These events happen in Belfast. Belfast.
Haven’t been to the cinema for certainly over a year. On a whim decided to go to town after work where I had another argument with my boss the manifestation of which seemed to come out of nowhere. Out of my calm calm stylings it just explodes. It feels like manipulated tension. My protest felt like whining but I get the feeling I’m being toyed with. The focus seems to be turned on me as an unacceptable freak because of my response of dissatisfaction. But the information imparted, that there wasn’t much time in the summer for me to take leave came to me eventually as something which was acceptable to my calmer side which had been exploded I think by the way it was initially presented to me which led to me perceiving that two weeks did not seem to be open, a result of me not specifying on time as it was framed and I replied that wasn’t good and I thought everyone was entitled to at least an uninterrupted week as a summer break But actually as it turned out a week in June and one at the end of August. Well, that’s not great but its actually ok in the circumstances. Do yo see what I mean. It was ok. But I am left with this person apparently shocked by my “outburst”. I was on my knees sweeping paper off the floor at the time when it was announced so I conducted the conversation whilst doing this and was then told to stop that as if it was rude.
Is it ok not to edit ? But anyway I seemed to get away with not being mortified in the last half hour of work which is usually the result of these moments and I could bring myself to get the bus to go into town on a fine May evening. I was happy enough as I thought I could just about defend myself if my behaviour was brought up again as an issue in my struggle to remain employed. Ha.
Anyway, I got a “day ticket” which entitles you to unlimited travel on Metro buses. I can’t get money from cash machines with my atm card which means I get money by getting “cash back” from my bank account in supermarket transactions so I ended up on the Lisburn Road Tesco where I got thirty pounds. Then it was time to imbibe something. The plan was that I would stay out until I was tired and then I would go home and go straight to bed and the next day I would get up about 7am in preparation for a visit to the doctor about this tingly feeling I am getting in my hands which is really bugging me and praying on my mind. Some problem with circulation but I need a tonic and some information. I’m writing this now just before I go to doctors.
I went to the Parlour, which is one of the closest public bars to the Queens main campus ie near to that big 19th century Hampton Court style frontage. Not a pleasant bar to be when there’s lots of people but very relaxing when not and there was hardly anyone there, all the students probably worrying about their exams. Its very dark so its a nice place to be inconspicuous. Its like an Irish country inn with a lighting problem which seems to be exploited to pleasant effect at the front area the light comes in the windows but your still in the dark and there are flickering lantern things and a fruit machine in the gloom under some stairs and very deep armchairs which hide you most of the way – up to the neck ? behind the tables whilst obscure 70’s funk quietly rumbled out. This seems to be a bit of a trend currently.
Had a pint of Smithwicks. It was time to eat. Planned to go to Bishops, a fish and chip restaurant of local fame and note where you can (used to) sit in a takeaway bit with your box of purchase but surprisingly it was dark and shut possibly forever it seemed. So I went to Kentucky and got a three piece meal. Num but I was feeling a bit lonesome and pointless partly due to the contrived and experimental nature of my evening adventure undertaken of course with no friendly companions. The food cheered me up though.
I went to Botanic Gardens where I notice there are few places where you can sit where you don’t feel rather exposed but there is a little tree and foliage filled mini foresty bit where I found a tree and sat against it. It was a great spot and quite secluded for a park where there’s always people moving through. Pleased that I had found this place which I’ll definitely return to I moved on down Botanic Avenue and went to the Empire Bar which is a big old building beside the railway line which is more like a theatre in design. In fact its two theatre like spaces on top of one another. The upper one has concerts of tribute bands, retro music nights and local bands too. I’ve never been to the famous comedy night at the Empire, I assume its still on. I had a pint of Guinness which I downed quickly as I’d decided to catch the movie at 9. The cinema is part of the university campus, just up the street.
Going to films you haven’t a clue what they’re about can leave you open to self inflicted misery but this time the random choice worked. Hoorah ! My experimental evening actually came off.
Mustang – a film from Turkey directed and co-written by Deniz Gamze Erguven
The further we travel from the centres of our late capitalist west the more films seem to be about, “issues.” Issues that often seemed to be about the old meeting the new. This film does it with a sledgehammer but its really good. A film that would have a much broader appeal than a lot of foreign movies because the subject matter is very accessible.
If you only knew a few things about what happens in societies where traditional ways of life are still immensely pervasive you would know that in some places in the world the lives of women are highly regulated and they are subject to being married off into arranged marriages quite often in their early teens.
This film begins with an introduction to a group of teenage girls who actually turn out to be sisters doing things you might see in an American teen movie, frolicking in the water with some boys at the seaside on the day school breaks up . The rather ignorant viewer such as myself may say to themselves, well that doesn’t surprise me really, the whole world is becoming like this now, although it seems the girls could come from anywhere really which seems a bit of a flattening out of identity. A couple of scenes later we are presented with the girls outraged aunt and uncle who have heard about their “behaviour” and we realise that what might have seemed normal in some societies is the “issue,” of the film. It is actually the central event that leads the girls to be practically imprisoned in their family home.
What seems clear as well is that the girls behaviour is westernised, a direct result of something that has come from outside Turkish culture. It is a surprisingly strict distinction which is demonstrated in quite an angry way which sticks two fingers up to any one who would want to stop these changes from being accommodated. The girls love acting in a rebellious way which connects for them more naturally both hormonally and culturally. This unstoppable drug of social and romantic freedom is portrayed as a powerful force that it would be foolish to try and hold back and makes a fool of what is wrongly perceived as the cornerstone of tradition ie. a strict stale morality which turns off any interest in the children leaving them to the mercy and uneducated dangers of wild rebellion . This is because we are seeing through the eyes of the girls how little the traditional code means to them as it cannot deal with their collective celebration of their youth and beauty which they know is alien and makes them like aliens both to themselves and to their elders. They have become little punks just like many trend obsessed children these days but their rebellion has more meaning. The poses are similar but its a real war. It isn’t the more nihilistic meaningless ungrateful rebellion of our own pathetic youth which just is and wouldn’t make much subject matter for a film to be a bit harsh but then again adults in our society, the new generation of elders are still dominated by conservative ideas which in liberal societies is a miserable and nonsensical state for our minds to be in in 2016 so no wonder our children act like something’s wrong. Its complicated and I’m getting off the subject.
The film is possibly mocking its societies traditions to show that if tradition cannot integrate western liberalism, which may have awful elements to it then tragedies will continue to take place. But the final message is almost shockingly positive although this family has been destroyed, but destroyed by attitudes, not something that had to inevitably become reality.
I also liked the way the film shows viewers in more fully westernised countries that the freedoms that many more individuals enjoy in these societies are a cause for celebration, not to be taken for granted. It is our own western ideas that we are seeing in action in films such as this, carving up the old ways, which is a call to recognise our universal responsibility but also, power.
The film is the director’s debut movie and is based on her own experiences.