Monday, July 27, 2009

Nury Bilge Ceylan

My daughter is not well and I am holed up at home—taking care of her. She is recuperating and I have put her on medicine and on strong dosage of 101 Dalmations and some Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Sad to note in today’s newspaper that Malaysian filmmaker Yasmin Ahmad (of Sepet) has died. Too young to die.

Just wanted to write down a few lines on the movies that I have seen in the past two weeks: Shortkut (Hindi) was a disaster. Enjoyed watching Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar (had seen it before) and Nayak—the latter was very well-made (one of Uttam Kumar’s best performances; such nuanced acting) and provided an insightful look at acting (theatre vs film acting; and the price and privileges of fame, etc.). I just loved the concept of train journey that becomes a metaphor in the film.

Also watched the first few chapters from Antonioni’s The Red Dessert. Despite its apparent beauty and comment on industrial decadence, I could not connect with the characters.

The real discovery was the Turkish film director, Nury Bilge Ceylan. He was a photographer and that shows in his film Kasba—but he seems overwhelmed by his love for photography and the story gets neglected. It was his other film, The Clouds of May, that I absolutely loved (and ready to forgive the indulgences that he makes to capture light and darkness, silhouettes, shadows and landscapes). More than a film it looked like a creative non-fiction piece to me (complete with non-professional actors). If Naipaul was not a writer and if he were to be filmmaker, perhaps he would have made films like this (of course, they would have become more political).

Also watched Tarufautt’s Soft Skin which was delightful—can David Dhawan adapt it without being crude and over the top and with no songs?

And after a long wait, finally watched Werner Herzog’s Aguirre—The Wrath of God. I saw it as an allegory of pursuit of power and fame. It shows how one can lose his mind and everything else in such a pursuit. One needs madness to achieve something of great importance but that can well be an illusion that can demand all kind of sacrifices.


Anonymous said...

Red desert is indeed a strange film. but i like that shot - if i remember correctly - when nicholson is in the car with a girl and she asks him what he is running from and he stands up, turns back and points at the winding road.

Klaus Kinsky's performance in Aguirre is like a dream/nightmare...i have never seen anything so powerful.

Zafar Anjum said...

I did not see the entire film. Will complete the viewing and look out for the scene you have described.

Klaus Kinsky was fantastic in Aguirre...the kind of restraint he brings to the madness of his character is many actors can do that?

I look forward to see him again in Nosferatu. BTW, I was disappointed to see him in bit roles in one of Clint Eastwood's spaghetti westerns.