Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fluxus Anthology

FLUXFILM N:O 1–31 and 36–37 Print: Light Cone, 16mm, 100 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 March 2008.
Fluxfilm n:o 1: Zen for Film D: Nam June Paik, 1962-1964, 7 min 16 mm b&w silent - white screen
Fluxfilm n:o 2: Invocation of Canyons and Boulders D: Dick Higgins, 1966 1 min 16 mm colour silent - the devouring mouth
Fluxfilm n:o 3: End After 9 D: George Maciunas, 1966 1 min 20 sec 16 mm b&w silent - just the title
Fluxfilm n:o 4: Disappearing Music for Face D: Chieko Shiomi, 1966 10 min 16 mm b&w silent - mouth
Fluxfilm n:o 5: Blink D: John Cavanaugh, 1966 2 min 30 sec 16 mm b&w silent - flicker
Fluxfilm n:o 6: 9 Minutes D: James Riddle, 1966 9 min 16 mm b&w silent - seconds numbered
Fluxfilm n:o 7: 10 Feet
D: George Maciunas, 1966 0 min 28 sec 16 mm b&w silent - counter
Fluxfilm n:o 8: 1000 Frames D: George Maciunas, 1966 0 min 42 sec 16 mm b&w silent - counter
Fluxfilm n:o 9: Eye Blink D: Yoko Ono, 1966 1 min 16 mm b&w silent - slow motion of opening eye
Fluxfilm n:o 10: Entrance to Exit D: George Brecht, 1966 6 min 30 sec 16 mm b&w opt - from light entrance to dark exit sign
Fluxfilm n:o 11: Trace n:o 22 D: Robert Watts, 1966 1 min 15 sec 16 mm b&w silent - Marilyn, thighs, mons pubis
Fluxfilm n:o 12: Trace n:o 23 D: Robert Watts, 1966 3 min 16 mm b&w silent - road marks, mons pubis, penis ersatz, bare breasts
Fluxfilm n:o 13: Trace n:o 24 D: Robert Watts, 1966 1 min 19 sec 16 mm b&w silent - X-ray of talking and eating head
Fluxfilm n:o 14: One D: Yoko Ono, 1966 4 min 30 sec 16 mm b&w silent - extreme slow motion of lighting a match
Fluxfilm n:o 15: Eye Blink D: Yoko Ono, 1966 1 min 16 mm b&w silent - fast eye blink
Fluxfilm n:o 16: Four D: Yoko Ono, 1966 5 min 30 sec 16 mm b&w silent - four-split screen of bare buttocks (back and thighs)
Fluxfilm n:o 17: Five O'Clock in the Morning D: Pieter Vanderbek, 1966 4 min30 sec 16 mm b&w silent - slomo - pebbles on white
Fluxfilm n:o 18: Smoking D: Joe Jones, 1966 6 min 16 mm b&w silent - extreme slow motion
Fluxfilm n:o 19: Opus 74, Version 2 D: Eric Andersen, 1966 1 min 20 sec 16 mm colour silent - overlong director credit
Fluxfilm n:o 20: Artype D: George Maciunas, 1966 4 min 20 sec 16 mm b&w silent - flicker film of a circle pattern *
Fluxfilm n:o 22: Shout D: Jeff Perkins, 1966 2 min 30 sec 16 mm b&w silent - the word "Shout" expands, DP: Y. Ono, a silent on shouting
Fluxfilm n:o 23: Sun in Your Head D: Wolf Vostell, 1966 6 min 16 mm b&w silent - flicker grid - "television decollage", early video art
Fluxfilm n:o 24: Readymade D: Albert Fine, 1966 0 min 45 sec 16 mm colour silent - abstract colour *
Fluxfilm n:o 25: The Evil Faerie D: George Landow, 1966 3 min 16 mm b&w silent - clown expression
Fluxfilm n:o 26: Sears Catalogue 1-3 D: Paul Sharits, 1965 0 min 28 sec 16 mm - the catalogue page by page by frame
Fluxfilm n:o 27: Dots 1 & 3 D: Paul Sharits, 1965 0 min 35 sec 16 mm
Fluxfilm n:o 28: Wrist Trick & Unrolling Event D: Paul Sharits, 1966 2 min 30 sec 16 mm b&w silent
Fluxfilm n:o 29: Word Movie D: Paul Sharits, 1966 4 min 16 mm colour optical - ultra fast words
Fluxfilm n:o 30: Dance D: Albert Fine, 1966 2 min 16 mm b&w silent - spastic shadow boxing
Fluxfilm n:o 31: Police Car D: John Cale, 1966 1 min 16 mm colour silent - a beacon in the night
Fluxfilm n:o 36 D: Peter Kennedy, Mike Parr, 1970 2 min 30 sec 16 mm b&w opt - the tips of the shoes
Fluxfilm n:o 37 D: Peter Kennedy, Mike Parr, 1970 2 min 16 mm b&w silent - cells added, until image gets dark
According to Light Cone the most complete version of Fluxus Anthology, five films missing: Fluxfilm n:o 21: Babyfootage (Alyson Knowles), Fluxfilm n:o 32: Intermission (Milan Knizak), Fluxfilm n:o 33: Indeterminate Movie (Milan Knizak), Fluxfilm n:o 34: Rainbow Movie (Ay-O), Fluxfilm N.o 35: Moon Landing (Geoffrey Hendricks). - Basic experiments in perception, provocations of the cinema experience, back to zero, films that are non-films, Being and Nothingness. - Moment s of beauty and humour (Yoko Ono), sex (Robert Watts) and great flicker (George Maciunas, Albert Fine).

The Queen of Sheba Meets the Atom Man

US 1963. P+D+SC: Ron Rice. Starring: Winifred Bryan (The Queen of Sheba), Taylor Mead (The Atom Man), Jack Smith. Unfinished. 16mm, b&w, sepmag sound. This version 87 min, the sound of the separate magnetic tapes played back from cd, no credit titles. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 March 2008. Of all the New American Cinema Revisited films in the programme this film had the technically best sound, thanks to the magnetic tape, the playlist including in playing order: The Kinks: "Sunny Afternoon"; Nina Simone: "Tomorrow Is My Turn"; Nina Simone: "Ne me quitte pas"; The Beatles: "Eleanor Rigby"; The Kinks: "I'm Not Like Everybody Else"; The Kinks: "When I See That Girl Of Mine"; The Beatles: "Yellow Submarine"; John Coltrane: "Greensleeves"; Nina Simone: "Take Care Of Business"; Nina Simone: "I Put A Spell On You"; Nina Simone: "You've Got To Learn"; The Rolling Stones: "Satisfaction"; Nina Simone: "One September Day"; Nina Simone: "Gimme Some"; The Kinks: "Sunny Afternoon"; Cilla Black: "Anyone Who Had A Heart"; The Kinks: "I'm Not Like Everybody Else"; The Kinks: "When I See That Girl Of Mine". Plus great jazz, protest jazz, such as: Bobby Timmons: "This Here", "Dat Dere"; John Coltrane: "Africa/Brass"; Eric Dolphy; Charlie Mingus: "Fables for Faubus"; Archie Shepp; Miles Davis (thanks to Sisko Ramsay and J.O. Mallander for the jazz identification). Because of the presence of the 1965 Nina Simone album I Put A Spell On You and the 1966 Beatles songs one can tell that this soundtrack version has been compiled after the death of Ron Rice (1935-1964). - Taylor Mead appears as a deeply disturbed alien comic personality, something like Charlie Chaplin on acid. Winifred Bryan plays an alcoholic odalisque, way beyond the Bessie Smith stage, desolately abandoning any sense of dignity in her nudity and sexual display. - This film still has shock value, and it also makes the viewer uneasy as one would like to know if the performers were in a presence of mind to give their consent to be displayed this way.

