Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Cléo de 5 à 7 / Cleo from 5 to 7

Cléo viidestä seitsemään / Cléo från fem till sju. FR/IT 1961. PC: Rome-Paris Films. P: Carlo Ponti, Georges de Beauregard. D+SC: Agnès Varda. DP: Jean Rabier – Gevaert or Eastmancolor, prologue in colour, then b&w – 1,66. AD: Bernard Evein. M: Michel Legrand. Songs: Michel Legrand (m.), Agnès Varda (lyr.). Starring: Corinne Marchand (Cléo), Dorothée Blank (Dorothée), Antoine Bourseiller (Antoine), Michel Legrand (Bob), Dominique Davray (Angèle), José-Luis de Villalonga (lover), Jean-Luc Godard, Anna Karina, Eddie Constantine, Sami Frey, Danielle Delorme, Yves Robert, Jean-Claude Brialy, Alan Scott. 90 min. A vintage print with beautiful definition with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Aito Mäkinen / Maya Vanni viewed at Orion, Helsinki 28 Sep 2005.

This Nouvelle Vague film has lost none of its charm and vitality of experimentation. A few hours in the life of a popular singer who is expecting the verdict of a doctor as she is suspecting cancer. The film is packed with vibrancy, and a sense of Paris. The Tarot cards predict death, and Cléopatra experiences everything with an extra charge of premonition. The film is divided into 12 chapters. Cléo meets many important people in her life, including her maid, her lover, her composer (Michel Legrand funny as himself!), her girlfriend. The silent comedy pastiche features Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina. Otherwise it's a brilliant showcase of Varda's fine documentary instinct. As for Jean Rabier's cinematography, I have never seen anything more beautiful than this. The story comes to an end in the park as Cléo meets a soldier of the Algerian war on the leave, and together they learn that the doctor's verdict is not that bad.

25 vuotta Suomen itsenäisyyttä

25 Years of Finnish Independence. FI 1942. PC: Valtion tiedotuslaitos. D: Topo Leistelä. M: Nils-Eric Fougstedt. Film Control: A-1725, 4.12.1942 – 400 m / 14´37". From a scratched master. Swedish subtitles. Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. The official history of independent Finland focuses on the presidents: there is (even rare/unique?) footage of Mannerheim, Ståhlberg, Svinhufvud, Kallio, Relander, Ryti. Marches celebrating the 1918 war, building the Parliament house, an industrial montage (streams, power stations, the great SOK cooperative), building the Olympic stadium. Finland, the outpost of the West in the North. The Winter war. The funeral of President Kallio. The declaration of war by Ryti. Epic views of the devastation of the war and harvesting the crops, to the impressive music by Fougstedt.

Suomi taistelee, Osa 1

Finland Fights Part I. FI 1941. PC: Puolustusvoimat. DP: the Signal Corps cinematographers. ED: Turo Kartto 696 m / 25´26". A silent version. Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Landscapes, the Polar Circle, winter warriors, burning barns. Animation on Finnish lost territories of the Winter War. Bitter scenes of refugees and their abandoned property. Epic views of hundreds of thousands on the march. Montage of the seasons: winter, spring, summer. The big flag is raised. The Soviet air raids, air defense, ruins of castles, impressive montages. Mannerheim mounts a train, long bicycle marches, mounted soldiers, camouflaged bazookas. Animation on the regaining of the lost territories. The march on the Karelian peninsula. Guns a'blazing, men on the march, a giant bridge in ruins, flamethrower. Animation follows the various attack wedges on the Karelian peninsula from the north to the south, culminating in the regaining of Viipuri. The film impresses visually even without sound.

Marssilaulu (Sillanpään marssilaulu)

The Sillanpää Anthem. FI 1941. PC: Puolustusvoimat. Film Control: A-1590, 11.7.1941 – 85 m / 3´06". Beta-cam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. A propaganda "music video" to Sillanpää's anthem, visually expressive, beautiful montage.

Savon väestönsuojeluharjoitus 1938

Civilian Protection Field Practice in Savo 1938. FI 1938. PC: Suomen Kaasusuojelujärjestö, Puolustusvoimat. Film Control: A-952, 16.4.1938 – 220 m / 8´02". Silent, b&w. Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Iisalmi, general views, snowy fields.

Pohjois-Uudenmaan sk-piirin kesäsotaharjoitus 1931

Summer War Field Practice of the Voluntary Militia of North Uusimaa 1931. Suomi 1931. PC: Sk-yliesikunta Film Control: 16980, 7.10.1931 – 305 m / 11´09". Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Silent, tinted. The Tuusula valley, aerial footage, mounting the signal network, guns in their positions, infantry in attack formation, fine footage of men in the dusk, bringing the machine guns over the river.

