Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Some time ago, I was recommended a song titled as "Simit Mimit" by Çağıl, a dear friend who is into animations. She also noted: "not very serious:P" :).

While its sound is between jazz, balkan and funk, the lyrics are simply a concatenation of names and expressions related to Istanbul. I could simply write pages on them:). Let me simply explain the title. Simit is a circular bread with sesame accompanying the beloved Turkish tea every morning and then.

That song reminded me immediately of another one, "Istanbul (Pas Constantinople)", a french-latin song in swing/jazz style, made by Ayhan Sicimoğlu & Latin All Stars in 2006. It is based on "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" composed by Nat Simon and Jimmy Kennedy in 1929.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Documentary Taste in Fiction

The two movies that I’ve recently watched: "Katyn (2011)" and "Little Fugitive (1953)" made me think about the documentary genre. I cannot say I’m particularly fan of this genre, but I watch it often if there are things that can satisfy my curiosity. These can vary from scuba-diving or 'making of' footages to the ones that I come across on TV by pure coincidence (mostly on ARTE and France 5). However, these last two made me think that some movies can have documentary-like taste or value. Then of course, I started reading about them…

The first documentaries are, as you would guess, the one-minute long footages of Lumière Brothers. They are also the first attempts of film-making. The number of documentaries surged during the Great Depression and the War. Art is said to take shape during desperate times, and as intellectuals had more things to reflect upon, such as social conditions or lasting predicaments, a new film movement has born in post-war Italy: Neo-realism. This contemporary film movement intended to express new perspectives in social, economic or political issues. The actors were, in general, non-professional ones, mainly locals. The popularity of Neo-realist observational movies reached its peak during the Italian Spring. They were mainly shot in uncontrolled environments by moving around the camera, which sometimes created unpleasant takes [1]. As well as the necessity of the developments in camera technology (size and weight of cameras), the technology of recording location sound was vital [2]. At the beginning of Neo-realism, there was no synchronized sound with the medium. However, when the portable synch-sound equipments became available, persuasiveness of the images and the fidelity between the images and sound gained credibility [3]. Little Fugitive (1953) falls around this era, in which recording the location sound was possible and shooting movies in natural locations were taken granted.

Little Fugitive (1953) is a movie about a seven-year-old boy who misunderstands a joke of his brother and runs out of the house until he is found by his brother that evening. We witness to one-day-long adventure of this little 'fugitive' as the camera focuses on him, as well as the vibrant chaos of Coney Island. The film doesn’t only fall into the category of drama or adventure, but also observational documentary. It is a beautiful document about Coney Island in 50s. Sequences of the film show us the rush of the crowd after a sudden rain or the people lying down at the beach of  Coney Island.

One may wonder if people would act naturally in the presence of a camera, but Little Fugitive seems to have solved that problem with a concealed strap-on camera. The border between the fictional narrative and documentary is so thin that sometimes you forget about the story of this little boy; instead you find yourself in Coney Island, witnessing the flow of lives of people at those times [4]. The presence of environmental interaction drives the film and renders its story telling more realistically. Consequently, Little Fugitive’s photography-based co-directors, Morris Engel and Ruth Orkin, have influenced the establishment of the physical environment of the film. Although they are accustomed to represent reality through photography as  their original work, this time, they establish it on a different media: film.

Andrzej Wajda’s Katyn (2007) is another way of representing reality. Wajda, one of the best-known directors of Poland, revisited the Katyn massacre at the age of 81 with his film. The film depicts the extermination of Polish officers by the Soviet Army in the Katyn forest. He enriched the storytelling by two documentary footages shown during the movie. The documentaries are shot after the massacre at Katyn forest, one presenting the massacre as a Soviet crime (the documentary was made by the Germans for the purpose of propaganda), the other as a German crime (made by the Soviets in order to cover up their deeds). The scene in which each prisoners are one by one shot in the head and dumped into a mass grave emphasizes the grim, concealed truth and underscores Stalin’s guilt [5]. Since it is not possible to have a footage about the massacre itself, the film is not only a quintessence that brings lights on historical facts, but also helps us to understand what people might have felt or lived through around those times, along with the heaviness of the truth.

"Every film is a documentary of its actors"
--Jean-Luc Godard

[1] "Voyages of Discovery: The Cinema of Frederick Wiseman", by Barry Keith Grant, University of Illinois Press, 1992
[2] "Vittorio De Sica: Contemporary Perspectives", by Howard Curle and Stephen Snyder, University of Toronto Press, 2000
[3] "Introduction to Documentary, Second Edition", by Bill Nichols, Indiana University Press, 2010
[4] "Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality", by Siegfried Kracauer, Princeton University Press, 1997
[5] "European Directors and Their Films: Essays on Cinema", by Bert Cardullo, Scarecrow Press, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

War... What is it good for???

When one is out of words in claiming the obvious stupidity and futility of a cause, songs can come in handy.

My first two suggestions date back to the mystic year of '69. CCR has a typical Woodstock/classic rock tone, and E. Starr rather a funky one. Blonde Redhead shows up as a modern, alternative, indie way of emotionally protesting war.

