Saturday, March 26, 2011

Hyvä poika / The Good Son



Den goda sonen.
    FI © 2011 Oy Bufo Ab. P: Elli Toivoniemi, Mark Lwoff, Misha Jaari. D: Zaida Bergroth. SC: Jan Forsström, Zaida Bergroth. DP: Anu Keränen – shot on two small digital systems cameras, perhaps Canon Mark II – digital post-production: Cinepro. AD: Tytti Tiri, Okku Rahikainen: Costumes: Sari Suominen. Make-up: Pia Mikkonen. M: Mi and L'Au. S: Micke Nyström. ED: Jan Forsström.
    CAST: Samuli Niittymäki (Ilmari), Elina Knihtilä (Leila Manner), Eero Aho (Aimo), Anna Paavilainen (Karita), Eetu Julin (Unto).
    With: Kim Ahosvaara (Helander), Severi Saarinen (Simo), Kaisa Mattila (Lilli), Sanna-Kaisa Palo (Siiri), Pekka Valkeejärvi (Hannu), Antti Raivio (Kari). 87 min.
    Released by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland with Swedish subtitles.
    Viewed as a 35 mm print at Kinopalatsi 7, Helsinki, 26 March 2011 (premiere weekend).

Zaida Bergroth's debut feature film was the acclaimed Skavabölen pojat, and Hyvä poika has opened to equally positive reviews. The actress and single mother Leila Manner (Elina Knihtilä) retreats to her old family villa after a tumultuous film premiere. She is accompanied by her two sons, the 19-year-old Ilmari (Samuli Niittymäki) and the ca 10 year old Unto (Eetu Julin). Instead of peace and quiet they soon experience some partying as Leila decides to invite writer friends from the Mukkula writers' summer days. The writer Aimo (Eero Aho) stays with Leila. The boys are embarrassed. Ilmari has become Leila's bodyguard who has no problem evicting an unwanted guest violently. Unto is an introverted nature aficionado who reads bird books, photographs dragonflies, butterflies and other insects with his digital camera and edits his footage on a laptop. The local waitress Karita (Anna Paavilainen) is interested in Ilmari and they start to see each other. Everybody is off balance. Misled by Karita Ilmari overplays his bodyguard role tragically.

A chamber play in the Strindberg tradition, with all the characters deeply hurt. The difference to the chamber plays of Strindberg, Chekhov, Albee, etc., is that Zaida Bergroth's characters are more seriously disturbed, Leila suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder and her sons suffering with her. It may be challenging to relate to such characters even in a movie. There is a classical Oedipal situation in the movie, which is, however, never schematic.

Critics have commented positively on the visual quality achieved with the 2000 Euro systems cameras. In reality there is a heavy digital video look in the movie. It does not harm in the close-ups in this character-driven chamber movie, but the nature footage looks denatured.

The performances by Samuli Niittymäki, Elina Knihtilä, Eero Aho, Anna Paavilainen, and Eetu Julin are powerful and authentic. Obviously Zaida Bergroth is a fine director of children and young people, as well as grown-ups.

P.S. 1 April 2011: There is a similarity in Ilmari to the young avenger in Susanne Bier's Hævnen / In a Better World.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Larry McMurtry on Marilyn Monroe (article in The New York Review of Books)

Larry McMurtry: "Marilyn". The New York Review of Books, March 10, 2011. Vol LVIII, Number 4
Covering: - MM - Personal: From the Private Archive of Marilyn of Marilyn Monroe, ed. Lois Banner, with photographs of Mark Anderson. Abrams
- Fragments: Poems, Intimate Notes, Letters. By Marilyn Monroe. Ed. Stanley Buchthal and Bernard Comment. Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe. By Andrew O'Hagan. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Today is the Minna Canth Day in Finland, the day of social equality, a flag day. I take a Saturday walk by the seaside, and it starts to snow once again. I carry with me the latest issue of The New York Review of Books which I started to read in the train from Tampere to Helsinki a week ago. I finish reading it at the Café Ursula while having a croissant and a café au lait, forgetting for a while the imminent global expansion of the war in Libya today and the catastrophic situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The cover story is Larry McMurtry's article on Marilyn Monroe. Yet another prominent writer to contribute on this muse of poets and authors. There is not much that is new in McMurtry's piece, but he has an insight in the pop age goddess. He quotes Richard Avedon: "She was able to make wonderful photographs with almost any photographer, which is interesting - and rare".

Another quote, from Billy Wilder: "I think she was the best light comedienne we have in films today, and anyone will tell you that the toughest of acting styles is light comedy".

But a poet she wasn't. "Her unrhymed verse is frankly just terrible, and the many pages that reproduce the scrawls themselves are so much wasted paper".

She became famous as a pin-up, but "the important thing about her was her spirit", is McMurtry's conclusion.

