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Dark, stylish, noir thriller is definitely no turkey!
catflap201 March 2009
I can't remember if I've ever seen a Turkish film before, which is a pity, because if Three Monkeys is anything to go by, I have missed some terrific movies.

This is a dark, stylish, noir thriller which sees a man agreeing to take the rap for his political master who is involved in a car accident. In return for doing time for a crime he did not commit, his boss will continue to pay his salary to his family, and also settle the 'debt' with a lump sum payment when the man is eventually released. While he is in prison, his wife is left to hold the family together and she and her son quickly get caught up in a web of passion and betrayal.

Director, Nuri Bilge Ceylan carried off the Best Director Award at Cannes for this, his fifth feature, and it's not hard to see why.

Three Monkeys is is a dark, brooding film, where every shot has been thought through and framed with meticulous detail. Long, intense close ups of the principal characters produces sustained psychological tension as unspoken words seem to fly through the air like knives.

The principal cast of Three Monkeys; Yavuz Bingöl, Hatice Aslan, Ahmat Rifal Sungar, and Ercan Kesal, are universally good, but top credits should go to Hatice Aslan, the femme fatale of the piece, who has the ability to convey many layers of meaning by saying little and feeling much.

Highly recommended.
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There's an Elephant in this Room
MacAindrais14 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Three Monkeys (2008) ****

How much would you sacrifice for the people around you? What can you ignore to keep your family together? If you pretend something didn't happen, does it matter that it ever happened in the first place? These are some of the questions that permeate the great Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan's latest film, Three Monkeys.

Three Monkey's is a grim affair. The film opens as a man drives his car, nodding off, and hits a pedestrian. He's a politician, and knowing what this would do to his career with an upcoming election, he phones his longtime driver in the middle of the night and offers him an proposition. Take his place, and the nine month jail sentence in return for a lump sum. He accepts for the sake of his boss. Never mind that his sacrifice is placed somewhat in vain, considering the politician loses the election anyway.

While in jail, the man's family deals on their own. His son, Ismail, wants to ask the politician for an advance so they can buy a car. He can do work with the car, but the work is for shady characters according to his mother. He takes the train to visit his father every so often in jail. The mother works in a kitchen and looks to get her son a job that he would never be interested in anyway. She does eventually go to the politician on her son's behalf, it appears, to get an advance. There's a strange tension between the two. He asks her if her husband knows about "this." Does he refer to getting the advance, which the father would never approve of, or is it something else? One day Ismail gets set to take the train to visit his father, and mother is preparing to attend training for work. At the station, Ismail gets sick, and vomits on himself. He returns home to get changed. After a moment he realizes the house is not empty. There's noise coming from the bedroom. He notices cigarettes, and looks through the keyhole in the door. He turns and leaves. His mother is having an affair with the politician we now know, as does he. He waits until he leaves then returns to the house. He confronts his mother, but never admits that he saw them together, just that he knows he was in the house. This is the first in a series of events which are purposely left unspoken. He does return to visit his father, and suspicious, he asks if they have someone new. After a pause, the son replies no. To admit the truth would mean the destruction of the family.

When the father gets out of jail, he returns home to an emotionally absent wife. We can't really know if she was this way before he left, but it doesn't really matter now. She meets him in a nighty laying on the bed, in a brilliant scene which sees the husband go from loving, to suspicious, to anger, and near misogyny, to desperation. The wife, too, goes through a range of emotions, and at one point seems genuine but for a moment, then falls back into a distant place. Everyone knows what is happening, but no one dares speak it.

Things spiral more and more into an abyss, until everything has to be at least acknowledged. There are ominous tones throughout Three Monkeys, and they climax in a crucial scene, edited in a particular manner. It involves a meeting between two people in a long take, shot from a distance, that finally cuts to another shot from a distance, but this time from a slightly different angle, and slightly obscured by objects in the foreground. What comes next will require a crucial decision be made by the Father to keep his family together, or maybe there is another way.

The family had another son who died. We're lead to believe that he drowned from the oft sounds of dripping water, and his appearance in a few surreal scenes involving the son and the father - the boy's body is soaked as he observes his family members lying in bed. These moments have a creepiness, but a sad tenderness. Particularly in one scene as the Father lies in bed, his wife moving in the background. All of a sudden a tiny arm comes up from behind and embraces him. This family must have been a bomb waiting to explode for a long time. They're bleeding pain, but each other is all they have.

Three Monkey's is about as well a film can be directed. Indeed, Ceylan won the best director prize at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. The aforementioned scene is just one of many well constructed moments. Ceylan channels Tarkovsky in a few scenes, and his colour palette in particular is reminiscent of Tarkovsky. It's only suitable that a film of such dark subject matter be matched in it's look. Ceylan makes great use of locations, and particularly sounds. After the crucial event in the film, the mother wears a shirt that was certainly chosen for it's pattern, as perhaps a not so subtle accusation. Shots are brilliantly composed to represent the distance felt. That there seems to be only one tender embrace in the film - by the dead son to his father - is profound in retrospect.

I can't be sure, but I have a feeling that Ceylan drew from somewhere deep inside for this film. It's a film that seems as if it were made by someone who knows all to well how something feels. These kinds of movies are almost never a treat to watch. Luckily Ceylan is a such a good director that things never become unbearable, even when they're at the darkest. It's a dark and painful film, but nevertheless doesn't refuse hold out hope for a better day. They were a whole once. Maybe they can be again.
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Mastery of contemporary, contemplative cinema
JuguAbraham27 December 2008
Three Monkeys proved to me that Turkish cinema can rub shoulders with the very best in contemporary cinema.

