Blog Entries

Moving on with a load of memories

6/7/14 – The concept of returning back to familiarity has always fascinated me. Looking upon something which once ignited a certain feeling and remembering the visual, the smell, the texture and how it straight away brings you to a moment we experienced. It makes the past ever so more real – it proves it actually happened. Yet, nostalgia usually has a negative connotation in the sense that it evokes the limitations of humanity. We aren’t able to relive any moment in our lives a second time; each one is unique. As we grow older, those very special times in our lives become distant and hard to replicate.

Due to being half Cypriot, I have the compulsory ‘responsibility’ to complete my military service, serving my country as each male citizen has to do. All that bull aside, I’ve found myself again on the small island of Cyprus, which I lived between the age of 6 and 22.  As I stepped into my bedroom, what struck me was the unlived nature of its current state. All the walls had been painted, posters taken down, furniture moved around, a new lamp shade, a new clock and some new wallpaper. My room also has a very interesting cupboard which was the main reason I had chosen this room long ago when I was 6 – a walk in cupboard. A small playground of my own. It had stored all my notebooks from my school years, my various Nintendo consoles, boardgames, puzzles… Luckily they are still there, stored away or in neat piles. The walls are bare though, showing no evidence that they were once covered in stickers of the series Baywatch or World Cup ’94. No photo exists of the interior of this cupboard, only what lives on in my memory and the memory of the ones who once entered it. Although it may not seem significant at all for a stranger, for me it meant the world.

90s kid

90s kid

Memories mean everything for me. I have always been one who thinks about the past and hopes to be able to grasp it one more time. Even as I enter the final years of my 20’s, each dream at night takes me back to a combination of my friends who I used to play with at primary, secondary or high school as we try to avoid the many disaster scenarios my brain likes to conjure. So when I found a section in my bedroom that hadn’t been painted over, a piece of my childhood and puberty that still existed, a giant smile on my face appeared, followed by laughter. This was indeed the same room I grew up in but just like me, had become mature, more understanding of how the world works and more in peace with himself.

You see, I used to write under the window sill. A word or two every couple of months or each year. The window sill itself isn’t very long at all so I had to be very precise on what I decided to write. It wasn’t going to be expressing deep thoughts about the world and it was certainly not going to be any mathematical equations that could rival the String Theory. It was going to be exactly what a stupid teenager who was fighting every single hormone in his body to act like a grown up was going to write. Love, computer games and football. The difference with me was that I always (and I still do) add the date and sometimes the time on.

An entry in 2003 (day and month not visible due to fresh coat of paint) states excitedly that “I’m growing up!!!” By entering the exact date, in my mind I have a proof that this exact moment took place and it will exist forever within this marking. It’s a weird fixation I have with the past and the time passing – even when I play scrabble, I tend to note down the date and time above the players name. It’s kinda emotional, as I now have papers with the time and date of when I played with my granddad who has now passed away.

Rectify

Rectify

Another entry under the window sill entered on 7 June 2003 at 23:42 simply says “I’ve gotten my final school report and school is over sob sob”. My high school years were over and I would never be a kid in that sort of environment ever again. Ever since primary school, my friends wished to grow up whilst I preferred for time to stand still. Maybe that’s why I included dates and times everywhere, wrote under the window sill and was affected so much by my now new looking bedroom. All of that is my childhood which I will never get back and seeing them disappear also is a bit sad. But then again, growing up is maybe just that right? Moving on with a load of memories.

ps. For a more quality look on how time passes or being lost in time, Rectify is quite an interesting tv series on this subject.

A splice of Poetry

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24/8/13 – I remember writing a version of ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ around the age of 5 or 6 at school. I can’t entirely remember if it was a word for word copy of the original story or an iteration of my own mind. What I do remember is my mother telling me that I should be a writer, a storyteller. Somehow that must have stuck with me, as over the years I’ve written so many short stories, some which I have been lucky enough to see on a cinema screen, acted out by actors, with accompanying music and even credits. But I’ve also, like many pubescent younglings, dabbed my pen on an empty piece of paper and wrote some poems!

