Thursday, September 18, 2014

Dazed and Confused

Surutta? Sekaisin (video title). US © 1993 Universal City Studios. PC: Alphaville Films. P: Richard Linklater, Sean Daniel, James Jacks. D+SC: Richard Linklater. DP: Lee Daniel - negative: 35 mm (Eastman) – lab: Allied/WBS Film & Video Services, Texas, DeLuxe (prints) – colour – 1,85:1. PD: John Frick, AD: Jenny C. Patrick, set dec. Deborah Pastor. Cost: Katherine Dover. Makeup: Jean Ann Black. Hair: Bob Harper, Sally J. Harper.
    Songs: soundtrack album: "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" perf. Rick Derringer, "Slow Ride" perf. Foghat, "School's Out" perf. Alice Cooper, "Jim Dandy" perf. Black Oak Arkansas, "Tush" perf. ZZ Top, "Love Hurts" perf. Nazareth, "Stranglehold" perf. Ted Nugent, "Cherry Bomb" perf. The Runaways, "Fox on the Run" perf. Sweet, "Low Rider" perf. War, "Tuesday's Gone" perf. Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Highway Star" perf. Deep Purple, "Rock and Roll All Nite" perf. KISS, "Paranoid" perf. Black Sabbath - also in the movie: "Hurricane" perf. Bob Dylan, "Hey Baby" perf. Ted Nugent, "Sweet Emotion" perf. Aerosmith - and more.
    S: Sandy Gendler, Val Kuklowsky – Dolby SR. ED: Sandra Adair. Casting: Don Phillips.
    C: Jason London (Randall "Pink" Floyd), Wiley Wiggins (Mitch Kramer), Rory Cochrane (Ron Slater), Matthew McConaughey (David Wooderson), Sasha Jenson (Don Dawson), Michelle Burke (Jodi Kramer), Christine Harnos (Kaye Faulkner), Adam Goldberg (Mike Newhouse), Anthony Rapp (Tony Olson), Marissa Ribisi (Cynthia Dunn), Catherine Avril Morris (Julie Simms), Shawn Andrews (Kevin Pickford), Cole Hauser (Benny O'Donnell), Milla Jovovich (Michelle Burroughs), Joey Lauren Adams (Simone Kerr), Christin Hinojosa (Sabrina Davis), Ben Affleck (Fred O'Bannion), Parker Posey (Darla Marks), Deena Martin (Shavonne Wright), Nicky Katt (Clint Bruno), Esteban Powell (Carl Burnett), Jason O. Smith (Melvin Spivey), Mark Vandermeulen (Tommy Houston), Renée Zellweger (Nesi White). Loc: Austin, Texas.
    No theatrical release in Finland – vhs: 1994 CIC Video – tv: 3.11.2011 MTV3 – VET 98732 – S14 – 102 min
    The title is taken from the Led Zeppelin version of the song with the same name (not played in the movie) (original: Jake Holmes, 1967 – The Yardbirds, 1967 – Led Zeppelin, 1968).
    A 2K DCP from Universal screened at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Teenage Movies of the 1990s), 18 Sep 2014

For us who appreciate Richard Linklater's Before trilogy - the three duets between Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke - it is a pleasant revelation to discover him here, before the first Before film, as a director of a large ensemble cast.

There are no protagonists and no starring roles, but instead, every role matters, and the good judgement in the casting has been proven retroactively by the fact that so many of the then little known performers have since established themselves on solid careers and even risen to stardom.

I was thinking about Satyajit Ray (Days and Nights in the Forest), Yasujiro Ozu, and Anton Chekhov during this film. On the surface nothing happens. Beyond the surface, everything happens.

The title is important. During the teen years everything is in turbulence, and it is hard to get support from anywhere. The ones who are a bit older and who could be the most helpful are here the worst enemies. It is the last day at school before the summer holiday, and the ritual is that freshmen are punished: boys with special spanking paddles, and girls via other humilating acts (being soiled, ordered to crawl and to offer themselves as slaves to boys).

I understand why Dazed and Confused has achieved cult film status (I generally hesitate to use the term, but here it is apt). The narrative is seemingly trivial (the anticlimactic finale is about getting to an Aerosmith concert), but full of meaningful detail.

Of the wonderful cast Cynthia (Marissa Ribisi) is the thinker. She sums up the decades starting from the 1950s (innocent?), 1960s (great), and the 1970s (they suck). "Maybe the 1980s will be radical". But she also crystallizes the carpe diem philosophy. What are we waiting for? Death.

A house party is cancelled since the parents realize what is being planned and decide to stay at home. Instead, some of the youngsters party in the wood. It is a brilliant sequence. There is an ascent into a tower. On the ground, young girls pass out.

The protagonists are not grown-up yet. At home, parents are waiting. "Next time you come in the sunrise we got problems".

The film is built on many elements that are ordinary but better realized here than almost anywhere else. One of those elements is the soundtrack: the tracks are largely familiar but feel perfect here. In the end there is an impressive dramatis personae sequence; I confess I missed Ben Affleck in the narrative itself but caught him up in that sequence.

The digital quality is brilliant, bright and clear, and slightly airless. No problem with close-ups and interiors. This is a difficult film to digitize because of the large ensemble shots and the exterior night shots.

Whiplash

Miles Teller, J. K. Simmons
US © 2013 Whiplash, Inc. Year of release: 2014. P: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak. D+SC: Damien Chazelle. DP: Sharon Meir. PD: Melanie Paizis-Jones. M: Justin Hurwitz. S: Thomas Curley. ED: Tom Cross. C: Miles Teller (Andrew Neyman), J. K. Simmons (Terence Fletcher), Melissa Benoist, Paul Reiser, Austin Stowell, Nate Lang. 105 min
    DCP from Sony Releasing International, to be released by Sony Pictures Finland.
    Helsinki International Film Festival (HIFF) opening gala.
    2K presentation at Bio Rex, Helsinki, 18 Sep 2014

Peter Debruge (Variety) quoted in the HIFF catalogue: "Miles Teller drums his heart out—and then some—in writer-director Damien Chazelle’s stellar career-starter, Whiplash, which demolishes the clichés of the musical-prodigy genre, investing the traditionally polite stages and rehearsal studios of a topnotch conservatory with all the psychological intensity of a battlefield or sports arena. Chazelle proves an exceptional builder of scenes, crafting loaded, need-to-succeed moments that grab our attention and hold it tight, thanks largely to co-star J. K. Simmons as the school’s most intimidating instructor (…)."

"Whiplash is not about drumming, after all, but rather just how far someone will go to be the best. Teller’s 19-year-old Andrew descends from a long line of mediocrity, but he is determined to add his name to the short list of widely known jazz greats. Andrew is certainly dedicated enough, practicing until his fingers bleed on more than one occasion."

"(…) Fletcher is intimidating in front of the studio band, where he lets fly torrents of emasculating and openly homophobic invective directed against any and all who disappoint. The character is capricious and cruel, making him a volatile force in Andrew’s life, even in scenes where the conductor isn’t physically present. Peter Debruge, Variety" (HIFF catalogue)

AA: A powerful jazz film, one of the most powerful ever made. But if jazz has always often evoked notions of freedom, improvisation, and a relaxed attitude to life, the activity seen in Whiplash comes closer to a military drill exercise such as depicted by Stanley Kubrick in Full Metal Jacket.

There is the demonic taskmaster, the bandleader-teacher Terence Fletcher, interpreted with sadistic glee by J. K. Simmons.

There is the 19-year old drummer genius Andrew Neyman played with a mix of vulnerability and perseverance by Miles Teller.

Damien Chazelle has written a gripping screenplay, and he directs it like a thriller. Whiplash has been compared with Black Swan, and common to both is that they chart the territory where merciless drill can lead to mental breakdown. But there is no final descent into madness in Whiplash, and no surreal nightmare visions.

Whiplash also brings to mind the "putting on the show" tradition of film musicals from Forty-Second Street to All That Jazz. It dramatizes the extremely hard work behind the smooth performance.

Here the rookie survives the final sadistic trap of the bandleader and proceeds to a glorious proof of what he can.

Members of the audience were laughing at the cruel insults which are the main educational method of J. K. Simmons. The insults are far worse than the ones I remember from my own army days. They are truly personal and deeply humiliating.

J. K. Simmons claims that that is how a Charlie Parker is born. In this movie the method seems to work.

The fate of jazz is a theme of the film. Although Whiplash is a success story on the surface, more fundamentally it is a tragedy of a brutalization of the spirit.