They all touch me somehow...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Monsters of Folk

A supergroup composed of Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis from Bright Eyes and M. Ward (solo and She & Him). They met during individual tours & concerts, gathered in 2004 and published their first album in 2009.

Quite indie folk=)!

Here is a sample of their individual works:

 For My Morning Jacket, wait for the next post;)...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, a band composed of 4 legends, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash and sometimes Neil Young and active since 1968.

CSNY by utku lutek on Grooveshark

One of their most cute footage is from Woodstock '69


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Vive la France!

Here are some of the French songs, i.e. chansons, that I used to listen at the age of 12 in 1998, at home in Ankara, with all my friends left in high school in Istanbul, during a weekend with anxiety of leaving family for the following weekdays and temporary excitement of building a small car model:

Vive la France by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Friday, August 31, 2012

Twin Sister impact

My current favorite; a very typical indie song with very original details:

  The Twin Sister by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Quick Peek to an Oscar Speech

I cannot say that I always agree with the selections of the Academy, however I am not going to hide that I watched this video countless times. Both the presentation and the joyful speech, I like everything about it and it's my all time favorite acceptance speech. It always gives me a smile. We see what a nice life Meryl Streep is having there, full of success, satisfaction, love, joy and happiness. She's such a woman and such an incomparable actress.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Alfred Hitchcock's Cameo Appearances

"I am a typed director. If I made Cinderella, the audience would immediately be looking for a body in the coach."
--Alfred Hitchcock
The very fist time I've heard about Alfred Hitchcock's name was through his cameo appearances. Actually, I've come to know his name much later than hearing about his cameos. He was, to me, the famous Hollywood director that appears in all his movies, which is also known to be his trademark. Then, it was much later that I found myself in the frenzy of Hitchcock's cinema. I've watched almost all his movies and in every one of them I had one eye on catching "where did he hide himself this time?"
Alfred Hitchcock's cameo appearance in Frenzy (1972): In the center of a crowd, wearing a bowler hat, he is the only one not applauding the speaker.
Alfred Hitchcock's cameo appearance in Rear Window (1954): Winding the clock in the songwriter’s apartment
"A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it."
--Alfred Hitchcock
He might be a guy smoking in a train station (The Lady Vanishes (1938)), or the man sitting in a hotel lobby (Torn Curtain (1966)), or he might be in a photo that one of the characters are looking at (Dial M for Murder (1954)), or a random guy in a crowd that watches the crime seen (Frenzy (1972))...He might be anywhere.

Out of his 52 movies, he made 39 cameos. Enjoy this short video of his cameo appearrances, if you're interested:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

From Silence to Sound

The last two movies that I've seen were happened to be, as a purely coincidence, about the transition from the silent films to the sound ones. One of them is The Artist (2011). It is not necessary for me to mention how many awards it got from this year's Academy Awards, right? (it was the most favorite movie of the ceremony for sure). And the second one is a Billy Wilder movie that I wanted to watch for so long: The Sunset Blvd. (1950) (read the detailed review on Cinematic Ceremony)
The Artist (2011)
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
The Artist showed to directors that you can still come up with a nostalgic idea and the audience can still love it. Personally, even though I think that the reason why it won the Best Movie and Best Director awards at Oscars is mainly because the academy likes movies with a story based on "Cinema" "The history of cinema", "The love of cinema", etc., it, indeed, was a creative come up by Michel Hazanavicius (the director and the writer of the movie). It got exceptional reviews from the most prestigious film critics, because we all LOVE cinema. We all LOVE this genius, creative form of art, we all LOVE to please ourselves by witnessing others' lives during the delicious moments of over one hour. And The Artist is all about these.
The Artist (2011)
I knew the main actor of the movie, Jean Dujardin, through the successful TV series called "Un Gars et Une Fille" (A Guy and A Girl) that I've been watching over three years, since I came to France. I can say, I've improved my French by watching this 26 minutes series everyday and enjoyed thoroughly with the funny scripts written by Alexandra Lamy (Jean Dujardin's wife) and performed by them.
The Artist (2011)
That's being said, back to The Artist, Jean Dujardin, who is undeniably very successful in making people laugh, performs a famous actor, George Valentin, in 1920s (during the silent film era). However, the transition from silent movies to the talking ones makes it hard for Valentin to confront the end of an era. A young lady that he accidentally meets tries to help him to get over his difficulties and reminds him that he can still do what he does best: acting. The Artist is a movie all about love, pride, glory, jealousy and envy.
The Artist (2011) 
The Artist (2011) 
Sunset Blvd. (1950) 
The second movie, The Sunset Blvd. (1950), directed by one of my favorite directors: Bily Wilder. You may remember him from his other movies if you have seen The Seven Year Itch (1955), Some Like It Hot (1959) and The Apartment (1960). Don't mind me to remind you here that Billy Wilder has won Academy Awards as producer, director and writer for the same film: The Apartment in 1960.
Sunset Blvd. (1950) 
The Sunset Blvd. is based on the story of a silent movie star who was left aside by her funs and the movie industry with the initialization of the sound film. The movie is marvelous and interesting at the same time when you look up for a little background information about the cast, the main actress, Gloria Swanson (as Norma Desmond) is a real silent movie star in real life. She contributed to this masterpiece with her real story also. The movie is about the passage of Hollywood to the talkies which Swanson has experienced herself. Swanson immortalized the silent movie director Cecil B. DeMille, who appeared as himself in the movie and his movies were famous for their endings with Swanson saying: "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up". And as a tribute to the silent movies era, Sunset Blvd. is closed up with Norma Desmond (Swanson) saying the same line.
Sunset Blvd. (1950) 
Don't you think, cinema is still experiencing a transition with 3D movies nowadays? Do you like silent movies?