Poetry has entered my life from time to time, normally when I’m really down or super in love(or both). The ones from early teen years are embarassingly cheesy and very direct whilst the later ones, at least, have a richer vocabulary. I thought it would be fun to compare one of my earliest works written when I was around 11 with another I wrote in 2009, which to this day, I still like a lot. Keep in mind that the earlier poem was written in turkish so the one below is a translated version. I will do my best to keep the cheesiness intact.

YOU

If I could,
All my life,
I would look into your beautiful green eyes.

Seeing you,
Listening to you,
is the biggest reason
for me to lose myself.

I’m alone without you,
I’m by myself without you,
I’m searching for you, where are you?

cheese

I was deeply in love, on the verge of obsession and knew that this person was the one for me and anyone else would not be worthy of even comparing to this platonic relationship. I did mention I was 11 right? Let’s try the next one, written at the age of 23.

THE SOURCE

One needs respect in times of dire
So long a soul can wait in despair
The Giving Hand has clenched it’s fist
To deprive, starve, kill…

One becomes inanimate and too weak to be
As the candle melts, so does the light to see
Neverending dilemma takes it’s toll
To chant, taunt, tease…

One flows throughout the shivering current
Heavy and timid as the wreath swirls
Source of fruition ends it’s journey
To hate, cry, die…

Never hopeful, ever so there
Blind eye opens, catching the lair
Seeking truth, although no share
Upon it shines, meet me there..

dis-turtle

I remember writing the lyrics for this, kinda making up the words and then searching for similar ones I could use instead. It’s hard to be objective but I really like this poem. It sounds angry but beautiful at the same time. I guess it could work better as a song for Metallica, ala Fade to Black or Nothing Else Matters. I would like to think that anyway…

Scriptwriting, life and poison, or how Civilisation begins with distillation

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5/8/13 – I had a discussion the other day with a filmmaker friend of mine, who seemed surprised when I mentioned that when it comes to writing a script, that I usually never have a clear story in my head and that I usually only have a single frame or shot in my mind which I work from. I guess the norm is to have a beginning, mid-section and ending worked out before attempting to write. To be honest, I don’t even remember what was taught to me during university. All I know is that, once I’m inspired and I start writing/typing, it usually continues until about halfway of the narrative, which is where I get stuck for a period of time. Until that point, I’ve chosen where to set the story, introduced the characters, established their flaws and quirks and given clues to what the story is about. Then I usually take some time off, which is the organic development part. The brain will still be thinking, looking for ideas, answers, ways to connect whilst I’ll be seemingly minding my own business, watching a film or working at my boring and stressful job. Could be a week or two, even a month to three months later but eventually, I will formulate the best way to develop and end the script. This part is the most fun to write – it’s fast, frantic, exciting, shocking and exhilarating. My eyes will sting, my back will ache but I end up with a first draft, complete from beginning to end.

yet another draft

yet another draft

This process reminds me of another. Not knowing how it’s going to end? Waiting and experiencing while realisation sinks in? The rush and excitement? Sound familiar? Doesn’t everything we do in life roughly fit into this system?

A normal day consists of getting up to the unknown. We may know that we will have breakfast (if we don’t snooze away the morning that is), we will get out the house to go to work (or search for work from our beds), socialise with our colleagues etc. We never do know however if there will be a surprise, a good or bad news, a pay rise, a car crash, a 2 for 1 offer of chicken thighs, a wink from the man walking by you which makes you question your sexuality, a wink from a woman walking by you which makes you question your fidelity! Anything can happen! And that is what makes what they called life so fun and worth living for.

We may figure out how to make money, where to live, how to get along with a housemate. But we also can learn how to use chopsticks and understand the difference between the words, vertical and horizontal. We thrive to find a partner who we can bond with and share moments with. But we can also create random words to make us chuckle, use made up languages near others that can come across as weird, start singing loudly, in-sync, suddenly. People normally go on holidays to chill or see culture. Well, we also do that to experience new cities, people, discover, get lost, find our way back, run, jump and to smile.

LifeIsGreat

Prioritise life!

