May 23, 2007

Cannes. The Edge of Heaven.

"Director Fatih Akin continues his insightful exploration of the things that divide and bridge different cultures and generations in his absorbing In Competition film The Edge of Heaven [site]," writes Ray Bennett for the Hollywood Reporter (where Scott Roxborough interviews Akin). "Like his 2004 Berlin Golden Bear winner Head-On, the film deals with Turkish folk living in Germany but this time he brings his story back to Istanbul."

The Edge of Heaven

"The Edge of Heaven, evenly paced and featuring a range of intelligent, charismatic characters about all of whom an entire movie could be made, abounds with personal and political dramas," writes the Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu. "It tackles, without ever simplifying or trying to resolve too neatly, issues of diaspora and cross-generational kinship. It also asks timely questions about the impact that possible entry into the EU will have on Turkish people. But with so many compelling individuals and relationships, it's frustrating that Akin hasn't given himself time to pull them together more convincingly."

"The point at which a good director crosses the career bridge to become a substantial international talent is vividly clear in The Edge of Heaven, an utterly assured, profoundly moving fifth feature by Fatih Akin," writes Variety's Derek Elley. [Excuse me a moment... eeeeYesss! Ok, sorry.] "Superbly cast drama, in which the lives and emotional arcs of six people - four Turks and two Germans - criss-cross through love and tragedy takes the German-born Turkish writer-director's ongoing interest in two seemingly divergent cultures to a humanist level that's way beyond the grungy romanticism of his 2003 Head-On or the dreamy dramedy of In July (2000). Robust upscale biz looks a given."

In German: Die Welt runs Cannes diary by Akin himself; for non-German speakers, it's worth Googlizing.

As Andreas Borcholte reports for Spiegel Online, Hanna Schygulla's said, "He reminded me of the young Fassbinder."

Update: "Those expecting the punkish, masochistic energy of Head-On, with its car-crashing and wrist-cutting and club-hopping, may be a bit surprised by this new film's more measured and contemplative tone," writes Mike D'Angelo at ScreenGrab. "All the same, Akin's keen intelligence, his sensitivity to cultural dislocation and his skill with actors are all still very much in evidence."

Updates, 5/24: "The plot contrivances are elaborate, but the heartfelt compassion and intelligence of the direction are what count," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw.

Signandsight takes note of a couple of very positive reactions in the German press.

"[W]hile Akin's heartfelt political intentions are laudable, the under-developed characters seem to be more at the service of the intricate plot, rather than the other way around," writes Anthony Kaufman at indieWIRE.

"[T]he movie forces its largely believable and sympathetic characters into an increasingly ludicrous web of contrivances," writes Dennis Lim at IFC News.

Updates, 5/25: Camillo de Marco interviews Akin for Cineuropa.

"Akin's work is so serene, contemplative and yet so complex that it bypasses any simple comparisons to recent convoluted choral works such as Crash and Babel and offers pleasing touches of Kieslowskian non-coincidences, though Akin is certainly not on the same level as the legendary Polish director of the Ten Commandments and the Three Colours Trilogy - at least, not yet," writes Boyd van Hoeij at european-films.net. "As an acting showcase, Auf der andere Seite is outstanding. Hanna Schygulla gives one of her most riveting performances in years, while the Turkish ensemble is excellent all-round."

Update, 5/27: "After half a century of immigration, every new generation of Turks [in Germany] is still, to a large extent, a first generation." That stroke is painted far too broadly, but Christopher Caldwell explains what he actually means in a piece for the New York Times Magazine.

Update, 5/31: Peter Beddies has a terrific interview with Akin in Der Welt (and in German).


Cannes @ 60. Index.



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Posted by dwhudson at May 23, 2007 10:06 AM

Comments

I'm stoked! Completely, wholeheartedly dying to see this film. And I concur to what David so playfully gasps in the middle of quoting Elley; "YES!" to concluding that Fatih Akin is a talent of international scale (but we all knew that, didn't we?).

Posted by: Karsten at May 23, 2007 10:28 AM

And he's only 33. Startles me every time I remember that.

As soon as I get the chance to put the "Index" together, I want to ask what all people like us who aren't in Cannes are looking forward to seeing, simply based on initial reactions so far. There may be other films that promise, oh I don't know, a more cinematically enriching experience, let's say.... but for me personally, this one's at the top of my list simply because Akin, even though he's based in Hamburg, raises issues and brings characters to life that, for me, are very close to where I live. My specific geography aside, though, these "bridges" critics refer to when reviewing his work are utterly crucial for both East and West right now and so few directors are addressing how they're being built and maintained on the ground, primarily all across Europe.

Akin's taken them up, and he's reaching international audiences, and what's more, he's entertaining them as well.

At the age of 33.

Posted by: David Hudson at May 23, 2007 10:58 AM

Pfft.

Bela Tarr was only 13 when he made Satantango.

Posted by: Jake at May 23, 2007 11:18 AM

Great idea about the grid and soliciting opinions. Curious to see what most entices us mere mortals who couldn't make it to the south of France.

How about an informal pool on the prizes? Without too much thought, I'd pick No Country for Old Men for Palme d'Or, with Schnabel picking up best director.

Posted by: Filmbrain at May 23, 2007 12:10 PM

I really need to get that "Index" together so we can carry on this conversation there, but: I've been thinking 4 Months... might stand a good chance, perhaps as a tip of the hat to Romania, that is, as a gesture of both appreciation for Lazeresu and 12:08, too - and encouragement to carry on. Then again, I look at the jury and I'm not so sure. Of course, it's still a bit early; we'll see.

Posted by: David Hudson at May 23, 2007 12:25 PM

My money's on 4 MONTHS... to take the best actress prize, maybe Bardem or Amalric for actor. And I wouldn't be surprised if SILENT LIGHT takes some kind of special citation, perhaps the Jury award. But with Frears at the helm, who the heck knows?

Posted by: c.mason at May 23, 2007 12:41 PM

i'm totally with you guys on seeing this film. heard quite a bit about "persepolis" too...

http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/332955/Entertainment?c_id=jlt

Posted by: at May 23, 2007 1:02 PM

c.mason's predix sound plausible, and as the odds-on "arty" (read: non-Coens) international favorite, 4 MONTHS seems virtually guaranteed to nab something.

But a few big guns have yet to fire. Let's not forget Foundas' rhapsodic review of the Lee Chang-dong. Or the fact that a Korean has yet to win the Palme.

Posted by: msic at May 23, 2007 1:12 PM

I'm also rooting for Lee Chang-dong!

Posted by: Kris at May 23, 2007 6:19 PM