Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sommerreise

FI 2006. P+D+DP: Mika Taanila. Featuring Erkki Kurenniemi. 16mm, colour, silent, 3 min. A Mika Taanila print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 31 Jan 2009. - The first screening in Finland of this film. - Intentional low tech. - Erkki Kurenniemi, who since in the 1960s started to become a computer-being, smoking compulsively, has lost his capacity of speech. With Kurenniemi's consent, Mika Taanila filmed this anti-Winterreise. It's silent, of course.

Tulevaisuus ei ole entisensä

The Future Is Not What It Used to Be / Framtiden är inte vad den brukade vara. FI 2002. D: Mika Taanila.
Excerpts from Erkki Kurenniemi's short films:
- Winterreise (1964)
- Electronics In The World of Tomorrow (1964)
- Computer Music (1966)
- Firenze (1970)
- Sex Show (1968)
- Flora & Fauna (1965)
- Carnaby Street (1968)
and the video work of Kurts:
- Videokirje tulevaisuuteen [A Video Letter to the Future] (1990)
Also excerpts from tv programs (YLE):
- Kahdeksan tahtia tietokoneelle [Eight Beats for the Computer] (1967)
- Tv-aktuellt (1968)
- Ihmisen uudet mahdollisuudet [Man's New Opportunities] (1969)
- Ungdom för helvete [Youth for Hell] (1969)
- Dimi-baletti [Dimi Ballet] (1971)
- Mihin menet Suomi? [Where Do You Go To, Finland?] (1979)
- A-studio (1980)
- A-raportti: Mikrojen maihinnousu [The Invasion of the Micro Computer] (1982)
- Numero 110384-1984, rekisteröity, tilastoitu ja kauko-ohjattu kansalainen [Number 110384: the Registered, Statistically Computed and Remote-Controlled Citizen] (1984)
- Lauantailokki (1987)
- TV-uutiset (1999)
And commissioned films by Filminor:
- Pakasteet [Frozen Foods] (1969, D: Jarva, M: EK)
- Tietokoneet palvelevat [The Computer At Your Service] (1968, D: Jarva, M: EK)
- Cosmic Love (Ruotsi, D: Jonas Sima) [Thank you, Mika Taanila, 10 Feb 2009, for the excerpt credits.]
54 min. A 35mm SES print with English subtitles by Jaana Wiik. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 31 Jan 2009. - Presented by Mika Taanila. - A good print.
Official synopsis: "A documentary film about Erkki Kurenniemi (b. 1941), whose career represents a surprisingly natural blend of music, film, computers, robotics, science and art. His project of collecting everything around him will perhaps be the most significant of all his works. Kurenniemi records his thoughts, observations, objects and images constantly, with manic precision, with the ultimate goal of merging man and machine - reconstructing the human soul."
"Kurenniemi's story is a fascinating and forceful depiction of a forgotten visionary; it is significant because of the cultural history of the unique, never-before-seen archive material alone. The documentary includes footage of the unique DIMI instruments developed by Kurenniemi, and segments from unfinished experimental short films from the 1960s."
"The Future is not what it used to be is a film about the 1960s avant-garde in music and film, the early history of microcomputers and the open questions of 21st century science."
"The film is a logical and thematic follow-up for Mika Taanila's earlier works exploring technology and the world around us; namely Thank You For the Music, Futuro and RoboCup99. The film looks into the past, but very clearly far ahead into the future through it."
Revisited the fascinating documentary by Mika Taanila, which is also a great experimental film, about a great experimental man.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

JAN HARLAN

Jan Harlan, the Kubrick ambassador, was a special guest of the DocPoint festival. We took a quick everyman's tour of Helsinki, and enjoyed salmon sandwiches and Runeberg tart at the Hakaniemi hall on Saturday, 24 Jan, 2009.

Friday, January 23, 2009

MODERN TIMES: FILM CONCERT

Nykyaika / Moderna tider. US (c) 1936 Charles Chaplin. M: Charles Chaplin, arr. David Raksin. The original score reconstructed by Timothy Brock (2000). Performed by RSO (Radio Symphony Orchestra), conductor: Carl Davis. Finlandia-talo, 23 Jan 2009. Full house for two performances. - Chaplin's greatest score played beautifully by the RSO. - His musical gift is versatile: the machine world in the opening credits theme, the playful passages in the gag sequences, and the emotional final theme tune that would be later become known as "Smile". It is uttered first like a breath of relief when Chaplin finally meets Goddard, the first woman in his feature films who really seems like the perfect match. (But so were Edna and Mabel in the shorts.) The music keeps growing after the final image, reaching its greatest impact when the screen is dark, just as was the case in City Lights. - It was a pleasure to have a drink with Carl Davis and Paul Wing after the lovely performance.

