Saturday, November 29, 2008

Un conte de Noël

Eräs joulutarina / En julberättelse. FR (c) 2008 Why Not Productions + three other companies. D: Arnaud Desplechin. SC: AD, Emmanuel Bourdieu. DP: Eric Gautier - a 35mm colour film print at 2,35:1 from a digital intermediate. LOC: ?Rouen?. CAST: Catherine Deneuve (Junon), Mathieu Amalric (Henri), Jean-Paul Roussillon (Abel), Anne Consigny (Elizabeth), Emmanuelle Devos (Faunia), Chiara Mastroianni (Sylvia). 155 min. A Cinema Mondo release with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Outi Kainulainen / Joanna Erkkilä. Viewed at Maxim 2, Helsinki, 28 Nov 2008. - A beautiful transfer with no annoying digital limitations, warm and vibrant colour, a fine softness of texture. - The compilation on the soundtrack a pleasant mix of classical and jazz. - A big, original and tough story of a dysfunctional family which faces issues including cancer and sibling feud of the severest kind. There are the several generations and the many lifestyles that are impossible to reconcile, yet an attempt is made at Christmas time. The prodigal son (Henri) is needed for his bone marrow to save his mother (Junon). - The actors are very good, and the director's grip is assured in this story of love and war within the dysfunctional family. - I admired the warmth of Eric Gautier's cinematography in the big ensemble scenes.

Kolme viisasta miestä

Tre visa män / Three Wise Men. FI (c) 2008 Marianna Films. D: Mika Kaurismäki. SC: MK and Petri Karra with dialogue written by the actors, themselves. DP: Rauno Ronkainen - 35mm print from digital intermediate. The men: Kari Heiskanen (Erkki, a photographer with terminal cancer), Pertti Sveholm (Matti, a policeman whose Russian wife gives birth to a baby), Timo Torikka (Rauno, an actor working in France). With: Elena Spirina (Taina, Matti's wife), Tommi Eronen (Tero, Rauno's son), Irina Björklund (Magdaleena, convalescent of depression), Pirkko Hämäläinen (Tiina, the mother of Erkki's son), Riitta Havukainen (Riitta), Aake Kalliala (the karaoke host), Peter Franzén (Santa Claus), Heikki Orama (opera singer). 105 min. Released by FS Film without subtitles. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 6, Helsinki, 28 Nov 2008. - The film is a homage to John Cassavetes. - A digital video look. - Inspired by Husbands by John Cassavetes, a Christmas story of three men's midlife crisis, which mostly takes place in an empty karaoke bar with karaoke songs by each (fun: "Kuka mitä häh"). They face their emptiness, self-deception and livsløgnen [Henrik Ibsen's term, life lie, the foundation lie]. - Interesting stuff but with a quickie touch.

Låt den rätte komma in

Ystävät hämärän jälkeen / Let the Right One In. SE (c) 2008 EFTI. D: Tomas Alfredson. SC: John Ajvide Lindqvist from his novel (2004). DP: Hoyte Van Hoytema - shot on Super 35 - digital intermediate - processed back to 35 mm print. Kåre Hedebrant (Oskar), Lina Leandersson (Eli). 114 min. A Sandrew Metronome Distribution release with Finnish subtitles by Anitra Paukkunen. Viewed at Tennispalatsi 12, 28 Nov 2008.

A bleak, cold digital intermediate look.

An original vampire film set in everyday Sweden in a suburb of Stockholm ?in ca 1982?. There are two stories. The permanently 12-year-old girl Eli who can only subsist on human blood. She can only live in the dark, she does not feel cold, her bite is contagious if the victim survives, she can climb the wall of a tenement building. The 12-year-old boy Oskar is the victim of school bullying, which he starts to resist violently.

The film is well made, the angle is original, the actors are convincing, the school and the suburb milieux realistically detailed, the visual composition interesting, and I liked to soundtrack selection of pop music (but not the original score).

But there is a grave confusion in the moral foundation of the story. The film seems to defend vampirism and justify revenge instead of real justice. It is a portrait of solitude which seems to embrace the ethos of grade Z action cinema.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Körkarlen

Ajomies / The Phantom Carriage / La Charrette fantôme. SE 1920. PC: Svensk Filmindustri. D: Victor Sjöström. Based on the novel by Selma Lagerlöf (1912). DP: Julius Jaenzon. Revisited in a Cinemateket / Svenska Filminstitutet pre-Desmet print, with beautiful toned effects, with e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio. 1937 m /16 fps/ 106 min. Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 27 Nov 2008. - I revisited the first 30 min. The pre-Desmet print looks better in Orion. The magic light and the vivid expressions become visible. - The deathbed of the Salvation Army nurse. The utter despair of the drunkard's wife. The desolation of the poor home. The three drunkards in the graveyard. The lit clockface. The pain, the sorrow, the horror. The two vignettes illustrating the driver's work: the nobleman putting the bullet through his brain, the victim of the boatwreck being collected from the bottom of the sea. The restless sea. I often include this film in the best horror films, but sometimes they strike it, as it is not a genre picture. But for me, horror means the encounter with personified death and personified evil, and this film has both. Victor Sjöström bravely and convincingly personifies bottomless evil, him who can even infect his own children with the lethal cough.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

CHARLES BAUDELAIRE: L'INVITATION AU VOYAGE (POEME)

Mon enfant, ma soeur,
Songe à la douceur
D'aller là-bas vivre ensemble!
Aimer à loisir,
Aimer et mourir
Au pays qui te resemble!
Les soleils mouillés
De ces ciels brouillés
Pour mon esprit ont les charmes
Si mystérieux
De tes traîtres yeux,
Brillant à travers leurs larmes.

Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Des meubles luisants,
Polis par les ans,
Décoreraient notre chambre;
Les plus rares fleurs
Mêlant leurs odeurs
Aux vagues senteurs de l'ambre,
Les riches plafonds,
Les miroirs profonds,
La splendeur orientale,
Tout y parlerait
A l'âme en secret
Sa douce langue natale.

Là, tout n'est qu'order et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

Vois sur ces canaux
Dormir ces vaisseaux
Dont l'humeur est vagabonde;
C'est pour assouvir
Ton moindre désir
Qu'ils viennent du bout du monde.
- Les soleils couchants
Revêtent les champs,
Les canaux, la ville entière,
D'hyacinthe et d'or;
Le monde s'endort
Dans une chaude lumière.

Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.

