Friday, September 25, 2020

Lost Boys


Joonas Neuvonen, Sadri Cetinkaya: Lost Boys (2020).

FI 2020. PC: Helsinki-filmi Oy / Tekele Productions Oy. P: Miia Haavisto.
    D: Joonas Neuvonen, Sadri Cetinkaya. SC: Joonas Neuvonen, Venla Varha, Sadri Cetinkaya. Cin: Joonas Neuvonen, Sadri Cetinkaya, Arttu Nieminen, Arsen Sarkisiants. M: Ilmari Jyskä. S: Arttu Hokkanen. ED: Sadri Cetinkaya, Venla Varha. Script editor: Jan Forsström.
    End credit title song: Maustetytöt: "Tein kai lottorivini väärin", comp., lyr., arr., perf. Maustetytöt [Anna Karjalainen, Kaisa Karjalainen] (2019).
    Featuring: Joonas Neuvonen, Jani Raappana, Antti, Cindy, Leelee, Thee.
    Voiceover: Pekka Strang.
    Languages: English, Khmer, Finnish, Thai.
    99 min
    Rated 18
    Finnish premiere 25 Sep 2020, distributed by SF Studios with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Frej Grönholm, hard-of-hearing Finnish subtitles by Anna-Maija Ihander, "La Marseillaise" translated by Valter Juva.
    Viewed at Tennispalatsi 2 (only Finnish subtitles for the hard-of-hearing), Helsinki, 25 Sep 2020

Sadri Cetinkaya (co-director of Lost Boys): "Three friends embark on a voyage to Southeast Asia, but only one of them returns. Something has happened, but the record of the events is a motley assortment of videos and jumbled stories. Lost Boys follows the protagonist's quest to find his lost friends and answers to what happened to them in Cambodia."

"Lost Boys is a document about a state of mind in which memories and lies converge into a narrative for the storyteller himself. The narrative moves around in circles like its teller. The events run inevitably towards a dead end. The quest of the narrator is an escape attempt and a fabrication made of distorted memories to hide an uncomfortable truth both about himself and his relationships with his friends."

"Love, money, sex and drugs are glittering dreams pursued both by the voyagers and the women they meet in Southeast Asia. When things go wrong, the paradise turns into a paranoid nightmare in which the protagonist drifts lost in a maze with no way out.
" (Sadri Cetinkaya, my translation)

AA: On the same day, two films premiere in Helsinki with titles derived from Peter Pan: Lost Boys and Wendy.

Lost Boys is a non-fiction film, ten years in the making, a follow-up to the popular, award-winning and controversial Reindeerspotting – Escape from Santaland (2010). Joonas Neuvonen has director credit in both. Sadri Cetinkaya, co-screenwriter of Reindeerspotting, is now also the co-director in Lost Boys.

Reindeerspotting premiered on 9 April 2010, and its protagonist Jani Raappana was found dead three months later in Phnom Penh on 7 July. Lost Boys, launched as a bonus material project for the dvd release for Reindeerspotting, has grown into a film of independent value, more harrowing and profound than its predecessor.

Shot with small, portable and handheld digital cameras, the result is visually consistent. Mostly the footage is sober; the fisheye lens is at times in use. The rough edge of the source material is sustained in the colour grading and the editing. The soundtrack and the soundscape with their trance, ambient and electro dimensions serve the visionary and hallucinatory approach seamlessly.

During the end credits, one of the biggest recent Finnish pop hits, "Tein kai lottorivini väärin" ["I must have picked my Lotto numbers wrong"] by the female duo Maustetytöt is heard, channelling harsh observations into pop dream idioms. The subtext is actually that some have been dealt a poor hand.

The drug saga in Lost Boys gets more dangerous than in Reindeerspotting. The main drug is "the mad drug" ya ba (Thai: ยาบ้า, Lao: ຢາບ້າ, formerly known as yama). A mixture of metamphetamine and caffeine, it has been traditionally used as horse drug but also by soldiers and sex workers.

