Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
|Madame Dubarry (1919) poster by Theo Matejko.|
Restored version from tinted and toned, French/German titled material, print from Transit Film / FWMS, /18 fps/ 127 min. It is longer than the original because of the double titles. E-subtitles by AA.
Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 29 Jan 2008.
Observations on revisiting a familiar film in a version I had not seen before: 1) it is great to see this in authentic colours, 2) the titles take slightly too much time in this bilingual version, 3) there are small things missing (nothing important), 4) this is a frivolous version of the French Revolution, 5) the crowd scenes are powerful, and there is true frenzy in the revolutionary crowd, 6) the film is visually first-rate, 7) the theme of the formal marriage and the irrepressible libido is central to Lubitsch, and there is a link to Renoir (Nana, Toni, La Règle du jeu, etc.), 8) it is nice to see the familiar trio Negri-Liedtke-Jannings playing variations of some eternal patterns in Egypt... in Carmen... and here, 9) the atmosphere is lively, 10) although the film trivializes the chain of events leading to the Revolution, it conveys its seriousness and some of the background. This is tragedy.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Design Forum Finland 25 Jan - 17 Feb 2008, Helsinki, visited 27 Jan 2008. Pisara standard lamp by Petri Vainio /Doctor Design (2007), Innosol Origo standard and desk lamp by Eero Aarnio / Innojok (2007), H+ collection of lamps by Heikki Ruoho / Moire Japan (2006), Foxfire standard and desk lamp by Jukka Korpihete (2007), DNA wall lamp by Carola Lindh-Hormia / FLUX (2005), Double Bubble by Eero Aarnio / Melaja (2003), Overpass wall lamp by Anu Penttinen / Nounou Design (2007), Helsinki Lighthouse ceiling light by Timo Salli / Saas Instruments (2006), Medusa ceiling light by Mikko Paakkanen / Saas Instruments, 34OY desk lamp by Yrjö Kukkapuro & Henrik Enbom / Saas (2007), Atto ceiling light by Seppo Koho /Secto Design (2007), Tre standard lamp by Elina Järvinen / Selki-Asema (2007), Jako standard lamp by Mikko Laakkonen / Selki-Asema (2006), and Plink ceiling light by Jari-Petri Voutilainen /Selki-Asema (2006). Exhibition producer: Laila Alanen. Particular emphasis on sources of light making use of state-of-the-art technology and the latest materials. Ecologically minded consumers will choose light sources that can reduce energy consumption. LED lighting design presented by Sami Suihkonen, working for OptoGaN, producing LED wafers and chips. - Innovative, stylish, simple and energy-saving solutions, including the moving Medusa, Kukkapuro's new transparent lamp, fine woodwork in Atto, fun form in Double Bubble, and dawn/dusk design in Foxfire. http://www.designforum.fi/pressrelease?pressrelease=10639401
This also places requirements on the viewer. According to conventional thinking, pictures and artworks depicting reality should be of such a nature that the viewer can recognize their content immediately, at first glance. Abstract art has separated itself from this recognizability, and the viewer has to make a conscious effort to steer his or her mind in the right direction. The more accustomed the viewer is to this, the more easily and sensitively will the gaze and mind be put in a receptive state. Abstract art is truly "different" art. Its contribution lies in the endless interaction of the gaze and its object. Looking at our surroundings, or for instance a photograph of them, the recognition of things that are seen satisfies in a sense the gaze and the mind: we have understood the significance of our visual perception. The gaze and the mind will then move on to consider other objects - unless perception launches some other related action. An abstract painting cannot be "exhausted" by this manner of reading, for as a whole it lies beyond conceptual and linguistic recognition and consequently it carries on its existence as a kind of enigma for as long as the gaze is directed at it and each time this happens. Of course a figurative work may do this, but figurativeness introduces a great number of "exhausting" recognizable elements leading towards a reading of the work. We might add that an abstract painting has succeeded when it retains its enigmatic nature. Hautala's paintings are successful abstract paintings.
Hautala's paintings are also accessible and even viewer-friendly. Their calm aesthetic greatly aids the gaze and mind to let themselves be led by the world of the work. The multi-layered space created by Hautala is intimate, close, and within it the pulse of black and white points subtly creates the boundaries of the space in depth. The vertical division of space receives viewers with their heads upright, allowing their minds to move into the space of the painting, constructed with contrasts and colour and value. Because of them, spaces may change place; the space in the rear will suddenly move forward. Thus, the movement of the mind in the space of work is endless, as in a labyrinth of transparent walls. In works operating with the impression of space, black is both a colour and a space, and owing to boundary contrast it gives the work light that we see unconsciously. The black field of colour also expressed the boundary at which the space of the work ends with regard to depth. Though the artist does not lead the viewers beyond it, he gives them the opportunity to venture there.
