When her sister is mugged and raped, Oili, a young female forensic dentist, meets a group of abused women who have taken matters to their own hands to make the living in fear and just letting it happen stop.
In Aki Kaurismäki’s drolly existential crime drama, a coal miner named Taisto (Turo Pajala) attempts to leave behind a provincial life of inertia and economic despair, only to get into ever deeper trouble. Yet a minor-key romance with a hilariously dispassionate meter maid (Susanna Haavisto) might provide a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Ariel, which boasts a terrific soundtrack of Finnish tango and Baltic pop music and lovely cinematography by Kaurismäki’s longtime cameraman Timo Salmimen, put its director on the international map. Continue reading
The roughly beautiful Hilton! gives the viewer a glimpse of life in a modern society, a life that young persons lead. Janne, Toni, Mira, Pete and Make live in a tenement owned by a youth foundation. Their attempts to take control over their own lives have been in vain. Toni says that it is gruesome to see oneself as socially excluded, but apparently he is just that. Despite of these facts, the group sticks together. Make, the father figure, has his freezer full of food: nobody has to leave his place hungry.
Life gives each one a quantum of care, and the main characters find a little something to lean on in the world. Make cleans his apartment and by doing so, he also cleans the mess that his life has turned into. A baby girl Luna is born and fills her young mother with love. Hope lives in the heart of the tenement and its inhabitants. Continue reading
Pussikaljaelokuva shows us a, particularly trying, day in the life of three marginalized young men: Marsalkka (Jussi Nikkilä), Henninen (Eero Milonoff) and Lihis (Ylermi Rajamaa). They are just out to enjoy a nice summer’s day with the intention of playing yahtzee, but things don’t quite go their way. They have their run-ins with a recently deceased neighbor, uninterested under aged girls and the police. Being chronically broke, they even manage to flub a courtesy visit with the intention of loaning some drinking assets. Even their attempts at leaving Kallio prove utterly futile.
Kallio, a district of Helsinki, is the main setting of the film, and some would argue the film is a contemporary love letter to it. Finnish critics have especially praised the film’s loving depiction of Kallio.
Pussikaljaelokuva is a comedy with nary a plot, driven by characters and dialogue… And the power of friendship. Continue reading
Fuck Off!! – Images of Finland (1970) was a documentary which focused on people living on the margins of the society, poor, and politically active workers.
Eighteen-year-old Juri spends his days absorbed in his computer gaming world, to the exclusion of school, friends, and his exasperated girlfriend. One night his Internet ally “Modred,” actually another student named Niki, turns up at his door, fearing for his life. Niki is caught in the grasp of a mysterious new online game, and Juri, warned of the dangers but with nothing to lose, eagerly follows him down the rabbit hole. Initially unimpressed with a game that seems to be nothing but a series of banal tasks, Juri soon finds himself immersed in an all-consuming race against the clock for his very life. Continue reading
Mikko Niskanen’s famous new wave film about the ’60s urban intellectuals who get faced in the Finnish countryside with loads of beer.
Review via Siffblog (Land of the Midnight Sauna: Part One, by Kathy Fennessy):
In regarding the Finnish New Wave, it’s tempting to look for antecedents to Aki Kaurismäki’s pitch-black comic style. On the basis of Mikko Niskanen’s Skin, Skin (1966) and Eight Deadly Shots (1972), however—I’ve also seen Jörn Donner’s Sixtynine 69 and Anna—Kaurismäki’s miserablist masterworks, like Drifting Clouds (1996) and The Man Without a Past (2002), seem more idiosyncratic than ever.
To be sure, humor abounds in Skin to Skin, AKA Skin, Skin, but it isn’t brushed with blackness, while Eight Deadly Shots is downright Bressonian in its tragic trajectory; humor isn’t part of the equation at all. Only six years separate the two, but they couldn’t have less in common, and feel like the products of separate sensibilities. (The NWFF will also be screening Niskanen’s Song of the Scarlet Flower from 1971.) Continue reading