Dog Star Man

US 1961-1964. D: Stan Brakhage. 16mm, colour, silent, 51 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 March 2008. PART 1. The accelerated motion of the clouds over Colorado. Planets, fog, clouds, the forest, water, snow, crystals, the corona, man and dog climbing the mountain slope, Sisyphus. PART 2. Abstract flashes, a baby, broken images, crystals, red lava. PART 3. Double exposure, a pregnant woman, the reality of the flesh. PART 4. The distorting lens, strong movement, a mosaic of the Madonna, outbursts of the Sun, giving birth, milk from the nipple, the clouds, shooting stars.

Prelude: Dog Star Man

US 1961. D: Stan Brakhage. 16mm, colour, silent, 25 min. Print: LUX (colour ok). Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 March 2008. Primal nebula, moving light, traffic, skin, clouds, colour, etching, fur, eclipse, snow, painting, water, nude woman, snowy landscape, clouds pass the moon, the corona, the mountains of Boulder, Colorado.

Scenes from Under Childhood #1

US 1967-1970. D: Stan Brakhage. 16mm, colour, silent, 25 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 March 2008. The discovery of colours: red, black, blue. The constitution of vision.

Anticipation of the Night

US 1958. D: Stan Brakhage. 16mm, colour, silent, sources give 43 min, this print 40 min. Print: LUX, colour fading. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 30 March 2008. The atavistic expectation of the night, the child's furtive look, constituting the look, traffic, fairground, trees without foliage.

Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome

US 1954. D: Kenneth Anger. 1966: The Sacred Mushroom Edition, M: Janacek: The Glagolithic Mass. 37 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Saw the beginning only this time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Time of the Locust

US (c) 1966. D: Peter Gessner. Sources: US, VN, JP news footage. M: Nancy Sinatra: "These Boots Are Made For Walking". 16mm, b&w, sound, 12 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. The title refers to napalm. Images of napalm devastation, torture and oppression in the Vietnam War.

Georgia

US 1966. D: Gordon Ball. 16mm, silent, colour, 3 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Dancing woman, rapid montage, vitality.

Melting

US 1965. D: Thom Anderson. 16mm, sound (organ music), colour, 6 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Strawberry ice-cream melts.

Space

US 1965. D: Andy Warhol. SC: Ronald Tavel. Starring Edie Sedgwick, Eric Anderson, Ed Hennessey, Dorothy Dean, Norman Levine. 16mm, b&w, sound, 67 min. Print: MoMA (Distribution). Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Forbidden montage is the Andy Warhol principle, but this time the camera is moving all the time. Eight people in the same space, linked by singer-guitarplayer Eric Anderson and dazzled by Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick (1943-1971) in love with her mirror image. Reality cinema.

Bridges-Go-Round

US (c) 1958 Shirley Clarke. 16mm, sound, colour, 4 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. A brilliant urban vision, strong colour, stylized music.

Match Girl

US (c) 1966 Andrew Meyer. M: The Rolling Stones: "Play With Fire", "As Tears Go By", "Get Off Of My Cloud", Martha & The Vandellas: "Nobody'll Care", "Nowhere To Run", Featuring Vivian Ruiz, Gerard Malanga, Andy Warhol. Toned and tinted. 16mm, 26 min. Fine print from MoMA (archive). Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Inspired by Andersen and Renoir, with references to Marilyn Monroe (Warhol, Don't Bother to Knock) and Kim Novak (Vertigo) the film follows some premises of the fairy-tale, the lonely girl in New York, in the Factory, collapsing in the street, but rescued and maybe becoming somebody in Europe.

Oh Dem Watermelons

US 1965. D: Robert Nelson. M: Steve Reich - Stephen Foster (1826-1864) song montage. 16mm, colour, sound, 12 min. Print: Österreichisches Filmmuseum. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Absurd social commentary of U.S. racial attitudes in the 1960s. Watermelons as comic bombs: cosmic, sexual, scatological, political. Steve Reich deconstructs the Stephen Foster blackface minstrel culture, starting with an early-cinema sing-a-long bouncing ball for lyrics. (There is no Stephen Foster song with the title of this film.)

Notes on the Circus

US (c) 1966 Jonas Mekas. [from Diaries, Notes and Sketches]. 16mm, sound, Ektachrome colour, 12 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Extremely fast montage on three-ring-circus motifs, dedicated to Kenneth Anger.

A Matter of Baobab

US 1967. D: Pola Chapelle. Music: The Beatles: "Fool On The Hill". 16mm, colour+b&w, sound, 3 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. With Jonas Mekas, Louis Brigante, Storm De Hirsch, Pola Chapelle, Adolfas Mekas.

Little Stabs at Happiness

US 1963. D: Ken Jacobs. Starring Jack Smith. 16mm, colour, 18 min announced, this worn print 14 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Crazy, playful, childish, lazy, funny music. Happy birds.

Panels for the Walls of the World

US 1965. D: Stan Vanderbeek. Video: Lou Leger. Video>16mm, b&w, 9 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. An Electric Assemblage by Stan Vanderbeek. An early experimental video, released on 16mm film. Crazy collage about the apocalypse, the end of the American Empire, with lunatic contests and images of disaster, split screen effects.

Skullduggery

US 1963. D: Stan Vanderbeek. 16mm, 5 min. Crazy collage animation on the world tyrants and leaders, not so far from Terry Gilliam.

Castro Street

US 1966. D: Bruce Baillie. 16mm, colour, sound, 10 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. A brilliant print of Baillie's industrial montage film with a rare insight in the use of the superimposition. The industrial views grow into a fascinating abstract vision.

