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Istanbul cinema listings, film reviews and exclusive interviews

Timothée Chalamet: ‘I don’t know how the f**k any of this happened’
Film

Timothée Chalamet: ‘I don’t know how the f**k any of this happened’

The rising star talks about his new film and taking mum to the Oscars

Burning
Film

Burning

Novelist-turned-writer-director Lee Chang-dong may not be the most prolific filmmaker around – he made his last film, ‘Poetry’, back in 2010 ­– but when he does get to work, the results are usually highly impressive and this, his sixth feature, is no exception. Inspired by a short story by Haruki Murakami (which was itself inspired by a story by William Faulkner), it centres on Jong-soo, a farmer’s son-turned-deliveryman who dreams of becoming a writer. One day in Seoul he meets Haemi, a girl he half-remembers from school. Soon she’s asking him to feed her cat while she travels to Africa, then seducing him. So when she asks him to meet her at the airport, he’s put out to find her in the company of wealthy sophisticate Ben, who immediately treats them to a meal. Soon, Jong-soo is wondering if they’re more than friends. It’s just the first mystery in a movie rich in teasing ambiguities and possible lies. When Haemi suddenly disappears from Jong-soo’s life, he naturally suspects Ben of having something to do with it. Might the handsome hotshot, who during one weed-fuelled conversation boasted about his bizarre hobby of burning down greenhouses, have murdered the young woman? Lee’s interest lies not in crime-solving but in exploring Jongsu’s emotional confusion. He takes against Ben partly out of sexual jealousy, partly because he inhabits a world the farmboy barely knew existed. Jong-soo’s increasing torment allows the filmmaker to touch subtly on the current social, economic

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Shoplifters
Film

Shoplifters

While widely regarded as one of the finest Japanese directors working today, Hirokazu Kore-eda has a somewhat uneven body of work to his name, notwithstanding the fact that his measured pacing, gentle tone and uncluttered visuals make his style unusually distinctive. His best films, almost without exception, have been those about families – real or surrogate – so that titles like ‘Nobody Knows’, ‘Still Walking’ (arguably his masterpiece), and ‘Like Father, Like Son’ have earned him something of a reputation as an heir to the great Yasujiro Ozu. If ‘Shoplifters’ isn’t quite up there with his greatest work, it’s nevertheless very satisfying. The focus this time around is not on a real family but on a group of impoverished people of various ages living together in a run-down hovel and trying to get by the best they can. Shoplifting is practised by a middle-aged construction worker and the young boy he treats (and has trained) like a son; the labourer’s wife works on a job-share scheme in a laundry; another young woman performs in a  peep-show parlour; while the eldest of the makeshift ‘family’ lives off her former husband’s pension and other more mysterious sources of income. It’s not an easy existence, so when a small girl is found and brought home, she’s initially regarded as yet another unwelcome mouth to feed - till the scars on her body convince everyone that perhaps she ought not be returned to her mother and her lover. The film rewards on a number of levels. First, in d

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
The Favourite
Film

The Favourite

We’re watching an extremely luxe pocket of 18th-century regal life in ‘The Favourite’, which means bewigged fops are scheming, the ducks are running (these people don’t lack for strange competitive indoor sports) and the offscreen organist is going for baroque. Even Stanley Kubrick knew to lay off his fish-eye lens once in a while. But Greek-born director Yorgos Lanthimos can’t say no. He warps his period chamber piece – loosely based on the highly competitive court of the unstable Queen Anne – into a Lewis Carroll semi-comic nightmare, piling cattiness upon cattiness. And what’s not to love about that? The constant visual and verbal bitchery feels like a pent-up release of something churning just under the surface of polite life. If this is your first Lanthimos movie, welcome. Know that you’re a little late to the party: Two of his prior films, the psychosexual meltdown ‘Dogtooth’ (2009), about a family that’s never allowed its grown-up kids to leave the house, and the equally vicious ‘The Lobster’ (2015), went darker and deeper than ‘The Favourite’, Lanthimos’s first that he hasn’t personally written. But like its predecessors, the new one has a sneaky empathy, sitting oddly amid so much bad behavior. What makes ‘The Favourite’ work are its women – who rule, both literally within the movie and outwardly, dominating our enjoyment. Unlike the similarly set ‘Barry Lyndon’ or ‘Dangerous Liaisons’, which had strong female characters toppled by the whims of strutting cocks, Lan

