Saturday, December 12, 2009
3 Monkeys (2008)
Sometimes, we must take a step back in order to move forward. "3 Monkeys" by Nuri Bilge Ceylan feels like such an attempt, as the talented director backs away from his usual stark, improvised minimalism, in favor of a plot-driven, tightly scripted drama. When a chauffer (Yavuz Bingol) agrees to take the fall for a hit-and-run fatality caused by a corrupt politician (Ercan Kesel), a chain reaction slowly ensues of unforeseen and harrowing events.
The script is so Shakespearean tragedy in nature that very little about the story can be disclosed, but suffice to say that character flaws abound, and incrimination and remorse are prime narrative movers. The film also features elements of mysticism - never fully explained- and some surprising and startling domestic violence that will be disturbing to some viewers, particularly fans of Ceylan's more sedate earlier films.
But there are many classic, and welcome, Ceylan touches as well: the Bergman-esque pacing and dramatic close-ups, the obsession with weather, and the gorgeously simple imagery. Ceylan has always been primarily a still photographer who just happens to make extraordinary movies, and here he takes his gift for image-making to a new level. With the aid of cinematographer Gokhan Tiryaki (Ceylan shot his previous films himself), there are images of skies and clouds that rival the best of Ansel Adams, and the interior scenes glow with an unusual green and gold patina.
Still, this film has neither the compelling, meditative naturalism of "Climates" nor the darkly comic styling of "Distant", and those attributes were sorely missed. Yet it is a testament to Ceylan's talent that this, his least satisfying film so far, still easily rates 4 stars.
Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows is a stylish and seductive thriller about a murder plot gone terribly wrong. But unlike most th...
Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort offers a distinctly French take on the Great American Musical. The film has delighte...
Chilaquiles is sort of like Mexican lasagna, but with tortillas instead of noodles. Here’s my very simple version, which uses mainl...
Celebrated at Cannes, banned in Boise and breathlessly hyped in the rest of civilization, Blue is the Warmest Color is ultimatel...