The graphic pattern extending from one end of the painting to the other insinuates that the work is in a space larger than itself. Space is, in fact, markedly conceptual in Hautala's works; it is perceived in our minds, gaining properties that are not included in visual perception. The impression of space created by Hautala is not based on the traditional structure of perspective, reducing space towards a vanishing point. On the contrary, the conception of space applied by Hautala permits the expansion of space in all directions, towards infinity. His works are like condensed "shots" of this continuum, functioning like the mirror through which Alice entered Wonderland. They give access to a larger space with a different logic than on this side of the mirror. Gravity loses meaning, everything can turn upside-down, the front may be at the back, right may be left, just as the viewer wants to move in the space.
A scale of colour based on harmony creates a stable and positive mood. Colour as such, being the domain of emotion for Hautala, is beyond the control of reason, but it is under control in the composition of its places and in the carefully considered arcs and sections of the line motifs, the "means of reason" and its often softened and sometimes even completely hidden lines. They have not been assigned any figurative role, and therefore they gain full weight as independent graphic and rhythmic elements. But a line is always drawn, and thus the viewer will also sense the artist's hand in the works. For Hautala, the making of a work of art, the craftsmanship, is mediation, and the mark of his hand is also evident in the living surface of the planes of colour, underscoring the immaterial nature of colour as the reflection of light. Craftsmanship also brings the work closer to the viewer, almost to touching distance. Hautala's paintings realize Josef Albers's magic formula of 1+1=3, a work of art being more than the sum of its parts, an entity that despite all its controlled elements, lies beyond the complete command of even the artist.
Hautala, "a hardened abstractionist", as he calls himself, is a Finnish representative of the international modernism that began to emerge particularly in Paris in the 1930s and was known at the time as "concrete art". It sought to develop means of expression specific to painting upon the latter's own conditions and terms, freed of the figurative or symbolic tasks of painting. Working along these lines, Hautala maintains many of the ideals of modernism in his art, such as the clarity and economy of expression and the aim of creating art for the sake of art. Hautala explicitly acknowledges the inspiration and guidance that he has received from the masters of modernism, while creating individual art clearly free of the formulas of different schools. He was helped in liberating himself from the formulas of strict Continental European concretism by the works of American abstract expressionists, which showed to him that abstract art could be created in other ways. While international, Hautala is at the same a Finnish artist, whose works exude a Finnish aesthetic in a calm and analysed manner, taking their light from the magical moment of the summer night between daylight and soft dusk. Although the summer nights inevitably turn into the darkness of winter, Hautala's works continue their subtle pulse of light." http://www.anhava.com/
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Mayer's comments on Ostatni etap: 1) it's about the women's block, foreign to him, 2) every day I expected that the planes would come to bomb Auschwitz, 3) I expected to be taken to Birkenau, but the orders changed by the day, 4) every day there was the selection, 5) the selection was the worst, 6) the young cruel women with their Schäfers were more horrible than men, children were ruthlessly crushed, 7) the orchestra I never heard, 8) doctors I never saw, 9) we only had numbers, no names, 10) everybody belonged to a certain work unit, 11) we did not sleep in beds but on the floor (stone or sand), without clothes, without lavatories, piled on top of one another, 12) there was no tea but dirty water, 13) we were not in stone but wooden barracks, 14) one was provoked against another.
To sum up: for Mayer Franck, Auschwitz was basically like in Ostatni etap but worse. He still has nightmares every night and needs sleeping pills to be able to sleep.
Observations revisiting a classic film: 1) this is the story of the women's block, 2) strong opening scene, bullied women prisoners, one of them pregnant, are kept standing, but they stay tough and express solidarity by swinging rhythmically, 3) the story of the baby in Auschwitz, 4) here are iconic images such as the smoke from the crematorium chimneys, suicide victims on the electric fence, the endless heaps of hair, toys, suitcases and so on, 4) strong dramatic score, 5) the women' s orchestra playing classical music, 6) the songs of the prisoners in Polish, Russian, and French, 7) banal schlager music in the torture chamber, 8) the prisoners are au courant of the war events, 9) the underground resistance with a secret telegraph and radio, 10) many Nazis are thieves, including the fake doctor, 11) this is the story of women's solidarity, 12) the Communists are heroes, there is jubilation for a declaration from Stalin, and the Red air force is the image of coming liberation. Final message: "never again".
