Monday, September 30, 2019
In 1975, Turkey entered the Eurovision song contest, as per usual, with the entry Delisin. They didn't win, but in = they decided the song was good enough that it warranted its own movie. And perhaps they just needed the ego/confidence boost after =. In any case, while this may sound like a = act, I think it's actually quite a good idea, as some otherwise fabulous songs from Eurovision's history can potentially languish in obscurity, so letting/having one be the centre of a film isn't a bad idea!
...But then again, playing it 6 times throughout the film was perhaps not the best of ideas!
Young photographer Ferit has just moved in to a small rural community after the death of his father. It turns out the man had a fortune hidden somewhere in the town, and every unscrupulous = has been after it, trashing rooms and tearing down houses in their plight. Ferit, meanwhile, has more romantic pursuits on his mind after meeting the lovely student Alev...
Delisin is an entertaining romance picture, with plenty going on. The two storylines mesh well together, not feeling at odds, and eventually coming together in a [seamless] enough way.
One problem though is the pacing for the first quarter or so. It's all fine, except for the tiiny fact that main character and love interest Alev takes 25 minutes to show up in a 76 minute movie! On one hand it is nice that the movie takes its time in building up the main storyline before moving its focus to the romance, but on the other hand the probably could've done it a little more seamlessly, and introduce Alev earlier.
The romance is pretty cute, and while the 3rd act breakup feels inevitable and cliched, it leads to some fun moments. [Not so fun ones too though.] It's cringey seeing Ferit burn the photos he took of Alev (I sure hope he still has backups and other copies!), although it is hilarious seeing what he replaces them with.
There is a subplot that doesn't seem to get the attention/quite as much attention as it should. It concerns ='s romance with a town official, and it's quite sweet, and interesting in how neither are conventional = and older gentleman
=, Delisin really showcases the talents of all the actors involved. Tarik Akan, who ranges from being a scoundrelous casanova, to a well meaning if = ladies' man, plays a much more different role here as a softly spoken photographer, =. Likewise, Hulusi Kentmen is a = lawman/town official All these = may have had a lot of similarities, but they never truly feel all the same. There's always something different on display, whether it be in the story, or down to the talents of the casts.
The music here is very good, with the obvious standout being the title song. It's fab! Less fabulous though is the amount of times it plays. Around 6-ish times, not to mention the many instrumental repeats. Now, this is all punishing enough, but it gets worse. Remember how I said it takes 25 minutes for Alev to show up? That goes for the rest of the school too, including the singers. This means that the first quarter of Delisin only features one recital of the theme, and the following 5 or so are all in a crammed 50 minute space!
Delisin is an amusing time, and never boring, even if you may want to reach for the earmuffs after a certain point...
Oh Olsun (1973)
Fehmi Haznedar is the fearful patriarch of three grown sons, and the owner of a local factory. Constantly frustrated by his kids goofing off and flirting around, he gives them practically no freedom, and they wile away the days in the factory. It's there where the eldest son Ferit meets the lovely Alev, daughter of the factory's struggling union leader. They fall head over heels for each-other, but find themselves in a tough situation. There's no way Ferit's father will approve of a marriage to a 'low class' girl, and so they have their work cut out for them to make their relationship work...
Oh Olsun gets off to a very good start, showing the daily lives of its three protagonists, and the troubles they all face, in and out of home. Then after we see the ins-and-outs of this family, we're shown the idyllic flipside with Alev's family. There's a nice contrast between them as the film goes on.
The plot moves along naturally. While there were times where it zoomed a little too fast for my liking, it never stayed on one thing for too long. It's great fun watching how resourceful these characters are in the face of such adversity. Their father might think of them as dopes, but they're a clever bunch when the chips are down/in ways he wouldn't expect.
There's an effective mix of comedy and drama,with the movie never feeling uneven. Everything culminates in a great climax, [where eventually getting to the point where unable to hide anymore, they just openly haul all manner of things right in front of him].