It has a certain maturity and mastery of the medium even if it follows the patterns of Tarkovsky, Terrence Mallick and Zvyagintsev, with its ability to externalize the internal feelings of individuals and catapult those feelings in context with the well-chosen exteriors—sometimes natural environments and sometimes man-made structures. It's a film that makes the capability of a director and art director stand out even to a village idiot viewing cinema.

The title of the film does refer to the proverbial three monkeys; one who refuses to hear, one who refuses to see, and one who refuses to speak. It is an interesting contemporary tale revolving around three adults that make up a Turkish urban nuclear family. The husband drives the car of a politician to make a living, the wife works in a kitchen of a large establishment, and their adult son is a student dreaming of owning a car. It is a tale that could take place in Turkey or any other part of the world suggesting that tales of individual angst fall within some external matrix that a viewer can either glimpse or reject as a cosmic play of dice.

The three "monkeys" are a husband, wife and son living a cohesive, stable life. A fourth character is a typical creepy politician whose actions disrupt the tranquil life of the cohesive trio by a chain of lies, deceit, lust and avarice—all brought about by the ripple effect of an external request. Here is a tale of three essentially good people who become entwined in actions that threaten to break up their happy but mundane middle-class lives.

What is the external request that leads to the domino effect on the family? The politician falls asleep while driving a sedan and knocks down an unknown person on a remote road and the incident is noticed by a passing car. To preserve his political chances at the soon-to-be-held elections, he requests his regular driver to take the rap and go to prison for the crime he did not commit, while the politician promises to continue paying his salary and provide a large sum at the completion of his jail term. The first "monkey" gets hooked to the suggested plan that he hears.

The son dreams of a family car that could be acquired with an advance on the politician's final payment to his father and goads his mother to meet the politician with the request. And you soon have two other "monkeys" trapped by their own innocent actions that spiral into grievous crimes because they choose not to see, hear or speak. Interestingly, each of the three is essentially a well-meaning, ethical individual. However, the external request of a politician to the head of the family of the trio opens up vistas for three good persons to choose a deviant path they might not have chosen otherwise.

The filmmakers go on to suggest that the pattern could spillover to upset another sedate life of a good man at the end. Those affected do not seem to learn from history. The cosmic tale carries on like a Shakespearean or Tolstoyan tragedy, even as dark clouds gather over the magical landscape on the coasts of the Marmara Sea (Black Sea) captured with the digital magic of Gokhan Tiryaki (the cinematographer of Ceylan's Climates as well). Are we individuals truly in control of what happens to us in life? This is the implicit question the film asks of the viewer. Do events in our life force us take paths we never would have taken otherwise? Do we learn from our mistakes or prefer to make bigger mistakes like a "monkey"? Ironically, the film itself is a product of another family—but this one is incredibly talented. The husband and wife team of Nuri Bilge Ceylan (director, editor, and writer of Three Monkeys, and actor of his earlier films Distant and Climates) and Ebru Ceylan (writer and art director of Three Monkeys, actor of Distant and Climates and an award-winning short-filmmaker) team up with Ercan Kesal (actor in Three Monkeys, playing the politician in the movie) to write up this interesting film.

The story is only a small part of the film's broad enjoyment spectrum. Take the art direction—-the building in which the trio live looks imposing at the start of the movie. Only towards the end of the movie as the lives of the individuals fall apart you see the building has an imposing front but is actually a poor tenement with a fabulous view. The railroad becomes a flight path to freedom from the drudgery of the house, but tenants of the house need to cross physical (symbolic) barriers to reach the station. Interestingly, the head (and face) of the son poking out of the train form the poster of the film a shot that is repeated with differing expressions as the film progresses.

In this film, the husband-wife team of the Ceylans stays behind the camera. They introduce a TV actor Hatice Aslan who plays Hacer, the mother/wife role in the film. The performance is nothing short of spectacular. The sudden action of kicking up of her shoes while sitting and breaking into smiles of freedom is unforgettable; the true implications of the scene revealed to the viewer only much later.

Turkish cinema has thrown up great filmmakers. Yilmaz Guney was my favorite Turkish filmmaker from that country. Now I have added Ceylan (and his talented wife) to that list. Guney took up subjects that mirrored politics and got into trouble for that. Ceylan appears to be apolitical except for his dark universal swipe at politicians as a tribe. Or is he?
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Political Crime... A realistic social view of middle-class Turkish society after the 1996 Susurluk case
CihanVercan1 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan brings the bridge between the politics and the social order into sharp relief, after the 1996 Susurluk case in Turkey; where innocents get punished instead of the actual criminals. A strong plot yet faltering story-telling. The accord between each actors lead us to a confusion about the happenings, for all the four main characters are playing sulky and disgruntled moods. Rıfat Sungar playing İsmail-the son of the family- is the worst of all. Because he is the center of all the happenings in the movie, we see him at almost every scene. Dialogues between characters were so stuffy that a non-Turkish viewer would have a hard time to understand why a regular 20 year old handsome boy lives a life time crisis; which is because of the academic qualification exams. This is a mistake from the screenplay that disinclines the non-Turkish viewers away.

As the story progresses Ceylan's talented directing takes control of our attention ultimately. As a reminder, he used to be a photographer; so get ready for strange and interesting aerial views from Istanbul which you cannot find nowhere else. Have you ever seen an apartment building that much strange looking? Believe me, people actually do live in those junk apartments, and work 2 jobs everyday just to be able to pay the rent in Istanbul. Just three steps away from that slum landlords' houses, there lies the railroad and the Bosphorus.