(Les Fleurs du mal, LIII, 1861)

FILMS BY GERMAINE DULAC

NFM (Amsterdam) prints with e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio, at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 25 Nov 2008.
La souriante Madame Beudet / Hymyilevä rouva Beudet. FR 1923. D: Germaine Dulac. SC: André Obey based on his play. Cast: Germaine Dermoz (Madame Beudet), Arquillière (Monsieur Beudet). A print originating from La Cinémathèque Suisse, the Swiss edition with French / German intertitles. 773 m /18 fps/ 38 min
L'Invitation au voyage / Matkaankutsu. FR 1927. P+D+SC: Germaine Dulac - inspired by the poem by Baudelaire (1861). With: Emma Gynt (Woman), Raymond Dubreuil (Naval Officer). 797 m /18 fps/ 39 min
La Coquille et le clergyman / Pappi ja näkinkenkä. FR 1928. P+D: Germaine Dulac. SC: Antoine Artaud. With: Alexander Allin (the clergyman), Genica Athanasiou (the girl), Lucien Bataille (officer). The 2004 restoration. 816 m /18 fps/ 40 min
Seminal experimental films revisited. The best existing prints, L'Invitation au voyage especially fine with colour, and La Coquille et le clergyman the definitive restoration. - See my Dulac comments in my Bologna notes, Il Cinema Ritrovato 2006, 1 July 2006.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

FILM-MAKING AS A SMALL ENTERPRISE (SEMINAR)

Elokuvan pienyrittäjyys -seminaari. Organized by the cultural cooperative Kronoptikon / Martti-Tapio Kuuskoski. At Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 22 Nov 2008.
Mr. Martti-Tapio Kuuskoski, moderator
Mr. Anssi Mänttäri, film director and producer
Mr. Rostislav Aalto, film director and producer
Ms. Sonja Lindén, film director and producer
Mr. Aku Alanen, economist, researcher
An interesting three and a half hours on film-making as a small enterprise. 95% of the Finnish film companies are small enterprises. Mr. Aalto commented that until the 1990s Finnish documentaries were internationally highly regarded, but now since the financers no longer support 35mm, the visual quality is down, except Pirjo Honkasalo. Excerpts included:
Mongolialainen iltapäivä [A Mongolian Afternoon]. FI 2008. D: Rostislav Aalto. The sequence of the slaughter of a lamb.
Ei kukaan ole saari [No Man Is an Island]. FI 2006. D: Sonja Lindén. Shot on S-16mm, projected on Digibeta. The last 20 min of the 40 min film. My first encounter with the work of Sonja Lindén, I was impressed by the feeling for nature (Saimaa?) and the theme of the old man (her father) facing imminent death.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Cleaning Up!

Cleaning Up! / Cleaning Up! FI 2001. PC: Cube Oy, Zen Media. P: Heikki Niinimäki. D+SC+DP: Rostislav Aalto - shot on DV-CAM - distributed on 35mm film prints. ASS-D: Mikko Keinonen. M: Cleaning Women. S-ED on tour: Jari Laakkonen, Teemu Kotila, Svetlana Terentjev. ED: Kimmo Kohtamäki. S: Rostislav Aalto. S-DES: Timo Kinnunen (also S-postprod). Photographs: Inka Kovanen. FEAT: Cleaning Women: Risto Puurunen, Timo Kinnunen, Tero Vänttinen = CW 01, CW02, CW03. Manager: Mikko Keinonen. 79 min. A SES print with English subtitles (print number one) at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 21 Nov 2008. Introduced by Rostislav Aalto, presented by Martti-Tapio Kuuskoski. - The print looks good, considering that it was shot on DV-CAM. - A tour documentary of the Finnish band Cleaning Women, who play with special instruments built from cleaning equipment, the guys dressed as ladies. - The music is good, and the film sounds good. - The strange encounters of the band touring in Petersburg, Moscow, Tartu, the Baltic countries, and Poland. - I saw the first 45 min, having to move to the Filmihullu magazine 40th / Risto Jarva society 30th annivarsary party at Dubrovnik.

Toto

Toto / Toto. FI 1982. PC: Filmiauer Oy / Anssi Mänttäri. Ohjaus: Suvi-Marja Korvenheimo (= Anssi Mänttäri). SC: Suvi-Marja Korvenheimo, Tuovi Mäkipää-Hakola. DP: Heikki Katajisto - filmed on 16mm - prints blown up to 35mm. S-ED: Tuomo Kattilakoski. M: Asko Mänttäri. Lyrics to the theme song: Jukka Virtanen. ED: Marjatta Niiranen. S: Jouko Lumme, Paul Jyrälä. CAST: Juha Hyppönen (Eki), Paavo Piskonen (Pena), Mikko Hänninen (Reiska), Eeva Eloranta (Hanna, Eki's wife), Helena Haavisto (Pena's mother-in-law), Veronika Mattson (Krisse, Pena's wife), Virve Kauste (Mirkku), Sanna Fransman (Päivi), Liisa Halonen (Marja, Reiska's ex-wife), Pentti Auer (Kurt), Tuija Ahvonen (saleswoman), Pauli Virtanen (Lievonen), Paavo Liski, Kai Honkanen, Olli Tuominen (policemen), Susanna Haavisto (waitress), Tadaaki Kawata (Mr. Tokoshi), Masaaki Hashimoto (Mr. Iwasaki), Ilkka Kylävaara (writer), Reima Kekäläinen (artist), Henri Kapulainen (2. writer), Katriina Rinne, Kaisa Karikoski (women in the pub), Kai Salminen (director Vornanen), Heidi Kari (secretary), Annette Arlander, Ulla-Maija Tamminen (girls in the pub), Ilkka Vanne (foreign businessman), Hannele Laaksonen (callgirl), Kalevi Immonen (violinist), Heidi Blom (Pena's daughter), Taina Saikkonen (Taina), Tiina Bergström (Tiina). 82 min. A vintage print with Swedish subtitles screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 21 Nov 2008. Introduced by Anssi Mänttäri hosted by Martti-Tapio Kuuskoski. Also Paavo Piskonen was present in the screening. - Good print with a pleasant, successful 16mm blowup look. - The trio of grown-up men on the loose has been compared with Cassavetes' Husbands. Pena has become a father (again), he hangs out with his car salesman colleague Eki, and they join with their drifter friend Reiska. Reiska wins big time in the horse races, and they go on a binge, planning a trip. They try to pick up women, but only Eki has any success. - The images of the race track in the beginning and in the end bring the story into ironic relief. - The theme song of Asko Mänttäri and Jukka Virtanen would deserve publication in its own right. - It's a film about alcohol and alcoholism. - There is a good solid drive in this tale of the absurd alcoholic binge.

Bo Procopé

FI (c) 1982 Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu / Elokuva- ja TV-linja ETV. D: Alvaro Pardo & Ville Mäkelä. With Alvaro Pardo, Tapio Tapiovaara. 16mm, colour, 15 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 21 Nov 2008. - Print has beautiful colour. - A funny pseudo-documentary.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Die Büchse der Pandora

Pandoran lipas / Pandoras box / Pandora's Box. DE 1928. D: G.W. Pabst based on the plays by Wedekind, dp: Günther Krampf, starring Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner. Print: Münchner Filmmuseum 3018 m /20 fps/ 132 min screened with electronic subtitles by AA/Anja Lempinen at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 20 Nov 2008. - This best existing print can still be admired also because of its visual quality, unlike (almost) all the other prints, which have been duped one or more generations too often. I revisited the first half an hour, the magic of Louise Brooks, the radiation, the hidden tragedy deep beneath.

