Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Miesten välisiä keskusteluja / [Discussions Between Men]

Diskussioner mellan män. FI 2013 © 2012 Vegetarian Films. P: Ilkka Mertsola. D+SC: Jarmo Lampela. DP: Aarne Tapola - Hannu Kettunen, Pekka Uotila, Jarmo Lampela - Teppo Airaksinen, Juice Huhtala. Colour Definition: Grade One (Petri Falkenberg). AVID work flow supervisor: Jussi Lohijoki. AD+Cost: Tero Viller. Cost advisor: Niina Pasanen. M: Juha Potka. Songs: Paleface: "Merkit", "Miten historiaa luetaan", "Ikivanhat tekosyyt". Timo Hietala: "Ciao Innocente". S: Patrick Boullenger, Juha Potka - S design: Patrick Boullenger - S editing: Patrick Boullenger, Peter Nordström. ED: Kauko Lindfors, Juho Karhunen. C: Juha Kukkonen (Kari Mairisaari, writer), Iina Kuustonen (Noora, journalist), Noora Geagea (Satu, photographer), Pihla Penttinen (Sanna, actress), Aarni Kivinen (Kaihua, director), Santtu Karvonen (Vertti, valomies), Jussi Anttonen (Lindfors, boxaaja), Rea Mauranen (Maria Koivikko, book editor), Jukka-Pekka Mikkonen (Kivimaa), Jarkko Tiainen (Lahti, actor), Meri Nenonen (Merkel, actor), Jani Kiiskilä (Pekkarinen, actor), Salome Ala-Könni (chorus girl), Carl Alm (Ahlqvist, book editor), Ville Tiihonen (Risto, orthopedic surgeon), Ursula Salo (Lotta, journalist), Rebekka Uotila (Hantta, Mairisaari's daughter), David Kozma (Ivica, pizzeria owner), Jari Virman (Drako, cook), Mikko Myllylahti (Myllylahti), Timo Tuominen (Oinaanlahti, sculptor), Ivan Gjurašić (poet in Croatia), Jeffry Okeke (bottle collector), Jyrki Nousiainen (Javarus, publishing manager), Mamadou Diop (umbrella seller), Lena Dal Pozzo (woman in the park), Peter von Bagh (Book Fair interviewer). Vertti (Mairisaari's cat). 116 min. 2K DCP with Swedish subtitles [by Katriina Mattila?] viewed at Niagara, Tampere, 12 Dec 2012 (preview at the PEK 30 Years Party).

From the production information: "A film that is in its director's words: more than we set off to make, at least something different. A film that I would like to market as a film rated 30 because it is actually inspired by Kylävaara and Tervo [two Finnish writers]. A film for the elusive grown-up audience. A film the making of which felt like a play for grown-ups. A film whose crew intends to make at least 20 films together within the next 25 years."

"Discussions Between Men is director Jarmo Lampela's comeback to the screen after a hiatus of almost ten years, since the making of Eila (2003). Lampela, who for the last five years has worked as a professor of film directing, may be remembered by his films Joki [The River, 2001], and Sairaan kaunis maailma [Freakin' Beautiful World, 1997]. Besides teaching he has managed to create numerous documentaries, tv series, and screenplays."

"Made professionally, albeit on an indie production model, the film stars Juha Kukkonen (currently active in Yle: Elämää suurempaa [Bigger Than Life]), Rea Mauranen (also in Tie pohjoiseen [Road North], Kotikatu), Aarni Kivinen (MTV: Roba), and Pihla Penttinen (Ryhmäteatteri: Eduskunta [The Parliament])."

"'I have written so much shit, but that I won't write no more.' - Kari Mairisaari"

"The writer Kari Mairisaari (Juha Kukkonen) has reaped success and tabloid visibility. However, he is experiencing trouble in giving birth to his ninth novel, meant to be a political satire on the True Finns, and he has lost the meaning and the mission of his writing. Not even his private life can provide any stability. Yet Mairisaari challenges his established authorship and steps on new paths. The background research hurts him both physically and spiritually."

"The writing starts to proceed, and soon there is no trace left of the merry-making of the artist's bohemian lifestyle. 'What does a young man who has taken the life of another feel after what he has done?' - the theme of guilt and men who have experienced the Balkan war, the character of the novel called Vlatko with a true-life model, the cook Grako (Jari Vilman) transport Mairisaari with their stories even abroad. Among the worst hardships is the serious illness of the trusted mainstay, the book editor Koivikko (Rea Mauranen). Understanding is needed both from old friends, the director Kaihua (Aarni Kivinen) and the ex-wife (Ursula Salo) as well as from new ones, such as the actress Sanna (Pihla Penttinen)."

"Discussions Between Men is an account of challenges of creating art, and of human encounters and the meaning of friendship. It takes a curve around the football field, the pub and the writer's chamber to strange worlds which however are one and common to all. Armed with humour the film ventures to approach the great questions of life, guilt and atonement. Discussions Between Men, which even women had better find out - to understand." (My translation.)

Jarmo Lampela enters the territory of Anssi Mänttäri, Matti Ijäs, and Maunu Kurkvaara, among others, in this portrait of a writer-pig who is a narcissistic and repulsive lout, abusing others, neglecting himself, too, and lacking in basic communication skills in much of his real life.

But that is only the starting-point. Facing a crisis, the writer Mairisaari finds new inspiration in the most serious theme he has ever handled and proceeds via many hardships to write his magnum opus, called Grand Hotel Park, on the Balkan war. He resists commercial pressure to speed up his writing ("we got to publish it by the Fathers' Day", "otherwise you'll miss the chance of a Finlandia Prize"). Grand Hotel Park is so completely different than anything that Mairisaari has written previously that even his ex-wife says that "it was hard to believe at first that it is written by you".

The hardest touchstone is the cook Draco who refuses to meet Mairisaari but finally, in a situation of extreme pressure and even a threat of violence, he reveals: "it does not end... I hit him in the stomach... he died all day". "I wake up every night... there is no freedom... it never ends".

Memorable features: - The debilitating illness of the book editor Maria Koivikko who loses half of her brain in a surgery. - The lowbrow political satire in the theatre sequences. - The satire of the shallow financial calculations in the book publishing scene. - Peter von Bagh as the interviewer of Mairisaari at the Book Fair. - Mairisaari's next project about the African dream: the African worker driving back home through Europe in his own car.

The low definition quality and the occasional ugliness are intentional devices in the ars povera approach of the movie.

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