Despite the sightly views from the city, we begin to wonder about each character's upshot. We have a broken family portrait. Father of the family has gone behind bars to save a politics party leader's ass. Then that leader who employs him gets use of his absence and begins to a sexual affair with his wife. The son of the family decodes that affair between them. After arguing with his mother, he kills the party leader the day his father got out of jail. Finally, instead of winding up behind bars to save his son's future; the father blackmails an innocent child to make him stand the racket.

As a matter of fact, this waterfall effect oppressed a minority of innocents since the Susurluk case of 1996 in Turkey. Imagine a country of 70 million population bearing those politics leaders for so long. Out of cowardice and deep resentment those politics leaders never took their own responsibility of social, governmental and inflationary chaos. No one knew the consequences of their own cruelty. Nonetheless, Turkey still has enlightened individuals like director Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Thanks for his enlightening work of 3 Monkeys.

Attention viewers!! Oscar-worthy directing and cinematography... The strongest nominee of the 2008 Best Foreign Language Feature Film in Hollywood!!
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Nuri Bilge Ceylan: always different, always the same.
PhillieTurk5 January 2009
There is something about Nuri Bilge Ceylan's films that have always set itself apart from other films on the international stage: its ability to resonate with an audience. Although set in Turkey his films' story lines have the ability to connect with an audience from any region while also being able to utilize a major city's inner-turmoil via its transmitting landscapes, exhaustive loneliness and its sheer beauty. And "Three Monkeys" is no exception.

The story is the most complex and inter-connected of Ceylan's career and because of this he opts to use actors with previous experience for the first time (outside of his actress wife in "Climates"). A series of hidden secrets and unfolding lies keeps the family distant and increasingly torn apart from each other until a breaking point brings them back full circle. The "best-laid-plans" aspect of the film gives it a tinge of film-noir as it uses this device to present the family in its wondrous failures.

Having seen each of Ceylan's previous works my first expectation before seeing this film was breathtaking cinematography (and it did not disappoint in the least). Seeing Ceylan present the wondrous rain clouds that burst and crash above the dusty traffic-filled streets of Istanbul throughout this film as well as many of his others never gets old. "Three Monkeys" itself starts with a beautiful presentation of a car riding hidden paths that circle inside a forest's midnight darkness before it disappears from sight completely perhaps evoking questions as to why anyone would need to make their way through such landscapes at such an hour but at the risk of being cliché: "c'est la vie".

The use of established actors provided some consolation for the audience who could believe and connect with three characters who slowly went about their lives of self-destruction and self-deception until all secrets and lies were laid out on the table for the whole family to bear. The father who went through great hardship for his family finds only heartbreak following his efforts, the guilt-ridden son who is haunted by the memory of a younger brother whose tragic death he feels responsible for and must now deal with the knowledge of a mother who has found the love and affection of another man who is simply using her. The wide array of camera angles and mixture of shots of varying range and clarity enables Ceylan to convey the feelings and thoughts of his characters while still allowing the audience to follow the foreshadowing plot.

The usual Ceylan trademarks resonate within "Three Monkeys" both technically and spiritually while also showing his audience that with each time-out and with each film he can take his stories and characters into a completely new direction while taking his audience along for the ride. The slow, motionless shots give the audience a silence that swells with his characters' feelings and showcases a family's ability to communicate without words. This film has the ability to simultaneously show an audience a beautiful city and its inhabitants while also revealing real-life characters who let their emotions go to the extreme due to jealousy, rage and lust which can be found within anyone in the world.

Note: At Cannes, Ceylan picked up the Best Director prize and the film was subsequently chosen by Turkey to be its nominee for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
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One of the best Turkish movies to come out in years
ylmzyldz14 November 2008
Although it can be argued that its local touches can be appreciated more fully by Turkish audiences, "3 Monkeys" is a film that can definitely appeal to all film-lovers all over the world. It is a human drama, centered around the family of a fall-guy for a small-time politician. It is also a story of betrayal, longings and revenge. No shot is "left there" just for the effect. Even while you are watching someone walk under a train crossing, you find yourself thinking about what she might be feeling, thinking, not because you force yourself to, but because the film successfully makes you. Visuals are great, as always is with Ceylan, but this time they are superior, and the film, with both its screenplay and visuals has a black-and-white feeling, although it is not a black-and-white picture. At the end, you find yourself wondering who the "three wise monkeys" really are. Is it the family of 3, whose members have different agendas and do not want to see or hear or tell, or is it us, for knowing, but not wanting to know about all this human drama and social corruption? I hope "3 Monkeys" can gain international distribution besides film festivals and be given a chance to be appreciated by everyone.
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A very beautiful movie
lazarillo23 November 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As other reviewers have said this is a very "Turkish" movie, and as such I might have enjoyed it more than some people, having spent two years of my life living in Turkey. But really there is no such thing as a "Turkish" movie--Turkish movies are just as widely varied as American movies are (this is absolutely nothing like the infamous Turkish version of "The Exorcist", for instance). This is definitely a Turkish-flavored film in some ways, but it is also really one of those (mostly foreign) movies that really uses film as a visual medium as opposed to a purely dramatic one. It's not just that there's no Hollywood-style car chases or big explosions, or that the the one act of violence takes place entirely offscreen. But there's also not a lot of dramatic dialogue (or dialogue period). There's not the "big", self-important acting performances, or even the usual over-bearing, emotion-jerking musical score (which is the one thing I probably find most annoying about Hollywood movies).

This is a subtle drama about a three-person family (four, actually, if you count a son who died in under mysterious, unspoken circumstances and appears occasionally in ghostly visions). The father goes to jail after taking a fall in a hit-and-run accident for his wealthy, politician employer. The post-adolescent son drifts into juvenile delinquency, and the depressed and middle-age but still quite attractive mother has to approach the employer to borrow money for a car so her directionless son can pursue a career. Infidelity, jealousy, and revenge eventually ensue, and the plot comes full circle with another even more downtrodden person taking the fall for another crime.

