evil act, we think the answer is a no-brainer until the characters begin making sense in ways we never thought of before.

Continue reading: Winter Sleep Review

Cannes 2014 Palme D'Or Winner: 'Winter Sleep' Takes The Jewell Of The Springtime Festival

Nuri Bilge Ceylan Timothy Spall Cannes Film Festival

Before Cannes 2014, to suggest ‘Winter Sleep’ would take the prestigious Palme D’Or back to Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s native Turkey would have been a leftfield choice. But after the second day screening of the 3 hour 16 minute film, the destination of this year’s prize was known to some with 9 days of the festival left to run.

Nuri Bilge CeylanNuri Bilge Ceylan picks up the prestigous Palm D'Or

The movie centres on a family running a hotel in the snow-capped Turkish mountains, gently peeling away at the psychology behind the father character as he deals with family and business crises alike. In his acceptance speech, Ceylan noted that “This year is the 100th year of Turkish cinema, and it’s a good coincidence I think. I want to dedicate the prize to the young people of Turkey,” and, referring to the  11 deaths in antigovernment protests that began in May 2013, said: “especially those who lost their lives during the last year.”

Continue reading: Cannes 2014 Palme D'Or Winner: 'Winter Sleep' Takes The Jewell Of The Springtime Festival

The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Nuri Bilge Ceylan - The 67th Annual Cannes Film Festival - Award Winners Photocall - Cannes, France - Saturday 24th May 2014

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia Review

Patiently following a police procedure over about 18 hours, this Turkish drama is startlingly involving, mainly because it quietly deepens our interest through character detail. It's also stunningly well shot and edited.

As the sun begins to set, prosecutor Nusret (Birsel) and policeman Naci (Erdogan) lead a convoy into the countryside looking for a dead body. Guided by the unhelpful suspect Kenan (Tanis), the group moves from place to place, seemingly on a wild goose chase. During this time, Nusret and Naci get to know Dr Cemal (Uzuner), who is along to examine the body. And Naci's driver Arab (Taylan) also adds to the mix of personalities driving in circles through the long, dark night.

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Three Monkeys Review

The telling differences between Three Monkeys, the fifth film -- and third released stateside -- by Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan, and its predecessor, 2006's superb Climates, can be found in a singular, central scene that appears in both films. One of Climates' most haunting moments involves a feral bout of copulation between the film's lead and an ex-flame, a violent and rigorous flailing of limbs and crashing of furniture. Three Monkeys finds the beginnings of a similarly vicious row between an adulterous wife and her husband, fresh off a nine month stint in the big house. But where the round between Climates' lovers endures, suggesting the savagery of their ruinous relationship, the wife and her husband flame out before anything really gets started, the specter of the lady's affair revealing itself in their halted catharsis.

The wife is Hacer (Hatice Aslan) and her husband, Eyüp, is played by the brooding Yavuz Bingol. Eyüp took a year in prison to save the political career of his employer, a politician named Servet (Ercan Kesal), who accidentally ran over a woman when he fell asleep at the wheel on a dark road. As she watches the AK Party and Prime Minister Erdo?an take power on television, Hacer flounders about what to do with her son Ismael (Rifat Sungar), a layabout who gets in trouble with gangs and drinks too much. She finds escape through an affair with Servet, only a few months before her husband is set to return, which her son walks in on one day.

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Climates Review

While filming his third feature, Distant, director Nuri Bilge Ceylan awoke one morning to see it snowing heavily in his home country of Turkey. He quickly called up his crew and got them down to the riverbanks, where a few parts of the movie were filmed and where he had planned to end his picture. His main actor runs down to the waterfront as well and just stood looking at an aged boat trapped in the river as the snow pours down. It's an indelible image that came, like few other cinematic moments, completely by chance.With his fourth film (the second with American distribution), Ceylan doesn't need any acts of god or great moments of chance. Where Distant took his insular, Antonioni-imagery-laden style to its most extreme ends, Climates has a more natural progression in both story and style.Isa (Ceylan) has taken a short leave from his job as a professor to take pictures of structures near the Aegean coast. He takes along his longtime girlfriend, Bahar (Ebru Ceylan, the director's off-screen wife), who stares at him one afternoon, realizing that she resents him and is bored with him. After a dangerous motorcycle accident, Bahar leaves Isa on a bus to god knows where. Back in Istanbul, where they lived together, Isa returns to teaching and rekindles a stunningly rough love affair with a woman he used to see. Realizing the futility of this relationship, he heads to the snowy Eastern part of Turkey to find Bahar and hopefully convince her to come home with him.Climates opens up a few doors that Distant kept closed. Ceylan's psychology in Distant was that of a man unable to open up, insular and polarized to even the most silent of houseguests. That feeling of being closed-off still lingers in Climates but Ceylan's imagery has become more daring and full-bodied. Bahar's dream of being suffocated by sand gives a deeper resonance to her feelings for Isa than any amount of pushy catharsis would, especially so early in the film. His use of climates (duh!) also employs some interesting mirroring; the more somber the weather, the more desperate Isa becomes.Shockingly, not much has been spoken about Climates' singular sex scene between Isa and his old flame. Ravenous and brutal, the scene (shot with minimal cuts) might be the most realistic depiction of "angry sex" ever to be put to celluloid. Ceylan uses the scene as a way of exploring what Isa might have been missing with Bahar, but also shows why he no longer is in need of a relationship like this. Antonioni comparisons aside, these fixation shots that make up a great deal of the film are strung together expertly to excavate the troubles in a fleeting romance that seems unable to be resuscitated.Snow will always look good on camera, but in Ceylan's eye, it conveys isolation and emotional frost better than anything else. Watching Isa (the name alone conjures up feelings of remoteness) stand on a bridge as he readies to return to Istanbul is enough to rip your heart in half. Ultimately, Climates might not connect with most people's memories of breaking up; the assumption is they would be a hell of a lot louder. However, anyone who has known what it's like to feel regret and loneliness wrap around you like a scarf will no doubt feel a kindred spirit at work. That, for damn sure, didn't come about by chance.Aka Iklimler.

Distant Review

Here's the plotline of the "acclaimed" Turkish film Distant.

Istanbul photographer (Muzaffer Özdemir) lives a dull and boring life, wishing for something to happen. Photographer's distant cousin (Emin Toprak) arrives in town looking for a job and a place to crash. Cousin sleeps at photographer's house, eventually wearing out his welcome. Finally he leaves.

Continue reading: Distant Review

Nuri Bilge Ceylan

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