Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

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swo17
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Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#1 Post by swo17 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:41 pm

You can file this one away as another beautifully shot endurance test, though here I think the act of having to endure it is sort of the point (and of course, the visuals will hold your hand through most of the film). Like Police, adj., this film is concerned with the mundanity of bureaucratic procedure, and it rather poetically makes the point that nothing the police do in this film really matters, as none of it serves to redress the victims of a crime. Though in between all of the box ticking and paperwork, the conversations between these characters hint at something more.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#2 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Feb 12, 2012 2:12 am

Surprised there hasn't been more posted on this. Had to see it twice to clear things up, but I agree, there is something more to this film than its superficial resemblance to Police, Adjective. A friend suggested some very strong thematic similarities to The Tree of Life. I'm still trying to digest it all - during the first viewing, I was drawn to the atmosphere and the setting, but on the second viewing, the relationships of each character (which in most cases are described or alluded to instead of shown) stood out more.
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For example, the detail regarding the doctor's divorce sort of flew by during the slow, first 45 minutes of the film, but it stood out on the second viewing, possibly because the relationship between the arrested killer and the victim's wife/son is now known, as well as the fact that the prosecutor was talking about his own wife in his anecdote of the dead woman.

D_B
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Wish it had stuck to just driving around in search of corpse

#3 Post by D_B » Sat Feb 18, 2012 1:49 am

I was really liking this film when it seemed like it was more about the spaces BETWEEN the actual crime work then - well the crime itself.

Then, ultimately, it DOES become more about the crime at which point it kind of lost me.

It's a subtly visually beautiful film, and I think uses the pretext of a police investigation to provide a really interesting window into Turkish society. Lots of good dialogue and performances too.

Ultimately though, even though I had to come home and read a bunch of reviews of the film to 'get' a few important details I didn't catch when watching the film (the parentage of a particular secondary character, for instance) - I have the feeling the director himself didn't have a completely coherent objective in mind, and therefore, I felt like the film SEEMS a lot more substantial than it really is.

While in some respects it may seem similar to Police, Adj, I felt THAT was a brilliant film insofar as all the time spent watching the detective involved in painstaking field work is absolutely necessary for the the almost 'throw-away' denouncement to pay off, like a long, long joke capped off with a punchline of only a few words. In any case, IMHO the ethical dilemma of that film is crystal clear.

I think "Anatolia" is a lot more unfocused. I did enjoy it though, and am actually thinking of going again because maybe it just needs a second viewing to 'get' all of it. In some respects I'd say it may be more like "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" than Police, Adj. in that you really should be paying careful attention at all times.

Mr. Ned
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#4 Post by Mr. Ned » Sat Mar 17, 2012 9:07 pm

So I have the chance to see a screening on this early tomorrow morning. I'd love to make the trip, but it's an hour to the movie theater from school, and since the film is roughly two and a half hours it will cut into some crucial studying time at the ol' academe library. For those criterionforum-ers alive and awake this St. Patrick's Saturday, is it worth the time to see this on the big screen?

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Fierias
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#5 Post by Fierias » Sat Mar 17, 2012 10:42 pm

Yes. Absolutely worth it.

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Oedipax
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#6 Post by Oedipax » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:15 am

Yeah, do it.

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hearthesilence
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#7 Post by hearthesilence » Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:31 am

Yes it is, for many reasons. But some details just get lost on home viewing. Not just visually, but quiet passages where you really need the whole room to be silent.

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Felix
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#8 Post by Felix » Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:43 pm

Sorry guys but I don't get the visually beautiful bit, perhaps it is down to where you come from and the environment to which you are accustomed but most of this looked like the duller bits of Scotland on a very dreich day, and so much of it was at night as well. I expected a lot better than this, raised expectations may have been part of the problem.

First casualty in the afternon showing I went to was about 40" in, there may have been others, I don't know as I was in the front row, but this guy was snoring. I made it to just over an hour before my had started bobbing but to be fair it was my usual nap time. I like slow films but maybe it just wasn't pretty enough for me and it was all man to man stuff. I disliked Uzak as well, Climates is on the box tonight so I will give him one more shot but maybe he's just not for me, I have the same problem with his fellow countryman Orhan Pamuk who I should love but can't.

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warren oates
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#9 Post by warren oates » Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:53 pm

Saw this last night on Cinema Guild's exceptional Blu-ray and it made me sorry I missed it on the big screen, mostly because of the size and scale of the images in the long shots. I can't relate to Felix's comparison of the landscapes to "the duller bits of Scotland," because regardless of how you feel about the relative beauty or bleakness (or both!) or the landscapes in this film, it isn't about what's being shot so much as it is about how the director is shooting it.

It's all about the stunning HD cinematography, the magic-hour lighting, the inventive and painterly use of practical lights (especially auto headlights) and the precisely color controlled/timed final image that results. And it's also about some really nice shot making, with interesting angles, strong blocking and shots that contain surprises -- subtle visual and narrative touches that aren't yielded up immediately.