On the whole, it's a great issue of The New York Review, with
- Freeman Dyson on the information flood and the information theory (Samuel Morse, Charles Shannon, Gordon Moore). Heat death is a myth. Moore's Law is still valid.
- Ron Reagan's My Father at 100 reviewed. The son reviews his father's life as a theatrical performance.
- Garry Kasparov writes about Bobby Fischer
- Joyce Carol Oates on The Fighter, directed by David O. Russell, and other boxing movies
- Dan Chiasson on Keith Richards' Life
- Darryl Pinckney on the Henry Louis Gates, Jr. case and the continuity of racial discrimination in the age of Obama
- Timothy Snyder on Hitler vs. Stalin: Who Killed More? After the cold war, a more sober assessment on Stalin's terror has become possible.
- Brian Urquhart on Timothy Garton Ash and revolution without violence, topical in the Arab world

Friday, March 18, 2011

Top British Films

Inspired by the Time Out list here is my personal top British list in chronological order:

The "?" Motorist (1906), D: Walter R. Booth, P: Robert W. Paul
A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929), D: Anthony Asquith
Rainbow Dance (1936), D: Len Lye
The Song of Ceylon (1937), D: Basil Wright, P: John Grierson, S: Cavalcanti
The Five Inch Bather (1942), D: Richard Massingham
Dead of Night (1944), D: Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer
I Know Where I'm Going! (1945), D: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
The Third Man (1949), D: Carol Reed
The Man in the White Suit (1951), D: Alexander Mackendrick
King and Country (1964), D: Joseph Losey
Goldfinger (1964), D: Guy Hamilton
The Devil Rides Out (1967), D: Terence Fisher
The Great Rock'n'Roll Swindle (1979), D: Julien Temple
A Zed & Two Noughts (1985), D: Peter Greenaway
Prick Up Your Ears (1987), D: Stephen Frears
Trainspotting (1996), D: Danny Boyle
Chicken Run (2000), D: Peter Lord, Nick Park
About a Boy (2002), D: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz
Another Year (2010), D: Mike Leigh

I also love the wartime films (In Which We Serve, Went the Day Well?), the Angry Young Men (Lindsay Anderson, John Schlesinger, Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, Jack Clayton) and the Ken Loach influence, not forgetting the eccentric and surrealistic inspiration of the Quay Brothers, the original pop visions of The Beatles, Richard Lester and David Mallet's early work with David Bowie, Kenny Everett, etc., and the quality tradition of British television (the Kevin Brownlow series, the John Le Carré series, the Dennis Potter series, and the documentaries).

PS. 26 March 2011. If I would have to name my number one favourite British film, it would be The Song of Ceylon.

Time Out: Top 100 British Films

The full list of the Time Out poll is worth reading in extenso, with comments from top directors, actors, critics, etc. There are also links to other Time Out lists, including an animation list with comments by Terry Gilliam and a WWII list with comments by Quentin Tarantino.

