Friday, March 31, 2017

A Girl in Every Port

A Girl in Every Port: Victor McLaglen and Louise Brooks.

US © 1928 Fox Film Corp. Presented by: William Fox. P+C: Howard Hawks. SC: Seton I. Miller ‒ associate writers: Sidney Lanfield, Reginald Morris ‒ screen story: James Kevin McGuiness ‒ written by Howard Hawks ‒ titles: Malcolm Stuart Boylan. CIN: Rudolph J. Bergquist / Berquist, L. William O’ Connell. AD: William S. Darling. Cost: Kathleen Kay. ED: Ralph Dixon.
    C: Victor McLaglen (Spike Madden), Robert Armstrong (Bill, "Salami"), Louise Brooks (Marie / Mam'selle Godiva, girl in Marseille / formerly known as Tessie in  Coney Island), Maria Alba / Maria Casajuana (Chiquita, girl in Rio de Janeiro), Francis McDonald (circus manager), Leila Hyams (widow in San Pedro, Belize), Natalie Joyce (girl in Panama City), Dorothy Mathews (girl in Panama City), Elena Jurado (girl of Panama City), Eileen Sedgwick / Greta Yoltz (tandem cyclist girl in Amsterdam), Michael Visaroff (Maria Buenjolla's lover), Sally Rand (girl in Bombay), Natalie Kingston (girl on a South Sea island), Phalba Morgan (Lena Vanderschmoltz, girl in Amsterdam), Felix Valle (Lena's husband), Myrna Loy (Jetta, girl in Singapore), William Demarest (man in Bombay).
    1677 m / 20 fps/ 76 min
    The film was not released in Finland.
    Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Howard Hawks), with Ilari Hannula at the piano, 31 March 2017

Revisited a key Howard Hawks film, his first personal film with real relevance for his future career, the film that launched his reputation as a master of modern art, with a breakthrough role for Louise Brooks.

Two sailors are on "an endless cruise" around the world with a girl in every port, but on every girl Spike (Victor McLaglen) discovers the same anchor-inside-a-heart brand. Having landed into a fistfight with Bill (Robert Armstrong) Spike discovers the same brand on his own jaw. The brand belongs to Bill.

Having sailed on separate ships so far, at San Pedro the "two friends are signed as shipmates for life".

In Marseille Spike meets a stunning high diver, Marie (Louise Brooks), and when it's time to leave Spike tells Bill: "I ain't sailing. I'm in love". But he discovers the anchor-inside-a-heart brand even on Marie. Bill had known her while she was still Tessie back in Coney Island. Spike leaves Marie and makes up with Bill. They sail away together. Nothing will separate them again.

A Girl in Every Port is a fun picture, a display of Hawks's natural talent for comedy.

A tale of sailors living an eternal youth, sheiks with a harem around the globe. A film about arrested development, emotional immaturity. The Don Juan story starts with an embarrassment in Amsterdam, at the first stop based on Spike's little book of addresses of girls. Lena, the girl in Amsterdam, now turns up with three babies and a husband sporting a giant pipe. The second girl in Amsterdam takes Spike to a tandem bicycle ride, and when they topple over next to a windmill, Spike discovers her anchor-inside-a-heart bracelet.

Another disquieting revelation takes place at San Pedro when Spike and Bill are looking for a girl "with a figure like an eel". Having first erred on the door of a formidable matron they land upon a room with a three year old boy, who tells that "my daddy is a sailor" but that he is dead. He may or may not be Spike's son. The single mother returns and before leaving Spike and Bill discreetly stuff the son's hands with wads of cash. It is an emotional moment.

But the most emotional moment of the film is when Spike bursts into tears watching from his window the departure of a ship in which he believes Bill is parting from Marseille. Hawks always called this "a love story between men", and A Girl in Every Port is the first Hawksian tale of male camaraderie. They argue, they quarrel, they compete, they fight, but there is never any resentment when they make up.

Victor McLaglen was a veteran actor when he starred in this film. For Robert Armstrong (Denham in King Kong) A Girl in Every Port provided one of his first film roles.

A running gag in the film is Spike having to pull Bill's middle finger after a fistfight.

Hawks always rejected suggestions of homosexuality in his films. But already in this film the question is inevitable in the sequence in Central America in which Spike and Bill are looking for privacy so that they can fight. Policemen are observing their dubious behaviour in an atmosphere that brings to mind Liberty (1929) the comedy classic where Laurel and Hardy are trying to find a place where they can switch trousers.

I agree with Robin Wood and Todd McCarthy that there is a strong unconscious current of bisexuality in Hawks's films. Hawks who started his career as a film director in the roaring twenties was open-minded about life and unafraid of bringing bisexuality close to the surface. According to McCarthy Hawks's last film project was a remake of A Girl in Every Port, in the last scene of which Spike and Bill, as they are again called, share a bed.

That the Louise Brooks revelation took place in such circumstances makes sense. The collaboration of Howard Hawks and Louise Brooks evolved in conditions of mutual admiration and respect that lasted for life. On the strength of this role G. W. Pabst hired Brooks for Die Büchse der Pandora and Das Tagebuch einer Verlorenen. Hawks made a lasting contribution to a timeless star image, the polymorphic, ambivalent and androgynous Louise Brooks phenomenon.

The role of Marie is stereotyped but Louise Brooks transcends it and becomes a predecessor for all the classic Hawksian women played by Frances Farmer, Carole Lombard, Rosalind Russell, Katharine Hepburn, Jean Arthur, Barbara Stanwyck, Lauren Bacall, and Angie Dickinson.

A fascinating film although not a great one. There is a lack of emotional gravity except in a couple of scenes. True gravitas in Hawks emerges in The Dawn Patrol, although Fazil, made just before A Girl in Every Port but released afterwards, is a special case, unique and memorable.

The duration is sometimes given as a little over 60 minutes, but 20 fps seems a good speed, making prints run 76-78 min.

A print with good visual quality, sometimes good to fair, for a minute or so in low definition. This seems to be the standard U.S. version since in the intertitles the pal is called Bill, never Salami.


ARS17 – Hello World! (an exhibition)

David Blandy: Ice. GB 2015. HD video, mp4. 1:04 min. Edition 6/20. ARS17+ Online Art. Kiasma.

ARS 17 – Hello World!
    31 Mar 2017 – 10 Sep 2017 / 14 Jan 2018
    Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Mannerheiminaukio 2, Helsinki
    Curated by director Leevi Haapala with chief curator Marja Sakari and curators Kati Kivinen, Patrik Nyberg, and Jari-Pekka Vanhala.
    Exhibition architecture: Sun Effects.
    The ARS exhibitions are a series of major surveys of international contemporary art, organised since 1961. ARS17 is the ninth in the series, and the fourth in Kiasma.

The book to the exhibition:
    ARS17 Hello World! Taide internetin jälkeen / Art after the Internet. Edited by Leevi Haapala, Eija Aarnio and Jari-Pekka Vanhala. Graphic design: Laura Rautaheimo. Nykytaiteen museon julkaisuja 156 / 2017. Bilingual (Finnish / English). Fully illustrated with a complete and professional catalogue of the works on display. 256 p.

AA: ARS exhibitions have been an exciting feature in the Finnish art scene since 1961. I have been following them since I was a schoolboy in 1969 when trends exhibited included pop art, kinetic art, and minimalism.

The art world has kept expanding and exploding into many new directions, but Leevi Haapala and his team have decided to focus on art in the age of the internet. This exhibition is wild and mind-boggling, and the full experience includes besides displays in museum rooms also net art on the website, online performances and special screenings at the Kiasma theatre. Among the mottoes is "the internet as the collective unconscious of our time".

The amorphous and protean quality of the internet makes it a difficult beast to catch, but the Kiasma team has been determined in embarking on this intrepid adventure. The works caught are brand new.

On the second floor Reija Meriläinen's Survivor is a 3D video game with Kiasma itself as the playground. Tuomas A. Laitinen's Receptor (Cyborg Agency) is a video installation representing a cyberpunk monster octopus. Rachel Ross's virtual reality space Alembic Cache Passes (Time-Snark) takes us inside the explosion of consumer culture in Michelangelo Antonioni's Zabriskie Point.