All this might sound extremely cheesy but this is why life is worth living for! This is why rather than dumbing ourselves down in momentary numbness, we should protect ourselves, heal ourselves and go experience what is in us and what is out there. Life can be tough a lot of the time, which is why people are bogged down in toxins and alcohol and hallucinogens. But isn’t it better to actually take a deep breath or two or ten, focus and actually preserve the health that is needed to be actively present in this lifetime? This brings us to the title of this blog entry. We, as a civilisation, are being distilled!

I’ve never been a huge drinker, excluding a year of university which even then wasn’t that crazy, but lately I’ve been drinking just for the sake of it. Just because. I could’ve chosen anything else on the menu but instead I just ordered beer. Alcohol is socially acceptable, that’s why. But why is it socially acceptable? Because the man says so! The man says go earn money, and if you can’t earn money, go drink beer. The man says go make babies, and if you’re unhappy with babies, go drink wine. At a party? Drink vodka. At a social gathering? Lighten the mood with a shot. It’s socially acceptable so the Man can create yet another industry to distill our money, our mood and our brains.

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slurp slurp slurp

As the civilisation has ‘advanced’ and we as people have increased in number, what is out there to calm us down from all the problems in the world? What is available for consumption to numb us and make us think about beautiful unicorns dancing on flowery fields? Besides the alcohol, we also have cigarettes and shitloads of drugs, all carefully designed by the pharmaceutical companies whom continue the distillation and keep on making pretty money. Once we are addicted, then there are more ways to counter this addictions with further gums, patches, fake cigarettes, anti drugs, aa meetings, again all fabrication of the man. No one is considering how we are affecting our bodies and future generations with pre-disposed conditions of addictive personalities, cancer, diseases, depression… Where is the fun in that? Where is the fun in any of this? It was fun like, 10 years ago during university, while we were still trying to discover who we are and actively seeking acceptance from our friends and peers, when we weren’t as aware as we should be today.

Just like in scriptwriting, the midsection is the tricky part in life. Approaching the age of 30, I’m hopefully still not halfway there yet but I feel mature enough to consider more parts of life than before. The midsection is where people get stuck, lost, consumed, distilled. As long as we don’t lose sight of the goal, there isn’t really much that can stop us. And it’s true, it’s hard to escape every single negative aspect of this life. But we can damn try by being actively present in the now and planning for the future at the same time.

Remember how I talked earlier about how when I start to write, that I don’t have a clear endgame in mind? Well this blog entry had a similar birth. What you have read is what’s going through my mind right now. Cos I’m still redrafting my script and continuing to search for actors. Cos I’m still relishing the notion of getting back to London and enjoying myself. And cos as of August 3rd, I’m sober and will stay like that for a good while. Like I mentioned before, I was never a heavy drinker and since I’m not, there isn’t really a point in consuming something that I don’t really enjoy anymore. In my mind, I have a perfect point in time for having a drink or two but until that date, I refuse to be subject to distillation! Until then, I will continue writing, continue enjoying life as much as I can!

shame the drink makes you less interesting

the Man at his best

Another fun read is this article from the Guardian titled “Why do writers drink?” http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jul/20/why-do-writers-drink-alcohol

Cohesive & Cohesiveness – Am I, are we?

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13/6/13 – Before I start mumbling, lets first see what Wikipedia has to say about the word ‘Cohesiveness’.

“… A group is said to be in a state of cohesion when its members possess bonds linking them to one another and to the group as a whole. Although cohesion is a multi-factored process, it can be broken down into four main components: social relations, task relations, perceived unity and emotions. Members of strongly cohesive groups are more inclined to participate readily and to stay with the group…”

Being in Cyprus for the last twelve days, I’ve been trying to define the way I feel and think here. I find it very interesting that it’s hard for me to feel cohesive in any way. This could be due to that I’ve only been here for a short time but realistically, I’ve been here for two thirds of my life. The experience of growing up on this island has shaped who I am today, although never to the point of defining me. I knew early on that satisfaction was never going to appear here.

20130603_053246

sunrise

‘Social relations’ is the first of the four main components mentioned in the Wikipedia entry. The first thing I notice about myself when I returned to Cyprus (or the various visits before) is that I’m much more inept in the Turkish language. Writing has never been a problem but vocally, English has always been more easier and a language more accesible for me to articulate. I feel this has a negative effect on my social relations, although I’ve never really had trouble making friends in any point of my life. I’m less of myself during my times here, that’s for sure. There are sparse occasions of relaxation but otherwise, never a total immersion of cohesiveness.