The direction is all good, although one scene confused me a little. It's a montage scene where we see the two families individually celebrating, as well as Ferit and Alev living on their own and =. What had me scratching my head was the time. I wasn't sure if it was taking place over days or weeks, or all in the same night! This may have been my fault...
Something worth mentioning here, because I may as well, is how...connected these Yeşilçam romantic comedies were. So many of them have Alevs and Ferits, almost invariably played by Tarik Akan and any given Turkish beauty, while there's usually a factory run by Hulusi Kentmen, Münir Özkul is an oft beleagured worker, Adile Naşit is a kooky mother, etc. So many of these movies would share these elements that made them all similar to an extent, but with enough differences to keep them fresh. To me it's a cosy kind of familiarity.
Rather than being an ensemble piece like Gülen Gözler or Hababam Sınıfı, Oh Olsun is more focused on the main couple, with comedy stalwarts like Kemal Sunal and Halit Akçatepe being more side players. Despite their smaller roles, they don't feel wasted or unnecessary, even though you sometimes with they'd get/they got more to do.
70s heartthrob Tarik Akan is a charismatic lead, while Hale Soygazi gets plenty of great stuff to work with too. They make a great pair too. They're cute together, sharing good chemistry. They also handle the drama well, such as one scene where they're laughing in = about their future, before suddenly giving way to worry.
Hulusi Kentmen is pretty terrifying force of nature here, who you wouldn't wanna mess with. Adile Naşit on the other hand is as adorably crazy as ever. meanwhile, her imperfect clone appears to be playing the other family's mother!
This is the face of Hulusi Kentmen after finding his son with a [strange] girl in his bed. This is also the face of doom!
The soundtrack to Oh Olsun is very good, but its edited in a very weird! We go from a song playing in one scene to being suddenly interrupted when we cut somewhere else, then the first one will either continue or restart when we cut back. It's quite disorienting, and there are sometimes as many as five shifts like this in a scene! It's all lovely to listen to individually, but this editing made me wanna punch the sound man in the face. The worst is when a dramatic scene of = is undercut by the cheery music.
Oh Olsun is an entertaining romance, with plenty to keep you entertained.
Öyle Olsun (1976)
Ace reporter Ferit has just come off of libelling olive oil tycoon Hulusi, not thinking of the consequences. After being sent on a vacation to get away from all the frenzy, and to avoid the rich new fiance who's gonna bail his paper out, Ferit meets Hulusi's daughter Alev. Not realising who he is makes little difference to Alev's opinion of the strange man making advances at her, and she's frosty at first. Gradually the two begin to form a connection, and the equally unwitting Hulusi invites him to the family home...
Öyle Olsun is a very funny rom-com, with its fair share of amusing moments, and sweet ones. The plot never stays in one place for too long, and always feels on the move, going from the city, to a ski resort (they have snow in Turkey? No fair, why not in Australia then!), an opulent family dwelling, etc.
The characters are a lively bunch. Ferit is your typical Turkish guy. Brash, prowls after attractive women, commits newspaper/industrial libel, you know, the usual [kind of behaviour].
Despite the fact that he is an utter scoundrel, you do come to like Ferit, and he does end up coming around, and making up for his misdeeds in a very gentlemanly way.
Alev is fiery and forbidding, but also warm and likeable. While she does get a bit less to do since she's not the main protagonist, she still gets plenty, and by the end she knows how to get her man!
Hulusi (original name!) is great fun. Equal parts chummy and grumpy, he's a very fatherly presence who adds a lot of humour to the film, with moments I won't spoil.
Ferit's troublesome fiancee Ayşe is hilarious to watch as she plots and schemes. You do feel a little bad for her though, since she's a little crazy, but not really the bad guy. She's technically the aggrieved party here! I was worried that conniving Ferit would get the girl he wants and Ayşe would get nothing, but things end up more upbeat than that.
The acting here is great. Tarik Akan plays the kind of role he could do in his sleep of unscrupulous hunk, while Müjde Ar is a fine co-star, getting across both sides to/of her character well. Hulusi Kentmen delivers perhaps one of his best and most amusing performances in Öyle Olsun. You can certainly tell he was having fun here! Ayşen Gruda gets to play a juicy villain role, and is deliciously evil in a super fun way.