Juha van Ingen has created a millennium computer loop called ASLAP (AS Long As Possible). Artie Vierkant's Material Support is an installation of everchanging works, a display of the concept of change itself. Jon Rafman's sculptures on a rabbit mounting a pig and a deer devouring a gorilla are sculptures made of high density foam and acrylic paint. In this context the monstrous sculptures seem like a comment on the insatiable internet.

On the third floor we witness visions of devastation in computer world. Julia Varela's X/5.0000, an installation of crumpled "dead screens" from her series called Hijacked, is a startlingly black vision of digital death. Nina Canell's Brief Syllables / Thin Vowels is a sculpture created of sliced cables.

There are also media critical works. Melanie Gilligan's The Common Sense is an installation of television sets reflecting on a culture of ubiquitous surveillance. Jacolby Satterwhite's video and print hybrids En plein air: Music of Objective Romance: Track #1, Healing in My House and Genesis Region One are a gluttonous vortex of games, dance videos, and fantasy imagery. Jaakko Pallasvuo turns a satirical look onto the art world itself in his How to video and wall painting series.

On the other hand, new horizons arise. Katja Novitskova's Dawn Mission cycle is an attempt at a graphic demonstration of phenomena that are beyond visual perception such as light itself or cells. Charles Richardson's video and sculpture hybrid Headbone seeks a connection between the virtual world and ancient tribalism. Nandita Kumar's eLEMenT: EARTH, pOLymORpHic hUMansCApE, and The Unwanted Ecology are fascinating, original and unique sculptures in glass bottles juxtaposing obsolete circuits and rare weeds.

An antithesis to all the virtual reality displays is Aude Pariset's Greenhouses installation cycle featuring live mealworms, a work of bio-art. The Conqueror Worm? These worms seem able to digest anything. Of another live art display only the performance space exists for the moment. A performance in livestream of LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner's #ALONETOGETHER will later take place.

Ryan Trecartin's Temple Time is an hour-long video where the characters try to make sense of a narrative whose logical chain has become broken.

Anna Uddenberg's Savage cycle of sculptures is created of fiberglass, aqua resin, synthetic hair, spray filler, and suitcases. The poses of the sculptures of bending females border on pornography, but they turn into a satire of objectification.

Andrey Bogush's Proposal for Image Placement (Stretched, Curtain) is a huge display of a recycled image found on the net. It gains a hallucinatory quality in the giant curtain format.

On the fourth floor, in the multi-room work Ribbons, we meet the virtual avatar of the artist Ed Atkins lying naked on the floor, singing "Erbarme Dich, mein Gott" from St. Matthew's Passion by J. S. Bach. In his Counting #1 & #2 we see severed heads bouncing down stairs. Cécile B. Evans's video What the Heart Wants is another exploration into virtual identity in cyberworld.

On the fifth floor, Ilja Karilampi's Capital City is an installation turning a Kiasma space into a protean virtual space.

Hito Steyerl's video installation Factory of the Sun creates light from dancing movements. His How Not to Be Seen is based on US Air Force calibration targets. The question of ubiquitous surveillance is at the bottom of this work.

A collection of several works by Yung Jake, "born in the internet", brings the ARS17 tour to an end. Yung Jake who only exists in the third person presents us questions about authorship, authenticity and originality in an age of recycling.

This exhibition exceeds the limits of reception, which is also a hallmark of the digital age: the sense of being overwhelmed, bombarded by data. While we are trying to make sense of our life via art, art itself is morphing into something that is not easily caught in museum spaces. ARS17 is a valiant and necessary venture for our time.

Leevi Haapala in his introduction observes an interesting affinity between the millennial digital natives and the art of the 1980s.

Also among my first impressions was a déjà vu feeling from the 1980s. That was the decade of the digital breakthrough, the invention of the World Wide Web, and the launching of virtual reality. Music videos, splatter movies, rap / hip hop / graffiti, and transgender images grew into prominence. The barrage of visual messages was seen as an issue to be dealt with.

The 1980s was also a decade of a breakthrough of video art as an important movement. I am a bit surprised to meet 1980s style low tech video approach in contemporary art. In commercial first run cinemas of today we have gleaming digital projection, amazing in its hyperrealistic (and perhaps unworldly) brilliance and sharpness. But ARS artists seem to volunteer for lower visual definition.

The 1980s was also the breakthough decade of cyberpunk. In the cinema that meant works such as Scanners, Blade Runner, Videodrome, Electric Dreams, and Weird Science. Cyberpunk is still a keyword in the ARS exhibition.

I keep thinking even further back. Some of the revelations of my first ARS exhibition in 1969 are still relevant in the current one, including pop art and the new way of looking at selfhood which back then was most blatantly represented by Andy Warhol, the grandfather of the selfie.

And while we are commemorating the centenary of WWI I am contemplating the end of art as it had been known till then, the end of the beautiful and the sublime, and the birth of something new for which we still have no solid aesthetic concepts. The Museum of Contemporary Art is based on the divide between modern (modernistic) art and contemporary art, but for me we are also still living in the age of Duchamp whose reincarnation was Warhol.

ARS17 makes us think of the ubiquity of the cyberworld, the virtual existence of art, and the fragility and the transience of the computer world. Key works of the 1990s cannot be accessed anymore such as CD-ROM's by Marita Liulia or Chris Marker (Immemory). They were inseparable from their now obsolete technology.

We are now living in a world of digital technology, soon to be replaced by quantum technology. We need to store digital art in our memories because there is no guarantee that it will survive to the next generation in any other way.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Father of the Bride (1950)

Vincente Minnelli: Father of the Bride (US 1950). Elizabeth Taylor (Kay Banks).

Vincente Minnelli: Father of the Bride (US 1950). Elizabeth Taylor (Kay Banks) viewed by her father in her wedding dress for the first time. Designed by Helen Rose, one of the most legendary wedding dresses of all time.

Vincente Minnelli: Father of the Bride (US 1950): daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) and mother (Joan Bennett).

Vincente Minnelli: Father of the Bride (US 1950): post festum. The daughter has gone on honeymoon. Father (Spencer Tracy) and mother (Joan Bennett).

Morsiamen isä / Brudens far. 
    US © 1950 Loew's. PC: Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer Corp. P: Pandro S. Berman. 
    D: Vincente Minnelli. SC: Frances Goodrich ja Albert Hackett – based on the novel (1949) by Edward Streeter. DP: John Alton. AD: Cedric Gibbons, Leonid Vasian. Set dec: Edwin B. Willis. Cost: Walter Plunkett (men's), Helen Rose (women's). Makeup: Sydney Guilaroff. Dream sequence design: Salvador Dalí. M: Adolph Deutsch. "Wedding March" (the Bridal Chorus from Lohengrin) by Richard Wagner. "Wedding March" (from A Midsummer Night's Dream) by Felix Mendelssohn. S: Douglas Shearer, Standish J. Lambert (n.c.). ED: Ferris Webster. 
    C: Spencer Tracy (Stanley T. Banks), Elizabeth Taylor (Kay Banks), Joan Bennett (Ellie Banks), Don Taylor (Buckley Dunstan), Leo G. Carroll (Mr. Massoula), Moroni Olsen (Herbert Dunstan), Melville Cooper (Mr. Tringle), Taylor Holmes (Warner), Paul Harvey (reverend Galsworthy), Frank Orth (Joe), Rusty Tamblyn / Russ Tamblyn (Tommy Banks), Tom Irish (Ben Banks), Marietta Canty (Delilah).
    Helsinki premiere: 12.10.1951 Gloria, distributor: MGM Pictures – telecast 24.9.1967 TV1; 9.2.1992 TV3; 226.1997 YLE TV2 – VET 34043 – K7 – 2480 m / 91 min
    Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Fashion Film Festival, Wedding Films), 30 March 2017

Father of the Bride was a turning-point for the talents involved.

For Elizabeth Taylor it was one of the first films in which she played an adult role, the most prominent of them, coinciding with her real-life marriage to Conrad Hilton, Jr.

For Spencer Tracy the role of Stanley started a new stage in his career, a switch to patriarchal roles. He no longer played romantic roles with Katharine Hepburn. This film was also Tracy's first comedy without Hepburn since a very long time.

For the Hollywood veteran Joan Bennett this film started a third major stage on her career. She had been a leading lady in film noir. Now she switched effortlessly into a worldly matriarch mode as Ellie.