RICHARD LEACOCK AND VALERIE LALONDE

It was a pleasure to have coffee with Richard Leacock and Valerie Lalonde, guests of honor of the DocPoint festival, in the lobby of the President Hotel in Helsinki. Richard Leacock is probably the last major direct link to Robert Flaherty, the father of the documentary film.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

L'Inde fantôme 2: Choses vues à Madras

Intian päiväkirja 2: Madrasin näkymiä. FR 1969. D: Louis Malle. Brilliant restored version, superb print by AFF / CNC, with e-subtitles by Lena Talvio. 52 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 22 Feb 2009. - I saw the beginning: the Car of the Juggernaut. A magnificent scene of religious fervour and mass feeling.

Kekkoslovakia 1

A compilation video by Ilkka Kippola and Jari Sedergren, prepared for this screening. 82 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 22 Oct 2009. - The career and times of Urho Kekkonen (1900-1986), President of Finland in 1956-1981. Displayed in the newsreels, showing both the facade, with glimpses behind.
+
Urho Kekkonen. FI 1961. D: Harry Lewing. 37 min. Colour. The official propaganda film for the presidential election. Brilliant colour in the 35mm print.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

L'Inde fantôme 5: Regards sur les castes

Intian päiväkirja 5: Kasteista. FR 1969. PC: Nouvelles Editions de Films / ORTF. P: Claude Nedjar. D: Louis Malle. DP: Etienne Becker - 16mm - colour - blowup to 35mm. ED: Suzanne Baron. S: Jean-Claude Laureux. Commentary read by: Louis Malle. 52 min. The restored version by AFF / CNC, e-subtitles by Lena Talvio, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 21 Jan 2009. - Brilliant image in the print, gorgeous for instance in the colourful laundry (dhobi) sequence. - Magisterial. The US development assistance worker. The ancient music instruments. The folkloristic episode. The villagers got used to us. Beyond the routine, the unexpected. The precious cow manure. The carrying of water. The strange work patterns lead us to the hidden caste system. For the foreigner, it is incomprehensible, invisible, it is a silent agreement, an unconscious reflex, abolished from the Constitution. Since thousands of years, there are the four castes: 1. Brahmins, 2. Kshatriyas (warriors, nobility), 3. Vaishyas (merchants), 4. Shudras (workers, farmers, service providers, laborers) - and the casteless. - In this village, there were 20 castes. - The terms pariah, untouchable, caste, are invented by Europeans, not used by Indians. - The reality is more complex. - The casteless are called the Harijan (the children of God). The situation is comparable with the one that existed in the Old South of the U.S. between the whites and the blacks. - A young harijan was burned. The police was supposed to intervene, but there was a wall of silence that prevented it. - The greatest victims of the system are its greatest defendants. - The water pipe. The pure and the impure bath-house. - The tabus are losing some of their might, especially in the cities. - How one bathes, eats, smokes. - In the West, the individual is supreme, in India, the relations. - A charming outdoor school on the ceiling of the bath-house. The teachers belong to the brahmin caste. - The blind camel circles the grindstone that mixes the seed. - The concept of the freedom of the individual is unknown. - The man who is the water-lifter: the dharma. The system of exchange. The agrarian communism. Now connected with land ownership. The village goes in debt to the rich. The castes turn into classes. - The mountain tribe who has moved to the plains: isolated, fateless. - Laundry, the dhobi, the ancient way of beating against the rock, without soap. - Even in Madras, there are hundreds of the dhobi, in a precise division of labour. The laundry is ready to be picked up on the same day. - The Aryans, the Greek, the Romans, the Germans - the castes are 3000 years old - they preceded the Aryans. - In Bombay, there is a huge laundry, yet they have the dhobi. - In 1853, Marx predicted that the railway would put an end to the caste system. Instead, it still exists, hampering democracy. - The funeral, a jubileum of death. Death is not even a break in the continuous chain of existence. No punishment is final. The supreme goal is to no longer be born, to merge into the cosmos. - The modernization of agriculture. First, you have to change the consciousness. You need to look at the world in another way. - The traditional sport that resembles wrestling. Nobody follows the rules. The past can be revoked. - Panchayat: the village council. Sarpanch: the village chief. - There is an accusation of theft. But democracy and justice are only for the appearances.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kansakunnan olohuone