The soundtrack here is nice. The titular theme song, a classic in Turkey, is a nice one, and it repeats just the right number of times. Although the editor gets a little ahead of himself and cuts the music too early at times though. More than once I said to the screen "Hey, I was listening to that!".
Öyle Olsun is a great example of its genre. It's probably fairly cliched all things considered, both in and out of Turkey, but who says cliches can't be fun...
Gülen Gözler (1977)
While Turkey's Yeşilçam period of cinema is known well on the internet for its ridiculous b-movies, there was plenty of other stuff to see, and while those pulp flicks certainly weren't unpopular, it's these kinds of films that were the real showstoppers for the masses. Comedies and romance (often a mix of both) were a dominant genre, and there's a ton of classics to be seen from the industry...
Yaşar is the poor but proud patriarch of a large family of girls, who in his [impatience] gave male names in the assumption that he'd be gifted all boys. They all try to eke out a living, while finding romance. There are plenty of hurdles/obstacles along the way, from their father's disapproval, to DIY disasters, and an unscrupulous businessman...
Gülen Gözler (Laughing Eyes) might just rank as one of my favourite Turkish comedies, or indeed Turkish movies overall! It's a very enjoyable slice-of-life comedy, going from scenario to scenario with quick pacing, fun storytelling, and well developed/fleshed out characters
There's a plethora of female characters, with the five masculinely named girls and their kooky mother. They're all distinct from each-other too, both visually, and personality wise. It's great to see how much effort was put into the
The male characters are fun too, from the somewhat grouchy patriarch, to his troublesome and dopey hired help, and of course the adored and loathed suitor Vecihi. Less effort was put into the other love interests though, two of which are almost identical, and fit the mould of Attractive Turkish Male no. 6 to a tee/perfectly.
The comedy here is great. Not only is there plenty of funny dialogue, and character interactions, but many neat setpieces too. Some favourite scenes are the karaoke scene, and the following one, which was hysterically funny to me. The ending is something special too! I won't say any more, to keep everything a surprise!
If I had to pick out any problems with the movie, there are a couple of tonal issues. The detergent scene is very funny, and score with lighthearted music, but this ends up feeling a bit sour when this event is treated with severity afterwards, playing into the climax. It's also/doubly odd seeing the women crying despondently at the end of the scene as things take a turn for the worse, yet the happy music is still playing away.
The acting is a high point, with a lot of distinctive faces from Turkish cinema showing off their talents here. To name them all at once would make your head explode if you're not familiar with Turkish cinema, but suffice to say, there are plenty of great performances on display.
The score for Gülen Gözler is nice. No big songs or anything like other Turkish flicks, but what we get is good, from the upbeat and chirpy tunes, to the more sombre ones in the dramatic scenes.
This film is very well directed. Many scenes are shot creatively, and all the ones involving the place are done really well. They manage to make everything look pretty seamless, and you'd swear the actor really was a pilot, and really was just casually flying a plane while acting.
Gülen Gözler is a great introduction to Yeşilçam cinema, and showcases fantastically the majority of what Turks were watching compared to the cheesier fare...
Sunday, September 22, 2019
X Marks the Spot (1942)
Private detective Eddie Delaney has only two days before his commission in Army Intelligence begins. Just as he's all set to go, his policeman father is shot by unknown gangsters, and Eddie finds himself on the hunt for a group of rubber racketeers. Things take a turn for the worse when a crime lord is killed, and the police suspect Eddie of being the killer, acting as a vigilante. Now the only one who can help him is the only 'witness' to the true culprit, Eddie's swing hostess sweetheart...
X Marks the Spot is a thoroughly entertaining crime picture. It starts off with a good introduction to its lead, then with a dash of intrigue. From then on we get an interesting plot about rubber bandits, which ends up taking an unexpected turn about a third of the way in, and the film becomes a murder-mystery! It handles these shifts quite well, feeling like a natural extension rather than an abrupt jerk.