1 Don't Look Now (1973) Dir Nicolas Roeg (Julie Christie, Donald Sutherland)
2 The Third Man (1949) Dir Carol Reed (Joseph Cotten, Orson Welles, Alida Valli)
3 Distant Voices, Still Lives (1988) Dir Terence Davies (Pete Postlethwaite, Freda Dowie)
4 Kes (1969) Dir Ken Loach (David Bradley, Lynne Perrie, Freddie Fletcher)
5 The Red Shoes (1948) Dirs Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (Moira Shearer, Anton Walbrook, Marius Goring)
6 A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Dirs Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (David Niven, Kim Hunter, Roger Livesey, Raymond Massey)
7 Performance (1970) Dirs Nicolas Roeg, Donald Cammell (James Fox, Mick Jagger, Anita Pallenberg)
8 Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) Dir Robert Hamer (Dennis Price, Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood)
9 If... (1968) Dir Lindsay Anderson (Malcom McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick)
10 Trainspotting (1996) Dir Danny Boyle (Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Jonny Lee Miller)
11 Naked (1993) Dir Mike Leigh (David Thewlis, Lesley Sharp, Karin Cartlidge)
12 Brief Encounter (1945) Dir David Lean (Trevor Howard, Celia Johnson)
13 The 39 Steps (1935) Dir Alfred Hitchcock (Robert Donat, Madeleine Carroll, Godfrey Tearle)
14 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) Dirs Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (Roger Livesey, Deborah Kerr)
15 Withnail and I (1987) Dir Bruce Robinson (Richard E Grant, Paul McGann, Richard Griffiths)
16 Black Narcissus (1947) Dirs Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (Deborah Kerr, Sabu, David Farrar)
17 A Canterbury Tale (1944) Dirs Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (Eric Portman, Sheila Sim, John Sweet, Dennis Price)
18 The Innocents (1961) Dir Jack Clayton (Deborah Kerr, Michael Redgrave)
19 Barry Lyndon (1975) Dir Stanley Kubrick (Ryan O'Neal, Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee)
20 Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) Dir Terry Jones (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Michael Palin, Eric Idle et al)
21 Nil by Mouth (1997) Dir Gary Oldman (Kathy Burke, Ray Winstone)
22 Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960) Dir Karel Reisz (Albert Finney, Rachel Roberts, Shirley Anne Field)
23 Lawrence of Arabia (1962) Dir David Lean (Peter O’Toole, Omar Sharif, Alec Guinness)
24 Brazil (1985) Dir Terry Gilliam (Jonathan Pryce, Robert De Niro, Katherine Helmond)
25 Great Expectations (1946) Dir David Lean (John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Martita Hunt)
26 I Know Where I'm Going! (1945) Dirs Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger (Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey)
27 The Bill Douglas Trilogy (1972, 1973, 1978) Dir Bill Douglas (Stephen Archibald, Hughie Restorick, Jean Taylor-Smith)
28 The Wicker Man (1973) Dir Robin Hardy (Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland)
29 Peeping Tom (1960) Dir Michael Powell (Karl Böhm, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley)
30 The Ladykillers (1955) Dir Alexander Mackendrick (Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, Katie Johnson)
31 The Lady Vanishes (1938) Dir Alfred Hitchcock (Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave)
32 Get Carter (1971) Dir Mike Hodges (Michael Caine, Britt Ekland, John Osborne)
33 Secrets and Lies (1996) Dir Mike Leigh (Brenda Blethyn, Timothy Spall, Marianne Jean-Baptiste)
34 A Clockwork Orange (1971) Dir Stanley Kubrick (Malcolm McDowell, Patrick Magee, Michael Bates)
35 The Servant (1963) Dir Joseph Losey (James Fox, Dirk Bogarde, Sarah Miles, Wendy Craig)
36 The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962) Dir Tony Richardson (Tom Courtenay, James Bolam, Julia Foster)
37 It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) Dir Robert Hamer (Googie Withers, Edward Chapman, John McCallum)
38 Went the Day Well? (1942) Dir Alberto Cavalcanti (Leslie Banks, Elizabeth Allan, Frank Lawton)
39 London (1994) Dir Patrick Keiller (voice of Paul Scofield)
40 Ratcatcher (1999) Dir Lynne Ramsay (William Eadie, Tommy Flanagan, Mandy Matthews)
41 Witchfinder General (1968) Dir Michael Reeves (Vincent Price, Patrick Wymark, Ian Ogilvy)
42 Listen to Britain (1942) Dir Humphrey Jennings
43 Fires Were Started (1941) Dir Humphrey Jennings
44 Sabotage (1936) Dir Alfred Hitchcock (Oscar Homolka, Sylvia Sidney, John Loder)
45 Repulsion (1965) Dir Roman Polanski (Catherine Deneuve, Yvonne Furneaux)
46 The Fallen Idol (1948) Dir Carol Reed (Ralph Richardson, Michèle Morgan, Bobby Henrey)
47 Blow-Up (1966) Dir Michelangelo Antonioni (David Hemmings, Vanessa Redgrave, Paul Bowles)
48 Hunger (2008) Dir Steve McQueen (Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham)
49 Gallivant (1996) Dir Andrew Kötting (Andrew Kötting, Eden Kötting, Gladys Morris)
50 Culloden (1964) Dir Peter Watkins (George McBean, Alan Pope, the people of Inverness)