There are a lot of long, washed-out shots of actors brooding on rooftops overlooking the sea while a thunderstorm approaches. The Midwestern American pseudo-sophisticated rubes at the film festival where I saw this were bitching afterwards about how "slow" it was, but personally I thought it was very beautiful (go see a Steven Spielberg flick if want roller-coaster suspense or tear-jerking schmaltz). The acting was excellent, even if it's the kind of introverted acting most "name" Hollywood stars today hate and couldn't pull off if their lives depended on it. This would make a poor Hollywood blockbuster, a lousy Broadway play, and a quickly-cancelled primetime TV show, but it's a very beautiful movie.
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Masterful visuals in a family tragedy
timmy_50128 November 2009
The three monkeys in the title of this film refer to both the classic "See No Evil, Speak No Evil, Hear No Evil" maxim and to the compact family of three depicted in the film. These three characters are Eyup, his wife Hacer, and their son Ismail. Each of these people seem to live by the maxim of the monkeys so much that they hardly talk to each other at all. Events unfold with a tragic inevitability after Eyup agrees to confess to a crime committed by his boss Servet to shield him from political disgrace in exchange for a large payoff. The shattered family then attempts to go on about their lives as if nothing had ever happened, even when more things do happen. Problems that normally would be relatively routine when faced by a united family thus become a devastating cycle that threatens to destroy their lives.

The material here is good but it likely would have devolved into histrionic melodrama in the hands of a less restrained director. Ceylan is a minimalist and as such he tends to allow the actions of the character to speak for themselves. In a way the lack of exposition puts the viewer in a similar situation to that of the family; we don't know exactly what they are thinking either.

Ceylan's greatest strength is in visuals: his landscapes look unlike anyone else's. The colors are often desaturated; I generally think this visual technique is a mistake but it looks great in his films. Like all Ceylan films, Three Monkeys is worth seeing for the indescribable visuals alone, but this film in particular also offers a perfectly executed family tragedy. Ceylan really outdid himself this time, this is one of the best films of the decade.
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In competition at Cannes 2008, creates more intrigue rather than a cinematic full circle.
crey01428 July 2008
Although ambitious and picture perfect, the feeling of exaggeration cannot be shaken from "Üç Maymun", a drama set in Turkey following the exploits and heartbreak of a nuclear family. Thwarted desires and desire-less characters are plenty; Nuri Bilge Ceylan helms the film that feels it has more style rather than substance. Could possibly be taken more as a meditative form of tragic cinema, it still cannot compare to the likes of Ki-duk Kim, also going for the same moody dialogue-less craving audience. In competition at Cannes 2008, creates more intrigue rather than a cinematic full circle.

Film follows a surname-less nuclear family as they come to grips with the paternal character, Eyüp (Yavoz Bingol), who goes to prison for 9 months with either altruistic or financial reasons in mind. He leaves his wife Hacer (Hatice Aslan), who clearly needs more than what her husband can deliver and son Ismail (Ritaf Sungar), an overgrown teenager who cannot find any sort of direction in life, eventually leading himself to lethargy and apathy. Characters are definitely flawed and are interesting, however delivery of the family on celluloid still seem to be somewhat lacking.

Technically, the film triumphs as it conveys more towards the plot than the characters. Cinematographer Gőkhan Tiryaki paints the image with a dull rusty palette perfectly mirroring the doom and depression the characters wear on their sleeves. Also, by the camera angles itself, film clearly wants its audience to be as disjointed to the characters as possible making them feel more voyeuristic rather than empathetic. Certain scenes filled with dramatic desperation are filmed behind the bushes, both making moments like that intensely private but nevertheless distant.

As with the stylish overcast weather this universe is subjected to, the film is intensely meditative as it strictly confines these characters to themselves through limitations of the spoken word. Almost half of the film is indulged in shots that are introspective and deeply personal. It works to an extent as it diverts the thinking to the audience, although picture doesn't really have much to allow the audience to chew on. Like the sky, filled with clouds desperate to rain, audiences will be left wanting to connect with these characters. It does rain, although it only pour before the end credits. A point of liminal, it doesn't make it clear though on what's there to be liminal about.

Picture's ace is Hacer. Played with much desperation by Hatice Aslan, she remains the only character with an overwhelming desire to be happy. Character takes the opportunity to explore happiness whilst her husband is away. But, the thing is, this source of pleasure is normally deemed as unorthodox even if it gives her a reason for being. Once this source of contentment is stripped off, clear anxiety strikes her as she borderlines the bathetic. Indeed a flawed character, she still becomes the reference point to the masculine characters who desire something more tangible.

"Üç maymun" is a cinematic experience that gets richer in retrospect. Definitely not a form of transient entertainment, it caters to a specific audience devotedly. However, feeling of an overstretched plot on a surrealist setting can be a hindrance to full appreciation. It also feels rather indulgent. Extended shots could have been excised, taking with it the impression of a pretentious, not a nirvana-driven, production.
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See no Evil, Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil and Life Goes on
claudio_carvalho26 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
While driving late night on a lonely road, the wealthy politician Servet (Ercan Kesal) hits a person and flees from the crime scene. The hit-and- run driver calls his employee Eyüp (Yavuz Bingöl), who lives in a simple house with his wife Hacer (Hatice Aslan) and their teenager son Ismail (Ahmet Rifat Sungar), and offers to continue to monthly pay his salary and a large amount in the end of the sentence to Eyüp to take the blame for the accident.