At only 52 minutes in, X Marks might seem like it'd be a miniscule viewing experience, but it's anything but, due to its strong pacing. Only 22 minutes in, it felt like double that length had passed!
While the script is very good, it's not without problems. The first of these is that it isn't really made clear that Eddie's father is dead (if he is?). I mean, yeah, we see him get shot in the chest three times, but the film never says he's dead, and while Eddie looks serious after the event, he never looks 'My father just got shot and killed' serious, and has a good laugh about some things as the movie goes on, and has some fun romance. Nothing like the murder of a loved one to get those old romantic feelings flowing!
Despite these issues, the story to X Marks the Spot is still a worthwhile one, and you can tell through the care placed into some aspects, like the clues. To say any more would be a rank spoiler!
X Marks the Spot is more a crime than a comedy, but there are still quite a few amusing moments here. The dialogue is often funny, including the most colourful term to describe someone being hit on the head that the 1940s ever produced!
Eddie Delaney is a fun and well-rounded lead character, getting both light and heavy moments, and plenty of conflict, as well as many different people to interact with. It's fun seeing how he behaves with all these different people.
Policeman Bill Decker is an alright guy. He and Eddie have a good relationship, but it takes a backseat once he's accused of murder, and Decker not only immediately suspects the worst of Eddie, but we never see him in scenes where Eddie isn't also present (of which there are practically none).
Linda is nice, and proactive. She has good chemistry with Eddie, and you really believe the two love each other despite having only really known each other in person for a couple of days. The only part that stretches credulity is the immediate marriage at the end!
The mysterious villain's identity surprised me a lot. It came out of nowhere, but in a good way, feeling natural like all god whodunnits should.
And lastly, the rest of the cast are all nice and distinctive too. Billie is a bundle of fun, For a supporting player with a clue to tell, Bonnie gets a bit of character early on. It's the kind of moment where it's not necessary for the plot, but you appreciate its inclusion anyway, because it informs their character. I appreciate that, especially for an otherwise minor player.
The acting is good all round here. Damian O'Flynn a good mix of serious and lighthearted, delivering a likeable performance in the process. The glamorous looking Helen Parrish is spunky and sweet, and Edna Mae is cute as Billie, getting some funny lines despite her small screentime. She and Parrish contrast well with each other. Dick Purcell does well as a grump, and we see a few other familiar faces, like Jack La Rue, and a briefly appearing Vince Barnett.
X Marks the Spot is plenty of fun. It packs a lot in its short runtime that makes it equal to longer movies of today, and well worth a watch...
Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Murder at Dawn (1932)
Sweethearts Danny and Doris are about to get married, and wish to get her father's blessing before they go through with it. Together with their friends, they venture to Professor Farrington's isolated castle abode, where sinister things are afoot. People drop dead, bodies disappear, and somewhere a devastating death ray is being built!...
Murder at Dawn is an old dark house movie with an interestingly unique setting, and a cool high concept sounding plot! A mad scientist working on a death ray in a mountain hideaway? Sign me up! However, the film never really lives up to that description, and there are more than a few problems.
For a start, there are far too many characters, and most of them get so little to do or so little introduction that you barely know who they are. There's about eleven overall, and besides the four leads, none really stand out. The villain is pretty good, and looks spooky enough, though doesn't do a whole lot/huge amount, and his evil plan is...somewhat lacking-'If you don't give me the formula, I'll kill you! THEN you'll give me the formul...Oh wait'.
The 'mad scientist' of the summary is actually pretty sane and benevolent, unfortunately. He's ok, but is absent for most of the picture.
The characters who get the lion's share of screentime and development are the main foursome. Danny and Doris are your typical romantic leads, and I liked them. Fred and Gertrude meanwhile are an amusing comic relief couple, always getting into some sort of mischief. Fred was sometimes bordering on obnoxious, but I mostly found him funny, especially when paired with Gertrude, who gets some hilarious scenes on her own too.