51 Local Hero (1983) Dir Bill Forsyth (Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Denis Lawson)
52 Robinson in Space (1997) Dir Patrick Keiller (Paul Scofield (voice))
53 This Sporting Life (1963) Dir Lindsay Anderson (Richard Harris, Rachel Roberts)
54 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1974) Dirs Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones (Graham Chapman, Michael Palin, John Cleese, Eric Idle et al)
55 Radio-On (1980) Dir Chris Petit (David Beames, Lisa Kreuzer, Sandy Ratcliff)
56 Caravaggio (1986) Dir Derek Jarman (Nigel Terry, Sean Bean, Tilda Swinton)
57 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) Dir Stanley Kubrick (Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood, William Sylvester)
58 Gregory's Girl (1981) Dir Bill Forsyth (John Gordon Sinclair, Dee Hepburn, Claire Grogan)
59 Blackmail (1929) Dir Alfred Hitchcock (Anny Ondra, Sara Allgood, John Longden)
60 The Long Good Friday (1980) Dir John Mackenzie (Bob Hoskins, Helen Mirren, Derek Thompson)
61 Walkabout (1971) Dir Nicolas Roeg (Jenny Agutter, David Gulpilil, Lucien John)
62 Deep End (1970) Dir Jerzy Skolimowski (Jane Asher, John Moulder-Brown, Diana Dors)
63 Nuts In May (1976) Dir Mike Leigh (Roger Sloman, Alison Steadman)
64 Topsy-Turvy (1999) Dir Mike Leigh (Jim Broadbent, Allan Corduner, Timothy Spall)
65 Dracula (1958) Dir Terence Fisher (Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough)
66 Wonderland (1999) Dir Michael Winterbottom (Gina McKee, Shirley Henderson, Molly Parker, John Simm)
67 Whisky Galore! (1949) Dir Alexander Mackendrick (Basil Radford, Joan Greenwood, Jean Cadell)
68 Dead of Night (1945) Dirs Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer (Mervyn Johns, Michael Redgrave, Roland Culver)
69 Oliver! (1968) Dir Carol Reed (Ron Moody, Shani Wallis, Oliver Reed)
70 Bad Timing (1980) Dir Nicolas Roeg (Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel)
71 Edvard Munch (1974) Dir Peter Watkins (Geir Westby, Gro Fraas, Iselin von Hanno Bart)
72 The Long Day Closes (1992) Dir Terence Davies (Marjorie Yates, Leigh McCormack, Anthony Watson)
73 The Man in the White Suit (1951) Dir Alexander Mackendrick (Alec Guinness, Joan Greenwood, Cecil Parker)
74 Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) Dir Mike Newell (Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, Kristin Scott Thomas)
75 A Room for Romeo Brass (1999) Dir Shane Meadows (Paddy Considine, Andrew Shim, Ben Marshall)
76 Penda's Fen (1974) Dir Alan Clarke (Spencer Banks, John Atkinson, Ian Hogg)
77 Piccadilly (1929) Dir EA Dupont (Anna May Wong, Gilda Gray, Jameson Thomas)
78 Billy Liar (1963) Dir John Schlesinger (Tom Courtenay, Julie Christie, Wilfred Pickles)
79 The Offence (1972) Dir Sidney Lumet (Sean Connery, Trevor Howard, Vivien Merchant)
80 Under the Skin (1997) Dir Carine Adler (Samantha Morton, Claire Rushbrook, Rita Tushingham)
81 Dr No (1962) Dir Terence Young (Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman)
82 Orlando (1993) Dir Sally Potter (Tilda Swinton, Billy Zane, John Wood)
83 A Cottage on Dartmoor (1929) Dir Anthony Asquith (Hans Adalbert von Schlettow, Uno Henning, Norah Baring)
84 Fish Tank (2009) Dir Andrea Arnold (Katie Jarvis, Kierston Wareing, Michael Fassbender)
85 I'm Alright Jack (1959) Dir John Boulting (Peter Sellers, Ian Carmichael, Terry-Thomas)
86 The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Dir David Lean (Alec Guinness, William Holden, Jack Hawkins)
87 Night and the City (1950) Dir Jules Dassin (Richard Widmark, Gene Tierney, Googie Withers)
88 This Is England (2006) Dir Shane Meadows (Thomas Turgoose, Stephen Graham, Jo Hartley)
89 The Go Between (1970) Dir Joseph Losey (Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Dominic Guard)
90 Blue (1993) Dir Derek Jarman (voices of Tilda Swinton, John Quentin, Nigel Terry)
91 Land and Freedom (1995) Dir Ken Loach (Ian Hart, Icíar Bollaín, Tom Gilroy)
92 Dead Man's Shoes (2004) Dir Shane Meadows (Paddy Considine, Gary Stretch, Toby Kebbell)
93 Zulu (1964) Dir Cy Endfield (Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Michael Caine)
94 24 Hour Party People (2002) Dir Michael Winterbottom (Steve Coogan, Rob Brydon, Ron Cook)
95 London to Brighton (2006) Dir Paul Andrew Williams (Lorraine Stanley, Johnny Harris, Georgia Groome)
96 Theatre of Blood (1973) Dir Douglas Hickox (Vincent Price, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry)
97 28 Days Later… (2002) Dir Danny Boyle (Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Brendan Gleeson)
98 School for Scoundrels (1960) Dir Robert Hamer (Ian Carmichael, Alastair Sim, Terry-Thomas)
99 The Railway Children (1970) Dir Lionel Jeffries (Dinah Sheridan, William Mervyn, Jenny Agutter)
100 In This World (2002) Dir Michael Winterbottom (Jamal Udin Torabi, Enayatullah)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tampere Film Festival: A Tribute to Harun Farocki

