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The Wave (2008)
8/10
Subtle take on neo-fascism
12 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I watched this movie on my long ad boring overseas flight, just to kill time. I am pleased to say that it surely turned out to be more than a time killer, it's a precious gem that every cinema enthusiast must see. Especially those who do not define themselves as politically correct.

It occurs to me that a country like Germany, which suffers from politically or sub-politically motivated violence, was indeed the one to come up with a movie with such a plot. It shows us how regular youngsters can become dangerous when the right (or wrong?) buttons are pushed by the right (again - or wrong?) person/people. In this example, we witness a well-meant project create a monstrous subculture that leads to a detrimental level of extremism.

In modern day Germany (and most of Europe), we witness racially and/or culturally motivated crime threatening just about anyone of any background, as it comes from both sides. The way Die Welle differs is, it depicts on how racial or cultural motivation is NOT needed for troubled youngsters to go morbid and get out of hand. This is not to defend racially motivated crimes, just to point out that the problem is not skin deep, and lies far deeper than skin colour or other things as such.

On conveying the above, the arrangement of thoughts in the movie is literally flawless. The acting is really good too, especially by the chubby faced Brazilian girl. The "attacks" in the screenplay come abruptly, which is good in a relatively slow paced yet light movie as this one. Last but not least, you can find both a happy-go-lucky youth flick and an engrossing thriller in Die Welle.

If you're wondering why I'm giving the movie an 8 instead of 10 when I think so highly of it, it's because of the political aspect. Some messages in the movie leave a taste of political incorrectness in your mouth, but it doesn't go any further than that. The psychological aspect is one to remember for years to come, and had the political aspect been dug into so deeply, this movie would have been a masterpiece, almost a lesson on movie-making.

I've always been a fan of German Cinema, and I'm glad that I now have one more director to keep an eye on. Don't be surprised if modern German movies taking place in highschools or otherwise dealing with teenagers' lives become the new trend. After Grosse Mädchen Weinen Nicht and this one here, I'd certainly expect that. Way to go Herr Gansel and others!

Finally, I'm talking about neo-fascism in the title because that's what I perceive modern autocracy as. Can anyone tell me a so called democracy, even in Europe, that has not fallen prey to autocracy and turned fascist towards a certain group of citizens? And the reason it's subtle is that, it does poke the politically correct clichés in your head, yet keeps it there and leaves the rest for you to figure out. As I mentioned above, it could have been better if it didn't do so.

Do watch Die Welle, you won't be disappointed. Especially if you're taking an intercontinental flight with Lufthansa, the best 100 minutes of your flight will be during this movie.
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1/10
Mr. Mustafa Tarantino's miserable failure
6 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Altioklar's populist approach manifests itself in all his titles, from the worst to the best. He doesn't care (or has no clue) about art, all he cares is to make people think they've got a kick in the groin by watching his movies. The problem is, the effort is way too evident, and as events unfold with all the senseless exaggeration kneaded into them, the effort fails badly.

On this "Turkish" movie (who knows where the original or originals were made, since it felt extremely Hollywoodish to me), Altioklar is trying to be some sort of Tarantino. (Mr. Tarantino, if you're reading this, please watch the movie for the best comedy of your life!) He doesn't use subtle moves to do that, all he does is to use extreme stuff, and it gets unbearably absurd and laughable.

Levent Üzümcü as the forensic guy with the cow-licked hair is just hilarious. I'm hoping to meet him in person and ask how he felt about this movie himself. Because I really found the role insulting for him. Demet Evgar groping her genitalia was also uncalled for, and did nothing other than making everything look fake. Another specifically idiotic aspect of this movie was the 100% faulty pace setting. When things need to be taken slowly, scenes flow abruptly. And at other times, it makes you sleepy to watch the slow ridicule going on.

If Altioklar is so deeply in love with lame Hollywood superficiality, he should use Michael Sixarrows as his name instead. Even such a move wouldn't be half as ludicrous as what he has done on this movie. He should first learn not to imitate directors whose levels he'll never approach, then realize he's not in Hollywood, and then take private lessons from Zeki Demirkubuz or Reha Erdem on how to lay the flow of ideas out in the plot. This useless movie couldn't be saved even by those, but perhaps he can make watchable movies in the future by taking these steps.

By the way I've seen some infamous failures such as Propaganda and Otostop, and I still can't divert from saying this one was the worst Turkish movie ever.
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Destiny (2006)
10/10
Fantabulous effort by Demirkubuz
6 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Demirkubuz has a specific style. Just like any cinephile can tell a Bergman film from one by Tarkovsky, Bresson from Almodovar, and so on, you can tell a Demirkubuz title from anything directed by anyone else, by his style. That is not to say he's always great, he does have his weaker features. (Such as casting his goddess-looking wife on one of his flicks to make up for the weak plot). The only thing that's always good about him is his excellent setting of pace, for which Nuri Bilge Ceylan needs his private lessons. All that said, this one was a typical Demirkubuz movie by all means. Just like Masumiyet, which is connected to this movie, it deals with fragile lives and shattered dreams. I imagine 99% of the readers would agree that's ace for the style he adopts.