The characteristics of the Cypriot people are also much more vague to me than the everyday folk of London. It seems like you never really know what they are thinking of or plotting. This tends to be a result of a more closed minded culture.

20130604_071712

reflecting light

As a filmmaker, envisioning a project here, is far from easy. ‘Task relations’ is the second component of ‘cohesiveness’ and comes into play very often, especially as I continue to struggle to come to terms with the way things have to function here in order to produce an original piece of work. Currently, I am an assistant director on a short film being shot which has quite a decent budget, talented individuals both in front and behind the camera, and a touching narrative. As the industry is so fresh here, organising a project in a healthy manner is tricky and demands plenty of time. I’m doing my best to learn from the mistakes being made in order not to repeat them on my own film, which I’m hoping to shoot in September. It’s the only reason I am here (besides the two weeks of compulsory military service). Each day is a struggle of patience and the burning summer sun acts vengeful for no apparent reason.

As I’ve been involved with filming here since 2005, I know how the people function but I can’t help but need the occasional prod to remind me that things don’t work the same here and that I will need to put twice the effort to be able to achieve completion of my project.

20130611_141501

yep 40 degrees

Cyprus has always suffered when it comes to ‘perceived unity’, the third component. Politically, the whole history is a mess and the ominous numbness is a continuous poison for the inhabitants of the island. Every holiday here reminds me of a more positive past of being active, on the streets, demanding rights and a solution. The demonstrations that are currently taking place in Istanbul, Ankara and throughout Turkey which started as a protest against the demolition of the Gezi Park and evolved into something much bigger should be an example of how the people are the most important part of a nation, not the leaders or any force. I can only hope for the people here to fight for their rights and be their own masters but for now, it’s only hopeful thinking.

More than ten years have passed since the exciting days of the emergence of the Annan Plan to finally solve the Cyprus issue and to be honest, since that disappointment, like many people, I have lost any unity towards the cause and Cyprus itself. I’m rarely a pessimist but until I see that glimpse of a spark of the light that will blow the lid off this box, cohesiveness is non-existant.

woof...

woof…

The feeling of caring, being cared for, sharing life, the simple but amazing feeling of a hug.. According to Wikipedia, ’emotions’ is the final component of cohesiveness. It’s how we connect, how we choose to connect. No matter how much a ‘man’ I can be, it’s truly tough to be away from people you dearly love and a pain to be distant from a place you call your home. It can cloud your judgments, take over your thoughts and dictate your mood – all because we have the ability to bond, in another word, to be cohesive.

Cyprus was once my home, although more due to necessity rather than a choice. Being in my late twenties, I can now see more clearly that life is a bitch of a rollercoaster ride, that is being constantly constructed. Although I don’t particularly enjoy them, I have the tendency to take these rides quite a lot. They have their slow parts and then really crazy sections of utter lunacy. Now it seems I’m somewhere towards the middle of one of them where I kinda know what to expect and just have to be brave enough to face any surprises that may pop up.

Not every blog entry has to be cohesive in nature. Just like this one, it can use the word as a starting point and just reflect my state of mind. It’s been a while since I updated my blog and there is so much going on in my life right now and the responsibility of juggling all can be daunting but I can also feel it’s making me stronger as a person. Definitely not cohesive though.

ps. Fail with consequence, lose with eloquence.

5 films, 5 reviews, no 5 stars!

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15/12/12 – Very simple really. I have five short reviews for the last five films I have seen. Also Merry Christmas!!

The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey = Returning back to Middle Earth was a great feeling, it was nostalgic and an incredible thing for fans like myself. I had read ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘The Hobbit’ back in high school just before the films came out. I was perplexed by the writing style and the amount of information contained on each page, enabling the creation of such a detailed, vast world. My obsession continued with multiple readings of them and also ‘Silmarillion’ and ‘Unfinished Tales’. So although biased, I do believe I can offer a fairly objective review of the film.

