Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tarinoiden Suomi / Stories from Finland

FI © 2017 Inland Film Company Oy. P+D+SC+CIN+ED: Jussi Oroza. Creative P: Iikka Vehkalahti. Photographer: Saara Mansikkamäki. M: Antti Nordin. Lyrics: Sibone Oroza. Musicians: Antti Nordin, Boris Nordin, Sibone Oroza, Franka Oroza, Mikko Helenius, Mauri Saarikoski, Elsa Sihvola, Lassi Kari. Theme songs sung by: Sibone Oroza, Franka Oroza. "Lei" by Abdigani Hussein. Assistant ED: Ulrika Enckell. Sound ED+end credits: Benjamin Oroza.
    Tarinateltta team 2008–2012: original idea, D+interviews by Benjamin Oroza, interviewers Ismo Leinonen, Aija Salovaara, Janne Kari, Sami Laitinen.
    A documentary featuring: Göran Palmqvist, Tuuli Manninen, Otto Köngäs, Pentti Ahlroot, Iida Reini, Göran Tornberg, T. Seppänen, Mauno Ranto, Minna Rimpilä, Janne Hakkarainen, Oiva Vallius, Lassi, Elias and Erik (the boys), Martti Kinnunen, Viljo Liukkonen, Jussi Kleemola, Vilho Kuusela, Riitta Palomäki, Soili Mantila, Paula Malinen, Johanna Broman, Markku Tuomikorpi, Hilkka Malm, Shahnaz Mikkonen, Metin Sahinler, Sakke (Peloton), Abdigani Hussein "Kani" (the rapper), Tapani Hyrkäs, Riitta Excell, Synnove Excell, Marta Vera Ortiz, Päivi Kuusela, Jussi Kuokkanen
    Digital, no subtitles, premiere 11 August 2017, 84 min
    Viewed at Kinopalatsi 3, on 12 August 2017

In our age spellbound by social media people are increasingly living in virtual bubbles where they can always look at the bright side of life and present only happy and beautiful aspects of themselves.

On the other hand everyone has a fundamental need to be seen as she or he actually is. Which is why the phenomenon of digital depression is becoming more widespread.

Based on the Tarinateltta (Story Tent) television project that ran in 2008–2012, the feature-length documentary Stories from Finland is a montage of some 35 talking heads intercut with associative, conceptual, and poetic imagery and aerial photography from all over the country. There are also beautiful montages of faces.

The project is relevant to the reality television syndrome, but the approach is not to cash in sensation or triviality.

Stories from Finland is a mosaic of vignettes with ordinary and extraordinary tales. It covers all of Finland, and chronologically the stories date from the 1930s to the present day.

We hear happy stories of love. There is a female vignette that resembles Before Sunrise. A male narrator met Day Tripper and never recovered. We hear about the first kiss, a life-long love, a shotgun wedding, and a marriage that has lasted 42 years.

Wartime memories extend to Kauhajoki during the Winter War. When there was an air raid alarm, everybody was covered in white sheets (in snow camouflage), the MPs and the patients of mental hospitals alike.

The ultra-militaristic education of the 1930s, rarely mentioned after 1944, is evoked here. Even a 13 year old boy was equipped with a gun.

We meet children from homes that were broken after WWII, and orphans. "I have never had a home". "It is difficult to display feelings". There was abuse at home. When father left the family with another woman, the children had to become beggars. Orphanages could be harsh.

We meet a man who estimates that he must have been one of the last huutolainen, children for auction. Homeless children could be acquired by the family who made the cheapest bid at the auction. The children were treated worse than slaves or animals. The master of the house could hit the child at will. But one day the boy came home and found the kitchen floor covered in blood. The master had slashed his throat.

We hear stories about life on resettlement farms established for evacuees from Eastern Karelia after WWII. Families were huge with 12 children or more. People had nothing, but they "cared for each other more". "Kamara oli enemmän hoitava", "the fundament was more nurturing". "Joy and sorrow felt like something then".

School bullying was brutal. A man reminisces this in lurid detail. The chief education officer, however, learned about it. He was a war veteran. The bullies were invited into his office one by one. They returned crying out loud. The bullying stopped then and there.

We meet a black boy who tells about his years as a juvenile delinquent. His family sent him to Africa for one year. He visited a Quran school and witnessed a lynching at age 12: an apparently innocent man was burned alive. His eyes were opened.

We meet immigrants to Finland. "Loneliness is very hard to handle". A woman born in Taiwan observes that it took her 14 years to feel at home in Finland.

Travelling to the North, the land of the Northern Lights, we meet a gold-digger who reveals his feeling for the nature.

We meet a couple who has been wed according to an ancient, pre-Christian shaman wedding in Kalevala style.

We meet a senior lady who had a happy near death experience at the opera during a marvellous mezzo soprano's performance of Rossini's Stabat mater. "And then the damn heart started to beat again".

This series of vignettes resembles a collection of very short stories. They are not random, but they do not grow into a whole either, and that would be impossible.

The people, their faces, and their stories are eloquent. There are stories in this movie that I'm likely never to forget.

Among the original songs of the movie is the beautiful theme song "Kertoisin sinulle tarinan" ["I'd Like to Tell You a Story"] composed by Antti Nordin with lyrics by Sibone Oroza and sung by Franka Oroza.

The interviewees are not identified in the movie. The shooting locations of the Story Tent are fascinating.

The visual concept is based on a contrast of close-ups of faces and magnificent aerial views made possible by drone cinematography. The definition is often low as is expected in this kind of documentary.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Hail, Caesar! (4K projection)

Hail, Caesar! Please click to enlarge.

Hail, Caesar! / Hail, Caesar! / Ave, Cesare! / Χαίρε, Καίσαρ! / Ave, César! / ¡Salve, César! / Да здравствует Цезарь!
    US © 2016 Universal Studios. PC: Mike Zoss Productions, Working Title Films – presented in association with Dentsu. P: Tim Bevan, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Eric Fellner. EX: Robert Graf. D: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen. SC: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. Cin: Roger Deakins – negative: 35 mm – colour – 1:1,85 – master format: digital intermediate 4K (EFILM). PD: Jess Gonchor. AD: Cara Brower, Dawn Swiderski. Set dec: Nancy Haigh. Cost: Mary Zophres. Makeup: Jean Ann Black (as Jean Black). Hair: Cydney Cornell. SFX: Steve Cremin. VFX: Dan Schrecker, Dan Levitan. M: Carter Burwell. Song credit listing beyond the jump break. Includes several tracks performed by the Red Army Choir. S: Craig Berkey. ED: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen (as Roderick Jaynes). Casting: Ellen Chenoweth.
    C: Josh Brolin (Eddie Mannix), George Clooney (Baird Whitlock), Alden Ehrenreich (Hobie Doyle), Ralph Fiennes (Laurence Laurentz), Scarlett Johansson (DeeAnna Moran), Tilda Swinton (Thora Thacker and Thessaly Thacker), Channing Tatum (Burt Gurney), Frances McDormand (C. C. Calhoun), Jonah Hill (Joe Silverman), Veronica Osorio (Carlotta Valdez), Heather Goldenhersh (Natalie, Mannix's secretary), Alison Pill (Mrs. Mannix), Max Baker (head communist writer), John Bluthal (Professor Marcuse), Christopher Lambert (Arne Seslum), Natasha Bassett (Gloria DeLamour), Dolph Lundgren (submarine commander), the Aqualillies (the synchronized swimmers).
    See also the cast of characters as edited in Wikipedia, copied after the jump break.
    Loc: Warner Bros. Burbank Studios, Los Angeles Theatre, Union Station (Downtown L.A.), Good Luck Bar (Hillhurst Ave.), Bronson Caves (Griffith Park), Pelican Cove Park (Palos Verdes), Craven Estate (Pasadena), First Congregational Church (Commonwealth Avenue), Whitley Terrace, Walker Residence (Carmel-by-the-Sea), Sony Pictures Studios (Culver City), 635 South Mateo Street, Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park (Agua Dulce, CA), Big Sky Ranch (Simi Valley), Harvey Apartments (Santa Monica Boulevard).
    Helsinki premiere: 4.3.2016 Tennispalatsi, distributed by: Finnkino Oy, with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Mökkönen / Markus Karjalainen – MEKU: K7 – 4K DCP – 106 min
    Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (the Coen Bros.), 11 August 2017

I belong to the ones who may have been suffering from Coen fatigue which is why I have missed their two latest films on their first run and discovered them first in our retrospective this summer. It turns out that like in Inside Llewyn Davis, the brothers are at their best in Hail, Caesar!

Both are accurate accounts of specific moments in American cultural history. In Inside Llewyn Davis we are in Greenwich Village anno 1961, in Hail, Caesar! in Hollywood exactly ten years earlier.

The two films have little in common. Llewyn Davis is the portrait of a loser, "King Midas's idiot brother" in whose hands everything turns into the opposite of gold. Hail, Caesar! is the portrait of a Hollywood fixer who can find the solution to the most improbable calamity.

The star (George Clooney) of Hollywood's most expensive blockbuster is kidnapped by communists and converts to communism himself. The studio's idolized bathing beauty (Scarlett Johansson) is single and pregnant. The leading actor of a sophisticated comedy is a rodeo star (Alden Ehrenreich) who can't act. The two leading gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinton) know the backstory of the dandyish star director Laurence Laurentz (Ralph Fiennes). The musical star Burt Gurney (Channing Tatum) defects to the USSR on a submarine whose commander is played by Dolph Lundgren.

All this Mannix (Josh Brolin) can fix. But he is also being seduced by Lockheed to a highly paid top executive job that has nothing in common with the Hollywood madhouse. During the picture the Catholic Mannix goes to a confession every night, and is seduced by Lockheed every day. In the finale he sees the light.

