It is rare thing fro me to get really excited about a film these days, it is not because I think I know it all, or have a special insight into the process, but it may be because I have watched some films now that have redefined my place in the world, that have changed how I view everything, and in those rare occasion as in the case of Andrei Tarkovsky and his film ‘Stalker'( 1979) attain that greatest accolade I can bestow of simply making me feel less alone in the world.
The last film to so change my expectations of what film can be or speak of, was ‘Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lives’ (2010) With this beautiful and nuanced film Apichatpong Weerasethekal creates an alchemical blend was so fresh and alluring I felt like I had seen into yet another world of film possibility.
In a totally different vein and from much closer to home comes Kasaba (1997) from the acclaimed Turkish Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. My initial reaction was It does have a faint flavour of Tarkovskys Mirror, but it plays out like a beautiful love child of a union between the social realism of a Ken Loach film combined with the eastern folk mysticism of a Tarkovsky… Except when you look closer it blows these thin and reedy comparative thoughts cleanly from the mind. What struck me most about this film was its sense of place and peoples presence embodied in them. not in the way of almost religious or spiritual memory as with Tarkovsky, or the bleary grit sprinkled in the eyes of Loach, but with a tangible sense of breath, touch, history and place, I shivered at the schoolroom scenes, and felt drowsy as a character lay back in long grass at the summer fair. But Ceylan takes this further, he goes into an almost macro close up of peoples faces, their eyes, their tears, we never feel that he is leading us by the hand or pushing the emotion, just that we are being given a chance to connect with these characters on screen right there in that time and place, to feel, and therefore to wonder, at their thoughts and there lives. To say that I was moved is an understatement.
I had previously seen Uzak which released in 2002 won the Palm d’Or at Cannes, and I like it very much, it is a slow and powerful film. But it is here in the his first feature as a director that I feel he has produced a great work of film making.
Not only is it beautifully shot all by the director himself, but he also made this film on a tiny budget, he wrote the script, did his own sound design and used mostly non actors (his family) and produced it I might add. To me as a film maker taking his first tentative steps it is a masterful and inspiring piece of work.