Sunday, November 27, 2005

Urban Istanbul is a surprisingly westernized place. I learned this watching an exquisitely shot film called "Distant" this evening. I recommend it to fans of minimalist cinema. It is the story of Mahmut, a divorced 40 year old commercial photographer living in a modern, very European Istanbul. It is clear that he once held ideals about photography, but pays the bills by shooting floor tiles. When inspiration strikes, he's too jaded to find the motivation. This is a metaphor for his life, which is the real subject of the film.

In one scene, Mahmut is sitting near the Bosphorus River, thinking about how he came to this "distant" emotional place.

It was a familiar scene, one I remember from my days as a college student struggling with the emerging realities of adulthood. But at 20, there was always a comforting depth to my melancholy. It often felt authentic, real, hopeful, and even quite inspiring. I suppose It was the weight of the future that made it so strangely fulfilling.

40 year old Mahmut sits as a man well into his life and very alone, very much looking back rather than forward. In Mahmut, the same emotions I recognized from my melancholy college days seem to have a much different, tragic meaning.

The pacing of the fillm is very deliberate, full of the kind of pregnant silence that polarizes movie fans. Highly recommended, if you're into that kinda thing (which I am).


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