Relativity

US 1966. D: Ed Emshwiller. Starring Ralph Ashby, Nancy Griffith. Funded by the Ford Foundation. 16mm, colour, sound, 38 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. A cosmic vision with some kinship to the Eames' Powers of Ten. Gorgeous print of a highly professional, gorgeously shot (originally 35mm?) film with elaborate penetrating forward tracking shots, visions of cavemen, shock images of butchers, voluptuous shots of the nude woman.

Songs 23-36

US 1967. D: Stan Brakhage. 16mm, colour, silent. Announced at 110 min, 76 min. New (2008) LUX print 77 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 March 2008. Great new 16mm print of the films originally shot on 8mm. Song 23 Part I: this is a strong commentary on war, inspired by the Vietnam war, visions of death, carnage, disaster, found footage. Paolo Cherchi Usai is following on the track of Song 23 Part I in his Passio. Song 23 Part II: Peter Kubelka's Vienna (with Kubelka on the flute), other sections include very dark images, bordering on the invisible, and then rewarded by some delicious Brakhage abstract image food (the fascinating mordants). Song 24: naked boy at the flute. Song 25: the birth of the image. Song 26: the road at night, the devastation of war, the silence of the nature. - The Songs cycle is a very uneven sketchbook linking the sublime with the monotonous.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Report from Millbrook

Report from Millbrook (from Diaries, Notes and Sketches). US 1966. D: Jonas Mekas. 16mm, 11 min. An oblique dokumentary about the LSD group experiments of Timothy Leary, with offscreen commentary of a participant and shots of Leary's house and the surroundings.

Hare Krishna

Hare Krishna (from Diaries, Notes and Sketches). US 1966. D: Jonas Mekas. 16mm, colour, 4 min. An experimental documentary based on rapid montage on a Hippie demonstration without protest. Make Love Not War.

Peyote Queen

US 1965. D: Storm de Hirsch. 16mm, sound, colour, 9 min. Print: LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 28 March 2008. A beautiful print, fine abstract animation directly on film, in the tradition of McLaren and Lye. Great.

Bardo Follies

Diploteratology or Bardo Follies. US 1967. D: Owen Land (formerly George Landow). 16mm, silent, colour, duration according to sources 45 min or 20+7 min. This LUX print 20 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 28 March 2008. Structural film: a shot of a woman waving at tourists at an amusement park is melted, and the melting process viewed until it looks like a journey into the cellular structure of life, or a cosmic journey into space. About the organic nature of film, and life, and death.

Duo Concertantes

US 1964. D: Larry Jordan. 16mm, b&w, sound, 9 min. Print: LUX. A collage of found images, a surrealistic dream world built on steel engravings. Very beautifully made. The music sounds like an andante by Mozart.

Looking for Mushrooms

US 1965. D: Bruce Conner. (There is also a sound version of 3 min). Silent version 14 min. Gorgeous colour, visions of Mexico, time lapse, strong colour, hallucinatory, the forest, the sky, the sun, kinetic light, round figures, a movement towards abstraction, towards the rhythmic.

A Movie

US 1961. D: Bruce Conner. 16mm, 12 min. Fun pop collage breaks all rules and is still an audience-
pleaser.

Songs 1-22

US 1966. D: Stan Brakhage. 16mm, colour, silent, announced duration 107 min, actually 96 min. New print (2008) from LUX. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 28 March 2008. Brakhage's sketchbook originally shot on 8mm, now seen in a brand new 16mm print. The elements, fire, woman, children, giving birth, the butterfly, San Francisco, the sea creatures, insects, rain, lines, etchings, mordants, horizons, portraits, religion, dance, etching on film creating abstract expressionism in motion.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Himself as Herself

US 1967. D: Gregory Markopoulos. Inspired by the novel Séraphita (1835) by Balzac. 16mm, colour, sound, 55 min. Brilliant print from Robert Beavers. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 March 2008. Psychodrama in strong colour about the drama of the hermaphrodite. I watched the beginning only.

Flaming Creatures

US 1962-63, D+DP: Jack Smith. M: Tony Conrad. With: Francis Francine (self), Sheila Bick (Delicious Dolores), Joel Markman (Our Lady of the Docks), Mario Montez (The Spanish Girl), Arnold Rockwood (Arnold), Judith Malina (The Fascinating Woman), Marian Zazeela (Maria Zazeela). 60 min, 45 min, 43 min announced durations, this print 43 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 March 2008. Infamous, scandalous, transgressive film, shot without professionalism with a wildly varying definition of light, often with very low contrast, with infantile orgies, regressive escapist music, "Amapola", Maria Montez scores, syrupy Indian ballads. This time I checked the start and the ending only.

Winter, 64-6

US 1967. D: David Brooks. 16mm, colour, sound, 25 min announced, actually 17 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 March 2008.
David Brooks:
"Door golden night room trees fire drip rain blue horse river snow birds green mountain forest dark room mist car trees window ducks are flying.
Overtones: Raga Palas Kafi, Grant's, Slug's, Bo Diddley, Jimmy Reed, Raga Rageshri, the wind, Chuck Berry, Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, Platnisky Chorus.
Locales: Nantucket, Kazakhstan, Grant's, Nepal, Colorado, Mt. Kearsarge, lowa, 7th Street."
Lyrical experimental film.

Chumlum

US 1964. D: Ron Rice. M: Angus McLise. Sound: Tony Conrad. With: Jack Smith, Beverly Grant, Mario Montez, Joel Markman, Francis Francine, Guy Henson, Bary Titus, Gerard Malanga. 16mm, colour, sound, 25 min, 28 min announced, actually 22 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 March 2008. Fine print of an exciting film from the New York transsexual scene, the dream mode reminiscent of Maya Deren.

Senseless

US 1962. D: Ron Rice. M: Bartok. 16 mm, b&w, sound, 28 min announced, actually 24 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 March 2008. An anti-war avantgarde film, a crazy journey to Utopia, to Mexico, with sitar music, bullfights, smoking pot, visiting the graveyeard, Jesus was a beatnik.