The cinematographer John Alton had become known as "the prince of darkness" in film noir. The excellent cinematography of Father of the Bride proved that he had range for much more.

For Vincente Minnelli Father of the Bride was his first straight comedy. His forte was musical comedy, but Father of the Bride is a masterpiece of character comedy. The result was so successful that it spawned sequels and remakes, including television series. Things that were new and original in this film became standards of situation and family comedy.

But the original is still superior. The greatness of Father of the Bride is in the fresh, powerful and sensitive way in which Minnelli faces an archetypal situation. The daughter Kay is the dearest one for father Stanley. It is a disaster when she is taken away. It would be a bigger disaster if no one would care about her.

Stanley is the nominal head of the family, but actually his wife Ellie and his daughter Kay pull the strings. Spencer Tracy's humoristic genius is in his talent to project an inner dignity in a story that is fundamentally a devastating chain of big and small humiliations inflicted upon him. "I realized my days were over", he confesses in his first person address to us.

From Kay's viewpoint this is a story of a dream come true, from Stanley's viewpoint a tale of a catastrophe. Minnelli's genius is displayed in the way he is able to combine both viewpoints.

The sense of humour is of a profound kind. On the final night neither father nor daughter can sleep, and they meet in the kitchen. There is a nightmare sequence by Stanley designed by Salvador Dalí.

The emotional charge rises. There is a breathtaking scene when Stanley sees his daughter for the first time in wedding dress (see above). "She looked like a princess in a fairy-tale". In another powerful scene Stanley is newly spellbound by his wife in her full dress. The wedding sequence is absolutely conventional, yet full of touching detail. The emotional curve of the film reaches its climax.

We return to the comedy of humiliation when Stanley is always out of step in the big wedding party at the family home.

Father of the Bride is a production of MGM studio gloss, far from the external realities of life for most. Still like great fairy-tales it has insight in universal truths.

Charmingly photographed by John Alton with a fine sense of the long take in the wedding rehearsal sequence and the long tracking shot in the wedding party sequence. And with immortal shots of the ravishing Elizabeth Taylor as the princess of the family. But also the film noir legacy is on display. Half of the film consists of night scenes with currents of doubt, suspicion, regret, insomnia, and nightmares. Comedy here is a serious matter.

There is also a current of satire in the saga of the wedding preparations. Stanley is prudent with money, and the escalating costs of the wedding and the trousseau are a source of tragicomic reactions. The materialistic side is spoofed in wedding present installation scenes, and in the story of making a list of wedding guests where business connections weigh so much that Kay is on the verge of being marginalized.

A beautiful print of a beautiful film.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Dawn Patrol (1930)

The Flight Commander (re-release title) (the title on the print viewed) / Öinen eskaaderi / Nattens eskader. US © 1930 First National Pictures. P: Robert North. D: Howard Hawks. SC: Dan Totheroh, Howard Hawks, Seton I. Miller ‒ based on the story "The Flight Commander" by John Monk Saunders. CIN: Ernest Haller. Aerial photography: Elmer Dyer. SFX: Fred Jackman, Harry Redmond, Sr. M: Rex Dunn. Theme song: "Stand To Your Glasses! (Hurrah For The Next Man To Die)" (music trad., lyrics from the poem "Indian Revelry" by William Francis Thompson, 1835). Other songs: "Plum and Apple" (comp. unknown). "Poor Butterfly" (M. Raymond Hubbell, John Golden). Conductor (Vitaphone Orchestra): Leo F. Forbstein. AD: Jack Okey. ED: Ray Curtiss. Aerial stunts supervisor: Sterling Campbell. Aeronautic supervisor: Leo Nomis. Mechanical engineer and aviation technician: Harry Reynolds. S: Vitaphone (mono).
    C: Richard Barthelmess (Dick Courtney), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (Douglas Scott), Neil Hamilton (Major Brand), Frank McHugh (Flaherty), Clyde Cook (Bott), James Finlayson (field sergeant), Gardner James (Ralph Hollister), William Janney (Gordon Scott), Edmund Breon (Lieut. Phipps), Jack Ackroyd, Harry Allen (mechanics), Howard Hawks (German pilot), Jack Jordan (German soldier), Ira Reed (pilot actor).
    Aircraft: Nieuport 28 (British squadron), Travel Air 4000 (German fighters). Standard J-1. Waterman-Boeing C biplanes. Travel Air 4U Speedwing. Thomas-Morse S-4. (Howard Hughes tried to buy up all vintage WWI aircraft such as Spads and Camels to fight competition to Hell's Angels).
    Premiere 10.7.1930. Helsinki premiere: 16.4.1933 Astoria and Arena, released by Warner Bros. Finland ‒ duration registered at the Finnish film control as 112 min [info unreliable] ‒ 2896 m / 105 min ‒ duration according to different sources: 82, 95, 106 min (copyright length)
    Retitled The Flight Commander in 1956 to avoid confusion with the Warner Bros. remake, The Dawn Patrol / Lentoeskaaderin hyökkäys (1938), D: Edmund Goulding, C: Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone and David Niven. Hawks's aerial combat scenes were reused in the remake.
    The original title cards of The Dawn Patrol (1930) were discarded, and redrawn titles are on all known prints of the film.
    The Library of Congress print (108 min) screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Howard Hawks), 15 March 2017

Revisited Howard Hawks's first masterpiece, his first true sound film, and his first great film about flying (they include The Air Circus, The Dawn Patrol, Ceiling Zero, Only Angels Have Wings, and Air Force).

A serious wave of WWI films had started five years ago, including The Big Parade (premiere 5 Nov 1925), What Price Glory (23 Nov 1926), Wings (19 May 1927), Four Sons (13 Feb 1928), Verdun, visions d'histoire (23 Nov 1928), Journey's End (9 April 1930), and The Last Flight (29 Aug 1931).

The most devastating trio of WWI films was being produced and released at the same time: All Quiet on the Western Front (21 April 1930), Westfront 1918 (23 May 1930), and Les Croix de bois (17 March 1932). The Dawn Patrol is a noble entry in this wave of WWI movies.

Hawks had been a flight instructor for the US Army Air Service in WWI. He can be considered a member of the "lost generation" like his friends Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner and like F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Dawn Patrol is Hawks's "lost generation" movie. Most of his friends of youth had died in the war or in flying accidents.  On 2 January 1930 his equally talented brother Kenneth died in a flying accident. There is a sense of personal urgency in the pervasive atmosphere of death in The Dawn Patrol.

The Dawn Patrol is an early sound film but Hawks is less hampered by the cumbersome early sound camera technology than in his other film of the same year, The Criminal Code. The aerial combat scenes still look terrific. Although the flying machines are not fully authentic, they are close to the real thing.

The death toll is high. The flight commanders get to face the appalling task of sending novices to almost certain death on inadequate aircraft. A recurrent scene is of a flight commander listening to the sounds of the returning airplanes. There are seven airplanes in the squadron. When they return, they hear the sounds of only six, five, four...

The Dawn Patrol is laconic but not hard-boiled or callous. The men are shattered. They cry. Even flight commanders cry. They suffer mental breakdowns. They drink too much. Mostly they seem to be drinking when they are not flying. The flight commander who does not get to fly is always drunk.

Many essential Howard Hawks features already fall into place in The Dawn Patrol. One of them is professionalism. These men, young as they are, share a professional approach in fighting. There is nothing personal in it. When a German pilot is captured, he is welcome to a drink at the canteen. And when the American pilot whom he shot down also appears, both join.

Another feature is a matter-of-fact approach to courage. Danger and courage are understated. Fear is normal and undeniable. The way the soldiers face danger and death belongs to the noble tradition of the classical Athenians. Not Spartans: Hawks is not a militarist. Military formalities are reduced to the utmost. These men are born fighters. No drill exercises are needed. This feature is familiar to Finns, to our warfare reality in WWII, as opposed to the Prussian drill mentality of the Germans.

Camaraderie, solidarity, and mutual respect are key values. The communal sing-song makes a prominent appearance already in Hawks's first sound film. Lafayette Escadrille's favourite song "Stand To Your Glasses" becomes the theme song of the film. Its lyrics (see beyond the jump break) are still surprising and shocking and crystallize the anti-war message of The Dawn Patrol.

