As I’ve said before, Once Upon A Time In Anatolia was one of the best films I saw at last years Toronto International Film Festival – and one of the best films I saw all year. I needed to go back into Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s repertoire. I’ve started that with one step back to 2008’s Three Monkeys. I’ve also got 2006’s Climates queued up to watch at some point as well. It was immediately apparent that this was by the same director. He’s an artist’s director, with everything that description implies. The pacing, the framing, the close-ups, the silences, the long shots that pull back, the camera that follows a man walking away from the lens until he is but a speck. Ceylan is an existential filmmaker. He presents a look and feel that is unique and unmistakable.
As a man drives along a road at night his eyes begin to droop, slowly, he moves his head from side to side to keep busy, stay awake. His vision is ours as the camera lens retracts shut. Then there is a crash. There are people strewn along the road. The man, the driver we’ve been following is unhurt, and hides as another car comes along. Later that night, he calls his driver and offers him a sum of money if he’ll take the rap. He’s a politician running for office and can’t afford the scandal. His driver accepts. After serving most of his short sentence (surprisingly short actually), he’s out.
In the meantime his son has bought a car with the money he was to receive and his wife has and is having an affair with the ex-politician (he lost the election anyway). The stage is set for further intrigue, revenge, obsessive love. Nowhere near as fine a film as Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, Three Monkeys nevertheless has those stunning views of one of my favorite cities, Istanbul. It’s a city that has always fascinated me in several ways, and I never miss a chance to set eyes upon the Bosphorous again and take my mind back to sitting at a cafe gazing out to Asia on the left, far away and the bridge in the distance. The small container ships grazing in the choppy waters like water buffalo sleeping in the heat os summer.