Finland

Aki Kaurismäki & Mika Kaurismäki – Saimaa-ilmiö AKA The Saimaa Gesture (1981)

from cinematik
Saimaa-ilmiö is probably the first properly made rock film made in Finland. Such basics as including the songs in their entirety, shooting with multiple cameras, reducing interviews to a minimum and using them to express the atmosphere, not as compulsory fillers-in, were unheard of in Finland at the time. Concentrating on the music, not everything around it, Saimaa-ilmiö captures much of the leisurely feel of the lake tour. Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – Juha (1999)

Quote:
When I heard that Aki Kaurismaki was making a silent black-and-white feature, I expected something arch and postmodernist. Yet in spite of a few flashes of mordant humor, some wonderfully spare sound effects, and a few minimalist lighting schemes that suggest 50s Hollywood, this 1999 film is a moving pastiche whose strength is its sincerity and authenticity. A fallen-woman story set in the present, featuring a farm couple and an evil playboy from the city who lures the wife away, it conveys the sort of purity and innocence associated with silent cinema storytelling, including a love of nature and animals, a taste for stark melodrama, and an emotional directness in the acting–evocative at various times of Griffith in the teens and Murnau in the 20s. Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – Mies vailla menneisyyttä AKA The Man Without a Past (2002)

Quote:
The second part of Aki Kaurismäki’s “Finland” trilogy, the film follows a man who arrives in Helsinki and gets beaten up so severely he develops amnesia. Unable to remember his name or anything from his past life, he cannot get a job or an apartment, so he starts living on the outskirts of the city and slowly starts putting his life back on track. Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – Kauas pilvet karkaavat AKA Drifting Clouds (1996)

Synopsis:
A married couple struggles with the repercussions of unexpected unemployment in this wry comedy drama from Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki. Ilona, the wife, works as restaurant hostess and her husband Lauri drives a tram. Though the couple has recently lost a child, they both seem at peace and happy. One night Ilona comes home and finds that Lauri has purchased a beautiful television on credit. Shortly thereafter disaster strikes when Ilona’s workplace closes and Lauri gets caught in a maelstrom of downsizing. Neither is able to find suitable work right away and as time crawls by, they become humiliated and testy with each other. Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)

Quote:
In this Finnish comedy, which features all-English dialogue and nary a Scandanavian in it, Henri Boulanger (Jean-Pierre Leaud), is a colorless English civil servant, who was given a speedy retirement when his agency was “privatized,” complete with a gold watch. His life is so barren that removing even the empty activities of his job makes it not worth living, so he attempts suicide by sticking his head in a gas oven – just as a gas service strike gets underway. Frustrated, he takes his savings from the bank and heads off to hire a contract killer to take his life from him. Then he really begins to enjoy life – so much so, that now he wants to avoid his imminent demise. —Clarke Fountain, Rovi Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – Ariel (1988)

Quote:
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. Read More »

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

Quote:
In Goran Dukic’s Wristcutters: A Love Story, limbo is imagined as a place where no one ever smiles, where furnishings and cars all seem second-hand, where the colours are all drab and faded. “Everything’s the same here,” as one character puts it, “but it’s just a little worse.” Read More »