I just saw Once Upon a Time in Anatolia at AFI Fest and the experience left me slightly cold. I don’t know what I was expecting but my hopes were high for this film and I really wanted to like it. I feel like for a movie like this, you need to be in the right state of mind to enjoy it. And having really loved his previous film, Three Monkeys, I went into the theater ready to go.
Unfortunately, I feel like I missed something. I was not bored, I did not think it was too slow or tedious, nor did I mind the methodical pacing of the plot. But I fail to understand why the term “masterpiece” is being bandied about.
I’ve read some of the snippets in Mubi’s Notebook from Cannes highlighting the critics’ response and I’m interested in hearing more people discuss what they got out of the experience. If you loved it, what was it that made you so enthralled? One critic compared the hints peppered throughout the film to Haneke’s Cache (a film I love) and I’m curious to know more about this. What specific clues were left throughout the film that makes the ending so powerful?
I think that this is a film that I will appreciate over time, with discussion and rewatches, but I’d also like to hear from people who loved the film upon first viewing how they got so taken with it. From a technical filmmaking standpoint, I thought the film was impeccably rendered and visually stunning. I also loved the overall tone of the film, the feeling of procedure and the mundane that heightens the film to palpable realism.
I liked it, didn’t love it. I’m still not completely sure what Ceylan was getting at. Plenty of great moments but I can’t seem to connect them together to give myself any type of fulfillment unfortunately. There are definitely clues peppered throughout the film as to certain themes, but in terms of the ending…right over my head. Such build-up in that autopsy room and I’m just not sure of the significance of the dolly-in on the Doc’s face while he looks out the window. I thought Cache was much more accessible. Technically gorgeous though.
Not offering an interpretation as of yet, but i read an amusing comment online recently that said that Once Upon A Time………… is the kind of film that Fincher would have made if he was a real cinephile, and therefore ‘real’ film maker, and not a glorified video clip director. I had to laugh at that one. Sorry Santino ;-)
^hahaha – that’s pretty funny.
My only response then, “Thank god Fincher isn’t a real cinephile!”
Just an aside, I think it’s a bit ironic how people call him a “glorified video clip director” and question whether he’s a real filmmaker or not when he puts so much time and effort and thought into precisely what a lot of cinephiles love – his DVDs. For anyone who knows him or has worked with him, he is as obsessive about his DVDs as he is about his films. His producer, David Prior, is a genius and creates some of the best product outside of Criterion.
It’s sort of astonishing to me that some cinephiles can bitch and moan about how classless and mainstream Fincher is in his films and dismiss him as not being a cinephile (whatever the hell that means) while completely ignoring the fact that he is a pioneer in the world of added value content.
How many other “filmmakers” have their own DVD producer that personally creates all of his content? How many other mainstream filmmakers create 4-6 hours of bonus material detailing the process of filmmaking that he approves himself?
Whether you love or hate his films, it’s a bit short sighted to question whether Fincher is a cinephile, given what he has done to promote filmmaking and the value of featurettes and behind the scenes documentaries.
I think what they mean is that his work doesn’t really show obvious ‘cinematic’ influences(with the exception of maybe Panic Room and a few other traces here and there). That doesn’t mean he is original—they would argue he is slick and ‘bland’ i’m sure, with the exception of perhaps ‘Seven’—and that his films aren’t ‘cinematic’—that would be absurd—but that, unlike a director like Ceylan, he is not part of any real tradition. Whether this is a good or bad thing is largely a matter of taste.
Personally i think he is skilled, but nothing overly special. I loved him in the 90’s though, but my tastes were different then. Less snobby ;-) I can not deny that films like Seven, The Game, Fight Club and Zodiac are very well made, regardless of any problem i may have with them on some level.
As for his dvd’s, no doubt that ‘Fight Club’, the American dvd, was one of the best of its time. Seven too. I was really impressed with the content and packaging of F.C in the late 90s.
Anyway, let’s not derail this thread too much.
Yes, I don’t want to derail this thread but I will add that The Social Network DVD was also awesome. So much so that they even screened the behind the scenes docs at the Arclight last year with David Prior doing a Q&A afterwards.
I’m interested in hearing people explain Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and what Ceylan is doing that makes it so compelling. I’m going to see this movie again once it gets a theatrical release but I’d like to know what people love about it before I give it a second chance.
I bet if we talked more about Fincher this thread would get more attention.
I agree. We could up the ante and go 4 The Tree of Life too :)
I agree. We could actually up the ante and go 4 The Tree of Life instead :)
Ahhhhh shucks, sorry about all of that…
man, praising a film-maker for his “value-added” DVD productions skills is faint praise indeed.