At every step there are references to the actual Hollywood scene. Eddie Mannix really existed, although he was not at all like this (the relationship is like between Llewyn Davis and Dave Van Ronk). The Hail, Caesar! film project resembles Quo vadis?, The Robe, The Ten Commandments, and Ben-Hur. The performances are not parodies but parallel creations inspired by real personalities which include Clooney doing Charlton Heston, while Channing Tatum is at Gene Kelly, Scarlett Johansson at Esther Williams, and Ralph Fiennes at George Cukor. Tilda Swinton gets to do parallel figures as both Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons. One of my favourites is Frances McDormand as the studio's wizard editor, based on Margaret Booth.

The spoof scenes are delightful and original, different from the spoofs we have been used to seeing over the decades.

The Coen fatigue that some of us have been experiencing may have emerged because we have become jaded with the expectation that all the time the Coens will shock us and subvert everything. One can get tired with shocks.

The Coens are no less subversive now, but they feel no need for the shocking twist all the time. The deeper current that has been with them since Blood Simple. flows even more confidently now. They have an original Weltanschauung, a sense of the absurd that can be compared with the Book of Job, Gogol, Kafka, and Beckett but is personal and unique to them.

The bite of the existential Angst has not vanished, but there is a broader sense of life around. The sense of humour is not monotonously bitter like in Barton Fink, their previous dark Hollywood satire. The sense of humour is on a new level, more refined, and the satire is more sophisticated. Lubitsch might have enjoyed this.

Among the surprises is the protagonist, the studio boss Eddie Mannix, who emerges as a positive figure. He is a new kind of character in the Coen world: a straight guy against the madness of Hollywood. The madness that both he and the Coens love.

Another surprise is the attitude to religion and Christianity. The film is a parody of the making of a Biblical epic. Many details are again based on reality, including the meeting of theological authorities of all Abrahamic monoteistic religions. The feature that the face of the Christ is not shown was the practice of the decade. The undercurrent of this parody is an unexpected appearance of spirituality and transcendence.

The production values are solid, and the look is glamorous and expensive. The film was again shot on 35 mm, like Inside Llewyn Davis. The digital intermediate was conducted in 4K, and the 4K DCP looks supernaturally sharp and unreal on the screen.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mansfield Park (1999)

Mansfield Park. Frances O'Connor as Fanny Price.

Kasvattitytön tarina / Mansfield Park [Swedish title].
    GB © 1999 Miramax HAL Films. PC: HAL Films, Miramax Films, BBC, The Arts Council of England, BBC Films. P: Sarah Curtis. D+SC: Patricia Rozema – based on the novel (1814) by Jane Austen, translated into Finnish by A. R. Koskimies / Karisto (1954). DP: Michael Coulter – negative: 35 mm (Kodak) – lab: DeLuxe – colour – 1,85:1. PD: Christopher Hobbs. AD: Andrew Munro. Set dec: Patricia Edwards. Makeup: Veronica McAleer (as Veronica Brebner). Cost: Andrea Galer. VFX: Drew Jones (CFC). M: Lesley Barber. S: Glenn Freemantle. ED: Martin Walsh.
    C: Frances O’Connor (Fanny Price), Jonny Lee Miller (Edmund Bertram), James Purefoy (Thomas Bertram, Jr., Tom), Embeth Davidtz (Mary Crawford), Alessandro Nivola (Henry Crawford), Harold Pinter (Sir Thomas Bertram), Lindsay Duncan (Lady Bertram / Mrs. Price), Victoria Hamilton (Maria Bertram), Justine Waddell (Julia Bertram), Hugh Bonneville (Mr. Rushworth), Sheila Gish (Mrs. Norris), Charles Edwards (Mr. Yates), Sophia Myles (Susan Price), Anna Popplewell (Betsey), Hannah Taylor-Gordon (the young Fanny).
    Loc: Kirby Hall (Northamptonshire), Cornwall, Eton College (Berkshire), Fenton House, Kenwood House (Hampstead, London), Lulworth Cove (Dorset), Osterley Park House (Middlesex), Portsmouth (Hampshire).
    Telecast in Finland 13.4.2004 MTV3 – VET V-04641 – S, recommended rating 10 –  112 min
    A print with Norwegian subtitles by Harald Ohrvik viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Jane Austen, Bicentennial of Death), 10 Aug 2017

Patricia Rozema announced that Mansfield Park is "not a Jane Austen film. ... It's a Patricia Rozema film. My job as an artist is to provide a fresh view". "Whenever you turn a novel into a movie, you're changing form. ... I felt fairly free to make changes as long as I felt I could face Austen if I met her".

Mansfield Park was a straggler to the remarkable 1995–1996 cycle of Jane Austen television and film adaptations when Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma were filmed almost simultaneously, Emma even twice.

All Jane Austen adaptations face the the challenge of the free indirect speech, the unique address in the heart of Austen's art. All previous adaptations gave it up because it would have required the use of a narrator. Only Patricia Rozema solved this problem. In Mansfield Park she turned Fanny to a writer. She created a new character based less on Fanny Price than Jane Austen, herself.

I have not read Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, her third published novel, and I trust here on what sources say about the novel. Most illuminating has been Kathi Groenendyk's essay "Modernizing Mansfield Park: Patricia Rozema's Spin on Jane Austen" (JASNA, Winter 2004).

It seems that Patricia Rozema's film is Austenesque while not a faithful interpretation of the novel. She does justice to Jane Austen's voice and views but not to her concept and characters of Mansfield Park.

I find the development of the relationship between Fanny Price (Frances O’Connor) and Edmund Bertram (Jonny Lee Miller) very moving. It is an account of love as a journey of exploration, an exploration to the deepest fountains of oneself, and of the other. A journey of a definition and revelation of the self and the other. A journey of widening one's horizon together with the other.

Besides, more than other Jane Austen adapters Patricia Rozema puts an emphasis on tenderness between women.

The funniest line of dialogue in the movie is when Fanny's long-suffering mother says to her daughter that there is no shame in wealth and that "I married for love". But the shame in wealth is an issue in Rozema's adaptation.

The issue of West Indies slavery as the source that plays for the party is briefly mentioned in Jane Austen's novel. Slave trade had been abolished in Britain in 1807 but not slavery itself. Austen was an abolitionist. Edward Said highlighted the issue in Culture and Imperialism (1993). Harold Bloom, the great Jane Austen champion, has since been fed up with the over-interpretation of the slavery angle in Austen studies.

Patricia Rozema wrote her film from the Edward Said angle. In the beginning we hear cries from a slave ship on the coast of England (slave ships did not come to England). Tom (Thomas Beacham, Jr.) is seen as a victim of a traumatic shock having witnessed slavery in Antigua. Fanny, too, is shocked when she discovers Tom's collection of pornografic paintings and drawings on violence and rapes of slaves, also featuring his father, Sir Thomas (Harold Pinter). The original theme music to the end credits is Lesley Barber and Salif Keita's "Djonga" / "Slavery".

One might see Patricia Rozema's slavery angle in Mansfield Park as a corrective to the entire cycle of Jane Austen films, heritage films, and Regency Era films.

A brilliant, clean, and complete print.


Wednesday, August 09, 2017

La strada / The Road

La strada. Giulietta Masina (Gelsomina), Anthony Quinn (Zampanò). "Sans doute dira-t-on que seul le cinéma pouvait par exemple conférer à l'extraordinaire roulotte motocycliste de Zampanò la force de mythe concret auquel atteint ici cet objet insolite et banal tout à fois" (André Bazin).

Tie / Vägen.
    IT 1954. PC: Ponti–De Laurentiis Cinematografica. P: Dino De Laurentiis, Carlo Ponti. D: Federico Fellini. SC: Fellini, Tullio Pinelli, Ennio Flaiano. DP: Otello Martelli – b&w – 1,37:1. PD: Mario Ravasco. AD: Enrico Cervelli, Brunello Rondi. Cost: Margherita Marinari. M: Nino Rota. S: R. Boggio, Aldo Calpini. ED: Leo Catozzo.
    C: Giulietta Masina (Gelsomina), Anthony Quinn (Zampanò), Richard Basehart (Il Matto / The Fool), Aldo Silvani (il signor Giraffa, circus director), Marcella Rovena (la vedova / widow), Lidia Venturini (la suora / nun), Mario Passante (cameriere / waiter), Anna Primula (madre di Gelsomina), Pietro Ceccarelli (oste / bartender), Nazareno Zamperla (Neno), Giovanna Galli (la prostituta all'osteria), Yami Kamedeva (prostituta). Doppiatori originali: Arnoldo Foà (Zampanò), Stefano Sibaldi (il Matto).
    Loc: Bagnoregio, Viterbo, Lazio, Ovindoli, L'Aquila, Abruzzo. The final sequence: the wharf of Fiuminico.
    Helsinki premiere 10.2.1956 Savoy, distributor: Valio-Filmi – VET 43912 – K16 – 3220 m / 104 min, 108 min
    Viewed in a print released by Polfilm with Swedish subtitles by Stig Björkman, with e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (The Wonderful Actresses of Italy), 9 Aug 2017

In memoriam Aito Mäkinen (who was with Valio-Filmi when it premiered La strada in Finland).

Revisited Federico Fellini's third solo feature film as a director, his breakthrough to the ranks of the masters of world cinema, his personal favourite film, one of the most influential films in history, one of the essential road movies, and a film that for André Bazin belonged to the all too few that belong to the greatest achievements of all art.