THE ADVENTURES OF WOODY WOODPECKER 3

Nakke Nakuttajan seikkailuja 3 / Hacke Hackspätt på äventyr 3
Original copyright: Universal. PC: Walter Lantz Productions. P: Walter Lantz. Technicolor. Special aspect ratio 1:1,2. Voice Talent: Grace Stafford (Woody), Mel Blanc (Woody's ha-ha-ha-HAA-ha laughter). Duration à ca 6 min
Half Empty Saddles. US 1958. D: Paul J. Smith. Absurd Western parody.
Watch the Birdie. USA 1958. D: Alex Lowy. Woody drives a bird-watcher crazy.
Billion-Dollar Boner. US 1959. D: Alex Lowy. Woody harasses a pompous guy who believes himself a billionaire having received a big rubber check.
Heap Big Hepcat. US 1960. D: Paul J. Smith. A softie Hollywood Indian has to prove himself a true brave, but meets Woody.
Kiddie League. US 1959. D: Paul J. Smith. Baseball parody
Romp in a Swamp. US 1959. D: Paul J. Smith. Freerider Woody flies with the geese, gets into fight with a hunter-alligator
Woodpecker in the Moon. US 1959. D: Alex Lowy
Fowled up Falcon. US 1960. D: Paul J. Smith
How to Stuff a Woodpecker. US 1960. D: Paul J. Smith
Ozark Lark. US 1960. D: Paul J. Smith. A violent Kentucky feud (McCoys vs. Martins) parody.
Total duration 59 min. Vintage prints viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 20 Nov 2008. - The colour is brilliant and intact. - I'm puzzled by the obsession with violence, being more a Disney / Miler guy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

Ystävykset / Det började i Berlin. GB 1943. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, with Anton Walbrook, Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 19 Nov 2008. - Accidentally we had received a 126 min print of the film originally 163 min (but the Finnish premiere print was only 90 min). - Good Technicolor. - I revisited just briefly this touching and surprising film about friendship between Germans (Walbrook) and Brits (Livesey), and everlasting love (Deborah).

IN THE CORE OF THE DOCUMENTARY 45: HYY (THE HELSINKI UNIVERSITY STUDENTS' ASSOCIATION) 140TH ANNIVERSARY

Dokumentin ytimessä 45: HYY 140 vuotta / I dokumentärens kärna 25: HUS 140 år
Finnish documentary films and excerpts compiled by Ilkka Kippola and Jari Sedergren. Video edit: Jarmo Nyman. Presented by Jari Sedergren. In the presence of Ville Suhonen.
Vappu Helsingissä vuonna 1917. FI 1917. DigiBeta, 1'.
Leo Mechelinin hautajaiset. FI 1914. DigiBeta, 2'15''
Iso Paraati Helsingissä 16/5 1918. FI 1918.DigiBeta, 4'
Snellmanin päivän juhlallisuudet. FI 1926. DigiBeta, 3'
Suomi-Filmin uutiskuvia 3 / 1935. FI 1935. DigiBeta, 3'
Akateeminen romukasa. FI 1939. DigiBeta, 2'45''.
Finlandia-katsaus 100. FI 1949. DigiBeta, 1 '.
Suomen Marsalkan viimeinen matka. FI 1951. DigiBeta, 3'.
Finlandia-katsaus 88. FI 1948. DigiBeta, 3'.
Finlandia-katsaus 187. FI 1952. D-giBeta, 1' .
Lippusemme kohouupi… FI 1953. DigiBeta, 2'33''.
Itsenäisyytemme 40-v. juhlallisuudet. FI 1957. DigiBeta, 2'41''.
Finlandia-katsaus 439. FI 1959. DigiBeta, 2,41''.
Finlandia-katsaus 514. FI 1961. DigiBeta, 23''
Drink Piss Freak. FI 1969. D: Erik Uddström. DigiBeta, 2'.
Työtä Ylioppilasteatterissa. FI 1961. PC: Montaasi. D: Risto Jarva. 35mm. 8 min
Showreel Lapualaismorsian. FI 1967. D: Mikko Niskanen. With Vesa-Matti Loiri, Lars Svedberg, Kari Franck, Kaisa Korhonen, Pekka Laiho, Jukka Sipilä, Soila Komi, Tuula Nyman, Kristiina Halkola, Heikki Kinnunen, Kirsti Wallasvaara, Maria Wolska, Markku Lahtela. DigiBeta, 3'.
Vanhan valtaus. FI 1968. Digibeta, 8'.
28. marraskuuta. FI 1973. PC: Palokärki. Digibeta, 17'.
On elo ylioppilaan… FI 1947. D: Holger Harrivirta. SC: Vilho Helanen. Digibeta, 12'. Excerpts from a particularly fascinating short film, good non-fiction with actors and fine cinematography.
Ylioppilaselämää. FI 1990. P+D+ED: Ville Suhonen. SC+commentary: Pekka Suhonen. Digibeta, 24 min.
A groundbreaking, very ambitious compilation about the history of the Helsinki University Students' Association, covering over 90 years. Many moving moments. My favourite: On elo ylioppilaan...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

We Turn In the Night, Consumed by Fire. FR (c) 1978 Simar Films. P: Gérard Lebovici. D+SC: Guy Debord. DP: André Mrugalski. DP: Stéphanie Granel. S: Dominique Dalmasso. Documentalist: Joëlle Barjolin. M: François Couperin; Benny Golson ("Whisper Not", performed by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers). Voice: Guy Debord. 35mm, B&W, 105 min. A Love Streams / Agnès B. print presented with e-subtitles in English by Ken Knabb edited by Tommi Uschanov. Avanto, Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 15 Nov 2008. Guy Debord: "On the question of stolen films, that is, of fragments of preexisting films incorporated into my films — notably in The Society of the Spectacle — (I’m talking here primarily about the films that interrupt and punctuate with their own dialogues the text of the spoken “commentary” derived from the book), the following should be noted:"
"In A User’s Guide to Détournement (Lèvres Nues #8) we already noted that “It is thus necessary to conceive of a parodic-serious stage in which detourned elements are combined . . . in order to create a certain sublimity.”"
"“Détournement” is not an enemy of art. The enemies of art are those who have not wanted to take into account the positive lessons of the “degeneration of art.”"
"Thus, in the film The Society of the Spectacle the (fiction) films detourned by me are not used as critical illustrations of an art of spectacular society (in contrast to the documentaries and news footage, for example). On the contrary, these stolen fiction films, external to my film but brought into it, are used, regardless of whatever their original meaning may have been, to represent the rectification of the “artistic inversion of life.”"
"The situation shifts in In girum due to several important differences: I directly shot a portion of the images; I wrote the text specifically for this particular film; and the theme of the film is not the spectacle, but real life. The films that interrupt the discourse do so primarily to support it positively, even if there is an element of irony (Lacenaire, the Devil, the fragment from Cocteau, or Custer’s last stand). The Charge of the Light Brigade is intended to crudely and eulogistically “represent” a dozen years of the SI’s actions!"
"As for the use of music, even though it is detourned like everything else, it will be felt by everyone in the normal way; it is never distanciated and always has a positive, “lyrical” aim." Guy Debord (1989)
Guy Debord: "The entire film (including the images, but already in the text of the spoken “commentary”) is based on the theme of water. Hence the quotations from poets evoking the evanescence of everything (Li Po, Omar Khayyam, Heraclitus, Bossuet, Shelley), who all used water as a metaphor for the flowing of time."
"Secondarily, there is the theme of fire; of momentary brilliance — revolution, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, youth, love, negation in the night, the Devil, battles and “unfulfilled missions” where spellbound “passing travelers” meet their doom; and desire within this night of the world (“nocte consumimur igni”)."
"But the water of time remains, and ultimately overwhelms and extinguishes the fire. Thus the brilliant youth of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the fire of the ardent Charge of the Light Brigade, advancing “under the cannon fire of time,” were drowned in the flowing water of their century…" Guy Debord (1977)
Print has ok visual quality but signs of wear. - The consumer society. The irony is more bitter here. The scorn on the family idyll feels strange. Debord's voice sounds more melancholy, old, tired. Robin des Bois. Bliss it was to be young in this city, but nothing remains of the Paris of my youth. Where are the young hooligan girls of my youth? Excerpts: They Died with their Boots On, Les Enfants du Paradis, Orphée. Rien est vrai, tout est permis.

