Posts Tagged ‘Once upon a time in Anatolia’

Blackpaint 382 – Corpses, Ribbons and Scrapers

February 21, 2013

Films that fall into two halves

“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” is definitely one ; the night on the steppe (what is the right word for that countryside?  it’s not moorland, but more than rolling farmland really) and the finding of the corpse in the morning, and the return to town – that felt like the end.  But no; there was the aimless, exhausted wandering about the town, cafe etc., followed by the post – mortem examination.  First time I saw the film, I was irritated by this “extension”; it felt added on.  This time, no – it completed the story, told you about the isolation and fundamental humanity of the main characters, detective, doctor, prosecutor.

The other films that spring to mind are the two versions of Henry V (Olivier and Branagh – and Shakespeare, of course); they should end on the battlefield, or immediately after.  All that courting stuff with Kate is a real anticlimax.  Can’t mess about too much with Shakespeare, though, I suppose.

The White Ribbon

Watched this for the second time, on TV this time; struck me that this is one of those “eve of WWI” films, the English counterparts being ” The Shooting Party” and “The Go-Between” (Losey, Pinter screenplay).  The latter is set well before WWI actually, in the aftermath of the Boer War, but it shares that characteristic of being bathed in a too- good- to- last, golden summer.  In both films, tragedy occurs as a portent of loss of innocence and greater tragedy to come – in the Go-Between, there is a hint of corruption (the belladonna, representing the Julie Christie character?).  When I was a teacher, some women colleagues wanted it to be avoided as an examination text, because of its perceived misogyny.

How do these compare to “White Ribbon”?  Contrast, rather than compare, really; instead of the hazy sunshine, we get sharp, crisp B&W, snowbound fields; the villagers live a life that is brutal, repressed, corrupt, penurious; there is incest, rape, violence, torture, fanaticism and creepy children (Village of the Damned, Turn of the Screw and all the others).  That is such an effective trick, simply to get a child to stare straight at the camera, perhaps with an “innocent” smile…  When the doctor cruelly and repeatedly insults the midwife who has been his mistress and housekeeper, I was reminded of that Nigel Kneale short story in the 1949 “Tomato Cain” collection: “They’re scared,Mr Bradlaugh”.  Finally, there are the doorway shots; like Bela Tarr, Haneke clearly loves a good shot through an open doorway; the Vermeer effect.

Scrapers

I’ve been doing small pictures on mounting board, using Liquitex acrylic paints, which are almost fluorescent colours.  I haven’t used a brush on any of them; instead, I use bits of straight-edged card and my fingers.  I call them scrapers for obvious reasons.  One shown below, and several others in previous blogs of last few weeks.  There’s a limit to the number of different effects you can get like this, though, and I think I might have reached it.

 

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Blackpaint

Screen door

21.02.13

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Blackpaint 333 – Turkish corpses, frenzied nuns and tagliatelli

March 29, 2012

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.  As the police, army, doctor and prosecutor search the Turkish countryside at night  for a murder victim, guided (!) by a suspect who can’t recognise the spot, they chat about yogurt (shades of Pulp Fiction and hamburgers);  winds get up that rustle the poplars (Padre Padrone) while the searchers take piss breaks, or peer into the searchlights, or land blows of frustration on the confused (or dissembling) captive.  Two more tiresome film buff references: the countryside resembles that of Iran in Kiarostami’s The Wind will Carry Us – and the interminable dictation of legalese and medicalese to typists by first, the prosecutor, then, the doctor, recalls the two secret police at the end of Tarr’s Satantango.  Three memorable images – a winding road through cornfields, laid out  like a thick straw mat; apples plopping into a fast- running stream and bounding downstream over the boulders; and a wind-blown Turkish homestead, made from the dry earth, it’s yellow lamps glimmering.

Perfect for DVD, I found it 30 minutes too long – I was waiting for the bit where the image would freeze and fade to music, but several of these images arrived and moved on into another sequence; arrival at the police station, post-mortem…

The Devils

I’d forgotten just how brilliant this film was and how many famous faces it contains; apart from Reed, Redgrave and Dudley Sutton, there’s Max Adrian and Brian Murphy from Man about the House (or was it Robin’s Nest?), as the two crazed physicians in leather masks.  They sort through the disgorged vomit of the crazed Ursuline nuns, seeking proof of Satanic practices – they find children’s organs, semen and – what’s this?  “A carrot”.  Louis XIII, shooting Protestants dressed as birds and released from giant cages to run across the king’s firing line, shoots one, who tumbles into a pond; as he sinks, the king says “Bye Bye… Blackbird”.  And music by Peter Maxwell Davies!

Joan Mitchell, Last Paintings, at Hauser and Wirth

Five huge canvases from her last decade; the familiar brushwork, like shredded paper, or wide strips tumbled together into a pile, or standing in glowing, superimposed stripes like trees (in “Trees”, 90-91), or multicoloured bundles of tagliatelli, in “Sunflowers”.  The burning, tangled colours a little more raw than usual, and some noticeable dry brush drags.  Upstairs, the Tondos, portholes looking out onto the Grande Vallee – I like the one with the glossy white at the top – and from the big ones, “Then, Last Time, No.4”, the tumbled together one, in dark blue and green.

Michael Raedecker

Also at Hauser and Wirth, at the gallery round the corner from the Mitchell (North Gallery).  His pictures are made with thread on large canvases painted in metallic greys and greens.  Wedding cakes, chandeliers, window and row of bungalows.  The bungalows are cut into panels and re-sorted amongst several canvases to create discontinuities. At the upper and lower edges of the canvases, white blobs that are reminiscent of Peter Doig.  The press release describes his work as “subtle and unsettling… enigmatic” – which seems fair enough.

Mary Heilmann

Finally, and also at Hauser and Wirth – all three of these exhibitions are free, by the way – the above; piercingly, blindingly vivid nursery colours on boxy chairs and small, biscuit-like paintings.  Irritating at first, but worth hanging around for 10 minutes until your eyes adjust.  One great picture in blues and greens of waves piling up – she uses an effect that makes the dark blues look like flattened tubes spouting diagonally across the little canvas; reminded me of that great Albert Irvin, “Flodden”,  I was writing about a few weeks ago – but that was huge; this is small.

Blackpaint

29/03/12