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Opening words by:
Mr. Jari Matala, Executive Director
Ms. Irina Krohn, Executive Director (The Finnish Film Foundation)
Ms. Virpi Suutari, Artistic Director
The Apollo Prize was given to:
Mr. Jörn Donner
The opening film was:
In the Shadow of the Holy Book - in the presence of some 20 of the film-makers
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Design Museum, Helsinki, 20 Jan 2008. From the official presentation: "The career of designer and interior architect Yrjö Kukkapuro from his early works designed in 1956 to his most recent ones from 2007. Kukkapuro's oeuvre is characterized by a strict command of form and the carefully considered use of details. Throughout the decades his ideal has been the human body and its lawlike regularities. Kukkapuro has been the head designer of the Haimi, Lepokalusto and Avarte companies. He is known for his design of public spaces and as a collaborating partner with the architectural profession. Born in 1933 a chimneyless cabin near Viipuri and having spent his youth in Imatra, Kukkapuro's first successful collection was Moderno, created in 1957 and still in production. Inspired by the ergonomics of the human body, he designed dozens of fiberglass chairs in the 1960s, for example Karuselli from 1965, his most widely known chair design on the international market. In 1973 Kukkapuro moved on to strict minimalist design, finally turning his back on plastic materials. His products of the 1970s include the Remmi chair, with a tubular frame. Birch plywood became Kukkapuro's main material, leading to countless chair versions, including the Fysio office chair, which has won international prizes and awards. The period of postmodernism in the 1980s reintroduced colours and decorative forms into Kukkapuro's designs. The ergonomic approach became increasingly prominent. Works of this period include the Experiment collection and the Sirkus office chair. The 1990s introduced ecological challenges and a new visual image. Kukkapuro began to employ prints and abstract designs on the plywood backrests and seats of his chairs. Well-known works of this period are the "tattooed" chairs and cross-disciplinary installations such as "Magic Room", a kinetic spatial work, of which reproduction will be on display in the exhibition at Design Museum. Kukkapuro's versatile career has led him around the world, most recently to China, where he lectures and serves as an expert on design. Collaboration with the Nanjing Forest University has introduced a new dimension in his work. As the design expert for a UNESCO bamboo project he has discovered fast-growing giant bamboo as a material. Glued bamboo laminate is a recyclable, environmentally friendly and extremely durable wooden material. Kukkapuro's bamboo furniture collection, designed in 2004 for the domestic Chinese market, will now be on show for the first time in Europe. Kukkapuro continues to work, his most recent achievement being the Element sofa and armchair collection from 2007. Produced with digitized methods, the items of the collection can be assembled from elements. Kukkapuro and his wife, graphic artist Irmeli Kukkapuro, live and work in the studio and home that they built at Kauniainen near Helsinki in the 1960s, a single space of 200 square metres. The Design Museum showing presents a broad overview of Kukkapuro's work, featuring furniture and their prototypes, light fittings, spatial works, a compilation of video documents etc. Visitors may test some of the chairs on show. A richly illustrated catalogue of 200 pages is published in Finnish and English versions in connection with the exhibition." - A personal note: Kukkapuro's Fysio office chair is ideal for heavy-duty dvd viewing! http://www.designmuseum.fi/main.asp?sid=2&sivu=18&kpl=54&show=1
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 19 Jan 2008.
A beautiful colour semi-documentary from the French Polynesia; Bora Bora, Tahiti, the Easter Islands and the Pentecostal Island. This is cinema of attractions: the daredevil liane jumps (like benshi), the pearl diving, the bravery with sharks, the tiger shark, and the muraena.
The battle with fear is the theme of the first part, starring the boy Atemi and the girl Areva. The second part is the story of Maeva and Terei in the native paradise, where Terei dreams of the white man's world, gets a job on the phosphate mines and celebrates Quatorze Juillet in Papeete. The innocent nude charms of a Tahitian dancer girl are captured by an American photographer. Terei fights a storm trying to return to his small island. There is a midnight bonfire. There is a wedding celebration at Bora Bora. NB. the shark theme by Lavagnino.
