February 22, 2018No Comments

The Man Without a Past, Aki Kaurismaki, 2002

Search around the web for “Aki Kaurismäki style” and deadpan is what you’ll get most of the times. Dictionary says deadpan means impassive or expressionless. It feels especially true in the case of The Man Without a Past, deadpan comedy of sorts, where a man looses his memory, becomes homeless, and falls in love with a Salvation Army employee, played by the wonderful Kati Outinen. The characters mostly stare at each other and the. Yet stare after stare it becomes obvious that this director turns deadpan inside-out, infusing it with so much expression and silent universal meaning that you feel it’s a film shot in your neighbourhood.    

February 10, 2018No Comments

Juha, Aki Kaurismaki – 1999

Besides being shot in splendid low key lighting consciously imitating film noir stylistic, Juha is also a silent film, with music to match the action and lead the audience and dialogue inter-titles. Its subject follows the end of Juha’s simple countryside family, when a convertible driving baddy from the city drops by one day. The film plays like a comedy and is riddled with Kaurismäki trade marked moments i.e. ones that could easily be removed from a “story” point of view, but which collectively act in finally creating idiosyncrasy. 

Well done Mubi.com for this awesome Kaurismäki retrospective. 

February 4, 2018No Comments

Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana – Aki Kaurismaki

A deadpan comedy bordering on the absurd, Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana is another painting of the ‘90 Aki Kaurismäki period. The great Matti Pellonpää, a director’s favourite as it seems, stars as a greedy auto-mechanic, with a passion for rock’n’roll leather jackets. He’s gobbling bottles of vodka like water.  He has a friend, a 40 year old tailor living with his mother, with a voracious appetite for coffee. They go for a spin in their old Lada and along the way accept in taking two ladies, an Estonian and a Russian, to the port, for a boat-ride that’s supposed to be urgent. The urgency disappears as times stretches, turning hours into days. It seems as if romantic feelings being creeping up between the four. Nothing really happens and the characters don’t have much to say to each other. They drink instead. Vodka and coffee.           

January 24, 2018No Comments

Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses – Aki Kaurismaki – 1994

Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses goes full throttle on the previous instalment’s idiosyncrasies albeit in a less fresh and tasty manner. The guys are there, the hair, the shoes, the idiocy, but the magic is regurgitated, for reasons I’m too tired to explore.

January 17, 2018No Comments

I Hired a Contract Killer – Aki Kaurismaki – 1990

I have a problem with films starring New Wave legend Jean-Pierre Léaud. The man is so iconic that it’s impossible to suspend my disbelief that he’s someone else than the boy in 400 coups. Luckily, I Hired a Contract Killer is an absurd comedy, nowhere near any realistic desire. Playing a man who hires a killer because he can’t successfully commit suicide (after getting fired from the most horrid desk job in London), Leaud than meets a woman and gains a sudden lust for life. Except the killers are hard to stop now that they’re moving. Except the main killer has lung cancer. Kaurismäki is having fun. 

January 9, 2018No Comments

Leningrad Cowboys Go America – Aki Kaurismaki – 1989

The Leningrad Cowboys form a collective and recurring character in Aki Kaurismäki’s prolific career. There are over 5 other titles, short films included, in this director’s filmography which feature the group. Together, they form a highly versatile music group, but also a human trait, one found at the intersection of naivety and joy for life. The group is highly stylised, from the way it dresses to the way in behaves, reminding you of early Jim Jarmush work like Down by Law or Night on Earth (no wonder he makes an appearance as an actor!). Clocking in at one hour and ten, in this iteration we’re on board a silly road trip comedy following the American adventures of the group, led by their sneaky manager who cashes in on the money while he’s feeding raw onions to the group. Super juicy!

January 8, 2018No Comments

The Match Factory Girl – Aki Kaurismaki – 1990

Iris is a lonely young woman, living with her parents and working at the match factory. She lives an ordinary life and craves for something more. She goes to the dance hall, yet nobody invites her on the ring. She goes to the bars by her self. She goes to the movies and cries. When she buys a new dress, her parents, which usually snatch all her money for rent, call her a whore and demand that she returns the dress.

This is the first moment, 20 minutes in to the film, when a character says something. And the rest of the movie goes on in this fashion, probably gathering in total no more than one page of dialogue. It is this form, one of patient and distant regard, that makes The Match Factory Girl such an exciting and absorbing piece of movie making.

Iris is a lonely young woman, living with her parents and working at the match factory. She lives an ordinary life and craves for something more. She goes to the dance hall, yet nobody invites her on the ring. She goes to the bars by her self. She goes to the movies and cries. When she buys a new dress, her parents, which usually snatch all her money for rent, call her a whore and demand that she returns the dress.

This is the first moment, 20 minutes in to the film, when a character says something. And the rest of the movie goes on in this fashion, probably gathering in total no more than one page of dialogue. It is this form, one of patient and distant regard, that makes The Match Factory Girl such an exciting and absorbing piece of movie making.

When a bearded, rich and selfish guy appears in the story, Iris sleeps with him and this twists the story in great satisfactory ways. Very static and hyper ludic.

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