Maanpuolustuspäivä Turussa 6.4.1930

The Day of Defense in Turku 6 April 1930. FI 1930. PC: Sk-yliesikunta Film Control: 16362, 20.5.1930 – 170 m / 6´13". Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Silent, from a beautiful tinted master. Long panning shots of Turku, big military exercises with tanks on a large clearing, complete with all aspects of warfare.

Lottien valistus- ja leiripäivät suojeluskuntain päällystökoululla Tuusulassa kesällä 1927

The WAC Camp at Tuusula in the Summer of 1927. FI 1927. PC: Sk-yliesikunta. DP: Anton Podworsky – 133 m / 4´52". Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Silent, from a beautiful toned master. Beautiful scenes of morning gymnastics and swimming.

Jalkaväen Kapitulanttikoulu 1926

The Military Academy of the Infantry, Suomi 1926. PC: Puolustusvoimat – 357 m / 13´03". Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Silent, toned. The many aspects of officer training. Some beautiful scenery and footage of men running and jumping over fords.

Pyöräilykilpailu Hämeenlinna – Helsinki v. 1922

Cycling Contest Hämeenlinna - Helsinki 1922. Suomi 1922. PC: Puolustusvoimat – 98 m / 3´35". Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Silent, toned, overspeed. Amongst the earliest films for the Finnish Armed Forces, beautiful footage.

Porin rykmentti Turussa

The Pori Regiment in Turku. Suomi 1922. PC: Puolustusvoimat – 42 m / 1´32". Betacam, alas. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. Silent, from a beautiful toned master, overspeed. Amongst the earliest films for the Finnish Armed Forces, some beautiful shots, and no sense of camera movement.

In the Core of Documentary 22: The Finnish Army Presents I

Dokumentin ytimessä 22: Puolustusvoimat esittää I / I dokumentens kärna 22: Försvarsmakten presenterar I.
80 Years of Cinematography of the Finnish Armed Forces / Puolustusvoimien elokuvaustoiminta 80 vuotta / Försvarsmaktens filmupptagning 80 år

CONTENTS:
Porin rykmentti Turussa, 1922
Pyöräilykilpailu Hämeenlinna – Helsinki v. 1922
Jalkaväen Kapitulanttikoulu 1926
Lottien valistus- ja leiripäivät suojeluskuntain päällystökoululla Tuusulassa kesällä 1927
Maanpuolustuspäivä Turussa 6.4.1930
Pohjois-Uudenmaan sk-piirin kesäsotaharjoitus 1931
Savon väestönsuojeluharjoitus 1938
Marssilaulu (Sillanpään marssilaulu), 1941
Suomi taistelee, Osa 1, 1941
25 vuotta Suomen itsenäisyyttä, 1942

A Betacam (alas) compilation viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 28 Sep 2005. The excellent compilation, cinema lobby exhibition and programme notes by Harri Hirvonen. The last two films of the compilation are especially valuable.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Valiant

Valiant / Valiant. GB/US (c) 2005 Vanguard Animation UK. P: John H. Williams. D: Gary Chapman. SC: Jordan Katz, George Webster, George Melrod. AN-D: Richard Purdum. AN: Quentin Miles, Michael Schlingmann, Emil Simeonov, Alan Sperling, Tony Thorne, Ray Van Steenwyk. PD: John Byrne. M: George Fenton. Performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and The Central Band of the Royal Air Force. ED: Jim Stewart. Voice talent: Valiant (Ewan McGregor/Pete Lattu), Bugsy (Ricky Gervais/Petri Liski), Von Talon (Tim Curry/Sasu Moilanen), Mercury (John Cleese/Juha Muje), Felix (John Hurt/Aarre Karén), Monty (Jim Broadbent/Seppo Pääkkönen), Gutsy (Hugh Laurie/Santeri Kinnunen), Cufflingk (Rik Mayall/Jukka Rasila), Victoria (Olivia Williams/Saara Lehtonen), Lofty (Pip Torrens/Taisto Oksanen), Toughwood (Brian Lonsdale/Kari Hietalahti), Tailfeather (Dan Roberts/Antti Jaakola), Charles De Girl (Rinna Paatso). Computer animation. 77 min. A Scanbox Finland Oy release viewed at Tennispalatsi 5, Helsinki, 25 Sep 2005. The official synopsis: "Valiant, a CGI animated family comedy from Vanguard Animation, tells the story of a little wood pigeon, Valiant, with big dreams. He, along with his misfit friends, joins the very elite Royal Homing Pigeon Service, and against all odds, triumphs where their much better qualified colleagues have failed. It is Valiant’s determination that, together with an unbridled courage, turns a little country pigeon into an adventurer and, finally, a hero." Another quality entry in the great animation boom of the last ten years. It's a comedy animation version of the Battle of Britain war adventure stories. According to the end credits, 32 carrier pigeons earned the Dickin Medal for their WWII feats. Matthew Leyland in Sight & Sound points out the resemblance to the Allo, Allo stereotypes in the characters.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Seven Year Itch