The air combat sequences are terrific. In one of them two maverick pilots defy orders and conduct a surprise commando attack. In the final one Dick Courtney (Richard Barthelmess) again defies orders but now in the position of the flight commander himself and conducts a solo suicide mission, bringing disaster to German bridges, railways and factories. The attack culminates in a dogfight with the German ace pilot von Richter.

The Dawn Patrol is still a film about men without women. A woman figures only as a memory from a recent rivalry in Paris between Major Brand and Dick Courtney. There had been a glimpse of the Hawksian woman in the Louise Brooks character in A Girl in Every Port but soon enough she would emerge definitively.

The Library of Congress print is clean and complete, more complete than the copyright version. It has also a somewhat duped look.

P.S. 1 April 2017, re-reading Todd McCarthy's Howard Hawks biography:
    1. "Always closer to Kenneth than to anyone else, Howard was unquestionably as affected by his brother's death as by any other event in his life. Already prematurely graying at thirty-three, his hair turned entirely gray thereafter".
    2. "Officially produced by the cultivated Robert North, the film was overseen by Hal Wallis, then just a year into his job as general manager of First National under the overall stewardship of Jack Warner. Wallis and Hawks took an immediate dislike to each other, and the mutual antagonism grew into a barely manageable stormy relationship that nevertheless produced eight mostly outstanding films over a period of seventeen years."
    3. McCarthy claims that the German pilot who has been shot down and who joins the party is played by Hawks himself but I find this impossible to believe.
    4. "Even though Hawks never fought in the European war, his film caught the fatalism and waste of a generation as strongly as did Journey's End, The Last Flight, or any other film on the subject. Although no one mentioned it at the time, it also positioned him as the closest thing to a Hemingway of the cinema, in the way he eloquently and poetically defined his characters through their attitude toward what they did. Instinctively, Hawks expressed the novelist's famous maxim of grace under pressure; he would continue to do so, with increasing skill and complexity, for several decades."


The Connection

The Connection. Poster from Daily Mail online. Separate Cinema celebrates history of black cinema. From the collections of John Duke Kisch, 2014.

US © 1961 The Connection Company. P: Lewis M. Allen, Shirley Clarke. D: Shirley Clarke. SC: Jack Gelber based on his play (1959). CIN: Arthur J. Ornitz – shot on 35 mm – b&w – 1,37:1. ED: Shirley Clarke. PD: Richard Sylbert. AD: Albert Brenner. Cost: Ruth Morley. M: Freddie Redd. S: mono (RCA).
    C: Warren Finnerty (Leach), Jerome Raphael (Solly), Garry Goodrow (Ernie), Jim Anderson (Sam), Carl Lee (Brother Cowboy), Barbara Winchester (Sister Salvation), Henry Proach (Harry), offscreen voice of Roscoe Lee Browne (J. J. Burden, the unseen cameraman), William Redfield (Jim Dunn).
    The jazz band: Freddie Redd (composer, piano),
Jackie McLean (alto sax),
Michael Mattos (bass),
Larry Richie (drums).
     The Music from The Connection (album to the play released in 1960):
"Who Killed Cock Robin" - 5:21
"Wigglin'" - 5:58
"Music Forever" - 5:52
"Time To Smile" - 6:24
"(Theme for) Sister Salvation" - 4:43
"Jim Dunn's Dilemma" - 5:37
"O.D. (Overdose)" - 4:41
    K16 – 102 min
    A 35 mm print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (History of the Cinema), 15 March 2017.

Shirley Clarke's debut feature film has an affinity with Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Based on a play by Jack Gelber for The Living Theatre it is about a film-maker, Jim Dunn, filming a group of junkies, including a jazz band, who are waiting for their "connection" to bring them their heroin shots.

The Connection belongs to the key works of the New American Cinema, direct cinema, and the American New Wave. It was shot in long takes, often with a handheld camera, lens changes conducted without stopping the camera. But it had a top cinematographer, Arthur J. Ornitz (The Goddess, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Minnie & Moskowitz, Serpico, Next Stop Greenwich Village) and production designer, Richard Sylbert (Splendor in the Grass, A Long Day's Journey Into Night, and The Manchurian Candidate were some of his credits during the next year). Technically, the well lit film is a mix of direct cinema and studio professionalism.

A strength of the movie is a hard bop score played live by a jazz quartet with the composer-pianist Freddie Redd as band leader, and featuring searing solos by the alto sax player Jackie McLean. The Connection was one of the important films of its time in featuring black talent without sugar-coating.

The Connection broke taboos in exposing frankly practices of heroin use. We witness the cold turkey, the desperation of addiction, the gratification, and the impact of overdose, even an almost lethal overdose. The film director Jim Dunn has a dubious role in cultivating the addiction of the people he wants to film, but he gets to taste his own medicine with dangerous results as he has never essayed heroin before.

The Connection is also one of the most famous films that played a role in changing the standards of regional censorship practices in the 1960s. First it was locally banned, then released in the court of appeals.

Among the memorable images are the sweat-covered faces of the heroin addicts. The Connection is a film about freedom, desperation, and the bondage of addiction.

The print is clean, spotless, and complete, and looks like struck directly from the original negative displaying the soft, vibrant skin of living reality typical of a brilliant print. Only the last reel has a duped look.


Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future

US © 2016 Peter Rosen Productions, Inc. / Thirteen Productions, Inc. Series: American Masters. P+D: Peter Rosen. Co-producer, DP and protagonist: Eric Saarinen. Shot in 6K.
    Archival interviews with Eero Saarinen and his second wife Aline Saarinen. Sources for the narration: family correspondence and quotations from Aline Saarinen's memoirs.
    Peter Franzén (voice of Eero Saarinen). Blythe Danner (voice of Aline Saarinen).
    New interviews with architects Kevin Roche, César Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, and Robert A. M. Stern, and industrial designer Niels Diffrient, who all worked with or were influenced by Saarinen. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger, curator Donald Albrecht (Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future), author Jayne Merkel (Eero Saarinen) and Cathleen McGuigan, editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, provide perspectives.
    68 min
    Premiere date: December 27, 2016
    In the presence of Eric Saarinen.
    DCP screened at 2K at Cinema Andorra, Helsinki, 15.3.2017

Peter Rosen: "Explore the life of Finnish-American modernist architectural giant Eero Saarinen (1910-1961), whose visionary buildings include National Historic Landmarks such as St. Louis' iconic Gateway Arch and the General Motors Technical Center in Michigan. Saarinen also designed New York's TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport, Yale University's Ingalls Rink and Morse and Stiles Colleges, Virginia's Dulles Airport, and modernist pedestal furniture like the Tulip chair. Travel with his son, director of photography Eric Saarinen, as he visits the sites of his father's work on a cathartic journey, shot in 6K with the latest in drone technology that showcases the architect's body of timeless work for the first time. Eero's sudden death at age 51 cut short one of the most influential careers in American architecture. Today, Saarinen's work stands apart and continues to inspire, especially amongst renewed interest in 20th-century architects and artists who exploded the comfortable constraints of the past to create a robust and daring American aesthetic. Produced and Directed by Peter Rosen. 68 minutes, 2016. Premiering December 2016 on PBS as part of the American Masters series." - Peter Rosen

AA: A documentary journey into the life and work of Eero Saarinen as discovered by his son Eric Saarinen. The story starts with the architectural competition of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis (see image above) where both Eero and his father, Eliel Saarinen, participated. It was a big blow to Eliel that his son won. Eero's quest was about an archetypal form, as simple as the pyramid, yet expressing an optimism, an openness, a symbol of all that's new, but made to last a thousand years.

Eliel Saarinen had started in the current of National Romanticism, with a Finnish interpretation of Art Nouveau / Jugendstil (a beloved Eliel Saarinen landmark in Finland is the Helsinki Central Railway Station), but always moving forward. His son, the American architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen (1910-1961) became known as a Neofuturist, but he, too, kept renewing himself. His life's work culminated in the grand decade of the 1950s, and many of his works were still being completed when he died of a brain tumour at age 51.

