Takva: A Man's Fear of God

Not rated yet!
Director
Özer Kiziltan
Runtime
1 h 36 min
Release Date
1 December 2006
Genres
Drama
Overview
Humble and introvert Muharrem lives in a solitary and meager existence of a prayer and sexual abstinence adhering strictly to the most severe Islamic doctrines.His extraordinary devotion attracts the attention of the leader of a rich and powerful Istanbul religious group and he offers him an administrative post as a rent collector for their numerous properties. Muharrem's new job throws him into the modern outside world he has successfully avoided for so long. He soon witnesses conflict attitude toward alcohol consumption and goodwill.He notices that he himself has become proud, domineering and even dishonest.To make matters worse, Muharrem's inner peace is unnerved by the tormenting image of seductive woman who tempts him in his dreams,both night and day.With the balance of his devotion now upset,his fear of God begins to eat away at his senses.
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  • FilmFest DC — day 1 capsules

    FilmFest DC — day 1 capsules

    LOST MOON — Sudhir Mishra, India, 6

    I don’t know that “discovers” is the right word, but I want to say this is “Bollywood discovers post-modernism” — taking its original title, KHOYA KHOYA CHAND, from a classic song (available here; hopefully that’ll work, leaving you to choose the player) and essentially telling a behind-the-scenes story that has some parallels to the stories of Hindi pop cinema from the mid-50s to the mid-60s, including the making of the original movie that contained that song (imagine a fictionalized Donald O’Connor in a “Behind the Music” biopic titled “Make Em Laugh” covering the MGM 1950s for the general idea). The performances are appropriately broad for their archetypal characters — Saurabh Shukla as a fretting money-conscious producer (“it will be a hit”) and Sushmita Mukherjee as a middle-aged actress-vamp (“if you can’t have the wedding, who says you can’t have the wedding night”) are both total hoots. As Camille Paglia has noted on more than one occasion, Bollywood is the only place in the movie world where unapologetic glamor, beauty and sumptuousness-for-its-own-sake can still be found. LOST MOON not only has Soha Ali Khan and Shiney Ahuja as its leads, but its “movie-set” premise uses every excuse to indulge in escapist frippery in the sets and costumes — flowers garlanding a bed and petals spread over sheets: that sort of thing. However, Bollywood movies are like Toyota Corollas — consistently enjoyable and watchable (i.e., “functional”) while rarely being great (i.e., “exciting”). In the case of this particular movie, as I implied, Khan and Ahuja both have glamor to spare, but neither can really act. I also got a strong sense that the plot of LOST MOON would have been at least more fun (if not exactly “more sensible” or “less rambling”) for Indians, who can get all the movie in-jokes than any “firangi” like myself who, though obviously a fan of the genre, has seen fewer than 50 “Hindi pop” movies. But while the fun songs are playing … really, who cares?

    TAKVA: A MAN’S FEAR OF GOD — Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey, 8

    This film is teetering on the edge of a 9, held back only by my utter ignorance of the details of certain (apparently) small Muslim sects. Like with LOST MOON and Bollywood history, it’s the kind of “mother’s milk” stuff for a film’s domestic audience, but which went over the head of this Polytheist Crusader and seems vital to understanding what this film is “saying,” though it’s a tribute to TAKVA that it did make me want to find out and never left me in doubt that I was watching a great film, albeit one I couldn’t quite grasp as firmly as I’d want. A small (in several senses), late-middle-aged man, Muharrem is shown to be one of the most devout members of a Muslim group in Istanbul that seems (sorry for these comparisons, but I can only speak “Christian”) to be a kind of Pentecostal or Charismatic Shi’ite sect, with prescribed liturgies. He performs regular ablutions, greets everyone with prayer formulations, prays before every meal and clearly lives only to please God. His very faithful naivete, the sheik decides, makes him the ideal man to handle the group’s worldly goods (“the wise try to trick”) and he moves in to the seminary and becomes a rent collector, and is given clothes and baubles to look the part, even though the threads are rather ill-fitting no matter the body sizes. A kind of existential crisis comes, though it’s not resolved exactly as I’d expected. And TAKVA is richly and minutely observed for its entire length — moments like Muharrem’s ex-boss telling him to get coffee (I’ve heard more than one priest note how people act differently in the presence of a collar, for good and ill) and attitudes that can only come from an honor culture with contempt for worldliness. Erkan Can is like a Semitic Paul Giamatti in build and gait and schlubiness, and, like a man who knows God’s greatness lies in his nothingness, he gives Muharrem not an ounce of self-regard (look at something as simple and second-nature as how he repeatedly handles, or rather mishandles, a cell phone). By the end of the film … speaking vaguely but SPOILERS … Muharrem the humble pious man is destroyed like Norman Bates at the end of PSYCHO, but this is not a Turkish Dawkinsism, because the manner in which this happens is a kind of Satanic (temporary) victory.

    THE POPE’S TOILET — Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez, Uruguay, 5

    Forget it, Adam … not only does the Pope not take a dump, but there’s hardly even any scatology in the film (none that I recall specifically right now), though the title does make it mandatory for me to say that the Digital Video used here looks like crap — all blurry and muddy and primary-color-free (I thought the film was out of focus several times), as if this movie was for posting on YouTube. An oddly uncompelling movie because it never really settles down into either “black comedy” or “caper movie” or “small town pluck” or “family drama/dramedy” territory, instead kinda falling in between all the chairs. POPE’S TOILET is certainly watchable, never really boring and occasionally funny. Lead actor Cesar Troncoso, as the man with the idea to make a fortune by charging tourists to use an outdoor toilet that he’ll build, and lead actress Virginia Mendez as his reality-principle wife are both credible and inhabit the roles quite well. My favorite bit was the family rehearsing “the pitch script” for how they will deal with the customers. And I enjoyed hearing some of the Pope chants that find their way into every language (“Juan Pablo, amigo / El pueblo contigo”). The film has a bit of an Ealing vibe, like a TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT, PASSPORT TO PIMLICO or WHISKY GALORE, also about small plucky communities with plans to get ahead. But it’s neither as featherweight as the first two (there are scenes of domestic violence and drunkenness) nor as venal as the third (the people of Melo are more naive than anything) — so the comedy never consistently takes off.

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    Playing at FilmFest DCIn "DC Filmfest 2008"

    My FilmFestDC scheduleIn "DC Filmfest 2008"

    FilmFest DC -- days 1/2 gradesIn "DC Filmfest 2008"

    April 28, 2008 - Posted by | Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez, DC Filmfest 2008, Ozer Kiziltan, Sudhir Mishra

    2 Comments »

    1. You must tell us ASAP if THE NIGHT JAMES BROWN SAVED BOSTON is awesome. I really want it to be so.

      Comment by G-Money | April 28, 2008 | Reply

    2. Takva sounds really interesting–I’ll have to take a look if it shows up at the Main Art.

      I’ll take a flyer at the form of Islam: it may be Bektashi, a sort of indigenous Sufism descended from Rumi. Rather esoteric and popular in both Turkey (though still technically illegal there) and the southern Balkans (especially Albania). They have “babas” (fathers), liturgical ceremonies and even a yearly confession of sins to the baba. Bektashi Islam was extremely popular with the Janissaries who were culled from Christian families, and was suppressed when the Ottoman Sultan extirpated the Janissary Corps, root and branch, in 1826.

      Comment by Dale Price | May 1, 2008 | Reply


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  • Playing at FilmFest DC
    (”Takva: A Man's Fear of God” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Playing at FilmFest DC

    FilmFestDC released the program of movies for this year’s festival, which runs from April 24 to May 4. , though as I type this Monday morning, they don’t seem yet to have up the schedule, with dates and times. I’ve already seen five of these films, at Toronto, and here are my reviews of them:

    THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, Fatih Akin, Germany/Turkey, 8
    THE FALL, Tarsem, Britain/India, 7
    ONE HUNDRED NAILS, Ermanno Olmi, Italy, 4
    SILENT LIGHT, Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland, 9
    YOU, THE LIVING, Roy Andersson, Sweden, 9

    Despite my already having seen them, I hope, schedule-permitting, to be able to see SILENT LIGHT and YOU, THE LIVING again, simply because I doubt they’ll see commercial releases outside of New York and maybe Los Angeles. And as the grades suggest, I’d recommend four of these five films, with THE EDGE OF HEAVEN probably being the one that the most people would like, with the other three having in their different ways a very high eccentricity quotient.

    As for the films that will be new to me, these are the ones that look interesting enough for me to consider, depending on timing and scheduling, of course:

    LA ANTENA, Esteban Sapir, Argentina — Fritz Lang and Guy Maddin are cross-referenced. I’ve found the few recent Argentine films I’ve seen a bit stylistically bland. This movie may suck, but *that* should not be a problem.

    THE BASIC SANITATION MOVIE, Jorge Furtado, Brazil — As a form of social criticism, black comedy usually works better than earnestness. Again, it may be no good, but a movie about a sewer cannot possibly be earnest.

    BLOOD BROTHERS, Alexi Tan, Hong Kong — Played at Toronto, and the talent on hand is impressive.

    ELITE SQUAD, Jose Padilha, Brazil — Umm … here. The conversation piece of the festival, almost certainly.

    I JUST DIDN’T DO IT, Masayuki Suo, Japan — Japan’s submission to the Oscars for Best Foreign Film, and filmgeekbud Ken Rudolph liked it. And while I wasn’t a fan of Suo’s SHALL WE DANCE 1.0, Ken’s description makes it sound in a completely different vein …

    IN THE NAME OF GOD, Shoaib Mansoor, Pakistan — The very concept of a serious Pakistani movie about cleavages within Islam practically sells itself on topicality and “huh?” value alone.

    KHOYA KHOYA CHAND, Sudhir Mishra, India — A Bollywood version of A STAR IS BORN … are any of the songs as good as “The Man that Got Away”?

    KATYN, Andrej Wajda, Poland, and MONGOL, Sergei Bodrov, Kazakhstan — Two of the films that snagged Oscar nominations for Best Foreign Film. At least one of them has to be better than THE COUNTERFEITERS, right?

    THE NIGHT JAMES BROWN SAVED BOSTON, David leaf, USA — The concert footage at least **has** to be sensational — James Brown was even able to elevate ROCKY 4 for a few minutes fercryinoutloud.

    THE POPE’S TOILET, Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez, Uruguay — I dunno, maybe Latin American movies about human-waste disposal just intrigue me.

    PVC 1, Stathos Statholopoulos, Colombia — Only other one-take feature-length movie, Sokurov’s RUSSIAN ARK, was excellent and this one seems to have more dramatic potential. Might just be a gimmick though. Also want to hear about the director’s best friend, the Greek writer Francisco Gonzalez Sanchez.

    THE SHOW MUST GO ON, Han Jae-rim, South Korea — Sound like the ultimate Korean movie: Song Kang-ho and a script with 1,000 opportunities for those wild tone shifts between Vaudeville and Theater of Cruelty. Who can resist Benny Hill meets Artaud?

    TAKVA: A MAN’S FEAR OF GOD, Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey — I had a ticket for this one at Toronto but this man’s fear of Morpheus militated against the 9am showing. Glad for another chance, I’ll say.

    TELL NO ONE, Guillaume Canet, France — Talent dripping off the fingernails and so could be a great populist entertainment or one of those awful Cinema du Look hybrids (I didn’t even think DIVA held up all that well to a recent re-viewing)

    TIMECRIMES, Nacho Vigalondo, Spain — Not been a great fan of the well-hyped Spanish thrillers I’ve seen (ABRE LOS OJOS and INTACTO), but one of them has to hit paydirt eventually.

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    March 31, 2008 - Posted by | DC Filmfest 2008

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  • My FilmFestDC schedule
    (”Takva: A Man's Fear of God” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    My FilmFestDC schedule

    Just before I leave my pad to start watching, these are the films I’ll be seeing over the next week (days off work being the primary constraint).

    Sat 26
    300pm LOST MOON (aka KHOYA KHOYA CHAND) — Sudhir Mishra, India
    630pm TAKVA: A MAN’S FEAR OF GOD — Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey
    930pm THE POPE’S TOILET — Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez, Uruguay

    Sun 27
    300pm THE NIGHT JAMES BROWN SAVED BOSTON — David Leaf, USA
    500pm SILENT LIGHT — Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland
    745pm THE SHOW MUST GO ON — Han Jae-rim, South Korea

    Mon 28
    630pm BUDDHA COLLAPSED OUT OF SHAME — Hana Makhmalbaf, Iran
    830pm UNFINISHED STORIES — Pourya Azarbayjani, Iran

    Tue 29
    630pm LA ANTENA — Esteban Sapir, Argentina
    815pm YOU THE LIVING — Roy Andersson, Sweden

    Sat 3
    700pm PVC-1 — Stathos Stathoulopoulos, Colombia
    930pm ELITE SQUAD — Jose Padilha, Brazil

    When I went to pick up my tickets at Olsson’s Books, the man chuckled after I finished the first Saturday order and said “wow … three films in one day.” I told him I’ve done seven at festivals where the scheduling allows that (FilmFestDC’s scheduling doesn’t really; I think four is the most you could do on any one day, and on most it’s just two)

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    April 26, 2008 - Posted by | DC Filmfest 2008

    2 Comments »

    1. “The Pope’s Toilet?” Oh man I gotta see that.

      When I was younger and active in a band, in reference to my (separate) obsessions with Catholicism and bodily functions, decalred, “For you, the best movie ever would be the Pope taking a dump.”

      Comment by Adam Villani | April 27, 2008 | Reply

    2. Adam~~

      On top of that, this schedule explains why the Godfather of Soul had to be called in to save Boston- because His Holiness was otherwise engaged.

      Comment by Paul C. | April 27, 2008 | Reply


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  • FilmFest DC — days 1/2 grades
    (”Takva: A Man's Fear of God” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    FilmFest DC — days 1/2 grades

    Sat 26
    LOST MOON — Sudhir Mishra, India, 6
    TAKVA: A MAN’S FEAR OF GOD — Ozer Kiziltan, Turkey, 8
    THE POPE’S TOILET — Cesar Charlone and Enrique Fernandez, Uruguay, 5

    Sun 27
    MY BLUEBERRY NIGHTS — Wong Kar-wai, USA, 7  (technically out of festival)
    SILENT LIGHT — Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Holland, 10 (upgraded from 9) R
    THE SHOW MUST GO ON — Han Jae-rim, South Korea, 6

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    April 28, 2008 - Posted by | DC Filmfest 2008 |

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