The Living Room of the Nation. FI (c) 2008 Mouka Filmi. P: Sami Jahnukainen. D: Jukka Kärkkäinen. Video. 80 min. A Mouka Filmi videotape, English version, with English credits and subtitles by Aretta Vähälä. Viewed at DocPoint opening gala, Bio Rex, 20 Jan 2009. Presented by Jukka Kärkkäinen and Sami Jahnukainen with a performance of bad English and a fine a cappella song of A Thousand Roses. - The visual quality of the picture is modest, not far from surveillance video. - Erkko Lyytinen's programme text: "The Living Room of the Nation follows the lives of Finns in their holiest place, the living room. By comparing the protagonist Tero's life to the events taking place in the living rooms of the other characters, the viewer is given a unique window to an essential dimension of Finnishness - how we react to other people's problems and how we talk about our own. The film is a small-scale collection of manifestations of Finnishness. Tero seeks to untangle his relationship with the mother of his unborn child, and a reclusive man tries to sort out his own relationship to life. Their introverted worlds reflect something vulnerable and tender to the outside. It's better to say nothing and to keep things as they are, rather than seek to change and confront one's problems - revealing one's self is admitting weakness. The film combines all the traditional Finnish virtues: forced silence, enacted humility and artificial modesty." (Erkko Lyytinen, translated by Anna Volmari). - This is a feature film of several people who are not participating in active daily life, who have retired to their homes, who are almost outcasts, old, weak, sick, disabled, apathetic, mentally ill, etc. All are retired or unemployed. It has been quite a feat to approach them and record them on the video with such candour. This film belongs to the same tradition as On the Bowery, and such works carry the same ethical question: the human beings being documented reveal extremely private sides of their circumstances, but are we worthy of their trust? Is there enough dignity in us? - Aesthetically the film belongs to the school of Roy Andersson. - The humanity of the film is affecting, and at the same time I feel embarrassed having been such a voyeur. - AFTERWARDS I was reminded that the people appearing in the film were present in the gala evening, and they approved.

DOCPOINT OPENING GALA

Bio Rex, 20 Jan 2009

The opening gala of the magnificent DocPoint festival, 20-25 Jan 2009.

Rock the Pole: a dance troupe presented a wonderful acrobatic performance around a pole erected in front of the screen. During the official speeches they watched First Blood on a monitor, Rambo wreaking havoc on the police station.

Nyt ja nyt - kuvia Helsingistä ennen ja nyt / Now and Now - Images from Helsinki Before and Now. FI 2008. D: Pekka Uotila. 8 min. Video. A montage of vintage silent Helsinki footage and new footage shot with five vintage hand-cranked cameras. The new footage looks much clumsier. And the point is lost, as it's a video. - Beautiful live music by a string quartet (four young and lovely ladies).

Opening speeches:
- Jari Matala, Executive Director
- Erkko Lyytinen, Artistic Director

The Apollo Prize was given by Mr. Erkki Astala (YLE, Finnish Broadcasting Corporation) to
the Epidem company, dedicated to quality documentary films since 40 years.
- Jaana Wahlforss gave a long, exciting speech
- Kai Salminen gave a shorter speech

The feature film, see Kansakunnan olohuone / The Living Room of the Nation

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ruslan i Ljudmila

Руслан и Людмила / Ruslan ja Ljudmila / Ruslan och Ljudmila / Ruslan and Lyudmila. SU (c) 1972 Mosfilm, released in 1973. D: Alexander Ptushko - from the poem by A.S. Pushkin (1820). DP: Igor Gelein, V. Zaharov - Sovcolor. FX: I. Felintsyn. PD: Jevgeni Serganov. COST: Olga Krutshinina. CAST: Natalja Petrova (Lyudmila), Valeri Kozinets (Ruslan), Vladimir Fedorov (Chernomor). 147 min. A vintage print with e-subtitles in Finnish by Tuulia Lehtonen. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 17 Jan 2009. - A soft Sovcolor print. - The launching film of our The Secret History of Soviet Cinema curated by Lauri Lehtinen and Antti Suonio. - I watched the start only. The film has the sense of the mythical grandeur of a fairy-tale epic, as did Ptushko's Ilya Muromez. It takes place in the mythical 9th-10th centuries of the old Russian principality of Kiev. - The performance was well attended. This film has a new fascination in the era of the new popularity of The Lord of the Rings.