Eyüp accepts the offer and goes to prison along less than a year. Meanwhile, Ismail, who is a reckless student, wants to use part of the money that Servet owes to his father to buy a car to work as a school driver. When the beautiful Hacer visits Servet to receive the money, he makes a pass at Hacer. One day, Ismail returns home before traveling to visit his father and he sees Servet leaving his house and he presses his mother. When Eyüp is released, Ismail drives his father home and he learns that Hacer had taken part of the money to buy the car. When Servet does not discount the amount from the payoff, Eyüp suspects that Hacer is an unfaithful wife in the beginning of a family tragedy.

"Üç Maymun" is a film based on the maxim of the Three Wise Monkeys - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – for an unethical Turkish family. The father, Eyüp, accepts money to assume the murder of a pedestrian hit by his employer. His wife is easily seduced by the employer of her husband. Their son finds the truth about his mother and presses her to have his car. In the end, Eyüp finds a man needier than him to assume the guilty of his son's crime, using the same expediency of his former boss and life goes on with this Turkish family. Scary! My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "3 Macacos" ("3 Monkeys")
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Darwin, where art thou?
emperor_panos22 December 2008
Driving in the dark of night, in the middle of nowhere, a car takes a right turn and disappears. Descending. Not to death. Hell is one word for it. Another is role-playing. Another is the seer. The opposite of which, is the monkey. Three Monkeys is one of the greatest films of the year from a country that is not in its cinematic golden age, but which we ought to applaud for one of the greatest efforts of contemporary cinema. In a world wherein art has no place whatsoever, the world of the film, where death is as close as stupidity and narrow-mindedness, love forgotten and humanity reduced to means, this film attempts to rekindle a glimpse of hope for those who see it. But it is as fragile as the ghost of a child that haunts its inhabitants. A brilliant cast, almost flawless cinematography and a poetic direction reminiscent of the great works portraying Hell, this film welcomes a refreshing take on realism with surrealist brush-strokes that in my opinion could only benefit from one single element: a return of the gaze. Unfortunately, this film may be lost in the torrents of mainstream audiences. It is also to be respected then, for not making any effort, not pretending, and in my view, ultimately disregarding, any aspirations to popularity. This is fully in accord with the atmosphere of the film itself. And this, if anything, demands critical appraisal.
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brilliant directing
cimicib23 November 2008
The first and the most important thing to say about "Uc Maymun" is already said at the 2008 Festival de Cannes; the directing is incredibly strong! The usage of every cinematographic material shows and once again proves that Nuri Bilge Ceylan is a great auteur of our time. I really don't agree with the critiques that have been made about how too technical and photographical the movie is. Simply because it's not. It's just irritating as life itself. It's reality what was filmed and so; very irritating as it should have been. It's the first movie of the auteur in which act professional actors; therefore it tastes and seems different somehow. Plus the way it's made was meant to be different than the former ones as far as I am concerned. Yet I don't think that the movie lacks the sincerity which always has been the most important reason for me to like the movies of N.B.C. Actually I think that it is more movie-like this time; thus experimental for the director, no need to say.
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Memorable film, but I have a plot quibble
JSL264 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I agree with most of the commenters' praise of the cinematography and the art direction. Nuri Bilge Ceylan also makes great use of the weather to express a mood. In his "Distant" the snowstorm was almost the main character and here thunderstorms make several portentous appearances. But the main reason to see this film is the enigmatic performance of the lovely and sexy Hatice Aslan as the lonely wife, Hacer. Her expressive face lingers long after the curtain falls.

But I would quarrel with the turn the plot takes half way through the movie. I can understand Hacer's having a fling with Servet, the feckless politician for whom her husband is taking the rap. She is lonely and was probably under-appreciated by her husband even before he went to jail, thus making her vulnerable to Servet's attentions. Not to mention, she wanted to secure the money to try to revive her slacker son. But to then have her become insanely obsessed with Servet stretches credulity—-especially with her husband's imminent return. It would have been far more believable IMHO for Servet to become obsessed with Hacer. Then the plot could have unfolded in a climactic way when her husband returned. In fact it could have ended almost the same way. But that would have been my movie and not Mr. Ceylan's
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It is all about being human!
cem-562 January 2009
"Three Monkeys " is a special film. It is unique and authentic despite the fact that it is built on the common cultural heritage of humanity. In the simplest words this film is about being human. It successfully reflects the reality of it. Director chose a family in a ghetto of Istanbul to reflect this state of humanity , in my belief to be able to reach the global starting with the local.

In terms of film grammar and narration he placed all of his references from film history, expertly, in all scenes of the film. Today, in the age of confusion, Three Monkeys leaves the spectators in the middle of their own confusion about being "good" or "evil". Of course it is not that easy to decide for the "good" or "evil" , so is in this film. At last, we are all human beings , let's think what would we do if we were in their shoes?
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Weather, trains, and phonecalls
Polaris_DiB10 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Most of the Eastern European cinema that makes it over the ocean to US theatres is of the depressing and brutally color-washed variety (see 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days), and this is no exception. Cannes winner for Best Director award, the Turkish film Three Monkeys features a family breaking down from one bad decision following the next. It all starts out with the father deciding to take the fall for a politician involved in a hit-and-run. Then, as the mother gets involved with the politician and the son gets sick, the three of them begin to slowly lose themselves in dysfunction and mis-aimed hatred, building long and subtly into a dramatic tension that never really bursts, but does begin to fill each frame with uncomfortable alacrity. This is the type of movie where you get so involved in the long, methodical takes that you don't notice when it suddenly becomes nearly unbearable to watch these people being so self-destructive, and you realize that, unaccountably, you're completely hooked.

An interesting device running throughout the movie is of visitors--not visitors of the neighborly "come over and hang out" variety, but trains, weather, and phone calls interjecting each scene like an unwanted guest, stabbing into the (typically) non-conversation the characters are having and eating away communication like corrosive acid. Then there's the visitor of the dead brother, who comes to comfort the characters at various, incredibly uncanny, points.