Kesäleski. US © 1955 Charles K. Feldman Group Productions. PC: 20th Century-Fox. P: Charles K. Feldman, Billy Wilder. D: Billy Wilder. SC: Wilder, George Axelrod – based on the play by Axelrod (1952). DP (DeLuxe, CinemaScope): Milton Krasner. M: Alfred Newman; Rachmaninov: The Second Piano Concerto; Chopsticks. PD: Lyle Wheeler, George W. Davis. COST: Travilla. Credits design: Saul Bass. ED: Hugh Fowler. N: Marilyn Monroe (The Girl), Tom Ewell (Richard Sherman), Evelyn Keyes (Helen Sherman), Sonny Tufts (Tom McKenzie), Robert Strauss (Kruhulik), Oskar Homolka (tri Brubaker), Victor Moore (the plumber). 105'. DVD (Finland): from Marilyn Monroe the Diamond Collection released by FS Film/Fox, 2002. Viewed at home in Helsinki, 24 Sep 2005. This lovely film has its drawbacks with too much talk and too much clumsiness in the ending. But Tom Ewell is great as the paperback editor, and Marilyn Monroe is at her best as The Girl Upstairs. With repeat viewings the funniness of the comedy focuses on the fact that Marilyn wouldn't mind if any of Richard Sherman's fantasies would come true, but the guy is too nervous to even notice. Of the two characters, Richard Sherman is a product of his time whereas Marilyn is modern/ageless. Of the limitations of the cardboard character, she creates something warm, radiating and wonderful. - The Diamond Collection DVD master is the best ever seen in home viewing. The colour is beautiful, the transfer brilliant. The extras include slightly longer versions of the bathtub sequence (the plumber drops his wrench to the tub and plunges his hand to the bottom to recover it from there to Marilyn's delight) and the subway grille scene.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Opri

Opri. FI 1954. PC: Suomen Filmiteollisuus. P: T.J. Särkkä. D: Edvin Laine. SC: Olavi Veistäjä - based on the play by Kyllikki Mäntylä (1953). DP: Pentti Unho. AD: Karl Fager. M: Heikki Aaltoila. S: Kaarlo Nissilä. ED: Armas Vallasvuo. Starring Rakel Laakso (Opri), Elsa Turakainen (Akviliina), Elna Hellman (Miina), Liisa Pakarinen (Tiina), Ossi Kostia (Otto Arolin), Eero Roine (Alpertti), Sylvi Salonen (the Head of the Seniors' Home), Marjatta Kallio (Heinäsirkka, the nurse), Kosti Klemelä (Jussi the farmhand). 78 min. A vintage print with signs of wear but a good definition. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 21 Sep 2005. The magnificent interpretation of Rakel Laakso carries the picture and makes it worthwhile. Such a portrait probably will be called immortal in the future. It takes place at a senior people's home where Opri becomes the light of the inhabitants' lives. She is a seer, a dreamer who compares herself to Joseph, maybe a (white) witch. Rakel Laakso knows what she's doing but the film has been put together in a hurry. Laine keeps missing points and sinks too often into the lowbrow. The epic aspect is promising with montages of lost Karelia, the challenge of after-war reconstruction, and daily work. Besides Opri another bright character is Marjatta Kallio's nurse; also Sylvi Salonen is fine as the mistress of the house. But there is too much that is contrived and repetitive here despite the short duration.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Bitter Tea of General Yen

USA 1933 © 1932 Columbia Pictures. EX: Harry Cohn. P: Walter Wanger. D: Frank Capra. SC: Edward Paramore – based on the novel by Grace Zaring Stone (1930). DP: Joseph Walker. M: W. Franke Harling. ED: Edward Curtis. Starring Barbara Stanwyck (Megan Davis), Nils Asther (kenraali Yen), Toshia Mori (Mah-Li), Walter Connolly (Jones), Gavin Gordon (Dr. Robert Strike, Bob). 88'. A low contrast print. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 20 Sep 2005. An exceptional film in Capra's career, a Sternbergian romance produced by Wanger, with Joseph Walker showing his ability to create a strong exotic atmosphere. Set in the turmoil of war-torn China, the warlord (Asther) rescues an American missionary (Stanwyck). One of the most important interracial love stories of its time besides Broken Blossoms. As in Forbidden, the sad, quiet, lingering close-ups seem profoundly felt.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Forbidden

