films seen
average score
Alive and kicking
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2006 / 98m -
Drama, Romance
Climates poster

My third Ceylan is the best so far, certainly the one that showed the most promise. The first part in particular was a nice example of moody arthouse drama. The rest of the films didn't appeal to me as much, mostly because Ceylan picked the wrong lead, which introduced some less interesting dramatic developments.

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During their holiday at the Turkish coast, Isa quits his relationship with Bahar. Autumn is a tough period, and Isa seeks out the company of his ex-girlfriend to ease his loneliness. She tells him that Bahar is shooting a TV series, Isa decides to visit her and give their relationship one more shot.

Bahar was by far the most fascinating character, but Ceylan decides to focus on Isa instead. It's a shame, as I didn't really care much for his issues. Ceylan makes good use of the settings, but the cinematography doesn't feel accomplished enough, and the middle part dragged on for too long.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da
2011 / 157m - Turkey
Crime, Drama
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia poster

My fourth Ceylan, and I'm really starting to see a pattern here. I quite like his more introspective moments, where his film slows down and characters just wander. When narrative and conversations are added, I feel the quality takes a real dip and his films start getting tedious.

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A group of people are cruising the Anatolian plains, looking for a corps. The police has two suspects with them, but they have trouble remembering the place where they buried the body, as the Anatolian plains are huge and not too distinctive. As they keep on searching, the conversation shifts between various subjects.

The setting is quite beautiful, and the cinematography adds a level of mystery. If Ceylan had cut out most of the conversation, he could've had a pretty solid 90-minute film, but alas. I didn't really care for the characters, nor the topics brought up, and these moments really pulled me out of the film. Ceylan's just not for me, I guess.


2002 / 110m - Turkey
Distant poster

My second Ceylan. Distant is a touch better than Winter Sleep, though it's clear that Ceylan's style isn't something I can really warm up to. I don't really mind the quieter parts, nor the lack of narrative, the dreary conversations and the lack of visual panache on the other hand are killing it for me.

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Yusuf is one of the many youngsters who move to the big city, hoping to find a better life there. He ends up staying with Mahmut, an older man. His new house guest triggers something deep inside Mahmut, and he starts to question why he didn't chase his dreams. Mahmut wants to get rid of Yusuf, but he can't just put him back on the street.

The performances are decent and the scenes with characters just strolling around are nice enough, but the drama didn't really hit me and there were too much throwaway moments in between. Minimalist films tend to be a bit hit-and-miss for me and Ceylan's work just doesn't appear to be polished or moving enough to wow me.

Winter Sleep

Kis Uykusu
2014 / 196m - Turkey
Winter Sleep poster