The visuals are heavily influenced by the work of Abbas Kiarostami in films like Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us -- from the locked-off extreme long shots of cars traversing winding country roads while we hear the dialogue inside to a poetic digression that tracks the trajectory of a single shaken-down tree apple as it rolls from a hill into a stream. If you're going to steal from somebody like Kiarostami, whose work is both masterly and inimitable, you had better do something interesting and worthy with it. And I think Ceylan does. The borrowings are not derivative and they infuse a completely different kind of narrative -- the traditionally prosaic police procedural -- with some welcome poetry.

The film also wins points for continually challenging and upending my expectations about what kind of film it was going to be, almost up to the end. At first I thought that it might be that
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they would spend the whole film looking, yet never find a body.
Once they return to the village, I expected things to wind down rather quickly, but they don't. The film remains steadfastly procedural and ruminative about all that entails until the very end. And there's an interesting aspect to some of those "day after the long night" scenes that has to do with the reality of having been awake all night in pursuit of such a grim task. I also kept expecting some kind of
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revelation about the crime itself, which never came. But this was replaced by more minor revelations about the characters, like the prosecutor's increasingly detailed personal disclosures about his wife.
The script wasn't as strong as it might have been. It could probably stand to lose at least 20 minutes and be a stronger film for it. But that's a trifling grumble compared to what's good about this film. Not a masterpiece, not a great film but a very good one. The only other Ceylan film I've seen was Distant, which I hated, especially the Tarkovsky/porn stuff, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.

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bdsweeney
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#10 Post by bdsweeney » Sun Jul 15, 2012 6:28 am

This has only just opened in my part of Australia, but I'm very much glad I saw it on the big screen (a relative term for what was a shoebox of a cinema).

I feel like I might be alone in thinking that I preferred the extended first half (or is it two-thirds), which is all set in the countryside.

At first it was the beautiful framing of the three-car caravan through the night that gripped, but it soon extended to the characterisations.

In particular the conversation between the driver and the doctor. The placement of the camera behind their heads was at first disorientating and made me believe we were hearing interior monologue, but instead we were getting the slow drips of conversation that form as hours wear on and a kind of cabin fever occurs among people. Also, in the talks between the doctor and prosecutor, the to and fro of returning to a topic of conversation. I also appreciated the moments of humour and the larger examination of the pull of the urban versus the rural.

Like Warren Oates mentioned above, when the narrative turned to the village I was surprised that it continued for as long as it did. And it was there that I maybe felt that the film dragged a little ... though it never bored me.

It's here that I need to ask a question about the ending:
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The detail about not disclosing the information about the dirt in the lungs, I can understand the doctor not wishing dredge up any further pain for the mother and son by mentioning it in the autopsy report; however, much that I've read about the film mentions staying alert throughout the film for minor and difficult to catch details. Is there a reference to the dirt in the lungs that I missed?
I'm keen to try and catch a second viewing before it leaves the big screen as I think there are details can could be easily missed on a home TV screen.

All in all, a terrific experience and one that has made me keen to see more of Ceylan's work. Is Climates the best place to continue with?

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zedz
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#11 Post by zedz » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:20 am

I think you've read it right.
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As I understood it, the doctor realized that revealing the absolute truth - that the man was buried alive - would serve no positive purpose. It would just make things much worse for the already suffering family, and make it much harder for them to get over this catastrophic event. For the doctor, it's a fine, but crucial, ethical dilemma.
Like you, I preferred the earlier part of the film, in the night, but I liked the way that the movie turned into something else quite different when the sun came up and the mysteries were 'solved'.

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bdsweeney
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#12 Post by bdsweeney » Mon Jul 16, 2012 12:47 am

I think you're right, zedz.

I think it may have been a case where I started looking too much into the scene. It makes particular sense considering:
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the pain he caused the prosecutor regarding the suggestion of his wife's suicide. Better that what's in the past remains in the past et cetera and so forth and so forth ...

Zot!
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#13 Post by Zot! » Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:47 pm

I'm getting a little bit bothered by the heavy borrowing going on in these otherwise accomplished films. This was effectively Taste of Cherry Redux (the entire landscape, the burial, the lightning flash, the soldiers, the conversation), with the rolling apple/can borrowed from Close-Up. I'm sure there were other homages I didn't even recognize (the girl with the candle must be from something). All the hard work that goes into something that is nothing but a pastiche. That last Reygades movie with the entire ending stolen from Ordet was just maddening. Von Trier does his fair share of cribbing from Tarkovsky, but at least he leaves it at window dressing, which I think is okay. I don't remember this being such a problem in the past with this type of movie.