THE FILMS OF MIKA TAANILA 1 + PORI WITH CIRCLE LIVE

Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 17 Jan 2009.

Futuro - tulevaisuuden olotila / Futuro - en framtidsutopi / Futuro - A New Stance for Tomorrow. FI (c) 1998. Kinotar. D: Mika Taanila. 30 min. - A good SES print with English subtitles by Jaana Wiik. - Revisited: the brilliant documentary on the UFO-shaped Futuro house (1968) by Matti Suuronen.

Circle in live concert (Janne Westerlund: guitar, vocals - Mika Rättö: vocals, keyboard, percussions - Tomi Leppänen: drums - Jussi Lehtisalo: bass, vocals - Tuomas Laurila: sound design - Janne Tuomi: percussions) to the film

Pori. FI (c) 1998 Mika Taanila / Kiasma. With inserts from Porin uusi silta (The New Bridge of Pori, Adams Filmi, 1926). A triptych (like Abel Gance's Polyvision) in Cinerama proportions of three 16mm projectors and colour slides. 35 min. - A good print, a perfect performance.
Circle is a many-sided band which has been associated with space rock, experimental music, metal music, post-rock, Krautrock and maybe also neo-psychedelia. Their performance was dynamic and inspired.
The film is a tribute to the seaside city of Pori, mixing old newsreels with new footage, sewer video surveillance imagery, abstract flashes and SMPTE test and leader strip. It starts with the waves of the sea upside down, the seagull in the sky, and the new bridge (of 1926) replacing the old Charlotta. There is footage from a concert at the Yyteri sand beach, showgirls, vapour, night lights, electric towers, the half moon in the sky. The abstract passages are great.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Wrestler

Painija / The Wrestler. US (c) 2008 Off the Top Rope / Wild Bunch. EX: Vincent Maraval, Agnès Mentre, Jennifer Roth. P: Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin. D: Darren Aronofsky. SC: Robert D. Siegel. DP: Maryse Alberti - shot on S-16mm - 2K digital intermediate - color - 2,35:1. "Round and Round" perf. by Ratt / Rat Attack. "The Wrestler" by and perf. by Bruce Springsteen. CAST: Mickey Rourke (Randy "The Ram" Robinson), Marisa Tomei (Cassidy), Evan Rachel Wood (Stephanie Robinson). 115 min. A Cinema Mondo release with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Mökkönen / Saliven Gustavson. Viewed at Tennispalatsi 10, 17 Jan 2009. - An intentional low definition look with heavy grain sustained in the digital intermediate. - A companion piece to Darren Aronofsky's masterpiece Requiem for a Dream. That film was about addiction. This is about performance as a masochistic show. The Ram is a show wrestler at the end of his career. His best friend Cassidy is a stripper. - The film is about dignity, pride and humanity in circumstances where those qualities would be least expected. - Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei are magnificent in their brave performances. The braver feat is how they expose their characters' soul rather than flesh. - The film belongs to the tradition of The Set-Up (Robert Ryan), Somebody Up There Likes Me (Paul Newman), Fat City (Stacy Keach) and The Raging Bull (Robert De Niro), but this is a different game and an original approach. - Also in this film the theme of addiction is essential.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sjećaš li se, Dolly Bell

Muistatko Dolly Bellin? / Kommer du ihåg Dolly Bell? YU 1981. PC: Sutjeska Film, Televizija Sarajevo. D: Emir Kusturica. SC: Abdulah Sidran. DP: Vilko Filac. M: Zoran Simjanovic. LOC: Sarajevo. CAST: Slavko Stimac (Dino Zolje), Slobodan Aligrudic (father), Ljiljana Blagojevic (Dolly Bell), Mira Banjac (mother), Boro Stjepanovic (Cvikeras), Zika Ristic (Cica). 110 min. A SFI print deposited by Sandrews with Swedish subtitles by Kajsa von Hofsten. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 15 Jan 2009. - A beautiful print. - My favourite Kusturica film of the ones I have seen. It is the coming-of-age story of the 16 year old Dino who loves music, gets attracted to the young prostitute whom he shelters in his dovecote, and fights violently with her pimp. - Kusturica is a pupil of Jiri Menzel, and this film has also been compared with young Fellini (I vitelloni). - His film is totally original in its rhythm, vitality, feeling for life, community, family, how he portrays the authoritarian father, the Communist ideal, and the discovery of sex. It is satirical both about the party bureaucracy and the white slave trade conducted by the pimp. The most moving scene is the one where Dino has to witness Dolly Bell being taken by a row of sex-starved youngsters. He is crying in the rain.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