ROBERT BREER

Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 March 2008. 16mm (original format) prints from LUX.
ROBERT BREER REEL 1
Form Phases 1. US 1952. silent, b&w+hand-colored. Basic abstract animation
Form Phases 2. US 1952. silent, Kodachrome, abstract animation, 1+2 total 5 min
Motion Pictures. US 1956. silent, colour, 4 min. Colour patterns
Image by Images. US 1959. b&w, sound, 2 min. Simple abstractions
Récreation. US 1957. Sound: Noël Burch. In French. Kodachrome, sound, 2 min. Image bombardment
ROBERT BREER REEL 2
Fistfight. US 1964. Music: Stockhausen. Colour, sound, 11 min. Frame-by-frame collage
Un miracle. US 1954. & Pontus Hulten. Kodachrome, sound, 1 min. Gag on Pope Pius XII.
Jamestown Baloos. US 1957. b&w+colour, sound and silent, 6 min. Crescendo with water-colour, with drums
Blazes. US 1961. Sound, colour, 4 min. A visual explosion
ROBERT BREER REEL 3
Horse Over Tea Kettle. US 1962. Sound, colour, 6 min (the film was interrupted, not broken, four times, because of the condition of the print). Humoristic cartoon
Breathing. US 1963. Colour, sound, 6 min. Simple moving lines
Untitled, probably: A Man and His Dog Out for Air. US 1958. 3 min, abstract patterns
Homage to Jean Tinguely's Homage to New York. US 1968. Sound, b&w, 12 min. In French, includes live documentary footage on the mounting of the installation
Pat's Birthday. US 1962. B&w, 14 min. Live footage of a summer party.
Total duration of the show 74 min

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Harlot

US 1964. D: Andy Warhol. SC: Ronald Tavel. With: Mario Montez, Gerard Malanga, Philip Fagan, Carol Koshinskie. 16mm, bw, sound, 67 min. Print from MoMA. Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 26 March 2008. A single shot by an immobile camera on two couch potatoes (Montez, Koshinskie) and two men behind the sofa (Malanga, Fagan). The action: Montez eats bananas, Koshinskie holds a white pussycat, Malanga smokes cigarettes and provides Montez with bananas. Fagan stares at the camera, and Koshinskie also looks in the distance. Ronald Tavel, Billy Name and Harry Fainlight comment on the action and anything on the voiceover track.

Andy Warhol's Silver Flotations

US 1967. D: Willard Maas. 16mm, colour, sound, 5 min. Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 26 March 2008. Andy Warhol's silver pillows dance in the Castelli gallery.

Late Superimpositions

US 1964. D: Harry Smith. Music: Kurt Weill / Bertolt Brecht: Mahagonny. 16mm, colour, sound, 29 min. Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 26 March 2008. Experimental object animation, traffic imagery, cattle farm imagery, Indian dances. Feeble start, gets stronger towards the end.

Heaven and Earth Magic

US 1962. D: Harry Smith. 16mm, b&w, 67 min. Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 26 March 2008. The haunting experimental animated feature based on images cut from old farmers' almanachs etc.

Early Abstractions

Early Abstractions #1-5, 7, 10. US 1939-1957, compiled in 1964. D: Harry Smith. 16mm, colour, silent, 23 min. The Meet The Beatles soundtrack version. Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 26 March 2008. A fascinating anthology of experimental animation, progressing into psychedelia and Indian mythology.

Tung

US 1966. D: Bruce Baillie. 16mm, colour, silent, 5 min. Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 26 March 2008. Sensual, beautiful, in strong colour

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Auf der anderen Seite

Yasamin kiyisinda / Taivaan reunalla / Vid himlens utkant / The Edge of Heaven. DE /TR (c) 2007 Corazón International etc. D+SC: Fatih Akin. DP: Rainer Klausmann - 35mm - digital intermediate - 35mm print. M: Shantel. Starring: Nurgül Yesilçay (Ayten Öztürk or Gül), Baki Davrak (Nejat Aksu), Tuncel Kurtiz (Ali Aksu), Hanna Schygulla (Susanne Staub), Patrycia Ziolkowska (Charlotte 'Lotte' Staub), Nursel Köse (Yeter or Jessy). In German and in Turkish. 122 min. Released in Finland by Future Film, with Finnish and Swedish subtitles by Saliven Gustavsson. Viewed at Maxim 2, Helsinki, 22 March 2008. After the strong breakthrough of Gegen die Wand, an even better film about the German / Turkish clash of civilizations. A plot-driven film, where each turn brings us deeper into the characters, as we keep discovering new aspects of them. A film which is both intelligent and emotional, with characters that range from the brutal to the sensitive. A modern masterpiece worth revisiting and the kind of film one would like to see more. A rich array of locations, but a digital intermediate look, alas. The music is so fine, the announced soundtrack album would probably be worth hearing.
ADDED LATER Plot summary from IMDB: "Nejat seems disapproving about his widower father Ali's choice of prostitute Yeter for a live-in girlfriend. But he grows fond of her when he discovers she sends money home to Turkey for her daughter's university studies. Yeter's sudden death distances father and son. Nejat travels to Istanbul to search for Yeter's daughter Ayten. Political activist Ayten has fled the Turkish police and is already in Germany. She is befriended by a young woman, Lotte, who invites rebellious Ayten to stay in her home, a gesture not particularly pleasing to her conservative mother Susanne. When Ayten is arrested and her asylum plea is denied, she is deported and imprisoned in Turkey. Lotte travels to Turkey,where she gets caught up in the seemingly hopeless situation of freeing Ayten." Written by omayra73@yahoo.com - A fine script full of unexpected turns. Also the character development is original, this is a story of growth, of personal growth, and of growth to understand others that are different. - Shantel's soundtrack is wonderful on the film, but the soundtrack album sounds more monotonous.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Eternal Love

Ikuinen rakkaus / Edelweiss. US (c) 1929 Feature Productions. Originally released by United Artists. EX: Joseph M. Schenck. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Hans Kraly - based on the novel Der König der Bernina (1928) by J.C. Heer. DP: Oliver Marsh. AD+COST: Walter Reimann. ED: Andrew Marton. LOC: the Californian Rockies. Starring: John Barrymore (Marcus), Camilla Horn (Ciglia), Mona Rico (Pia), Victor Varconi (Lorenz). 1981 m / 72 min, released as a silent and as a Movietone version. Print from UCLA, silent version, 73 min (from the only available source, a dupe at the Mary Pickford collection). (The Movietone version is available on the Milestone / Image Entertainment dvd.) Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 20 March 2008. This rare Lubitsch film I saw for the first time (but Herman G. Weinberg never got to see it!). Lubitsch himself considered it a failure. Jacqueline Nacache criticizes the crudity of desire and the lack of grace in the film. But there is more than that. Lubitsch is clearly inspired and elevated by the location in this last of his mountain films. John Barrymore hams it up somewhat in the leading role as the Alpine hunter in Switzerland during Napoleon's wars. Drew Barrymore's grandfather was the most famous American actor of his age, but he was hardly ever very good in a movie, his projected intensity perfect for a big live audience but not for the intimacy of the movie camera. Yes, Marcus is a crude and elemental guy, but Ciglia, the priest's niece, sees in him a diamond in the rough, and Marcus loves her for that. Marcus loves the sublime in Ciglia, and Ciglia is excited by the virility of Marcus. But Marcus gets drunk in the carneval and insults Ciglia with his carnal passes. Pia (the Bergkatze!) sees her chance and sets a trap for Marcus. The film's famous ellipse takes place there: the drunken Marcus looks for Pia. His searching look is conveyed via a long pan. The pan stops at the hanger with Pia's carneval mask. From then on it's the story of two wrong marriages. A Lubitsch touch at Marcus and Pia's wedding: the wedding's bell-ringers turn into a funeral tempo. It ends in tragedy, misunderstanding, persecution, and avalanche. The final images are of the mountains, the snow, the clouds, and the sun. It's a typical Bergfilm, a genre in which Lubitsch had real talent and which he never pursued again. The repeated sound motifs, such as gun shots and ringing bells, inspire a variety of significant reactions in a silent film. An example of the complete assurance of purely visual storytelling of late silent cinema.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg

Ylioppilasprinssi / Vanha Heidelberg / Gamla Heidelberg. US (c) 1928 MGM. PC: Loew's. EX: Irving G. Thalberg. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Hans Kraly - based on the novel Karl Heinrich (1904) and the play Alt-Heidelberg (1903) by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster and the operetta The Student Prince (1924) by Dorothy Donnelly (book) and Sigmund Romberg (music). DP: John Mescall. Starring: Ramon Novarro (Prince Karl Heinrich), Norma Shearer (Käthi), Jean Hersholt (Dr. Jüttner), Gustav von Seyffertitz (King Karl VII). 2905 m /22 fps/ 115 min. Print from Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique: /22 fps/ 112 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 18 March 2008. The popular Belle Epoque love story filmed by Lubitsch with tenderness, Norma Shearer at her best as the Biergarten maid Käthi, Ramon Novarro acceptably nice as the Prince who tries to lead normal student life in Heidelberg in ca 1902. The director's hand is firm in the selected crowd scenes where the prince is presented as a public figure. His satire is seasoned with elegy in the refrain "it must be wonderful to be a king". Seyffertitz is good as the stern old King, Hersholt balances him as Karl's only true friend. Another refrain: Karl always loses the one he loves: his nurse, his teacher, his Käthi. There is a truth of feeling in this story of external glory and inner solitude. The film is visually charming with a lively moving camera, fine judgement in close-ups, overall assurance in the alternation of general views and intimate shots. The rhythmic montage of the denouement emphasises the irony of the story. Not bitter like Stroheim but mellow, yet equally poignant in another unhappy Lubitsch end of a loveless marriage.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Punk - tauti joka ei tapa

Punk - en sjukdom som inte dödar / [Punk - A Disease That Does Not Kill]. FI 2008. PC: Illume. D+SC: Jouko Aaltonen. DP: Marita Hällström - digital intermediate DFF / Finnlab - film print 35mm. Documentary. 96 min. Released by Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland. Part of the lyrics with Finnish subtitles. No Swedish subtitles. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 8, 15 March 2008. A documentary on the Finnish punk phenonmenon: amazingly, Finnish punk is alive and kicking 30 years after it was supposed to be a flash in the pan even among the punk artists, themselves. The Finnish punk scene of now and then is very well represented in interviews and presentations made for this film, with good selections of vintage performances. The film looks like shot on video, alas.
"Suojelusenkeli" (comp.: Pekka Juhani Hannikainen, Lyrics: Immi Hellen); "Kierrän" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Väkivalta päihdeongelma" (Pelle Miljoona, comp. & lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Saukki-sedän lastentunti" (Saukki ja Pikkuoravat, comp.: trad, lyrics: Sauvo Puhtila); "Jee Jee Jee" (Saukki ja Pikkuoravat, comp.: Jaakko Salo, lyrics: Sauvo Puhtila); "Jee Jee" (Eppu Normaali, comp.: Mikko Syrjä, lyrics: Martti Syrjä/Mikko Saarela/Mikko Syrjä); "Uskollinen" (Tabula Rasa, comp.: Heikki Silvennoinen); "Elektroninen xtaasi" (Virtanen, comp. & lyrics: Pertti ”Veltto” Virtanen); "Hide and Seek" (Creepy Crawlie, comp. & lyrics: Marja Kinnunen); "Birth Control" (Creepy Crawlie, comp.: Katja Lipasti, lyrics: Marja Kinnunen); "I Really Hate Ya" (Briard, comp. & lyrics: Andy McCoy/Pete Malmi); "Tartumme aseisiin" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "2006" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Nyt reppu jupiset riimisi rupiset" (Eppu Normaali, comp.: Mikko Syrjä, lyrics: Martti Syrjä); "Kahden soinnun ihme" (Problems?, comp. & lyrics: T.Varonen); "Tahdomme tilaa" (Problems?, comp. & lyrics: T.Varonen); "Ei tää lama päähän käy" (Problems?, comp.: Ari Taskinen, lyrics: T.Varonen); "Punk on typerää" (SE, comp. & lyrics: Jari Knuutinen); "United States of Perverts" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Ahneuden alttarilla" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Leipäjonossa on tunnelmaa" (Pelle Miljoona, comp. & lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Les Femmes Islamiques" (Creepy Crawlie, comp.: Katja Lipasti, lyrics: Marja Kinnunen); "Oman käden oikeus" (Creepy Crawlie, comp. & lyrics: Katja Lipasti); "2000 vuotta kärsimystä ja tuskaa" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Prayer" (Festive & Sacral Comp.); "Fuck the Army" (Briard, comp. & lyrics: Pete Malmi); "Mä vain pogoon" (Pelle Miljoona & N.U.S., comp. & lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Poliisi pamputtaa" (Eppu Normaali, comp. & lyrics: Mikko Syrjä); "Avoin kirje" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Rakastava voima" (Pelle Miljoona & 1980, comp.: Rubberduck Jones, lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Mulla menee lujaa" (Pelle Miljoona & 1980, comp. & lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Tahdon rakastella sinua" (Pelle Miljoona & 1980, comp. & lyrics: Ari Taskinen); "Kytät on natsisikoja" (Kaaos, comp. & lyrics: Kaaos); "Sodan tragedia" (Rattus, comp. & lyrics: Tomi Marjamäki); "Tornion kevät" (Terveet kädet, comp.: Timo Wiik, lyrics: Veli-Matti Äijälä); "Mieletöntä väkivaltaa" (Riistetyt, comp.: Markku Viippo, lyrics: Lasse Aaltonen); "Työläinen" (Kohu-63, comp. & lyrics: Kohu-63); "Herää" (Kohu-63, comp. & lyrics: Kohu-63); "Tämä sukupolvi" (Pelle Miljoona & 1980, comp.: Rubberduck Jones, lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Väliaikainen" (Lama, comp.: Matti Jurva, lyrics: Tatu Pekkarinen); "Testicle Cat" (Creepy Crawlie, comp.: Marja Kinnunen, lyrics: Marika Nevalainen); "Moottoritie on kuuma" (Pelle Miljoona Oy, comp.: Ari Taskinen, lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Anarkisteja" (Sekasorto, comp.: Kai Laaksonen, lyrics: Sekasorto); "Kansanlaulu" (Igni et Ferro, comp. & lyrics: Miikka Järvinen); "Teenage Revolution" (Hanoi Rocks, comp.: Monroe/McCoy, lyrics: McCoy/Monroe); "Kierrän" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Syntyi uudet jumalat" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Maamme-laulu" (comp.: F. Pacius, lyrics: J.L. Runeberg, Finnish translation: P. Cajander); "Matkalla tuntemattomaan" (Pelle Miljoona, comp.: Ari Taskinen, lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Oi Isä Herra" (Akupunktio, comp. & lyrics: Severi Helle); "Nuoret sankarit" (Pelle Miljoona & 1980, comp.: Ari Taskinen, lyrics: Pelle Miljoona); "Leipäjonossa on tunnelmaa" (Pelle Miljoona Unabomber, comp. & lyrics: Pelle Miljoona)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MAX LINDER