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Beautiful Boy
Film

Beautiful Boy

Timothée Chalamet, all of 22 years old and indelible as two radically different kind of boyfriends in last year’s ‘Call Me by Your Name’ and ‘Lady Bird’, is doing major things in his new movie, ‘Beautiful Boy’ – things that no other actor of his generation is attempting. You have to go back to Marlon Brando to see these kind of heartbreaking frowns, the angelic face turned upward, wrestling with frustration. Chalamet is playing a college-bound kid derailed by drugs: meth, pills, everything. What he’s pulling off in a diner with Steve Carell (as the panicky out-of-his-depths dad) – a combination of cajoling, breaking down, acting fake-tough – is incredibly tricky. Even subtler are Chalamet’s wordless moments: a slack-jawed, Christian Bale-like zombie walk through a campus quad; a sober drive up the sunny California coast, Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ on the stereo, the dissatisfaction slowly creeping in. How much easier it would be to focus on Chalamet, doing the most overwhelming work of his young career, and not the earnest, seesawing movie around him. ‘Beautiful Boy’ is perfectly fine: unflinching where it needs to be, keenly attuned to the cyclical nature of relapsing along with the deeper blows to pride, trust and identity. It sometimes feels strenuous in making its points, but you’ll be too wrecked to call that a flaw. The script, loaded with sharp details, comes from the dual father-son memoirs of David and Nic Sheff; director Felix Van Groeningen gets out of the way o

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars

Showing this month

The Image Book
Film

The Image Book

Where do you start in sharing news of a film like Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘The Image Book’? Whichever words you choose they’re unlikely to match the next person’s reaction to such a highly personal, dense, obscure and provocative film. If you reject it as indecipherable, that’s fine; the 87-year-old Swiss-French filmmaker isn’t one to approach the crowd open-armed (or care what you think). Even calling ‘The Image Book’ a film feels misleading: it’s more a nearing-the-apocalypse polemical docu-essay characterised by a cascade of film clips (it all comes back to cinema), literary quotes and a growing sense of unease about the state of the world, leaning into images of violence and debasement, with special interest in the Middle East, now and before. It’s dark and uncomfortable (as well as funny and mischievous) – but the extracts from movies (by Hitchcock, Pasolini, Godard himself, er, Michael Bay – and many more) feel like relief from the ugliness of the real world it comments on. If, like me, you warm to ‘The Image Book’, you’ll want to see it again; if you don’t, you’ll run out of the cinema screaming.Late-period Godard – now he’s nearing 90 we have to assume Godard is at the ‘late stage’ – has retreated from shooting any new images at all in any traditional sense. But to say he’s not an image-maker is wrong: he has a visual aesthetic in the collaging of this film that is extremely distinctive; there’s a punkish, digi-crude, cut-and-paste look that’s Godard’s very own. He’s an e

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Capernaum
Film

Capernaum

A young boy, Zain, stands up in court in Lebanon. He has already done time for stabbing someone. Now he wants to sue his parents for giving him life. No one really knows how old he is, but a medical examiner estimates 12. Nadine Labaki’s drama might first seem like a satire – small children are jailed; others are married. But while there are elements of didactic political fable, there’s a heartbreaking realism at the root of this portrait of Lebanese poverty, mostly shown from Zain’s point of view. Magnetically portrayed by Syrian migrant Zain al Rafeea, the boy’s angelic looks suggest innocence but his angry, sweary outbursts betray a harsh childhood. This contrast brings bursts of humour, recalling the likes of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘The Florida Project’. But ‘Capernaum’ is a darker watch than either.Most of the film takes place in flashback, tracing Zain’s route to jail via the slums of Beirut. He’s run away from home after one of his many sisters is sold to a leering local man. Furious at his world-weary parents, he finds a new mother figure in Rahil (Yordanos Shifferaw), an immigrant who’s hiding her baby from authorities, fearing deportation. The details of all three characters’ daily lives then become the film’s centrepiece, which moves at a leisurely pace. It’s quietly absorbing and fitfully shocking as we experience the sights, sounds and smells of the streets where a one-year-old child can wander around alone without anyone stopping to wonder why. Labaki’s closi