Well, let me start with the few bad things about this movie. The language! Turkish people do swear a lot, Turkish people pursuing the lifestyles outlined in this movie swear even more, but use of heavy slang is still excessive in this movie. And believe me, I am an authority on that, because I've been known to let my let profane language slip my tongue myself. Just take it this way, a nun could find anyone slutty. But if a street hooker finds someone slutty, chances are she has a point! Speaking of street hookers; a Turkish woman from any walk of life, including street hookers, would never ever use the phrase "sikildigimle kaldim" in any conversation, even when talking to other women. It just doesn't sound natural, and the whole conversation between Ugur's mother and Bekir on his visit was simply out of key. For the excessive swearing, although I didn't like it much, I can see through the frames and picture Demirkubuz going on fire and saying "right on!" and hitting his fist on the table ferociously. This shows he really got into the script, and I find such a directing skill amazing, considering the horrid actor he is. Now, that really sums it up for all the downs of this movie.

As for the ups, the story is interesting, the scenes are well-shot, the acting is splendid, and the dose of bleakness is just right. At times it feels like an Angelopoulos or even Kaurismäki work, which by itself means it's relatively slow but ultimately captivating. The lack of an emphasized ending is supposed to ruin everything, but everything is set so well that it actually feels more rewarding. The long fight consequence scene was also really successful. Until the very last second, you can't tell who killed whom, but the camera is so good that you don't end up feeling like you're watching a soap opera. Something that I just thought of to finalize: Even the name selection is exploding of intelligence! The movie's name is "destiny", and the movie's message is "nothing is destiny, you make your own destiny". I just love that! Overall Kader is a fantabulous (fantastic+fabulous) feature, and gets 9,5/10 from me. Seeing such a robust effort in the Turkish cinema in the era where people like Altioklar with their plot less Hollywood style trash are considered directors, is very promising.

If you are interested in Turkish cinema, and you are one of those who think a movie must be either fun or rewarding, but prefer one that is both, stay away from boring Tarkovksy wannabes and über-miserable Tarantino wannabes, and follow Demirkubuz. Needless to say, Kader is a particularly good start at that.
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Stolen Eyes (2005)
8/10
A mostly successful self-critic by the Bulgarians
27 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Otkradnati Ochi, which was translated as Çalinti Gözler (Stolen Eyes, I wonder if that is what the Bulgarian name means too? I know ochi is eyes, but the first word?) into Turkish, is partly successful as a drama, and partly successful as a documentary manifesting and criticizing the Zhivkov politics.

Since I know Bulgarian Turks and Bulgarians personally, and some very closely, I also know that the incidents outlined in this flick took place in reality. The depiction could be, however, somewhat biased, because Bulgarian Turks are generally NOT Islam-driven people like the ones on the movie. Being an oppressed minority, they naturally tie to what they know as their own culture, and possibly exaggeratedly so. Yet the Bulgarian point of view, as clearly emphasized by the movie (and by the Bulgarian cinema fan who commented earlier), suggests that those people are perceived as Bulgarian Muslims, and not Turks. That's where the problem starts. Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or Atheist, they are ethnic Turks. (Plus, the term "Bulgarian Muslims" must include Pomaks as well. Did they not exist in the 80's?) Take the Karaim Turks in Lithuania, are they recognized as a minority of Turkish descent, or just Lithuanian Jews? A Norwegian for example, could be a Muslim, but not a Turk. The Zhivkov rule ignored that fact, just like a typical Bulgarian would, and tried to strip those people of their culture totally, forgetting they could not be stripped of their Turkishness. After all, the communist rule did the faith-stripping to Christians and others as well (which I glorify, since I'm a hardcore Atheist), but it was the nationality that kept nations together. What made Zhivkov think that would not be the case with Turks? What makes the contemporary Bulgarians still think so? Does Ayten really become Ana just because you call her that?

Back to the movie itself, it does well to deliver its message, the acting and plot are also pretty good, except for the majority of the sanitarium scenes which shoot at being somewhere between Bergman and Tarkovsky, and fail at both. The cast is, if anything, annoying. Why cast a Bulgarian woman as a Turk? For the Turkish viewer, that's really disturbing, because her accent claws the ear. Since the movie is an all-things-fair production, and does not consist of a series of pointless attacks against Turks, like the infamous Midnight Express, I'm sure the cast was decided in bona fide. But still, why a Bulgarian for a Turk, why why why...?! It just undermines the realism!

It's a good movie overall, especially if you are interested in the issues of the Balkans. With minor flaws, such as part of the cast and sanitarium scenes, it's a good pastime for anyone from anywhere, and a particularly interesting one for someone from the Balkans, especially from Turkey or Bulgaria. Don't wait until you have nothing better to do, and watch it if you have access to it.

7,5 / 10
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Walk on Water (2004)
9/10
Great movie, ridiculous ending
5 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I decided to rent this movie upon recommendation (from an Israeli that is); and knowing Lior Ashkenazi is in it, I didn't hesitate to go get it. Until the last couple of minutes, I wasn't disappointed at all, but the ending negatively surprised me. Such a great flick with nice shots of three different countries (Israel, Germany, Turkey), a stable storyline, wonderful acting and an outstanding socio-cultural weight (blended with well-balanced humour if I may add - Eyal's "Hansel & Gratel" joke, for instance, was simple yet subtle), ends in a silly "and they lived happily ever after" trip. I just find that unacceptable! Now I wonder, did Axel find himself a nice gay lover too? Maybe Eyal's gay cousin that jumped out of nowhere just on time, or Rafik the Arab? Give me a break!

