A poker-playing restaurateur and former traveling salesman befriends a group of refugees newly arrived to Finland.
A farmer’s wife is seduced into running away from her stolid older husband by a city slicker, who enslaves her in a brothel.
Literature is full of triangle dramas, but very few of them can beat Juhani Aho’s “Juha” (1998) for deepness of emotions and understanding of all three parties. The story is straight and strong, yet full of detail, just waiting to be ruined by cinematic means.
I had planned to film “Juha” almost as long as we had planned to make a silent movie with composer Anssi Tikanmäki. One day we were clever enough to put the ideas together and the catastrophe was ready.
Afterwards I’m not surprised that all efforts (except Tati’s “Mon Oncle”) to make a silent film during the last decades have somehow failed; the easiness of explaining all by words has polluted our story telling to a pale shadow of original cinema.
We can never again make films like “Broken Blossoms”, “Sunrise” or “Queen Kelly” because since film started to gable with mumble and all that hoochie-coochie and fancy words, stories have lost their purity, cinema its essence: innocence.
(Aki Kaurismäki) Continue reading
Commissioned to promote the sleepy Portuguese city of Guimarães as a 2012 European Capital of Culture, this omnibus curio brings together an illustrious quartet of international cinema auteurs and invites them to roam through picturesque town squares, abandoned industrial sites and the ghostly remains of national history. In the first segment, Finnish favorite Aki Kaurismaki, in customary deadpan mode, finds bleak humor in the comings and goings of a hapless café proprietor whose business and romantic prospects dwindle as he daydreams of dancing. Next, native son Pedro Costa deploys his rigorous formalism (static shots, unstinting gazes, disembodied speech) to interrogate a former Cape Verdean revolutionary who flees the unnerving accusations of a calcified soldier through dead-of-night forays into an enchanted forest. Continue reading
Shadows in Paradise (Finnish: Varjoja paratiisissa) is a 1986 Finnish art house comedy-drama film written and directed by Aki Kaurismäki. The film stars Kati Outinen as Ilona and Matti Pellonpää as Nikander. Ilona is a supermarket check-out clerk who meets Nikander, a lonely garbage man, and they develop romantic feelings towards each other. Both of them are extremely shy so this hinders fast development of their relationship.
Shadows in Paradise was awarded the Best Film award at the 1987 Jussi Awards.
This is the first film in Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy (Shadows in Paradise, Ariel, and The Match Factory Girl). Continue reading
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
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
Based on the same 19th-century novel (Henri Murger’s Scenes de la Vie de Boheme) that inspired Puccini’s opera, the story is about three down-and-out losers doomed to penury and artistic obsession. There’s Albanian painter Rodolfo (Matti Pellonpää), playwright Marcel (Andre Wilms) and composer Schaunard (Kari Väänänen). Their problems are exactly the same: no rent or food money and the futile struggle to be recognized.
It doesn’t help Marcel that he refuses to reduce his 21-act play to commercial size or that the chances of Schaunard’s latest work making it (it’s called The Influence of Blue on Art) seem remote. Continue reading