When I first wrote about La strada some 40 years ago I was under the spell of Pablo Picasso's Blue Period. Posters of his paintings were hanging on my wall. In fact I was living Picasso's Blue Period. I was struck by the affinity with La strada but not aware of any conscious influence.

Whereas the Charles Chaplin influence is obvious in the characters of Gelsomina and Il Matto and in the unforgettable score by Nino Rota. The contrast between the sublime and the ridiculous is introduced already in the main title music which starts with a passionate arrangement of the main theme, only to be replaced abruptly by a frenetic circus march.

Fellini has revealed that the characters of the story emerged as cartoon figures, like the Big Bad Wolf (Zampanò), Bugs Bunny (Il Matto), and Tweety (Gelsomina). The original Fellini quality is revealed in the tragic force he was able to elicit from caricature. It is one of the paradoxes of the actor that a circus stereotype, a commedia dell'arte figure, a marionette, a puppet or a cartoon character can move us so strongly.

Fellini was known as a neorealist, and his previous film, I vitelloni, was still a neorealist masterpiece. Audiences were confused at first by La strada because the protagonists are anti-realistic. But the world of La strada is still neorealistic in a way that can be compared with Paisà, Roberto Rossellini's "road movie" which Fellini scripted. The sites of the journey are real. They are full of life and haunted by the magic of reality.

The stages of the journey are also haunted by a sense of transcendence, of the holy. La strada belongs to the great spiritual and religious works of art. Not surprisingly, because this dimension, the specifically Francescan approach, had already emerged in Rossellini's Roma città aperta, Paisà and Francesco, giullare di Dio which Fellini co-scripted. And obviously in Il miracolo in which Fellini gave his only performance as an actor. Reportedly La strada is the favourite film of the current Pope, Pope Francis.

La strada takes us to the crossroads of comedy and tragedy. It makes us laugh and cry at the same time. The sense of the absurd is unique. 

It feels redundant to write about a film on which André Bazin has written such a definitive essay. He finishes it with the remark: "Le sel de l'âme que Zampanò verse pour la première fois de sa pauvre vie sur la plage qu'aimait Gelsomina est le même que celui de cette mer infinie qui ne peut plus ici-bas rafraîchir sa douleur."

This interesting re-release print looks like it has been struck from a source that has been carefully manufactured from disparate elements, including ones with very good visual quality. In the beginning there is low contrast but in a refined way preserving the fine soft detail. No scratches. A virtually complete print of the 108 min edit.


Friday, August 04, 2017


FI © 2017 Helsinki-Filmi.
Directed by Zaida Bergroth    
Screenplay: Zaida Bergroth, Jan Forsström – from an original idea by: Kaarina Hazard, Leea Klemola
Produced by Miia Haavisto
Music by Matthias Petsche    
Cinematography by Henri Blomberg ... (as Hena Blomberg)
Film Editing by Samu Heikkilä    
Production Design by Okku Rahikainen    
Costume Design by Tiina Kaukanen    
Marjut Samulin ...  makeup designer
Micke Nyström ...  sound designer
Jan Forsström ...  music supervisor
Krista Kosonen ... Angela
Sonja Kuittinen ... Anna
Alex Anton ... Timi
Juhan Ulfsak ... Eduard
Christian Lindroos ... Jakke
Kristian Smeds     ... Mertsi
Pirkko Hämäläinen ... Junell
Juha Lehtola ... Korhonen
    Released by Nordisk Film on DCP with Swedish subtitles, premiere 4 Aug 2017.
    Viewed at Kinopalatsi 9, 4 Aug 2017

Zaida Bergroth is one of Finland's most highly regarded film directors known for noteworthy shorts and the features Skavabölen pojat / Last Cowboy Standing and The Good Son. Bergroth's third feature film Miami has opened to excellent reviews and is her best work to date.

Despite the title we never get to Miami. Miami is the dream world of Angela the show dancer, the land of happiness to which she yearns to escape after the dreary treadmill of a working girl in Finland.

Miami the land of the sun is the counter-image to the autumnal Finland in which the sisters' road trip takes place. We move from Southern Finland towards the Eastern border and from there to Lapland and Helsinki. Winter is coming by the end of the story.

Bergroth's forte has always been the direction of actors. She casts exciting actors and encourages them to powerful performances.

The experienced Krista Kosonen is one of Finland's top actors, and the role of Angela gives her an opportunity to create something different and unusual. This is a nuanced, complex and multi-layered performance. Beneath the dazzling surface glitter there is an assured and patient professional, but when we learn to know Angela better we realize the force of her self-destructive urge.

Sonja Kuittinen is a newcomer, and in her first big film role she, too, creates something surprising. From a shy bystander who naively admires her big sister emerges a steel-tempered mastermind of crime.

On one level Miami is the story of the half-sisters Angela and Anna. They come from a broken family, and they try to make sense of each other and their relationship during their rampage across Finland. Key aspects remain ambiguous, but we are left pondering certain disturbing hints such as the remark that their father had separated them when he had observed Angela keeping Anna's head under the water in the bathtub.

On the other hand Miami is a crime drama and a gangster film. Angela has been caught in a spiral of debt with a criminal gang, and although she seems like a professional, she has no business sense and does not realize what it means to have to pay a 20% monthly interest. She is being closely watched by thugs, and violent incidents belong to her daily life. So far she has been able to handle the thugs, but Angela is also an alcoholic, and one night she drives over an ex-gangster and kills him.

It is Anna who takes them to the next level. In cold blood Anna dumps the corpse to a pond. It is Anna who plans and realizes their new criminal business line: taping Angela's sex encounters and blackmailing the victims. In Lapland at the Saariselkä holiday resort the sisters also happen to tape a meeting of Minister Junell (Pirkko Hämäläinen) documenting her illegal collaboration with Eastern powers. Having cashed on this jackpot they finally have the money to break free from everything. Except that now an Eastern criminal organization, more ruthless than the native one, is after them.

The world of prostitution is conveyed elliptically, almost reminding us of the euphemisms of the age of the Production Code. But remarks about Reeperbahn, the TOR network of the deep internet, Imatra and Lappeenranta being key spots, and "private shows" as the major source of income let us know what is being meant.

Miami is a road movie, and for the self-destructive Angela it is a death trip. In the final ruse of the sisters in the hands of the Eastern mafia Angela escapes to the thin ice of the early winter of the Baltic sea, and the thugs fall through the ice into the sea. Anna gets a chance to start a getaway car full of money on her way to Miami while Angela vanishes into the horizon of the winter mist of the sea.

There is a religious current in the movie. Each night Angela reads her personal evening prayer. At Saariselkä she can connect with an Eastern orthodox businessman by opening a conversation on a holy icon. There is a significant sequence at the Temple of the Rock in Helsinki. In one of their show numbers the sisters sport angels' wings, and in the final big caper adventure their camouflages include a revivalist preacher and a burkha-clad Muslim. There is an element of self-deception and escapism in Angela's religion. But also an authentic dimension of transcendence. God exists despite everything.

The soundtrack is mostly relevant to the run-of-the-mill show music of Angela's bar circuit. Some selections are more poignant such as the following two extreme cases. Samantha Fox's "The Best Is Yet To Come" is heard when Angela retreats to drinking in the car at night while Anna is meeting her boyfriend Timi. J. S. Bach's Sonate 1 Es-Dur, BWV 525 is heard at the Temple of the Rock sequence.

I have had reservations about the digital quality of Bergroth's previous movies, but in this Winterreise the autumn colours, the chilly winter scenes, and the glitter of the sisters' shows are impressive and expressive. Hena Blomberg is the ace cinematographer.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Wendy and the Refugee Neverland

FI © 2017 ELO Film School. PC: Aalto-yliopisto / ELO. In association with: Theatre Academy. P+D: Olli Ilpo Salonen. SC: Olli Ilpo Salonen, Minka Kuustonen, Juha Pulli, Joonas Kääriäinen. CIN: Hannu Käki. AD: Emilia Lindholm. Cost: Suvi Matinaro. M: Tytti Arola. Songs of the band: Olli Ilpo Salonen. S: Tuomas Vauhkonen. ED: Suvi Solja.
    C: Minka Kuustonen (Krisu), Joonas Kääriäinen (Mike), Juha Pulli (Sasu), Jonas Saari (Joope), Antti Heikkinen (TP), Linda Wiklund (Ilona), Joonas Snellman (Toni).
    Matti Onnismaa (Kari Tillander, store manager), Niina Lahtinen, Eero Milonoff, Ville Tiihonen, Jari Virman, Mikko Leppilampi, Roope Salminen, Ylermi Rajamaa.
    87 min
    Distributor: Aalto-yliopisto / ELO. DCP with English subtitles. Premiere: 21 July 2017.
    Viewed at Kinopalatsi 3, Helsinki, 29 July 2017.

"A feelgood indie movie", a low budget student film directed by Olli Ilpo Salonen in which he and his cast and crew take advantage of their freedom on a creative training terrain, a playground of ideas.

It looks wild, anarchic, chaotic, and explosive, but there is method in the madness.

It's the story of a band called Wendy and the Refugee Neverland about to get a gig on an important indie festival in London. Before that they need to record their debut album.

There is no money. Krisu (Minka Kuustonen) has worked for ten years at a hypermarket. Her brother sleeps on the couch. Band members work at a sex store. Finally they conduct a robbery at the hypermarket.

Krisu is the protagonist. She puts as little effort as possible into her hypermarket work, yet she is promoted, and her kindly boss (Matti Onnismaa) is fired because of the robbery. The performance appraisal sequences are subtly satirical. This aspect of the movie offers an original view on alienated labour.

Her true self and creativity Krisu can express as a singer, mostly in her band, but sometimes also at a karaoke bar belting out "White Wedding" and other hit songs.