MARKKU LEHMUSKALLIO: SHORT FILMS

Four documentary films.
Pohjoisten metsien äänet / De nordliga skogarnas ljud / Sounds of the Northern Forests. FI 1973. 14 min
Mies jolla on kahdet kasvot / Mannen med två ansikten / The Man With Two Faces. FI 1974. 19 min
Elämän tanssi / Livets dans / The Dance of Life. FI 1975. 15 min
Mikä mies metsuri / Skogsarbetaren / The Lumberjack. FI 1977. 19 min
16mm. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 Jan 2009.
Beautiful colour in Pohjoisten metsien äänet, slightly faded in Mies jolla on kahdet kasvot, OK in Elämän tanssi and Mikä mies metsuri.
Markku Lehmuskallio is the artist of the people and the nature of the North. He makes both documentary and fiction films.
Sounds of the Northern Forests shows us the elks, the cranes, the hawks, the eagles, the fighting wood grouse, the reindeer, the owls, the swans, startled by the sounds of the chainsaw and the screaming jet.
The Man With Two Faces portrays the last wanderer of the forest, the Laplander, who meets swans making love and rearing their offspring.
The Dance of Life shows the man with eyes and hands tied in the forest, experiencing the courtship of the wood grouse and other birds of the forest.
The Lumberjack is the story of two schoolchildren preparing an essay of the modern lumberjack, so completely different from the lumberjack of the past. The modern lumberjack is well educated, versatile, an expert with huge forest machines, pretty independent in executing a clear cutting, living in populated centers, commuting to the forest with cars, working all year round in different aspects of the forest business.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blackout

FI (c) 2008 Filmiteollisuus. EX: Jorma Reinilä, Aleksi Bardy, JP Siili. P: Olli Haikka. D+SC: JP Siili. DP: Jarkko T. Laine. AD: Päivi Kettunen. COST: Helena Paavilainen-Takala. M: Lauri Ylönen. S: Juha Hakanen. ED: Jyrki Levä. LOC: Helsinki University Hospital (HUS, Helsinki). CAST: Petteri Summanen (Pekka Valinto), Jenni Banerjee (Laura Koskimies), Irina Björklund (Anne Hartela), Ismo Kallio (Ismo Valinto), Lena Meriläinen (Hanna Kajaste), Mikko Kouki (Juha Pasanen), Mari Perankoski (Mari Koski), Mikko Leppilampi (Kari Tuikkanen), Eppu Salminen (Arto Suominen), Risto Kaskilahti (Risto Vierikko), Miitta Sorvali (ward sister), Hannu-Pekka Björkman (Aleksi Partio), Asko Sarkola (director of the hospital). Released by FS Film. Viewed at Tennispalatsi, 9 Jan 2009. - A digi-mastered look, bleak, ok in close-ups and medium shots in the hospital, not good in nature scenes. - An interesting and original thriller to the obsessive amnesia trend of 2000s cinema (the Bourne films, Mies vailla menneisyyttä, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Memento). The man wakes up from coma with a long nail in his brain and has totally forgotten certain things, including his wife, and who tried to kill him. His father (Ismo Kallio) suffers from dementia / Alzheimer's disease. He is estranged from his wife who is a minister (Irina Björklund) but gets support from an ex-policewoman who now studies the law (Jenni Banerjee). - It is a suspense thriller with serious moral and social themes. The hospitals are overcrowded. Medicine develops fast, and cures are possible that had been impossible before. How long shall a person's life be prolonged in borderline cases? Must a doctor be a killer (of the old and the hopelessly ill) in order to save lives? - This is a film based on solid performances of the actors. Only the talented Irina Björklund seems lost in this picture.