Other than that very detail mentioned above, the movie was really good. Lior Ashkenazi was perfect as always, the relationships were well-drawn, the depictions of the Mossad environment and the rich German ex-Nazi family were realistic (albeit, too close to the bone at times), and the plot was rather engrossing. Special congratulations go to Knut Berger if he isn't actually gay, because he plays the stereotype nice and friendly gay guy VERY well.

Walk On Water easily qualifies as a good movie, if not a great one. My vote is 8,5 / 10 and it could have well been 10/10, had the ending been suitable for people over 12 years of age (i.e. not that much of a fable-like ending)
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Hotel Rwanda (2004)
10/10
The best English spoken movie I've seen so far
23 June 2006
Personally, I try not to watch anything made or even touched by Hollywood, or anything that could be considered mainstream, as I feel that would constitute the utmost treachery against the art of cinema. With such a sentiment, I end up staying away from most English spoken movies, unless synchronous recommendations come from a dozen or more people whose tastes I trust. This time it was different, I had to watch this movie for a Mass Media & Communication course project on globalization. Boy, I'll remember this professor with positive feelings until my last breath, because he made me watch this film! I would have never watched it otherwise, the sole reason being the spoken language, and now I think I'd have missed A LOT. I've seen a few other excellent English spoken films (American, British, or else), but this one outsmarts them all, by far too!

I had to come to IMDb and verify that the main actor isn't the actual person who experienced all this. Strangely enough, he hasn't even experienced any incident as such (most likely?), but his acting was so flawless that I even thought he could have been the real "hero" of the story. Are the others doing a weaker job? Hell no! Every single detail is simply perfect about the movie. I didn't see anything wrong even with the smallest roles, for example the soldier guys shooting around. The script stays true to the original as well, the soundtrack is perfect, the settings are well put, everything is just great!

Considering the topic the movie revolves around, it could very well have ended up being overly political. But that's also taken care of; the movie has a plentiful load of content that gives direct political messages, but in spite of the abundance and might of such, it doesn't drown the plot. Speaking of which, the plot encompasses an engrossing thriller, an astounding drama, and a heart-aching pile of romance, all embroidered with epic motives.

There must be more movies like this, holding the looking glass on the dirty deeds carried out by seemingly innocent corporate entities. Witnessing the consequential atrocities as such, triggered by the work of earlier missionaries, who supposedly went over to Africa (and to other destinations) to teach them civilization (whatever that is), I guess it's safe to assume that no one is anywhere as innocent as they seem.

The movie itself with its art and story, its political messages, the soundtrack, everything is wonderful. A well-deserved 10/10 from me.

Please go see this movie if you haven't already!
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Aci Hayat (2005–2007)
5/10
As cheesy as it gets!
11 May 2006
This TV series is based on a movie from the 60's, and just like the vast majority of Turkish movies in that era, it accomplishes one thing perfectly: Being cheesy!

The acting is so and so by some characters, pretty good by a couple, and absolutely horrid by most of them. Especially Oguz Galeli and Anta Toros are tremendously fake. I have a feeling that is caused by a lack of communication between the director and the cast. Even the worst actor cannot fail at depicting malevolent demeanour so badly!

As for the plot, it may be good for a mini series of a dozen episodes or less (that still being ultimately cheesy), but they are trying to put more on the screen, and because of that, they fill it up with long and pretentious scenes. Not to mention the pointless religious propaganda they include in every other frame.

I do not find Aci Hayat to be worth watching on a regular basis. I would not say terrible either, I have seen terrible TV series and this is not one of them. But I do not watch it unless I have absolutely nothing better to do.

4,5 out of 10
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Kurtlar Vadisi (2003–2005)
9/10
Not quite flawless, but ultimately captivating
11 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
*** SPOILERS SCATTERED ALL OVER ***

When I first started watching this TV series, I thought it was going to follow a typical mafia plot, and turn into a cheesy and pointless story in no time like the infamous Deli Yürek. The first few episodes were rather weak, cheesy, and downright boring. Despite the load of goofs and occasional cheesy conversations though, it got more and more captivating, and I finally got addicted.

Speaking of the cheesy parts, I have to say I said "give me a break" lots of times watching this show. Meral Yilmaz shooting her dad; who is a major gangster, murderer of his wife and Meral's mother, and an extremely conservative guy. Polat killing and juxtaposing a bunch of armed guys at a time, the terrible goof about the years of birth in the Çakir family... Just countless! But then again, the vast majority of the cast, particularly Gürkan Uygun as Memati, does an amazing job with the acting, and that saves the show along with the strong plot. Speaking of the acting, unfortunately I have found Polat Alemdar (Necati Sasmaz) to be the king of overacting, and in my opinion, he sticks out amidst the excellent cast. He does look intimidating enough to be a mafia leader, but I am sure they could have found someone who looks intimidating and knows how to act too.

How realistic the story is would be a controversial issue. It is not unfounded fiction for sure, but awkwardly exaggerated in some aspects, and sometimes right at the key moments. All in all, I find the content quite accurate considering the real situation in Turkey. But it could have been much better if they hadn't depicted a bunch of gangsters as honourable and perseverant fighters against drugs and child prostitution. There rises a question about mafia, as to whether they cause the disarray or fix it. According to Kurtlar Vadisi, both.