"I was only 19 when my father died", reveals Eric (born 26 June 1942). The making of this film is "a magical mystery tour". Eero had divorced from his first wife Lily with whom he had two children, Eric and Susan, and remarried with Aline when Eric was 12. Eric rejected his father like his father had rejected him. First now Eric is coming to terms with Eero's legacy.

We return to Eero Saarinen's birthplace, the Hvitträsk mansion "in the middle of nowhere" designed by the company Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen, later the home of Eliel Saarinen's family, today a museum and a beloved tourist spot 30 km to the west of Helsinki. In Eliel's time it was a cultural home where guests included Maxim Gorky, Gustav Mahler, and Jean Sibelius. There Eero learned to draw, and all his life he judged potential architects by their skill at the croquis drawing of a horse.

In 1922 when Eero was 13 the family moved to the U.S.A. where Eliel Saarinen became the dean of the Cranbrook Academy of Art. Among the students were Charles and Ray Eames. In Cranbrook Eero was surrounded by beauty, the golden light of Eliel's buildings, and the presence of some Finnish gargoyles. At Cranbrook Eero got his first assignments. At the girls' school we get to marvel the archer symbolism, the main archer aiming to the sky ‒ not just high but vertically.

The structure of the film is a voyage. We travel to the great landmarks of Eero Saarinen's life: Hvitträsk in Finland, Cranbrook in Michigan, Detroit Center for Design and Technology, the Gateway Arch at St. Louis, General Motors Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, TWA Flight Center at the Kennedy Airport in New York, the Ingalls ice hockey rink ("The Whale") and Morse and Stiles colleges at Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut), the Dulles International Airport near Washington D.C., and the CBS Building ("the Black Rock") in New York City.

It is a voyage in space to different cities and states. It is also a voyage into the spaces of the buildings themselves accomplished with the latest drone camera technology, recording in 6K. Although made for television, only a cinema screen can do full justice this film, the magnitude of its architectural scope.

But the movie is also a voyage in time and memory, and a voyage in search for a lost father. This multi-level voyage structure reminds me of an entirely different kind of film, Julien Duvivier's masterpiece Un carnet de bal which I recently happened to see.

Experts offer key insights to the Eero Saarinen legacy. "A rigorous sense of how you actually build that stuff". Architecture can convey excitement and engage emotionally (the Ingalls ice hockey rink). The mission was to create buildings for our time, worlds with their own flavour. A keyword for Eliel and Eero was "organic", always learning from the inspiration of nature's forms. Eero always resisted falling into a mold. His work as an architect was a fight versus gravity. He was re-inventing himself so thoroughly that his works seem like being designed by different architects. His buildings were more than utilitarian: they were almost a religion. He sought to fulfill a belief in the meaning of existence. Great architecture is both universal and individual.

Eric Saarinen grants us the privilege to see glimpses of the private life of the Saarinen family in rare home movie footage. There is also newsreel footage of Eliel's funeral in Hvitträsk in 1950.

This film is a tribute to the awesome legacy of Eero Saarinen and a touching personal journey by Eric Saarinen. Of the architectural films of the American Masters series I have seen Sydney Pollack's remarkable Sketches of Frank Gehry in whose distinguished class this film ranks. Comparisons are inevitable with Nathaniel Kahn's My Architect: A Son's Journey (2003, on the director's father Louis Kahn), but Eric Saarinen told us that it was not an influence and he had not even seen it.


Eric told us that he has no personal favourite among the buildings designed by Eero Saarinen. "Every single one is so completely different."

"I never used any lights".

Eric emphasized the inspiration of nature for Eero Saarinen. "It is all based on nature. Natural forms. Grapefruit. An egg shell: the Kresge Auditorium at the MIT."

I asked about the home movies and the interest in general in films in the family. "Eero Saarinen loved movies, for instance The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. He made a movie about the TWA Flight Center and wondered whether he should have been a film-maker. My grandmother [Loja Saarinen, née Gesellius] made the home movies".

Eric Saarinen is a distinguished and award-winning American cinematographer who has studied film-making at the UCLA, shot films from Jimi Plays Berkeley to this movie, won the Grand Prix at Cannes Lion Festival for his ambitious commercials, and shot Symbiosis (1982) for the Walt Disney Epcot Center.

"I hadn't studied my father before. I turned down this movie. I hated him. He kicked us out. I really did not like my father. I changed my mind reading a high pile of books written about him. The fundamental philosophy can be found in Eliel Saarinen's book The Search for Form in Art and Architecture. Don't copy anyone else. Don't copy yourself. To the million of problems there are a million of solutions. To any problem you may face you can find the solution in nature. My next film I plan on Eliel".


Saturday, March 11, 2017


Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Johannes Östergård | [TFF: Finland, Germany] [actually: Sweden, Germany] 2016 | Documentary | 27 min
M: Viljam Nybacka.
Language: Swedish.
Featuring: Lars Häger

TFF: Far north of the arctic circle, right next to Sweden’s highest mountain, one old man has chosen to spend his life as a caretaker of a lonely hiking hut. Retreating to the cold arctic winter storms from obligations and everyday routines, he’s set on finding peace of mind with the life he has lived. What does a journey to find happiness look like, when life is not shared with friends and loved ones?

Kaukana napapiirin pohjoispuolella, heti Ruotsin korkeimman vuoren vieressä, eräs vanha mies on päättänyt viettää loppuelämänsä huolehtien yksinäisestä retkeilymajasta. Vetäytyessään velvollisuuksia ja arjen rutiineja pakoon kylmän napapiirin talvimyrskyjen keskelle hänen tavoitteenaan on löytää mielenrauha eletyn elämänsä suhteen. Millaiselta näyttää matka onnen löytämiseksi, kun elämää ei jaa ystävien tai rakkaiden kanssa?

AA: Tarfala is in the most northern part of Swedish Lapland. There lies Kebnekaise, the highest mountain in Sweden. Tarfala is also the site of the mightiest storms in Sweden, with winds so strong that they break wind meters.

A Tarfala fjällstuga, hikers' mountain hut, is the place where Lars Häger has settled down as a caretaker after retirement. He has grown-up children and not grown up grandchildren, but he lives alone in the middle of nowhere, taking care of everything and welcoming groups of ski hikers who arrive in groups hauled by snowmobiles.

There are ravishing views of the landscape in all kinds of weather and all hours of the day including in the moonlight. There are gorgeous shots of downhill skiing.

The phenomenon of nature mentioned in the title of Victor Sjöström's The Wind is a major force. The wind is an interesting motif for a film because it is invisible, and the film-maker's task is to make it visible. Here we have sound, unlike in Sjöström's silent classic, but we also see visible manifestations. The wind is physical and metaphysical.

Lars Häger does not feel lonesome. He states that the loneliest people are in big cities. He too once envisioned true life as being an owner of "villa and Volvo" but he has left all that behind.

The cinematography is magnificent both in epic long shots and lively close-ups recording the details of everyday life in the grim surroundings of the mountain winds of Lapland.

Transit Logistic Operation

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Jukka Lehtinen | Finland 2016 | Experimental, fiction | 2 min

TFF: During spring 2016, when the transportation of asylum seekers and immigrants to Turkey had begun, Finland’s Prime Minister Juha Sipilä was interviewed for the news. He mentioned (if I remember correctly) that the transportation would be a mere logistic operation and would go well. A brilliant name for a film. In the film, people who have just stepped out of a truck march in line towards their next ride. Just so they can wait in the camp for another ride, or the return back to their country of origin.

Kevään 2016 aikana, turvapaikanhakijoiden ja maahanmuuttajien siirtojen alettua Turkkiin, pääministeri Sipilää haastateltiin uutisissa. Hän mainitsi (jos oikein muistan), että toiminta on vain logistinen operaatio, joka tulee sujumaan hyvin. Loistava nimi elokuvalle. Elokuvassa kuorma-autosta juuri nousseet, jonossa kävelevät ihmiset marssivat kohti seuraavaa autokyytiä. Odottamaan leiriile mahdollista seuraavaa kyytiä tai palautusta lähtömaahan

AA: A comment on the refugee crisis. A single shot movie with a tracking movement on silhouettes of toy soldiers and characters.

Ovi / The Door

Ovi / The Door. Pentti (Olli Saramäki) is being stopped by Jussi (Samuli Niittymäki).

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Jenni Toivoniemi | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 9 min
C: Samuli Niittymäki (Jussi), Olli Saramäki (Pentti).