Among the rich special programmes of the Tampere Film Festival there was a tribute to Harun Farocki, with Harun Farocki as a special guest.

Revisited Bilder der Welt und Inschrift des Krieges (Images of the World and the Inscription of War, DE 1988), 16 mm, English version, commentary read by Cynthia Beatt, screened at Tullikamari with e-subtitles in Finnish by Eeva Heikkonen, 12 March 2011. - An excellent and original film essay about the science and art of seeing, and also about the many military uses of photography and cinematography. The simulators of bomber pilots are a special source of interest, as well as the art of camouflage. The Auschwitz tragedy, why the railroads and the gas chambers were not bombed, is a main theme.

Exhibition: FestArt: Harun Farocki: Six Video Installations
At the TR1 Exhibition Centre: Serious Games 1-4 (2009-2010), Counter Music (2004), and Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades.

From the official presentation: 
"In Farocki's works, war is the manifestation of the West's technological sovereignty, but it also reveals our vulnerability. The mindlessness of the conflicts and the mental suffering of the soldiers participating in battles are just as concrete, although harder to perceive, as the destruction of the physical world. Serious Games (2009-2010), consisting of four video installations, explores the virtual technology used by the U.S. army as a part of the military training and also as an aid in demobilizing soldiers.

Farocki engages in dialogue between images created from the human and the mechanical perspectives. He tells the story of the mechanisms and the control sustaining our society, based on the information that security cameras extract about our lives. Counter Music (2004) depicts the highly dominating cacophony of noise in our surroundings, the respiration of the urban environment that almost resembles a biological organism, and its mechanical repetition.

Film cameras have received workers returning from their work ever since the birth of assembly line production. Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades presents twelve points of view to the lives of the working people, from Auguste and Louis Lumière's 1895 documentary Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory to Lars von Trier's Dancer in the Dark, first screened in 2000."

http://www.farocki-film.de/

Tampere Film Festival 2011: National Competition

D = documentary, F = fiction, A = animation, E = experimental

1
OMAA LUOKKAANSA / Look at Me / [A League of Her Own] | Iiris Härmä | D | 68' 2010 - Digibeta. Strong portrait of a teacher's fight to help her teenage students who risk becoming marginalized.*

2
IKUISESTI SINUN / Forever Yours | Mia Halme | D | 79' | 2011 - DCP. Powerfully intimate account of children taken into custody.

3
SALLA - SELLING THE SILENCE Markku Tuurna | D | 70' | 2010 - DCP. A dramatic and many-sided portrait of the survival fight of the municipality of Salla in Lapland. *

4
BOHEEMI ELÄÄ / Bohemian Eyes | Janne Kuusi | D | 75' | 2010. - Digibeta. The portrait of Matti Pellonpää. An artist's deeply felt tribute to a fellow artist and a life-long friend. *

5
TAULUKAUPPIAAT / The Painting Sellers. | Juho Kuosmanen | F | 58' | 2010. - Digibeta. It's almost Christmas, and three people try to get paintings sold in the periphery.

PLAY GOD | Teemu Nikki | D | 39' | 2010. - Digibeta. A funny and crazy documentary of the director's failed splatter film project.*

6
TUNTEMATON EMÄNTÄ / The Unknown Woman | Elina Kivihalme | D | 78' | 2011. - DCP. The forgotten story of the homefront ordeal during WWII. Sometimes it got even worse when the heroes returned from the front. *

7
PEOPLE IN WHITE | Tellervo Kalleinen, Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen | D | 64' | 2011. - Digibeta. Ten mental patients act out their experiences in mental health care.

PÄIVÄT KUIN UNTA / Beauty Sleep | Elias Koskimies | F | 46' | 2010. - Digibeta. Drag queens kidnap the wife of a MP famous for his homophobic remarks. The crazy gear is not far from young Almodóvar. *

8
HÄR KOMMER OBAMA / Here Comes Obama | Iina Terho | D | 6' | 2009. - Digibeta. A black ram faces a good day's work.
LIV | Johan Karrento | F | 15' | 2010. - Digibeta. The 9-year-old girl spices the punch of his father and his new boyfriend.
THE ILLUSTRATED CITY | Jan Andersson | A | 5' | 2010. - Dvd. A fine film about the graffiti history of a wall, strong music. *
PUITA JA SEMMOSIA / Trees and Such | Markus Lehmusruusu | F | 12' | 2011. - Blu-ray. In a snowless city a man lives estranged from the nature.
KUTSUN ITSEÄNI TERVEEKSI / I Call Myself Sane | Niina Suominen | E | 5' | 2010. - Digibeta. An exercise in the experimental film tradition, manipulating film material.
MITEN MARJOJA POIMITAAN / How to Pick Berries | Elina Talvensaari | D | 19' | 2010. - Digibeta. An excellent documentary on the cultural clash when Thai cloudberry pickers appear in Northern Finland. *
KIELITIETTYNI / The Tongueling | Elli Vuorinen | A | 4' | 2010. - Digibeta. A funny animation on the subject of tasting with one's tongue.
ILMAN SANOJA / Not a Word | Joel Siitonen | F | 18' | 2010. - Bluray. An Englishwoman comes to stay with her Finnish boyfriend, but the young son communicates a family secret.