Nine films by Max Linder, France 1905-1915, production company: Pathé Frères, prints from Les Archives Francaises du Film / Le Centre Nationale de la Cinématographie. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 11 March 2008. Upright piano: Joonas Raninen. E-subtitles by Lena Talvio.
Première sortie. FR 1905. His first film, as a drunken soldier.
Au music hall. FR 1907. Based on The Mumming Birds, as Chaplin's A Night in the Show (1915).
Les Surprises de l'amour. FR 1909. Father and two sons wooing the same lady.
Trop aimée. FR 1910. Max chased by two jealous dogs.
Les Débutes de Max au cinématographie. FR 1910. A reconstruction of Max meeting Charles Pathé and Louis J. Gasnier.
Entente cordiale. FR 1912. Two rivals in love with the same maid get into duel, apparently killing the seconds.
Max fait de la photographie. FR 1913. Max on the beach wants to photograph a voluptuous lady.
Jockey par amour. FR 1913. Max starts to fast to qualify for the race track.
Le Baromètre de la fidélité. FR 1915. A beautiful print of a comedy with Jane Marnac.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Kurenai no buta / Porco Rosso

Porco Rosso (Finnish theatrical premiere title 7 March 2008) / Punainen sika (Finnish tv title 1995). JP 1992. PC: Studio Ghibli. D: Hayao Miyazaki. Theme song: "Le Temps de cerises". 94 min. Released by Cinema Mondo only in the original version with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Mökkönen / Joanna Erkkilä. Rated 7 in Finland. Viewed at Tennispalatsi 8, Helsinki, 8 March 2008.

The Hayao Miyazaki anime masterpiece gets its Finnish theatrical premiere, having been seen in the country previously only on tv, the home vhs copies having become treasures of the owners. Its colour, sense of adventure and fascination with machines and landscapes resemble Hergé. The story takes place on the Adriatic Sea in 1929. The aviator hero is a bounty hunter who fights air pirates. His head has strangely metamorphosed into that of a pig's. Two strong female chacters: the club singer and the young mechanic wizard. The wonder of flying is based on the freedom from gravity, and Miyazaki has his fun with this freedom.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Rambo

Rambo (FI release title) / Rambo (SE) / John Rambo (the film title in the opening credits). US /DE (c) 2007 Equity Pictures / Medienfonds GmbH. Released in 2008. D: Sylvester Stallone. Based on the character created by David Morrell. DP: Glen MacPherson - shot on 35mm Super 35 DeLuxe - digital intermediate master format - theatrical format 35mm 1:2,35. LOC: Thailand. Starring: Sylvester Stallone (John Rambo), Julie Benz (Sarah). 91 min. Released in Finland by Future Film, Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Saliven Gustavson. Viewed at Tennispalatsi 7, 7 March 2008. "Live for nothing or die for something. What's your call?". I kept thinking about the parody trailer Gandhi II: "he's back", "he's a one man wrecking crew". Rambo tries to prevent Christian missionaries going to Burma to save their brothers in faith, but in the end he has to run to the rescue and kill a whole terror army. Yes, Stallone is 62 years old and looks it, but he can still pull a bloody action picture. There was applause at the end of the picture, and laughter at some of the violence. On his homepage David Morrell tells he got the name Rambo from an apple brand. Rambo / Ramberg is also one of the oldest Swedish-Finnish families that immigrated in the US in the 17th century, the founding father from Hisingen i Göteborg, the mother from Vaasa on the West Coast of Finland (Pohjanmaa).

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Sweeney Todd: Fleet Streetin paholaisparturi / Sweeney Todd (SE). US / GB (c) 2007 DreamWorks / Warner Bros. D: Tim Burton. Based on the musical (1979) by Stephen Sondheim (music and lyrics) and Hugh Wheeler (book). DP: Dariusz Wolski - shot on 35mm Panavision DeLuxe - digital intermediate master format - 35mm screening format. PD: Dante Ferretti. Starring: Johnny Depp (Sweeney Todd), Helena Bonham Carter (Mrs. Lovett), Alan Rickman (Judge Turpin), Timothy Spall (Beadle Bamford), Sacha Baron Cohen (Adolfo Pirelli). 116 min. Rated 18 in Finland. Released by Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland, Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Staffans. Viewed at Tennispalatsi 3, Helsinki, 7 March 2008. Top talent in a top production. The actors sing themselves, quite well. The digital look is consistent and aesthetically well-judged. This splatter musical has gotten top reviews, but I'd like to comment that it is 40 minutes too long and although Depp is intense, it's a one-note performance. The story of the man brutalized by vengeance is familiar in horror movies; I expected more. Helena Bonham Carter at her best on her journey to the dark side. I keep thinking that she's never recovered from the remark of Eddy and Patsy in Absolutely Fabulous where they call Saffron, Eddy's highly proper daughter, "Helena Bonham Carter". She has spent years to demolish that image.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

NELJÄ PÄIVÄNLASKUA (a novel by Mika Waltari)

Mika Waltari: Neljä päivänlaskua [Four Sunsets] / [Fyra solnedgånger]. Helsinki: WSOY 1949. A novel about a novel. A fictive account on the writing of the novel Sinuhe the Egyptian (1945), with magical, fairy-tale aspects. The author reports that he has worked profitably for years as a nail merchant but is now inspired again to write, which he enjoys immensely, haunted by Sinuhe and the other ancient Egyptians. His heart exists separately from his body, taken care of by his wife, then lost and found at the home of a former sweetheart. The main writing takes place in the country, in deep forest, in the care of grandmother. The writer observes the coming of the spring, the summer, and the autumn. He is tempted by alcohol and experiments with the powerful drugs of the fly-agarik mushroom and the thorn-apple, mixed with brandy. He is fascinated by a huge flock of bream spawning in the shallow bay. He enjoys pike prepared in the oven with a filling of plum, eggs and barley. He talks with animals. A deeply neurotic novel which aspires hard to be light and spirited. A main stylistic device is repetition, which feels annoying. The magic spells are meant to banish madness. The silence on the world-historical moment is absolute.