A noble and innocent documentary before the trashy mondo films, a lament on the last paradise on Earth before the Western people corrupted it. I checked Yrjö Hirn's wonderful survey Valtameren saari (En ö i världshavet, 1928, "An Island in the World Ocean") for the deep roots of this fascination. Folco Quilici seems to be a talent in the league of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Jesse Jamesin salamurha pelkuri Robert Fordin toimesta / Mordet på Jesse James av ynkryggen Robert Ford. US (c) 2007 Warner Bros. / Virtual Studios LLC. D+SC: Andrew Dominik - based on the novel by Ron Hansen (1983). DP: Roger Deakins - negative: Super35 KodakVision 2 - via 2K digital intermediate - print: 35mm anamorphic Fuji. 1:2,35. "The Ballad of Jesse James" performed by Nick Cave. Starring Brad Pitt (Jesse James), Casey Affleck (Robert Ford), Mary-Louise Parker (Zee James), Brooklynn Proulx (Mary James), Dustin Bollinger (Tim James), Sam Rockwell (Charley Ford), Jeremy Renner (Wood Hite), Garret Dillahunt (Ed Miller), Paul Schneider (Dick Liddil). 162 min. Released in Finland by Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland, Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri / Janne Staffans. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 9, Helsinki, 18 Jan 2008. An unglamorous look into the final stage of the life of Jesse James (1847-1882), who became a figure of folklore during his lifetime. Various episodes of the story have been told in films by Henry King, Fritz Lang, Samuel Fuller, Nicholas Ray, Philip Kaufman, and Walter Hill. This film has the same concept as Fuller's, but the story is different. Fuller's film is sharp and stark, this one is slow and meditative. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_james
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Saturday, January 12, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Saturday, January 05, 2008
Disc: 1 1. All Along the Watchtower - Eddie Vedder & The Million Dollar Bashers 2. I'm Not There - Sonic Youth 3. Goin' To Acapulco - Jim James & Calexico 4. Tombstone Blues - Richie Havens 5. Ballad Of a Thin Man - Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers 6. Stuck Inside Of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again - Cat Power 7. Pressing On - John Doe 8. Fourth Time Around - Yo La Tengo 9. Dark Eyes - Iron & Wine & Calexico 10. Highway 61 Revisited - Karon O & the Million Dollar Bashers 11. One More Cup Of Coffee - Roger McGuinn & Calexico 12. The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll - Mason Jennings 13. Billy 1 - Los Lobos 14. Simple Twist Of Fate - Jeff Tweedy 15. Man In the Long Black Coat - Mark Lanegan 16. Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power) - Willie Nelson & Calexico
Disc: 2 1. As I Went Out One Morning - Mira Billotte 2. Can't Leave Her Behind - Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers 3. Ring Them Bells - Sufjan Stevens 4. Just Like a Woman - Charlotte Gainsbourg & Calexico 5. Medley: Mama, You've Been On My Mind/A Fraction Of Last Thoughts On Woody Guthrie - Jack Johnson 6. I Wanna Be Your Lover - Yo La Tengo 7. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere - Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova 8. Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window? - The Hold Steady 9. Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues - Ramblin' Jack Elliott 10. The Wicked Messenger - The Black Keys 11. Cold Irons Bound - Tom Verlaine & the Millions Dollar Bashers 12. The Times They Are a Changin' - Mason Jennings 13. Maggie's Farm - Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers 14. When the Ship Comes In - Marcus Carl Franklin 15. Moonshiner - Bob Forrest 16. I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine - John Doe 17. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - Antony & The Johnsons 18. I'm Not There - Bob Dylan with The Band
Excellent soundtrack album, an ideal companion to the film.
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Tyttö ja sotamies / Maiden and the Soldier. FI/CZ 1995. Based on: Bertolt Brecht: "The Legend of the Dead Soldier": AN: Ján Klos. 9 min
Hiilisangolla ratsastaja / Rider on a Bucket. FI/CZ 1992. Based on: Franz Kafka: "Der Kübelreiter". AN: Vlasta Pospíslová, Jiri Látal, Frantisek Vasa. 8 min
Kamarihaikara / The Chamber Stork. FI/CZ 1993. Based on: Franz Kafka: "Kun tulin illalla kotiin" / "As I Came Home in the Evening". AN: Ján Klos, Jiri Látal. 10 min
Maalaislääkäri / Country Doctor. FI/CZ 1996. Based on: Franz Kafka: "Country Doctor". AN: Ján Klos, Jiri Látal. 15 min
Ksenia Pietarilainen / Xenia of St. Petersburg. FI 1999. 29 min
Beautiful 35 mm prints from Suomen Elokuvakontakti. Viewed 3 Jan 2008 at Cinema Orion, Helsinki. Katariina Lillqvist is a master of puppet animation, and in these films she reaches original dimensions with dark, surrealistic stories based on Kafka etc. An original talent with certain affinities with Tim Burton.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008