One of Krisu's jobs is acting at a children's theatre. She plays Storm Cloud against Sunshine.

She is auditioned for a lifestyle reality show project called Inspiration. Its production hoax is subjected to merciless satire, as is the sequence of producing the band's music video with a harridan director.

Krisu has told everybody that her parents have died in an accident. But then her brother who defends Krisu at a bar against a creepy customer (Mikko Leppilampi) is lethally battered by him, and in the context of the funeral Krisu gets to rejoin her parents at their chilly upper class home.

Krisu's own relationships are temporary in the extreme. She lives the life of the Day Tripper of The Beatles: "she only played one night stands". Her life with random men is hazardous. Finally she visits the doctor. She might be pregnant although she always makes a point of requiring a condom. She has also been bitten by a possibly rabiatic dog. In the finale Krisu is literally left hanging between life (giving birth) and death (rabies can be lethal).

Ostensibly a feelgood indie movie, Wendy and the Refugee Neverland is also deadly earnest.

There is a cosmic dimension, an awareness of life and death, of transience, not only in terms of the protagonists but of life on our planet.

Real nature is missing, but the film is full of representations of nature. Krisu's brother is a non-stop aficionado of television's nature documentaries, and with him we watch lions, eagles, swallowtail butterflies and salmon. Krisu herself loves to visit the Helsinki Natural History Museum and the Korkeasaari Zoo. She should know what to do with the dogbite. Let's not forget her role as the Storm Cloud.

The undercurrent of unease is profound. Krisu finally decides to return to consumption hysteria. She is not about to participate in the sinking of the ship. "The less I interfere the better I feel".

A defiantly low definition look.


Lauri Mäntyvaaran tuuheet ripset / The Thick Lashes of Lauri Mäntyvaara

Lauri Mäntyvaaras tjocka fransar. FI © 2017 Elokuvayhtiö Aamu. P: Jussi Rantamäki. Assoc P: Emilia Haukka. D+SC: Hannaleena Hauru. DP: Jan-Niclas Jansson. AD: Kari Kankaanpää. Cost: Aino Havu. Makeup: Minna Pilvinen. M: Lauri Wuolio. S: Jussi Honka, Enos Desjardins. ED: Jenny Tervakari.
    C: Satu / Inka Haapamäki
Heidi / Rosa Honkonen
Henri / Santeri Helinheimo Mäntylä
Lauri / Tiitus Rantala
Ari Rimpiläinen  / Peter Kanerva
Minka Rimpiläinen / Janni Hussi
Viljami / Samuli Vauramo
Essi / Lumi Aunio
Tuulikki  / Helena Valkee
Eero / Viktor Vansen
Riku / Julius Reini
NHL scout / Juhani Tamminen
    Distribution rights: Scanbox Entertainment Finland. Distributed by: Finnkino, with Swedish subtitles by Frej Grönholm. Rating: 12. Duration: 90 min. Premiere: 28.7.2017
    DCP viewed at Tennispalatsi 7, Helsinki, 29 July 2017.

The Thick Lashes of Lauri Mäntyvaara is Hannaleena Hauru's debut feature film, but she is a well-known talent, highly regarded for award-winning shorts such as If I Fall, Whispering in a Friend's Mouth, and Mercy All the Way.

The production company is Aamu known for offbeat and uncompromising projects such as their previous film, Juho Kuosmanen's The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki.

The Thick Lashes is an outlandish satire in which Satu and Heidi declare war on commercial love. They sabotage wedding planners by inserting explosives into bridal buckets and kidnapping bridegrooms. They expose The Scandinavian Geisha School focused on training ice hockey brides. The Geisha School's key commercial events are "quark cruises" sponsored by a dairy company on Baltic sea cruiser liners where hockey players are rumoured to employ knockout drops on geisha students. (Quark here means protein quark, a dairy product popular with athletes, not unlike cottage cheese or fromage blanc).

The anti-capitalistic crusade fizzles out due to Heidi's devastating crush on the hottest hockey player Lauri Mäntyvaara. But it is not a case of Heidi just simply succumbing to conformism. Heidi is also rebelling against the bossy attitude of her best friend Satu. Amazingly, also Lauri rebels and questions career plans to become a National Hockey League player in America. Here Lauri Mäntyvaara is similar to Olli Mäki.

In the beginning the protagonists have fixed agendas, but the narrative explodes into questioning everybody and everything. Lauri's ice hockey career has been an obsession for his domineering mother, and he needs to grow into independency. And Heidi needs to move on from Satu's lunatic anarcho-terroristic wedding sabotage conspiracies.

Deep themes emerge: are we inner-directed or other-directed? Are we living our own lives or fulfulling somebody else's aspirations?

The comic farce style, the cartoonish effects, the outlandish reactions, the incredible sight gags, and the belly laughter on consumer society bring to mind post-WWII comedy classics starting with Frank Tashlin and Jerry Lewis.

The Thick Lashes is a comedy with a defiantly feminine viewpoint, and relevant female references range from Věra Chytilová (Sedmikrásky) to Penelope Spheeris, and, in Finland, from Kaisa Rastimo to Auli Mantila. It's refreshing to see for a change feminine counterparts to the over-the-top reactions of Tex Avery's Wolf in the Little Red Riding Hood cartoons.

It's fun with Hannaleena Hauru and her talented cast, starring Inka Haapamäki as Satu and Rosa Honkonen as Heidi. The film is original, unusual and unexpected. There is no message but there is a wisdom: a wisdom of doubting everybody, a wisdom of following one's own heart.

The Thick Lashes is daring, unconventional, impolite and unpolished. I'm looking forward for more from Hannaleena Hauru.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Pride and Prejudice 1–6 (1995)

Pride and Prejudice (1995). Colin Firth (Mr. Darcy), Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennet)

Pride and Prejudice, 1–6 / Ylpeys ja ennakkoluulo. GB © 1995 BBC. PC: BBC Worldwide Ltd., / Chestermead. EX: Delia Fine, Michael Wearing. P: Sue Birtwistle. D: Simon Langton. SC: Andrew Davies – based on the novel (1813) by Jane Austen. CIN: John Kenway – Super 16 – colour – 1,66:1.  PD: Gerry Scott. AD: John Collins, Mark Kebby. VFX: Graham Brown. Cost: Dinah Collin. Makeup: Caroline Noble. M: Carl Davis. S: Brian Marshall. ED: Peter Coulson.
    C: Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennet), Colin Firth (Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy), Susannah Harker (Jane Bennet), Julia Sawalha (Lydia Bennet), Alison Steadman (Mrs. Bennet), Benjamin Whitrow (Mr. Bennet), Crispin Bonham-Carter (Mr. Charles Bingley), Polly Maberly (Kitty Bennet), Lucy Briers (Mary Bennet), Anna Chancellor (Mrs. Bingley), Lucy Robinson (Mrs. Hurst), Adrian Lukis (George Wickham), David Bamber (Mr. William Collins), Lucy Scott (Charlotte Lucas), Lucy Davis (Maria Lucas), Emilia Fox (Georgiana Darcy), Marlene Sidaway (Hill), Barbara Leigh-Hunt (Lady Catherine de Bourgh).
    Loc: Cheshire, Wiltshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Somerset.
    Finnish telecast premiere: March–April 1996 and August–September 1996, Yle TV1.
    6 episodes à 55 min, in total 327 min
    Introduced by Anna Möttölä.
    Viewed at Cinema Orion (Jane Austen: Bicentennial of Her Death), Helsinki, 23 July 2017.

The 1995 television series adaptation of Pride and Prejudice has a place of honour in the remarkable 1995–1996 cycle of Jane Austen television and film adaptations when Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma were filmed almost simultaneously. Emma was shot twice, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Beckinsale respectively. Mansfield Park followed in 1999.

Because of the 5½ hours duration of the six-episode series of Pride and Prejudice it was possible for the screenwriter Andrew Davies and the director Simon Langton to cover the events and dialogues in full length.

Pride and Prejudice is the most frequently filmed Jane Austen novel, and it is easy to understand why. It is story- and character-driven, with dramatic scenes and ball sequences lucrative for television or the cinema. Among the 11 adaptations of the novel this 1995 BBC production is the most highly regarded. It has even become a cult phenomenon, as was also evident in our screening. There was a special atmosphere of expectation. Audience members seemed to know the series by heart.

Even though there is enough space to cover all the action a key issue remains, common to all Jane Austen adaptations: the issue of free indirect speech. Goethe and Austen were pioneers in this mode of narration in which the narrator conveys a first person viewpoint without using a first person address. Such an intimate and confidential address is in the heart of Austen's art, and film / tv adaptations have to give it up unless there is a narrator. I am not aware of any Austen adaptation with one.

This Pride and Prejudice adaptation is well directed, written and cast. It is shot on location with a true sense of the landscape. Austen's novel is full of wit, irony, comedy, and humour, and the sense of fun and joy of life is conveyed in this adaptation. These characters relish being themselves.

Some performances border on the caricature: Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennet, mother of the five daughters, David Bamber as William Collins, the sycophantic clergyman, and Barbara Leigh-Hunt as the meddling Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Next to the overacting Alison Steadman Benjamin Whitrow as Mr. Bennet steals the show with his sidelong glances. William Collins in Bamber's exaggerated performance becomes an irresistible foil for Elizabeth's sweet irony.

And Jennifer Ehle excels as Elizabeth, one of the most wonderful characters in literature, the incarnation of "Prejudice". Elizabeth has received a wrong impression of the actions of Mr. Darcy, and quite an accurate impression of his character.