Another gap in the plot was why the Council Of The Wolves decided to bestow envoyship of Istanbul on Süleyman Çakir all of a sudden, and how he still had to deal with all the scum troubling him, leading to his death. One last thing that I can think of is that; Tuncay reprimands his henchman Abidin throughout the story, accusing him of being incompetent, and he does nothing, he just obeys. Does that happen in real mafia? I strongly doubt it. Same goes for Testere Necmi's blatant attitude on Çakir, Polat, and pretty much everyone involved.

For the most part, Kurtlar Vadisi is interesting to follow. Better than all the other violence based Turkish shows I've seen, revolving around a relatively logical setting. As aforementioned, it does have its flaws, and not just a couple. But as far as the big picture is concerned, it's still watchable, or actually way more than watchable. It's good!

8,5 out of 10
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In July (2000)
10/10
Lovely road movie, and much better humour than those supposedly amusing Hollywood failures
26 October 2005
To be honest, I was a little afraid in the beginning, as the movie seemed to be somewhat mainstream after reading all those praising comments from all over the globe. Plus, in some movies, the director loses the end of the thread easily because he thinks the cast will catch it for him, and the cast on this one is downright excellent. But anyway, I watched it, and I liked it.

No trust-the-cast-and-do-a-lousy-job error by the director (I've seen his Kurz Und Schmerzlos and Gegen Die Wand, VERY promising guy!), and no mistake by anyone except for the silly physics mistake in the beginning. But hey, who cares? This is art, not science! Mehmet Kurtulus and Moritz Bleibtreu are among my favourite European actors, and now Branka Katic (what a goddess!) and Christiane Paul (cute, pretty, sexy, and talented!) are added to the list. Everyone else is also doing good, but these ones stick out. And I have big words for Moritz and Mehmet.. What is the best attainable status for an actor? (Definitely not acting in lame Hollywood flicks) Whatever it is, they deserve it. Like.. If the best footballer is one that could play for Barcelona or Milan, these guys are at that level for an actor. See their other movies (e.g. Der Tunnel and Das Experiment), and you'll agree.

One thing I'd like to point at is the humour. Comparing the subtle humour in this film (which is classified as a light romantic comedy) to the stuff in those Hollywood flicks (that are supposed to make you laugh your a*s off), I really feel sorry for American people and their followers. If you are one of those who think an obese guy accidentally sitting on a cake and painting everyone's face with creme is exhilarating, do a favour to yourself and the art of cinema, and refrain from watching "Im Juli".

"Im Juli" is an excellent romantic comedy, which catches every point that the lousy "Love Actually" misses. The director and the cast constitute the ultimate gift for both Turkish and German cinema, and I hope to see more of their works together or separately.

Congratulations and thanks to everyone who put effort into the making of this heart-warming masterpiece.

9,5 / 10
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The River (2001)
8/10
Finland as it is
6 May 2005
Following my experience of Finland for slightly more than a week, I'd say this movie depicts the nature of the Finnish society very accurately. Especially the young-couple-with-a-baby-having-serious-issues phenomenon is very familiar to me, as I witnessed the exact same thing in person when I was in Finland. The relationships and problems of people, fragility of the marriage institution, the drinking culture, unemployment and the ascending money problem, all are very well put, without any subjectivity or exaggeration.

There are some points in the film that are not necessarily easy to comprehend and tie to each other, but the joint big picture is nonetheless rewarding. Not each one of the short stories is exciting or profound, but as said above, the big picture does not fail to deliver the feeling of "real life" and captivate the viewer. I happen to think in a calm moment: What is happening in the lives of all these people on the street? Well, this is what is happening. Movies like this are good to feed your imaginative power. It would be safe to assume this film could apply to the life in many countries, but it particularly reflects Finland as it is, and pretty damn well.

One comment about the acting: Being the fan of Finnish cinema I am, I've never seen any of these actors on any other movie, but I found the acting in this feature right next door to perfect overall. Maybe not a masterpiece, but a very good try by the entire crew. I'll be keeping an eye on the future releases of the director and the cast..

7,5 / 10
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1/10
Moodysson shamefully presents: A Hole In My Film-making!
6 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
First off, if you don't want to be bothered reading my entire comment, here is the summary with two words: UTTER NONSENSE!!!

I didn't find ANYTHING in this movie. Wait.. In this what? Movie? Hell no, if this is a movie, then I'm the queen of England. It's a video shot by a semi-professional cameraman, filled with pointless dialogues which consist of nonsensical rubbish. It doesn't deliver the feeling of porn, it doesn't deliver the feeling of depression, it doesn't doesn't doesn't....!!!! All it does manage is to bore the hell out of the viewer by showing absolutely nothing.

Where are the characters? Where is the story? The answer is: They're not subtly hidden, they simply don't exist. Either way, you hardly have time to look for them while you're busy looking for the sophistication and the art that qualifies a video as a "movie", which you'll never find in this so called feature.