US © 1932 Columbia Pictures. P: Harry Cohn. D: Frank Capra. SC: Jo Swerling – from a story by Capra. DP: Joseph Walker. MA: Mont Westmore. Sound: Edward Bernds. ED: Maurice Wright. Starring Barbara Stanwyck (Lulu Smith), Adolphe Menjou (Bob Grover), Ralph Bellamy (Al Holland), 86'. A beautiful Sony Columbia print viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 17 Sep 2005. This neglected film is a deeply felt melodrama with Stanwyck in a strong role. The storyline is Back Street: the woman (Stanwyck) involved with a married man (Menjou) and rejecting the man who loves only her (Bellamy). It's set in the familiar Capra newsroom milieu: Bellamy is an editor-in-chief and Stanwyck is first a newspaper librarian who then becomes the newspaper's love advice expert, "Mary Sunshine", in a funny distancing device. There is also a Stella Dallas storyline as Stanwyck lets her daughter be raised in Menjou's childless household and is herself shut off of her daughter's life. She becomes a lethal mother lion when Bellamy threatens to expose Menjou. Most impressive is the visual form given to this story. The quiet lingering close-ups convey the sense of a lost life. A fine entry for Capra, Stanwyck and the brilliant cinematographer Joseph Walker.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Robin Hoodin seikkailut / Robin Hoods äventyr. US © 1938 Warner Bros. P: Hal B. Wallis. D: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley. SC: Norman Reilly Raine, Seton I. Miller – based on the English folk tales. DP (Technicolor): Sol Polito, Tony Gaudio. M: Erich Wolfgang Korngold. AD: Carl Jules Weyl. COST: Milo Anderson. ED: Ralph Dawson. N: Errol Flynn (Sir Robin of Locksley / Robin Hood), Olivia de Havilland (Maid Marian), Basil Rathbone (Sir Guy de Gisbourne), Claude Rains (Prince John), Patric Knowles (Will Scarlett), Eugene Pallette (Friar Tuck), Alan Hale (Little John), Melville Cooper (the sheriff of Nottingham), Ian Hunter (King Richard Lionheart), Una O’Connor (Bess). 103'. The Warner Bros. 65th Anniversary restored version (2003). Print check viewing at Orion, Helsinki, 15 Sep 2005. Although there have been several film adaptations of the Robin Hood legend, this is still the one, a top adventure film, in a high spirit from the beginning to the end. It's expensive but not heavy, and there is a great sense of humour all through the picture. A good sense of spectacle, action, and ensemble playing. - A wonderful, immaculate print, the colour definition both in intimate close-ups and in great scenes of spectacle in good taste. They say it's digitally restored; if that's true, for the first time, I could not tell the difference from a brilliant photochemical master.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Bugs Bunny & Co.: Warner Bros. Cartoons I

Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 11 Sep 2005.

Ride Him, Bosko! US 1933. PC: Leon Schlesinger Studios, The Vitaphone Corporation. DIST: Warner Bros. P: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising, Leon Schlesinger. D: Hugh Harman. AN: Norm Blackburn, Friz Freleng. M: Frank Marsales. Characters: Hugh Harman, Rudolf Ising (animaattorit). Voices: Rochelle Hudson (Honey), Carmen Maxwell (Bosko). B&w, Vitaphone – Looney Tunes – Bosko. A nitrate print. Furiously parodic Western nonsense.

Those Were Wonderful Days. US 1934. PC: Leon Schlesinger Studios. DIST: Warner Bros. P: Leon Schlesinger. D: Bernard B. Brown. AN: Paul J. Smith, Don Williams. M: Norman Spencer. B&w – Merrie Melodies. An OK 16mm print. A variety parody of the Gay Nineties.

The Fire Alarm. US 1936. PC: Leon Schlesinger Studios. DIST: Warner Bros. P: Leon Schlesinger. D: Jack King. AN: Ben Clopton, Robert McKimson. M: Norman Spencer. B&w – Looney Tunes – Ham and Ex. An OK 16mm print. The story of two rascals who wreak havoc at the fire station.

Porky in Wackyland. US 1938. PC: Leon Schlesinger Studios. DIST: Warner Bros. P: Leon Schlesinger. D: Robert Clampett. AN: Izzy Ellis, Norm McCabe. M: Carl W. Stalling. Voice talent: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig, The Do-Do, various Wackyland citizens). B&w - 7 min – Looney Tunes – Porky Pig. The wild chase of the reportedly extinct Do-Do bird.

Scalp Trouble. US 1939. PC: Leon Schlesinger Studios. DIST: Warner Bros. P: Leon Schlesinger. D: Robert Clampett. SC: Ernest Gee. AN: Norm McCabe. M: Carl W. Stalling. Voice talent: Mel Blanc (Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Jerry Colonna Indian). B&w 7 min – Looney Tunes – Daffy Duck, Porky Pig. Duck is the head of a cavalry outpost in Indian territory. Having swallowed bullets he turns into a live machine gun against the Sioux.