La Société du Spectacle

The Society of the Spectacle. FR 1973. PC: Simar Films. P: Gérard Lebovici. D+SC: Guy Debord (adapted from his 1967 book). DP: Antonis Georgakis. ED: Martine Barraqué. DOC: Suzanne Schiffmann. S: Antoine Bonfanti. M: Michel Corrette. Voice: Guy Debord. 35mm, B&W, 90 min. a Love Streams / Agnès B. print presented with e-subtitles in English by Ken Knabb edited by Tommi Uschanov. Avanto, Cinema Orion, Helsinki. - Brochure [Guy Debord n.c]: "Until now it has generally been assumed that film is a completely unsuitable medium for presenting revolutionary theory. This view was mistaken. The lack of any serious attempts in this direction stemmed simply from the historical lack of a modern revolutionary theory during virtually the entire period of the cinema’s development; as well as from the fact that the potentials of cinematic composition, despite so many declarations of intent on the part of filmmakers and so much feigned satisfaction on the part of a miserable public, have as yet scarcely been liberated."
"Published in 1967, The Society of the Spectacle is a book whose theoretical insights have profoundly influenced the new current of social critique that is now more and more openly undermining the established world order. Its present cinematic adaptation, like the book itself, does not offer a few partial political critiques, but a total critique of the existing world; that is, a critique of all aspects of modern capitalism and of its general system of illusions."
"The cinema is itself an integral part of this world, serving as one of the instruments of the separate representation that opposes and dominates the actual proletarianized society. As revolutionary critique engages in battle on the very terrain of the cinematic spectacle, it must thus turn the language of that medium against itself and give itself a form that is itself revolutionary."
"The text and images of this film form a coherent whole; but the images are never mere direct illustrations of the text, much less demonstrations of it (cinematic “demonstrations” are in any case never reliable due to the unlimited possibilities of manipulation offered by the unilateral editing of the material). Instead, the film’s use of images (whether photographs, newsclips, or sequences from preexisting films) is governed by the principle of détournement, which the situationists have defined as “communication that includes a critique of itself.” The images through which spectacular society presents itself to itself are taken and turned against it: the spectacle’s means should be treated with insolence. As a result, in a certain sense this film, coming at the end of the cinema’s pseudo-autonomous history, incorporates all the memories of that history. It can thus be seen simultaneously as a historical film, a Western, a love story, a war movie, etc. Like the society it examines, it also presents a number of comical aspects. In talking about the spectacular order, and about the commodity domination that it serves, one is also talking about what this order hides: class struggles and strivings toward real historical life, revolution and its past failures, and the responsibilities for those failures. Nothing in this film is made to please the fashionable blockheads of leftist cinema: it has equal contempt for what they respect and for the style in which they express that respect. One who is capable of understanding and denouncing an entire socio-economic formation will denounce it even in a film. Objections to our “extremism” are meaningless, because current history is already on the verge of going beyond the most extreme possibilities imagined."
"Theses that have never before been presented in the cinema will now appear there in a never before seen form, simply because for the first time a filmmaker has undertaken an uncompromising critique."
"In the socio-economic context, the total freedom required to create such a film obviously means that the producer must renounce any claim to exert any preliminary control over the director, whether by insisting that he present a synopsis or by seeking to obtain from him any other sort of meaningless commitment. This has been recognized in the contract between the filmmaker and the producer, Simar Films: “It is understood that the filmmaker will carry out his work in complete freedom, without any control or supervision whatsoever, and without even being obliged to pay the slightest attention to any comment that the producer might make regarding any aspect of the content or of the cinematic form that the filmmaker feels appropriate for his film.”"
"Considering that this film itself expresses its meaning in a sufficiently comprehensible manner, the producer and the filmmaker believe that it is unnecessary to provide any further explanations." Brochure [Guy Debord n.c. (1974)].
The print quality not as good as Debord's short films, duplication apparently at more generations' distance from the original. - A sold-out screening, dozens could not get tickets. - Famous film excerpts (Arkadin, Johnny Guitar, The Shanghai Gesture, Potyomkin, ?Ernst Thälmann). - Debord's breast fetish that masquerades as media criticism amused the audience. - The spectacle as a permanent opium war. - Deservedly famous, but maybe the short films are even more interesting, and The Society of the Spectacle functions better as a book.

THE SHADOW OF DEBORD (SEMINAR)

Avanto, Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 15 Nov 2008.
Mr. Kari Yli-Annala (convener)
Mr. Pekka Luhta (moderator)
Mr. Tommi Uschanov (Debord translator)
Ms. Helena Sederholm (expert on Situationism)
Mr. Jussi Vähämäki (expert on Situationism)
Ms. Tiina Purhonen (expert on art theory)
Mr. Lauri Luhta (meta-commentator)
An excellent seminar on Guy Debord, hopefully the presentations will be published. There was also a lively an intelligent discussion. The spirit of Debord lives also in healthy irony and distanciation.
- Having seen Debord now for the first time, and his complete films at the same time, one of the interesting observations was the affinity of Debord and Godard. Debord was first.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Réfutation de tous les jugements, tant élogieux qu’hostiles, qui ont été jusqu’ici portés sur le film “La Société du Spectacle”

Refutation of All the Judgments, Pro or Con, Thus Far Rendered on the Film “The Society of the Spectacle. FR 1975. P: Simar Films. P: Gérard Lebovici. D+SC: Guy Debord. ED: Martine Barraqué. S: Paul Bertauld. Voice: Guy Debord. 35mm, B&W, 20 min. A Love Streams / Agnès B. print presented with e-subtitles in English by Ken Knabb edited by Tommi Uschanov. Avanto, Cinema Orion, 14 Nov 2o08. - Dialogue from the film: "Refutation of All the Judgments, Pro or Con, Thus Far Rendered on the Film “The Society of the Spectacle” is an attack on the somewhat mixed feedback Debord got after his 1974 feature film."
”In a freer and more truthful future people will look back in amazement at the idea that pen-pushers hired by the system of spectacular lies could imagine themselves qualified to offer their smug opinions on the merits and defects of a film that is a negation of the spectacle - as if the dissolution of this system was a matter of opinion. Their system is now being attacked in reality and it is defending itself by force. Their counterfeit arguments are no longer accepted, which is why so many of these professional agents of falsification are facing the prospect of unemployment.” Dialogue from the film. - A good print. - The counter-review technique reminds me of Syberberg. Illustrated with commercials. It grows into an meta-essay.