The sad thing is, this feature is brought by my favourite director, Lukas Moodysson. I can't believe he's done something oh so very bad! Seriously, the video of your niece's 15th birthday party would certainly be more profound than this film, by all means. The acting isn't bad though, but why? Simply because there is nothing to act! This movie reminds me of the football teams who never succeed in spite of their expensively established squad. Everyone involved has some sort of quality to show, but the lack of a team soul ruins everything. They have no common goal other than making money, how would they achieve anything? Same goes for this movie, the actors are acting what's given to them, but what's given to them is apparently dogmatic as the bible, yet empty and pointless as a teenager's blog.

I happened to read the earlier comments. Should I laugh or should I cry? Where is the brilliance in this flick? If it's brilliant to manage to hold the camera without imposing any story at all, then yes, it's fabulous. But that's not brilliance, that's just dullness and weakness. Shooting a movie like this isn't much more complicated than taking a shower, I'm so very disappointed by Moodysson.

The only reason I'm giving 1/10 to this movie is that it is not allowed to give 0.
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9/10
Slightly flawed, yet touching and fair to all sides involved
10 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I read all the comments about this movie before posting mine, and I happen to agree with a couple of them about some flaws in this movie. But I'm still giving it a 8,5/10 because it's pretty good in general. Oh and the Turkish actors are not dubbed, they're speaking English with their own voice. What's so unbelievable about that? Anyway..

Politiki Kouzina has the utmost political message ever: Politics is bulls**t, and it's only useful for tearing people and nations apart! I was really touched by the line "Turks are sending us away as Greeks, and Greeks are receiving us as Turks". I know that pretty well, because the situation with the Bulgarian Turks is pretty much the same and it was a very popular issue in the 90's. "Bulgarians hate us for we're Turks, and Turks address us as Bulgarians". I guess that's the way it goes, as much as it pains anyone with a heart. You have no problems with the place you're living in, you hardly consider yourself a foreigner at all, and all of a sudden someone says you have to "go home". And where the hell is that? A place you go to hear you're from some place else is home just because you come from the same race with its occupants? Doubtful.. This movie delivers the reality behind the Turco-Greek political tension without going into too much depth, and staying loyal to the facts. Moreover, it delivers them without hurting anyone, just the reality as it is. Did the whole Cyprus thing begin because of the evil Greeks or the evil Turks? Probably neither. As a Turkish proverb says "The wet burns along with the dry". Some nasty people decide to destroy peace, and the innocent ones who have the mental capacity to love everyone without checking their passport are the ones who get hurt. Politiki Kouzina depicts this issue oh so very perfectly! You don't need to be Turkish or Greek to enjoy the movie, but you really have to be one of those to get the feeling as it's supposed to be delivered. I can relate to the issue better than an average Turk or Greek, and less than a Greek who's been deported from Turkey or vice versa. My mother was brought up in a neighbourhood of Greeks and Jews. Her friends still send cards and call from Greece and Israel, and some still in Turkey. OK, Turkey and Israel never had problems, but this shows Turkey and Greece could very well overcome their problems too. I've been in Greece, loved the people. I've heard the same several times from Greeks visiting Turkey. What's it that people can't share then? I believe the director of this flick is also one with this sentiment, and fascists of both sides would be utterly disappointed by the movie. Istanbul or Konstantinopolis, Izmir or Smyrna.. Big deal? But it was a big deal for some people, so big that they couldn't even allow innocent children's sweet love to stay intact.

As for the cinematography and such, it's quite alright except for a few minor flaws. Many Turks have been acted by Greeks, that's so very obvious with the accent. Maybe that's a problem only to the Turkish audience, but it doesn't take an IQ of 500 to figure this movie was also meant for Turkish audiences. It can't be THAT hard to find someone who can speak both advanced Greek and basic Turkish, or vice versa. The acting by ALL the cast is really good. My favourite is the head actor, whom I've seen on Peppermint before and was impressed by. The kids are also doing great.

An exceptional story does not always suffice to make a good film, but this one seems to have added enough of the other ingredients to make it as interesting as the plot line would suggest. Recommended to everyone, and extra recommended to Turks and Greeks.
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8/10
Rather interesting, but extremely messy
20 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The first two parts of the movie constitute an upscale travel documentary, and the last part makes a mediocre sci-fi. the three of them together, however, don't really make a lot :-)

It's not surprising for a 4 hours and 40 minute long movie to get boring at times, and I can say this one was still not that boring. But it sure loses the viewer at times with the mess it is. I'm not sure if the director meant to manifest multiple plots at once, but that's pretty much what this movie is about.

It's like a beautiful face after a good beating. The infrastructure is really good, but the way it's put together doesn't make much sense. The photography is excellent, nothing to that. If you want to set foot on every land between Japan and Portugal but can't afford it, watch this movie and you'll get the point. But if photography is the only favourable thing about a movie without discussion, then I don't know if we can classify it as a great movie.

*** SPOILERS ***

There are many points unexplained, and unlikely to be explicable at all. The guy is American, and CIA is following him. Amen! And how come the CIA guy has an obvious British accent? Oh and his parents also didn't sound more American than Gorbatchev. How does the world end, and how does it get back to what it was? And who imagined all those shiny things in 1999? It was 5 years ago, and I don't remember any such technology :-)

Even the windscreen getting smashed by the beer bottle is not realistic. Unless they meant to start the sci-fi right there, that's totally against the rules of physics.

