Aki Kaurismäki – Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö aka The Match Factory Girl (1990)

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Synopsis:
Iiris leads a bleak existence. She has a dead end job working on the assembly line at a match factory. What meager wages she earns all goes toward supporting her mother and stepfather, with who she lives in a small, crowded house. They largely ignore her unless she does something against their sensibilities, which leads to them exacting emotional and physical abuse toward her. And Iiris is also ignored socially, because of her overall somber demeanor and the fact that she has no money to make herself look more attractive to men. She believes her life will change with her chance meeting with well-off businessman, Aarne. However, what she believes is the start of a possible relationship with Aarne was solely a one-night stand for him, he who has no intention of ever seeing her again. The aftermath of this encounter with Aarne leads to Iiris making some decisions of how she will deal with her bleak life. Continue reading

Aki Kaurismäki – Ariel (1988)

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From Eye For Film:
Aki Kaurismäki’s first feature, Crime And Punishment (1983), updated and transplanted Dostoyevsky’s novel to present day Finland. Since then, the deadpan auteur has written, directed and edited some 20 films, which is about a fifth of Finland’s cinematic output since the Eighties. His films, however, have always proven more popular abroad than at home. Apart from Britain, few nations like to see their own follies, iniquities and all-round miserabilism being paraded in affectionately mocking entertainments, and Kaurismäki’s focus is very much on the dark absurdities of his motherland’s down-and-outs, drunks and dispossessed. Continue reading

François Truffaut – La femme d’à côté AKA The Woman Next Door (1981)

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Quote:
MUCH in the way that a writer of precise, clean, seemingly effortlessly flowing prose can capture one’s attention in an opening paragraph of essential but banal information, Francois Truffaut can draw us immediately into the everyday world of his films, which look familiar but are as foreign to most of us as life among a tribe of aborigines.

The inhabitants of his world are not exotic. No rings in their noses. No lavender-dyed hair. They have no difficulty differentiating reality from fantasy. To all appearances they tend to be commonplace. Yet it is the exhilarating talent of this film maker to be able to define the commonplace in a manner that is not at all commonplace, and thus to find – and appreciate – the mystery within. This is the continuing revelation of each of Mr. Truffaut’s best films, especially of ”Jules and Jim,” ”La Peau Douce,” ”Stolen Kisses” ”The Story of Adele H” and, now, of ”The Woman Next Door,” a love story of almost self-effacing mastery. Continue reading

Aleksandr Zarkhi – Dvadtsat shest dney iz zhizni Dostoevskogo AKA 26 Days in the Life of Dostoyevsky (1981)

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Twenty-Six Days in the Life of Dostoyevsky was entered on February 16th at the 1981 Berlin Film Festival to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Dostoyevsky’s death on February 9th, 1881, and won a “Best Actor” award for Anatoly Solonitsyn as Dostoyevsky. Solonitsyn was a favorite actor in Andrei Tarkovsky’s films, and this was to be his penultimate role. This brief imaginary period in the famed Russian writer’s life encapsulates one of his darker moments in 1866. At that time he was still a relatively unknown writer whose first widely acclaimed work, Crime and Punishment, was just on the horizon. His life was at a very low ebb as he struggled with debts he could not pay, and as he fought depression over the loss of his wife to tuberculosis, and the death of his brother, who was very close to him. His first literary journal had to be scrapped because of political reasons, and the second venture needed funding. The police come to see him, sent by his publisher who is demanding recompense for debts overdue. Desperate to escape the pressure on all sides, Dostoyevsky decides to undertake the impossible and write the story of The Gambler in 26 days, thereby satisfying the debt to the publisher at least. Continue reading

Gregg Araki – Three Bewildered People in the Night (1987)

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AllMovie Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The titular trio in Three Bewildered People in the Night is played by Darcy Marta, Mark Howell and John Lacques. Experimental filmmaker Gregg Araki follows the threesome — aspiring artists all — as they wander through the apartments, galleries and coffee shops of Greenwich Village. Their lives are complicated by their carnal urges, both homosexual and otherwise. A multiple award winner at the 1988 Locarno Film Festival, Three Bewildered People never receives widespread distribution. Continue reading