Wednesday, April 21, 2010

IFF Day 14: Honey, Life During Wartime

Honey (Bal), this year's Golden Bear winner, is the final part in Semih Kaplanoğlu's Yusuf trilogy. Over three films (Egg, Milk, Honey), Kaplanoğlu has drawn a portrait of a poet, moving chronologically backwards. I did like the fact that the time remains in the present, and the film makes it very clear that while we watch Yusuf's childhood in Honey, we have not moved back to the seventies. There are subtle references to the other two films, but Honey stands on its own. In fact, it towers over the earlier two. Most significantly, the cinematography by Barış Özbiçer is breathtaking. And while the acting has always been strong in the trilogy, coming from a little boy (Bora Altaş), it's even more impressive. Yes, the long takes are very long, but I think I've gotten used to that by now.

I clearly remember a scene from Happiness, where one sister says "We're not laughing at you, we're laughing with you" and the other responds "But I'm not laughing." I also remember other bits that stuck in my head, still after over a decade. Its sequel, Life During Wartime screened here a little over a month ago, and I have no recollection of it. Except that Todd Solondz has a really low speaking voice, and I couldn't hear him even with a microphone. The film is vicious to its characters, and I can't really imagine how it would stand alone without its prequel. (This is what happens when I start a blog entry on April 21st and complete it on June 4th.)

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