9
ERÄÄN HYÖNTEISEN TUHO / The Death of an Insect | Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen | A | 7' | 2010. - DCP. An ambitious and original animation, visually impressive. *
MAA JOSSA VOI LEIKKIÄ ELÄMÄÄ / Land for Playing Out Life | Sanni Priha | E | 13' | 2010. - Digibeta. An exploration about the traces of the landscape, in the director's home landscape in Kainuu.
JOULUN SYDÄN / Heart of Christmas | Henrik Röman | F | 10' | 2010. - Dvd. A father and a son facing each other before Christmas.
SIELUNSIEPPAAJA / Soul Catcher | PV Lehtinen | D | 14' | 2011. - 35 mm / DCP. Exploring the belief that taking an image one can lose one's soul. A noble and visually excellent vision. *
NIELE PELKOSI II / Swallow Your Fears II | Laura Rytkönen | A | 2' | 2010. - Dvd. Drawn animation: a young woman plays a game with fear and gets swallowed.
ONNI | Lauri Anssi Moilanen | F | 13' | 2010. - Blu-ray. The son, a drug addict is dead. The father goes to meet the drug dealer with a knife in his hand.
SIURUAN RUBENS / Rubens of Siurua | Erkki Määttänen | D |30' | 2010. - Digibeta. A portrait of Kari Tykkyläinen, a video artist from Pudasjärvi in Northern Ostrobothnia. He has produced a thousand clips to YouTube on the local nature and nude mud-wrestling with local housewives. He is also a serious Sophia Loren collector. Crazy folk art in the age of Warhol and the internet. *

10
HEAVEN SHALL BURN: COMBAT | Jessica Koivistoinen, Jan Andersson | A | 4' | 2010. - Dvd. Animated heavy metal music video on child soldiers.
LOHIKÄÄRMERANTA / The Dragon Beach | Aada Sigurlina Niilola, Waimar Nyunt | D | 19' | 2010. - Digibeta. Mixing documentary with animation, this is actually an experimental film about the occult sensations of a Burmese woman.
CIRCLE | Minna Parkkinen | E | 6' |2010. - Digibeta. A visual poem, with changing light, and contrast, transitions to negative, towards beauty.
VIERAAT SEINÄT / Strange Walls | Martta Tuomaala, Mikko Keskiivari | F | 17' |2011. - Blu-ray. The grandfather and the teenage girl live in a quiet village, until strangers appear.
HELSINGIN KESÄ / Summer in Helsinki | Maria Björklund | A | 9' | 2011. - Digibeta. An animation in simple watercolour and ink, the story of the summer in the city.
TUNARIT / The Duffers | Vesa Manninen | F | 31' | 2010. - Blu-ray. A crime story about small-time criminals who get caught in a terrible vortex.

11
SWEET MOV(I)E | Jan Ijäs | E | 4' | 2010. - Digibeta. Split-screen sex parody, men and women in separate images, fully clothed, make the moves.
VOITKO RAKASTAA / Could You Love | Johanna Vanhala | D |15' | 2010. - Digibeta. Finding a way via home movies to the mother's falling into schizophrenia.
SOITTO-OPPILAS / Learning to Play | JP Saari | A | 9' | 2010. - Digibeta. An animation inspired by Miyazaki's Totoro, painted and with drawn outlines. The ocarina playing boy meets the giant frog king of the forest.
POTILAS / The Patient | Misko Iho | F | 17' | 2010. - Blu-ray. The guard in his graveyard shift meets a strange angel (Tommi Korpela).
PELASTAKAA SARVIKUONOT / Save the Rhinoceros | Malakias | A | 6' |2011. - Digibeta. A bulletin to save the rhinoceros, very efficient. *
KIRKONKYLÄ KYRKBY | Elise Pietarila | F | 15' | 2010. - Digibeta. Pasi, a small town boy on the seventh grade, collects rules made by adults. A wonderful and original sense of humour in the storytelling. *
FORGET ME NOT! | Reeta Laine | A | 5' | 2010. - Dvd. Stop motion animation with a wooden robot and a stork sculpture participating in the girl's morning ritual.
ILMIANTO / Informers | Milla Pelkonen | F | 26' | 2010. - Digibeta. A strong and fine drama about Niko, who gets seriously suspected of planning a school killing, although it is just a prank of a very inconsiderate schoolmate. A girl devises an ingenuous plan to help. *

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Kárhozat

Damnation. HU 1987. PC: Hungarian Film Institute / Hungarian Television / Mokép. P: József Marx. D: Béla Tarr. SC: László Krasznahorkai, Béla Tarr. DP: Gábor Medvigy - b&w. AD+cost: Gyula Pauer. Makeup: Edit Basilides. M: Mihály Vig. ED: Ágnes Hranitzky. S: Tamás Márkus. Consultant: András Bálint Kovács. Cast: Miklos B. Szekely (Karrer), Vali Kerekes (torch singer at the Titanik), Gyula Pauer (Willarsky the bartender), Győrgy Cserhalmi (Sebastyen, the singer's husband). 116 min. Dvd with a fine transfer and English subtitles viewed in Helsinki, 2 March 2011.

Revisited Béla Tarr's breakthrough feature film where his unique vision is already fully developed. Stark black and white cinematography, a compelling charge in the frames, a feeling of subterranean forces about to erupt, a profound melancholy tinged with black humour. This is the one-sided love-affair of Karrer to the singer of the Titanik bar. They are all tangled with a smuggling scheme which goes awry. There is an affinity with David Lynch in the uncanny mood of many sequences, and Tarr's obsession with water and rain is Tarkovskyan. But in his own already assured way Béla Tarr has a unique and compelling vision to portray. I saw Kárhozat for the first time in Budapest soon after its release but I have to confess I felt then that I had seen Stalker already.

