Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan


I watched Winter Sleep in the train back to Berlin and Ceylan is indulging himself with his movies becoming ever longer. Winter Sleep clocks in at three hours and fifteen minutes so by the time it was over I found myself well past Hannover.

The movie is about freedom—the bit with the horse and the guy on the motorcycle sort of gave it away—and in particularly the fact that however much apparent physical freedom people may have, they will not take advantage of it because their effective freedom is the product of complex social negotiation. At some point people become trapped both within themselves and by each other.

The script is based on writing by Chekhov which is apparent in the self-contained rustic scenes interspersed by the conversations of a family with deep seated issues. Maybe it’s just geographical proximity but Russian writers seem to be more accessible and prevalent in Turkey than I’ve found them to be in the Netherlands.

To close off the key scene with Ismail translated (mild spoilers):

Let’s see if we made a correct calculation.

If this much were for little Ilyas who put his life on the line to restore his father’s hurt pride.

If this much were for the self-sacrificing brother Hamdi forced to go kiss somebody’s hand by himself to restore his reputation.

If this much were for the drunk father Ismail who took a beating in front of his son disgracing himself and his family.

There would be a bit left.

And if that were for the heroic Ms. Nihal who by giving alms to people more unfortunate than herself tries to ease her conscience.

This would be exactly the right amount of money.

Caché and French history


In my newly rekindled love for movies, this weekend I finally watched Caché. As expected the movie is excellent and I should watch more movies by Haneke. It plays out like a reverse and more refined version of the Dinner.

I was however stupefied to learn about the Paris massacre of 1961 from this movie. The French culture we learned in school did not really touch on colonial history instead focusing on the more touristic aspects.

This leads me to believe that Dutch kids are the happiest in the world (a widely cited statistic) because in school they don’t learn how fucked up the world was and is. It is however a very Dutch thing to be proud of being oblivious.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia


I rewatched Once Upon a Time in Anatolia last week with my parents and it was even better than the first time. I usually think that movies shouldn’t be longer than two hours but here even a second viewing did not bore.

What I learned is that it at one point the convoy moves out of the Kırıkkale area into the administrative part of Turkey that we are from (map).

The idle chit-chat of the people in the cars is still funny but now it was easier to keep track of the interleaving stories. Pared down they rend flesh. Arap’s story about why you need a gun or the piecewise telling of a woman’s suicide are incredible. The point where Clark Gable swallows his words being one extreme example.

My memory had exaggerated the appearance of the angel halfway through the movie. It is still a key moment but not as magically-realistic as I had remembered.

The movie as a whole is about the utter insignificance of human action on all levels. Or as the poet said: ‘years again will pass and I will leave no trace // darkness and cold will encompass my weary soul’.

I am immensely looking forward to seeing his next movie Kış Uykusu which is playing in cinemas right now. And I am still eagerly awaiting Nuri Bilge Ceylan to make a movie adaptation of one of Pamuk’s big books (The Black Book or Snow).

Console gaming after the fact: Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an extremely questionable game catering to the war fantasies of American hawks. I played the fully German version and having to make sense of a war scene where people are shouting stuff at you in German only adds to the weirdness.

Every time you die also you get quotes about war and peace by such notables as Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gandhi. I have no idea what the people who made this game were even thinking.

In the German (and Japanese) version also the “No Russian” mission is weird. You’re in a terrorist group that is massacring a Russian airport but any time you hurt a civilian the mission restarts. It turns out that this is something region specific.

For the rest it’s just a bunch of shooting around the world with a questionable (and increasingly incoherent) neo-terrorist plot straight from a Steven Seagal movie.

Console gaming after the fact: Mirror’s Edge

Not so much a game as it is a parkour simulator with some combat thrown in. It is absurdly difficult which isn’t even the problem. The real problem is that every time you restart it takes too long and puts you in a place where you have to replay large segments of the game. This may be fun for some but not for me.

I’m also not convinced that it is useful to have a parkour simulator where you don’t see where your feet are and as such cannot time your jump really. There are better parkour games out there (Assassin’s Creed II comes to mind).

The aesthetics of the game are special and that is more or less the only reason I was told to play this game.