GoMovieReviews Rating:

Directed by: Ceyda Torun

Produced by: Ceyda Torun, Charlie Wuppermann

Starring: Bülent Üstün

Music by: Kira Fontana

Cinematography: Alp Korfali, Charlie Wuppermann.

Dedicated to the street cats and the people of Istanbul who look after them, Kedi is a surprisingly philosophical film.

I’m a cat lover, always have been.  From catching wild kittens out on the farm to forever walking around with cat fluff on my clothes, no matter how much time I spend de-fluffing, there’s always my cat, Cloud’s (AKA Ching, Chong, Chunk’s) signature silver fluff adorning my outfit.

So, I went into Kedi thinking I was walking into a documentary about the culture of Istanbul and the history/relationship of the people with the wild cats who have roamed the streets for over 1000 years: Kedi is so much more and runs far deeper than a history lesson.

What really absorbed me into this film was not the cats but the people who have a relationship with one or many of them.

These are street cats who roam freely around the city but for some reason, they decide to adopt a particular human for food, affection and love.  To then become part of the family.  It’s not the people who are helping the cats, it’s the cats who are helping the people.

One man shared he had a nervous breakdown where no medication could help.  But when he started feeding the street cats he began to talk and laugh again.

There’s a real depth to the relationships between the people and these wild cats.  Leading to discussion about the personality of the cat to statements about the meaning of life.

And how cats are so different to us that they’re like aliens or even superheros with amazing powers, to climb and jump up seemingly impossible places and to always land on their feet.  Yet, we are still able to build a relationship with these bizarre creatures.

The cinematography allows the audience to get up close to the cats, to show the wild nature of their eyes, to follow them around to see their independence and freedom while lounging on the edge of a terrace five stories up, to the street level to see the demand for attention, for love or food or a passer-by wanting to touch their fur and giving them a pat.

It’s fascinating to see this indulgence and to see how tame the street cats really are, which leads to the contemplation of the people and how they reflect about their own lives when relating to their adopted pets.

I always thought of cats particularly when travelling overseas solo, as friends, and finding comfort when one decides to hang out on a chair next to me, keeping me company on my journey.

Kedi opens another layer, allowing the people of Istanbul to talk about their world view and the impact these roaming cats have had on their lives.  I could see the warmth of the people and their indulgence, the cats allowing their sense of adventure and humour to shine through, because these cats wouldn’t be adopting them otherwise.

A beautiful film about humanity and a realistic portrait of the day-to-day lives of the residents of Istanbul.  All captured with some crafty camera work.

A surprisingly thought-provoking film.

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Mountain Cry

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Rated: MMountain Cry

Directed by: Larry Yang

Adapted Screenplay: Larry Yang

Music by: Nicolas Errèra

Cinematography by: Patrick Murguia

Starring: Yueting Lang, Ziyi Wang, Taishen Cheng, Ailei Yu, Jin Guo, Caigen Xu, Chendong Zhao; Siying Li.

Language: Chinese Mandarin

Subtitle Language: English

Based on: Lu Xun Literary Prize recipient novel of the same name written by Ge Shuiping.

Mountain Cry is a Chinese tale of a mute girl, Hong Xia (Yueting Lang), who moves to a remote rural village with her abusive husband, La Hong (Yu Ailei), and two children.

After her husband is killed by a detonation used in a badger trap set in the woods, a young villager, Han Chong (Ziyi Wang) is blamed for the accident.  The village council then forces Han to look after the young widow and her children until the debt is paid for killing her husband.

Mountain Cry has been beautifully adapted to the screen with director and screenwriter Larry Yang relating this amazing story of Chinese village life and the two main characters slowly falling in love.  But this film is so much more than a romance, there’s crime here and mystery.

The characters show more of themselves with each action, with each scene adding weight to the adage, show don’t tell.  There was such a gentle touch here with tragedy and longing, freedom given and taken away, responsibility and loyalty and love all revealed like leaves slowly falling.

When novels are adapted to the screen there can be the feeling of parts missing or the story being rushed or glossed over, but Mountain Cry was a complicated story given depth, revealed slowly allowing the audience to become absorbed by the mystery of Hong Xia’s life.  Not surprising that the film won Shanghai International Film Festival Media Award Best Director Award and Shanghai International Film Festival Media Award Best Scriptwriter Award.

Although set in 1984, there was a classic feel to the story: old fashioned tools used for farming, handmade paper and painted writing, and the echoing sound of voices and drums like the heartbeat of the vast mountains.

The scenery was captured beautifully by cinematographer, Patrick Murguia.  And the soundtrack a fitting accompaniment (Nicolas Errèra) to this classic Chinese tale.  But it was the characters who were the focus, and their relationships.

Although a tragedy, the story was lifted by the simple warmth of Han Chong and his ginger kitten, but you need a quiet mood for this one.  And I have to say the film was slow at times.  But by the end, I was completely absorbed and pleasantly surprised by the mystery and beauty of the story.

A slow reveal but well worth the journey.

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