Critique de la séparation

Critique of Separation. FR 1961. PC: Dansk-Fransk Experimental-filmskompagni. D+SC: Guy Debord. DP: André Mrugalski. ED: Chantal Delattre. M: François Couperin, Joseph Bodin de Boismortier. Voice: Guy Debord. Voice (during the credits): Caroline Rittener. Actress: Caroline Rittener. 35mm, B&W, 19 min. A Love Streams / Agnès B. print presented with e-subtitles in English by Ken Knabb edited by Tommi Uschanov. Avanto, Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 Nov 2008. - Guy Debord: "Before the credits, a hodgepodge of meaningless images is punctuated by a series of text frames — “Coming soon to this screen . . . One of the greatest antifilms of all time! . . . Real people! A true story! . . . On a theme the cinema has never dared to confront!” — while Caroline Rittener reads the following passage from André Martinet’s Elements of General Linguistics: “When one considers how natural and beneficial it is for man to identify his language with reality, one realizes the level of sophistication he had to attain in order to be able to dissociate them and make each an object of study.” All the rest of the film’s commentary is spoken by Guy Debord. Caroline Rittener also plays the young woman in the film. The music is by François Couperin and Bodin de Boismortier."
"The images in Critique of Separation are often taken from comics, ID photos and newspapers, or from other films. In many cases subtitles are added, which may be rather difficult to follow at the same time as the spoken commentary. The people who have been directly filmed are almost always none other than members of the film crew."
"The relation between the images, the spoken commentary and the subtitles is neither complementary nor indifferent, but is intended to itself be critical." Guy Debord, 1964
Excellent print. - Great self-irony ("one of the greatest antifilms of all time"), ironic Baroque music (like soon Greenaway with Nyman), media critique seasoned with loving looks at Paris, a fascination with the face of a woman, colonial violence, the world of commercials, found footage, the ravages of storms, a film which interrupts itself and does not come to an end.

Sur le passage de quelques personnes à travers une assez courte unité de temps

On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Unity of Time. FR 1959. PC: Dansk-Fransk Experimental-filmskompagni. D+SC Guy Debord. DP: André Mrugalski. ED: Chantal Delattre. Voice 1: Jean Harnois. Voice 2: Guy Debord. Voice 3: Claude Brabant. M: George Frederick Handel, Michel-Richard Delalande. 35mm, B&W, 18 min. A Love Streams / Agnès B. print with e-subtitles in English by Ken Knabb edited by Tommi Uschanov screened at Avanto, Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 Nov 2008. - Guy Debord: "The spoken commentary is read in somewhat apathetic and tired-sounding voices by Jean Harnois (Voice 1, tone of a radio announcer), Guy Debord (Voice 2, more sad and subdued) and Claude Brabant (Voice 3, a little girl)."
"The sound track during the opening credits is from a recording of a discussion during the Third Conference of the Situationist International in Munich, primarily in French and German. The Handel theme is from the ballet suite The Origin of Design; the two themes by Michel-Richard Delalande are from Caprice #2 (a.k.a. Grande Pièce)."
"The spoken commentary includes a large portion of detourned phrases, drawn indiscriminately from classic thinkers, a science-fiction novel, and the worst pop sociologists. In order to go against the usual documen-tary practice regarding spectacular scenery, each time that the camera is on the verge of coming upon a monument this has been avoided by shooting in the opposite direction, from the viewpoint of the monument (just as the young Abel Gance shot a passage from the viewpoint of a snowball). The initial plan for this documentary envisaged more détournements from other films, particularly recent ones. (...) These extensive film-quotations were ultimately prevented because several distributors refused to sell reproduction rights for at least half of the scenes selected, which refusal destroyed the montage envisaged. Instead, more exten-sive use was made of the Monsavon soap ad, whose star (actress Anna Karina, trans. note) was to have a brighter future. André Mrugalski is responsible for the sequence of detail photos detourning the style of “art documentaries.”"
"This short film can be considered as notes on the origins of the situationist movement; notes which thus naturally include a reflection on their own language." Guy Debord, 1964.
A brilliant print, cinematography professional, an invigorating sociological essay. Anna Karina appears in a Monsavon commercial.

Hurlements en faveur de Sade

Howls for Sade. FR 1952. D+SC: Guy Debord. Voice 1: Gil J Wolman. Voice 2: Guy Debord. Voice 3: Serge Berna. Voice 4: Barbara Rosenthal. Voice 5: Jean-Isidore Isou. Originally 35mm, B&W, 75 min. The only film print can no longer be screened, and no negative exists. Dvd projection with e-subtitles in English by Ken Knabb edited by Tommi Uschanov at Avanto Festival, Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 Nov 2008.
Guy Debord: "Howls for Sade, a feature-length film created in June 1952, contains no images whatsoever. The soundtrack is accompanied by a completely blank white screen during the spoken dialogues. These dialogues, which altogether total no more than twenty minutes, are broken up into short fragments amid passages of total silence totalling one hour (the final portion of the film consisting of an uninterrupted 24-minute period of silence). During the silences the screen, and thus the theatre remains totally dark."
"The film contains no other sound or accompaniment, with the exception of a solo lettrist improvisation by Wolman during the first white screen passage, immediately before the beginning of the dialogue. The first two statements comprise the only credits."
"The content of this film should be considered in the context of the lettrist avant-garde of the period, both on the most general level, where it represents a negation and supersession of Isou’s conception of “discrepant cinema,” and on the anecdotal level, from the mode of using double first names (Jean-Isidore, Guy-Ernest, Albert-Jules, etc.) or the reference to Berna, the organizer of the Easter 1950 scandal at Notre Dame, to the dedication to Wolman, creator of the preceding lettrist film, the admirable Anticoncept. Other aspects should be considered in the light of positions since developed by the situationists, particularly the use of detourned passages."
"The first showing of Howls for Sade — in Paris, June 30, 1952, at the Ciné-club d’Avant-Garde, then directed by A.-J. Cauliez, in the Musée de l’Homme building — was violently disrupted almost from the beginning by the audience and the film club managers. Several lettrists then dissociated themselves from such a crudely extremist film. The first complete showing took place October 13 of the same year at the Ciné-club du Quartier Latin in the Sociétés Savantes room, defended by a group of “left-lettrists” and a couple dozen additional supporters from Saint-Germain-des-Prés. A few months later the presence of these same people prevented the same film club from presenting a Sadistic Skeleton which had been announced and attributed to a certain “René-Guy Babord,” a joke which was seemingly intended to consist merely of turning out all the theater lights for a quarter of an hour." Guy Debord
A dadaistic anti-film with black and white passages only on screen, and dialogue and total silence on the soundtrack. Almost all stayed, only a few members of the audiences left.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Palava enkeli