Changeling

Vaihdokas / Changeling (SE). US (c) 2008 Universal. P: Clint Eastwood, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Robert Lorenz. D+M: Clint Eastwood. SC: J. Michael Straczynski. DP: Tom Stern - shot on 35mm - digital intermediate - 2,35:1 - color. PD: James J. Murakami. COST: Deborah Hopper. ED: Joel Cox, Gary Roach. LOC: California. CAST: Angelina Jolie (Christine Collins), John Malkovich (Gustav Briegleb), Jeffrey Donovan (J.J. Jones), Colm Feore (James E. Davis), Jason Butler Harner (Gordon Northcott), Amy Ryan (Carol Dexter). 144 min. Released by Finnkino with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Janne Staffans. Viewed at Tennispalatsi 3, 9 Jan 2009. - A digi-mastered look, bleached, pared down, not visually of the best Clint Eastwood standard. - Another strong Clint Eastwood film. He has been at his best in this decade (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, two Iwo Jima films). Changeling would be unbelievable if it weren't a true story of a woman who's son is kidnapped and who receives via the police another boy who isn't hers. Then a farm is discovered with the corpses of 20 murdered boys. And still many years later a boy believed lost is found who tells what happened. - This is the story of a heroic mother who refuses to give up, is put into an insane asylum, and, still fighting, causes changes in the police system and in legislation. - It is good to see Angelina Jolie in a role that is powerful in a completely different way than Lara Croft. - There is a convincing period feel (1928-1935) in the film. - In the music I enjoyed the jazz for horns, but the strings were dragging. Clint Eastwood's tempo is slow, refreshingly so in comparison with the ultra-fast cutting of some current films, yet the film might be brisker. - There is a special emphasis when Clint Eastwood makes a film about LAPD being the most corrupt police department and about our protectors having become our brutalizers.

Rööperi

Rödbergen [Red Hill]. FI (c) 2009 Solar Films. P: Markus Selin, Jukka Helle. D: Aleksi Mäkelä. SC: Marko Leino - based on the novel Rööperi - rikoksen vuodet 1955-2005 (2005) by Harri Nykänen and Tom Sjöberg. DP: Pini Hellstedt - 2,35:1 - color. PD: Pirjo Rossi. COST: Tiina Kaukanen. MA: Riika Virtanen. M: Kalle Chydenius. S: Jyrki Rahkonen. CAST: Samuli Edelmann (Tomppa), Peter Franzén (Krisu), Kari Hietalahti (Kari), Pihla Viitala (Monika), Kristo Salminen (Arska), Jasper Pääkkönen (Korppu), Hiski Grönstrand (Pera), Tommi Rantamäki (Sale), Juha Veijonen (Koistinen), Pekka Valkeejärvi (Uki), Pirkko Mannola (Tyyne), Leena Uotila (Tompan äiti), Santeri Kinnunen (Teukka), Kalle Holmberg (Lindström). 130 min. Released by Nordisk Film Theatrical Distribution with Swedish subtitles by Markus Rautiainen. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 1, 9 Jan 2009. - A digi-mastered look, emphasis on the blue and the brown, a little shabby. - Underworld Helsinki. - Based on the novel by the crime expert, journalist and writer Harri Nykänen, on the true story of Tom Sjöberg, of organized crime in alcohol, robbery, theft, drugs, porn, smuggling, violent assault, murder, etc. in the district of Punavuori known in the Helsinki slang as Rööperi. - The film has it both ways: it both shows that crime doesn't pay and glorifies crime. Krisu perishes with heroin addiction. Kari is an imbecile. Monika dies broken-hearted. Tomppa loses his child. - Yet it makes these characters bigger than life, using slow motion and music. And I suspect many aspects of the story are polished and idealized. - Yet there is certainly a lot of interesting material in the film, and it is probably the richest exploration of the criminal life in a Finnish film.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Elegy

