A hard day's night

Title: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan

Rated: M

This is a rare and special movie by a major director (Distant, Climates and Three Monkeys). Ceylan's Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is a multi-award winning film, which shared the Grand Prix at Cannes last year. It is a mysterious story, long and challenging, darkly humorous, and strangely beautiful.

The film touches on a number of themes: night, death, landscape, social hierarchy, harsh justice; and it features a captivating study of characters. While the film is slow and demanding it is always believable, and at times there are some magical moments. The characters are mostly male, but there is a mesmerising and almost surreal appearance by a woman.

Mostly filmed at night and set in a desolate and backward part of Anatolia, the film begins with a wintry scene of three men sharing food. One of them will be killed and buried. Much of what follows is ostensibly about the investigation of a murder, as a convoy of official cars drives through the darkness, searching for an obscure burial site. The story is based on the true experience of one of the film's writers, and it captures an engrossing mix of estrangement and existentialism in a series of conversations involving a prosecutor, a doctor, police officers, a village mayor, gendarmerie and the murder suspect.

The movie is very finely cast and the naturalistic acting is quite enthralling. This is a wonderful study of moods, of talk and silences, and it requires patience, but it's well worth it.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia will be screened at Star Court Theatre on Friday July 13 at 7.30pm.

Title: The Amazing Spider-Man 3D

Director: Marc Webb

Rated: M

The rebooting of the Spider-Man franchise as yet another blockbuster business bonanza seems to be a strange but obviously calculated move, so close on the heels of the previous three movies that were so carefully constructed by Sam Raimi, and starred Tobey Maguire as the webbed one. Spider-Man 3 was only released five years ago. Short memories are apparently meant to be encoded in all of us.

The first hour of the 'new' film is largely unnecessary, as it reconstructs the 'story' with a bit of extra padding. Thus we all await the inevitable spider bite, the irksome aunt and uncle angst, and the learn-to-be-a-web-swinger routine.

In his second feature, Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) has turned out a very mixed bag, with a number of disconnected threads between both plot and characters. However the two leads, Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, are both good and quite appealing in their roles, and Rhys Ifans is solidly cast as the big nasty green lizard. The script is fairly underwhelming and the music by James Horner is especially annoying: the cloying majestic superhero orchestral formula and the syrupy sentimental plodding do not help the characters at all.

In spite of all these shortcomings, whenever The Amazing Spider-Man 3D gets into action mode it is quite stunning. The effects and the breathtaking movement of the rebooted superhero are brilliant. Somehow our brains are becoming increasingly adept at following cinema action that is just becoming faster and faster. And while there are some droll periods in the film, the use of the ever expensive 3D is outstanding. Pity about the rest.

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