Ängel i flammor / Burning Angel. FI (c) 1984 Skandia-Filmi. P: Kaj Holmberg. D: Lauri Törhönen. SC: Hannele Törrönen, Claes Andersson, Lauri Törhönen. DP: Esa Vuorinen - Fujicolor - 1:1,66. AD: Anu Maja. M: Hector. ED: Olli Soinio. S: Johan Hake. Thanks: Nikkilä Hospital, Laakso Hospital, Kellokoski Hospital, Aurora hospital. CAST: Riitta Viiperi (psychiatric nurse Tuulikki Merinen), Eeva Eloranta (Katariina, mental patient), Tom Wentzel (psychiatrist Johan Kukkola, "Juhana"), Juuso Hirvikangas (Mikko, nurse), Elina Hurme (Karin, best friend from the nurse training school), Helena Notkonen (Saimi, patient), Yrjö Pelkonen (Veikko, chauffeur), Marja-Leena Kouki (Maila, nurse), Eeva Mäkinen (Irja, assistant nurse), Hellevi Seiro (Hellevi Härkönen) (Leila, nurse), Vieno Saaristo (Tuulikki's mother), Ritva Arvelo (head nurse), Marjatta Lohikoski (psychologist), Carl Mesterton (chief physician), Annikki Viitala (headmaster of the nurse training school), Jussi Parviainen (man in the discotheque), Ilse Stubbs (assistant nurse), Lasse Lind (colonel, patient), Katja Kiuru, Nina Mattila, Aila Pervonsuo, Tuovi Sundell (patients), Kristiina Kalla (Juhana's girlfriend), Heikki Leppänen, Pauli Tervo (policemen). Raimo Häyrinen (voice of the radio commentator), Heikki Harma (voice of the disc jockey). 105 min. In the presence of Lauri Törhönen, interviewed by Markku Varjola. Vintage print viewed in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 12 Nov 2008. - Vintage print with good definition of light, good colour, a scratch through the image during the second half of the film. - LT: "This was my feature film debut, although even my school film was a 50 min fiction film. A friend of mine studies psychology and had experience from a mental institution beyond Joensuu, called Paihola [in the film: Kaihola]. There was a true story behind the script, and because of it, legislation was changed [that a nurse can be a patient in her own ward]."
MV: This was new material in Finnish cinema, maybe only in Radio tulee hulluksi [The Radio Goes Crazy] had treated it before, in a comic way. LT: "Variety lauded Riitta Viiperi as the most photogenic Nordic female star since Liv Ullmann. But the film had an unknown director, and it received weird reviews. But then it begun to grow, 7. week was better than the 1. [It became the most popular film of the season]. I myself went to Maxim to see it, head deeply buried in my cap, and behind me there was a strange row of spectator, with a brisk lady in both ends. I then learned that from the Nikkilä mental hospital etc. there were whole groups who came to see the film, and it was also used for on-the-job supervision."
MV: The 1980s was the record decade of debut directors. You opened new paths in production, the American way. LT: "Part of the debut directors never continued beyond the 1980s. Myself, I did more of the artistic stuff for tv, because there, the films always received a million spectators. For the cinemas, it was more about entertainment. Esa Vuorinen was my teacher. [Lauri Törhönen was second assistant director in Warren Beatty's Reds, 1981]. Reds was the craziest adventure on can have, but I learned the American production methods: timetables, shooting schedules, location plans. Riisuminen [The Undressing] I did in 12 shooting days."
MV: What about the technical development. LT: "Esa Vuorinen is a great artist, the finest Nordic cinematographer alive, he has worked a lot in Sweden. Film-making has been compared with a flight to the moon in the complexity of the logistics".
The young nurse Tuulikki (Riitta Viiperi) comes to a mental hospital and is put in charge of an incurably ill patient Katariina (Eeva Eloranta) in the closed ward. Katariina is obsessed with fire, refuses to drink, and has manic outbursts. While there is a masked ball on the other side of the lake, Katariina dresses as an angel, sets herself to fire and drowns in the lake. Shattered, Tuulikki herself is unbalanced and becomes a patient in her own ward. In the final image we see her vanish into the happy crowd of a summer music festival. - Still one of the rare Finnish films that portray psychotherapy in a serious way. There is much that is worthy in the performances of the actors. The cinematography is elegant and consistently expressive. - There would be demand for this film in the dvd market among professionals of psychotherapy.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

SATOSHI KON IN HELSINKI

Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 8 Nov 2008. Mr. Satoshi Kon spoke Japanese, expertly translated into Finnish by Mr. Aleksi Järvelä. There were many previously prepared questions from the audience, and a number of questions in the two-hour-plus session, in addition. - Mentioning a film of his (Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika) for the first time Mr. Kon asked whether anyone from the audience had seen them, and, happily impressed by the good show of hands, stood up and bowed in gratitude. - Summing up Mr. Kon's comments: "I started with manga, but manga did not sell, so I switched to anime, and the transition was easy. The big difference is that there is a large group of people involved in anime. It is dialogue, it is speaking about images, exchanging thoughts. I had never considered myself as a social person, but it turned out to be the other way around. Anime is being closely followed. There is a lot of mediocre anime. The best anime is created when there is a small compact group involved. It pays to focus on quality."
"My first feature Perfect Blue is based on a novel I had not read myself. About the star and the fan who becomes a stalker. We go inside senses, adopting the first person view of the protagonist. - Anime involves a terrifying amount of images. - In Japan, painting is highly appreciated. - One has to fight for one's position."
About fantastic milieux. "Many critics don't understand anything about making movies. - My starting point is to create fantasy out of the ordinary. - A lot of ideas get discarded. - I develop a web and continuum of ideas. - Paprika was a different process. - Imagery and design are on the forefront. - Usually my starting point is quite realistic, but there are hallucinations involved. - In Paprika, hallucinations dominate. - An unusual parade. - Today reality is emphasized more, and less attention is paid to dreams."
"In my movies, I don't use much the computer, maybe one fifth of the film is computer-generated. It is about the budget: the CG effects are more expensive. Drawing by hand is much cheaper. - Then there is the post-production and the subsidiary production. - In animation, there is not one right way to think."
"I have used my good composer consistently."
"The question of fact/fiction is basic but not all-encompassing".
Do you get mail from people who have had similar experiences of blurring reality and fantasy? "Yes, and sometimes the blurring has become a problem. It can be scary. I don't know whether these persons should watch these films."
Is there a message or vision? "I have to explain a lot, as if I were a radio with non-stop talk. There is none. But one can find ideas hidden in different layers, and it is the viewer's task to find them."
Strong female characters such as Paprika. "As in biology, my characters start as females, but they can transform into men. - The biggest battle I had with the strong female character in Millennium Actress. - The most difficult was Perfect Blue, as the budget was minuscule. - Easy have none of them been."

Môsô dairinin 1: Ohayo!

Paranoia Agent 1: Good Morning! TV anime series, first episode of 13. JP 2004. PC: WoWoW. D: Satoshi Kon. Episode 25 min. Dvd projection in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 8 Nov 2008. Extra screening on the occasion of the visit of Satoshi Kon. - IMDB series summary: "We follow different fates in modern Japan. Each episode ends with an assault by a boy with a golden bat. Throughout the animation series we learn more about the boy." - A fascinating anime with original approaches to the psyche.

Paprika

JP 2006. PC: Madhouse, Paprika Film Partners. D: Satoshi Kon.SC: Seishi Minakami, Satoshi Kon - based on the novel by Yasutaka Tsutsui. M: Susumu Hirasawa. Anime. 2,35:1, colour. 90 min. Blu-Ray projection of the English version with Finnish subtitles in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 8 Nov 2008. - An extra screening on the occasion of Satoshi Kon's visit. - The Blu-Ray premiere at Orion. There is a depth of image clearly different from dvd. - Plot synopses from IMDB: "When a machine that allows therapists to enter their patient's dreams is stolen, all hell breaks loose. Only a young female therapist can stop it: Paprika." - "Three scientists at the Foundation for Psychiatric Research fail to secure a device they've invented, the D.C. Mini, which allows people to record and watch their dreams. A thief uses the device to enter people's minds, when awake, and distract them with their own dreams and those of others. Chaos ensues. The trio - Chiba, Tokita, and Shima - assisted by a police inspector and by a sprite named Paprika must try to identify the thief as they ward off the thief's attacks on their own psyches. Dreams, reality, and the movies merge, while characters question the limits of science and the wisdom of Big Brother." - "In this Japanese anime epic, humanity's last bastion of privacy has finally been infiltrated by technology, the world of our dreams. The story centers on a new invention called the DC-Mini. With this revolutionary device, psychiatrists are now able to enter a patient's dreams in a therapeutic setting. But when an unknown assailant steals all of the devices, using them to enter peoples minds enacting mind control, chaos ensues as dreams begin to bleed into reality, and the thin line between the conscious and the unconscious begins to blur. Enter a young female researcher named Chiba, who takes it upon herself to delve into the newly anarchic dream world in order to set things straight. In this surreal realm her name is Paprika, and she's out to save the world. Bursting with fantastic imagery and breathtakingly innovative animation." - I could only catch the first 20 minutes of this original and fascinating anime, certainly worth revisiting.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick

Ikuistetut hetket / Everlasting Moments. SE/DK/FI/NO/DE (c) 2008 Final Cut. P: Tero Kaukomaa, Christer Nilson, Thomas Stenderup. D: Jan Troell. SC: Niklas Rådström - based on a story by Agneta Ulfsäter-Troell and Jan Troell. DP: Mischa Gavrjusjov, Jan Troell - colour - 1,85:1 - digital intermediate: Digilab - printed on 35mm film. CAST: Maria Heiskanen (Maria Larsson), Mikael Persbrandt (Sigfrid Larsson), Jesper Christensen (Sebastian Pedersen), Emil Jensen (Englund), Ghita Nørby (Miss Fagerdal), Hans Henrik Clemensen (Mr. Fagerdal), Amanda Ooms (Matilda), Antti Reini (Captain), Birte Heribertsson (Aunt Tora), Claire Wikholm (Grandmother Karna), Hans Alfredson (prison guard). 133 min. Released in Finland by Sandrew with Finnish subtitles by Anitra Paukkula. Viewed at Maxim 2, 7 Nov 2008. - The digital intermediate look is shabby. - It is great to see Jan Troell (born 1931) in good form. He is a director who has always something to say. - This is a story of the power of photography (and cinematography, and art) to transform life, to open new horizons and perspectives. - "The images are taking hold". "They turn me to another being". "They reveal another world". "There is no turning back". "For always, for ever". - Storywise I like the film's portrayal of the everyday working life around WWI, the hard toil, the ascent of the workers' movement. It is naturalistic but not boring. But the imagery as filtered through the digital intermediate is not interesting to look at. It lacks the vibration of life. - The story takes place in Göteborg and in the neighbourhood. - There are the two men in Maria's life: the brutal Sigfrid, to whom she is faithful and whom she manages to transform (even though he has to go to prison after having tried to murder Maria). And there is the platonically friendly owner of the photographer's shop, Sebastian Pedersen, who encourages Maria to her new passion of photography. - Good visual ideas: the image of the butterfly reflected on Maria's hand via the camera lens. - Cinematography: Sebastian Pedersen shoots a newsreel of the three kings' meeting on the eve of WWI. There is a screening of Charles Chaplin's Easy Street with piano and violin accompaniment. [Jan Troell has a an interest in silent cinema representation but also a tendency to exaggerate overspeed, also in Här har du ditt liv.] - A story about art transcending and transforming life.

Quantum of Solace

007 Quantum of Solace / 007 Quantum of Solace. GB/US (c) 2008 Danjaq / United Artists / Columbia. P: Barbara Broccoli, Michael G. Wilson. D: Marc Forster. SC: Paul Haggis, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade - inspired by characters created by Ian Fleming. DP: Roberto Schaefer - colour - 2,35:1 - cameras: Arricam ST/LT, Arri and Angenieux Lenses, Arriflex 235, Arri and Angenieux Lenses, Arriflex 435 Advanced, Arri and Angenieux Lenses, Dalsa Origin, Sony CineAlta HDW-F900R - negative or master format: 35 mm (Kodak Vision2 200T 5217, Vision3 500T 5219), Digital, HDTV Video - cinematographic process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), source formats: Digital (4K) , HDCAM SR (source format), Super 35 (also 3-perf) - printed film format: 35 mm (anamorphic) (Kodak Vision 2383, Vision Premier 2393) [source of technical information: IMDB]. M: David Arnold; James Bond theme by Monty Norman; "Another Way To Die" (Jack White) perf. Jack White & Alicia Keys. Visual effects: several companies. CAST: Daniel Craig (James Bond), Olga Kurylenko (Camille), Mathieu Amalric (Dominic Greene), Judi Dench (M), Giancarlo Giannini (Mathis), Gemma Arterton (Strawberry Fields), Jeffrey Wright (Felix Leiter). 108 min. Released in Finland by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Marko Hartama / Marko Hietikko. Viewed in Kinopalatsi 1, Helsinki, 7 Nov 2008.

Digital look mostly hidden by extremely rapid cutting. Steel blue gray colour gamut. When shots linger the limitations of the definition become evident.

The previous Bond film got some of the best reviews of the whole Bond cycle, and it was apparently the financially most successful Bond film of all. This is a direct follow-up. - One of the shortest Bond films, it focuses on action, a little like the hyperkinetic action films that were trendy from the 1980s until the 1990s. The danger is that all action and rapid cutting can get tedious. - As a fan of Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, The Kite Runner) I see no director's touch in this assignment. - Daniel Craig's Bond is made more single-mindedly a killing machine, and there is an acceptance of violent torture that resonates with Abu Ghraib. Bond was always cynical and brutal, but there were more sides to the character before. Now he resonates more with the ugly side of the world espionage. However, there is a division with the bad Americans and the good Americans. There are also critical comments on the cynicism of world politics. - I feel that the spirit of Bond died with the Cold War, and the series now lives an artificial life, but surely it will be continued as long as the success is this phenomenal. - Certainly the Bourne films are now more cutting edge than the Bond films. - I still think they should have more powerful villains and more powerful women (besides Judi Dench as M). - There would be any number of fascinating ways to create modern spy thrillers. The reality is more thrilling than any of the current spy films films, as can be seen in books like Steven Coll's The Ghost Wars. - Now only some details of new technology are interestingly modern. - The score is on the level of the best of the Bond cycle.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

En natt

SE 1931. PC: Svensk Filmindustri. D: Gustaf Molander. ASS.D: Gösta Hellström. SC: Ragnar Hyltén-Cavallius [based on a true story as told by Armas Järnefelt]. DP: Åke Dahlqvist. ASS.CIN: Rolf Husberg. Lighting: Sixten Andersson. AD: Arne Åkermark. M: Jules Sylvain (= Stig Hansson). Songs: "Internationalen" (Degeyter, Henrik Menander), "Atenarnas sång" (Sibelius, Viktor Rydberg). CAST: Björn Berglund (Armas Beckius, the red son), Uno Henning (Vilhelm Beckius, the white son), Gerda Lundequist (the mother, Lady Beckius, a colonel's widow), Ingert Bjuggren (Marja, the Russian red girlfriend of Armas), Karin Swanström (Minka, Marja's mother), Sture Lagerwall (Niku). Long version originally 83 min. The surviving short version 78 min. A Cinemateket / Svenska Filminstitutet print with e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 6 Nov 2008. - A brilliant print with a beautiful definition of light. - The story of Finland's Civil War of 1918. Two brothers in Karelia, one is Red, the other is White. The family is torn apart, a symbol of Finland's fate at the dawn of independence. - Although Gustaf Molander was born in Helsinki, the film is inauthentic and unbelievable from a realistic point of view, and it was offensive for both sides. It shows the red rebellion as an export article only with no basis in the circumstances of the country. It shows the whites organizing immediate executions without trial. - The rhetorical dialogue is on the lines of "you don't know what a man's honour is" and "and you have no idea of a woman's love". - This being said, the film looks great, it is one of the best-looking Swedish films. The opening montage of the old mill. The revolutionary montage in the style of the great Russians. The camerawork is consistently interesting with sharp editing, a richness of composition, shots ranging from extreme close-up to impressive long views. There is a good sense of action in the chase sequence. The sensual attraction of Marja is engaging and original. The final dawn takes the breath away.