Kauneuden valta / Elegy - skönhetens makt. US (c) 2007 Lakeshore. D: Isabel Coixet. SC: Nicholas Meyer - based on the novel The Dying Animal (2001) by Philip Roth. DP: Jean-Claude Larrieu - 1,85:1 - color. LOC: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. CAST: Ben Kingsley (David Kepesh), Penélope Cruz (Consuela Castillo), Patricia Clarkson (Carolyn), Dennis Hopper (George O'Hearn), Deborah Harry (Amy O'Hearn), Peter Sarsgaard (Kenneth Kepesh). 108 min. A Future Film release with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by JS. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 5, Helsinki, 5 Jan 2009. - A digi-mastered look, not grating, as the film is based on close-ups and medium shots of people. - There are parallels here to The Human Stain: the male protagonist is a senior professor, and the female protagonist is a young woman who faces a crisis. The affair between the two is both profoundly fulfilling and deeply disturbing. The professor's breast fetish is not exaggerated in the movie, but Penélope Cruz's gorgeous charms are wonderfully displayed. Among other things, the film is a celebration of her beautiful naked breasts. For the female viewer, Ben Kingsley's naked body is in perfect shape, he could be 30 years old. - The professor has always been emotionally immature. One of the big themes of the story is that reaching maturity is still possible at an advanced age. - All performances are good. Patricia Clarkson is the professor's grown-up lover. Dennis Hopper and Deborah Harry are the couple who are his best friends. Peter Sarsgaard plays the perennially frustrated son.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

LE TEMPS DES CERISES (CHANSON FRANCAIS) IN THE CINEMA

Wikipédia: "Le Temps des cerises est une chanson de 1866, paroles de Jean-Baptiste Clément, musique d'Antoine Renard. Cette chanson est si fortement associée à la Commune de Paris que, dans les esprits, elle fut écrite pour elle."

Quand nous en serons au temps des cerises (Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises)

Et gai rossignol et merle moqueur
Seront tous en fête
Les belles auront la folie en tête
Et les amoureux du soleil au cœur
Quand nous chanterons le temps des cerises
Sifflera bien mieux le merle moqueur

Mais il est bien court , le temps des cerises
Où l'on s'en va deux cueillir en rêvant
Des pendants d'oreilles
Cerises d'amour aux robes pareilles (aux larmes pareilles)
Tombant sous la feuille en goutte de sang
Mais il est bien court le temps des cerises
Pendants de corail qu'on cueille en rêvant

Quand vous en serez au temps des cerises
Si vous avez peur de chagrins d'amour
Evitez les belles
Moi qui ne crains pas les peines cruelles
Je ne vivrai pas sans souffrir un jour
Quand vous en serez au temps des cerises
Vous aurez aussi des chagrins d'amour

J'aimerai toujours le temps des cerises,
C'est de ce temps-là que je garde au cœur
Une plaie ouverte
Et Dame Fortune en m' étant offerte
Ne saura jamais calmer ma douleur (Ne pourra jamais fermer ma douleur)
J'aimerai toujours le temps des cerises
Et le souvenir que je garde au cœur

This song has been popular in the movies, most famously in:
Casque d'or (Jacques Becker, FR 1952)
Prominently also in:
Le Temps des Cerises (Jean-Paul Le Chanois, FR 1937)
Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l'an 2000 (Alain Tanner, CH/FR 1976)
Kurenai no buta / Porco Rosso (Hayao Miyazaki, JP 1992)
Juha (Aki Kaurismäki, FI 1999)

P.S. 14 Aug 2011: My favourite interpretation of "Les Temps de cerises" is by Cora Vaucaire.

Jonas qui aura 25 ans en l'an 2000

Jonas täyttää 25 vuonna 2000 / Jonas fyller 25 år 2000. CH/FR (c) 1976 Citel Films etc. D: Alain Tanner. SC: John Berger, Tanner. DP: Renato Berta - Eastmancolor. M: Jean-Marie Sénia. "Le Temps de cerises" (1866, L: Jean-Baptiste Clément, M: Antoine Renard). ED: Brigitte Sousselier, Marc Blavet. LOC: Geneva. CAST: Jean-Luc Bideau (Max Satigny), Rufus (Mathieu Vernier), Miou-Miou (Marie), Jacques Denis (Marco Perly), Dominique Labourier (Marguerite Certoux), Roger Jendly (Marcel Certoux), Myriam Mézières (Madeleine), Myriam Boyer (Mathilde Vernier). 115 min. A vintage print with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Satu Laaksonen / Maya Vanni. Viewed at Cinema Orion, 1 Jan 2009. - Beautiful colour (warm and vibrant) in the print screened. - Revisited: Alain Tanner and John Berger's masterpiece on the legacy of the 1960's counterculture. It's about utopia, idealism, activism, thinking differently, sometimes naively, even destructively. It's about social awareness, ecological thinking, agriculture, raising children, new kinds of human relations, and tantra sex. Eight main characters, all around 30 years old, all with names starting with Ma-. In the music track, the piano passages (by Jean-Marie Sénia?) are lovely.