Colin Firth became a star in his incarnation of Mr. Darcy, incorporating "Pride". He is haughty and arrogant. He is also awkward, taciturn and tongue-tied, with no talent in small talk. There is something Finnish in this comical "strong and silent man".

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy became an instant sex symbol. I understand that pheromones have been named after Darcy due to this performance. I wonder why and need to interview lady patrons to find out. My first hypothesis: also Mr. Darcy is initially introduced as an intentional caricature. In Finnish we would call him ihmisraakile, an emotionally underdeveloped human being, man material who can develop into a fully rounded personality in good company, such as a good woman.

Mr. Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth belongs to the most disastrous dating sequences in film history, to be compared with Taxi Driver when Travis Bickle invites Betsy to see The Language of Love.

Elizabeth rejects Mr. Darcy's proposal outright. Their relationship reaches its nadir exactly in the middle, in the finale of Part III. Mr. Darcy's letter of explanation in the beginning of Part IV provides the peripeteia. During the rest of the story Elizabeth reassesses Mr. Darcy's actions, overcoming her prejudice, and Mr. Darcy gets opportunities to display tact, consideration, good manners, and hospitality, overcoming his pride.

Pride and Prejudice is a mutual Bildungsroman, une éducation sentimentale. It is more about marriage than love. Money matters. But this marriage must be based on love.

Carl Davis has composed and arranged a beautiful score with diegetic passages of playing and singing "Ombra mai fu" (Händel), "Rondo alla Turca" and "Voi che sapete" (Mozart), and "Andante favori" (Beethoven: Elizabeth and Darcy exchange glances as Georgiana is playing). Often the amateur music performances are clumsy, with an emphasis on comedy. In addition there are several country dance numbers.

But Carl Davis's main approach is Beethovenian, starting from theme tunes influenced by his Septet Op. 20 and the Emperor concerto. Beethoven was a contemporary of Austen's, and there is a parallel in their artistic trajectory. Austen was a classicist in the age of romanticism. Beethoven started as a classicist; young Beethoven belonged to the same world as Mozart, he reached his maturity as a romanticist, and transcended romanticism in his late quartets. Why not Beethoven; Beethoven was popular in England, especially the Pastoral Symphony. But Tuomas Anhava had a point in calling Jane Austen the Mozart of literature. We have a bright and joyous surface with a sense of dark depths beneath.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Persuasion (1995)

Viisasteleva sydän / Övertalning. GB 1995. PC: BBC Films – distributed by Sony. P: Fiona Finway. D: Roger Michell. SC: Nick Dear – based on the novel (1817) by Jane Austen (translated into Finnish by Kristiina Kivivuori, 1951). CIN: John Daly – negative: 35 mm (Eastman Kodak) – color –1,85:1. PD: William Dudley. AD: Linda Ward. VFX: Colin Gorry. Cost: Alexandra Byrne. Makeup: Jean Speak. M: Jeremy Sams. S: Terry Elms. ED: Kate Evans.
    C: Amanda Root (Anne Elliot), Ciarán Hinds (Captain Frederick Wentworth), Susan Fleetwood (Lady Russell), Corin Redgrave (Sir Walter Elliot), Fiona Shaw (Mrs. Croft), John Woodwine (Admiral Croft), Phoebe Nicholls (Elizabeth Elliot), Samuel West (Mr. Elliot), Sophie Thompson (Mary Musgrove), Simon Russell Beale (Charles Musgrove), Felicity Dean (Mrs. Clay), Robert Glenister (Capt. Harville), Richard McCabe (Capt. Benwick), Victoria Hamilton (Henrietta Musgrove), Emma Roberts (Louisa Musgrove), Roger Hammond (Mr. Musgrove), Helen Schlesinger (Mrs. Smith).
    Loc: Bath, Lyme Regis (Dorset), Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire.
    A television film first telecast on 16 April 1995 on BBC Two and first released theatrically on 27 Sep 1995 in the U.S.
    Helsinki premiere: 3.5.1996 Nordia 1 distributed by Warner Bros. Finland Oy with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Anna-Lisa Holmqvist – telecast 3.11.2000 ja 4.1.2002 YLE TV1 – VET 99733 – S – 2940 m / 108 min
    Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Jane Austen [Bicentennial of Death]), 20 July 2017.

A BBC prestige production, a film of quality, a period drama, a heritage film, an illustrated classic, a film belonging to the mid-1990s cycle of six Jane Austen film adaptations, Roger Michell's debut as a (tv) film director. For the theatre and television actress Amanda Root Persuasion became a screen debut when the film was released theatrically.

While watching the film I'm in the middle of reading Austen's novel and critical comments on it, including those of Tuomas Anhava ("Sydän ja klassikko" ["The Heart and a Classic"], which inspire me in these remarks.

Tuomas Anhava (1927–2001) was a poet, un homme de lettres and a formidable critic known as the Pope in Finnish literary world. For him, two novelists were above others: Austen and Tolstoy, and Austen even higher of them in purely literary quality. Persuasion was Anhava's favourite Austen novel.

"She had been forced into prudence in her youth, she learned romance as she grew older: the natural sequence of an unnatural beginning."

This is an exceptional characterization of an unusual protagonist. Persuasion was written during a period of romanticism, but Jane Austen was always a writer of the enlightenment, and this double vision – viewing romance with the eyes of a realist – is her hallmark. In this essential feature the film adaptation is faithful to Austen.

An attractive detail in the story is the prominence of the romantic poems of Scott and Byron. Austen does not share their sensibilities but her characters communicate their feelings via them.

Persuasion, the last novel Austen finished for publication before her death, is exceptional since it is about love. The focus of her other main novels is on marriage, not exactly the same thing. Persuasion is also exceptional because there are not many grand scenes and dialogues. It is more an interior story, a masterpiece of fine psychological observation. Consequently, it is also the work of the most immediate warmth and sympathy among Austen's novels. In Persuasion Austen is more inspired by nature, including landscapes and the seasons, than in her other novels.

Roger Michell's film adaptation takes full advantage of the prominence of the landscape and the seasons in expressive scenes shot in Gloucestershire (Kellynch Hall), Lyme, and Bath. The land and the sea are the twin milieus important in the novel and the film. The colours of the seasons have psychological and symbolical significance.

The film picks up in intensity towards the end, balancing tact and passion. The all-important concert and letter-writing scenes are powerfully interpreted by Amanda Root and Ciarán Hinds.

But perhaps no film adaptation can do justice to Jane Austen's masterpiece. The subtle interiority of the novel, the full psychological insight with shades of a self-portrait cannot be translated into a drama or a movie. Persuasion was Austen's most mature novel, the one where her sense of humour was at its most refined. That experience only the novel itself can convey.

It is interesting to imagine a Yasujiro Ozu adaptation of a Jane Austen novel, starring Setsuko Hara. The marriage mania with an underlying sense that the heroine would be in many ways better off unmarried.


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis. Carey Mulligan (Jean Berkey), Justin Timberlake (Jim Berkey). Please click on the images to enlarge them.

Inside Llewyn Davis / Inside Llewyn Davis. US / FR © 2013 Long Trip LLC. PC: StudioCanal / Scott Rudin Productions / Mike Zoss Productions. P: Scott Rudin, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen. D: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen. SC: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen. CIN: Bruno Delbonnel – shot on 35 mm – DI: Technicolor Postworks. PD: Jess Gonchor. AD: Deborah Jensen. Set dec: Susan Bode. Cost: Mary Zophres. Makeup: Nicki Ledermann. Hair: Michael Kriston. Executive M producer: T Bone Burnett. Songs: see beyond the jump break. S: Skip Lievsay. ED: Roderick Jaynes [Ethan Coen, Joel Coen]. Casting: Ellen Chenoweth.
    C: Oscar Isaac (Llewyn Davis), Carey Mulligan (Jean Berkey), John Goodman (Roland Turner), Justin Timberlake (Jim Berkey), Adam Driver (Al Cody), F. Murray Abraham (Bud Grossman), Garrett Hedlund (Johnny Five), Stark Sands (Troy Nelson), Ethan Phillips (Mitch Gorfein), Alex Karpovsky (Marty Green), Max Casella (Pappi Corsicato), Sylvia Kauders (Ginny), Benjamin Pike (Bob).
    Loc: New York City.
    Helsinki premiere: 28.2.2014 Kinopalatsi, distributor: Future Film – dvd: 2015 Future Film – 104 min
    2K DCP with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Marko Pyhähuhta / Heidi Nyblom Kuorikoski viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Coen Brothers), 19 July 2017

One of the best films of the Coen Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis is set in Greenwich Village in the year 1961, in a period when folk music was still being performed just for the love of it, before it became a big commercial phenomenon.

The trouble with the fictional folk singer Llewyn Davis is not that he is a loser in the commercial sense. He is not interested in being commercial. The trouble is that he is a loser in life. His human credit is great to begin with: family, friends, network, community, audience, and professional contacts.

He has no money, no home, no car, nor a winter coat, but the biggest problem is "inside Llewyn Davis" himself as we can witness seeing him ruin his life step by step. He offends friends and hosts, arranges serial abortions for girlfriends ("you should wear a double condom" says his ex Jean, adding: "you should wear a body condom"), insults colleagues and patrons at folk cafés, and botches chances with managers at his folk café, his record label and the Gate of Horn music club in Chicago. He loses his best friends' cat. He lands outside locked doors or inside a car without keys. He even spoils his chance at returning to the merchant marine. He is "not current, not on the roster", he learns at the harbour.

As an account of adversity Inside Llewyn Davis has an affinity with the Book of Job as did A Serious Man. The two films share a distinction of representing the purest essence of the Coen brothers. In Inside Llewyn Davis they are moving away from potential mannerisms, deliberate quirkiness, and shock value while out-Coening themselves.