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warren oates
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#14 Post by warren oates » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:08 pm

Idk, Zot!, I really dig the way that Ceylan uses elements of Kiarostami's sensibility to tell a completely different kind of story. The odd collision of contemplative cinema and the police procedural. Not to mention that it mostly takes place at night, hence all the elaborate lighting that Kiarostami likely would not bother with himself. But I say if you're gonna steal, steal from the best and make something worthy of your borrowings. The films you bring up, including Once Upon A Time In Anatolia are hardly derivative. And aren't appropriation and influence a big part of what art making has always been about? These guys say it better than I could: Everything Is A Remix and Jonathan Lethem's The Ecstasy of Influence.

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zedz
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#15 Post by zedz » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:17 pm

If you get fixated on originality in art, the more films you see the more frustration you're going to feel. Sure, there are some superficial similarities between the films - and this is likely to have been an intentional homage on Ceylan's part - but step back a little, and you'll see that the films are worlds apart in terms of their aesthetics, their themes, their plot and their modes of performance. It's not a pastiche if the new work doesn't actually resemble the one that inspired it in a meaningful way.

And anyway, can you really simply assume that pastiche is an invalid mode of artistic creation? Kaurismaki made some of his best films by carefully aping Bresson (in his own wonky way).

Zot!
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#16 Post by Zot! » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:24 pm

warren oates wrote:Idk, Zot!, I really dig the way that Ceylan uses elements of Kiarostami's sensibility to tell a completely different kind of story. The odd collision of contemplative cinema and the police procedural. Not to mention that it mostly takes place at night, hence all the elaborate lighting that Kiarostami likely would not bother with himself. But I say if you're gonna steal, steal from the best and make something worthy of your borrowings. The films you bring up, including Once Upon A Time In Anatolia are hardly derivative. And aren't appropriation and influence a big part of what art making has always been about? These guys say it better than I could: Everything Is A Remix and Jonathan Lethem's The Ecstasy of Influence.
I find it cheapens the experience and takes me out of an otherwise engrossing film when I start thinking in terms of filmic footnotes. Antonioni and Resnais were able to resist such temptation when producing similar "contemplative" films. I don't even think their films are necessarilly better, but at least the director doesn't winkingly "break the fourth wall" and force the viewer to contemplate things beyond the film they are watching. What possible purpose does that apple scene have other than to annoy me?

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warren oates
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#17 Post by warren oates » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:33 pm

Well, does it p.o. you just as much when Kiarostami himself quotes the can scene in Close-Up during his own apple scene in The Wind Will Carry Us? As to what purpose it has in the Ceylan film, I'd say that it's a poetic aside that reminds us again of the beautiful eternity and stark indifference of the landscape toward the petty passions of the human characters therein. Which is really more like the way the bone works in The Wind Will Carry Us. The more we talk about Ceylan's borrowings, the less baldly derivative they seem to me. Just out of curiosity, Zot!, how do you ever watch a Godard film? Even the ones that are the most moving like Contempt and Vivre Sa Vie must annoy you about once every other shot with all of their quotations from other films and books?
Last edited by warren oates on Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Zot!
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#18 Post by Zot! » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:48 pm

Okay, I guess I just wanted to like this more than I did.

Thanks for the reminder about The Wind Will Carry Us, I didn't even remember that. Close Up was obviously a self-referential film/documentary, so this kind of thing I feel would be allowable. I'm not offended by Godard or even a Tarantino, nor do I think Pastiche is an invalid form of art. I just felt it was a distracting approach for a film like Ceylan's. Maybe I'm being too harsh, but it seemed excessive to my tastes and made me ultimately resent it. Like if it was just the apple, perhaps it would have been a clever thank-you. As it stands it feels like a virtual remake.

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repeat
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#19 Post by repeat » Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:04 am

I'm still looking forward to seeing Ceylan's film, but I think Zot is right in locating the cause of the irritation in the motives of the filmmaker. I know a lot of Godard's 60's stuff pisses the hell out of me with the self-satisfied references and winks to the in-crowd, because I can't find any redeeming intention behind them (with some exceptions, notably Contempt). Then again I find it utterly baffling that some people accuse de Palma of "ripping off Hitchcock", totally oblivious to the fact that his whole filmography is based on other people's work - you'd have to be out of your mind to call them any less original for that reason!

I think that most of the time perceived originality comes from the disparity of influences and the artist's ability to appropriate and internalize and finally transmute those influences into a personal expression; Kaurismäki is certainly a great example of that. But it has to be born from a sincere love for all those influences - it just doesn't work if it's just "let's put this reference here" or "let's stick this and this together" to appear arch or clever.

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bottled spider
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Re: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

#20 Post by bottled spider » Tue Aug 30, 2016 4:03 am

Zot! wrote: (the girl with the candle must be from something)
The episode comes from Chekhov's short story The Beauties. The image itself is faintly reminiscent of the séance scene in Fritz Lang's Ministry of Fear, though merely by happenstance I suspect:
Image

The seamless incorporation of The Beauties didn't phase me, but the prosecutor's story about a woman predicting the day of her death struck me as too literary, and it turns out that this too comes from Chekhov (The Examining Magistrate).

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