Another absurd thing is the forced internationality. The woman is French, her lover is English (he lives in Paris with her, but doesn't speak French!), she runs into an American whose parents have non-American accents, and these all get chased by a black English CIA agent! So they seek the help of a German detective, and end up with a Russian woman who wants 500000 Dollars to help them with her extreme technology. And every single person involved in the whole thing speaks excellent English too, including the Russian educated during the USSR era. Give me a break! Unless someone forced me to smoke crack and get me into a psychosis while watching this movie and I don't remember, it's simply illogical and not understandable.

*** END OF SPOILERS ***

I would still say this movie is different from any other, and this makes it somewhat interesting. But I do not dare to say it's not a waste of your time, because it is. If you have 4 hours and 40 minutes in spare time, my advice will not be along the lines of spending that time watching this movie. But if your travel plans just got canceled like me and you're stuck home for the Xmas and new year's with absolutely nothing creative to do, then you should watch this movie and take a peak at its unsustainable glamour.
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8/10
Yet another Hollywood flick in Norwegian..
15 December 2004
I don't have much to add, I would have to pretty much agree with what has been said in the earlier comments. This movie is a Hollywood movie, just in Norwegian instead of English. OK an upper class Hollywood movie, but still has the typical unoriginality of Hollywood. The plot is 70% predictable, and the main characters are all so beautiful yet full of humanity. What else? Well, the actors are quite alright actually, so we need some more English language, and actors who can't act to make this a perfect Hollywood movie. Without those, it's watchable, but still nothing better than that.

Add Angelina Jolie and Robert De Niro (or worse actors, if you can find) and then even the language won't be able to make it Norwegian. The way it is, it's not a waste of time, but your odds of finding a better movie to watch are really strong. Especially if you've picked it just because it's not a Hollywood movie as I did, I can't say I recommend it too deeply.

A generous 7.5/10
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9/10
Exceptional movie, not everyone can comprehend
12 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
WARNING: SPOILERS SCATTERED ALL OVER THE CRITIC!!

There are ways to make a slow-paced movie and keep it from being an obnoxious waste of time. Such as basing it on a "strong" story (Boys Don't Cry) or basing it on exaggerated cheap propaganda of a particular nation and throwing sh*t against another particular nation (Idi I Smotri), or forcing the viewer to think about a various set of issues simultaneously while following the movie (Dzien Swira). There comes the great detail about Noi Albinoi, there's no such thing in this movie! It's still slow as heck, yet it never gets boring in spite of the lack of any of the techniques above.

A typical American viewer would find this movie redundant, because he can't understand it. I found it such a subtle and profound way of "shooting" the viewer, that the ending leaves you with stuff to think about. The fortune teller told Noi he saw death in the cup, and everyone died, BUT Noi. He was shooting the ice, did that trigger the deathly avalanche? He's harmless but also a pain in the ass, EVERYONE he loved died all of a sudden although he never made them suffer during their lives. Is he an angel of death? I think these are well worth mentioning among the details that make this a great movie.

As for Noi, it's sad. There are many wunderkinds who get wasted just because they say no to the underpar rules of the society, possibly drawn by people with hazelnut sized brains. Many rebellious youngsters or those who were such when they were young will find a piece of themselves in Noi. I did. Even though this packaged rebellion is not exactly the main theme of the movie, it's also worth mentioning as it constitutes a significant part of the message the movie is trying to beam. I find it appalling that someone could say this movie is a copy of some Hollywood flicks, and most Scandinavian flicks. It's Hollywood's job to steal from Europeans, not the other way around. I don't know if I should laugh or cry at that, but I certainly pity such meaningless comments. Noi Albinoi IS a great movie, it's just that not every viewer is sufficiently educated to understand it.

8.5/10
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10/10
Straight from the heart, straight to the heart!
11 December 2004
Just finished watching Ha-Chaverim Shel Yana. I think most Israeli films of the modern day are quite fine, although most people including my Israeli friends seem to disagree. The last one I watched before this one was Afula Express, which was cute, but nothing fascinating. But this one IS something fascinating! It's a childish yet heart-warming blend of love stories under the rocket rain, done with excellent acting and directing. Whilst rather illogical things happen in the screenplay, it's one of those movies that would simply get boring with too much logic. I think the illogical additions blend in just fine with the bigger picture, and gives such a relief to the viewer. Evelyn Kaplun is lovely for sure, but she's not the only lovely detail about this film. It's a very cute and "warm" movie in general. If you're one of those who are misled by the concept and found themselves thinking this could be Jewish or Israeli propaganda, free yourself from evil spirits: This movie does not contain a trace of any propaganda or anti-propaganda of any nation, religion, community, political view, etc. It may be slightly favourable to the state of Israel in terms of immigrant issues, but hey, that's not propaganda. Not IMHO at least.

Highly recommended to anyone who wants to see something different, and who wants to find himself smiling big at subtly drawn lines of wit.
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The Tunnel (2001)
10/10
Perfect Perfect Perfect!!!
8 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Just finished watching this movie half an hour ago.. Couldn't write the review earlier, because I was busy crying my eyes out. I know I've said this before, but I really think this must be the best movie ever. I hardly ever get THAT sentimental for movies, but this one is really something. The story is captivating, the screenplay is flawless such that this movie never gets boring for a second in its enormous length of 167 minutes, and the acting deserves an applause.

