Risto Jarva – Työmiehen päiväkirja aka The Diary of a Worker (1967)

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Following passages selectively translated from Risto Jarva Society’s website:

Risto Jarva was a central director in the Finnish New Wave. His career is one of the most extensive and important in the history of Finnish cinema, even though he died in a car accident at the age of 43.

Risto Jarva was a humanist and an engineer within one person. The focus of his work is on the human between society and nature. In his feature films and short documentaries he mapped dominant and alternative ways of life, without forgetting neither history nor the future. That’s why his movies are both subjective and objective evidence of the way Finland was in the years 1962-1977. Continue reading

Virpi Suutari – Eleganssi AKA Elegance (2016)

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Elegance is a short film about a group of Finnish men, and the style and elegance of hunting partridge and pheasant. The film’s protagonists are all wealthy men, for whom hunting is a treasured hobby, a passion and a way of life. The film unfolds in three acts on a scenic autumnal field. Meet the three businessmen: Nokia’s former CEO, Jorma Ollila, engineering company Kone Oy’s owner, Antti Herlin, and the charming narrator, Publishing Company Otava’s former CEO, Heikki A. Reenpää. His narration leads the viewer through hunting expeditions, creates the mood and introduces the people. Almost equally important are the gentlemens’ dogs: handsome pointers and setters, whose pedigrees, abilities and hunting prowess ultimately determine whether any birds are caught at all. Continue reading

Mika Kaurismäki – The Girl King (2015)

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An enigmatic young woman in conflict – torn between reason and passion; between her woman’s body and being raised as a prince; between the ancient and modern worlds and between the brilliance of her educated mind and the conservative forces around her. Crowned Queen at the age of six, Kristina of Sweden was thrust into a labyrinth of power and tradition, where a court of austere, Lutheran men pressure her to marry and produce an heir to fulfill her destiny. She finds sanctuary and love with her lady-in-waiting, the beautiful and elegant, countess Ebba Sparre, although the Chancellor, Axel Oxenstierna, pressures her to pair with his son, Johan. Soon the forces around the Queen realize that Ebba is the key to controlling her, but they underestimate Kristina’s brilliant mind and her drive to be free. Continue reading

Aki Kaurismäki – Varjoja paratiisissa aka Shadows In Paradise (1986)

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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

Rauni Mollberg – Maa on syntinen laulu AKA The Earth is a Sinful Song (1973)

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“The Earth Is a Sinful Song” is the somewhat misleadingly lyrical title of this film. It is based on a novel set in Finnish Lapland in 1947-48 and concerns itself, in unusually intimate detail, with the lives of the inhabitants of a small, rustic community, and with particular emphasis on one family—an old man, his unhappy son, haggard daughter-in-law and teen-age granddaughter.

One is tempted to call these lives harsh and brutal. But that would be an urban judgment, passed upon people who exist so close to nature that the appearance of an automobile about midway through the film jars a viewer. No, these lives are simply different, stripped almost bare of what we like to call the amenities of civilization. They have no luxuries. Hardship is omnipresent. Death comes among them frequently, taking people and animals. Pleasures are simple—an outdoor dance (where a drifter is killed); drink; religion; the sauna; and sex, indulged in and depicted with a minimum of fuss.

The seasons pass. Lives change. People grow up, grow older, die, are killed, are born. The cycle is ancient and eternal; the landscape is literal paradise and figurative hell. — (The New York Times). Continue reading

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