Tuesday, March 16, 2010


The following is entitled "Why I watched only an hour of Distant, and why that doesn't necessarily mean it's a failure."

Distant is interesting in that the title is both a description of the plot and a summary of the filming style of the work. Distant is, well, distant. It's filmed in predominantly static medium-length takes. It deliberately keeps you away from the characters and the events in their lives. It has this really bizarre effect of keeping the audience in the position of a voyeur, especially since what little movement the camera does do is akin to CCTV. It's an interesting effect.

The story too, is about distant people. Emin Toprak is Yusef, who needs a job but is generally unfocused. Muzaffer Özdemir is Mahmut, who has a job he finds unfulfilling. Together they solve crimes! No, they just live together for a while and gradually get on each others' nerves. And then I quit watching, so there's probably something else that happens to give the film a bit more dramatic thrust. It does capture the mild annoyance inherent in living with someone you don't like that much.

So, in effect, you're stalking boring people, and director Nuri Bilge Ceylan has an interesting idea as a whole. He wants to capture light tension and remote people, and he does. He doesn't get under the character's skin, he just observes, which gives a lot more insight into their character than you might expect. It's an interesting attempt and certainly different

It's also really boring, and the hour I did watch felt like a decade. But, maybe that's the point? If it's intentionally boring, does that really count as a failure? I didn't enjoy a moment, but I did see what Ceylan was going for, and I actually think he did succeed. I just couldn't take it for another moment. It's strange, I genuinely didn't enjoy this movie, but I can't call it bad, it's too purposeful to be taken as crap.

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