Good Morning Vietnam (1987)

Day 48: 14/04/2021

Good Morning Vietnam, Barry Levinson

A movie that says a lot without saying them => which is the heart of filmmaking.

A movie that touches the core of humanity with its notions of love, friendship and war.

GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM, from left: Robin Williams, Chintara Sukapatana, 1987. ©Buena Vista

The bit where What a Wonderful World plays by Louis Armstrong over war footage in Vietnam is a great example of golden rule of filmmaking, which is “Show Don’t Tell”.

When the only part of the movie “tells” , what it wants to “tell”, it happens in a very profound way through Tuan crying and shouting at us saying that the American soldiers are not helping anyone there away from their country, they are only causing more civilians to die.

Look at his look. It says a lot.

He is centered in a close up, and the focus is on him and his background is completely blurred because there is nothing else important here than his look and his words. Here, he is also breaking the fourth wall speaking directly to the viewer. It is not Cronauer he is talking to anymore, it is us. We are to blame as humans not saying anything to the wrong we see with our society.

Everybody is alone in a movie theatre, yet it is still a collective experience – just like the society. We all think we are alone, and too small and what we do – good or bad – don’t really make a difference, but it does. We are all responsible whether we are the most responsible or not.

The movie greatly represents how more than what is shown is happening in Vietnam which is like a micro laboratory of all the world events. It shows how the brutality of reality is hidden and how an entertainer who portrays it, is advantageous for the people who are the source of this reality. That “entertainer”, although he criticizes what is going on, is also a gear of the wheel which is turning the whole system around.

In terms of its creative look, the grainy footage with real colours give it a great analog feel which is what we associate war photographs with. Tones of green can be seen all around – representing both the jungles of Vietnam and uniforms of soldiers but overall there is also a colourfullness throughout Vietnam shots, just like the local life there.

Although Cronauer seems to be protesting the existing systems, he is still a part of it and he unintentionally blends in with it.
The place where is fought upon to be brought peace, is already a colorful, flowery, peaceful place.
The Contrast. This movie is built on very successful uses of contrasts.

Loved the close up shot of their feet while Cronauer and Tuan are running, the first wears military boots while the latter only wears a version of outdoor slippers. Although we know the strategic role those slippers played in the role on the Vietkong side, this shot also shows the inequality of the fighting gear those two sides have.

Here is a shot from Alternative Posters Exhibition by Michal Krasnopolski

You can see more on: https://www.behance.net/gallery/57066505/Good-Morning-Vietnam

and yeah I just have to say that I really miss Robin Williams. ❤

Paterson (2016)

Day 47: 03 / 04 / 2021

Paterson, Jim Jarmusch

A story told through the ordinary details of a week => we see them wake up in different positions every day, portrays their love and connection very well.

Isn’t that what poetry is? Ordinary details of our lives. Tarkovsky would like this movie for being so plain and limpid.

Coincidences that hang in the air such as the twins that keep coming up after Laura says that in her dream she saw that they were having twins. Isn’t life like that? There are so many coincidences we can’t explain yet they keep on happening. Beautiful details to ordinary lives.

Other beautiful details from this movie:

  • How Laura is obsessed with textures, and lines and black and white
  • How plain the whole movie is, too plain at some points, but just like Paterson’s poetry
  • How Paterson listens to the conversations in the bus, they are excerpts from the heart of life
  • How Paterson is not ready to share his poems, like a real artist, artistic struggles – not like people who are way too eager to share everything on Instagram

Not everyone’s cup of tea because people are used to stories having a beginning, middle and end. However, once you get in the grip of watching movies just for the sake of watching them, to see the bare reality it shows you which doesn’t necessarily need start or end anywhere, where things can remain unexplained, because in life some things are unexplained – you start really enjoying these types of movies.

Here is a link to the Paterson press conference at Cannes Film Festival:

Hacivat Karagöz Neden Öldürüldü? (2006)

Day 46: 05/11/2020

Hacivat Karagöz Neden Öldürüldü?, Ezel Akay

This Turkish comedy movie is about the small cultures such as the Ionians, Esrefoğlu Seljuks, Tatars, Yörük Shamans, Hatunlar (warrior women) living in Anatolia around the time Ottoman Empire was being established. We learn concepts from history books in plain sentences, such as “the Ottoman Empire succeeded because it managed to bring all the Anatolian cultures together” or “Anatolia first had thousands of Gods (under Hittites or Greeks), then adopted Christianity and then Islam”. We don’t really learn “how”.

This movie was great to show me how. A Yörük nomad turns Muslim because he wants to get a job and sees that it is much easier to get a job under the Ottoman rule if you are a Muslim. There is a bishop trying to convert him to Christianity when he hears that. The process is very easy like a Baptism ceremony where the Hoca says a prayer and it is believed you are converted. Yet, when he is asked about his father’s death he says “Göktengri aldı” which means “The Sky God took him” and it is a belief of Shamanic tradition. Today we say that we still carry on many Shamanic rituals such as wearing red or decorating a Christmas tree. I can see “how”. People never really left their rituals or beliefs and carried it from generation to generation.

Technically the movie merges the historical feeling with a painting look very very well. While some of the backgrounds of the movie is painted, the transitions are so smooth from painting to nature that you often feel baffled when it happens.

Also the characters are lighted very well at certain scenes which visualize the historical Hacivat and Karagöz characters really well.

These characters are famous as shadow puppets in Turkish, Anatolian and Balkan cultures and here you can see their transformation from being human beings to being historical characters.

There is a very famous Turkish painting called “Kamplumbağa Terbiyecisi (The Tortoise Trainer)”.

The last scene from the movie very successfully depicts this painting and interprets it in a fictional way to convert Hacivat and Karagöz from alive characters into those shadow puppets.

The moving camera pans from behind the scene to the audience view to show this transformation.

When you really know what you want to say through film, you open a variety of creative ways before yourself to give your message in the most profound way.

Lastly I love it when a small detail in a movie pops up in a very determinative scene. Here, the comedic scene where Hacivat teaches Karagöz to count turns into one of the most tragic scenes I have seen in film history.

Uf. It is very powerful.

Lastly, sending virtual hugs to incredible actors Haluk Bilginer, Beyazıt Öztürk, Ayşen Gruda and Şebnem Dönmez. They are among the greatest representatives of Turkish art ❤ .

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Day 41: 28/03/2020 *social distancing film club

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, George Roy Hill 

Such an inventive piece of Western. Even its poster reflects this at a first glance. We usually think that old American cinema wants to make its viewers completely forget that they are watching a movie, it just flows by itself. What is contrary to this style is the French New Wave, where actors break rules by looking directly into the camera or speaking their minds, directors break these rules by using editing techniques which makes the viewer aware that they are watching a movie. However, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a great example of an original movie – sometimes it uses photographs, the colors get to become sepia when they are talking about the past, familiar music comes in (rain drops keep falling on my head…), edit mutes audio sometimes… But it’s a Western movie. Also some really funny moments like how they rob Flyer again and how they bump into the same guy who is too loyal to his company. So many reasons to love this piece of art. Paul Newman’s handsome smile is one of them :).

220px-Butch_sundance_poster