There is also an affinity with Kafka, and perhaps Gogol (this occurs to me as I have just finished reading Nabokov's book on Gogol): the sense of the absurd. Characters, story and style are important, but finally it is about something beyond all that. The cosmic absurdity of being. And even beyond that.

It is an achievement of the Coens to make such a story compelling. We share the narrative solely with the eyes of Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac). We certainly do not identify with a character whom Jean calls "king Midas's idiot brother" in whose hands everything turns into the opposite of gold, but we connect with the missed potential in this schlemiel or schlimazel. In this Inside Llewyn Davis brings to mind Tim Burton's Ed Wood and Ingmar Bergman's In the Presence of a Clown, both about artists who miss their moment. The difference between a genius and a joker can be minimal.

The Coens present us Bud Grossman (F. Murray Abraham in a memorable performance), the manager of the Gate of Horn, as a character of brutal honesty. Llewyn Davis has achieved his breakthrough in a duo with Mike Timlin who has committed suicide, and now he is pursuing a solo career, but Grossman advises him to keep singing in a group, and actually invites him to join a trio he is developing. Davis rejects the offer. (Albert Grossman, the manager of the Gate of Horn in real life, was about to launch Peter, Paul and Mary).

Among the series of setbacks and shocks experienced by Llewyn there is even a literal beating. The husband of a lady folk singer whom Llewyn has insulted retaliates violently in the back alley of the folk café. There are many wrong turns in Llewyn's life and one puzzling crossing on a freeway: the exit to Akron, a city in which, as Llewyn has accidentally learned, he may have a two-year old child of whom he has never heard before.

Llewyn's relationships are profoundly disturbed, but his reaction at the Akron crossing reveals that there is something cooking inside. The lost cat becomes Llewyn's conduit in the narrative, even a kind of an identification figure in this odyssey (the cat is even called Ulysses). During his midnight drive Llewyn may have hit a cat. It is a moment of self-revelation for him, about being on a collision course with life. Roland Turner (John Goodman), the heroin-addicted jazz man, threatens to put the voodoo curse of santeria on Llewyn, and as has been observed, the joke is that the curse is already on.

As a music film Inside Llewyn Davis is excellent. It is a sequel in the Coens' œuvre to O Brother, Where Art Thou? The executive music producer is again T Bone Burnett. The songs are authentic to the period, sung and played by the actors themselves, and heard in the movie in extenso.

Llewyn's catchphrase in his performances is "If it was never new, and it never gets old, then it's a folk song." The performances are memorable, including the traditional "Hang Me, Oh Hang Me" that starts the film, "The Death of Queen Jane", Llewyn's promo song for Grossman, and Ewan MacColl's "Shoals of Herring" which Llewyn sings to his demented father, a retired merchant marine.

The atmosphere has been recreated with loving care, but Greenwich Village veterans remind us that the Coens' gloomy approach does not do justice to the fun and vitality of the scene and not at all to Dave Van Ronk's character whose Inside Dave Van Ronk was the key inspiration to this movie's music; the Coens have always made a point of stating that the Llewyn Davis character is not based on Dave Van Ronk.

The Greenwich Village beat / folk scene has always been a target for parodies, and the Coens offer some of their own, but they distance themselves from clichés while presenting us original figures such as a taciturn Beat poet Johnny Five (Garrett Hedlund) and the heroin-addicted jazzman mentioned above.

More importantly, the Coens present us a scene in which music matters and in which a devoted audience focuses on the lyrics. That may not be an accurate account of all folk clubs, but it is compatible with classic documentaries of the scene such as Sunday (1961) and Festival (1967).

The last of Llewyn's missed moments takes place when he departs to the back alley while a young curlyhead enters the stage in silhouette, and we hear on the soundtrack Bob Dylan's "Farewell" in a previously unreleased take. Album art for The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan provided the visual inspiration for the Coens' wintry cinematography. The DP was Bruno Delbonnel as the Coens' regular cinematographer Roger Deakins was occupied with the latest James Bond movie.

The film was shot on 35 mm film apparently with a soft filter, emphasizing brown hues, and the digital intermediate has been conducted with good taste.


Saturday, July 01, 2017

Blow-Up (2017 restoration in 4K by Cineteca di Bologna, Istituto Luce – Cinecittà and Criterion)

Blow-Up. David Hemmings (Thomas), Veruschka.

Blow-Up - Erään suudelman jälkeen / Blow-Up - förstoringen / Blowup / Blow Up.
    Director: Michelangelo Antonioni. Year: 1966. Country: Gran Bretagna.
    Section: Recovered & Restored.
    Sog.: dal racconto Las babas del diablo di Julio Cortázar. Scen.: Michelangelo Antonioni, Tonino Guerra. F.: Carlo Di Palma. M.: Frank Clarke. Scgf.: Assheton Gorton. Mus.: Herbie Hancock.
    Int.: David Hemmings (Thomas), Vanessa Redgrave (Jane), Sarah Miles (Patricia), Veruschka (se stessa), Peter Bowles (Ron), Jill Kennington, Peggy Moffit, Rosaleen Murray, Ann Norman, Melanine Hampshire (modelle), Jane Birkin, Gillian Hills (aspiranti modelle).
    Prod.: Carlo Ponti per Metro Goldwyn Mayer. DCP 4K. D.: 112’. Col.
    From: Warner Bros. Pictures.
    Courtesy of Park Circus.
    Restored in 2017 by Cineteca di Bologna, Istituto Luce – Cinecittà and Criterion, in collaboration with Warner Bros. and Park Circus at Criterion and L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratories, under the supervision of the cinematographer Luca Bigazzi.
    Introduce Gian Luca Farinelli.
    Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
    Screened with e-subtitles in Italian by Sub-Ti at Cinema Arlecchino, 1 July 2017.

Peter von Bagh (Rikoksen hehku, 1997, quoted at Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Thomas is a photographer who after a night spent taking pictures in a doss house proceeds to shoot fashion models. During an idle moment he goes to an empty park, with his ubiquitous camera, and shoots a scene in which ‘nothing happens’. Only after having developed his photos does Thomas start to pay attention to its details. He may have photographed a murder."

"There is something objectionable about everything Thomas does. Poverty for him is merely a spectacle. A fashion shoot with the gorgeous Veruschka is a simulated act of intercourse, mechanical, yet perhaps it contributes to bringing into focus a secret truth of photography. Its peculiar emotion belongs, as perhaps all emotions do, to a fragile meta-reality. Even the murder is just routine for other people."

"The mystery of life and cinema is heightened in the enlargement sequence. To what degree has Thomas himself renounced the most important thing, life itself? The woman of the park scene comes to meet him but in the flesh she is somehow less real than in the dense time fragments that emerge on the developed photographs. The blow-ups grow into ever more extreme close-ups of a moment that has disappeared but occupies Thomas’s interest completely. Soon the ‘only’ truth of the woman is in these images. The man – ‘the murderer’ – is never concretized to this extent. Only a couple of photographs of him exist. Soon he moves beyond recollection into the realm of images, the ‘zone’ of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus."

"The series of images, close-ups and long shots are an adventure in time. A photograph is always an enigma, an astonishing relationship between precise definition and imagination. The camera reaches the zenith of objectivity: it is the sole witness to a crime and thus the only link to the world as it really exists. At the same time, photography offers an ironic miniature of a world governed by ambivalence, precariousness and an almost derisory sense of alienation. This is the paradox and the ‘narrative’ into which the photographer himself, played by David Hemmings, enters." Peter von Bagh (Rikoksen hehku [The Heat of Crime], 1997) edited by Antti Alanen (for Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: I may not have seen a good print of Blow-Up since 1970 when I saw it for the first time. It was then still in regular commercial circulation in Finland, but not for many years longer, and it became impossible for film societies to access.

Not even in touring Michelangelo Antonioni retrospectives were the prints of Blow-Up any good, in contrast to brilliant prints of his other works. We even tried to buy a print in 2005, but rejected the print sent to us after a check viewing. It was ironic that of a film called Blow-Up prints were circulating that were lacking in depth and detail. Colour is all-important in this second colour film of Antonioni's, but the lush "evergreen" summer colour of the Maryon Park sequence had turned into autumn colours.

Congratulations to the restorers of this digital interpretation of Blow-Up. This is a film about seeing, about perception, like Alfred Hitchcock's films as analyzed by the Finnish philosopher Heikki Nyman. Blow-Up is a quest about the limits of perception, and it is essential to see a copy such as this, both sharp and refined.

Blow-Up is also a film about the limits of freedom, set in the legendary Swinging London of 1966. It is about the threat of freedom turning into solipsism, a portrait of a self-centered fashion photographer who has an endless number of affairs but no profound human relationships.

Blow-Up shows us the glorious attraction of freedom as well as the void that emerges in a life without commitment.

It has also documentary value in portraying figures such as the model Veruschka (see above) or The Yardbirds (Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Keith Relf, Chris Dreja powerfully at "The Train Kept A-Rollin'" with new lyrics here with the title "Stroll On" due to copyright issues).

Peter von Bagh's remarks on Blow-Up were excerpted in the Bologna catalogue. An image similar to the one above was on the cover of Peter's first book, the anthology Uuteen elokuvaan [Towards New Cinema, 1967] which he edited.

Blow-Up is gaining all kinds of new meanings in our current age when photography is exploding to a previously unimaginable extent. We are photographing instead of seeing and drowning in a stream of photographs. Today everybody is a potential Thomas.

A brilliant digital edition of a classic film.