Cœurs / Private Fears in Public Places

Cuori. FR/IT © 2006 Soudaine Compagnie / StudioCanal / France2Cinéma / SFP Cinéma / BIM Distribuzione. EX: Julie Salvador. P: Bruno Pesery. D: Alain Resnais. Arranged and dialogue by: Jean-Michel Ribes – based on the play Private Fears in Public Places (2004) by Alan Ayckbourn. DP: Éric Gautier - Panavision 2,35:1. PD: Jacques Saulnier, Jean-Michel Ducourty, Solange Zeltoun. Visual Effects: Éclair VFX. Costumes: Jackie Budin. Make-up: Delphine Jaffart. Hair: José Luis Casas. M: Mark Snow. "Ces chansons qui ont changé ma vie": directed by Bruno Podalydès. S: Thomas Desjonquères. ED: Hervé de Luze. Cast: Sabine Azéma (Charlotte), Isabelle Carré (Gaëlle), Laura Morante (Nicole), Pierre Arditi (Lionel), André Dussollier (Thierry), Lambert Wilson (Dan), Claude Rich (Arthur). "Ces chansons qui ont changé ma vie": Françoise Gillard (hostess). 126 min. A print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Tribute to Alain Resnais), 2 March 2011

Another sample of Alain Resnais' vitality and youthfulness despite his senior age. There is a sense of play in this multi-story film with six main characters played by familiar Resnais actors and a couple of unfamiliar ones. It is based on a structure resembling tv series with short vignettes following the various characters, whose fates start to intertwine. I like the sense of humour in this film. I was able to see just the first 30 minutes, but at first viewing Cœurs feels more engaging than Smoking / Non Smoking, La Vie est un roman, and some other play-films by Resnais. The print was immaculate, but there was a feeling of a digital intermediate of 2K or less, no harm in close-ups though.

Dokumentin ytimessä 56: Rikkaat ja köyhät / [In the Core of the Documentary 56: To Have and Have Not] (compilation programme)

I dokumentärens kärna 56: Att ha och inte ha. Compiled by Ilkka Kippola and Jari Sedergren, digibeta (the first five) and 35 mm (the last two), viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 2 March 2011

Talissa pelataan golfia / [They Play Golf at Tali]. FI 1935. Suomi-Filmi. Uno Pihlström. 7 min. The earliest Finnish golf movie.

Lahjakengissä koulutielle / [In Gift Shoes to School]. FI 1950. D: Aimo Jäderholm. M: Dvorak: Humoresque. Commentary: Carl-Erik Creutz. Featuring Oskari Tokoi. Mother: Saara Ranin. 9 min. The poor Ryysyranta family in Kainuu has only one common pair of shoes. American Finns come to the rescue.

Mies ja hänen maailmansa – Antti Wihurin tarina / [The Man and His World - the Story of Antti Wihuri]. FI 1958. D: Veikko Laihanen. Colour. SC: Juha Nevalainen. Commentary: Carl-Erik Creutz. [535 m / 24 min] 11 min? The story begins in Alastalo, famous for Volter Kilpi's Joycean stream-of-consciousness novel Alastalon salissa [Alastalo Hall], Antti Wihuri is trained as a sailor, but he becomes an industrial tycoon and a patron of culture.

KOP – Matti Virkkunen 31.7.1975. FI 1975. Felix-Filmi. Colour. 11 min. The last day at the office of the great bank executive, also known as "Uncle Scrooge", who was also Urho Kekkonen's contender for President in 1968. Veikko Makkonen is his successor.

Näkökulma: Ihanteellinen realisti Martti Ahtisaari / [Viewpoint: Martti Ahtisaari, Realist with Ideals]. Tv documentary. FI 1994. D: Riikka Takala. Shot on video. Colour. Interviewer: Elisabeth Marschan. 20 min. Focus on Ahtisaari's greatest mission before his 1994-2000 Presidency - as UN Commissioner for Namibia in its independence process in 1989.

The last two films are memorable for letting us hear the voice of the forgotten people.

13 päivää elämästä / [13 Days of Life] / Dreizehn Tage aus dem Leben. FI 1978. D+DP+ED: Heikki Partanen, Hannu Eerikäinen. B&w. M: Rachmaninov: Prelude op. 23, Gounod: the Faust waltz. 16 mm blowup to 35 mm. 31 min. Deutsche Untertitel. Frank, candid interviews with young unemployed men (and a couple of women) mostly from Eastern Finland in the winter 1977-1978.

