Friday, October 21, 2011

Vares - sukkanauhakäärme / [Vares - The Garter Snake]

Strumpebandsormen. FI © 2011 Solar Films. P: Jukka Helle, Markus Selin. D: Lauri Törhönen. SC: Mika Karttunen - based on the novel by Reijo Mäki (1989). DP: Jari Mutikainen. PD: Antti Nikkinen. Cost: Janne Karjalainen. Makeup artist: Hannele Herttua. M: Samuli Laiho, DJ Slow. Sound designer: Panu Riikonen. ED: Kimmo Kohtamäki. Casting by: Tutsa Paananen, Pia Pesonen, Pauliina Salonius. Loc: Turku. Cast: Antti Reini (Jussi Vares, private detective), Matti Onnismaa (Alanen, owner of a second hand bookstore), Eppu Salminen (Luusalmi, writer of short stories), Jasper Pääkkönen (Kyypakkaus), Mikko Leppilampi (Ruuhio), Maria Järvenhelmi (Anna, taxi driver), Ilkka Heiskanen (Inspector Hautavainio), Katja Kiuru (Inga Näs, "Ingen Aning", gym proprietor), Carl-Kristian Rundman (Pauli Kontio, financier), Rebecca Viitala (Annika Kontio, gallerist), Petri Manninen (Torsten Rapp, dangerous prison inmate), Ari Wirta (Voitto Fjäder), Ilkka Villi (Jesus Maria Lobo, the bar pianist), Panu Vauhkonen (Rönkkö), Sökö Kaukoranta (Korsio), Markku Toikka (Wasenius, "private detective"), Laura Elo (Kaunispää, dentist), Vesa Wallgren (Kunkku). 99 min. Distributed by Nordisk with Swedish subtitles by Joanna Erkkilä. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 9, Helsinki, 21 Oct 2011.

The third film in the new series of exploits of private eye Jussi Vares, the permanent characters played by the same ensemble. This is light entertainment with a reinvigorated approach in comparison with the previous adventure, and this might even be the best of all the Vares movies so far. I have liked the relaxed attitude of the previous films, and now there is more ambition, as well. The vignettes and the caricatures are juicier, there are good lines of dialogue, and several laughs thanks to good comedy timing. The balance of comedy and gravity is getting better. Crime and violence are not trivialized. The main killer Torsten Rapp (Petri Manninen) is scary in a realistic way, and the powers behind everything are genuinely chilling (Carl-Kristian Rundman as the lawyer with deep pockets). "The big fish always remain free" seems a topical remark in the current world economic situtation. Vares is aware that he is out of his league with the big businessmen. New satiric targets include gallery art, gym business as a front for drug traffic, and the contemporary expert playboy lifestyle of a Spanish jazz pianist. There is fresh observation in the account of the old Kakola prison and the prison escape. A grown-up woman's desire is again overwhelming for Vares. This time Laura Elo gets to play the puma woman with a healthy libido: the dentist Kaunispää. The bars of Turku (Uusi Apteekki, Bogart, Sticky Fingers) remain strongholds for Vares the barfly. Some critics have reproached the narrative drive which they feel is too slack but I see it as a conscious and original approach. Vares, himself, looks like a lazy bum, but his brain is alert, and his outward appearance is a way to get the criminals off balance. (A method like Columbo's, only more so. The private eye Vares has no problem getting drunk during office hours.) Also I prefer the digressions to the plot itself.

The manuscript is on the movie's official website, fun to read, but occasionally the dialogue has been made sharper during the shooting.

The DCP still has a 2K transition digital look. The sharpness in the bar scenes is still impressive, and as was the case the last time, there is no trouble with close-ups and shots of faces and buildings. Aerial shots look better, nature footage is the worst, but getting better, too, or the film-makers know better how to focus on subjects that look good on 2K. I saw this movie on a smaller screen than the previous Vares films.

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