First and foremost, I watched the film in 2D and 24fps. No need for any extra fanciness (Potentially for the second viewing). To cut to the chase, I loved it. Just the feeling of experiencing the same colours, the music, the characters was incredible. I do acknowledge that the convenient appearance of certain characters at the nick of time happened too often and especially the goblin cave action scenes went on far too long. But in general, Peter Jackson has produced a good first part to the new Trilogy (and made a good film finally after the disappointing ‘King Kong’ and the abysmal ‘The Lovely Bones’) and I hope that the padded out narrative will lend itself to a richer trip throughout Middle Earth. 4/5

Cloud Atlas

Hugo Weaving being creepy like usual

Cloud Atlas = After everyone fell in love with the amazingly long trailer that came out a while back (I even ranted about it in one of my previous blog entries: http://www.talatgokdemir.com/risetrailers), I thought I might as well give it a watch. Apparently it is the most expensive independent film ever made and reading about the effort the filmmakers put in to it to get it made, I do have endless respect for them. Yet I fell asleep twice and it took me twice the amount of its running time (which is close to 3 hours!) to finish watching ‘Cloud Atlas’. Overall it just felt hollow, despite all the actors playing multiple characters over the course of hundreds of years and despite the been there-done that feel of the ‘we are all connected’ message throughout the film. Maybe I’m becoming immune to these kind of cheesy films. Although saying that, I do have the urge to watch ‘Love Actually’ again. Hmm.. 2.5/5

Flight

I will quit drinking, cross my heart, hope to die!

Flight = The film ‘Flight’ ends with the question “Who are you?”. Quite ironic in the sense that despite a powerful premise, the film lacks any real development in story or character. We never care for anyone, therefore another waste of potentially good material. It’s a real shame really as the premise is really damn interesting. We follow Denzel Washington’s shallow character (1-dimensional throughout the film) as he manages to crash land the plane while he is intoxicated. What follows is him trying to convince everyone that he was the only person able to land the plane, no matter how drunk or high he was. So many years of directing bland mo-cap animated films must’ve really affected Robert Zemeckis as the film fails to emote, just like his lifeless, creepy computer generated characters. Shame.. 2/5

Wallflower

I thought you were British?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower = This was one of those films were I felt I should’ve read the book first, it has that condensed feeling to it. The film itself isn’t anything special but it’s a well put together piece about growing up and the high school period of our lives. With some serious darkness sprinkled on to it, which I wasn’t expecting to be honest. It was tough to get used to Emma Watson’s US accent too but I have to say, she is quite decent. 3/5

Rust and Bone

Only an Orca Whale can statisfy my craving!

Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os) = After the fabulous ‘A Prophet’, director Jacques Audiard follows that with a film that suffers from a serious lack of focus. There are so many disjointed elements to the narrative – We have a single father and his son, we have a lady who has a traumatic accident, then some sexual satisfaction issues, vicious street fighting, awkward bonding, then another traumatic accident, followed by a somewhat forced happy ending. Although shot well and acted quite decently (With ‘Bullhead’ and now this film, Matthias Schoenaerts will probably make a move to Hollywood very soon), the rest is just not up to par with his previous film, far from satisfactory and never comes together as a whole. (What I got was that the Cotillard character wants a man as a big as a whale, I don’t think I’m far off?) (no pun intended). 2.5/5

The Master: Imagining the fresh air

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19/11/12 – The waves. The blue. The ship.

That’s how ‘The Master’ welcomes us. A hopeful way to begin an intense journey for Freddie, portrayed amazingly by Joaquin Phoneix. A lost soul is the perfect way to describe him; his psyche blown apart by the war, wandering some what aimlessly, pondering thoughts of desire and wishful hallucinations of the past.

A common weakness in humankind is nostalgia and how we deal with it. Or how we don’t deal with it. Or that we can’t. Consuming memories, ongoing depression. It leaves us vulnerable, easier to succumb to manipulation. This is where Dodd comes in to play. His courageous stature, titling himself ‘Commander’ (and then ‘Master’), his way with words.. Dodd presents a basic idea that can appeal to anyone, of reliving moments and past lives. Being able to capture the minds of the post-war American’s so easily, travelling in time in order to is ingenious. Yet also his greatest weakness. His son is aware of all the bullshit, his wife ever so controlling, the people around him the more deceiving. The only way he can keep it together, ironically, is with the poison offered by Freddie. What results in two boys rolling about on the front porch of a garden. Playing innocently, ignoring everyone around them. Isn’t that what kids do together when they are having fun? They make up a game, a story and go with the flow.