Porky's Picnic. US 1939. PC: Leon Schlesinger Studios. DIST: Warner Bros. P: Leon Schlesinger. D: Robert Clampett. AN: Robert Cannon, Vive Risto. M: Carl W. Stalling. Voice Talent: Mel Blanc (Porky Pig), Bernice Hansen (Petunia Pig, Pinky Pig). B&w - 7 min – Merrie Melodies – Porky Pig, Petunia Pig. Porky and Petunia's picnic is destroyed by the sadistic baby Pinky.

Hot Cross Bunny. US 1948. PC: Warner Bros. D: Robert McKimson. SC: Warren Foster. AN: Phil DeLara, Manny Gould, Charles McKimson. Backgrounds: Richard H. Thomas. Layout: Cornett Wood. M: Carl W. Stalling. Voice talent: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, the doctor). Colour. 7 min – Merrie Melodies – Bugs Bunny. The doctor wants to switch the brains of a chicken and Bugs Bunny, but having given a good show in front of the audience Bugs trades places with the doctor.

Hare Splitter. US 1948. PC: Warner Bros. P: Edward Selzer. D: Friz Freleng. SC: Tedd Pierce. AN: Ken Champin, Gerry Chiniquy, Manuel Perez, Virgil Ross. Backgrounds: Paul Julian. Layout: Hawley Pratt. M: Carl W. Stalling. Voice talent: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Casbah). Colour. 7 min – Merrie Melodies – Bugs Bunny. Bugs dresses as Daisy Lou to mislead his rival Casbah.

The Foghorn Leghorn. US 1948. PC: Warner Bros. P: Edward Selzer. D: Robert McKimson. SC: Warren Foster. AN: Pete Burness, John Carey, Phil DeLara, Manny Gould, Charles McKimson. Backgrounds: Richard H. Thomas. Layout: Cornett Wood. M: Carl W. Stalling. Voice talent: Mel Blanc (Foghorn Leghorn, Barnyard Dawg, Henery Hawk, Grandpa Hawk). Technicolor. 6 min – Merrie Melodies – Foghorn Leghorn, Henery Hawk. The dumb hawk misses his targets and has to endure the eternal lectures of Foghorn Leghorn.

Hare Do. US 1949. PC: Warner Bros. D: Friz Freleng. SC: Tedd Pierce. AN: Ken Champin, Gerry Chiniquy, Manuel Perez, Virgil Ross. Backgrounds: Paul Julian. Layout: Hawley Pratt. M: Carl W. Stalling. Voice talent: Mel Blanc (Bugs Bunny, Usher), Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmeri). PCA 12155. Technicolor. 7 min – Merrie Melodies – Bugs Bunny. Elmer chases Bugs with a wabbit detector, but Bugs fools him in a cinema with his changing masks.

Tukkijoella (1928) Oskar Merikanto Film Concert (Helsinki, arranged by Tuula Hällström)

Stockflötarna / Log River. FI 1928. PC: Suomi-Filmi. P+SC: Erkki Karu - based on the musical comedy by Teuvo Pakkala (1899) with music by Oskar Merikanto. D: Axel Slangus, Wilho Ilmari. DP: Frans Ekebom. PD: Carl Fager. M for the cinemas arranged by Emil Kauppi. ED: Axel Slangus, Frans Ekebom. Starring Urho Somersalmi (Turkka), Ellen Sylvin (Pietolan Katri), Mary Spennert-Hannikainen (Anni), Litja Ilmari (Pahna-Maija), Olga Salo (Leena), Kirsti Suonio (Maija Rivakka), Eino Salmela (rättäri), Paavo Costiander (Huotari), Ossi Korhonen (Pölhö-Kustaa), Heikki Välisalmi (Tolari). 2852 m /24 fps/ 103 min. Finnish / Swedish intertitles. Toned print from the 2005 restoration master by Suomen elokuva-arkisto. Mostly a beautiful print, some shots in low contrast. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 11 Sep 2005. (See also 9 April 2005.)

THE FILM CONCERT. Jussi Myllys (tenor), Veli Kujala (accordeon), Paula Nykänen (violin), Markus Hohti (cello), Tuula Hällström (piano). Arranged by Tuula Hällström (2005) based on the original score by Emil Kauppi (1928) based on the original music by Oskar Merikanto (1899).

Tunes included BY OSKAR MERIKANTO: Kun päivä paistaa, Vielä niitä honkia humisee, Hän kulkevi kuin yli kukkien, Keijukaisten karkelo, Tule!, Haave, Tukkipoika se lautallansa, Kuin hiipuva hiillos tummentuu, Kullan murunen, Marssi vanhoilta ajoilta, Kesäillan valssi, BY GABRIEL LINSEN: Kesäpäivä Kangasalla, ARRANGED BY EMIL KAUPPI: Potpourri Pasi Jääskeläisen lauluista, FINNISH FOLK SONGS: Tuoll on mun kultani, Ol' kaunis kesäilta.

