The Pakistani Urdu Language Drama Film “Khuda Kay Liye (In the Name of God)”, literal translation “For God’s Sake”, is the story of misinterpretation of Islam and its backlash on the lives of people. The basic theme of this emotional 170 minutes long film revolves around the line that how much symbols of Islam are given preference over its essence. The movie encompasses the world’s politics and the use/misuse of religious card on the global and regional level to serve one’s own organized and latent interest.
BY AMIR HAMZA BANGASH | June 2012
Besides accentuating the socio-cultural problems existing in the society, this film also reveals the symbolic power of influential magician clerics sitting in the mosques by promoting the extreme wishful version of Islam and complete observance of silence from the government’s camp to counter back despite knowing the gravity of prevailing situation. In a country, where no hygienic and unhygienic campaign can stay successful, unless approved and backed by the clerics, which raises from the Polio Vaccination to the existing terrorism in the name of Islam. This film proves that most of the times things in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, will start with the name of Islam, but will end somewhere beyond it.
It has successfully been placed as the Best Film in Roberto Rossellini Award and Fukuoka Audience Award. It is written, produced and directed by well-known Pakistani name ‘Shoaib Mansoor’. The music of the film is catered by the Javed Bashir, Shuja Haider, Ahmed Jahanzeb, Khawar Jawad and Lagan Band, which colors the hot issue in sugar coated way. The script, plot and footage makes the film catchy and worth watching. Indeed it’s the blend of Oriental narratives and Western Paradigm.
The film kicks off with two brothers Mansoor (Shan) and Sarmad (Fawad Afzal Khan), who are emerging young singers in Lahore. Sarmad gets in touch with one of the radical religious clerics and gets galvanize with his wishful interpretation of Islam. He ceases all the musical activities, grows his beard and even starts dictating his mother to observe veil.
Turkish auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s last movie Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) is a story of a murder and the officers’ efforts to find the place where the victim was buried. The story was based on the 12 hours of the event happened in Keskin, a small town of Kirikkale, in Central Anatolia Region of Turkey.
BY ALAADDIN F. PAKSOY | APRIL 20, 2012
The co-authors of the script were partly inspired by a true story. In an interview conducted with the director, Ceylan said that one of the co-writers had worked as a doctor in the town where the movie took place. So, the story benefited a lot from the doctor’s memoirs concerning the murder while some conversations was built on quotes from Anton Chekhov (Proimakis, 2011).
The Turkish-Bosnian production takes 150 minutes and it can be categorised as a thriller. Unlike Ceylan’s general tendency in casting, Turkish celebrities Yılmaz Erdoğan and Taner Birsel play two of the leading roles in the movie. Erdoğan’s skill contributes a lot to the movie as it can be argued that nobody could have acted the local commissar of this movie as good as him. Similarly, Taner Birsel gives a perfect performance as usual. Murderer, Fırat Köksal, might be seen as the most arguable character. He confessed that he was the murderer but he played the innocent in the whole story. That is why while watching the movie, you feel a meaningless sympathy for him. Ercan Kesal played a mayor candidate in Ceylan’s previous movie Three Monkeys. This time, Kesal plays the Mukhtar of the village and his speech to the officers can beam you up to the heart of Anatolian villages. Including the Mukhtar’s, several conversations of the movie reveal the hypocrisy and selfishness of Anatolian men. The characters, especially the prosecutor and the commissar do not care about others’ problems as they are only focused on their simple personal life.
It can be argued that this is a very realist movie in terms of its characters, script, conversations, and covering a relatively short period of time for a movie. The only surrealist example might be the scene when the murderer sees the victim in front of the window in Mukhtar’s house. Concerning this scene, Ceylan’s comments contribute to the movie’s realist character. He said that it was the murderer’s dream and dreams were part of real life (Proimakis, 2011). Yet the movie’s realist spirit does not demolish its visual aesthetic. Although Ceylan’s visual materials are remarkably restricted in the steppe landscape and darkness of the night, he successfully employs the rolling apples, flying leaves, and the light coming from cars and the train in his visual representation of the story. It can even be argued that every single frame of this movie can be a picture on your wall if you cannot afford to pay for a Caravaggio or Rembrandt painting. In particular, the establishing shot in front of the auto-tyre repair shop resembles a painting. This is Ceylan’s creativity of transforming ordinary places into aesthetic frames.
Published in Political Reflection Magazine (PR) Vol. 3 No. 2
This is a movie which can prove that a war scene between two brigades would probably not be more influential than seeing the beginning of war between two next-door neighbours.
BY ALAADDIN F. PAKSOY | DECEMBER 11, 2011
News reports about the Cyprus issue make me yawning. The vicious circle of the dispute does not bring something new to the agenda and the media usually evaluate the topic by today’s discussions and miss the historical context. Indisputably, books and documentaries covering the issue present detailed political and historical discussions. However, most people’s visual memory is most likely not more than the black and white photos showing the ethnic violence on the island in 1960s. Now there is a movie that can add new images to your mind about the Cyprus issue.