I saw Anatolia last weekend and had a vague feeling that I’ve seen something that truly exceptional, a masterpiece even! I will try to go again this week and may weigh in more constructive thoughts as I also feel this is a film to watch more than once.
On first impression I love how Ceylan was able to lead the audience in a parallel emotional streck through what the characters experienced in the film. At certain points along the long search the frustration grew and we could literally feel that among the audience (one guy next to me walked out :D). The tension was occasionally relieved with jokes, among us too. At the end when the “mystery” was somehow resolved, the revelation however just started to unfold and we experienced roughly at the same time with the doctor character a disturbing sorrow of just how dark the territory we now have insight into, hence the close-up at the doctor’s face as he’s looking out of the window at the mother and the son.
I also love how Ceylan was able to suggest a great deal of thoughts with some spare images and gestures like in that same close-up or when the prosecutor smiling with deep sadness (as we now know his back story) , saying he used to be called Clark Neurset. This was achieved with careful characterisation built up from the beginning with many small details, conversations, even slips up. Or when the killer looked at the boy who threw stone at him, such haunting image!
The juxtaposition of elements of very different natures felt natural to me, yet at the same time provoking. The horror (of the crime) and the humour ( of the process), the mundane (of the search, village life) and the exceptional (of natural beauty, of kindness).
One shot stayed in my mind (and I’m sure in many others’ too) is the shot of the apple rolling down the stream while the characters continued their conversation on the background. Even in those meandering sequences of Tree of Life – a film that can be considered slow, having taken time to build things rather than pushing a narrative, everyshot still tried to say something and here we have a shot that simply shows an apple rolling down the stream! During that sequence, my trained-by-Hollywood mind screamed of an explanation for “why” but in the end, seeing how the patience, even frustration is paid off, I can see a director who is very sure of what he wants to do and goes to all lengths to achieve that.
Thanks for that interesting review, HA.NG. I"ve been meaning to see this film for a while too.
Is there a link available? It looks like there’s no chance of any kind of theatrical release around here, and I don’t know how long it’ll take for a DVD to percolate over.
The film is shown in only one cinema here and in the second week it has already been pushed up to earlier screening. This is also the only screening on weekday, no screening on the weekend, making it virtually impossible for anyone who works to see it.
A brilliant film.
As I’ve just watched it last night I’m still trying to figure out a lot of the meaning. So, let me just throw some notes and please share ideas.
Still a lot of questions in my head.
The tea sequence is one of my favorite scenes in recent film. Everything is illuminated whether you want it to be or not. And then its darkness again.
Fincher’s problem is his unconvincingly motivated characters and his horrendous pacing. Whatever he’s covering, I always feel like he completely missed the point. I can’t knock his craftsmanship, though.
Now I’ve seen Anatolia, and I agree it’s incredible. It had some anti-genre elements that in some ways reminded me of Police, Adj, but more subtly intellectual rather than lecturing right through the characters. All the characters are really deeply emotional but it’s all buried under layers of banter and comic relief, so you get both the humor of the comic relief and the connect with the characters.
They’re joking with each other and the killer is leading them around to false locations on the route to the true one (Which really seems like he was doing it just to buy a little leisure time for himself, he wasn’t really having trouble remembering), and all of the characters through a lot of joking and emotional defenses are contemplating the spiritual implications of this kind of murder.
Was he even the killer?
I didn’t see any definitive indication in the film as to whether or not he was the killer, but he did eventually lead them to the body. Did you notice something I didn’t that implied he was falsely accused?
Didn’t he tell the other fellow to shut up when he began to confess to the murder? It seemed possible that he was there but taking the fall. It seemed consistent with the “Do you really want to know what really happened? Really?” theme throughout the film.
the other defendant was his mentally challenged brother according to some things i read. at one point the brother does say that he killed the man and the defendant tells him to be quiet. i’d say it’s very possible his brother killed the man who was attacking him but he doesn’t want his brother to suffer for this. also this was supposedly based on a true experience of one of the writers. gorgeous film and a haunting tale told remarkably
But, the victim was buried while still breathing, so if the brother did beat him nearly to death, the defendant is still the killer, and the brother just guilty of aggravated assault. Maybe he murdered him to protect his brother from assault charges?
or possibly they didn’t realize he wasn’t dead? i dunno. the film is full of secrets. i love the idea that we’ll likely never work it all out. also when he sees his brother at the house he says, ‘i thought u were dead’? i’m gonna go back and look at that part
edit: he apparently fell asleep and thought he saw the murder victim. he says ‘Yaşar, aren’t you dead?’ and then yaşar begins to act like he’s choking. and then the prosecutor tells him: no sleeping. curiouser and curiouser
Just got the Bluray!