Freddie finds comfort in the wisdom gained by Dodd, whilst for Dodd he is a mere test subject. The scenes of Freddie walking back and forth throughout a room shows how entangled he is both in his life and in the clutches of the Master. Yet, all he wants is to return to the basic human instinct, the touch and the feel of a loving women, her lips, her breast, her all together. Only by consuming poison can he cope with the loss. Philip Seymour Hoffman manages to capture the essence and demeanour of the struggling leader as Dodd becomes a great tool in his hand, representing good will with somewhat ill intentions. Nothing is really as it seems, just as Dodd creates a new version of the book, making one very important change. ‘Imagine’.

Some may classify Freddie and Dodd’s relationship as of a father-son one, some even like two lovers. It is strange yet so genuine. Aren’t we pulled towards individuals in our life where we question our judgment, yet ignore and pursue them even more? Where does logic end and insanity begin? Is there a middle ground? ‘The Master’ masterfully can toy with many ideas and this is what impressed me the most. Paul Thomas Anderson has once again created a multi-layered film which has the ending credits rolling away and our minds captivated, still engaged, still imagining..

A jolly October!

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25/10/12 – I have spent most of October 2012 in Cyprus. Not really much of a holiday as I’ve been preparing for my next short film called ‘Haftasonu’ (‘Weekend’) which I aim to shoot next year in May.

‘Haftasonu’ (Weekend)

Comparing with making a short film in London, the main  difference is the difficulty in finding a suitable cast. There is no mandy or casting call pro so I have to rely on the old fashioned technique of actually asking around, creating a word of mouth, putting myself out there. I’ve had the advantage of being selected to the Cyprus International Film Festival with ‘Leave, which has the potential to do a lot of the hard work by itself. If people are aware that you aren’t just saying you are a director but actually do have a piece of work that has been in official screenings around the continent, they do tend to take you more seriously. Especially in Cyprus, where until a couple of years ago, making a film wasn’t even considered as an idea..

4 feature films have been released in the last 3 years in North Cyprus. It will take a lot more to increase that number but knowing that there is a sudden interest in creating films here, I had to be a part of it. It’s the main deciding factor for me to leave the UK behind and move back here . I’ve spent October promoting ‘Leave’ in two screenings, a tv programme and a few interviews just to create this awareness. I’ve also spent a few sleepless nights preparing a quite detailed funding application and fingers crossed, if all goes well, there is a chance that ‘Haftasonu’ may be my the first partly funded production helmed by myself. Even if the outcome isn’t what I hope, production will go forward next year. It has to..

After ‘Leave’, I spent 2012 producing two short films. The first was ‘landescapes’, shot in January and was completed earlier this month. Written and directed by my dear talented friend Damla Kirkali, it tells the tale of young couple living in London trying to maintain their relationship amongst the pressure of their families, unemployment and alienation. It has the potential to be screened in festivals and I relish the chance to be a part of that experience.

Mengü Türk in ‘landescapes’

The second short film is titled ‘Meztli’ and was shot in Mexico Ciy. An experimental film which is a call to bring fantasy and surrealism back to the Mexican cinema, with themes rooted in the Mexican culture. I’m very excited to see people’s reactions as they witness this very special piece of art directed by the unique Astrid Salas.

Paola Salas in ‘Meztli’

Producing is an entirely different type of beast compared to directing and I have to be honest, isn’t really my cup of tea. It can be tough to balance your responsibilities and actually put aside your urge to interfere, trusting the director to do what they have imagined in their mind. So it’s time to get back in the directors’ chair and be the dictator, a kind one but a dictator nevertheless.