This is the exact type of movie that most audiences would have a hard time with because it's "slow", but nevertheless there are some scenes so filled with dark energy that it's hard to remember the movie as much more as an electrifying experience. Of particular interest is the mother, whose face reaches the scowling limits of the term "if looks could kill" almost literalized. As much as the cinematography and blocking were fun to look at, this movie eventually became the actors' movies, all considerations of what's going on otherwise lost in the way each one of them somehow managed to have expressions that wouldn't move all while the muscles under their faces writhed and twitched like snakes. Watch that scene as the mother stares over the sea-side again and note how she is not moving at all, but every muscle in her body is going haywire.
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Definitely not the tourists' Turkey
Red-12528 August 2009
Üç maymun (2008), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, is a Turkish film shown in the United States with the title, "Three Monkeys." The film explores the dynamics of a working-class family when these dynamics are changed by the actions of an upper-class employer.

Yavuz Bingol plays Eyüp, who is a chauffeur for a wealthy businessman/politician. His wife, Hacer--played by the lovely Hatice Aslan--and his son, Ismail (Rifat Sungar) are the other two family members. Although many reviewers have called the family dysfunctional, I think that, at the outset of the film, they aren't much different from other families. We all know of families with two hard-working parents and a young-adult son who lives at home. The son is drifting towards trouble, but hasn't actually gotten there yet. The scenario isn't all that unusual.

At the very outset of the film, the chauffeur's employer has killed a pedestrian, and then left the scene of the accident. That sets the plot in motion--everything follows from that event.

This is a somber, thoughtful film. There's very little on-screen violence and almost no gaiety either. Ceylan reminds me of Chantal Ackerman in his use of long, middle-distance takes. If someone is going somewhere, we get long scenes in which we see the person walking, then riding on a train, then walking again. The scenes aren't random. At that point in the plot, the person must move from point A to point B. Most directors would show him or her leaving a house, and arriving at an office, or vice-versa. Ceylan shows us the character actually traveling from A to B.

Once I got into the rhythm of the film, I enjoyed this slow and careful directorial style. Whether or not you like the film may hinge on your acceptance or rejection of Ceylan's technique.

We saw this film in the wonderful Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House in Rochester, NY. I think it would work almost as well on DVD.
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Three Monkeys-it's not what you think it is
jonnygs29 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As my friend Jeremy Fassler says, the film Three Monkeys "would be much better if it had some actual monkeys". In fact, from the title, one expects a Pixar film about three monkeys that have some kind of adventure. At least that would be an enjoyable way to spend 109 minutes. The set-up for Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Three Monkeys is indeed an interesting one; a politician in the midst of an election runs over someone and pays his driver to take the blame. The action seems to have a potential for a thrilling film, but Ceylan only explores this conflict for the first half hour. Ceylan doesn't explore anything of interest to the audience and wastes rolls and rolls of film on the minutia of everyday life, filling the screen with people constantly sitting and doing things that have no meaning. He places different conflicts throughout the film, but they are never fully explored and are few and far between. For example, at one point in the film, the son of the driver who took the blame for the car accident comes home bloodied and bruised. His mother simply looks at him. There is no explanation of what happened and why. Even at the end of the film, the audience has no idea who the characters are, what there backgrounds are, and what their mutual history is. What Ceylan has created here is a slow and boring look at everyday life. Ceylan seems willing to let the story be told by having his actors sit, and stare. He fails to realize that watching other people do unimportant things does not make for an interesting film. Ceylan's direction isn't bad, but it isn't good either. At times he just turns the camera on and he cannot figure out how to involve the audience in the film. The shots he uses are nothing special and nothing sticks out. The cinematography gives the film a very distinct look. But every shot in the film looks the same, and after a while, it stops being interesting. The only part of the film that works is the acting. All the performances are good, but because Ceylan doesn't explore any of the characters, there is nothing for the actors to convey to the audience as a way of involving the viewer. As a result, the audience feels alienated from the characters and doesn't care what happens. Three Monkeys attempts to be an intense and involving character study. Instead it comes off as pretentious and flat. Ceylan tries to milk as much drama out of Three Monkeys, but this cow is all dried up. This is evidenced by the final shot of the film; the main character, seen from afar, stands outside as it begins to rain. Ceylan is wrong director for this film (regardless of the fact that he co-wrote it). He seems interested in emotional drama and doesn't realize what type of film Three Monkeys needs to be. A film with a plot like this can go either one of two ways; it can either explore the conflict the main character creates and the direct consequences, or it can show what happens when all the dust settles. Unfortunately, Nuri Bilge Ceylan's Three Monkeys takes the latter. C+
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Psycho thriller meets Stalker - didn't really work for me.
arkid7727 October 2008
Is this the first film from Cylan to mark a notable shift in direction, or is it just a one off? Personally speaking, I hope its just a one off. Ill explain why...

In some aspects this film isn't anything unexpected. Cylan's visuals have always been very important and this latest digital outing is a further progression in the direction his previous works were already going. This films visuals seem even more extremely colour corrected and lusher than all the previous colour films he made. Cylan's sound-scape specifically seems to have also progressed hugely from his last films. These are all details im OK with (although I think his colour correction is a bit too much sometimes).

A few more words on the sound; On the whole it was great and the soundtrack was incredibly loud on the screening we saw, which im sure was deliberate. My only gripes were Cylan's constant use of a shaking metal sound effect that he's taken directly out of Stalker (i hope the estate of Andrei Tarkovsky aren't reading this!) were a little too much for me knowing the penchant he already has for his love of Tarkovsky! Oh, and the sound effect of the repeated thunderstorm really was way too unsubtle and unoriginal.