The Wicked Lady

Paholaisnainen / Maantierosvojen kuningatar / Svarta damen / Stråtrövarnas drottning. GB 1945. PC: Gainsborough. D: Leslie Arliss. SC: Leslie Arliss, Aimee Stuart, Gordon Glennon - based on the novel The Life and Death of the Wicked Lady Skelton (1943) by Magdalen King-Hall. DP: Jack Cox. AD: John Bryan. ED: Terence Fisher. CAST: Margaret Lockwood (Barbara Skelton), James Mason (Captain Jerry Jackson), Patricia Roc (Caroline), Griffith Jones (Sir Ralph Skelton, magistrate), Michael Rennie (Kit), Enid Stamp-Taylor (Lady Henrietta Kingsclere). 104 min. A Park Circus print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 5 Nov 2008. - A serviceable print. - Energetic entertainment from a female viewpoint. This is libido speak, cinema of transgression in the entertainment sphere. We are asked to identify with the selfish woman, Lady Skelton (Margaret Lockwood), who thinks nothing of breaking her best woman friend's betrothal, seducing her fiancé, marrying for money, already in the wedding party lusting for another man, losing her irreplaceable diadem in a play of the cards, becoming a highwaywoman to retrieve the diadem, starting a wild affair with the real highwayman, Captain Jackson (James Mason), and complaining about her husband, the magistrate Ralph Skelton, devoting himself to work, work work... of containing rampant crime! - Sharp dialogue, knowing looks, double entendres, bulging half-naked bosoms, pulp narrative. The fun of audacity, of doing the wrong thing. - Hitchcock's cameraman Jack Cox in good form. The future Hammer director Terence Fisher as editor. - I watched 40 min.

DOKUMENTIN YTIMESSÄ 44: MANNERHEIM

I dokumentärens kärna 44: Mannerheim / In the Core of the Documentary 44: Mannerheim. Programme curated by Ilkka Kippola, Jari Sedergren. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 5 Nov 2008. Presented by Ilkka Kippola.
Suomen kansallinen sotajoukko. FI 1918. 11 min - good print
Talonpoikaismarssi 7. VII 1930. FI 1930. Excerpts on Betacam SP, 10 min
Mannerheimin 70-vuotispäivän juhlallisuudet. FI 1937. 9 min - good print
Deutsche Auslandswochenschau 563: [Hitler Visits Finland]. DE 1942. DP: Walter Frenz. 11 min excerpt - 16mm. - On the dvd, there is the Finnish newsreel on Hitler's visit to Finland; here we see the German perspective. The viewer is made to understand that Vyborg was conquered from the USSR after Hitler's visit (it was conquered before).
Puolustusvoimain katsaus 52: Suomen marsalkan vastavierailu Saksaan. FI 1942. 16 min. Mannerheim visits Hitler, Göring, Himmler in Germany
[Rintamavierailut syksyllä 1941-42. Unreleased]. FI 1941-1942. Betacam SP with 2008 commentary by Ohto Manninen, Ilkka Kippola. 7 min
[Marsalkan metsästysmaja. Unreleased]. FI 1942. Betacam SP with 2008 commentary by Ohto Manninen, Ilkka Kippola. 11 min
[Päämajakaupunki Mikkeli. Unreleased]. FI 194X. Betacam SP with 2008 commentary by Ohto Manninen, Ilkka Kippola. 9 min
Suomen Marsalkan viimeinen matka. FI 1951. 15 min
Marsalkan päivä. FI 1960. 8 min. Vintage print, colour starting to fade.
A great programme on the public image of C.G.E. Mannerheim, the Marshal of Finland (1867-1951). Although there is now a good dvd of the Mannerheim documentary films, on screen the impact is stronger.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Eternal Love (Movietone)

UCLA restored Movietone version viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 4 Nov 2008. - Excellent restoration from probably very difficult materials, it looks like a very well made dupe. The image is a little on the soft side, and there are contrast questions in some scenes. The overall impact is consistent and pleasant. - See entry 20 March 2008, when we screened the silent (not-Movietone) version. - The Hugo Riesenfeld score is a good example of a music score of a late silent film. It is interesting to notice how the most important sound elements (the bells, the gunshots, the door knockers) work perfectly even as silent film images. - "My gun is my life. Who will dare take it away from me?" Ciglia steps forward. - The heavy make-up is distracting. - The influence of Murnau's Faust both in the choice of Camilla Horn and in the final visionary image, so untypical for Lubitsch. - I feel this is an important Lubitsch film, although it is not completely realized and although he himself disowned it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Standard Operating Procedure

Standard Operating Procedure / Standard Operating Procedure. US (c) 2008 Sony Pictures Classics. EX: Robert Fernandez, Diane Weyermann. P: Julie Ahlberg, Errol Morris. D: Errol Morris. DP: Robert Chappell, Robert Richardson - shot on HDTV - color - 2,35:1 - print on 35mm film. M: Danny Elfman. 118 min. Released in Finland by Cinema Mondo with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Anitra Paukkula / Markus Karjalainen. Viewed at Kino Engel 1, 31 Oct 2008. - A fine and consistent digital intermediate look. - Powerful imagery helps approach the grim subject matter. Expressive Interrotron close-ups, music by Danny Elfman, sound design. The space of images, photographs, hundreds of them, being structured during the picture. "All the pictures seemed to line up". - Iraq War of 2003-. This is a journey into Abu Ghraib, beyond the sensational images of humiliation (including the sexual pyramid). We get to see them in context, and see them with different eyes. Some images look worse than what happened. But the worst things were never photographed in the first place. Mainly young and inexperienced soldiers were punished. - Saddam did a thousand times more horrible things, but the world had expected more from the US. - An important survey into the Abu Ghraib mess that has come to symbolise the US trouble in the Iraq War of 2003-. - Great, maybe too long?
Wikipedia: "The name "Interrotron" was coined by Morris's wife, who, according to Morris, "liked the name because it combined two important concepts — terror and interview." The device is similar to a teleprompter: Errol and his subject each sit facing a camera. The image of each person's face is then projected onto the lens of the other's camera. Instead of looking at a blank lens, then, both Morris and his subject are looking directly at a human face. Morris believes that the machine encourages monologue in the interview process, while also encouraging the interviewees to "express themselves to camera"."
Wikipedia: "Morris' practice of compensating his interview subjects has caused controversy, although it is not an unusual practice in documentary filmmaking, according to the producer Diane Weyermann, who also worked on An Inconvenient Truth. In a private interview during the Tribeca Film Festival, Morris said: "If I had not paid them, they would not be interviewed.""