During my time here in Cyprus, which comes to an end on Sunday, I’ve seen two plays and also a practice session. I’ve seen very talented individuals playing a rape victim, a political activist and a bored housewife all in the span of a hour. It’s incredible that the human mind can engage in such a wide variety of role playing with such convincing manner. It does give me the hope that I will eventually find each member of the cast of 9 I am searching for. I have already made preliminary talks and if all goes well, casting sessions should be underway next year in February/March.

Oh, did I mention ‘Leave’ received “Special Mention for Best Short Film” at the festival? 🙂

receiving the award

Time is of the essence

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26/8/12 – Time is a human construct, something we depend on and make all decisions upon. What follows are my ramblings which kinda relate to time and also relate to the latest Batman movie.

Christopher Nolan is one of those directors who never failed to amaze. Memento, The Prestige, The Dark Knight – all are constructed to indulge us in entertainment and conversations. Lately though, starting with Inception and continuing with The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has became a slave of his format and a lazy slave unfortunately. I’m not going to discuss Inception at all because to be honest, I did enjoy it very much but it did leave me emotionally ‘meh’. Dark Knight Rises on the other hand, is one of those failures that has received mostly universal praise only because it follows the exact Nolan format, not because it does it in a successful manner. Three reasons why:

1- Catwoman:

I hope I get to kill the baddie at the end

If you take her out the film, nothing changes. It’s unbelievable how ‘unnecessary’ she is throughout the whole narrative. The only reason she is there is to obtain a magical flash drive that will erase her past. That’s it. She may be super sexy with amazing legs but can someone tell me why Batman is so insistent on trusting her, although she continues to betray him at every chance she gets? He keeps on uttering lines like “You are better than this” or “There is good in you” even though he doesn’t know her one bit! The only reason that can explain this is that Batman is thinking with his man-parts and Rachel has been gone a bit too long if you know what I mean. So basically, we have a script with a character that doesn’t need to be there. Time has been created for her, therefore allowing this to be a part of the script.

2- Blake:

I have creepy eyesight vision

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is so damn boring. If not for the twist at the ending, would anyone even remember him? Be honest. Don’t get me started on his motivations as the one given in the film is an embarassment for Nolan. Blake, in a nutshell, explains that he saw Bruce Wayne while he was an orphan child and that he looked in his eyes, recognising the same sorrow he shares etc. Yes, that is why he knows he is Batman. Unbelievable. So another character that shouldn’t have any place in this script is playing a major role in this film. Time has been created for another pointless character.

 

 

 

3- The format:

Time to get back to the basics

Nolan likes unlinear storytelling and also loves parallel storytelling a.k.a. the nolan format. He has done it really well in the past. With the inclusion of two empty characters though, the whole thing falls apart. Add to that shamblings like the near-inaudible voice of Bane, the forced addition of Marion Cotillard’s character, the dumbest police force ever and even weaker flashbacks, the whole format collapses under the sheer weight of crudeness. What we are left with are loads of parallel short scenes, played back to back in ultra speed, leaving no time for the audience to even comprehend and think about what happened before. This is the exact formula and format movies like Transformers and Prometheus utilise. Using time in such a way that most of it consists of nothing, yet the audience keeps on watching because they haven’t realised they have been tricked again.

Let’s hope that Christopher Nolan, with the Batman franchise behind him, can imbue his storytelling with his next project and decides to exit his comfort zone. That zone has treated him well but it’s time to move on. Time is of the essence.

The Rise of Trailers (and the downfall of men)

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31/7/12 – No way its just me feeling this, trailers are getting out of hand. First its the latest trend of teasing the teaser trailer, then its the inevitable teaser trailer which flashes so many images in a short span of time that our brain synapses fry and by the time we get to the mega trailer which last approximately 2:10 to 2:30, we have given our heart, soul, our whole entity to this ‘product’. Hollywood knows how to sell their shit but is the consumer getting any clever? Are we gonna keep being fooled by false marketing, bombastic music and clever editing?

Interestingly the last film I watched which had a really poor marketing campaign with some loathsome trailers actually turned out to be a decent enough watch. Yes, I’m talking about John Carter. It may have ‘bombed’ but putting aside all the negative hype, it was fairly watchable. For every John Carter, there is a Spiderman-3, King Kong, Crystal Skull, Da Vinci Code, Wolverine, Prometheus and the latest addition Dark Knight Rises. What do all have in common?