for lots of interesting story on the screening of Sunset Blvd., please read this wiki page. and I'll leave you here with the excellent last scenes of these two movies:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

I never knew daylight could be so violent

Florence is like a fairy jumping from one genre to another and singing aloud the whole time with a strong and shaking voice. All the creatures around find themselves following her. I feel like it's the rabbit, the bear, the river, the bee and all the others singing in the background with her.

Genre: indie, alternative, ~gospel

About one year ago, Betül recommended me that song:

Florence & The Machine 1 by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Then, recently at work, I've heard No Light, No Light over and over and got a crush on it! After days of listening, I could classify it as religious-epic-indie :P. It's that song that pushed me to write about Florence because it filled me up with emotions (together with 'What the water gave me', a hymn for water). About the latter, she said:

"It's a song for the water, because in music and art what I'm really interested in are the things that are overwhelming. The ocean seems to me to be nature's great overwhelmer. When I was writing this song I was thinking a lot about all those people who've lost their lives in vain attempts to save their loved ones from drowning. It's about water in all forms and all bodies. It's about a lot of things; Virginia Woolf creeps into it, and of course Frida Kahlo, whose painfully beautiful painting gave me the title."

Florence & The Machine 2 by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Not surprisingly, these songs are from the Ceremonials [2011] album that really has a ceremonial sound, or a gospel one, if you want.

And yes, Kahlo has a painting called What the water gave me (Lo Que el Agua Me Dio). And the theme of the song is Virginia Woolf's death; her walking into the water with her pockets filled with stones.

Frida Kahlo - What the water gave me

From the previous album, Lungs [2009], I've chosen several songs touching several genres: Britpop (Dog days are over), strong chorus effect lead by Florence's intriguing vocal (Rabbit heart), grunge-like (Kiss with a fist), typical indie (My boy builds coffins), entertaining:) (Hurricane drunk), rock (You've got the love).

Florence & The Machine 3 by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dead Man's salvation

In the "Auguries of Innocence", William Blake says:

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.

Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.

which is often quoted in the movie Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch, 1995), recommended to me by Betül.

Here is the lovely theme song from the movie:

Dead Man (Jim Jarmusch) by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Funky love; Soul

While I was writing my MS thesis during the lovely summer of 2011, I spent almost all my working time in a lovely coffee house called Cofeina at the Politechniki square, Warsaw-Poland. This list is a tribute to that sunny time of intellectual endeavour.

R&B - soul by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Monday, February 27, 2012

Queens of the stone age

Rock as hard as stone, rhythm as solid as time..

Queens of the stone age by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Boris Vian - Le Déserteur

Vian wrote this poem pacifist in 1954 while France was in a colonial war against Vietnam, facing defeat. This piece was sung by Serge Reggiani.

Le Déserteur by utku lutek on Grooveshark

Monsieur le Président
Je vous fais une lettre
Que vous lirez peut-être
Si vous avez le temps

Je viens de recevoir
Mes papiers militaires
Pour partir à la guerre
Avant mercredi soir

Monsieur le Président
Je ne veux pas la faire
Je ne suis pas sur terre
Pour tuer des pauvres gens

C'est pas pour vous fâcher
Il faut que je vous dise
Ma décision est prise
Je m'en vais déserter

Depuis que je suis né
J'ai vu mourir mon père
J'ai vu partir mes frères
Et pleurer mes enfants

Ma mère a tant souffert
Elle est dedans sa tombe
Et se moque des bombes
Et se moque des vers

Quand j'étais prisonnier
On m'a volé ma femme
On m'a volé mon âme
Et tout mon cher passé

Demain de bon matin
Je fermerai ma porte
Au nez des années mortes
J'irai sur les chemins

Je mendierai ma vie
Sur les routes de France
De Bretagne en Provence
Et je dirai aux gens:

Refusez d'obéir
Refusez de la faire
N'allez pas à la guerre
Refusez de partir

S'il faut donner son sang
Allez donner le vôtre
Vous êtes bon apôtre
Monsieur le Président

Si vous me poursuivez
Prévenez vos gendarmes
Que je n'aurai pas d'armes
Et qu'ils pourront tirer