Friday, December 19, 2008

Review | Times and Winds (Bes Vakit)

Times and Winds (Bes Vakit)

by Pete Hammond
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posted June 12, 2008 10:21 AM

Erdem's look at life in a Turkish village will please arthouse crowds

Deriving its power and poignancy in small doses rather than from any false sense of drama, this contemplative and quiet look at life filtered through the eyes of three young people in a small Turkish village is an accomplished piece of arthouse cinema that should please discerning audiences in limited runs around the country. Although it may be too slight or even dull for some, the deceptive style employed by its talented writer and director, Reha Erdem, is involving, graceful and always visually compelling. Expect decent box office returns, particularly from aficionados of Turkish cinema.

Times And Winds (Turkish title Bes Vakit) takes place in a beautifully situated (“between earth and sea, rocks and sky”) but poor Turkish village, home to a simple but dedicated breed who make their living off the land and the animals. Their priorities and values seem light years away from most lifestyles we know.

Omer (Ozkan Ozen) and Yakup (Ali Bey Kayali) are best friends who often hang out on rocks in the hills, contemplating their hopes and dreams. Omer goes so far as to wish his father were dead and even shares with Yakup his plans to kill him. Oddly, Yakup begins dreaming about doing the same thing to his dad after catching him spying on the teacher the boy secretly has a crush on.

They are both friends with Yildiz (Elit Iscan), a young girl who tries to follow in her own mother’s footsteps managing her home and looking after her baby brother. Together all three are learning new things and feelings as they are about to embark on their teenage years.

The adults in the film don’t seem as enlightened, or at least as interesting to watch as the younger set, but everyone just seems to be trying to eke out a day-to-day existence in the only kind of world they have ever known.

The times of the title refer to their daily rituals, broken up in five categories including prayer, talk and mundane events. As the director states, the rhythm of time is also the rhythm of the movie; a feat he achieves by simply letting his story breathe and flow on its own accord. Like his previous films, particularly Run, For Money and Mommy, I’m Scared, pacing does not seem to be of great concern to Erdem, a big plus in setting the crucial mood and tone of Times and Winds.

Performances in this unique coming-of-age story are generally fine but, for the most part, don’t offer any big dramatic moments, just nice minimalist acting particularly from the three child actors.

This movie obviously isn’t for everyone, but audiences looking for an antidote to the Iron Man/Incredible Hulk brand of summer fare will find small pleasures and great value in this leisurely, beautifully photographed (by Florent Herry in full 2.35:1 ratio widescreen glory) look at life so remote it could be on another planet.

Distributor: Kino International
Cast: Ozkan Ozen, Ali Bey Kayali, Elit Iscan, Bulent Emin Yarar, Taner Birsel, Yigit Ozsener and Selma Ergec.
Director/Screenwriter: Reha Erdem
Producer: Omer Atay
Genre: Drama
Rating: Unrated
Running time: 111 min.
Release date: June 13

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