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Distant-DVD Review 05/25/2013

Posted by dmbinder in Ankara International Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, Istanbul International Film Festival, Movies, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkish language film.
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Distant (Turkish) 2002
Uzak

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Starring Muzaffer Özdemir, Emin Toprak, and Zuhal Gencer

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Cinematography; Best Director; Best Editing; Best Film-National Competition (all Ceylan); WINNER, Best Supporting Actress (Gencer), Ankara International Film Festival
WINNER, France Culture Award, Foreign Cineaste of the Year and also Grand Prize of the Jury (Ceylan); WINNER, Best Actor (Özdemir and Toprak); NOMINATED, Palme d’Or (Ceylan), Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Silver Hugo-Special Jury Prize (Ceylan), Chicago International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Turkish Director of the Year; Best Turkish Film of the Year; FIPRESCI Prize Turkish Competition (all Ceylan), Istanbul International Film Festival

Yusuf (Toprak) travels to the big city of Istanbul to look for work after the factory he worked in closes down. He stays with his distant relative, semi-successful photographer Mahmut (Özdemir), who is still recovering from his divorce from Nazan (Gencer). The visitor was not expected, and he does nothing to make himself more welcome.

A moody, poetical film portraying the separateness and loneliness of the lives of the two men. There are a few light moments, mostly having to do with Mahmut’s friends and Yusuf’s awkward attempts to meet a woman. I found the movie a little low key and slow-moving, although the cinematography was outstanding. I liked director Ceylan’s 2006 Climates (Iklimler) more. Distant was highly acclaimed (see above).

105 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

For more info:
Distant

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When We Leave-DVD Review*** 12/05/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Action/Thriller, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, German Film Critics Association Awards, German language film, Ghent International Film Festival, Movies, Tribeca Film Festival, Turkish language film.
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When We Leave (German/Turkish) 2010 ***
Die Fremde

Written and directed by Feo Aladag
Starring Sibel Kekilli and Nizam Schiller

Among many wins and nominations:
NOMINATED, European Discovery of the Year (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Actress (Kekilli); Best Cinematography; Best Editing; Best Feature Film Debut (Aladag); Best Film; Best Film Score; Best Screenplay, German Film Critics Association Awards
WINNER, Audience Award-Best Film; Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Best Narrative Feature (Aladag); Best Actress (Kekilli), Tribeca Film Festival

Umay (Kekilli), a young Turkish woman, is in a loveless and physically abusive marriage. She leaves home with her young son Cem (Schiller) to return to Germany where she was raised. But Umay finds that she is not welcomed back into her family because of traditional beliefs about a woman’s role.

Highly recommended, but with the caveat that this is not a movie with a happy ending (understatement). Winner of many awards, When We Leave is the first feature film for director Feo Aladag, who is also a German actress.

119 min. Unrated. Adult themes and violence.

For more info:
When We Leave

A Touch of Spice-DVD Review 02/02/2012

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Greece, Greek film, Light Drama, Movies, Romance, Turkish language film.
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A Touch of Spice (Greek/Turkish) 2003/2010
Politiki kouzina

WINNER, Audience Award-Greek Festival (Boulmetis); Greek Competition Award in eight categories, including Best Fiction Film, Best Cinematography, and Best Screenplay; Greek Union of Film and Television Technicians Award (Boulmetis), Thessaloniki Film Festival, Greece

Directed by Tassos Boulmetis
Starring Markos Osse, George Corraface and Tamer Karadagli

As a young boy in Istanbul, Fanis (Osse) learns about cooking–and the importance of spice–from his grandfather. He falls in love with his friend Saime, but has to leave her when his family gets deported back to Greece. The grownup Fanis (Corraface) never finds another love; he lives his life without that “touch of spice” his grandfather taught him to appreciate. Eventually he travels back to Istanbul, where he meets Saime (Karadagli) again.

Reportedly based on the experiences of director Tassos Boulmetis, A Touch of Spice mixes a lighthearted story about family and romance with the political overtones of the times (1960s and 70s). The film received a lot of attention when it was released in Greece (see above), where it had record-breaking attendance in theaters. There’s no mention of awards from elsewhere, other than that it was Greece’s official entry in the 2005 Academy Awards. (The DVD was just released in 2010.)