The plot is absolutely minimal. It's pretty much nonexistent. There's enough plot to get the leads there to the castle, but once they arrive they just sorta amble about the place for an hour, before stumbling onto the evil plot 5 minutes before the end. It's a shame, honestly, because the story had the potential to be interesting, and very fun!
The acting is pretty fun. Some moments are more over the top than others, but for the most part it's all fine. Jack Mulhall and Josephine Dunn are good leads, while Eddie Boland and Marjorie Beebe are the life of the party. Beebe in particular gets one particular scene that I bet she must've enjoyed doing! It's moments like this that make you sure the people involved in these pictures knew they were cheesy, and had fun with it.
The pacing in Murder at Dawn is pretty leaden due to the It's never boring, but you keep waiting for something to happen, and it never does! When it does come though, the tension is superb. The 'ticking clock' during the climax is really well handled, especially thanks to the next point.
The direction here is surprisingly good! It's pedestrian for the most part, but then you've got moments that are really well handled, such as the climax, and the rising dawn's part in it.
Murder at Dawn is a disappointment, but it's got its good qualities, and I didn't regret watching it. It's definitely a film that could benefit form a remake, I think. An old timey style remake though, of course, not a modern day one! I mean, could you imagine?...
Friday, September 13, 2019
Murder at Midnight (1931)
A party at the Kennedy household is rocked when a friendly game of charades turns into murder! Both Mr. Kennedy and his business partner end up dead, and yet the police show up several minutes early, called by a mystery person. Eager to solve the mystery, the police comb the area and interview every guest and household member. They soon find several suspects, but when more bodies start hitting the floor, the true facts of the case gradually become apparent...
Murder at Midnight gets off to a super cheesy start, but this turns out to be an amusing misdirect. One that I was happily right about! I also expected what'd happen next, but I can't claim credit for that, as it's a pretty well-worn = in whodunnits. That is to say, it's always a pleasure seeing it again, wondering what'll be handled differently this time, but it's not exactly unexpected. The moment characters start doing charades in a murder-mystery, someone dies! Since this is from 1931, I imagine Murder at Midnight was an early example of this trope, in film at least.
Before the reveal of the misdirect, it seemed that this film was getting off to an ultra quick start. However, once we're in the main section, the plot still kicks into gear very quickly! Because of the almost hurried beginning, the rest of the movie feels slow-paced, but thankfully never boring, though a couple of scenes could've been trimmed a little.
The mystery is well handled. Because the movie is an outright bloodbath though, with four victims, I thought that made the mystery seem a little too easy. "Well obviously they are the killer! They'd have to be!", and I actually grea rather =, thinking the solution was gonna be this obvious]. Then I ended up being totally blindsided by a shocking reveal! I'll say nothing except that this is one = whodunnit, worthy of credit!
The murders here are pretty creative! Some are quite ghoulish, too.
Just about every single character in this movie is shifty, and you don't trust anyone as far as you can throw 'em. Unfortunately most of these characters end up being pure red herrings, and we get very little focus on the actual guilty parties.
The criminologist Phillip Montrose is a sporadic main character, but you do feel like he is working the whole time, observing everything from the sidelines and quietly piecing the case together in his head. His intelligence makes him a nice lead despite his limited screentime.
In the criminologist's absences, Inspector Taylor is the defacto protagonist, and he's a funny sort. Quick with a joke, and smart enough to know what's really going on, even if = dictate he be sent on the wrong track every now and again.
The rest of the characters are an amusing bunch. The butler and maid look shifty enough to win a = competition, the brother is so jumpy that he's got to be hiding something (yet is he?), and Aunt Julia is hilarious to watch, and becomes more likeable the longer you see her.
One of my favourite things about Murder at Midnight is the creative direction, which I found great for 1931! There are many interestingly framed shots, both close-up and from afar.
Less appealing is the sound. This is one of those movies where the lack of music really drones on after a while. Overall the pacing could've been improved if some scenes were shortened, some characters cut, and a soundtrack added to liven things up.
Murder at Midnight has a few minor problems, but is otherwise a quite clever and entertaining detective picture, right at the dawn of the genre's boom in popularity...
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