There is something I particularly like in movies: Having more than one genre without screwing up anything. Here you go.. This is anything from suspense to drama, adventure to romance.. Yet it doesn't lose its magic in any of the fields.

I was particularly impressed by the performances of the main character, his sister's husband, and Mehmet Kurtulus who plays Vittorio Castanza (no, not because he's my fellow countryman), and the beardy detective guy of the state security of East Germany. I don't mean to diss any nation or commune specifically, but such a good movie can only be made with such a good and TRUE story. I'm glad I wasn't born in East Germany! On the other hand, it surely is among the finer things in life to partake in such a team play and for such a good reason. These heroes will always be remembered, and the feeling when they made it to West Berlin was probably priceless. Who wouldn't want to experience such?

*** SPOILERS ***

As in most films with the dense feeling of suspense throughout, this one also delivers textual comments of what happened to the characters after the last frame the film includes. To be honest, reading those got to me big time. It was so very sad to learn Fritzi and Harry didn't stay together. I guess I would pretty much lose the meaning of my life if I was Harry and lost the woman I shared so much with. And Fred putting in so much effort to move to West Germany (although he's actually West German) and then leaving it in 1964. Not as dreadful as the above one, but still sad. Funny but true, I was already planning a trip to Montreal, and if I go, I'll certainly try to find him and listen to his experiences. Last but not least, it's abysmal that Vittorio put even more effort than anyone else into the liberation process, and within a nation he doesn't even belong to, and didn't live long enough to witness the utmost success of his deeds when the Berlin was brought down. I think all these people are holy, and it would be nice of the German government to give their names to schools or streets.

*** END OF SPOILERS ***

All in all, this movie is absolutely fantastic, and whilst one is supposed to respect others' opinions, I believe an opinion saying this movie was bad simply doesn't deserve a trace of respect.

A perfect 10/10 for this masterpiece!
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Insaat (2003)
10/10
Great for those who want to see some subculture!
7 December 2004
Insaat is a fun yet profound film that deals with the "adventures" of two young men who belong to the so called lower class in the Turkish society. The things that make them happy, the things that p**s them off, how they do what they do, their approach to life, the way they talk (including the accent!), their consumption habits, the music they like, everything is exactly as it's supposed to be! In addition to the main actors, the old lady is also doing a fabulous job. I never heard of Ömer Vargý anywhere except for his debut Herþey Çok Güzel Olacak, but apparently he'll be heard pretty soon. This movie is nowhere behind his first one, which was also pretty good. Good to see new directors doing their job so well..

I think comedy should be added to the genre list for this movie though. Because some scenes and the screenplay would be terribly exaggerated for a crime flick. Crime is in for sure, but this movie is also quite amusing without losing the touch of criminal content and its depth in general. I don't think a perfect 10 is too much, and that's what I gave to this movie. But I understand if someone alien to Turkey gives a lower grade, because it's a little culture specific. But still, wherever you are from, you're likely to find Insaat interesting and possibly like it too.
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Black Tears (1998)
10/10
One word: Stunning!
4 December 2004
I don't know why, possibly because of the DVD cover, but I expected something like the Brazilian/Portuguese masterpiece "Terra Estrangeira" in this flick. It's completely different, although it shares a couple of points. So those fooled by the cover, don't be. But then again, is this any weaker? Hell no! Lágrimas Negras shows us it's no surprise to see divine beings such as Almodovar in Spanish cinema. If an unknown film from the cinema culture of a land can be so magnificent, one should expect it to offer other excellent examples like it already does.

I hadn't heard of any of the actors or the director before seeing this movie, and I was almost shocked by their excellent performance. The picture selection is a little extraordinary, sometimes reminding slightly of "Tésis", yet it's flawless. The actress playing Isabel, Ariadna Gil, is not only one hell of a drop dead gorgeous woman, but she's also acting a mad woman as if she had been a mad woman in her past life!! If I saw those eye gestures in someone in real life, I'd advise her to see a psychiatrist asap. Absolutely no overacting or exaggeration, simply perfect. Be it the director's virtue, be it a great casting selection, the rest of the actors are also doing a great job. I've already fallen in love with Ariadna Gil, but it would be unfair to say anyone else on this movie is anywhere behind excellent. The screenplay is also perfect, so we have yet another person to thank and congratulate. I'm a guy at the age of the head character, and each time I saw a scene with him and his girlfriend, I said "how can a man cheat on such a lovely girl dude?!?". And each time I saw a scene with Isabel, I said "ok, I guess I could be deviated with such a deity as well". This isn't only because both women are attractive, but also because their aura is utilized efficiently and perfectly by the director and the screenplay.

Any grade below 9/10 would be an insult to this movie, so here's my 10/10.
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The Circle (2000)
8/10
Sad stuff, pretty good too! Just could have been better..
30 October 2004
I'm not that much familiar with Iranian cinema, yet as most people around, I already knew women had serious social problems in the contemporary Iranian society. When I was living in Turkey, we had an Iranian lady staying with our neighbors, a refugee who fled the '79 disaster and was trying to find serenity and freedom in Turkey.

