Sunday, March 03, 2013

Books I have been reading

Jorma Savikko: Pitkä ajo. Henkilökuva elokuvaohjaaja Rauni Mollbergista [The Long Run. A Portrait of the Film Director Rauni Mollberg]
. Edited by Harald Birger Olausen. Kulttuuriklubi, 2012. Rauni Mollberg (1929–2007) was a prominent Finnish actor and director with three remarkable careers: in the theatre, in television, and in the cinema. This is the first book on him as an artist, written by Mollberg's lifelong friend and collaborator Jorma Savikko (1926–2010) as a work commissioned by Mollberg himself. The book was finished in 1994 as Mollberg was making his final film, but then Mollberg turned his back on the project and banned its publication, although it is a sober, balanced, and positive study. Now it has finally been published, in a virtually self-published edition by Harald Birger Olausen, in hard cover. It is an original, well-written book full of little-known facts. – So far the only books on Mollberg have been by his daughter Eira Mollberg, who portrays her father as a monster.

Pietari Kääpä and Silja Laine (ed.): World Film Locations: Helsinki. Glasgow: Bell & Bain Limited, 2013. This nice volume on the city of Helsinki as a film location has been written for the international audience, but there are new insights even for me, born in Helsinki. The book does not pretend to be complete, and everybody will have his personal favourites of missing titles. My list of favourite Helsinki films missing from this book would include Johan Ulfstjerna (John W. Brunius, SE 1923: the story of the assassination of Governor General Bobrikov was shot on location in the monument center of Helsinki), Cyclomania (Simo Halinen, FI 2001: full of never before seen aspects of Helsinki from the viewpoints of cyclists), and Kamome shokudo / Ruokala Lokki / Matbar Måsen / Kamome Diner / [The Diner Called Seagull] (Naoko Ogigami, JP 2006: a funny and naivistic view of Helsinki which has provided a popular scenic route for Japanese tourists).

Edward Said: Ajattelevan ihmisen vastuu (Representations of the Intellectual, 1994). Helsinki: Loki-Kirjat, 2001. Based on Edward Said's Reith lectures for the BBC: six essays on redefining the intellectual in the contemporary world.

Tony Judt: Postwar. A History of Europe Since 1945. London: William Heinemann, 2005. A magnificent overview written from the vantage point of 1989, the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Wall.

Tony Judt: Huonosti käy maan. Tutkielma nykyisestä surkeudestamme (Ill Fares the Land, 2010). Helsinki: Like Kustannus, 2011. The final thoughts of Tony Judt (1948-2010), dictated on his deathbed, on the latest international financial crash. The old schools are no longer valid.

Sari Elfving & Mari Pajala: Tele-visioita. Mediakulttuurin muuttuvat muodot. [Tele-Visions. The Changing Forms of Media Culture.] Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2011. Interesting essays on topics including - Television series (Heidi Keinonen) - Tv commercials (Jukka Kortti) - The Rintamäkeläiset tv series (Jenni Hokka) - The documentary quality of the tv series Uutishuone on the zone between fiction and non-fiction (Iiris Ruoho) - Tele-visualized history in Civilization, I, Caesar, The Civil War, Rome: Power & Glory, Time Life's Lost Civilizations, The World at War, People's Century, etc. (Henry Bacon) - Televisual memory in decades series (Mari Pajala) - Lenita Airisto, The Seventh Hour, and Cultures of Disdain (Laura Saarenmaa) - Idols (Sari Elfving) - Television and the immigrants (Kaarina Nikunen).

Heikki Hellman: Koko illan ilo? Kolmoskanava ja television kaupallistuminen Suomessa. [An All Night Joy? Channel Three and the Commercialization of Television in Finland.] Helsinki: SKS, 2012. A sturdy, definitive volume about Finland's Channel Three Television, 1986-1993, with lots of fascinating detail and a solid overview from the perspectives of media culture and politics.

Jarmo Valkola: Thoughts on Images. A Philosophical Evaluation. Bucharest: Zeta Books, 2012. A study on the ubiquity of images, their ever-increasing presence. The chapters include: - Epistemic metaphors. - Pictorial formations. - Existential affections. - Cinematic metaphysics. - The artists discussed include Alfred Hitchcock, Chris Marker, and Béla Tarr.

Mikael Enckell: Perspektiv från andra sidan. Essäer. [Perspectives from the Other Side. Essays.] Helsinki: Söderströms, 2012. In Enckell's fifteenth book all essays have a Jewish connection. - My way to philosemitism (including family connections). - Further stages in philosemitism: the cinema introduced by Jerker A. Eriksson. - Orson Welles. Including thoughts of Oscar Wilde's "The Decay of Lying" and Orson Welles's F for Fake. - Self-analysis: "when in doubt, reverse!" - "No Man Is an Island" - Excursions to the Inside: Cracow, Pitigliano - Saul Friedländer: When Memory Comes - Fritz Lang and the Art of Seeing in the Future - Judaism and Psychoanalysis: an Anticipatory Conclusion.

Tomas Forser: Kritik av kritiken. 1900-talets svenska litteraturkritik. [Critique of Critique. Swedish Literary Criticism in the 20the Century.] Gråbo: Anthropos, 2002. A textbook popular in universities, and an important central work in an age in which the space of culture, including literary criticism, is disappearing from the traditional media. Stages in this development have been "journalistiseringen" = "journalistization", and tabloidization. Yet true criticism is a highly valuable form of literature in its own right. There are samples of literary criticism from various decades and an excellent commented bibliography on the subject.

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