"The Phoenix" ( Anka Kusu), written and directed by Mesut Uçakan, unexpectedly replaced Jacques Deschamps' "Separations" at the first Fameck Turkish Film Festival on November 1st 2009, and we poor viewers, came out worse off. Instead of the artistic informative thought-provoking work we expected we were given a mediocre photo-story, both very clumsily made and bloated with pretension. Splendor and misery of the standard festival-goer!
A bit disappointed, I decided to watch "Anka Kusu" all the same, with an open mind, which was all easier to do as I knew nothing, either about the film or about its director. Unfortunately I soon became aware that this phoenix was flying low, if it flew at all! At the end of the projection I was sorry to admit it: I had just seen one of the worst films ever.
The story - at least what I understood of it - revolves around Selman, a temperamental, emotionally disturbed but "profound" movie director who in the process of shooting a "metaphysical" "masterpiece" dealing with (what else?) the meaning of life. But the man is no Ingmar Bergman, although he keeps brooding, frowning and bellowing at his collaborators, this being intended to show how tortured and important the man is. Yes he lost his father when he was a little boy; granted he lost his sweetheart when he was a teen; but does that make him automatically an artist? You can doubt it when you consider the scenes featuring Selman as a creator. What we actually see of the film he is shooting is reduced to a single scene, shown three times with practically no variant, and there is no evidence of genius at work in it.
As for the phoenix in question, it refers to the bird of happiness, and only when it sings Selman will at last be allowed to open a box, hiding a treasure, once given to him by his father. The trouble is that dozens and dozens of minutes go by before our feathered friend ends up complying. Before this long-awaited deliverance the viewer will have had to undergo lots of ups and downs, each more ridiculous than the other, the peak of nonsense being reached when a very upset Selman stabs himself in the stomach,"pathetically" yelling "Daddy !, Daddy !, Daddy !
All in all, Uçakan's effort IS appalling. This labored mixture of confused story-telling (vague references to national history; boring sequences - particularly when it comes to the religious group; cheap effects such as Selman's nightmare) combined with pretentious "metaphysics" (the hero asking himself pompous questions such as "What is the impossible?" or "Who is God?", the lot ) . To say nothing of the "tragic" tones of the heavily-insisting score or of the poor performance of the main actor Yalcin Dülmer, bland and pouting, totally incapable of generating sympathy.
It goes without saying that this comment is made from a French point of view. The Turks present in the theater did not seem so dismayed as I was. There may also have been things I misunderstood in the script (for instance all that concerns the religious group escaped me somewhat ; I did not understand very well either who the fake policemen kidnapping Selman's father were exactly). I would be grateful if a person from Turkey would tell me if they agree with me or if, according to them, I missed the point due to culture shock.
Whatever the case may be, this is what I felt about "Anka Kusu", which is in my eyes a ridiculous, poorly made and acted , sententious photo-play.
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