The Egyptian

Sinuhe, egyptiläinen / Sinuhe, egyptiern. US (c) 1954 Twentieth Century Fox. P: Darryl F. Zanuck. D: Michael Curtiz. SC: Philip Dunne, Casey Robinson - based on the novel by Mika Waltari (1946). DP: Leon Shamroy - DeLuxe - CinemaScope 1:2,55. M: Alfred Newman, Bernard Herrmann. Starring: Edmund Purdom (Sinuhe), Jean Simmons (Merit), Peter Ustinov (Kaptah), Michael Wilding (Akhenaten), Bella Darvi (Nefer), Victor Mature (Horemheb), Gene Tierney (Baketamon), Anitra Stevens (Nefertiti). 139 min. New 1:2,35 print from 2oth Century Fox: "We recently made new separation masters and fully retimed this new print" (Kevin Barrett). Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 6 March 2008. Curtiz wanted Brando to star as Sinuhe but got Edmund Purdom, instead, and the picture lost the electricity typical of Curtiz when he had a star like Errol Flynn, Humphrey Bogart or Elvis Presley. Jean Simmons, Gene Tierney, Peter Ustinov, Michael Wilding and Victor Mature are fine, the production values are superb, the cinematography is wonderful, the score majestic. But the picture lacks depth and urgency. The novel by Mika Waltari is an allegory of disillusionment after WWII. Waltari had already written the play Akhnaton, auringosta syntynyt [Akhenaten, Born of the Sun, 1937]. The novel has deep links to the Akhenaten speculations of the previous decade by James Henry Breasted (The Dawn of Conscience, 1933), Thomas Mann (Joseph und seine Brüder, 1933-1943) and Sigmund Freud (Der Mann Moses, 1939). In contrast to them Waltari bypasses Judaism and invents a direct link from Akhenaten's Monoteism to Christianity. However, the philosophical wisdom attributed to Egyptians by Waltari is based on the Torah, passages such as The Ecclesiastes and Solomon's Proverbs, and already presented by Waltari in his first published work, the collection of poems Sinun ristisi juureen [Beneath Thy Cross, 1927], in the poem "Salomon saarnaaja" ["Solomon the Ecclesiast"]. There are no Jews in Waltari's novel, but he gives a clue that they are referred to as the Khabir people. Before Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose, The Egyptian was the best-sold foreign-language novel in the US according to Wikipedia. The new Fox print is brilliant.

LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN (a play by Oscar Wilde)

Lady Windermere's Fan. A play by Oscar Wilde, first produced in 1892. (Oscar Wilde: Lady Windermere's Fan with two other plays. London: Pan Books, 1951).
" I can resist everything except temptation" (Lord Darlington, p. 15)
"Between men and women there is no friendship possible" (Lord Darlington, p. 34)
"The youth of the present day are quite monstrous. They have absolutely no respect for dyed hair." (Dumby, p. 49)
"No, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars" (Lord Darlington, p. 50)
"In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." (Dumby, p. 51)
"Cecil Graham: What is a cynic?
Lord Darlington: A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" (p. 52)
"A heart doesn't suit me, Windermere. Somehow it doesn't go with modern dress" (Mrs. Erlynne, p. 61)
None of this in Ernst Lubitsch's film. The characters in Oscar Wilder's play are more cynical (or try hard to be) than in the Lubitsch film. In the Lubitsch film they are more experienced and less cynical.

Lady Windermere's Fan

Lady Windermeren viuhka / Lady Windermeres solfjäder. USA (c) 1925 Warner Bros. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Julian Josephson - from the play by Oscar Wilde (1892). DP: Charles J. Van Enger, Willard van Anger. Starring: Ronald Colman (Lord Darlington), Irene Rich (Mrs. Erlynne), May McAvoy (Lady Windermere), Bert Lytell (Lord Windermere), Edward Martindel (Lord Augustus). 2382 m /20 fps/ 104 min. MoMA restored print, tinted and toned /20 fps/ 98 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 6 March 2008. Here is a case of a film whose full substance has become apparent again with the availability of a restored version. In the 1980s there was a shorter version available (77 min at 20 fps); this long version does not add to the narrative but the slow, original tempo brings out the full intensity of the subject. This film belongs to the dozen most notable examples of literary classics made into films of equal stature, comparable to:
- Werther (Goethe / Ophuls)
- Partie de campagne (Maupassant / Renoir)
- Journal d'un curé de campagne (Bernanos / Bresson)
- My Childhood (Gorky / Donskoy)
Wilde and Lubitsch are soulmates. Lubitsch kept the subject, the story and the four-part structure of Wilde's play, threw away every witticism, added sequences of Mrs. Erlynne with Lord Windermere and a racetrack sequence where the reactions of the noble set to Mrs. Erlynne replace what Wilde expressed via dialogue. Of course, Lubitsch relishes the symbolism of the fan, the main prop, comparable to the cane in So This Is Paris. The character of Lady Windermere is not as childish as with Wilde. Wilde's play was an attack on Victorian hypocrisy, Lubitsch's film was produced at the height of the Jazz Age. Interestingly, he removed Wilde's frivolity and replaced it with gravity. The print does justice to the subtle visual elegance of the film, although apparently from duped source material; there is a full scale of black and white, and the tinting and toning is stylish. A great review by Darragh O'Donoghue:
http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/cteq/04/lady_windermeres_fan.html
Still the best Oscar Wilde film (that I have seen).

SUURI ILLUSIONI (a novel by Mika Waltari)

Suuri illusioni (The Grand Illusion). A novel by Mika Waltari, originally published in 1928. Reprint (Porvoo: WSOY 1968) with a new foreword by the author, acknowledging the inspiration of Michael Arlen's The Green Hat (1924), filmed as A Woman of Affairs (1928, with Greta Garbo). Michael Arlen was the model of the author Michaelis, the first, not sufficiently satisfying lover (skilful but not orgasmic) for Connie Chatterley in Lady Chatterley's Lover (also 1928). I had never read Waltari's first novel before, but now I enjoyed the urban poetry, the passion for modernity, the love of Paris and the Jazz Age romanticism of the 20-year-old author. The deadly earnest flirting with decadence sounds amusing from a latterday perspective. This must have been hard to swallow for the adult Waltari, but his first novel is a vital testimony of its age.