3 Monkeys however has a very different plot to his other films. In short, this is no normal meditative slow paced Cylan film and not what viewers who know his existing work will expect. You could also say that this film HAS an active plot, while the others have much less of one.

In a nutshell this film follows a simple "dramatic" plot which is setup for the viewer within the first minute of the film and is more akin to something one would find in a psychological thriller film. I wont ruin anything, but the very fact that this film uses "sensationalist" (very much so in terms of what to expect from Cylan at least) plot devices such as murder and attempted suicide give an idea of what I mean.

It did seem to run a little long and here lies a conflict I found with the film. I found it struggling to find its place between a short sharp slick psychological thriller and a normal Cylan film. In other words, wresting with its length and timing. Maybe its just me, this viewer that was doing the wrestling... Still, it seemed to be a bit too long and self indulgent for the kind of film such a plot arbitrarily assigns it. If it had been a more meditative Cylan film, sure no problem, the shots could have been twice as long and it would have fitted quite well within the inwards looking reflective nature of the narrative.

In conclusion, although I found the film very slick and well made, that ultimately it seemed lost between two forms/directions. Also, being very aware of Tarkovskys films and Cylans liking for them, i found the quite frequent specific references / takes from them to be quite annoying. A small point and irrelevant to anyone unfamiliar with his work.

I hope Mr Cylan's film don't continue to go in a basic plot driven direction such as this one or I believe it will be a great loss to world cinema.
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Good direction and acting, but not particularly original or memorable
tenshi_ippikiookami14 June 2016
"Üç Maymun" or as the English title says: "Three Monkeys" is an OK movie, that offers good direction, a handful of good performances and nice visuals, but almost zero originality and little in tension or plot development.

Servet kills a person and convinces his driver, Eyüp, to take the blame in exchange for money. But as Eyüp's son Ismail seems to be on a dangerous path, getting into fights and bad companies, Eyüp's wife Hacer decides to go and talk with Servet for an advancement of the money, a decision that will bring unexpected consequences.

The movie doesn't offer much in the plot department. It is a traditional story of a dysfunctional family and of power relations, and corruption. The pace is quite contemplative, but assured and clear, and the tinge the whole movie has brings with it the right kind of mood. The actors all do a good job, even if it leans to the stoic kind of, with silences and contained-violence. But the movie lacks the touch that would make it stand out, and it ends becoming just one more of its kind.

All in all, it is an interesting movie, but nothing out of the ordinary.
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Like my own personal story.
pelinozkan16 December 2008
I liked that story. It looks like my own story. I felt somebody knows my history, and wrote its details. I don't know why and how, but I found this movie very close to me. One of my friend advised me to watch 3 Monkeys when he watched it. He said to me 'You will find your life story in that movie.' I thought he was exaggerating. But he was wright. The picture, the atmosphere, the feelings, the dialogues were parts of my life. How can a director describe humanity such so powerful. I liked him and his way. Thank you Mr. Ceylan for your professionalism. You are a real master. No doubt, this movie is a masterpiece. You have to find and watch it. May be you can find something from your story.
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Just how pretentious can one get?
barbara-czarniawska24 January 2009
"A lot of long, washed-out shots of actors brooding on rooftops overlooking the sea while a thunderstorm approaches"; oh yes, the only thing missing is the director in person showing on the screen and pointing out, with a whole hand, the moments when the audience should be most impressed. Psychologically, almost none of the protagonists' actions make any sense; which would be O.K. in a surrealist movie, but not in this neo-realist one. The most impressive takes are showing sweat on foreheads of the protagonists running upwards, which is certainly an achievement (although not all persons sweat equally, even on the same day and in the same temperature). I have seen the movie with a serious and appreciative audience, but even there some people couldn't stop laughing at sudden appearances of the dead brother (this is not a spoiler, because the character has nothing to do with the movie). Artificiality of the takes is simply embarrassing.
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Full of Brooding
MikeyB179324 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
There are long longeurs of people brooding that go on forever. Many scenes seem to play-out in slow-motion depression. The plot is basic enough - a politician swindles his driver to take the fall for a fatal accident. The driver goes to jail – the drivers' wife falls for the politician, the son of the driver finds out about his mother and when the driver is released from jail he suspects that not all is kosher.

The family dissolves into a full blown depression and they speak in monosyllables to each other. There is even some science fiction when a long dead son starts miraculously appearing. I didn't quite get this part but it was pretty eerie!

