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
Kaurismäki’s first feature follows the descent into crime of Rahikainen, a slaughterhouse worker and former lawstudent, who murders a businessman and then begins a tense game of cat and mouse with the police.
Effectively updating Dostoevsky’s great novel to 1980s Helsinki, this remarkably assured debut offers a sharp critique of Finnish society. In 1984, it received two Jussi Awards: for the best début film and for the best script. Continue reading
synopsis – AMG:
A lonely night watchman finds love but comes to regret it in this offbeat comedy from Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki. Koiskinen (Janne Hyytiainen) works as a security guard at a shopping mall in Helsinki, where he keeps an eye on the place after hours. Koiskinen is a quiet nebbish who doesn’t have much luck with women, and the closest thing he has to a girlfriend is Aila (Maria Heiskanen), a woman who runs a sausage cart Koiskinen frequents after work, though he doesn’t realize she carries a torch for him. Koiskinen is killing time in a shabby café when he meets Mirja (Maria Jarvenhelmi), a beautiful blonde who appears to be interested in him. Koiskinen is immediately smitten and is willing to marry her even before they have their first date, but what he doesn’t know is Mirja’s interest in him is not sincere — she’s working with Lindholm (Ilkka Koivula), a career criminal who has hired her to get some security codes from Koiskinen so they can stage a heist at the mall where he works. However, even after Koiskinen is betrayed by Mirja and becomes the leading suspect in the robbery, he still loves her and can’t bring himself to tell the police what he’s learned about her. Laitakaupungin Valot (aka Lights In The Dusk) received its world premier at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. Continue reading