Suuri illusioni

Den stora illusionen / The Grand Illusion. FI (c) 1985 Elokuvatuottajat Oy. P: Claes Olsson, Matti Penttilä. D: Tuija-Maija Niskanen. SC: Anja Kauranen - based on the novel by Mika Waltari (1928). DP: Kari Sohlberg - colour - 1:1,66. AD: Erkki Saarainen. Make-up: Helena Lindgren, Nadja Pyykkö. M: Kaija Saariaho. S: Paul Jyrälä, Kari J. Koski. Starring: Pekka Valkeejärvi (Hart), Stina Ekblad (Caritas), Markku Toikka (Hellas), Rea Mauranen (Madame Spindel), with Jack Helen Brut and Homo $. 95 min. Mostly in Finnish but also in Swedish, German, French, English, and Latin, with Finnish subtitles. Vintage print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 5 March 2008. The name of the film has nothing to do with Jean Renoir as it is taken from the novel published ten years earlier. The opening of our Centenary tribute to the author Mika Waltari was this film based on his first novel. The author himself was later embarrassed by his superficial and pseudo-decadent work and only grudgingly let it be re-published as he recognized that it was a document of its time, a youthful look at the Roaring Twenties. The young author Anja Kauranen at the start of her career was fascinated by Waltari and wrote the screenplay. Tuija-Maija Niskanen directed the film, and Kaija Saariaho composed for it her only music for a theatrical motion picture so far. A lot of talent combined, but there is a curiously indifferent feeling, although the film is professionally made with a decent budget. The main characters and the actors portraying them fail to move. The film was supposed to make a connection between the superficial 1920s and the superficial 1980s, but it missed. The performance groups Jack Helen Brut and Homo $ play decadent 1920s characters with relish. The print is excellent, paying justice to the superb lensing of Kari Sohlberg. The film is not successful, but there may be interesting deep layers as the result of a long incubation period.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So This Is Paris

Sellaista on Pariisissa / Inte ett ord till min fru. US (c) 1926 Warner Bros. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Hans Kraly - based on the play Réveillon (1872) by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. DP: John Mescall. Starring: Monte Blue (Dr. Paul Giraud), Patsy Ruth Miller (Suzanne Giraud), André Beranger (Maurice Lallé), Lilyan Tashman (Georgette Lallé). 1821 m /22 fps/ 79 min. Print Narodni filmovy archiv (Prague) /20 fps/ 70 min. Czech titles, e-subtitles AA. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 4 March 2008. The final film in Lubitsch's series of six sophisticated silent comedies and dramas in Hollywood, all for Warner Bros. except Forbidden Paradise. This is the funniest by the simple test of pure laughs in the audience. The timing is perfect, and the visual style is at its most brilliant. Simple and elegant, with a fine sense of perception (looks, windows, reflections). The cane becomes a prop with accumulating meaning, including a disturbing dream sequence, until the cane is finally thrown into the fire. Simple things become funny, such as crossing the street and men lying down in exhaustion. The theme of mistaken perception starts with a misunderstanding at the window and ends with the drunken hero not recognizing his own wife. The visual tricks and effects are nice, such as the hero literally shrinking. The climax is of course the famous Cubistic charleston sequence, a symbol of the Jazz Age. Even in this dupe from a worn and incomplete print one can sense the visual elegance of the original .

Sunday, March 02, 2008

RAILI AND REIMA PIETILÄ. CHALLENGING MODERN ARCHITECTURE (Exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture)

Raili and Reima Pietilä. Challenging Modern Architecture. Exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, 27 Feb - 25 May 2008. Viewed on 2 March, 2008.
From the official presentation: "The architecture of Raili (born 1926) and Reima (1923–1993) Pietilä, which became world famous during the 1960s, is experiencing a second coming in this exhibition, which uses original drawings to present the work of the husband and wife team in the form of some previously unseen designs and others that have attained iconic status in the history of architecture. A host of sketches shows, in a fascinating way, how in their search for design solutions every possible alternative is of equal value to start with, until eventually, the buildings acquire their final forms – forms which stretch the boundaries of modern architecture. The various models give the visitor an opportunity to observe, for example, how the architecture of the President’s Official Residence, Mäntyniemi (1983–93), evolved from the competition-winning proposal to the finished building.
At the same time as the Pietiläs began searching for a way forward for modern architecture, Reima Pietilä who was an active speaker and writer, began to enrich the potential of language as an instrument for understanding architectural problems. Re-evaluating the pluralistic world of Reima Pietilä, the challenger of modern architecture, the mystique often associated with him gets shorn.
Thanks to Raili and Annukka Pietilä’s donation to the Museum of the entire Pietilä drawing archive plus some other material, it has been possible to compile an illustrated and annotated catalogue of works for the new publication that is as comprehensive as possible. In addition to such world-famous buildings as Dipoli (1966), the Metso public library in Tampere (1985) and Suvikumpu (1969–82), the complexity and richness presented in the catalogue, not to mention the exhibition and the other material, brings the Pietiläs once more into the centre of the ever-topical problem field of the potential of architecture."
Personal comment: this is a concise exhibition focusing on the large projects of the Pietilä duo. They include two buildings that I have always been fond of: the Kaleva Church and the Metso Library in Tampere, modern architecture at its best. Pleasant details: designs for the atelier and the island hut of Tove Jansson (whose friend Tuulikki Pietilä was Reima's sister), and a collection of Reima's hand-knit wool caps.
http://www.mfa.fi/exhibition?nid=10936796

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ceux qui restent

[Those Who Remain]. FR (c) 2007 Les Films M / StudioCanal / France 2 Cinéma / Rectangle Productions. D+SC: Anne Le Ny. DP: Patrick Blossier - 1:2,35. Starring: Emmanuelle Devos (Lorraine), Vincent Lindon (Bertrand). Dvd (2008) by StudioCanal with French subtitles for the hard-of-hearing. Viewed 1 March 2008. A man and a woman meet at the cancer ward, his wife dying of breast cancer, her husband conquering his cancer of the colon. Total opposites, he is silent and serious, she is exuberant and frivolous, yet they share a devotion for life. (1) This is a film of actors, and Emmanuelle Devos and Vincent Lindon are convincing. (2) The film feels authentic in the handling of its serious subject-matter. (3) Interestingly, the cancer victims are absent, they are never shown. (4) Bertrand has a difficult relationship with his wife's teenage daughter, who never helps him. (5) Bertrand is oddly consoled by a postcard of snowmen and an animated film (A Close Shave) with Wallace and Gromit. (6) Lorraine's favourite song is "Where and When" by Bryan Ferry, which Bertand cannot stand. (7) This is a Paris film with original views of the city. (8) The cinematography is vibrant and full of life, and the dvd transfer is successful. (9) This is the story of a special friendship, but Bertrand does not want to continue it after his wife's death. (10) Bertrand's sister (played by the director) and her family with children bring another dimension to the valley of death: the ending is open, but we feel that life will go on. A deeply felt debut film worth seeing; there is humour and vitality in it, but such a melancholy subject with such a depressed male lead would perhaps profit from even more humour as a counter-balance.