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Kuma: The Second Wife Review


Excellent

A sensitive drama about a hidden subculture, this film is sometimes difficult to watch as its naturalistic approach reveals chilling details about a Turkish family living in Austria. The melodramatic script sometimes feels like it's tackling too many issues at once, but by taking such a personal approach the filmmakers help us experience the events ourselves.

The story begins in a dusty Turkish village, where a lively wedding feels eerily strained. The bride is 19-year-old Ayse (Akkaya), who is calmed by her new mother-in-law Fatma (Koldas) before her marriage to handsome young Hasan (Muslu). Then she travels back home with them to Vienna, where the truth comes out: she is actually a second wife for Fatma's middle-aged husband Mustafa (Erincin), chosen by Fatma to replace her because she is dying of cancer and needs someone to care for their young children. But older daughter Kezban (Imak) feels insulted that her mother brought in an outsider. Especially when Ayse gets pregnant.

Like Ayse, we have some trouble making sense of the extended family she encounters in Austria, including aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours and Fatma and Mustafa's adult children, who have children of their own. But this bustling atmosphere creates a vivid sense of community in shops and homes, hidden from view. And the key cast members are terrific at creating rounded characters who register strongly. Koldas is especially vivid, as we watch the engagingly unpredictable Fatma shift from warm compassion to ruthless discipline. And Muslu gives Hasan an engaging emotional life all his own, especially as we start to understand why he agreed to this fake marriage long before the script reveals the reason.

Continue reading: Kuma: The Second Wife Review

Benny's Video Review


Weak
It's long been a staple of psychological profiling and often debated furiously, but the assumption that violent movies actually make people violent has some merit. How could it not, to some degree? I can remember very clearly stepping out of Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles in high school and hoping, praying, that someone would try to jump me on the way back to my car so I could get into some sort of kung fu fight. Sure, it would have been geeky, spastic kung fu, and, sure, I would have been beaten senseless, but I was just so pumped up I would've taken on Jet Li. The question isn't does violence inspire violence. The question is: To what extent? Where does that influence end?

We're bombarded almost daily with disturbing news snippets about teens run amok, filming their attacks gloatingly and enjoying them at parties. Forget Girls Gone Wild, nowadays it's Teens Gone Wilding. Is this the end result of a violent movie culture? Bad parenting? Terrible genetics? All of the above? If I watched Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles enough times (I know, I know, it's a PG movie with puppets, but still...) would I be transformed into the sociopathic killer at the heart of Michael Haneke's Benny's Video?

Continue reading: Benny's Video Review

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Kuma: The Second Wife Movie Review

Kuma: The Second Wife Movie Review

A sensitive drama about a hidden subculture, this film is sometimes difficult to watch as...

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