TFF: New father Jussi wakes up at night to strange sounds in the apartment building hallway. His fear and need to protect his family make him get up to investigate the cause of the sounds. Jussi encounters a homeless alcoholic, Pentti, who has just broken the window of the hallway door.

Tuore isä Jussi herää yöllä kolinaan rappukäytävässä. Pelko ja tarve suojella perhettä saavat hänet tutkimaan melun syytä. Jussi kohtaa kodittoman ja alkoholisoituneen Pentin, joka on juuri rikkonut rappukäytävän oven ikkunan

AA: A story with a similarity to O. Henry's "The Cop and the Anthem", the film adaptation of which starred Charles Laughton as a bum who needs to get to jail by winter. Here the part is played by Olli Saramäki as a tramp who breaks the door of an apartment block, but when that offense is not big enough to qualify for a jail sentence, he beats up Jussi, the guy who had first alerted on him and then helped him to a bottle of beer. Well made, but the darkness of the image may be overdone.

Penelope (2016)

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Heta Jäälinoja | Estonia, Finland 2016 | Animation | 5 min

TFF: Doorbell rings. Someone is at the door. But everything’s a mess.

Penelope herää. Joku on ovella. Mutta täällä on hirveä sotku

AA: A humoristic animation about a modern Penelope waking up as Ulysses is knocking. The comedy is about cleaning in record time until Penelope is ready to let the bedraggled hero inside. Funny gags. The style: Estonian school of animation.

Saatanan kanit / Fucking Bunnies

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Teemu Niukkanen | Finland 2016 | Fiction | 17 min

C: Jouko Puolanto (Raimo), Janne Reinikainen (Maki), Minna Suuronen (Kirsi), Arttu Kapulainen (Juhani).

TFF: Raimo is a middle-aged Finnish man living his cosy middle class life with his wife in the suburbs of Helsinki. His comfy bubble is burst when a satan worshipping sex cult moves in next door. After all, the cult leader, Maki, is a very nice and considerate person.Maki is always on the lookout for new friends, and being oblivious to Raimo’s subtle hints to keep his distance, he volunteers to be his squash partner. Trying to avoid sharing his squash slot with Maki, Raimo ends up living in a lie that gets him into trouble.

Raimo on keski-ikäinen suomalainen mies, joka elää mukavaa keskiluokkaista elämää Helsingin esikaupunkialueella vaimonsa kanssa. Hänen kodikas kuplansa puhkeaa, kun saatanpalvojien seksikultti muuttaa naapuriin. Kulttijohtaja Maki on mukava ja huomaavainen ihminen. Maki etsii aina uusia ystäviä, ja koska hän ei ymmärrä Raimon vaivihkaisia vihjeitä pysyä loitolla, hän ilmoittautuu miehen vapaa-ehtoiseksi squash-pariksi. Yrittäessään olla jakamatta squash-aikaansa Makin kanssa Raimo päätyy elämään valheellista elämää, joka johtaa hänet vaikeuksiin

AA: A wacko comedy about the ordinary Raimo living in an ordinary apartment block with his wife Kirsi. Next door there is a new neighbour called Maki who poses as a satan worshipper but is actually a sex maniac with 18 wives or more. The funny angle is that Maki is extremely gentle, friendly and sociable while Raimo is rude, gloomy and inhibited.

Well made with good performances and a good sense of comedy.

Föda / Eating for Two

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Mervi Junkkonen | Sweden 2016 | Documentary | 13 min
Language: Swedish.

TFF: A young woman who has suffered eating disorders half of her life suddenly gets pregnant. She faces the challenges of eating properly and staying healthy. An intimate story about balancing between motherhood and a difficult illness.

Raskaus yllättää nuoren naisen, joka on kärsinyt syömishäiriöistä puolet elämästään. Suurin haaste on syödä ja yrittää pysyä terveenä. Intiimi tarina äitiyden ja vaikean sairauden herättämistä ajatuksista. TFF

AA: An intimate diary of a young woman's pregnancy and motherhood, told as a first person narrative and visualized largely in extreme close-ups. While caring for the baby the woman processes her anorexia nervosa. "My identity: to keep surpassing myself". "A competition with yourself: how thin can you get without breaking?" "My sick me knows there is a healthy me inside". The baby changes her. "I am so full of love that I almost cannot stand it". "Because of my baby I will stay healthier".

A tender and lyrical confession.

Metsänuudistus / The Forest Renovation

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Elina Renko | Finland 2016 | Experimental, Fiction | 5 min

TFF: The country has a dilemma. People need jobs, the forest needs to be taken care of. Should these two meet? And what about the old forests?

Maahan tarvitaan lisää työpaikkoja ja metsästäkin tulisi huolehtia. Voisivatko nämä kaksi kohdata? Entä vanhat metsät?

AA: A parodical, ironical, and satirical view of forest renovation in Finland. Received wisdoms about forestry gleefully spoofed by the film-makers.

Minun tieni, perkele / My Way, Damn It!

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 11
P36 | 10.3. FRI/PE 20:00 | PLEVNA 5
L15 | 11.3. SAT/LA 18:00 | PLEVNA 2


Kati Laukkanen | Finland 2016 | Documentary | 13 min

TFF: Man. Pants. Woman. Skirt. Who is allowed to wear what? The answer hit Markus Kuotesaho, a junkyard entrepreneur from Siikajoki Finland, like a sledgehammer.

Mies. Housut. Nainen. Hame. Kuka saa pukea ylleen mitäkin? Siikajokelaiselle Markus Kuotesaholle vastaus tuli kuin lekan isku suoraan ohimoon

AA: Markus has been working as a truck contructor, a ditch digger, and a farmer stand-in. He has collected a record amount of car wrecks, 88, on his backyard, for junk use. But the life of a small enterpreneur is all fucked up.

This famous junk dealer, a prototype of masculinity, is also a tranny. It was a big struggle and hard work at first to come out. Markus dresses as a woman only for himself, no matter what anybody thinks. He even indulges in karaoke in drag, and the song is "My Way". The last word: "perkele!".

Here We Come! Women Artists in Early Modernism (exhibition at Tampere Art Museum)

Greta Hällfors-Sipilä: Yö [Night]. 1931, watercolour, 32 x 24,8 cm, Helsinki Art Museum.

Sylvi Kunnas: Valtatiet [Highways], 1928. Book cover art to a collection of poems by the young Turks Mika Waltari and Olavi Paavolainen.

Here We Come! Women Artists in Early Modernism (exhibition)
Tampere Art Museum, 18th Feb – 28th May 2017
Curator: Riitta Konttinen
Exhibition manager: Tapani Pennanen
Visited on 11 March 2017 with a lecture by Riitta Konttinen.

The book to the exhibition:
Riitta Konttinen: Täältä tullaan! Naistaiteilijat modernin murroksessa. Helsinki: Kustannusosakeyhtiö Siltala, 2017. Printed: Dardedze Holografija. Hard cover. Fully illustrated. Only in Finnish. 312 p.

Tampere Art Museum: “Women artists appear to be completely absent from the accounts of Finnish art in the early 20th century” notes professor emerita Riitta Konttinen, the curator of the Here We Come! exhibition. Notions of art described as ’modernism’ have been regarded as a male domain.  In the early years of Finnish independence, it was also felt that women could not become artists with a message for the nation. Women artists were no longer awarded prizes as they had been at the end of the previous century, they received hardly any grants, and critics did not write about their work.

The Here We Come! exhibition asks why we know only a few Finnish women artists of the early 20th century, such as Helene Schjerfbeck, Ellen Thesleff, Ester Helenius and Sigrid Schauman? The majority of art students, however, were women, many of them becoming professionals in the arts. What was the ‘black hole’ in which they disappeared, and why did this happen?