One of several food-related films I’ve watched recently. Not outstanding (and not as good as Mostly Martha) but worth a look.

108 min. Unrated. Brief partial nudity.

For more info:
A Touch of Spice

The Edge of Heaven-DVD Review *** 09/11/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Drama, Emotional Drama, European Film Awards, German Film Awards, German language film, Movies, Turkish language film.
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The Edge of Heaven (German/Turkish) 2007 ***
Auf der anderen Seite

Highly recommended

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Best Screenplay; NOMINATED, Palme d’Or, Cannes Film Festival
WINNER, Best Editing; Best Screenplay; Best Supporting Actor (Kurtiz); Best Supporting Actresses (Köse and Ziolkowska), Ankara International Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Foreign Film, César Awards, France
WINNER, Best Screenwriter (Akin); NOMINATED, Best Director (Akin); Best Film, European Film Awards
WINNER, Best Direction; Best Screenplay; Best Editing; Outstanding Feature Film; NOMINATED, Best Supporting Actress (Schygulla), German Film Awards

Written and directed by Fatih Akin (director of Head-On)

Starring Nurgül Yesilçay, Baki Davrak, Tuncel Kurtis, Hanna Schygulla, Patrycia Ziolkowska, and Nursel Köse

An excellent and moving film about six people in three families whose very different lives become interconnected: Nejat (Davrak) and his father Ali (Kurtis); Susanne (Schygulla) and her daughter Charlotte (Ziolkowska); Yeter (Köse) and her daughter Ayten (Yesilçay). All are searching for someone or something; eventually, they will find what they need, but not necessarily what they were looking for. As the searches take on a life of their own, the action moves from Germany to Turkey.

At the end of this almost two-hour film, I felt as if I knew much more about these people than the time allowed. Director Akin foretells the outcome of a segment, and then leads us there in unexpected and very satisfying ways. We sometimes know what is about to happen to whom, but that doesn’t take anything away from how it happens.

116 min. Not rated. Adult themes and subject matter.

For more info:
Edge of Heaven

Head-On-DVD Review 07/04/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Emotional Drama, German language film, Movies, Turkish language film.
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Head-On (German/Turkish) 2004
(Gegen die Wand/Duvara Karşı)

Among other awards and honors:
Winner, Best Film; Audience Award, European Film Awards
Winner, The Golden Bear for Best Film, Berlin International Film Festival

Directed by Fatih Akin
Starring Birol Ünel and Sibel Kekilli

A contemporary love story – but certainly not a simple one. Cahit and Sibel, two suicide survivors, meet in a German psychiatric hospital where they are recovering from their attempts. Both live in Germany and are of Turkish ethnicity. They agree to enter into a marriage of convenience. There are some humorous scenes as the two adjust to their situation as a “married couple” but much of the film is a sobering commentary on the difficulties faced by the Turkish community there.

At times I found myself rooting for Cahit and Sibel, at other times rooting against them. One thing for sure – this movie isn’t boring for one second.

Graphic bloody violence and sexual content, none of which I found gratuitous because it seemed to match the couple’s personalities and lifestyles so well. Ünel and Kekilli give outstanding performances, as do several of the supporting cast members.

121 min. Rated R. Adult themes, sexual content, and violence.

For more information:
Head-On [Gegen die Wand]

Three Monkeys-DVD Review 05/22/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Turkish language film.
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Three Monkeys (Turkish) 2008

Winner, Best Director Prize (Ceylan), Cannes Film Festival, 2008

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Starring Yavuz Bingol, Hatice Aslan

A man (Bingol) who works as a chauffeur for a politician (Aslan) agrees to serve a one year jail sentence in place of his employer who was responsible for a hit and run accident. The chauffeur’s wife and grown son are left to fend for themselves. And fend they do. Within a short time after the chauffeur’s release from jail, the politician is murdered.

As they cope with their unusual circumstances, the family is visited by the ghost of another son who died in childhood. His haunting presence is initially eerie and frightening but seems, to the family, comforting. With strong emotional performances by the family and the politician, the story builds its suspense to a satisfying ending after keeping viewers guessing who did it and what will happen to whom next.

109 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

For more info:
Three Monkeys