Beginning there, it's very easy to figure this film is not even exaggerated. It's deadly obvious that the actors are amateur, but then again, this proves us mediocre acting doesn't necessarily make a movie bad. Dayereh has considerable might in its ways of depicting the problems women could face in Iran, and the picture selection is exceptional. But all in all, it could have been significantly better with better actors.

I wonder how the Iranian government allowed this motion picture to be shot without giving any trouble to the director, and especially to the women. Hopefully this is a sign indicating things are getting better in Iran!

This movie could have been stronger with better actors, but it's still well worth your 90 minutes. I'm already looking forward to seeing other films of Mr Panahi.

7.5/10
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Head-On (2004)
9/10
Very unique, profound, and touching
13 September 2004
Gegen Die Wand is a major success of Turkish cinema, or rather Turkish and German cinema together. Yet another masterpiece created by Turkish-German synergy after the outstanding Lola + Bilidikid. Of course that one is more "subculture specific", but in the end the two deal with the lives of German Turks who are both German and Turkish, or more like neither German nor Turkish. So it seems like Turks and Germans can create great things together when they give up the Gastarbeiter vs. local attitude ;-)

Faith Akýn must be congratulated for his cast selection! Nobody could play Sibel better than Sibel Kekilli. Apparently, she doesn't only act, she adds something from her actual life. One way or another, she deserves an Oscar with her performance! The others are nowhere behind her, especially Birol Ünel makes you feel for his character. The "German Turks subculture" depiction is brutally realistic too. I don't think anyone shall have a single bad thing to say about this movie, that would be plainly ridiculous.

A love story, a profound depiction of social issues regarding the "German Turks", a virtual cultural journey. Everything, and everything good, exists in this flick! Thanks to Faith Akýn and the entire crew for bringing such a delight to life!

9/10
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Okul (2004)
8/10
Not an excellent movie, yet a great attempt!
9 September 2004
Okul is the first of its kind in Turkish cinema, and it's way better than I expected. Those people who say it's neither scary nor funny have a point, it's not all that great indeed. But it must be kept in mind that everyone involved with the movie is rather amateur, so it's basically a maiden voyage. And comparing this one to Sinan Çetin's other films such as the 1st class garbage "Propaganda", this movie is pretty damn good.

One thing that MUST be said: It deals with the highschool students' life in Turkey VERY realistically! That's exactly how it goes! The scenes that are meant to scare are somewhat cheap, and Hollywoodish. Most of them even if not all. But that religion lesson scene made me laugh in tears, and Emre Kýnay performs the best acting of this flick as a religion teacher.

It's NOT a waste of your time, go and watch it! You'll find it rather amusing especially if you know Turkey enough to relate to Turkish youngsters' school lives.
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7/10
An insult to the originals!
1 September 2004
I just saw this movie, and I have to say I'm utterly disappointed. The original prequel was absolutely fantastic, and every sequel got weaker and weaker, yet still pretty damn good. The last of the originals shot with a different crew was totally weak, so I was hoping they wouldn't make a brand new one in the 90's and rape this gem. But unfortunately, this 2004 remake is a billion times worse than that weak one. This flick must be a record; a lesson on how to make such a crappy movie with such an excellent cast! The director (Kartal Tibet, a liability to Turkish Cinema if you ask me) has tried very hard to add some spice to the film by using virtual flashbacks through the characters of the old Hababam Sýnýfý series. Just the same way he always used to failed at acting, he has failed at directing too, and even worse! The acting by the important actors of Turkish cinema isn't bad at all, but take the ambiance of the original into account, and look at this one.. As different as a mouse and giraffe!

The movie isn't absolute rubbish, but compared to the originals, it surely is. If you want to see this movie and want to like it too, DO NOT watch the original! But if you want a great movie, skip this one and go for the original.

6,5/10 given in a generous manner!
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Foreign Land (1995)
10/10
Marvelous!
14 June 2004
I wasn't sure about getting this movie on DVD because I really do have something against people making black and white films in the 21st century, but I ended up buying it anyway. I still don't understand why it had to be black and white, but that's the only negativity I can see about the film, and it sure is a perfect example to see the definitive rise of Brazilian cinema. Not everyone can understand a film like this, but it's quite rewarding to those who do. Unlike O Homem Que Copiava, the surrealism fits this movie pretty well, and the acting is at least as good as that one, or other successful Brazilian films such as Bicho de sete cabeças, Cidade De Deus, Brava Gente Brasileira, etc..

My only hope is that this gem doesn't get insulted and raped by a crappy Hollywood remake. It's amazing to see how those guys spend zillions of Dollars and still can't make a movie that's 1% as good as this possibly low-budget flick.

Bravo to the entire crew! 10/10
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10/10
Stunning!
9 June 2004
I was expecting La Mujer Mas Fea Del Mundo to be an average or slightly above average movie. Oh boy, how wrong! First of all, it's unique, but it doesn't screw it up. It somehow reminded me a little bit of El Dia De La Bestia, which I don't know why. All in all, it seems like Almodovar isn't the only Spaniard to direct excellent films. La Mujer Mas Fea Del Mundo is a sci-fi, a comedy, and has a good touch of romance too. The plot is extraordinary and well-managed. The acting is perfect. The stuttering guy and Elia Galera could very well win something like an Oscar. It's quite captivating too, I couldn't leave my chair for a second! A perfect 10 for this great, different movie. Highly recommended!
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