Visual quality: no problem with the digital projection. The movie has been conceived so that there is no imagery difficult for digital.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Suomi-animaatio 100 vuotta 2: Pioneerit / Centenary of Finnish Animation 2: The Pioneers

A stamp honouring Hjalmar Löfving in 2011
Curated by Tuula Leinonen. Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Centenary of Finnish Animation), 17 Sep 2014.
Total duration 73 min.

Programme note by Tuula Leinonen: "Näytös johdattaa katsojan suomalaisen animaation alkujuurille. Keksijän mieli ja palava into uutta ilmaisumuotoa kohtaan yhdistivät pientä tekijäjoukkoa, jonka vaiheita Juho Gartz ja Lauri Tykkyläinen ovat  dokumentoineet filmissään Muutama metri piirrettyä elokuvaa. Näytöksessä esitetään kaikkein varhaisimmat pala-, piirros- ja nukkeanimaatiot. Myös niitä seuraavat lyhytanimaatiot ovat Suomen animaatiohistorian merkkiteoksia."

Mainoskimara / a commercial mix. Drawn animations edited on 2K DCP.
Antti Peränne: OTK Punahilkka-kerma. 1960. Colour.
Onni Rivakka: Kultapossukerho. Postisäästöpankki. Colour. - AA: The ugly duckling joins the Golden Piglet Club.
FA-animaatio: Fazer käkikello. - AA: The cuckoo clock that cries "Fazer, Fazer, Fazer".

Muutama metri piirrettyä kuvaa / A Few Meters of Animated Film. FI 1981. PC: Työryhmä Juho Gartz & Lauri Tykkyläinen. P+D+SC: Juho Gartz, Lauri Tykkyläinen. DP: Juha-Veli Äkräs. AN: Erkki Salmela. FX: Antero Honkanen. M (pianist): Asser Fagerström. Narrator: Lauri Tykkyläinen. VET A-24222 – S – 35 mm, colour/b&w – 615 m / 23 min. "Kolmiosaisen sarjan ensimmäinen osa kattaa vuodet 1914–39. Haastateltavina ovat mm. Kurt Vasström, joka auttoi elokuvanteossa isäänsä Ericiä – ensimmäisten kotimaisten animaatioiden luojaa, sekä legendaarinen Yrjö Norta. Monipuolinen elokuvamies teki animaatioita 1920-luvulla. Ola Fogelbergin Pekka Puupää -animaatiosta kertoo hänen tyttärensä Toto Fogelberg-Kaila." - AA: Screened in 2K DCP. A priceless documentary the value of which keeps growing. Interviews with Kurt Vasström, Yrjö Norta, Armas Vallasvuo, and Toto Fogelberg-Kaila. There is a true spirit of animation, the joy of movement, the sense of humour. Excerpts and reconstructions from the highlights of the early decades of Finnish animation. The development from drawn animation to cut-out animation and to cell animation. The masterpiece: Muutama metri tuulta ja sadetta by Hjalmar Löfving.

Aito sunnuntaimetsästäjä / En äkta söndagsjägare / A True Sunday Hunter. FI 1924. PC: Lahyn-Filmi. P: Alvar Hamberg, Lennart Hamberg. D: Yrjö Nyberg [= Yrjö Norta]. AN: Harald Salén. Classification number 12747 – S – 35 mm, b&w, silent – 217 m / 3 min. - "Harald Salénin piirtämä metsästäjä hiihtää nokkelan jäniksen perässä kollaasielokuvassa, jota pidetään ensimmäisenä suomalaisena draamallisena animaationa. Säilynyt pala välittää uranuurtajien hilpeät terveiset nykykatsojille." - AA: 2K DCP. A three minute fragment from the film that was originally 13 minutes long. The rabbit is not as crazy as Bugs Bunny but it, too, has a true survivor spirit.

Muutama metri tuulta ja sadetta / Sataa, sataa / A Few Meters of Wind and Rain. FI 1932. P+D+AN: Hjalmar Löfving. Classification number 22397 – S – b&w, silent – 76 m/ 3 min. "Tuottelias taiteilija Hjalmar Löfving piirsi lukuisia sarjakuvia ja pilapiirroksia. Hän teki myös toistakymmentä mainosfilmiä, pääasiassa 1930-luvulla. Ainoaksi vapaa-aiheiseksi animaatiofilmiksi jäi lennokas Muutama metri tuulta ja sadetta." - AA: 2K DCP. The masterpiece of early Finnish animation. A brilliant, cinematic vision of wind and rain.

Professori Nerokeino: Toro
Professori Nerokeino: Vilustop - Hamlet has caught a cold, but the whisperer has cough drops.
Professori Nerokeino: Krinal-hiussaippua - the conductor discovers the head issue: Krinal shampoo.
Professori Nerokeino: Multi-Vitan - at books, a crossword, a typewriter - the cure for vitality, to combat fatigue.
Professori Nerokeino: Toiveista totta - colour - a Finnish dream of the young couple - how do we pay all this? - via a Postisäästöpankki saving account.
 FI 1951-1952. PC: Finlandia-kuva. D+DP+AN: Holger Harrivirta, Vilho Pitkämäki, R. O. Raimela, Harri Takala. The first four in b&w, the fifth in colour – 5 x 1 min. "Holger Harrivirran into nukkeanimaatioon kantoi esteiden yli. Kun tietoa ei löytynyt, materiaalit ja nuken liikkeet piti opetella kantapään kautta. Nerokeino liikkuu jo mallikkaasti; sen suosiosta kertoo mainosten skaala saippuasta arpoihin." - AA: 2K DCP. Stop motion puppet animations, well made.

Le Chien imbécile / Tyhmä koira / A Stupid Dog. FI 1970. PC: Studio A. P+D+AN: Antti Peränne. AN: Elli Rissanen, Esko Michelsson. VET A-21061 – colour – 58 m / 2 min 7 sec. - AA: 2K DCP. A "stupid" dog and its master trade places, and along comes the dogcatcher.

Smile / Hymy. FI 1974. PC: Studio A. Team: Antti Peränne, Maire Peränne. D+AN: Antti Peränne. M: Reginald G. Wale. 2 min. - AA: 2K DCP. Limited animation (drawn, painted). A satirical study of all kinds of smiles.

Isä ja poika / Father and Son. FI 1987. PC: Studio A. D+SC+AN: Antti Peränne. Colour [monochrome with a blush] – 1 min. - AA: 35 mm. Drawn animation. Father neglects son. Son asks why wars start. A sharp statement.

"Mestarianimaattori Antti Peränne teki satoja animaatiota. Jokunen itsenäinen lyhytelokuva syntyi tilaustöiden välissä, ja ne Peränne suuntasi suoraan kansainväliselle yleisölle. Le Chien imbécile, Tyhmä koira, osoittautuu isäntäänsä ovelammaksi, ja Smile esittelee hymyn eri muotoja. Isä ja poika kuuluu itsenäisten töiden helmiin; se välittää ajatuksensa kirkkaasti ja nasevasti. Lapsi kysyy isältä, miksi sodat syttyvät. Peränteen työ valittiin Best of World Animation -sarjaan vuonna 1987."

Alkoholi ihmisruumiissa / Alkoholen i människokroppen / Alcohol in the Human Body / Alko 15. FI 1961. PC: Fennada-Filmi Junior. P: Felix Forsman. SC: Henrik Walgren. DP: Jarmo Mustonen, Esko Nevalainen. AN director: Robert Balser. AN cinematography: Esko Nurminen. S: Ensio Lumes. ED: Ossi Skurnik, Juho Gartz. Narrator: Carl-Eric Creutz. CH: Heikki Värtsi. Layout: Martti Jännes. Colour: Seppo Suo-Anttila, Aune Paulin. VET A-10804 – S – 35 mm, colour – 400 m / 15 min. "Piirrosukkeli esittelee katsojalle seikkaperäisesti alkoholijuomien vaikutuksia ihmisen elimistössä. Varoituksen sanaa korostetaan myös tanssikoreografialla. Valistusfilmi palkittiin Salernossa 1962 ja Milanossa 1963." - AA: A stark and humoristic public information short film with limited animation, animated chemistry and medical information shots, and choreography in silhouette (a choreography of the rising alcohol per mil from full sobriety to death). In colour, a used 35 mm print.

Impressio. FI 1967. P: Gert Roose, Seppo Suo-Anttila, Oy Mainos-TV-Reklam Ab. SC+D+DP+AN+S: Seppo Suo-Anttila. DP+AN+S: Gert Roose. ED: Juho Gartz. VET A-19937 – 35 mm, b&w 440 m / 16 min. "Impressio teki suomalaista animaatiohistoriaa: se voitti kansainvälisen, vuosittain järjestettävän animaatiofestivaalin pääpalkinnon Kultaisen Pelikaanin Mamaiassa, Romaniassa vuonna 1970. Esineanimaation aihe on edelleen ajankohtainen: hirmuvaltiaan nousu ja tuho. Näyttelijöinä toimivat erikokoiset ja -muotoiset pullot." - AA: 2K DCP. A stop motion animation starring dancing and fighting bottles. The two main setpieces are a ball of the bottles with waltz and jive numbers, and the emergence of the poison bottle monster threatening to destroy all. A tiny jar foils the monster bottle with its wit. An anti-totalitarian parable.

Finnish programme note written by Tuula Leinonen 17.9.2014

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Suomi-animaatio 100 vuotta 1: Satuja ja lauluja / Centenary of Finnish Animation 1: Songs and Fairy-Tales

Animaatio-Suomi 1: Satuja ja lauluja. Curated by Tuula Leinonen.
Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 7 Sep 2014.

Tuula Leinonen has curated for us a centenary tribute of Finnish animation in 12 programmes.

Tuula Leinonen: "Näytökseen on koottu hyväntuulisia animaatiosatuja ja -lauluja. Ne tarjoavat paitsi makoisat naurut myös kansanviisauksia ja uusia oivalluksia, kun pollen, porsaan ja suden nokkeluus punnitaan. Näytöksen pisin elokuva Ella ja Aleksi – yllätyssynttärit kannustaa laulamaan mukana. Animaatioelokuvien tekniikat vaihtelevat piirros-, pala- ja nukkeanimaatioista tietokoneanimaatioon. Esitettävät animaatiot sopivat kaiken ikäisille."

Mainoskimara / a commercial mix. Drawn animations edited on 2K DCP.
Hjalmar Löfving: SOK Voiman Paahtimo. Silent. Coffee commercial.
Hjalmar Löfving: Knut Posse. Sound. Pamaus-Pastilli. Pamaus [Boom] drop commercial
Hjalmar Löfving: SOK ja Kuu-ukko / [SOK and Old Man Moon]. 1935. Jalokahvi coffee commercial.
bonus: Hjalmar Löfving: Kiilto [Loisto LUX Kiilloke]. Shoe polish commercial.
bonus: Hjalmar Löfving: SOK [kylpytakit ja naisten alusvaatteet]. A women's bathrobe and lingerie commercial. The sun himself turns bashful.
[not screened: Antti Peränne: Bueno-kahvi OTK. 1959]
    AA: Hjalmar Löfving (1896-1968) directed early Finnish drawn cartoon commercials. They are humoristic and well-made. Rain is a recurrent motif, as are the sun and the moon personified in Méliès style. In Löfving's universe a coffee pot appears as an animated character. The first film of this mix was silent, the rest have buoyant music.

Polle / Horsie. FI 2006. PC: Turun Ammattikorkeakoulu, Suomen Elokuvakontakti ry. P: Eija Saarinen. D+SC+M+ED+S+AN: Sara Wahl, S – 2K DCP, colour – 2 min. "Sara Wahlin sympaattisessa piirrosanimaatiossa Polle korvaa nokkeluudellaan sen, minkä koossa häviää. Elokuva valittiin parhaaksi animaatioksi Kettupäivien Hinku ja Vinku -kilpailussa 2006." - AA: A drawn animated joke in which a little foal conquers a giant horse by wiping its outlines.

Pieni porsas / The Little Pig / Piglet. FI 2006. PC: Osuuskunta Animaatiokopla, Suomen Elokuvakontakti ry. P+D+ED+S+AN: Kim Helminen. SC: Reetta Pasanen, Kim Helminen. M: Juha Virta. S – 2K DCP with English subtitles, colour – 1 min. "Animaatio pohjautuu 4-vuotiaan Reetta Pasasen tarinaan, joka aikanaan tallentui onneksi nauhalle. Autenttinen lapsen ääni inspiroi yli 20 vuotta myöhemmin Reetan puolison, ohjaaja-animaattori Kim Helmisen luomaan siitä oman tulkintansa. Pieni porsas nousee estradille, ja äiti-porsas hikoilee katsomossa." - AA: Based on a story of Reetta Pasanen, 4 years, now 33 years and the wife of the animator. The little pig takes the floor and mama pig sweats in the first row. A nice brass band.

Jääkarhu soitti kerran Afrikkaan / Bear It and Grin. FI 1997. P: Taideteollinen korkeakoulu /  Elokuvataiteen ja Lavastustaiteen osasto ETO. Yleisradio/ TV1/ Yhteistuotannot. P: Mariko Härkönen. D+SC+puppets: Ismo Virtanen. DP: Tero Makkonen. AD: Iri Leino. Salla Leino, Ismo Virtanen. AN+puppets+dramaturgy: Mariko Härkönen. M: Ismo Virtanen (Konginkankaan Kantri). S: Kepa Lehtinen, Pasi Peni. ED: Samu Heikkilä. VET A-27768 – S – 35 mm, väri, 1,37:1 – 139 m / 5 min. "Jyväskyläläisen Konginkankaan Kantrin lastenlaulusta 'Jääkarhu soitti kerran Afrikkaan' valmistui myöhemmin musiikkivideo, jonka ohjasivat Ismo Virtanen ja Mariko Härkönen. Laulun esitti Rane Rautiainen. Yksinäinen jääkarhu vaihtaa gorillan kanssa iglunsa kuuteen banaaniin, mutta postitus ei suju suunnitelmien mukaan. Animaatio voitti 1998 Tampereen elokuvajuhlilla erikoispalkinnon ja napinpainajien palkinnon. Sen englanninkielinen versio Bear It and Grin, laulajana Billy Carson, voitti 1998 pääpalkinnon Ranskassa Rennesin lastenelokuvafestivaaleilla." - AA: A puppet animation, a music video for children. The gorilla orders an iglu from the icebear, in exchange of six bananas, but the ice melts and the bananas freeze. Good colour in the 35 mm print.

Koiran ja suden ystävyys / The Wolf and the Dog. Satuja II / Fairytale Series II. FI 1974. P: Partanen & Rautoma, MTV Oy, Power Pictures Partenen & Rautoma. P+D: Heikki Partanen, Riitta Rautoma. DP: Heikki Patanen. AN: Riitta Rautoma. M: Sifferi Grönfors, Kustaa Järvinen, Antero Launis. S: Timo Lapila. Narrator: Vesa Mäkelä. VET 21964 – S – 35 mm – väri – 367 m / 12 min. "Heikki Partanen ja Riitta Rautoma animoivat sarjan eläinsatuja, jotka pohjautuivat Kaarle Krohnin 1800-luvun lopulla taltioimiin kansansatuihin. Rautoma väritti rasvakynillä pala-animaation hahmoille elävän pinnan. Susi pelastaa vanhan koiran nälkäkuolemalta, ja koira kutsuu suden salaa herkkujen ääreen häätaloon, jossa susi juo sahtia ja ryhtyy laulamaan kohtalokkain seurauksin." - AA: Grease pencil animation. The old dog is evicted, but the wolf offers to "abduct" a child which the dog can then "rescue". In the winter the dog gives a good turn and lets the wolf in to have dinner. The wolf manages to escape badly beaten. Since then there is quarrel between dog and wolf. Good colour in the 35 mm print.

Kolme pukkia / Three Bucks. FI 2001. PC+P+D+AN+S: Heikki Prepula. M: Trio Päkättäjät. ED: Matti Markkanen. VET A-28685 – S – väri – 4 min. "Pikkupukki, Keskipukki ja Isopukki lähtevät ylittämään siltaa, jonka alla asuu hirmuinen hiisi. Heikki Prepula tunnetaan pala-animaation suvereenina mestarina ja mm. Kössi Kengurun luojana. Kun hän tarttuu kansansatuun, loppukohtaus voi olla toisenlainen kuin olemme tottuneet kuulemaan. Kolme pukkia voitti pääpalkinnon Isfahanin elokuvajuhlilla Iranissa 2002 ja se palkittiin parhaana lasten lyhytelokuvana Interfilm-lyhytelokuvafestivaaleilla Berliinissä 2004." - AA: A witty cutout animation, brilliantly made from painted images. Three bucks are about to cross a bridge under which a scary monster lives. A fine 35 mm print.

Ella & Aleksi – yllätyssynttärit / [Ella & Alex - a Surprise Birthday Party]. FI 2011. PC: Bronson Club. P: Jukka Helle, Markus Selin, Jesse Fryckman. D+ED: Juuso Syrjä. SC: Katri Manninen. AN: Janne Roivainen. S: Magnus Axberg. M: Sampo Haapaniemi, Markus Koskinen. VET A-81831 – S – 35 mm, väri – 47 min. "Markus Koskisen ja Sampo Haapaniemen musiikkiprojektissa lapset räppäsivät konemusiikkitaustojen päälle. Uudenlaisista lastenlauluista syntyi neljä hittialbumia vuosina 2004–2009. Niiden pohjalta on luotu musiikkivideoita, ja vuonna 2011 pitempi 50-minuuttinen sing along -elokuva Ella & Aleksi – yllätyssynttärit. Isoveli Aleksi (äänenä Antti Luusuaniemi) ja pikkusisko Ella (Malla Malmivaara) järjestävät juhlat ystävälleen Tarkastaja Lerppu Koiraselle (Jarkko Tamminen). Sisarukset ymmärtävät eläinten puhetta ja voivat mielikuvituksensa voimalla kutistua ja kasvaa tai taikoa jopa junan. Tarina sitoo toisiinsa tutut hitit MC Koppakuoriaisesta Lenni Lokinpoikaseen. Kappaleiden sanoituksissa käsitellään tärkeitä teemoja kuten ystävien ja ympäristön arvostamista." - AA: I blogged about the delicious cut-out animated featurette Ella & Aleksi - yllätyssynttärit when it had its premiere three years ago. Today I revisited the beginning, including the first sing-along-subtitled music number "Huhuu, kuka puhuu", the city owl song. Witty and wonderful. One of my favourite films of this decade. A bright 35 mm print.

There was also a real birthday party in our cinema: a group of 15 children celebrated it by watching Ella & Aleksi today.

The Finnish programme note for this 7.9.2014 screening was written by Tuula Leinonen.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Heathers

Fatal Games / Heathers (Finnish release title) / Häxor, läxor och dödliga lektioner.  US © 1988 New World Pictures. In association with: Cinemarque Entertainment. P: Denise Di Novi. D: Michael Lehmann. SC: Daniel Waters. DP: Francis Kenny – camera: Arriflex 35 BL4, Zeiss Lenses – negative: 35 mm (Eastman 125T 5247, 250D 5297, Fuji AX 500T 8514) – lab: DeLuxe (Hollywood), Technicolor (Hollywood) – colour – 1,85:1. PD: Jon Hutman. AD: Kara Lindstrom. FX: Martin Bresin / Marty Bresin. Cost: Rudy Dillon. Makeup: Julie Hewett, Kenny Myers, Carrey Gibbons. Hair: Scott Williams. M: David Newman. S: Jerry Ross – mono. ED: Norman Hollyn. Casting: Sally Dennison, Julie Selzer. C: Winona Ryder (Veronica), Christian Slater (J. D.), Shannen Doherty (Heather Duke), Lisanne Falk (Heather McNamara), Kim Walker (Heather Chandler), Penelope Milford (Pauline Fleming), Glenn Shadix (Father Ripper), Lance Fenton (Kurt Kelly), Patrick Labyorteaux (Ram), Jeremy Applegate (Peter Dawson). Loc: Pasadena, Laurel Canyon, Griffith Park, Santa Monica, Tujunga, Hollywood Hills, San Fernando Valley (California). Not theatrically released in Finland – vhs: 1991 Karelia Food – tv: 29.8.2001 Nelonen – dvd: 2005 Future Film – VET V-01919 – K16 – 2824 m / 103 min
    A DFI print with danske tekster by Dorte Rytter Fredersen viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Teen Movies of the 1990s), 3 Sep 2014

Heathers is a black sheep among high school films. Based on a screenplay by Daniel Waters and directed by Michael Lehmann (both at their best here), it is unclassifiable any more precisely than being simply a "high school film". I hesitate to call it a "dark comedy". The themes of school bullying, revenge mentality, vigilante justice, suicide, and school massacre are meant to be taken seriously, although the dramatis personae are caricatures and although the brilliant dialogue is full of dark wit. Despite its grotesque and macabre aspects neither is Heathers a horror film. It is a high school film with a unique approach.

I have been intrigued by the fact that several movies of "the school of 1999" seem relevant to the tragedy of Columbine, and, in Finland, to the tragedy of Jokela. But Heathers, made more than a decade before, was there already. To me, the key lines of dialogue in it are those by J. D. during his attempt to execute the school massacre: "Nobody loves me. So I'll kill everybody". He is wearing a long coat and carrying enough explosives to blow up the entire school building while everybody is gathered in the gym in a pep rally.

The high school is deeply divided. There are the ostensibly popular Heathers, three stylish and self-assured girls who are more feared than loved. There is the "geek squad", clumsy, nerdy and confused youngsters with the bad coordination that belongs to the age. The geeks are mercilessly bullied. Somehow the Heathers have managed to lure into their team Veronica (Winona Ryder) who really loves the geeks more. Then there is the outsider, J. D. (Christian Slater), son of an industrial tycoon whose childhood and youth has been fragmented into "seven schools, seven states". He seems to promise a protection of individuality, until Veronica realizes that his revenge plans are no jokes.

There are darkly satirical twists in the revenge story. After her death (framed as a suicide) the main Heather becomes more popular than ever. Two homophobic school bullies (their deaths framed as a double suicide of gay lovers; an aggravating piece of evidence of their gayness is a bottle of mineral water) become gay martyrs.

There are memorable lines and witty ideas in Daniel Waters' dialogue. In love scenes, protagonists copy their dialogue from pop songs. In Veronica's defiant encounters with her parents the key sentence is about "being treated like a human being" and the different senses of what that means. "I shop therefore I am" is a motto of the leading Heather. J. D.'s planned school massacre is supposed to become "the Woodstock of the 1980s". "You look like hell", is the comment of Veronica's friends after J. D. has blown himself up. "I just got back". She seizes the red scrunchie, the emblem of the Heathers: "there is a new sheriff in town" - one who is with the geek squad. - Most I liked the satirical play with self-awareness in the dialogue. "I died knowing no one knew the real me", writes Veronica in the main Heather's fake suicide note. "My teen angst bullshit has a body count". - I confess I had difficulty in following some of the dialogue.

The performances are perfect. The electronic score by David Newman is expressive. The design by Jon Hutman and Kara Lindstrom is effective. The cinematography by Francis Kenny is subtly exaggerated with high angles, special lenses and colour stylization. Michael Lehmann as the director knows how to forge a powerful whole of the unique nightmare vision.

The print is clean and complete. The visual quality: there is the regular slightly duped / speed-printed look.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Westfront 1918

Länsirintamalla 1918 / Västfronten 1918 / Comrades of 1918. DE 1930. PC: Nero-Film AG (Berlin). P: Seymour Nebenzahl. D: G. W. Pabst. Ass D: Paul Falkenberg, Victor Trivas (?). SC: Ladislaus Vajda – dialogue: Peter Martin Lampel - based on the novel Vier von der Infanterie: ihre letzten Tage an der Westfront 1918 (1929) by Ernst Johannsen. DP: Fritz Arno Wagner, Charles Métain - 1,19:1. AD: Ernö Metzner - Willy Reiber (Ausführung). ED: Wolfgang Loë-Bagier, Hans Oser. M: Alexander Laszlo. S: Karl Brodmerkel, Guido Bagier, Joseph Massolle - Tobis-Klangfilm. Advisor: André Saint-Germain. C: Fritz Kampers (Bayer / the Bavarian), Gustav Diessl (Karl), Hans Joachim Moebis (Student), Claus Clausen (Leutnant / Lieutenant), Jackie Monnier (Yvette, the Frenchwoman), Hanna Hoessrich (Karl's wife), Else Heller (Karl's mother) Gustav Püttjer (Hamburger), Carl Balhaus (the butcher's apprentice), Wladimir Sokoloff (Proviantmeister / Essensträger). Dreharbeiten: 1.2.-18.5.1930 Petershagen bei Frankfurt/Oder. Uraufführung: 23.5.1930. Helsinki premiere: 18.8.1930 Royal, distributor: Aktiebolaget Royal Film Osakeyhtiö – classification 16407 – K16 – Originalfassung 98 min, 1957 re-release version 88 min - Finnish original release version 2670 m / 98 min
    SFI-FA print (source: Staatliches Filmarchiv der DDR from a British print with a BBFC seal) with selected caption intertitles in English and e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio (made without a proper dialogue list from a print with a lot of dialogue that is hard to understand, secondary to the plot), a print of 90 min, Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Centenary of the First World War), 2 Sep 2014

G. W. Pabst was the first to make a great sound film about the First World War. Westfront 1918 had its premiere half a year before Lewis Milestone's masterpiece All Quiet on the Western Front. Two years later Bernard Natan and Raymond Bernard, having seen and been impressed by Pabst and Milestone, topped both with Les Croix de bois, but all three films summed up something deeply original about the carnage which was almost beyond comprehension, and beyond art in the traditional sense.

Pabst made many great films, and among them Westfront 1918 is exceptional in its realism, although Pabst denied any special attachment to realism. He had become famous with films that were seen as representatives of Neue Sachlichkeit. In Die freudlose Gasse shocking truths about postwar misery were observed at a cool distance.

Westfront 1918 is not a cool film. There is tough honesty in its account of the circumstances at the front - and perhaps more shockingly of the human condition at home. Karl's disappointment at what he experiences during his brief furlough at home is so thorough that there is a dimension of suicide in his eagerness to volunteer on a frontline mission.

Pabst does not wallow in misery. He shows the infernal pressure at the front but also the moments of joy - the camaraderie, the jokes, the singing, the parties, the young love between the Student and Yvette, the fascination of the single female performer, the exhilarating brass band, and the engrossing marches. He set a model which I think influenced even Renoir in La grande illusion.

Pabst shows us Karl's utter disappointment at home, but he makes us also understand the viewpoint of his wife and his mother whom he has not visited in 18 months. "You should not leave a wife alone for such a long time". "Sag doch ein gutes Wort. Bin doch deine Frau".

There is nothing wrong with the performances, but the characters and the actors are not as unforgettable as in Pabst's other masterpieces.

The cinematography by Fritz Arno Wagner and Charles Métain is top-ranking, and perhaps an influence for Jules Kruger and René Ribault in Les Croix de bois. The art direction by Ernö Metzner feels authentic and convincing. There is a quasi-documentary passion in the reconstruction of the trenches and the dugouts.

The soundscape is powerful in this early sound film. Much of the dialogue is unintelligible and perhaps meant as ambient sound.

The print viewed was a duplicate of a third generation or more. Mostly the visual quality is good, but in the first reels there are damages of wear from the sources used. Shot in early sound aperture, we screened this in Academy which works fine, too.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hetkinen. XIX Mäntän kuvataideviikot / [Carpe diem. XIX Mänttä Art Festival]

Dave Berg: Whatever II. 2014. Video installation
Hetkinen. XIX Mäntän kuvataideviikot / [Carpe diem. XIX Mänttä Art Festival]. 15.6.-31.8.2014. Pekilo, Tehtaankatu 2, 35800 Mänttä. - Also Joenniemen Taavetinsaari, Mäntän kirkko, Mänttä library and city space.
    Curator: Minna Joenniemi.
    Executive manager: Tiina Nyrhinen.
    Visited on 29 Aug 2014

The artists exhibited have also their own pages on the Mänttä Art Festival site with images of each artwork exhibited:
Maija Albrecht, Inkoo
Jan Anderzén, Tampere
Kenneth Bamberg, Helsinki
Dave Berg, Helsinki
Enoch Bergsten, Helsinki
Brains on Art, Helsinki
Ilmari Gryta, Janakkala
Siiri Haarla, Berliini
Mia Hamari, Simo
Alma Heikkilä, Hyrynsalmi
Jussi Heikkilä, Jyväskylä
Heidi Hemmilä, Helsinki
Tatu Hiltunen, Helsinki
Ylva Holländer, Porvoo
Pekka Jylhä, Helsinki
Kahviland, (Leena Kela, Turku ja Kristina Junttila, Tromssa)
Kaarina Kaikkonen, Helsinki
Matti Kalkamo, Tampere
Saara-Maria Kariranta, Helsinki
Jouna Karsi, Turku
Otto Karvonen, Helsinki
Johanna Ketola, Jämsä
Saija Kivikangas, Lahti
Tapani Kokko (Veistäjät), Orimattila
Essi Korva, Pello
Maanantai Kollektiivi, Helsinki
Maija Kurki, Turku
Teemu Lehmusruusu, Helsinki
Ninni Luhtasaari, Tampere
Maija Luutonen, Helsinki
Juha Menna (Veistäjät), Nurmijärvi
Jussi Meuronen, Helsinki
Hanneriina Moisseinen, Helsinki
Teemu Mäki, Helsinki
Pia Männikkö, Helsinki
Pekka Nevalainen, Kisko
Pekka Niittyvirta, Helsinki
Leena Nio, Helsinki
Noora Nio-Juss, Helsinki
Meiju Niskala, Helsinki
Pekka Niskanen, Helsinki
Konsta Ojala, Helsinki
Pelastusalus Silakka, Tampere, Jyväskylä, Ateena
Kukka Paavilainen, Helsinki
Meri Peura, Janakkala
Outi Pieski, Utsjoki
Kaija Poijula, Helsinki
Eeva-Maija Priha, Seinäjoki
Anssi Pulkkinen, Helsinki
Vesa-Pekka Rannikko, Helsinki
Tuomo Rainio, Helsinki
Antti-Ville Reinikainen, Helsinki
Anna Rokka, Helsinki
Vappu Rossi, Helsinki
Aura Saarikoski, Helsinki
Jenna Sutela, Helsinki
Sami Sänpäkkilä, Tampere
Sirpa Särkijärvi,Turku
Kari Södö, Oulu
Antti Tanttu, Helsinki
Sakari Tervo, Turku
Oona Tikkaoja, Turku
Elina Tuhkanen, Helsinki
Lasse Ursin, Lahti
Henry Wuorila-Stenberg, Helsinki
Jenni Yppärilä, Tampere
Rut Karin Zettergren, Tukholma

AA: The last leg of today's Mänttä art tour was this abundant review of contemporary Finnish art at Pekilo, a former factory building with a lot of space for ambitious installations. These works can also be examined at the website and in the catalogue, but the illustrations do not do justice to them as they are meant to be experienced in a space. Many works are big, and some are huge.

Thanks to the vision of the curator Minna Joenniemi here the whole is more than a sum of its parts. There are flights of fancy and experimentations of all kinds, and the works are bursting with vitality and joy in a combination like this.

This is an exhibition about imagination, audacity, irreverence, and the life force. There is often a devil may care attitude. This is a cornucopia, a horn of plenty.

The artists have also taken over the city, including the church, which is covered by the shirt installation Totuuden henki / The Spirit of Truth by Kaarina Kaikkonen.

A work I stopped to reflect three times was Dave Berg's video installation Whatever II (2014). I will need to see it again. There is a lot of dialogue which one is required to pay attention to. The imagery is not related to the dialogue in any direct way.
Kaarina Kaikkonen: Totuuden henki / [The Spirit of Truth]. 2014. Shirts on the facade of the Mänttä Church.

Serlachius Museum Gösta (five exhibitions at Mänttä)

Serlachius Museum Gösta (Mänttä) - the new pavilion (2014) to the left. Do click to enlarge!
Serlachius Museum Gösta, Joenniementie 47 | Mänttä, Finland.
    Visited on 29 Aug 2014.

Serlachius Museum Gösta at Mänttä-Vilppula is an art museum based on the collection of Gösta Serlachius Fine Art Foundation, one of the most notable private art collections in the Nordic countries. The collection was launched in 1933, the museum was opened in 1945, it was named Gösta in 2009, and an extension, Gösta's pavilion, was opened on 14 June, 2014.
    The core of the collections of the Serlachius Museums consists of the art collection bequethed by Gösta Serlachius and items related to the history of the paper combine G. A. Serlachius Ltd.

I spent a day devoted to visual arts and saw seven exhibitions in Mänttä on Friday 29 August, 2014. The centerpiece was, of course, Gösta, whose new pavilion was opened two months ago. A fresh piece of modern architecture designed by Boris Bežan, Héctor Mendoza, and Mara Partida, full of light and a fine sense of space, fitting to the surrounding beauty of the nature very well.
    I had heard fond remarks about Mänttä and the Gösta pavilion, and the praises are fully justified. The exhibitions were well attended, and I would not be surprised if the popularity keeps growing. Mänttä is an ideal target for an art trip for at least one whole day.
    There are two Serlachius Museums, Gustaf and Gösta, of which I focused on five exhibitions at Gösta.

Riiko Sakkinen: Museum of No Art (MuNA), 2014
MuNA – Museum of No Art. 14 June–7 September, 2014. A conceptual installation. Artist Riiko Sakkinen has established a new museum at the pavilion of Serlachius Museum Gösta. The museum has no art.
    Museum of No Art is artist Riiko Sakkinen's answer to an invitation to make an exhibition about institution of the museum. Something is missing, however. Sakkinen's museum has no art.
    MuNA at Serlachius Museum Gösta consists of the products in the museum shop and posters printed for the exhibition. Museum of No Art has a stylish logo that can be seen at many locations: at MuNA's website, in Facebook, in Twitter and at adverts.
    – MuNA is dystopic museum where art has no meaning. All that matters at MuNA is money, power, brand and the number of visitors, Sakkinen explains.
    In fact, MuNA consists merely of products sold at the museum shop. In Sakkinens'n view, the museum shop seems to be the heart of many museums.
    – To sell souvenirs is far more important than art. Muna has therefore cleaned away everything that is unnecessary. Art is a necessity only for making museum commercials.

AA: Entrance through the gift shop. A parodic meta-art conceptual comment. Perhaps the next such meta-art comment might be on art selfie mania which today obscures art itself. ("Muna" is Finnish for "an egg").
Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Tutkimuksia draaman ekologiasta (2014). Photo: Crystal Eye Ltd, Marja-Leena Hukkanen
Eija-Liisa Ahtila: Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1 (2014). FI © 2014 Crystal Eye. C: Kati Outinen. In Finnish, with English subtitles. 360°, a four screen projection, HD installation, 16:9, DD 5.0, 28 min. Until 11 January, 2015.
    The artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila creates an installation to Serlachius Museum Gösta's pavilion. The aim is to display emphatic dialogue with another living organism.
    Finland's internationally most famous contemporary artist Eija-Liisa Ahtila makes a projected installation in four channels, Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1. The premiere of the artwork will occur in connection to the opening of the museum. 
    The approximately 28-minute installation of moving images is an artwork about methods of presentation as a path to other living creatures. Actress Kati Outinen plays the human role in the work.
    Other species presented are a bush, a tree, a worm, a house martin, a butterfly and horses. In addition, a group of human actors form a "Group of Shadows".
    According to Ahtila, the aim of the artwork is to present the anthropocentrism or belief in the centrality of the human race, in film narration and to utilize moving images as means of expression in creation of an ecological drama and story.
    Studies on the Ecology of Drama 1 is Ahtila's first work in 15 years to have its premiere in Finland. On rule her works from recent years have had their premiere abroad in notable museums and galleries. The Foundation has acquired the art work to its collections.

AA: For me the highlight of the entire Mänttä tour was the new work by Eija-Liisa Ahtila, premiered here. I watched it thrice. It is a four screen panorama at 360°. To see everything at once is impossible. The viewer has to stay on the move all the time.
    The presentation evokes the circular panorama and also Erkki Huhtamo's recent magnum opus Illusions in Motion (2013) about the history of the moving panorama.
    Studies on the Ecology of Drama is a continuation to Marian ilmestys / The Annunciation (2010) and its insight in reference to Jacob von Uexkull’s idea that living beings’ different worlds exist simultaneously.
    It is about expanding our vision by an attempt to emphasize with other living beings, such as tervapääsky / the common swift whose capacity of observing time and movement, the critical flicker frequency, is something far beyond human capacities.
    A dog sees a movie as a cluster of still images. The resolution of time is different from the humans.
    This work is an artistic meditation on perception. We contemplate fiction as an opening into a world. When we see a star it may no longer exist. A non-existent image may radiate power.
Liisa Lounila, Stargazing, 2011, Palladium Converse-tossuille, private collection. Image: Liisa Lounila.
SuperPop! International classics of pop art alongside with Finnish ones. 14 June-28 September, 2014. Curated by Timo Valjakka. Serlachius Museum Gösta's main exhibition summer 2014 in the new pavilion shows the international classics of pop art alongside the Finnish ones. They enter into dialogue with the artworks of Finnish and international contemporary artists.
    Pop art was one of the most important shifts of the 20th century art. It was established after the second world war in the Great Britain and in the United States as the artists became interested in the popular culture as a response against elitistic high culture. Pop art was aimed for the general public, it was fast moving, easy and sexy. It was inspired by adverts, packages and other every-day phenomenon as well as celebrities and world's events.
    The curator of the exhibition SuperPop!, Timo Valjakka, has picked about 130 artworks from 23 different artists that represent pop art in many different ways.
    The artists of the exhibition are: Jacob Dahlgren, Jiri Geller, Peter Halley, Simo Helenius, Damien Hirst, Jasper Johns, Katri Kuparinen, Jani Leinonen, Roy Lichtenstein, Leo Lindsten, Liisa Lounila, Robert Lucander, Paul Osipow, Simon Patterson, Robert Rauschenberg, Aurora Reinhard, Raimo Reinikainen, Bridget Riley, James Rosenquist, Riiko Sakkinen, Pilvi Takala, Marianna Uutinen and Andy Warhol.

AA: The main revelation of this exhibition is that it is mainly based on Finnish collections. I for one would not have imagined that this big and representative an exhibition could have been mounted from mostly national sources.
    The second revelation is exhibiting side by side international founding figures and Finnish artists who sometimes copied their models but also often created something new and original.
    One of the curator Timo Valjakka's insights is that while one might expect such art to be carefree and happy there is in fact often a deep undercurrent of melancholy in these works.
    In the excellent Andy Warhol An American Story exhibition at Sara Hildén Art Museum in Tampere earlier this year I was struck by the prominence of the memento mori theme and thought that Warhol's oeuvre can be seen as the most immense expression of the vanitas theme in the history of art.
    Here I realize that this can be generalized to the entire pop art phenomenon.
Verner Thomé, Pyykinkuivausta tuulisena päivänä / Drying Washes on a Windy Day, ca 1905, oil on canvas, Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö.
Alwar Cavén: Kehtolaulu / Lullaby, oil on canvas, Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö.
Gösta's friends. An exhibition showing the artworks of artists who were the favourites of Gösta Serlachius. The exhibition will be opened at art museum Gösta's old manor. The artworks belong to Foundation's own collections.
    The exhibition Gösta's friends portrays Gösta Serlachius as an art collector. In compiling his collections, Serlachius gathered around himself the artists of his time, whom he entertained in Mänttä and from whom he commissioned works.
    Following Gösta Serlachius' example, the Fine Arts Foundation also acquires contemporary art, and the exhibition also shows a few examples of recently-acquired contemporary art.

Gösta Serlachius's friends included many of the masters of the golden age such as Axel Gallen-Kallela, Albert Edelfelt, and Emil Wikström. His collections of those friends are especially large, and here they display a mix of the best-known and seldom seen works.
Helene Schjerfbeck: Autoilija / Motorist (Måns Schjerfbeck), oil on canvas. Photo: Studio Tomi Aho, Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö.
The Model and the Mad Painter, or, 12 Monologues on Finnish Art. At the first floor of the art museum Gösta's old manor, this exhibition boldly breaks the boundaries of a traditional art exhibition. It is a total artwork that combines literary texts with artworks and installation architecture.
    The name of the exhibitions The Model and the Mad painter refers to Akseli Gallen-Kallela, who lived and worked in the late 1880s at Ekola cottage in Keuruu. Among the local people he was consided to be mad and people used to referto him as "the Depictor".
    The exhibition puts on display Finnish art of the Golden Age and as well as Modernism, following the timeline of art history. This time, the well known story of Finnish art will be told from the viewpoint of the models of the artwork, rather than from that of the artists and art history. The owner of Ekola Farm, Eerikki, a nude model posing in an art school in Paris and a butterfly that has landed on worker's trousers have a chance to express their view.
    Fictional texts by Riikka Ala-Harja are backed up by facts from art history. Chief Curator at the Serlachius Museums, Laura Kuurne is curating the exhibition, and its visual expression has been created by Tarja Väätänen, Chief of Exhibitions at the Serlachius Museums.

Akseli Gallen-Kallela at Ekola, Keuruu, 1889 (seven works).
Albert Edelfelt's studio, Paris, 1879-1881. (Girl with a Cat, Girl Reading a Letter)
Akseli Gallen-Kallela's studio, Paris, 1885-1893 (works by Gallen-Kallela, Eero Järnefelt, Albert Edelfelt)
The Academy Drawing Room, Paris, 1882-1937 (works by Helene Schjerfbeck, Edelfelt, Gallen-Kallela, Anders Zorn, Olga Ehrström, Otto Mäkilä, Eero Nelimarkka)
Sea Shore, Bretagne, 1883-1884 (Amélie Lundahl, Elin Danielson-Gambogi)
Koli, Finland, 1890-1908 (Pekka Halonen, Järnefelt, Gallen-Kallela)
Hugo Simberg's studio - and the Entrance to Tuonela, 1898-1929 (Simberg, Schjerfbeck)
Finland, 1910s (Wilho Sjöström, Magnus Enckell, Jalmari Ruokokoski)
Ekola, Keuruu, 1917 (Gallen-Kallela, four works)

AA: Turning the set-up upside down - seeing art from the viewpoint of the model. The fictional narrative has been created by the author Riikka Ala-Harja.
    The model here, however can be a human being as well as a landscape. The exhibition starts with Akseli Gallen-Kallela painting the landscape of Ekola in 1889 and ends by his return there in 1917.
    There are classical nude portraits, and even some rather daring ones. There are self-portraits. And there is even a look into the land of death in the room with oil paintings by Hugo Simberg and Helene Schjerfbeck.
    Also this exhibition is a mix of famous masterpieces and little seen works and sketches.
Akseli Gallén-Kallela: Taiteilija ja hänen mallinsa / The Artist and His Model. A sketch. Oil on canvas. Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö
The miracles do not stop here. There would have been more to see, and four hard cover books have been published by the museum this year, such as:
    Pauli Sivonen: Eija-Liisa Ahtila - Metsässä on lintu / [Eija-Liisa Ahtila - There Is a Bird in the Forest]. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2014. 191 p., illustrated. Serlachius-museoiden julkaisuja.
    Timo Valjakka: SuperPop!: suomalaista ja kansainvälistä pop-taidetta ennen ja nyt / [SuperPop!: Finnish and International Pop Art Then and Now ].The main essay: "Tuhkasta timantteihin" / ["From Ashes to Diamonds"]. Mänttä: Gösta Serlachiuksen taidesäätiö, 2014. Serlachius-museoiden julkaisuja.

We also visited the Mänttä cemetery and the Serlachius family grave with a sculpture by Emil Wikström of Gösta Serlachius.

Suomalainen maisema / Finnish Landscape (an exhibition at Taidekeskus Honkahovi, Mänttä)

Pekka Halonen: Syksyn värejä kalliorinteellä / Autumn Colours on a Rock Slope. Oil on canvas. 1900. Taidesäätiö Merita. Photo: Museokuva Matti Huuhka & Co.
Suomalainen maisema / Finnish Landscape. 7.6.-31.8.2014. An exhibition from the collection of Taidesäätiö Merita / Art Foundation Merita. Taidekeskus Honkahovi, by Mäntänlahti, Kuorevesi. Johtokunnantie 11, 35800 Mänttä.
    The architect of the functionalistic Honkahovi (1938) was Jarl Eklund (1876-1962).
    The owner of Honkahovi is Mäntän Honkahovi Oy, and its main shareholder is Kauko Sorjosen säätiö.
    Exhibition foreword written by Seppo Salmi, the introductory article by Minna Turtiainen.
    Visited on 29 Aug 2014.

1. Eero Nelimarkka: Talvimaisema. Oil on canvas. 71,5x86,5 cm. 1944
2. Tyko Sallinen: Peltomäki. Watercolour in paper. 30,8x40,5 cm. Undated
3. Alfred William Finch: Maisema. Oil on canvas. 27,5x36 cm. 1920s
4. Mikko Carlstedt: Kylämaisema. Oil on paper. 38,5x48 cm. 1917
5. William Lönnberg: Rantapuita. Oil on canvas. 52x46,5 cm. 1913
6. Mikko Oinonen: Maisema. Oil on canvas. 81x100 cm. 1948
7. Ilmari Aalto: Suursaari. 44,5x53,5 cm. 1927
8. Santeri Salokivi: Maisema. Oil on canvas. 1937
9. Wilho Sjöström: Penttilän pappila Viitasaarella. 1932
10. Väinö Hämäläinen: Maisema Hollolasta. Oil on canvas. 1926
11. Thorsten Waenerberg: Ranta-aittoja. Oil on canvas. 1890
12. Albert Gebhard: Rantamaisema Ruovedeltä. Oil on canvas. 1914
13. Pekka Halonen: Syksyn värejä kalliorinteellä. Oil on canvas. 74,5x53 cm. 1900
14. Gunnar Berndtson: Erämaa. Oil on canvas. 1893
15. Berndt Lindholm: Merenranta. Oil on canvas. 1906
16. Thure Sundell: Maisema. Oil on canvas. Undated
17. Berndt Lindholm: Merenrantamaisema. Oil on canvas. 60x93 cm. 1906
18. Hjalmar Munsterhjelm: Maisema Varkaudesta. Oil on canvas. 1872
19. Sigrid Granfelt: Vuohia rantakalliolla (Hiittinen). Oil on canvas. 1898
20. Marcus Collin: Lapin maisema. Oil on canvas. 65x100 cm. 1941
21. Lennart Segerstråle: Pilvinen päivä. Watercolour on paper. 1957
22. Lennart Segerstråle: Syksy puutarhassa. Oil on canvas.1924
23. Pentti Kaskipuro: Pilviä II. Drypoint aquatint. 1962
24. Carl Wargh: Syysmaisema. Watercolour on paper. 1974
25. Helge Dahlman: Rantamaisema. Oil 25x33 cm. 1970
26. Inari Krohn: Talviyö. Oil 120x120 cm. 1983
27. Aukusti Tuhka: Tunturijärvi. Ink on paper. 1936
28. Aukusti Tuhka: Maisema Lapista. Lithography 24,5x44,5 cm. 1949
29. Werner Åström: Talo metsässä. Oil on canvas. 1954
30. Werner Åström: Latomaisema. Oil. 50,5x65 cm. 1969

After the fall of the formely dense Finnish bank office network and the merger of major banks since the great depression of the early 1990s and due the digitalizion of banking services thousands of artworks have lost their homes and been gathered into collections of major foundations such as Art Foundation Merita.

Exhibitions based on the collections of such foundations have been one of the most exhilarating art phenomena of the last decade. The exhibitions at Amos Anderson Art Museum have been big in scope.

At Taidekeskus Honkahovi 30 works are on display. By mostly well-known masters, the selections are not the usual ones. There is an agenda of making discoveries. At the same time the selection is representative, presenting several different top artists over a period of a hundred years.

The exhibition is also a philosophical reflection. The breakthrough of landscape painting in Finland took place in the spirit of national romanticism and national awakening in the 19th century. The original, natural, and untouched landscape became an expression of the national spirit. After the declaration of independence in 1917 the original mission had been accomplished, and there was a new emphasis on urban and industrial landscapes, on built and constructed space. After WWII there was a reborn interest in the remaining territories of wilderness - in Lapland and in the great forests of the north.

On the other hand, major philosophical approaches to landscape painting are covered. "Is the value of the landscape an aesthetic experience conveyed by the painting, a vision of the world of its period, a quasi-documentary record or a mental state reflected into the landscape?" (Minna Turtiainen).

The official agenda was initially promoted by the Russian Empire, but the same images also served Finnish national aspirations.

A specialty of Northern countries is an emphasis on winter landscapes. In more Southern countries there is an implication of death in snowy landscapes. In Northern countries they are simply an aspect of the alternation of the four seasons. If there may be an implication of death in a scene of snowy winter, then death is just seen as a natural phase in the life cycle - but not the end. Spring's awakening is more awesome after a snowy winter.

I like the wide scope of this exibition from the traditional classical landscape paintings by Hjalmar Munsterhjelm and Sigrid Granfelt to the more personal touch of Ilmari Aalto and Marcus Collin and towards the modernist approaches of Carl Wargh, Inari Krohn, and Pentti Kaskipuro.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Beda Stjernschantz (exhibition at Amos Anderson Art Museum)

Beda Stjernschantz: Lasinpuhaltajat / Glasblåsarna / Glassblowers (1894), oil on canvas, K. H. Renlundin museo. Click to enlarge.
Beda Stjernschantz | 1867–1910. Amos Andersonin taidemuseo | Amos Andersons konstmuseum | Amos Anderson Art Museum, Yrjönkatu | Georgsgatan 27, Helsinki. 14 March – 31 August 2014
    Curator: Itha O'Neill
    Oil paintings, watercolours, pencil drawings, charcoal drawings.
    Visited on 24 Aug 2014.

Book:
Itha O'Neill (ed.): Beda Stjernschantz 1867-1910. Ristikkoportin takana / Bakom gallergrinden [Beyond the Gate Grid]. Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2014. Bilingual in Finnish and Swedish. Large format, fully illustrated, 302 p.

Official introduction: "The first ever solo exhibition on the Symbolist artist Beda Stjernschantz (1867–1910) opens to the public on 14 March 2014 at the Amos Anderson Art Museum."

"The exhibition is part of the museum's series of classics that showcases overlooked artists. Beda Maria Stjernschantz is one of the foremost Symbolist artists in Finland, but poor health and financial hardship had dire consequences for her artistic output, which remained small and fragmented. Through a broad survey of her art and newly discovered letters and notes, we are now able to gain deeper insight into the work of one of the most underrated artists in Finnish art history."

"The exhibition highlights lesser-known aspects of Stjernschantz's work such as her landscape paintings and botanical drawings, not forgetting key pieces such as Glassblowers (1894), Everywhere A Voice Invites Us... (1895), Aphorism (1895), Irma (1895–1896) and Pastorale (Primavera, 1897). Comprising some sixty paintings and twenty or so drawings, the exhibition covers nearly all aspects of Stjernschantz's work: early drawings of torsos and plaster casts from the Art Society's Drawing School, figurative and tonal paintings from when she studied at Gunnar Berndtson's private academy, the Synthetist painting she adopted in France, as well as her lifelong interest in mythological subjects, timelessness and spirituality."

"By the first decade of the 20th century Colourism had become the dominant trend in painting, and it became difficult to reconcile these new artistic concepts with Stjernschantz's Symbolist ideals and ascetic palette. Stjernschantz eventually came to be considered passé as an artist. In 1906, she was admitted to the Nummela sanatorium in Röykkä for a period of three months. Having pulmonary tuberculosis, she isolated herself in order to be able to paint undisturbed. In a last effort, she created the distinctly Symbolist works Autumn (1908) and Winter (1908, later lost) that are part of her suite on the seasons – a synthesis of her entire view on art – that she had begun a decade earlier with Pastorale (Primavera, 1897)."

"The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of the first monograph on Stjernschantz, with art historical essays by Anna-Maria von Bonsdorff PhD, Riikka Stewen PhD, Juha-Heikki Tihinen PhD, Edyta Barucka PhD, Marja Lahelma MA, and Bart Pushaw MA. The bilingual (Finnish, Swedish) catalogue is published by the Finnish Literature Society."
(Official introduction)

AA: It is surprising to learn that this is the first solo exhibition of Beda Stjernschantz /'ʃæ:rnskants/, key works of whom are among the most distinctive in Finnish art.

Stjernschantz developed to mature mastery along with her fellow Symbolists and friends Magnus Enckell and Ellen Thesleff. They all studied in Helsinki and Paris and were deeply influenced by Italy. Enckell and Thesleff won recognition. Stjernschantz was marginalized, fought disease and died by her own hand, but the spiritual force of her art remains undiminished.

Symbolism flourished in Finland at the same time as art nouveau and national romanticism. Like the Swede Hilma af Klint, another contemporary who was not fully understood in her own time, Stjernschantz paid a lot of attention to plants and was inspired by the natural, winding forms of their stalks, leaves and flowers.

Stjernschantz was an excellent realist painter, but in her vision there is always also a sense of another, spiritual reality which is what it is really all about.

We witness the artist's development from early realism and vigorous colour to a stark reduction of the external and a growth of an inner personal vision. We enter a realm of allegory and dream. An emblematic work is The Gate Grid (Ristikkoportti) to which the name of the exhibition catalogue refers.

Certain key works are lost, for instance two of the four seasons, but they, too, are covered via relevant sketches.

The book to the exhibition, the first Beda Stjernschantz monograph, has been edited with love by Itha O'Neill. The reproductions give a good impression of the evolution of Stjernschantz's subtle colour world.
Beda Stjernschantz: Ristikkoportti / Gallergrinden / The Gate Grid (1892). Private collection. Photo: Amos / Kari Siltala. Click to enlarge.

Work? (exhibition at Amos Anderson Art Museum)

Aimo Tukiainen: Hitsaaja / A Welder (1976). Bronze. Height 110 cm. Art Foundation Merita. Click to enlarge.
The Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations: Työtäkö? / Arbete? / Work? The changing images of work. From log driving to temping. Amos Andersonin taidemuseo | Amos Andersons konstmuseum | Amos Anderson Art Museum, Yrjönkatu | Georgsgatan 27, Helsinki. 11.4.2014–17.8.2015
    Oil paintings, watercolours, bronzes, screen prints, digital files, large-size cardboard cut-outs, installations, works on gouache, tempera, plaster, charcoal, photographs, magazine collections, clipping archives, and a film excerpt (Risto Jarva: Työmiehen päiväkirja / A Working-Man's Diary, starring the modern artist Paul Osipow).
    Visited on 24 Aug 2014

The official introduction: "Labour of love or forced labour? Hard work is its own reward – or is it? Amos Anderson Art Museum presents Work? an exhibition opening on 10 April that raises questions about the nature of Finnish work and its changing representations. Work as a concept has changed and it is this turning-point that is at the heart of the exhibition. In earlier decades Finnish work was often represented in art through depictions of lumbering, and log driving in particular. A log driver struggling with his load was a romantic and compositionally interesting figure. We have come a long way from driving logs along rivers; work in the 2010s is often independent of time and place. How does one portray the kind of work that cannot be reduced to a single dynamic pose that in most cases mainly involves staring into a computer screen? Visitors are encouraged to ponder their own relationship to work and the meaning/s of work in an age, when new jobs and job descriptions are constantly introduced while "traditional" jobs are becoming extinct."

"The Work? -exhibition at the Amos Anderson Art Museum consists of historically important works from the member collections of the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations that depict labour. Some of the works combine the depiction of physical labour with the study of movement, while the suited members of the disreputable Wednesday Club, a group portrait by Aarne Nopsanen, appear frozen. On display are some 70 works by 31 artists: paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs, video art as well as an installation."

"The change in how work is represented is also evident in the works selected: "Traditional" occupations have be depicted by Alvar Cawén, Pekka Halonen, Lennart Segerstråle, Felix Nylund and Juho Rissanen, while modern work is depicted in works by  Aino-Marjatta Mäki, Jaakko Karhunen, Tuomo Manninen, Meri Peura, Kalle Turakka-Purhonen, and Jussi Valtakari. Documentary photographs from the 1950s from the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas serve to complement the exhibition."

"The exhibition has been produced by the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations (STSY) and curated by Jyrki Siukonen, DFA and post-doc researcher." (the official introduction)

AA: The magnificent exhibitions based on the collections of the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations (STSY) have been among the most exhilarating surveys into the history of Finnish art in recent times. I have been especially fond of the four chronological exhibitions at Amos Anderson Art Museum put on display since 2007 and the accompanying wonderful SKS books. Many essential but hard-to-see works that belong to the art collections of mighty foundations were shown in contexts of inspired curatorial approaches.

Work? belongs to the same series of explorations. Now the approach is thematic, and there is bite in the vision of Jyrki Siukonen the curator. We witness the history of Finnish work starting with traditional hard work, often represented by cinematic lumberjacks captured by many key artists, even including a pop art style interpretation by Unto Pusa as late as 1960 when lumberjacks still existed but were rapidly vanishing.

We proceed to today's precariat - the MacJobs with low pay and no security in our post-industrial societies. Precariousness is hitting more and more severely even such recently lucrative fields as design and advertising. Works relevant to this theme include Jussi Valtakari's Feissari / Face-to-Face Fundraiser (sculpture from linden and watercolour, 2014). There is also an audio montage on today's dreary reality on the labour market.

Among the most startling works exhibited is Aarne Nopsanen's Keskiviikkokerho / The Wednesday Club (oil on canvas, 1959, 210x261 cm, UPM-Kymmene Cultural Foundation) showing the financial and political elite of Finland, including the President of the Republic. One could write a book on the painting. Depicted are some of the most important dramatis personae in the history of the republic, some of their stories reaching back to the period before the independence. It is an essential vision of power in Finnish art. There is a mystery in this painting which represents Capital in this exhibition about Work. How can such a chilling auto-portrait have been commissioned by the powers-that-be themselves?

It is refreshing to see classic works in a context like this. Alwar Caven's Kehtolaulu / Lullaby (1921, oil on canvas) belongs to the works displaying women's work. Juho Rissanen's Seppä / The Blacksmith (1907, oil on canvas) is powerful and elemental. Aimo Tukiainen's Hitsaaja / The Welder (1976, bronze) is an expression of the joy of work.