Schwarzer Kies / Black Gravel

Schwarzer Kies. Heinrich Trimbur (Eric Moeller), Anita Höfer (Elli), Wolfgang Büttner (Otto Krahne)

Asfalto nero. Director: Helmut Käutner. Year: 1961. Country: Germania.
    Section: Watchful Dreamer: The Subversive Melancholia of Helmut Käutner.
    Scen.: Helmut Käutner, Walter Ulbrich. F.: Heinz Pehlke. M.: Klaus Dudenhöfer. Scgf.: Gabriel Pellon. Mus.: Bernhard Eichhorn.
    Int.: Helmut Wildt (Robert Neidhardt), Ingmar Zeisberg (Inge Gaines), Hans Cossy (John Gaines), Wolfgang Büttner (Otto Krahne), Anita Höfer (Elli), Heinrich Trimbur (Eric Moeller), Edeltraut Elsner (Anni Peel), Peter Nestler (Bill Rodgers).
    Prod.: Walter Ulbrich per Universum-Film AG. 35mm. D.: 111’. Bn.
    [Not released in Finland].
    From: DIF Deutsches Filminstitut (Frankfurt).
    Introduce Olaf Möller.
    Screened with e-subtitles in Italian and English by Sub-Ti at Sala Scorsese, 1 July 2017.

Olaf Möller (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Among the lowest moments of FRG film culture ranks an award handed out in 1962 by a group of journalists who conceived of themselves as Young Critics, the new makers and shapers of movie manners. Said assignation recognized the “worst film by an established director” and went ex aequo to Schwarzer Kies and Der Traum von Lieschen Müller (The Dream of Lieschen Mueller), both masterpieces by Helmut Käutner (had they known that during the same period Käutner also shot parts of Radványi Géza’s Es muß nicht immer Kaviar sein and Diesmal muß es Kaviar sein as well as his wife Erica Balqué’s lone directorial effort, Zu jung für die Liebe?, they might have included those as well…)."

"One can only say: here, insult was added to injury as Schwarzer Kies had already been the subject of a (dubiously motivated) scandal. After the film’s premiere, the Central Council of Jews in Germany’s secretary general, Hendrik van Dam, judged it anti-Semitic due to a scene in which a bordello owner with a concentration camp number tattooed on his forearm is called Saujud (Jewish swine) by an all too ordinary elderly guy who just wants to listen to a march on the jukebox. Some black US soldiers and the hookers stare at the offender, aghast and disgusted. Van Dam’s problem was the idea that a Holocaust survivor could own a brothel – a notion the Central Council’s other members apparently didn’t share at all. Later, van Dam admitted that he had over-done things, maybe even a bit gratuitously – but by then, the affair had gotten out of hand and the film altered severely."

"That only recently Schwarzer Kies was celebrated as a major re-discovery and is now discussed as a key work of the era feels hollow – for there is something especially bitter about this kind of belated praise… After a comparable run-in with the new critical establishment over Die Rote (Redhead, 1962), Käutner focused his creative energies on television (aside from three serenely mellow, self-consciously old-fashioned big-screen excursions).
" Olaf Möller (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

AA: The contrast could hardly be sharper between the ultra-theatrical A Glass of Water and Helmut Käutner's next movie, the almost naturalistic Black Gravel.

There is nothing deliberate or demonstrative in the naturalism of Black Gravel. The grim black-and-white vision is as adequate to this story as the bright, mannered and stagy colour world for A Glass of Water.

Black Gravel is an impressive companion piece to the Sky Without Stars. Both are honest and controversial dramas of contemporary German life after WWII.

Black Gravel is a blunt vision of a Germany living with a foreign military presence. It is a story of abuse and prostitution. An American military base with an airfield for jets is being built. Big money is involved. There is a trickle-down effect, also a black market for stolen special gravel.

The female protagonist Inge Gaines (Ingmar Zeisberg) is married to an American officer, John Gaines (Hans Cossy). John is a sober and decent man, also a sincerely religious church-goer.

Shadows from the past come to haunt Inge in the form of ex-lover Robert Neidhardt (Helmut Wildt), a truck driver bringing gravel to the construction site, also dealing in black gravel. In the past Inge has been a prostitute, and Robert is still actively involved in the girl market.

There is tragedy when Inge cannot help herself and starts to see Robert again.

The milieu is sordid but Käutner's focus in not on the tawdry detail. Even in purgatorial circumstances he focuses on the human qualities of his protagonists.

Writing about Das Mädchen Rosemarie I observed a special German matter-of-fact attitude towards prostitution, also shared by Käutner in Black Gravel. Prostitution is accepted as a fact of life, not idealized nor demonized. Prostitution in itself is not seen as sinful or scandalous, but crime and corruption inevitably follow, and for women who want to move ahead in life it remains a shadow of the past.

Käutner's films were usually released in Finland but Black Gravel was not. There was a lot of newspaper commentary in our land on the alleged anti-semitism of the movie which might have been a factor in it's not being released. Of course, as Olaf states above, Käutner's attitude was always against anti-semitism in the first place, but the remark in question was cut and did not appear in the version screened in Bologna.

I missed the last ten minutes due to an overlap with the restored Blow-Up but friends updated me with the conclusion of the film.


1897. Cinema anno due [13]: Revealing Lumière Vue N° 308 – Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin [Basel: A Bridge over the Rhine]. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study. / 1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [13]: Revealing Lumière 308 – Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study.

Pont sur le Rhin. Lumière Vue N° 308. Circulation des piétons et des véhicules sur le pont. Opérateur: [Constant Girel according to Catalogue Lumière, possibly Emile Lavanchy according to Roland Cosandey]. Date: [21 septembre 1896] - [29 septembre 1896]. Lieu: Suisse, Bâle, Mittlere Rheinbrücke. Projections: Programmée le 15 novembre 1896 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Bâle. Pont sur le Rhin (Lyon républicain, 15 novembre 1896). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Suisse. Ville: ville-18. Lieu: pont, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: voiture hippomobile. Séries: Constant Girel en Suisse (1896).

1897. Cinema anno due [13]: Revealing Lumière 308 Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study.
1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [13]: Revealing Lumière 308 Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin [Basel: A Bridge over the Rhine]. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study.

Video presentazione di Hansmartin Siegrist (Università di Basilea).
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
Sala Mastroianni, 1 July 2017

Hansmartin Sigrist (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Lumière 308 – Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin provides a glimpse of Basel at its fin-de-siècle apogee. The film had not met with great scholarly interest for a long time until we managed to involve some fifty archives and institutions in a comprehensive study. After three years of focussing on these forty-seven seconds of footage, intensive research has led to a multitude of surprising new results – beyond the exact dating of the film and the reconstruction of the circumstances of Henri Lavanchy-Clarke’s production.

The discovery of new documents illuminates this flamboyant organiser’s privileged position within Lumière’s first distribution system for their Cinématographe. Our renewed examination of Lavanchy’s earliest Swiss films (produced in association with the 1896 Geneva National Exhibition) led to the identification of illustrious members of his artistic, philanthropic, industrial and missionary networks. It also helped to put his 1897 films into a new context, correcting some errors."

"Most of all, Lumière 308 has turned out to be a missing link between Lyon and Basel as sister cities in the silk-dyeing industry: The film is carefully staged by a prominent local silk dyer – as a dynastic parade combined with his guild’s folkloristic procession. At the same time, it appears as a re-enactment of a huge patriotic pageant which had enthralled Basel four years earlier."

"Last but not least: It is more than likely that Abbé Joye, this earliest amateur collector of films (which he used as a tool for proselytizing a staunchly protestant city), makes a prominent appearance in this clip."
Hansmartin Siegrist (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

Pont sur le Rhin / [A Bridge Over the Rhine]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1896. Country: Svizzera. 308.

AA: A fascinating case study and close reading of a single Lumière view of 47 seconds.

The Old Mittlere Rheinbrücke in Basel was built in the 13th century and stood there until 1903 when the current bridge was built. There are many visual representations of the famous bridge, and this film has a place of honour among them. Hansmartin Sigrist praised it as an exemplary case of how to film a bridge: by placing the focus on the people.

Swiss research has established Henri Lavanchy-Clarke as the producer of the Swiss Lumière views. Lavanchy-Clarke was also a pioneer of product placement in the movies, including in this view. In his detective project Sigrist has managed to identify the people in the film and discovered that there is nothing accidental in the movie. Amazingly, we probably see an appearance of Abbé Joye.

An excellent and exemplary bonus presentation.


1897. Cinema anno due [12] - Cinématographe Lumière: Constant Girel au Japon / 1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [12] - Cinématographe Lumière: Constant Girel in Japan

Un pont à Kyoto. Lumière Vue N° 737. Circulation de piétons et de pousse-pousse. Titre issu du Catalogue des vues - Cinquième Liste. Graphie originelle du titre: Un pont à Kioto. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: 9 janvier 1897 - [26 décembre 1897]. Lieu: Japon, Kyoto, pont Shijo Kobashi, Honshu. Projections: Programmée le 18 septembre 1898 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Japon: un pont à Kyoto (Lyon républicain, 18 septembre 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Japon. Ville: Kyoto. Lieu: pont, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: pousse-pousse et chaise à porteur. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897).

1897. Cinema anno due [12] - Cinématographe Lumière: Constant Girel au Japon
1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [12] - Cinématographe Lumière: Constant Girel in Japan

35 mm. No intertitles.
From: Institut Lumière.
Grand piano: Mie Yamashita
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
Sala Mastroianni, 1 July 2017

Mariann Lewinsky (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "In 1896, Inabata Katsutaro, a textile industrialist from Western Japan, visited Lyon. He had studied at the renowned technical high school La Martinière where one of his fellow schoolmates was Auguste Lumière. Now they met again; and when Inabata returned to his country in early 1897, he brought back three Lumière cinématographes, the Lumière license for Japan, enough films to do screenings and a technician to do the screenings, Constant Girel. Girel had the additional job of filming vues in Japan."

