Sunday, March 28, 2010

list of cultural events I participated recently...

It's been a while since I reported on what fills my life (except for "The Book")... In the last few weeks, I made some discoveries... Let me start with the movies first...

1) I watched Pandora’s Box (Pandora'nin Kutusu), by Yeşim Ustaoğlu (right).
San Sebastian International Film Festival, 2008: Golden Shell Best Film and Silver Shell Best Actress - Tsilla Chelton
Fajr International Film Festival, 2009 Christal Simorgh - Special Jury Prize, Best Performances; Tsilla Chelton, Derya Alabora, Övül Avkiran
11th Cinemanila International Film Festival, Best Actress: Tsilla Chelton
3rd Yeşilçam Awards, Best Supporting Actress: Derya Alabora

She describes her film as “a story of alienation and isolation. It is a story of individuals whose lives have been shaped by a sterile, middle-class morality, a story that many people touched by the inevitable combination of capitalism and modernity can identify with. It is a kind of human landscape, both universal and singular at the same time…
Plot Summary:
Three siblings living their different metropolitan lives have to go and find their mother who got lost in a Black Sea village. They bring her back, with her Alzheimer's disease, and find it difficult to adapt to her difficulties in an urban landscape. Only her grandson, who shares the difficulties find an intimacy with her; the rest start realizing that there have been problems in their lives that they've been postponing to solve.

I liked it a lot: as it has been told to me, it was simple, straightforward, well-done. Although I disagree with Ustaoglu's depiction of Istanbul as hell on earth, I understand the necessity of such a depiction for the plot. It's not far from truth either, only, lacking in basics. Also, the ending is a little too stereotypical (nativity symbolism with the old woman vanishing to her mountain) -but in Turkish cinema this is not such a used and abused theme as elsewhere, so it didn't disappoint me too much. At any rate I admire her dramaturgy and symbolism immensely.
Absolutely recommended for Turkish and non-Turkish audiences.

Here is the trailer...

2) I watched Pains of Autumn (Guz Sancisi) by Tomris Giritlioğlu (right).

Plot Summary:
The promising student Behcet finds himself involved in a nationalistic movement while falling madly in love with a Greek prostitute.
In the midst of a “Deep State” operation, singling out non-Muslims as the enemy, the uncontainable love between Elena and Behçet is struggling to defend itself. As Behçet walks the political line drawn by the pen of a militant columnist, every step he takes towards the morning of the 6th of September takes him farther away from his love. Elena, on the other hand, tries to break through the walls of a dead-end destiny drawn up by her grandmother.
Historic backdrop: Istanbul, September 6, 1955
The Istanbul Pogrom (a form of riot directed against a particular group), also known as Istanbul Riots or Constantinople Pogrom; was a pogrom directed primarily at Istanbul's Greek minority on 6–7 September 1955. A Turkish mob, most of which was trucked into the city in advance, assaulted Istanbul’s Greek community for nine hours. Although the mob did not explicitly call for Greeks to be killed, over a dozen people died during or after the pogrom as a result of beatings and arson. Jews and Armenians were also targeted. The pogrom was triggered by Greece's appeal in 1954 to the United Nations to demand self-determination for Cyprus.
Although I did not find the plot or the acting impressive, I felt that all in all it is a good thing that a Turkish director made a movie on the pogrom. Finally... The love and drama-drenched story-line was an absolute turn off. The politics and even the economics of the situation was totally dismissed. Most importantly, what this meant for either of the communities was not included in the movie. Some historical details (such as the media hype about the bombing of Atatürk's house in Thessaloníki) were left unexplained for the international audience.

Recommended only for Turkish and Greek audiences interested in the pogrom.

Here is the trailer...

3) I watched Soul Kitchen by Fatih Akin (right).
Venice Film Festival 2009: Special Jury prize Best Director
Venice Film Festival 2009: Young Cinema award Best film

Plot Summary:
Zinos, a young restaurant-owner, is left by his long-term girlfriend Nadine. Zinos spends more time in the restaurant than with her, and she has just been offered a job in Shanghai.
Zinos, a young restaurant-owner, is facing the closure of his restaurant Soul Kitchen because of tax debts. On top of that his long-term girlfriend Nadine is leaving him for a job in Shanghai. In a desperate attempt to save his restaurant and make money to follow Nadine, he hires a new chef, the chef however refuses to serve the usual bratwurst and fish fingers for the his lower class costumers and devises his own menu.
In the three weeks before the closure of the Soul Kitchen pure anarchy breaks out: the chef cooks haute cuisine dishes, a new DJ gets the guests dancing after their meals, artists exhibit their work - and the guests like it. Rumours of the new cult hit Soul Kitchen spread fast around Hamburg. Still the closure hangs above his head and when he finds out the building is going to be torn down to make way for a shopping mall, he moves heaven and earth to get his Soul Kitchen back.
Soul Kitchen is about family and friends, about love, trust and loyalty and about the struggle to protect a place called home in an increasingly unpredictable world.
It's fun, it is well-done, and it is not an ambitious movie.
I enjoyed the funky mix of old Turkish comedies and the very German setting. I loved it that the Greek-German protagonist suffers throughout the movie from the most immediate problems of modernity: 1) not being able to get by simply by being creative and hard-working 2) back-aches. I liked the jokes and all in all, I enjoyed myself. Was it a "good" movie? It certainly did not aim at greatness, but I had fun. that should count! Especially in the midst of a terrible back-ache and a writer's block...

Recommended as a feel-good movie.

Here is the trailer...

1 comment:

basak said...

got to get the dvd...