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Wildlife
Film

Wildlife

As an actor, Paul Dano is always up for the odd, the disconcerting, the complicated. Reassuringly, his first film as writer-director follows suit. ‘Wildlife’ is a finely detailed, darkly humorous, powder keg of a character study. With co-writer Zoe Kazan, Dano has adapted the story from Richard Ford’s novel. The book was published in 1990 but is set in 1960, where, in Montana, a picture-perfect young family begins to crack. Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), constantly moving his family as he goes from job to job, flees to fight fires in the mountains out of some misplaced masculinity, instead of dealing with the ones at home. While he’s gone, his wife Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) snaps, leaving her young teenage son, Joe (Ed Oxenbould), through whose eyes much of this unfolds, to process the painful fallout. Mulligan’s characters have often been buttoned-up types, but the shackles are off here. For better or worse (let’s go with both), Jeanette reclaims her younger, elemental self, regardless of what the neighbours – and even Joe – might think. She’s a woman out of time, and Ford’s story, written in 1990, still feels resonant. If ‘Wildlife’ can feel like a play at times, its stifling confines and claustrophobic mood are deliberate. It definitely doesn’t look like one – Diego Garcia’s lush, nostalgic cinematography exudes romance, albeit of the doomed kind – and Dano avoids melodrama, drenching it in atmosphere. It’s uncomfortable in all the right ways. You sweat it out with them all. 

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Dogman
Film

Dogman

With ‘Gomorrah’, his seedy, hyperkinetic delve into Naples’ criminal underbelly, Matteo Garrone vividly mapped out a whole ecosystem of organised crime, populating it with sharply drawn characters and bursts of vicious violence. In ‘Dogman’, his latest odyssey through Italy’s hardscrabble fringes, the crime is of a more disorganised, spontaneous variety, but the gritty world-building is just as impressive – and this time the focus is tighter and more claustrophobic. Loosely based on a real incident, it’s an intimate tale of an essentially good man paying a heavy price for his weaknesses. It suggests that man and mutt aren’t really all that different when backed into a corner. The overall feel is of the kind of Aesop’s fable Scorsese would tell his kids. Marcello Fonte is Marcello, the doleful, divorced owner of a dog-grooming shop on a poor Lazio estate that clings apologetically to the seaside. He does his job diligently, sensitively tending to the canines in his care, and he tries to be a good dad to his young daughter. The pair go scuba-diving off the coast together, and he daydreams of one day taking her to the Red Sea. But he’s in thrall to local bully Simone (Edoardo Pesce), a petty crim who throws his substantial bulk around this tight-knit community at every opportunity, and seems unable to shake off his attentions. For reasons that remain hazy, Marcello supplies Simone with cocaine, a rash move that soon leaves him as an accessory to a violent crime. This alpha-bet

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars

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Mary, Queen of Scots
Film

Mary, Queen of Scots

How much fun would it be to watch an alternate version of ‘Game of Thrones’ in which all the boring men cowered behind trees while two female dragons circled overhead? You may be wondering about that while taking in ‘Mary Queen of Scots’, visually dull and intriguing in only the most generic sense, but still a showcase for the twin talents of Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie. For their royal viciousness alone, the movie is almost worth seeing, even if the backbiting is nowhere near as killer as ‘The Favourite’ (it’s a good time to be an onscreen monarch). Technically, this is Ronan’s movie: She plays the titular role, Mary Stuart, estranged from her native Scotland, reared Catholic in France and already widowed as a teenager. In 1561, Mary is returning home to a mess of competing claims to power. For all the soulfulness Ronan has summoned elsewhere – her performances in ‘Brooklyn’ and ‘Lady Bird’ are worthy of the silent era’s most iconic turns – she’s a little stiff here, uneasy in the saddle, and wasted on moments of grandeur and hot-blooded pronouncements. Fortunately, ‘I, Tonya’s Robbie is happy to pick up the slack as England’s ruling Elizabeth, cursed with bad skin, worse wigs, defective ovaries and a scheming cousin in Mary. They’re rivals, but the script (by Beau Willimon, based on John Guy's 2004 biography) awkwardly constructs only one scene for them to play against each other. No matter: Long before the verbal fireworks of that final showdown, Robbie is exuding lo

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Creed 2
Film

Creed 2

The word ‘yo’ has a near-sacred status in the lunkheaded ‘Rocky’ universe; it can be soft or hard, gentle or a throwdown. In ‘Creed II’, it comes reverently, with a marriage proposal and, later, the birth of a child. That’s not an accident: As with 2015’s affecting ‘Creed’, the sequel wants to consecrate every verse of Stallone scripture, bowing deeply to Rocky ‘IV’s clash of superpowers (both Dolph Lundgren and an icy Brigitte Nielsen are back), and evangelising on behalf of the franchise. The people making this movie know all the beats they have to hit, and hit them they do, jab by jab. If the results aren’t as artful as those by ‘Creed’ director Ryan Coogler (Steven Caple Jr. steps in), they still feel earned. That’s chiefly due to actor Michael B. Jordan, the linchpin of the rebooted series, who again makes hay with the role of rising young boxer Adonis Creed, rife with daddy issues. Last time, Jordan leaned hard into the story of a humble son chasing a ghost, Apollo Creed, gone before his child could know him. Now, Adonis is all but avenging him, confronting his father’s murderer in the ring in the form of Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu), the hulking progeny of Lundgren’s iconic Russian heavyweight Ivan. (‘It all feels so Shakespearean,’ articulates one commentator for the cheap seats; the script is sometimes coarse.) You won’t need to refresh on the ’80s films to know that the bout doesn’t go well: Adonis lets the mojo go to his head and his pre-fight entrance into Bro