The women artists of the early 20th century include many interesting and unique artists, such as Elga Sesemann, Helmi Kuusi, Sylvi Kunnas, Greta Hällfors-Sipilä, Ina Colliander, Edith Wiklund, Martta Helminen, Meri Genetz, Inni Siegberg, Eva Törnwall-Collin, Aino von Boehm and Gunvor Grönvik.  They would test the boundaries of art, break the boundaries of form, experiment with colour and brushwork, and break up or flatten the visual space. This exhibition also considers, through the works of women artists, the conditions under which they operated in the early 20th century – their relationship with working in the studio, with Paris the city of great hopes, the new ideologies of art, the themes of art, war, the urban lifestyle, religion, family, the status of women and the identity of women artists
. Tampere Art Museum

AA: Riitta Konttinen's corpus is huge in research and curatorship of Finnish women artists and artist couples, in recent years including Ragni Cawén, artist couples, and women artists in the 19th century, among others.

The new Tampere Art Museum exhibition curated by her is based on remarkable detective work exposing systematic neglect of female artists from the early 1910s till the 1940s and offering a strong starting point for rediscovery. Entire forgotten oeuvres are being found in attics and cellars.

Established masters such as Helene Schjerfbeck, Ellen Thesleff, and Sigrid Schauman have been always appreciated, but even such distinguished veterans had to fight against discrimination in the male dominated art world.

The way to start in the Tampere exhibition is to examine the self-portrait gallery of the artists at the entrance to the main floor. There are many portraits, including several of Elga Sesemann (who also figures on the poster and the book cover). Nobody is smiling.

Their looks are accusing.

This portrait gallery is a coup of curatorship. It also puts into perspective the most famous set of self-portraits in Finnish art history, the one by Helene Schjerfbeck. The saga of her changing face is also a record of oppression. Schjerfbeck's paintings now command seven figures in auctions, but she lived her life in poverty.

Helmi Kuusi: Tulitikkutyttö [The Little Match Girl], 1937, dry point, 16 x 15 cm. Kansallisgalleria, Ateneumin Taidemuseo. Helsinki.

Neglected artists on display include Elga Sesemann, Meri Genetz, Inni Siegberg, Helmi Kuusi, and Ina Colliander. But even from the established masters there are works here that are not among the best-known.

Greta Hällfors-Sipilä: Halle pelaa shakkia Wreden kanssa [Halle Plays Chess with Wrede], 1922, watercolour, 25,5 x 22,7 cm. Photo : Jari Kuusenaho / Tampereen taidemuseo.

A special favourite of mine is Greta Hällfors-Sipilä. Her works are figurative but she plays with perspective, indulges in touches of naivism, and adds a touch of surprise and humour, discovering something new in the ordinary, very often, like her husband Sulho Sipilä, painting over again the most familiar vicinity of her home on Laivurinrinne in Helsinki, facing St. John's Church and the nearby skating rink, near the Five Corners.

The exhibition is a revelation in itself, and it includes smaller revelations, such as Ester Helenius's portrait of the young Hella Wuolijoki from the year 1905, thirty years before she became a grande dame of the Finnish theatre as a playwright (and also a major figure in Finnish cinema with fine film adaptations based on her work directed by Valentin Vaala).

Another delightful detail is to discover in Riitta Konttinen's book an image of the gargoyles on the facade of the Pohjola house by Hilda Flodin from the year 1901. Those gargoyles loom large in Antti Peippo's film Seinien silmät / The Walls Have Eyes (1981) which we screened a week ago. I felt that Peippo may have included those faces in humoristic self-parody. Konttinen remarks that there may have been a caricatured resemblance with potentates of the Finnish art world of the day.

Riitta Konttinen's book to the exhibition is indispensable, an essential achievement in her work-in-progress. At least half of the works appearing in the book's illustrations are not on display in the exhibition.

Tampere Art Museum was crowded on this Saturday afternoon, and there was standing room only for Riitta Konttinen's lecture.


Mulkku-Ulf / Everybody Hates Ulf

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 10
P32 | 10.3. FRI/PE 12:00 | PLEVNA 5
L13 | 11.3. SAT/LA 14:00 | PLEVNA 2


Ilona Hiltunen, Juulia Kalavainen | Finland 2016 | Fiction | 23 min

C: Sulevi Peltola (Mauri), Vesa Vierikko (Mulkku-Ulf), Tanja Heinänen (Terhi), Kristiina Halkola (Aino), Kari Parkkinen (Ilkka), Eero Melasniemi (Tauno).

TFF: Selfish Ulf, 71, is shocked when his only friend, Mauri, informs on his deathbed that Ulf is a Prick. In order to inherit Mauri’s estate, Ulf must organise a party that will have at least one guest. Can Ulf find a guest for his party?

Itsekeskeinen Ulf, 71, järkyttyy, kun hänen ainoa ystävänsä, Mauri, ilmoittaa kuolinvuoteellaan Ulfin olevan mulkku. Saadakseen Maurin omaisuuden perinnöksi Ulfin on järjestettävä juhlat, johon tulee edes yksi juhlavieras. Löytääkö Ulf juhliinsa vieraan?

AA: A character-driven comedy based on the performance of Vesa Vierikko with a top cast.

Despicable Ulf has no redeeming features.

The dying Mauri's last word to his only friend Ulf: "dick".

A well made stylized comedy about a hateful man. Even Aku his pet snail escapes from a little greenhouse. While struggling to invite people to his party Ulf succeeds in making even worse enemies of them. He finally arranges the party required anyway. At first only his physiotherapist and the ghost of Mauri are in attendance. When Tauno comes he only survives for 45 seconds.

But the pet snail Aku returns... only to be eaten by Ulf. No ray of hope in this black comedy.

Blessings (2016)

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 10
P32 | 10.3. FRI/PE 12:00 | PLEVNA 5
L13 | 11.3. SAT/LA 14:00 | PLEVNA 2


Lisa Myllymäki | Finland 2016 | Documentary | 13 min

TFF: Julia Vuorinen is a 16-year-old girl, who uses social media just like every other young person in the 2010s. Her smartphone is an integral part of her days, from when she wakes up to when she goes to sleep. The documentary follows Julia’s everyday life and observes what kind of content she shares on social media and how it affects her life. The film takes a look at the life of a young girl, and offers a realistic view of our modern times.

Julia Vuorinen on 16-vuotias tyttö, joka käyttää sosiaalista mediaa kuin kuka tahansa nuori 2010-luvulla. Älypuhelin on tiiviisti mukana päivän tapahtumissa, aina aamun ensimmäisistä hetkistä illan viimeisiin. Dokumentissa seurataan Julian tavallista arkea ja tarkkaillaan samalla millaista sisältöä hän sosiaalisessa mediassa jakaa sekä miten se vaikuttaa hänen elämäänsä. Blessings kertoo yhden ihmisen tarinan, joka voisi toisaalta olla tänä päivänä kenen tahansa. Se on kurkistus nuoren tytön elämään, näyttäen samalla tämän ajan kuvaa hyvin realistisesti

AA: A day in the life at home, at school and in the social media of three girlfriends. They are Finnish, but their social media communication is in English, with the pertinent abbreviations and emojis (see image above), in Snapchat and Instagram. The trio spends a lot of time taking selfies and editing them. They spend more time looking at their mobile phones than at each other. A portrait of the time.

Otila Magic Blues

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 10
P32 | 10.3. FRI/PE 12:00 | PLEVNA 5
L13 | 11.3. SAT/LA 14:00 | PLEVNA 2


Pasi “Sleeping” Myllymäki | Finland 2016 | Experimental, documentary | 23 min

Theme song: "Otila Magic Blues".

TFF: An experimental and episodic movie about my roots, my dreams, my experiences and my philosophy.

Kokeellinen ja episodimainen elokuva juuristani, unelmistani, kokemuksistani ja filosofiastani

AA: A completely different new film from the wizard of the Finnish underground 8 mm cinema, Pasi "Sleeping" Myllymäki. Wise, witty and compelling.

"If you are different don't fix it but discover it" (motto of the movie).

"I am a very ordinary farmer's son from Finland." The first part of the movie is largely a remembrance of the rural past. "I have just turned 65. Tragic, not because I'm no longer young, but because I am no longer mad."

Otila Magic Blues is mostly a straight documentary record, but mixed with abstract images, negative footage, and psychedelic inserts.

"More important than finding one's way is to find the one who travels it."

"Never a man of the golden mean, I am the one who takes the path seldom taken."

"My grandfather's medicine to the creaking door: the essence from a bull's testicles."

"He said also that it is the stupid one who wants to talk."

"Few will understand my inverse irony."

"Is life a distressing race? Certainly not".