Shadows and Faces (Gölgeler ve Suretler) is the third movie of Dervis Zaim’s trilogy. It is the second feature-length movie in Turkish cinema history, which was made in Cypriot Turkish dialects and performed by Cypriot actors and actresses. The film invites the audience to make a micro level analysis of the war by witnessing a story which is based completely on Cypriot individuals’ daily life. Hence, no Turkish or Greek politicians can spoil your mood while following the film. In brief, Shadows and Faces is the story of a young girl who lost her father, a shadow puppet play (Karagoz) master, and started to live with her uncle in a small village. Her uncle is one of the leader men of the small Turkish community and he wants to keep the village peaceful by motivating the village’s youngsters to be calm and stay away from the conflict.
Clearly, Shadows and Faces is not a propaganda movie. However, I had two question marks in my mind before watching the film. Can a story based on a very tense historical issue be represented without the traps of nationalism? And can this limited time of the script successfully narrate the issue even though it lacks of intertextuality? It is obvious that the movie sounds a bit biased at the beginning by giving some historical notes about how the dispute started. However, we should keep in mind that the story is actually the story of a Turkish-Cypriot family more than the Cyprus issue per se. Regarding my second question, I assume that Dervis Zaim wanted to show us only one part, or the start of the dispute in 1963 within the borders of a small village. Thus, we do not necessarily need to know the preceding and following events happened on the island. This aspect of the story makes the movie ready to watch for anyone who even does not know anything about the conflict on the island.
This review looks at what is quality television and what makes The Sopranos so successful. “Quality Television” term has started to be used by critics and scholars after 1990s to describe a genre which contains the style, content and its subject. They use this term to qualify the television show to higher than others. But what are those reasons making those shows better than others? Kristin Thompson's criteria for "quality television" programs are "...a quality pedigree, a large ensemble cast, a series memory, creation of a new genre through recombination of older ones, self-consciousness, and pronounced tendencies toward the controversial and the realistic". Also, US group Viewers For Quality Television describes Quality Television as "A quality show is something we anticipate, focuses more on relationships, explores character, it enlightens, challenges, involves and confronts the viewer; it provokes thought..."
The elements that make the TV series more cinematic are good acting, good script and a big budget. In The Sopranos, each episode is polished like a feature film. They shoot it on 35mm film and 16:9 aspect ratio. They keep the scenes a bit longer than usual. They focus on the characters more than the action. Each character has its own arc and personal inside problems. For example, in the season three, the episode seven, the audience watches Carmela Soprano is dealing with herself being a wife to a sinner and criminal husband. Or Vito’s own story within few episodes in season 6, he is dealing with his mafia fellows finding out that he is a homosexual. As David Chase says, it is more visual than talking. Also during the shooting process having higher budgets gives them to work on the episode like it is a feature film.
The creator of The Sopranos David Chase (David DeCesare), is a member of an Italian-American family in New Jersey. He says that it is impossible to grow up in New Jersey and not to envy mafia life style. His first intend was making a film called The Sopranos which is a story of his old neighbourhood in New Jersey. He wanted to add his family’s stories and combining them with some mafia flavour. However, after some time, he realised that making this a TV show would be better. He set the main roof of the show within the idea of Tony Soprano seeing a psychiatrist and dealing with his mother’s issues from his childhood.
The Sopranos has all the elements that make a TV series a Quality TV. Like big group of good actors, excellent script, shooting it on 35mm film, stories more about the characters, more visual style, 16:9 aspect ratio etc. All those elements make The Sopranos more cinematic and better series than the other ones.
In the show, most of the characters are Italian-American. Some of the actors had been in some projects together earlier from The Sopranos. David Chase had interviews with all the actors personally. One of the main criteria of choosing the right actors is the accent.
* Published in Political Reflection Magazine (PR) Vol. 2 | No. 3** Enes Erbay is an M.A. Student in Directing: Film and Television at the University of Westminster. http://www.eneserbay.com/
Spirited Away: A Glance at Hayao Miyazaki*
Spirited Away (the original title: Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi) is Hayao Miyazaki’s animation which was made in Japan in 2001. The movie made a huge success all over the world and became the most watched movie ever in Japan. The success brought several awards such as the Golden Bear in the 52nd Berlin Film Festival and the Best Animation Oscar in the 75th Academy Awards.
Spirited Away is about Chihiro’s journey to be a grown up and to learn the responsibility of standing on her feet alone while experiencing the magic of love with Haku. The 10 year old Chihiro and her family have to move to another city due to the change in her father’s career. When Chihiro and her family are on a trip to their new home, they experience many exciting events. After they lost their way in jungle, they find a tunnel which connects the real world to the world of souls. When they go through the tunnel, they find their selves in a world of wonders: A bathhouse designed for gods... Chihiro’s parents turn into pigs because of their humanistic weaknesses and of their greed. This place was designed for only gods. In the world of Yumama, the owner of the bathhouse, people who do not work have been transformed into animals. So, Chihiro has to impose herself and get a job in the bathhouse to save her parents afterwards. Of course for a price: she has to abandon her name.
Miyazaki explains Spirited Away: “Film is based on a bathhouse where most of the gods visit. I always had some weird feelings about Japanese bathhouses. So that is why I always wanted to make a film about bathhouses and I thought it would have been funnier if the bathhouse is only for gods. I think the Japanese gods are going to the bathhouses just like us to get rest. They want to stay there longer but when the weekend finishes they have to go back to their routines. Because I believe that they are busier than other times nowadays.”
*Published in Political Reflection Magazine (PR) Vol. 2 | No. 2
** Enes Erbay is an M.A. Student in Directing: Film and Television at the University of Westminster.
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