Ajatusrikolliset / Thought Criminals. FI 1989. D: Kaisa Rastimo. DP: Jouko Seppälä - 16 mm - blowup to 35 mm. Also incorporating 8 mm footage. Featuring: Timo Kokkonen, Tapio Nevakoski. 26 min. Timo and Tapio are marginalized young men, one of them diagnozed with what was then called MBD, now known as ADHD. They are thought criminals who oppose commercial Christmas and animal testing; ten years ago they have destroyed a house establishing a criminal record.

Sátántangó

Satan's Tango. HU/DE/CH 1994. PC: Von Vietinghoff Filmproduktion, Vega Film, Mozgókép Innovációs Társulás, Magyar Televízió, Télévision Suisse Romande. P: György Féher, Joachim von Vietinghoff, Ruth Waldeburger. EX: Tibor Dimény, Gábor Koncz, Ernõ Mahiály. D: Béla Tarr. SC: Lázló Krasznahorkai, Béla Tarr - based on the novel by László Krasznahorkai (1985), additional dialogue: Mihály Víg, Péter Dobai, Barna Mihók. DP: Gábor Medvigy – black and white - 1.66:1. M: Mihály Vig. S: Gyögy Kovacs. ED: Ágnes Hranitzky. Cost: Gyula Pauer, János Breckl. Narrator: Mihály Ráday. Cast: Mihály Víg (Irimiás), Dr Putyi Horváth (Petrina), Erika Bók (Estike), Peter Berling (doctor), Miklós B. Székely (Futaki), Lázsló fe Lugossy (Schmidt), Éva Almási Albert (Mrs. Schmidt), Alfréd Gaál (Mrs. Halics), János Derzsi (Kráner), Irén Szajki (Mrs Kráner), Barna Mihók (Kelemen), István Juhász (Kerekes), Zoltán Kamondi (tavern keeper Százados), Péter Dobai (captain), András Bodnár (Horgois Sanyi). 450 min. The Artifical Eye dvd (fine transfer supervised by Béla Tarr) with English subtitles viewed in Helsinki, 2 March 2011

Dedicated to Alf Bold

12 episodes: The News Is They're Coming, Rise From the Dead, Know Something, The Spider's Function I, Comes Unstitched, The Spider's Function II, Irimiás Gives a Speech, Perspective from the Front, Go to Heaven? Have Nightmares?, Perspective from the Rear, Just Trouble and Work, No Way Out.

"Devastating, enthralling for every minute of its seven hours. I'd be glad to see it every year for the rest of my life." (Susan Sontag)

Béla Tarr's magnum opus is based on the tango structure: six steps forward, six steps backwards. There is unique visual power in the black and white cinematography of the picture, and Tarr manages to spellbind at once with a realistic long take and long shot of a common cowhouse. There is a sense of suspense and tension from the beginning.

The background of the film is the collapse of the "real socialism" or state socialism in Hungary. The agricultural collective is in deep trouble, facing a dismal future, with futile expectations of the return of the charismatic Irimias - Messiah or Satan? Questions of freedom and order are debated. Sátántangó is a poem of profound disappointment laced with black humour. A farm of lost souls in the middle of the pusta, facing an unknown future.

A weird climax of the film is the long dance sequence during the rain. There are in Sátántangó affinities with the imagery, compositions, and motifs (the rain) of Andrey Tarkovsky, but Béla Tarr's visual dynamics and philosophy are quite different. Tarkovsky is a spiritualist, Tarr is a materialist. Tarr's sense of composition is even more pregnant than Tarkovsky's. 

Laila

Laila – tunturien tyttö. NO 1929. PC: Lunde-Film. P: Helge Lunde. D: George Schnéevoigt - based on the novel by Jens Andreas Friis (1881). DP: Valdemar Christenssen, Allan Lynge. CAST: Mona Mårtenson (Laila), Tryggve Larssen (Jåmpa), Harald Schwenzen (Anders), Peter Malberg (Aslak Laagje), Cally Monrad (Aslak's wife), Henry Gleditsch (Mallet), Finn Bernhoft (merchant C. O. Lind), Lilly Larson-Lund (merchant's wife), Ibe Brekke (Magga, merchant's maid), Aslag Aslagsen Sara (servant boy), Rasmus Christiansen (C.O. Lind's brother), Alice O'Fredericks (Inger), Mattis Morotaja (Melet as a little boy). The restored version from Norsk Filminstitutt (2006) 4584 m / 165 min viewed from a screener dvd in Helsinki, 2 March 2011

A magnificent Northerner, a first-rate silent that ranks with the Stiller-Sjöström outdoor dramas, full of the splendour of the nature of Lapland. Saved from the snow by a Laplander family Laila is the daughter of a merchant family. George Schnéevoigt, the cinematographer of Carl Th. Dreyer, not to be mixed with the conductor Georg Schnéevoigt, excels in the visuals and in the sense of drama and suspense through the long story. The chase sequences are well executed, there is a thrilling rapid-shooting sequence (Laila's life in danger), and there is also a sensitive touch in the close-ups. The love story gets complicated, and Laila also belongs to the films with an interrupted wedding.