We follow Jani, Joonas and Antti on their trip to hell, in a spiral of sex, addiction and debt. Drug traffic is controlled by organized crime, disciplining the milieu with death squads. The sex workers (the go go girls) are part of the milieu. Jani dies, Antti gets mad, and Joonas ends up in jail.

The film belongs to the "descent to Hades" lineage of storytelling and its special Southeast Asian current, films including The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now and Bullet in the Head. It has also affinities with the "rise and fall" scenario of pop biopics (about pop stars perishing with addictions).

Although essentially a saga of a private hell, Lost Boys offers intriguing glimpses of the Cambodian experience: the nationwide post-traumatic stress syndrome after the Khmer Rouge reign of terror that radiates over generations; visiting Angkor Vat; a flood of the Mekong River; sex tourism including child sex.

A concise montage of historical newsreels takes us to the declaration of independence from France while "La Marseillaise" is playing. There is a subterranean connection in the ya ba euphoria of the Finnish ex-convict from Rovaniemi that was burned to the ground by the Nazis and the sex worker from Cambodia, a country raped by colonialists and sex tourists.


The ethical dimension must have been exceptionally difficult. It's wrong to exploit a defenseless person (underaged, mentally imbalanced, drunk, addicted, debt-slaved, etc.). "Between consenting adults",  "compos mentis" ("of sound mind") and "fair play" are basic rules in film-making, including pornography. I trust that all has been cleared and fairly compensated and the families of the tragic, unfortunate young men and women alerted. But I confess I felt very bad. As a rule, I prefer fiction in themes like this, films like the original Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream.

Lost Boys includes explicit scenes of sex and drugtaking, and it is rated 18. For the first time in my life I was asked to show ID papers in a cinema. I was a bit proud because I'm not a teenager anymore. 24 years ago I served for two years as the director of the Finnish Board of Film Classification in the mission of ending film censorship in our country.


Lost Boys is a detective story with a sujet (the story of the investigation) and a fabula (the story of the crime). But because it is a drug-hallucinating film, made under the influence of drugs, the sujet and the fabula make less and less sense.

Maybe Jani's death was a suicide, maybe it was a murder, maybe the girlfriend Leelee betrayed him, maybe the film director Joonas Neuvonen betrayed him. The film is a first person narrative by the drugdealer-director-detective-convict Joonas Neuvonen (voiced by Pekka Strang). His last words: "I wanted him to vanish. I wanted him to die". A case like Agatha Christie's The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (preceded by Anton Chekhov's The Shooting Party)?

These currents are compelling, but even deeper currents run through the movie. Scenes of drug euphoria are essential, as well as the primitive abandon in hard core sex inserts. They are not for exploitation. They convey a desperate élan vital, but most fundamentally Lost Boys is a poetic vision of something even stronger: the death wish. Bridges have been burned, and all that is left is an irresistible call to die.

P.S. 30 Sep 2020. Keywords: Instant gratification. Demoralization. Dehumanization. Moral hazard. Self-destructiveness. Criminal negligence. Crime. Aggravated narcotics offence. Homicide.




Le Marseillaise
säv. & san. Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle

Kom Nirk Oun Eiy
es. Ros Serey Sothea

Tein kai lottorivini väärin
säv., san. & sov. Maustetytöt
copyright: Is This Art! 2019

Finnish Line
säv. Arttu Hokkanen

Lost Girls
säv. Arttu Hokkanen

Grey Park: Live
9.8.2003 Club Là-Bas in Keksi, Panimo, Lahti
with: Plaa, Nosfe, Tommi

Periplaneta A.
säv. & sov. Haapanen / Vuorensola / Paalanen / Honkonen
© Onyxia, 2005