A beautiful film concert expertly and movingly interpreted by the five young musicians in the true Oskar Merikanto spirit. - The music was far superior to the film. I heard that in the second screening the audience even liked the film because the music was strong enough to carry even it!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Madagascar

US (c) 2005 DreamWorks Animation. P: Mireille Soria. D: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. SC: Mark Burton, Billy Frolick, Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath. AN: Denis Couchon; Paul Chung, Donnachada Daly, Trey Thomas. PD: Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin. AD: Shannon Jeffries. M: Hans Zimmer. ED: H. Lee Peterson. Finnish-language edition by Annamari Metsävainio/Tuotantotalo Werne: Petteri Summanen (Alex), Mikko Leppilampi (Marty), Laura Voutilainen (Gloria), Janne Reinikainen (Melman), Puntti Valtonen (Skipper), Antti Pääkkönen (King Julien). 87' Computer animation. A Buena Vista International Finland release spoken in Finnish viewed at Kinopalatsi 2, 10 Sep 2005. The cultivated animals from the Central Park Zoo, Manhattan, are dreaming of "going native", but the dream turns into a threatening reality as they are stranded into a real jungle in Madagascar. The side story is about four penguins who find Antarctica too cold for comfort. A funny and well-made film that would stand out even better if this were not the golden age of animation.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Your Job in Germany

US April 1945. PC: 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment, Special Services Division, U.S. Army. No personal credit titles in the film. [In charge of production: Frank Capra, with a mighty staff of film professionals]. A fine Imperial War Museum print. 15'. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 9 Sept 2005. Vertovian. Whereas the Why We Fight films are propaganda, this piece is agitation in the pure Vertovian sense of montage as rhythm. German history of militarism, under Bismarck, Wilhelm II, Hitler. Tomorrow the world. We almost lost. Montages on suffering. A great sense of rhythm. Can it happen again? Don't relax. Two million ex-Nazi officials out of uniform. The German youth is the most dangerous, poisoned, soaked, the worst education in crime, trained to hate and to destroy. Don't argue. Don't make friends. Don't shake the hand that hailed Hitler, that bombed and destroyed, that held the whip over slaves. The phony peace / war has come to an end.

Why We Fight 7: War Comes to America

US 1943. PC: 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment, Special Services Division, U.S. Army. No personal credit titles in the film. [In charge of production: Frank Capra, with a mighty staff of film professionals]. A fine Imperial War Museum print. 72'. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 9 Sept 2005. Montages on wars, on America. Walter Huston's voice summarizing the history of America, the ideals of freedom and equality. The memorable years written in lightning. In this brotherhood, America was born. The poem of Lazarus. As strangers to one another we came. Multi-ethnicity. A montage on the great years of building the US. Five times blood freely shed. Children, schools. The American way of life, of fast food and free press and highways. 1917: make the world safe for democracy. The Nazis: tomorrow the world. Gallup polls summarize the great change in US opinion. Dean Acheson. The course of WWII from the 1931 Manchurian campaign. A brilliant animation on the German-Japanese strategy against the US. The strategic importance of South America. Brazil, Equador, Argentina. Havana Conference. The horrific scenario of the progress of Japan and Germany, on the threshold of reigning over seventy percent of the world. Why we aid Russia and China. December 7th. Roosevelt's declaration of war. A great ending to a great series.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Negro Soldier

US 1944. PC: 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment, Special Services Division, U.S. Army. No personal credit titles in the film. [In charge of production: Frank Capra, with a mighty staff of film professionals. SC: Carlton Moss, D: Stuart Heisler]. A fine Imperial War Museum print. 41'. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 8 Sept 2005. "Joshua fit the battle of Jericho". Black audience at church hears the wise sermon of preacher Carlton Moss. The black American history summarized. Hitler's thoughts on the black people are quoted. A mother reads a letter from her son, which is illustrated as a montage sequence of a soldier's path in US Army. West Point, Tuskegee. A montage on the tasks of war. Paying homage to the war heroes.

Why We Fight 6: The Battle of China

US 1944. PC: 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment, Special Services Division, U.S. Army. No personal credit titles in the film. [In charge of production: Frank Capra, with a mighty staff of film professionals]. A fine Imperial War Museum print. 63'. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 8 Sept 2005. This film was for me the biggest revelation of all in terms of historical information. It covers the Japanese aggression on China since 1931. It summarizes 4000 years of Chinese culture; how the divided country became a nation under the Japanese attack. Sun Yat-Sen the Chinese Lincoln. The Tanaka Plan: Manchuria, Shanghai, Jehol. Stunning animation on the Japanese strategy. Chiang Kai-Shek. The greatest mass migration ever recorded. Unforgettable epic images on the millions on the move. The air war. The Chinese armament. The Burma Road: breathtaking epic sequence. General Chennault's Flying Tigers. The course of the Yellow River changed (!). The Chinese guerrilla war. The great distances, the rivers, the marshes. The Tanaka Plan slowed down in China. Phase 3: the Pacific - phase 4: the US. Changsha, again a stunning animation. Madame Chiang Kai-Shek addressing the Congress. This Why We Fight film, the most criticized one, was for me the most precious one.

Why We Fight 5: The Battle of Russia

US 1943. PC: 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment, Special Services Division, U.S. Army. No personal credit titles in the film. [In charge of production: Frank Capra, with a mighty staff of film professionals]. A fine Imperial War Museum print. 81'. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 8 Sept 2005. For James Agee, the mightiest American war movie ever besides The Birth of a Nation. It is the film about the greatest war operation in history: Operation Barbarossa. USSR, a sixth of the earth, is presented in its multi-ethnicity and variety of resources. Hitler's way to the Eastern war is summarized: Hungary, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria. Albania, Greece. The giant attack of 22 June 1941 focusing on the directions of Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. The animations of strategy are excellent, illuminating the German wedge and trap and the Russian defense in depth strategies. The cities as strongholds. Sevastopol. Beautiful montages of faces. The Russian strategy of scorched earth; destroyed giant dams. Guerilla war. The Volokolamsk highway. The museums of Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy vandalized. Great emotional force in footage on Russians burying their loved ones. Retreat in spring 1942: the legend of Nazi invincibility defeated. The siege of Leningrad, a powerful sequence; the road to life across Lake Ladoga. The strategic meaning of Stalingrad for the whole war. Everything else in WWII was a prelude to Stalingrad. Finally the Germans get to taste their own wedge and trap strategy. The greatest battle in history, the turning-point of WWII. Finns under Mannerheim are not mentioned together with Hungary, Rumania, and Bulgaria as Hitlerite allies; Finns are mentioned as co-belligerents in Operation Barbarossa, with a strategic importance in the siege of Leningrad. This films omits any critical remark on Stalin's Russia. In WHY WE FIGHT, Finland is first mentioned here, and fleetingly in the same context in the last film. In its bias, still extremely impressive.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Tunisian Victory

Voitto Tunisiassa / Seger i Tunisien. US/GB 1944. U.S. Army Bureau of Public Relations / British Ministry of Information. No personal on-screen credits. [P+D: Frank Capra, Hugh Stewart. Additional reconstructed footage: John Huston. SC: J.L. Hodson, Anthony Veiller, Roy Boulting, Alfred Black. M: Dimitri Tiomkin. Commentary read by Leo Genn, Anthony Veiller. Voice of US soldier Adams: Burgess Meredith, voice of UK soldier Metcalf: Bernard Miles]. AFI: 85'. Finnish release: 76'. The vintage Finnish nitrate print released by Väinän Filmi 60 years ago viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 3 Sep 2005. In Huston and Capra biographies this film is harshly dealt with as a fabrication. Now it does not look any different from the Why We Fight series. Probably the harshness of the criticism is based on the fact that so many involved in the actual battle were able to compare the film with the reality. It is a work of montage, as are the Why We Fight films, and it's based on an idea, a concept, and the film is an illustration of the concept. The most impressive points are conveyed via animation. One has to congratulate the way the film manages to convey a strong idea of strategy and simultaneously a feeling of the mess of reality. The strategic weight of the African campaign is very clearly expressed. It was the turning-point in the Western Allies' war against Hitler. The triple strike in Casablanca, Algiers and Oran. The heavy weather: the rain season, the winter, the casualties. The strategic air command. The new strategy of the air force. The historical links to Scipio, Hannibal. Soldiers at war and play. The suffering of the civilians, the children. The returning civilians. The importance of the mules. A memorable shot of Jewish kids: it's now OK to take the yellow star off. Rommel's genius and backlash for the Allied. The ingenious Cylinder Strategy of the Allied. Alexander and Cunningham. The magnificent final campaign: Hill 609, Goubellet Plain, Longstop Hill, Djebel Mansour, Takrouna. A staccato blitz montage of images, in themselves incomprehensible, only made meaningful via the animated maps. "The spark plug was ours", and now they are given all we've got. The Nazis get what they'd been giving us. Split into four, the Nazis surrender, 266.000 of them, fully equipped. Montages of the wreckage. A montage of the union of nations and people of all countries, laughing children. Africa is free, Europe that much nearer to - the giant V.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Why We Fight 4: The Battle of Britain

US 1943. PC: 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment, Special Services Division, U.S. Army. No personal credit titles in the film. [In charge of production: Frank Capra, with a mighty staff of film professionals]. A fine Imperial War Museum print. 42'. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 30 Aug 2005. Impressive footage of Hitler examining the Eiffel Tower starts the film. "Where Napoleon failed I shall succeed". The German military strategy to take Britain is startlingly summarized, with brilliant animation. The German material supremacy is overwhelming, but Britain starts to arm. Churchill: "we shall never surrender". Luftwaffe vs. the RAF is the main action of this film. The ports take terrible pounding. Learning from their allies' mistakes, the Brits keep their planes scattered and hidden. New tacticts: the German bomb factories, change formations. The hell over coastal defenders. Next step: terrorizing London, to demoralize Britain. The Blitz over London, the Luftwaffe's greatest effort. Devastation in London, Buckingham Palace, Fleet Street, St. Paul's Cathedral. Next step: night attacks, to terrorize the people to cry for mercy. People rise in the morning to witness the wreckage. "The British spirit stronger than ever". The RAF starts to counter-attack, targeting Bremen. Hitler cries 1000-fold revenge. Coventry smashed. Montages on work, on life under the Blitz, Christmas in the subway. Next step: millions of fire bombs to burn London. Vital water mains shattered when Thames was at its lowest ebb. This was the people's war, and the people wouldn't panic. The Battle of Britain was won, and not by Hitler. Gone was the legend of their invincibility. Churchill: never in history has so much been accomplished for so many by so few. Very effective propaganda.

Why We Fight 3: Divide and Conquer

US 1943. PC: 834th Signal Service Photographic Detachment, Special Services Division, U.S. Army. No personal credit titles in the film. [In charge of production: Frank Capra, with a mighty staff of film professionals]. A fine Imperial War Museum print. 57'. Viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 31 Aug 2005. In direct continuation to Why We Fight 2, this focuses on the reaction of Poland's Western allies: England's declaration of war (with Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc.), and the Nazis' strategy of divide and conquer. To reach better England, they target Norway, occupying Denmark on the way. The tactics of "Trojan horse" merchant ships is depicted. Images of winter war in Norway. France is the main subject of this film. There was Marshal Foch of WWI: "J'attaque!". There is André Maginot of WWII: I defend. The Maginot Line is magnificent, and the German strategy is not to go near it. The Kellogg-Briand pact. The disillusioned nation, six million lost in WWI, the flower of a generation, the spirit of the phony war. Hitler's strategy is portrayed as an illuminative animation. How they take Holland, bomb Rotterdam, how Belgium is taken, the genius of the German engineers in bombing and building bridges for tanks. Little villages destroyed to create crowds of refugees to stop the light armies. While the Allies flank the main thrust is in the Ardennes, the mightiest army ever. Tremendous concentration of firepower. Brilliant animation helps understand the genius of the German attack. Dunkirk: one of the greatest disasters of military history. Memorable epic footage. Hitler and the statue of Foch, French leaders forced to sign treaty with Hitler in Foch's coach. Two million French hostages taken to concentration camps. Hitler on the Champs-Elysées. La Marseillaise: soul born again. Rhetorically excellent war propaganda.

Aaltoska orkaniseeraa

Aaltoska i sitt ässe / [Mrs. Aaltonen Organizes]. FI 1949. PC: Suomen Filmiteollisuus. P: T.J. Särkkä. D: Edvin Laine. Assistant D: Matti Kassila. SC: Topias. DP: Osmo Harkimo. AD: Aarre Koivisto. M: Heikki Aaltoila. S: Taisto Lindegren. ED: Armas Vallasvuo. Starring: Elna Hellman (Aaltoska), Veli-Matti Kaitala (Jukka Lehtinen), Hannes Häyrinen (crime reporter Lipponen), Kalle Viherpuu (the janitor Aaltonen), Ritva-Leena (Kaarina Hillevi Mäenpää), Pikku-Annika (Irmeli Lehtinen). 70'. A brilliant safety print viewed at Orion, Helsinki, 31 Aug 2005. The producer Särkkä brought his both child stars, Veli-Matti and Little Annika, together in a run-of-the-mill film with surefire ingredients. There is even a theme song, which is sung by Mrs. Aaltonen before the credits and continued by Mr. Aaltonen in the end. The tyrannical janitor's wife reigns in the courtyard, the janitor hardly daring to emerge from the boiler room. It is the era of heavy regulation of rented apartments, and there is an obligation to make spare rooms available for tenants. It is also the era of lots of children and divided households. Veli-Matti is already a clerk at a gas station, and Little Annika gets to deal with the bureaucracy of the apartment regulation. They get lucky with two child tenants who come to school to Helsinki from Nurmijärvi. There is a zealous crime reporter (Hannes Häyrinen) on the trail of shady underground activity. In the end it is revealed that the underground gang is that of "black tenants" with no crime involved. The SF experts, the cinematographer Osmo Harkimo, the art director Aarre Koivisto, conjure expert imagery, and there are some exciting documentary views of contemporary life. But it's a trivial film.