Really it's not that there is no empathy – but everything is so dreary that it just weighs you down. One wonders if there is any point to it all – I didn't see any. It's like an old Ingmar Bergman that has been transported to Turkey.
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amrassinefil15 May 2010
A family is dislocated when small failings become extravagant lies. The film opens as a wealthy businessman, Servet, running a campaign for the upcoming election, is driving in his car alone and sleepy, struggling to keep his eyes open. Seconds later he hits and kills a pedestrian in the middle of the road. Servet panics when another car with a couple inside approaches. He sneaks away. Eyüp, a man living in a slum at Yedikule neighborhood in İstanbul, with his wife and only son, is the driver of Servet. He wakes up in the middle of the night with his cell phone ringing. It's his boss, telling Eyüp to meet him immediately. Shivering in shock, Servet explains the current events to his driver. His excuse is if the fatal accident comes out in press it would terminate his political career, so he proposes Eyüp to take over the penalty and stay in prison for a brief period of time in exchange for a lump sum payment upon his release, whilst still paying his salary to his family so they can get by. Eyüp accepts the deal. An unspecified time passes, summer arrives, and Eyüp's son İsmail fails to enter college again. His mother, Hacer, who works in the catering division of a factory, starts worrying about her son after unpleasant events, and tries to convince him to get a job. İsmail suggests driving children between home and school but of course they don't have any financial source for this kind of an enterprise. İsmail asks his mother to request an advance payment from Servet without consulting Eyüp. Hacer meets with Servet, in his office after the election (which he lost), and requests the money. After Hacer leaves the office and starts waiting for a bus at the stop Servet persuades Hacer to accept a lift from him back to her home. More unspecified time passes, and İsmail intends to visit his father. Things take a poor turn when he finds his mother having an affair with Servet. İsmail stands passive. After serving nine months in prison, Eyüp is released. He senses things are "a little peculiar" inside his home. Hacer is in love with Servet and insists on maintaining their affair. Servet disagrees. That night, Hacer and Eyüp are invited to the police station and informed that Servet has been murdered. Police officers interrogate the two and Eyüp finds out that Hacer was cheating on him. He denies knowing anything about it. İsmail confesses to his mother that he murdered Servet. Eyüp calms down when he pays a visit to a mosque. Afterwards, Eyüp goes on to speak with a very poor man who works and sleeps inside a tea house in the neighborhood. Eyüp makes the same proposition to the poor man, Bayram, that Servet made to him: to claim the crime committed by his son. Bayram agrees. The last scene shows Eyüp at his home's balcony, staring at the Marmara Sea, and along with thunder it starts to rain.
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Shows the meaning of directing
csaltun26 April 2009
Nuri Bilge Ceylan shows us how an awful screenplay turns to a good movie in a professional director's hand. I think he deserved all those award because of that reason.

Overall acting was good. Especially those two Yavuz Bingol and Ercan Kesal who are not actors in real (Bingl is a musician and Kesal is a doctor) were remarkable.

By the way, to put a dead child in a movie to support the physiological atmosphere and subject of the movie was a good idea. But still I did not like the form of the child as he was too scary to be a part the movie.

So, 0 for the screenplay, 6 for performers and 8 for the director.
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Award-winning director Nuri Bilge Ceylan offers a powerful and stark portrayal of political venality and personal betrayal
bartekfm8 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As a kind of cultural globalization takes over world cinema, one should be grateful for directors such as the Hungarian Béla Tarr, the Romanian Cristian Mungiu, the Iranians Abbas Kiarostami and Bahman Ghobadi and the Turkish Nuri Bilge Ceylan who keep alive a personal, regional and stylistically individual form of film-making. Their work is never likely to become widely popular at home or abroad, but they're beacons of hope for the future of a troubled art.

A photographer by profession, Ceylan turned to film-making in the mid-90s and works largely with non-professional actors and small budgets. He belongs in the tradition of Tarkovsky, Bergman, Antonioni, Angelopoulos and other masters that seemed in the 60s and 70s to be on the point of becoming a new or, at least, parallel mainstream but has now been marginalised. His new film, The Three Monkeys, like its two predecessors, won a major award at Cannes, in this case the prize for best director, and it begins with that familiar dramatic device for the creation of tension, guilt and dangerous consequences - the hit-and-run accident.

Here, a man kills a pedestrian at night on a country road. It transpires that he is a politician, Servet, and in order for the event not to affect a forthcoming election he bribes his driver Eyüp, who wasn't with him on this occasion, to take the rap. He'll go on getting paid during his nine-month sentence and at the end will receive a decent pay-off.

The title is a reference to the Sino-Japanese image of the three wise monkeys who see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, suggesting this film is a moral fable about the consequences of evasion, corruption and suppression. Servet thinks he's doing what's best for his party and the country: he's a supporter of Prime Minister Erdogan and the occasion is the 2007 general election that ended in a landslide victory. Eyüp believes he's acting like a good servant, but, more important, he's getting the money that will get a better home for his handsome wife Hacer and provide for the education of his teenage son Ismail.

Nothing good comes of these actions. One way and another, everyone's life is affected, indeed in some measure destroyed, but like much else in the film the judgments are left to the viewer. Are we dealing with national problems of widespread social corruption, with the weaknesses of a set of individuals or the operation of a malignant fate of a kind that stalks us all? From the start, Ceylan draws us into the very narrative fabric. In the opening scene, using silence, long takes, available light and dramatic compositions, he makes us ask questions about what we are seeing. Who is this man? What has he done? How will he react? There are long gaps in time between individual sequences and seemingly important facts are never made plain.

Ismail comes home with a badly cut hand and a bruised face, but he never reveals to his mother, or to us, whether these wounds came from brawling or from political demonstrations. They have the effect, however, of persuading her to visit the politician and seek an advance on the bribe to buy a car for the boy. This in turn leads to an affair, which is only discovered when Ismail returns home early to find his mother making love to Servet. When Eyüp emerges from jail, he's furious about the car and his suspicions over his wife's infidelity seem confirmed by a message on her cell phone. For most of the film, the images are desaturated, but during the scene of reunion, Hacer is wearing a red slip, which both excites her husband and drives him to violence.

In the family's background is the death of another son, some 15 years earlier, and his father and surviving brother are haunted by visions of this loss. In the future lies a repetition of the incident that launches the film, only here the conspiracy is initiated by Eyüp. Though perhaps not quite as good as Climates, Ceylan's last picture, this is a film of formidable power that sticks in the mind.

Two sequences in particular stand out. In one, the politician rejects the obsessed Hacer with great brutality, but the camera is placed nearly 50 yards away across a field. In the other, the film's closing long shot, the husband stands on the balcony of their ramshackle apartment block to the south of Istanbul, his back to the camera, looking out over the Sea of Marmara as an electric storm begins to stir.
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