Sadri Cetinkaya

Hens Kullberg 

Official presentation: "Lost Boys on dokumenttielokuva kadotuksesta ja Kambodžan kaduille kadonneista kolmesta suomalaisesta miehestä. Heistä Jani tunnetaan Reindeerspotting – pako Joulumaasta -dokumenttielokuvan (2010) päähenkilönä ja Joonas sen ohjaajana. Lost Boys -elokuvan päähenkilö on Joonas itse. Seksin, huumeiden ja kuoleman täyteinen peittelemätön tositarina kertoo siitä, mitä tapahtui kymmenen vuotta sitten, kun rovaniemeläisiä huumeidenkäyttäjiä kuvanneen Reindeerspottingin ensi-iltamenestyksen ikuisia jatkoja viettäneet kaverukset muuttuivat kuolemattomista kuolevaisiksi. Juhlat loppuvat, kun Joonaksen kaverit katoavat ja Jani kuolee väkivaltaisesti Kambodžan Phnom Penhissä. Lost Boys -elokuvassa Joonaksen kamera vie katsojan niin Bangkokin huumaavaan meluun kuin Phnom Penhin öisille kujille, Janin viimeisiin elinviikkoihin sekä tämän katoamisen ja kuoleman jälkeiseen epätoivoiseen etsintään. Mitä kadonneille tapahtui? Löytyykö vastaus Joonaksen kuvaamista videonauhoista vai jostain, joka on vielä tutkimatta ja kohtaamatta, kuvaamatta ja kertomatta? Onko kaikessa kyse huumeista, naisista ja rahasta, vai johtavatko jäljet johonkin syvemmälle? Joku tietää jotakin. Joonas etsii ystäviään ja paikallisia naisia, joiden kanssa juhlittiin ja jaettiin se, mitä milloinkin oli jakaa. Joonaksen on löydettävä oma totuutensa tapahtuneesta huumeiden ja hämärän keskeltä – eikä siellä ole sankareita." (Official presentation)

Maustetytöt: "Tein kai lottorivini väärin" (2019)

Tein kai lottorivini väärin
Kun arvontapäivänä jännitin
Aivan yksin huoneessain

Lopulta tupakankin käärin
Mummon flunssalääkettä rännitin
Pirkka-olutta juodessain

Kun pallot pyörivät ränniin
Mietin Sudanin pieniä poikia
Jotka haluaisivat känniin
Niillä on ongelma sentään oikea

Kun niiden banaanipuista on
Hedelmät tuotu alakertani Alepan hyllyille
Niiden pensaista kahvit juotu
Pantu piiskaa paljaille pyllyille

Mä tein kai lottorivini väärin
Kun aivan viimeisillä rahoilla
Sain vain pienen oluen

Kun istuin tiskillä paljain säärin
Pojat piiritti aikeilla pahoilla
Mä näyttelin, että luen

Mut ei se alkanut pänniin
Kun mietin Sudanin pieniä poikia
Jotka haluaisivat känniin
Niillä on ongelma sentään oikea

Kun ei voi Saharan suihkulähteistä
Niiden janoa saada sammumaan
Eikä rikkaiden ruuantähteistä
Niiden lehmiä lypsään tai ammumaan

Mä tein kai lottorivini väärin
Kun eilen illalla yhtä äkkiä
Kotoa sähkö katkaistiin

Ympärilleni viltin käärin
Etsin varpaille lisää täkkiä
Ja näin ongelma ratkaistiin

Eikä se alkanut pänniin
Kun mietin Sudanin pieniä poikia
Jotka haluaisivat känniin
Niillä on ongelma sentään oikea

Kun niiden aavikon omasta Alepasta
Ei löydy lääkkeitä HIViin tai malariaan
Eikä ilmaisten kortsujen jakelijasta
Oo kuin kuulleet huhuja hataria

Tein kai lottorivini väärin
Mä tein kai lottorivini väärin
Lopulta tupakankin käärin

Maustetytöt (Anna Karjalainen, Kaisa Karjalainen) 2019

["I must have picked my Lotto numbers wrong"]

No comments: