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 Michael Bergeron
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Winter Sleep: Turkish Film Festivsal

Winter Sleep: Turkish Film Festivsal
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This weekend the Museum of Fine Arts Houston welcomes the third edition of their annual salute to Turkish cinema. The museum has flown in directors “Cagan Irmak and Tunc Sahin to screen their films Whisper if I Forget, and Mix Tape, and will culminate in the 2024 Cannes Film Festival Palme D’or winner Winter Sleep,” screening this weekend and next. Click here for the full schedule.

Winter Sleep has to be experienced in its cinematic brilliance on the big screen. This is a film that will take three-and-a-half hours out of your life, and for the better. Along the way you will relive your own experiences as mirrored in the exploits of an aristocrat that has to deal with the lower classes that in themselves project a view of what we all aspire to be. It’s not surprising that the source material is an Anton Chekov short story. There are silent laughs and inner turmoil.

We haplessly watch as a hotel owner tries to make the best of an unpleasant situation. Nobody comes to his luxury hotel in the winter. The protag lives with his wife and his sister. Director and writer Nuri Bilge Ceylan totally nails the silences between the conversations that make up our lives.

When Winter Sleep starts we are observing beautiful homes, the bottom story made of windows and stone and mortar, but the upper half is a rock fortress naturally formed from eons of natural forged creation with a satellite dish on top of the weird mineral formation. This is a hotel I would venture, although not in the winter.Winter-Sleep

Aydin (Haluk Bilginer) proceeds into a series of long dialogues with his sister, who is crashing at his hotel, and his wife. These tense scenes comprise much of the running time and they advance the movie into a Bergman-like rumination on relationships. But first and foremost is the drama that is front and center.

Aydin must deal with a series of events that include his car being stoned by a wayward youth who it turns out is merely a disenfranchised member of the tribe that he hoped to suppress. Here is where the Chekov comes into play; Winter Sleeps is really about the relationship between the high and the low.

There are some harsh scene provided: a horse being sucked out of a stream in which the animal is trapped comes to mind. There is always conflict of pedantic proportions that must be overcome in Winter Sleep.

Events progress, as they often do, into a series of spiral arguments, Aristotle not withstanding, each member of society begging to be heard. Aydin’s wife splits off and attempts to pay off the people that her husband has wronged. Aydin himself sits down to a drunken diatribe with members of the coterie he has created with intellectuals that are more politically powerful that he is.

Winter Sleep could have been a random foreign film du jour locked into to a one-week run at your local art house. Instead it is one of the most powerful films you will see this year.

- Michael Bergeron