Finland

Jack Witikka – Aila – Pohjolan tytär AKA Arctic Fury (1951)

A precursor of sorts to The White Reindeer (1952), featuring the same female lead, Mirjami Kuosmanen, and the same cinematographer, Erik Blomberg, who was Kuosmanen’s husband and went on to direct as well as shoot the later film. Disappointment in this film was one of the reasons that led Blomberg and Kuosmanen to make The White Reindeer as an independent production. The film’s nominal producer was Michael Powell, but in fact the production was supervised by John Seabourne (for some reason billed “Jussi” Seabourne in the opening credits), a close friend of Powell’s and the editor of many of the Powell & Pressburger classics of the 1940s. Read More »

Mika Kaurismäki – Cha Cha Cha (1989)

Quote:
A lawyer pays a visit to Matti Ojanperä (Matti Pellonpää), a bum living under a bridge in the Helsinki harbour, to inform him that he is about to inherit an American aunt of his. The sum 1,000,000 Fmk would be his, if only he meets the qualifications set by his aunt.

He must show that he is capable of ‘living properly’ and possessing a ‘respectable occupation and a family he can support’. Otherwise the money would go to a foundation the chairman of which the lawyer himself happens to be! Read More »

Peter von Bagh – Helsinki, ikuisesti AKA Helsinki, Forever (2008)

Probably writer-director Peter von Bagh’s masterpiece in the documentary genre, a personal love letter to the city of Helsinki as it once was and as it might have been, taking the form of a collage of film clips, photographs, paintings, song and music fragments, quotations from Finnish writers and von Bagh’s own musings, read by himself and the actors Erja Manto and Sulevi Peltola. A real treat, not to be missed by any fan of Finnish cinema or the “city symphony” genre. Read More »

Carl von Haartman – Korkein voitto AKA The Highest Prize (1929)

Ferdinand von Galitzien’s review from the IMDb:
The Baron Henrik von Hagen is an idle Finn bourgeois (as you can see, decadent people are all over the world…); after eleven years, he meets again an old acquaintance, Madame Vasilyevna, a foreigner who during her youthful days was a ballet dancer while Herr Baron was her faithful cavalier. Once they are reunited again in Helsinki, Herr Baron discovers that Madame Vasilyevna earns her living with a new hobby: she likes very much painting frozen Finn landscapes but especially the ones around military bases. Read More »

Erik Blomberg – Valkoinen peura AKA The White Reindeer (1952)

Blending the vampire and werewolf mythology into a fascinatingly unique and inspired synthesis which also adds elements from pre-Christian folklore, filmmaker Erik Blomberg’s simple, lyrical parable about how all actions have consequences has the immediacy, intimacy and potency of an eloquently spun scary campfire yarn. Skillfully directed, produced, edited, co-written and shot in gorgeous monochromatic black and white by Blomberg, who began photographing movies back in the 30’s and made only four other films before spending the rest of his career doing documentaries for television, this plainly done and elegantly understated debut feature benefits greatly from not only its powerfully direct and unpretentious story, but also from its highly unusual and intriguing period setting. Read More »

Mika Kaurismäki – Rosso [+Extra] (1985)

Plot Synopsis from AllMovie
This well-paced farce sends up intellectual thrillers as hitman Rosso (the handsomeKari Vaananen, also co-scripter) is assigned the job of eliminating a certain Finnish woman who coincidentally was once his summer love. The reluctant gangster heads north from Sicily and ultimately lands in the remote Finnish countryside looking for his target, Maria (Leena Harjupatana). Rosso and Maria’s brother take off in an old car to find her, and along the way they also manage any number of robberies and quick getaways. Their pursuers are bumped off to the sounds of rousing music and a quote here and there from Dante, who else? While Dante’s comedy was divine, this is good earth-bound fun. Read More »

Mika Kaurismäki – Paperitähti AKA Paper Star (1989)

Synopsis:
Anna, a former top model, is relegated to second-rate modeling jobs. Her lover, Ulf, a drug dealer and pimp, leaves her to settle in Stockholm. Anna gets involved with Ilja, a middle-aged fashion photographer who treats her badly and violently. The police arrest Anna and hold her in custody for a fortnight. After she is released from the prison, Ilja continues his disgusting behaviour towards her. Supported only by Taukka, a young biker with a good heart, Anna leaves for Stockholm to rejoin with Ulf. After a fatal shooting incident in the beautiful Gamla Stan, the old town district of Stockholm, Anna meets up with Taukka who has been released from the prison and together they ride towards a better future on Taukka’s gleaming bike. Read More »