We are taken to the secret power spring in the forest revealed by grandfather. The water still works miracles, changing the colour of Pasi's car and making a sturdy barn built by the grandfather fly into the sky.

I particularly like the first movements of this film.

Kukista ja mehiläisistä / About the Birds and the Bees

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 10
P32 | 10.3. FRI/PE 12:00 | PLEVNA 5
L13 | 11.3. SAT/LA 14:00 | PLEVNA 2


J. J. Vanhanen | Finland 2016 | Fiction | 12 min

C: Juha Uutela (dad), Mikko Kauppila (son), Saana Koivisto (Mari), Aksu Piippo (Mari's father, a policeman).

TFF: A quiet farmer father and his son set out on a trip to the pharmacy after the teen has a little accident with his girlfriend.

Jäyhä maanviljelijäisä ja hänen poikansa joutuvat yhteiselle apteekkimatkalle, kun teinillä sattuu pieni vahinko tytön kanssa

AA: A humoristic rural tale of a "love accident" of the young son of the house and his girlfriend Mari. Well made, with funny dialogue, good performances, a sense of comic timing, and funny visual solutions, including a well judged use of the long shot.

Teräväreunaisten siirtymämerkkien surullinen laulu / Sad Song of the Hard Edge Transition Wipe Markers

Teräväreunaisten siirtymämerkkien surullinen laulu / Sad Song of the Hard Edge Transition Wipe Markers. Part III.

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 10
P32 | 10.3. FRI/PE 12:00 | PLEVNA 5
L13 | 11.3. SAT/LA 14:00 | PLEVNA 2


Mika Taanila | Finland 2017 | Experimental, animation | 3 min

TFF: Early 1950s newsreel laboratory marker films used for indicating effects like wipes, dissolves and fade-outs in the work print, now freed from their utilitarian practice.

1950-luvun uutisfilmeissä käytetyt tekniset laboratorio-merkinnät vapautuvat alkuperäisestä rationaalisesta funktiostaan

AA: From the Finnish wizard of artists' cinema Mika Taanila, a new work of material cinema, making visible the element of film-making intended to remain invisible for everybody except the laboratory staff. Based on markers used by the Lii-Filmi company in the 1950s, this is a study in three parts of looping, changing patterns, and the rhythms of repetition of those markers. With an industrial soundtrack. A meta film, a meditation on perception.

Mika Taanila's new filmic foray into epistemology, turning the look into the act of perception itself.

Au pair (2017)

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 10
P32 | 10.3. FRI/PE 12:00 | PLEVNA 5
L13 | 11.3. SAT/LA 14:00 | PLEVNA 2


Mark Ståhle, Tatu Pohjavirta | Finland 2017 | Animation | 13 min

TFF: Woman becomes an Au pair for a single man’s cardboard family.

Nainen ryhtyy au pairiksi sinkkumiehen pahviperheelle

AA: An animation with strong and rough outlines and simple and stark colour spaces.

The man has printed out a cardboard family with his 3D printer and seeks an au pair girl for his token family. But tables turn in the end.

A grotesque story of alienation and objectification in a world where everything is expendable.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Pimein hetki / The Darkness Moment

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 9
T34 | 9.3. THU/TO 16:00 | PLEVNA 5
P15 | 10.3. FRI/PE 18:00 | PLEVNA 2
Duration/kesto: 95 min
Oskari Sipola | Finland 2016 | Fiction | 25 min

C: Laura Malmivaara (Elina), Ella Lymi (Anette), Kristo Salminen (Mikko), Peter Kanerva (Antero), Timo Tuominen (Tuomo), Peter Limón (Harri).

TFF: Elina’s suspicions arise when her 16-year-old daughter Anette buys clothes that she shouldn’t be able to afford.

Elinan epäilykset heräävät kun hänen 16-vuotias tyttärensä Anette ostaa vaatteita joihin hänellä ei pitäisi olla varaa

AA: A taut short drama of the single mother Elina (Laura Malmivaara) who turns into a detective discovering that her 16 year old daughter Anette (Ella Lymi) is prostituting herself. She spies on Anette's computer, uses security cameras and catches her in flagrante with her boyfriend customer.

Well made and well acted with wider implications about today's generation gap, the ubiquity of surveillance and the abuse of young girls and women where there is also an isssue of complicity. Protecting Anette Elina is seemingly her enemy.

Finlandia-katsaus no. 701 / Finlandia Review 701

Finlandia-katsaus no. 701. "I will fuck your daughters in the ass". A contemporary racist slur from the internet inserted into a historical signboard.

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 9
T34 | 9.3. THU/TO 16:00 | PLEVNA 5
P15 | 10.3. FRI/PE 18:00 | PLEVNA 2
Duration/kesto: 95 min
Hannes Vartiainen, Pekka Veikkolainen | Finland 2017 | Documentary | 14 min

TFF: Welcome to centenarian Finland!

Tervetuloa satavuotiaaseen Suomeen!

AA: In 1964 Aito Mäkinen (1927-2017) directed the last official Finlandia-Katsaus newsreel - number 700 - produced by the Suomi-Filmi company.

Hannes Vartiainen and Pekka Veikkolainen have now produced an ironical sequel 53 years later, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence.

The visuals are mostly a collage of the worst nationalistic excesses from the historical footage of the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation. Towards the end there are increasingly passages of contemporary visual material.

The soundtrack is mostly modern. We hear a sound montage of today's nationalistic and racist comments. Corruption, hate speech and Neo-Nazism are included. Contemporary racist slurs copied from the internet are inserted into historical signboards (image above).

From much of the vintage material negatives and other brilliant sources exist, but in this film the historical footage looks duped and deformed, maybe even with artificial scratches.

Drag Me to Kempele

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 9
T34 | 9.3. THU/TO 16:00 | PLEVNA 5
P15 | 10.3. FRI/PE 18:00 | PLEVNA 2
Duration/kesto: 95 min
Samuli Alapuranen | Finland 2017 | Experimental, documentary | 8 min

TFF: Kempele is a grey hole located in the northern part of Finnish Ostrobothnia. It neither pulls in or pushes away the flow of traffic that trickles through it via the E4 motorway. It is ordinary. It is flat. It is very difficult to come up with any more adjectives describing it. Drag Me to Kempele is a portrait of a mediocre town where people shop, exercise or drive through on their way to North or South.

Kempele on Pohjois-Pohjanmaalla sijaitseva harmaa aukko. Se ei vedä puoleensa eikä hylji sen läpi valuvaa nelostien liikennevirtaa. Se on tavallinen. Se on tasainen. Siitä on vaikea keksiä enempää adjektiiveja. Drag me to Kempele on kuvaus keskinkertaisesta paikkakunnasta, jossa käydään kaupassa, harrastetaan urheilua ja jonka läpi ajetaan matkalla pohjoiseen tai etelään

AA: A meditative vision on Kempele, a municipality near Oulu by the sea (the Gulf of Bothnia of the Baltic Sea). This is a film without living beings. We see shells of cars and carcasses of a fox and a pike. The movement is slow, much of the footage is shot in extreme high angle with a drone camera. A film about a thoroughfare, a space of passage, a site of transit. The colour is autumn bleak, "there'll be no sunshine in my life", the music is calm and meditative.

Ei yhteyttä / No Connection

Ei yhteyttä / No Connection. Joni Leponiemi as Matti.

Tampere Film Festival
Kotimainen kilpailu 9
T34 | 9.3. THU/TO 16:00 | PLEVNA 5
P15 | 10.3. FRI/PE 18:00 | PLEVNA 2
Duration/kesto: 95 min
Risto-Pekka Blom | Finland 2017 | Fiction | 16 min

TFF: Falling down due to a personal tragedy may save a person from themselves. Matti has drifted into a double life, unable of taking responsibility for his actions and their effects on those close to him.

Henkilökohtaisesta tragediasta johtuva romahtaminen voi pelastaa ihmisen häneltä itseltään. Matti on ajautunut kaksoiselämään eikä kykene ottamaan vastuuta teoistaan tai niiden vaikutuksista hänen läheisiinsä

AA: A well made drama of the double life of Matti with two families. Everybody literally falls down when he is exposed. A miniature tragedy with good performances and touches of magical realism as Matti tries to end everything by crashing his car towards a base station.