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Escape Room
Film

Escape Room

The current craze for escape rooms – in which groups solve puzzles to be released – was bound to inspire a horror film, so it’s gratifying to discover that ‘Escape Room’ is more than just a cheap teens-in-peril cash-in. Six strangers – shy physics student (Taylor Russell), shelf-stacking slacker (Logan Miller), escape room addict (Nik Dodani), long-distance trucker (Tyler Labine), smarmy stockbroker (Jay Ellis) and Iraq war vet (Deborah Ann Woll) – receive mysterious invitations to an exclusive escape room, unaware of something else they have in common. At first, the apparent danger of the traps seems to be part of the experience – but before you can say ‘The figure in the painting is pointing at the book!’, the players realise that they’ll be lucky to escape with their lives.Adam Robitel, director of 2014’s underrated supernatural horror ‘The Taking of Deborah Logan’, gets the blood pumping right from the off, trapping the audience in a room with one of the contestants as the walls close in, splintering furniture and shredding nerves with equal gusto. This scene acts as something of a spoiler for what follows, as we know – or think we know – who’s going to make it and who isn’t. But the tricksy screenplay stays one step ahead and is smart enough that, while the audience can’t participate in the physical puzzles – each staged as an elaborate and impressive set piece – it can still try to figure out what’s going on behind the screams. There’s more than a measure of ‘Saw’ abou

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
The Upside
Film

The Upside

It’s déjà vu as the life-affirming hit French comedy-drama ‘The Intouchables’, the true story of a bromance between a wealthy quadriplegic man and his black live-in carer from the projects (aka the American version of a council estate), gets the Hollywood treatment. This really is an incredibly cheesy remake – and the original was already pretty cheesy – starring ‘Breaking Bad’ actor Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, doing their best with a script that cracks out all the odd-couple movie clichés.  It’s nicely acted though. Cranston plays billionaire investor Phillip, paralysed from the neck down after a paragliding accident. When his secretary (Nicole Kidman) advertises for a carer, Phillip hires the least qualified candidate Dell (Hart). Not long out of prison, Dell only shows up at the interview to keep his parole officer sweet. Is Phillip charmed by his humour and realness? Or because he suspects that Dell won’t ignore his Do Not Resuscitate order? A good deal of seen-it-before buddy comedy follows, as Phillip introduces Dell to highbrow culture, while Dell gets his boss high on marijuana. The script even nicks that bit from ‘Pretty Woman’ where Julia Roberts cries at the opera. That’s not to say The Upside is a complete write-off. The two actors bounce off each like ping-pong balls. Cranston in particular, acting only with his face, brings humanity and intelligence to a flimsy part – and it’s pretty funny in places. But there’s no ignoring the fact that the characters are

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
The Sisters Brothers
Film

The Sisters Brothers

You don’t need a deep love of westerns to get a kick out of Jacques Audiard’s (‘Dheepan’) wry, surprising, and often plain hilarious frontier story set in 1851 Oregon and California. Sure, there’s all the shootouts, smoky saloons and liquor-soaked gunslingers a genre aficionado could ask for, but at its generous heart, the Frenchman’s first English-language film is a road movie about a pair of bickering siblings who just happen to be bounty hunters. The emotional beats are deep-felt and the one-liners come thick and fast. It’s contemplative at times too, taking time to chew over its characters’ hopes and dreams. Imagine ‘Midnight Run’ with saddle sores and you wouldn’t be too far from the mark.Audiard immediately establishes the lethal bona fides of the brothers, Charlie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Eli Sisters (John C Reilly) – and their odd-couple chemistry – with a striking nocturnal gunfight. It begins with distant muzzle flashes and a bullet-ridden cabin and ends, like so many of the scenes to come, with the pair grousing enjoyably at each other. This job, it turns out, was on behalf of the pair’s paymaster, a malicious and mostly unseen figure known as ‘The Commodore’. Soon he has another one for them: to trek across the state and kill a man by the name of Hermann Warm (Riz Ahmed), a guileful chemist with a new formula for refining gold. To make things easier, Jake Gyllenhaal’s detective, John Morris, will have him apprehended and ready to turn over. At least, that’s the theor

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars