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İstanbul, My Dream’: The routes are different, but destination the same
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 21 Oct 2011 Fri 08:51 pm

İstanbul, My Dream’: The routes are different, but destination the same

İstanbul, My Dream’

New generation Hungarian helmer Ferenc Török’s third feature film “İstanbul, My Dream” is a sweet and sorrowful lamentation about aging and the rediscovery of womanhood.

One would normally expect such a sensitive and compassionate film from a female director, but Török’s talent allows him to embrace femininity in a most unusual way. Perhaps this is because the film is inspired by the personal story of the director’s own mother.

Katalin (Johanna Ter Steege) and Janni (Andor Lukáts) have been married for over 30 years. It has already been quite some time since their son Zoli and daughter Zsofi have left the family’s Budapest apartment. Katalin seems to be content with her marriage, even if it might have come to a point where it is a force of habit. But Janni has already steered towards a middle age crisis and claims to have fallen in love with his 28-year-old student from the university. When Janni smugly confesses to his wife that he is leaving her for a younger woman, Katalin literally, goes into shock. She starts roaming the streets of the city barefoot in a catatonic state, speechless. When she is put away in an insane asylum, her entire family, save for Zoli, believes that she is just causing a nuisance and has no right to a reaction of her own -- typically expected of a married woman.

When Katalin escapes the asylum, we understand that her faculties are actually intact, and she has a plan of her own. She hitchhikes out of the city and by coincidence ends up in… İstanbul. Or maybe it was her destiny from the beginning. For once we see İstanbul through the eyes of a Westerner who is not purely mystified or enchanted, surely the city is a whole new experience for Katalin, but her eyes reflect an intelligent curiosity and a genuine sense of letting go.

She meets Halil (Yavuz Bingöl) at the seedy hotel where she is staying, a Turkish man who is middle aged like herself, who is in İstanbul for a construction project. They take strolls down the streets of the city and along the breezy Bosporus. Katalin completely transforms while next to Halil; there is suddenly a light in her eyes that we have never seen before. Perhaps because this is the first time that anyone has actually “seen” her for such a long time. Török and his cinematographer are especially successful at using light games and high contrast colors in order to reflect the changing moods of Ter Steege who already carries the radiance of a Boticelli woman.

The blossoming love between our Hungarian heroine and her Turkish man is of a sensual and understanding nature; to be honest I had never imagined singer/actor Bingöl to be able to ooze such modesty and tenderness in his performance, but he delivers. The chemistry between the two actors is incredibly inviting and sublime; when one witnesses such human compassion on the level of the spirit one sometimes get the notion that all is all right in the world.

Meanwhile, Katalin’s family in the midst of their hypocrisy have already decided not to let her slip away so easily; they send the young son Zoli to pick up his mother from İstanbul. Katalin pretends not to recognize him at first, but Zoli insists and stalks her. These scenes border on the tragic comedic -- in a good way. Then a very unexpected thing happens: Zoli also becomes seduced by İstanbul and slowly acknowledges that his mother’s obstinate reluctance to go back to an unhappy home is not unfounded. Will Zoli drag his mother back home or will he allow her to live her own life? The answer comes, much like in life, in a grey zone where an easy solution is not found, but one that will leave Katalin and us with hope.

Acted and shot impeccably, “İstanbul” is a beautiful movie, it moves gradually but surely towards the end through its meditative style and an understanding of complex human emotions. It is an ode to aging, and a reminder that life is a continuum where one end will always bring a new beginning. And one must not forget that the film is also an ode to an old and wise city in which the echoes of history can have a regenerating and hidden power for all its inhabitants and visitors. A definite must see.

21 October 2011, Friday / EMİNE YILDIRIM, İSTANBUL


2.       tunci
7149 posts
 21 Oct 2011 Fri 08:55 pm

London falls for charms of ‘Turkish Madonna’

21 October 2011, Friday / TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL

Thursday evening saw the undisputed queen of Turkish pop, Sezen Aksu, grace the stage of London’s historic Royal Albert Hall in what proved to be an unforgettable evening of musical entertainment.

Dressed in a flowing blue gown, the Turkish diva held an audience of close to 6,000 music lovers spellbound for the duration of the two-and-a-half-hour concert.

Joined on stage by Grammy-nominated pianist and composer Fahir Atakoğlu alongside a talented ensemble of backing musicians including US-born percussionist Jarrod Cagwin and Dutch bassist Eric van der Westen, the glamorous 57-year-old, widely hailed as the “Turkish Madonna” kicked the evening off with a rendition of “Lal” (Ruby), drawing the concert to a close with her lively hit “Rakkas” (Dancer), the Anatolia news agency reported.

The audience -- packed to the rafters of the historic concert hall -- consisted mostly of nostalgic homesick Turks, many of whom had travelled considerable distances for the opportunity to see the international star perform live. This was Aksu’s second time performing at the prestigious venue with her previous concert at the concert hall, which is located in Kensington, in the fall of 2007, having marked her down in history as only the second Turkish artist after Zeki Müren to perform at the prestigious venue.

Commenting on Aksu’s previous visit to London, Robin Denselow of The Guardian wrote last month that the Turkish diva “provoked some of the wildest scenes I have ever seen at a foreign-language concert when she made her first appearance here nine years ago.”

Never an artist to shy away from the championing of causes she feels passionately about, Aksu delivered a poignant plea for peace in the wake of Tuesday night’s terror attacks in Turkey’s Hakkari province, which left 24 Turkish soldiers dead and 17 injured.

“I will always be on the side of peace; no aim or ambition of mankind can be more valuable than peace.”

Always having striven to break down barriers and encourage development and progressive thought, Aksu, who was the first woman in Turkey to record her own material, has continued to address and tackle personal and political issues, even daring to sing in Kurdish in 2002, at a time when it was officially banned.

An artist whose passionate vocals and evocative voice have touched many, regardless of their understanding of the Turkish lyrics of her songs, Aksu’s unique sound is reminiscent in style and substance to Turkish folk traditions. The release of Aksu’s latest album “Öptüm” in the UK last month made the star the first Turkish singer to release an album in the UK.

Michael Church of the British daily newspaper The Independent penned in an album review of the CD that the “Turkish chanteuse has a unique timbre, which gets more mysterious the deeper she goes.”

Church further commented that the album “both echoes the Turkish classical tradition and speaks to current social injustices.”

Dubbed by The Guardian as the “undisputed queen of contemporary Turkish music,” Aksu, who has composed over 500 songs and released 24 albums over the past four decades, was ranked amongst some of the world’s best singers alongside Iggy Pop and Billie Holliday in the acclaimed 50 Great Voices series run by the United States’ National Public Radio (NPR) last year.

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