"Mr. Inabata saw his mission as introducing advanced Western technologies to his country and not as being associated with popular entertainment; he handed things over to Yokota Einosuke, a show manager. Only a few days after the first screenings of the Cinématographe Lumière in Osaka (February 15, 1897), Kyoto (March 1) and Tokyo (March 8) the Japanese could also see Vitascope shows. Cinema was a success, and in late 1897 the first domestic films were made."

"The Catalogue Lumière lists eighteen views shot by Girel in Japan in 1897. Why not more? Why come back to Europe with so little, after more than ten months in Japan? Maybe there is a reason known to the entire world except me. Maybe Girel was simply too busy training people and organizing electricity for the screenings, maybe negative stock was scarce, maybe he had exposed hundreds of films and botched them all up? There is nothing wrong, however, with those we have: Kyoto, the old capital, a charming “Goûter du bébé Inabata”, Ainu dancers and a famous Kabuki actor (Ichikawa Sadanji) striking a mie pose in nondescript surroundings, with the camera as his only audience."
Mariann Lewinsky (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

Un pont à Kyoto / [A Bridge in Kyoto]. Director: Constant Girel, Shijo Kobashi. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 737.
    AA: Traffic on a bridge in Kyoto: pedestrians and rickshaws on their way to many directions at the lively crossroads. Print quality: used, mediocre.

Une rue à Tokyo. Lumière Vue N° 738. Circulation de piétons et de pousse-pousse dans une rue. Graphie originelle du titre: Une rue à Tokio. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: 9 janvier 1897 - [26 décembre 1897]. Lieu: Japon, Tokyo, quartier de Nihombashi-Ginza, Honshu. Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Edison. Pays: Japon. Ville: Tokyo. Lieu: rue, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: pousse-pousse et chaise à porteur. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897).

Une rue à Tokyo / [A Street in Tokyo]. Director: Constant Girel, Nihonbashi Ginza. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone.
    AA: Traffic on a street crossing in Tokyo: pedestrians and rickshaws. Curious looks at us. Low contrast.

Repas en famille. Lumière Vue N° 734. Une famille japonaise prend le thé. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: 9 janvier 1897 - [26 décembre 1897]. Lieu: Japon, Kyoto, maison Inabata, Honshu. Personnes: De gauche à droite: une domestique, Natsu (la nièce de Katsutaro Inabata) tenant dans ses bras Noriko Inabata, puis Kikuko Inabata à côté de son père Katsutaro Inabata. Projections: Programmée le 9 janvier 1898 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Un repas en famille au Japon (Lyon républicain, 9 janvier 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière - 1 copie Edison. Pays: Japon. Ville: Kyoto. Lieu: domicile. Personnes identifiées: identi-420, identi-430, identi-440. Genre: coutumes, famille. Sujet: enfant. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897).

Repas en famille / [A Family at Tea]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone.
    AA: A tea ceremony at the Inabata house in Kyoto. An atmosphere of culture, politeness and good manners. High contrast.

Les Aïnos à Yeso, I. Lumière Vue N° 741. Danse traditionnelle exécutée par quatre hommes. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: octobre 1897 - 18 octobre 1897. Lieu: Japon, environ de Muroran, Yéso (aujourd'hui Hokkaidô). Projections: Programmation de Japon: danse religieuses des Aïnos le 9 janvier 1898 à Lyon (France) (Lyon républicain, 9 janvier 1898). Programmation de La danse des Aïnus, indigènes de Hokkaido le 1er juillet 1898 à Nagoya (Japon) (Shin-Aichi, 30 juin 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Edison. Pays: Japon. Événement: danse. Genre: coutumes. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897), Les Aïnos.

Les Aïnos à Yeso, I / [The Ainu of Hokkaido I]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 741.
    AA: A traditional religious dance of four old and bearded men of the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, performed in Hokkaido, formerly known as Yeso. Haunting. Visual quality not the best.

Lutteurs japonais. Lumière Vue N° 925. Deux hommes en costume traditionnel se livrent un combat au sabre. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: octobre 1897. Lieu: Japon, Kyoto, Honshu. Projections: Programmée le 20 février 1898 à Lyon (France) sous son titre (Lyon républicain, 20 février 1898). Programmation de Le tournoi national de Kendo le 1er juillet 1898 à Nagoya (Japon) (Schin-Aichi, 30 juin 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière. Pays: Japon. Ville: Kyoto. Evénement: affrontement, compétition. Genre: coutumes, sport. Objet: arme. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897), info-five-53.

Lutteurs japonais / [Japanese Fighters]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 925.
    AA: A sabre fight of two Japanese warriors in traditional costume in Kyoto. Meditative.

Escrime au sabre japonais. Lumière Vue N° 926. Démonstration de kendo. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: octobre 1897. Lieu: Japon, Kyoto, Honshu. Projections: Programmée le 20 mars 1898 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Japon: escrime au sabre (Le Progrès, 20 mars 1898). Programmation de Le tournoi national de Kendo le 1er juillet 1898 à Nagoya (Japon) (Schin-Aichi, 30 juin 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière. Pays: Japon. Ville: Kyoto. Événement: compétition. Genre: coutumes, sport. Objet: arme. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897), info-five-53.

Escrime au sabre japonais / [Japanese Sabre Fencing]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 926.
    AA: A kendo demonstration between six fighters in Kyoto. Wild and furious.

Dîner japonais. Lumière Vue N° 733. Un groupe de Japonais prend son repas. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: 9 janvier 1897 - 26 décembre 1897. Lieu: Japon, Kyoto, Honshu. Projections: Programmée le 26 décembre 1897 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Japon: un dîner japonais (Lyon républicain, 26 décembre 1897). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Edison. Pays: Japon. Ville: Kyoto. Lieu: domicile. Genre: coutumes. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897).

Dîner japonais / [Japanese Dinner]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 733.
    AA: Interior. A Japanese dinner ceremony in Kyoto. Two women play the samisen. Two men are accompanied by nine women. A geisha house?

Danseuses japonaises. Lumière Vue N° 740. “Dans ces deux vues [cf. n° 1273 et 1274], les danseuses exécutent différents mouvements; dans le n° [1273], elles portent des ombrelles et dans le n° [1274], des éventails.” Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: 9 janvier 1897 - [26 décembre 1897]. Lieu: Japon, Kyoto, Honshu. Projections: Programmée le 6 février 1898 à Lyon (France) sous son titre (Lyon républicain, 6 février 1898). Programmée le 1er juillet 1898 à Nagoya (Japon) sous le titre La danse des parasols des geishas de Gion-Schinchi (Schin-Aichi, 30 juin 1898). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 1 copie Lumière. Pays: Japon. Ville: Kyoto. Lieu: édifice religieux. Événement: danse. Genre: coutumes. Objet: instrument de musique. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897).

Danseuses japonaises / [Japanese Dancers]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 740.
    AA: Exterior. The sisters of Gion 40 years before Mizoguchi: the geishas of Kyoto play the samisen and perform different dance movements wearing parasols and fans. Four dancers and four samisen players.

Acteurs japonais: danse d’homme. Lumière Vue N° 976. Danse exécutée par un acteur japonais. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: 9 janvier 1897 - [26 décembre 1897]. Lieu: Japon, Honshu. Projections: Programmée le 27 novembre 1899 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Acteur japonais (danse) (Le Progrès, 27 novembre 1899). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière. Pays: Japon. Événement: danse. Genre: villes et paysages. Sujet: comédien, danseur. Objet: costumes. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897).

Acteurs japonais: danse d’homme / [Japanese Actors: a Dancing Man]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 976.
    AA: A Japanese actor performing a dance. A wonderful, dynamic solo dance view.

Acteurs japonais: bataille au sabre. Lumière Vue N° 978. Scène de combat acrobatique entre plusieurs hommes armés de lances et de sabres. Opérateur: Constant Girel. Date: 9 janvier 1897 - [26 décembre 1897]. Lieu: Japon, Honshu. Personnes: Dans la moitié droite de l'image, de profil droit, l'acteur Sadanji Ichikawa. Projections: Programmée le 1er juillet 1898 à Nagoya (Japon) sous le titre Marubashi Chuya joué par Sadanji, acteur de Tokyo (Schin-Aichi, 30 juin 1898). Programmée le 20 octobre 1900 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Théâtre japonais: drame au sabre (Le Progrès, 22 octobre 1900). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière. Pays: Japon. Personnes identifiées: identi-410. Événement: affrontement, danse. Genre: villes et paysages. Sujet: comédien, danseur. Objet: arme. Séries: Constant Girel au Japon (1897).

Marubashi Chuya joué par Sadanji Ichikawa / [Sadanji Ichikawa plays Marubashi Chuya]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1897. Country: Giappone. 978.
    AA: The actor Sadanji Ichikawa (in the right half of the image in straight profile) plays a sabre and lance combat scene as Marubashi Chuya in the kabuki play Keian Taiheiki (1870) by Kawatake Mokuami. Wild action.
Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900). Title: 『「俳優落語当りくらべ」より(部分) 初代市川左團次の丸橋忠弥、中村荒次郎のとり手叶平』 / Actors Ichikawa Sadanji I as Marubashi Chūya, and Nakamura Arajirō I as Police Officer (Torite) Tsujibei. Part of the series 'Actors and Comedy, Comparisons of Hits' (Haiyū rakugo atari kurabe). Date: 1873. Medium: Woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and color on paper. Current location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Credit line: William Sturgis Bigelow Collection. Source/Photographer: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, online database. Public domain. From: Wikipedia.