A damn exciting, epic trailer! “This can’t be bad, look at it?”, “Okay, the previous one was poor but this one is gonna be really worth the wait!”, BLA BLA BLA. No! They will suck! At first I thought it was about the expectation and how it rises and rises and nothing could actually fulfill it but no, it is actually the very opposite. These films are bad and to cover up the utter crudeness of the end product, they practically brainwash you until the very truth is hidden in blind sight. It’s all about marketing and Hollywood does it very well. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy managed to utilise this during its marketing and had this very amusing trailer to go along with it. One of the better adaptations from book to film in my opinion.

So looking ahead to the rest of 2012, there are some ‘exciting’ trailers out there. The first Hobbit film (of three now, for some reason) (reason=$$$$$$) or the new Bond film, Skyfall. I remember seeing the teaser for Quantum of Solace and was so looking forward to it after the delight that was Casino Royale. We all know how that turned out..

Check out the new trailer for Cloud Atlas, it looks amazing right?! Right? No. It looks utter shit and it’s nearly six(6) minutes long! Madness..

Shqiping in Kosovo!

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4/7/12 – I’m currently flying back to London Luton Airport as I write this, can’t wait to land and get a good rest before I go back to work tomorrow(today). I work in a small office as a PA/Office assistant which isn’t the ideal, dream job but I’ve come to accept that for now at least. It’s what I need to do in order to keep the financial situation stable, what I have to do to save up for the next film(currently hoping for a 2013 Q1 or Q2 shoot in Cyprus!) and enables me to travel from time to time, which brings us to the topic of this blog entry, Kosovo and me being there for the screening of ‘Leave’ at the Shqip International Short Film Festival. My first impression of the country as we crossed the border from Macedonia(I landed in Skopje and was picked up by Arber, just one of the many extremely friendly people I would meet during my one week stay), was that it looked exactly like Cyprus. The houses, the trees, the colours.. The way billboards were randomly scattered everywhere with the abundance of Arial typography, the construction of buildings with no consideration for environmental and logical layouts.. So similar.

Where competing films duel

Hotel Victory was top notch, the statue of liberty on the top was also top notch. Besides the large breakfast offering, the festival also made sure the filmmakers spent plenty of time together with an organised lunch every day alongside other activities like barbecues and afterparties. The dangerously cheap Peja beers(€1.50 a bottle, far away from the £3 I’m used to pay) added to the friendly, relaxed atmosphere of the whole festival and we managed to have a great time. The capital Pristina doesn’t offer much in touristic value and as a fairly young country, it’s very apparent that they haven’t really learned to promote or capitalise themselves just yet. A simple fridge magnet was extremely hard to come by.. And did I mention the heat? The last day it reached 35 degrees and I was melting, can’t believe I actually was filming in 46 degrees back in the summer of 2010..  

I’d say 90% of the films that screened during the festival were worth seeing, overall it was an impressive selection and it was even greater to meet the filmmakers who created them. The polish films looked and felt the most professional to me, I dunno what they’re being fed there but damn, some of them looked pretty beautiful. The closing ceremony was on the 30th where the awards were given out, which was broadcasted live on the main tv channel there. And then it was all over(I’m skipping over the dance floor antics), the festival had ended, everyone would be leaving the next day, suddenly I felt nostalgic for a period of my life which had just ended a speck of a second ago. I’m a bit weird that way..

Due to the relatively cheap flight tickets and their slightly annoying dates, I would be staying an extra three days in Kosovo. Astrid and Coskucan, my mates from London, had joined me a few days earlier and with my local buddy Fuad, another super duper friendly Kosovian, we made our way towards Prizren, a city towards the south of the country. It managed to offer what Pristina lacked, green hills, historical fortresses, Ottoman bath houses etc. It was also interesting to find out that most of the people could speak Turkish in this region.

Prepping the closing ceremony

Overall, it was a real privilege to be a part of the whole experience in Kosovo and it would be nice to come back next year for the fourth edition of the festival. Currently looking ahead to next summer, my compulsary one month military service may just sever that idea but one can only hope for the best, right?

T