Saturday, September 27, 2008

Päätalo

The Novelist. FI (c) 2008 MRP Matila Röhr Productions. P: Marko Röhr, Asko Apajalahti, Mikko Tenhunen. D: Hannu Kahakorpi. SC: Elina Halttunen - based on the novels by Kalle Päätalo - and the adaptation by Miisa Lindén. DP: Jarkko T. Laine. Starring Kai Lehtinen (Kalle Päätalo), Susanna Anteroinen (Leena), Nina Jääskeläinen (Laina), Pirjo Leppänen (Riitu), Antti Virmavirta (Ilmari Vouvila), Kari Hietalahti (Veikko Moilanen), Ahti Jokinen (Kummun Kalle), Maija Paunio (Leena's office pal). 107. A Nordisk release viewed as a digital projection at Tennispalatsi 2, Helsinki, 27 September 2008. - The digital image of this production is good in close-ups, ok in town scenes and not so good in the nature scenes and in the countryside. The colour is too bright and stylized. - This film covers the years 1951-1957 in Kalle Päätalo's life. Päätalo became Finlands's best-selling author. He wrote 39 novels and several other books. The center of his oeuvre is the autobiographical 26-volume Iijoki cycle. Päätalo's books have been printed in 3,6 million copies in a land of 5 million people. - His great inspiration: Mika Waltari's Aiotko kirjailijaksi [Do You Want To Become a Writer, 1935). His first novel: Ihmisiä telineillä [People on the Scaffold, 1957]. The film is the story of how Päätalo became a writer. - The actors are excellent. - I liked Mikko Niskanen's story of Päätalo's youth before the war in the films Elämän vonkamies [The Lead Raftsman of Life, 1986] and Nuoruuteni savotat [The Lumbercamps of My Youth, 1988]. - This films jumps 20 years ahead in the Päätalo story. It starts in the countryside in Taivalkoski, and the main story takes place in Tampere, the biggest industrial city of the country. - Of the director's touch one could say that it is very matter-of-fact, plain tv drama, without any special visual concept. - Mikko Niskanen and Edvin Laine did well with Päätalo, and Hannu Kahakorpi keeps a sense of authenticity and truth in the characters and the storytelling. - Kai Lehtinen is very good in the leading role. He conveys a certain clumsiness of the Finnish male, but also the sensitivity beneath. This kind of Finnish man is not far from the image of the Westerner in the American cinema. - Pirjo Leppänen, who was already playing Kalle's mother in the 1980s, is still perfect.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Narkose

Revisited, see 16 September, 2008, notes

WHITE ROSES SEMINAR

White Roses Seminar, 26 September 2008 at 14.00-16.45 at Cinema Orion, Helsinki
Kimmo Laine & Juha Seitajärvi: Introduction, a trailer, and test footage
Kaarle Stewen: Hannu Leminen Changes Media
Sakari Toiviainen: An Overview into Leminen's Oeuvre
Outi Hupaniittu: Helena Kara's Star Image
Jari Sedergren: The Political Leminen
Heini Hakosalo: Leminen and the Theme of Illness
Anneli Lehtisalo: Romantic Artists' Life in a Bourgeois Idyll
Minna Santakari: Leminen as Art Director
CANCELLED as the time run out: Antti Alanen: Four Letters from an Unknown Woman
...
The first book on Hannu Leminen, Valkoiset ruusut [White Roses], edited by Kimmo Laine and Juha Seitajärvi, was published
Also a cd called Valkoiset ruusut was published, with selections from the history of Finnish film music such as Armas Järnefelt's The Song of the Scarlet Flower (1919), Leevi Madetoja's The Battle Over the House of Heikkilä (1935), Einar Englund's The Boys (1962), and, of course, Väinö Haapalainen's White Roses (1943)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam

Piru tuli yöllä / Djävulen kom om natten / The Devil Strikes at Night. DE (BRD) 1957. PC: KG Divina Film. D: Robert Siodmak. DP: Georg Kraus. AD: Rolf Zehetbauer, Gottfried Will. M: Siegfried Franz. Starring Claus Holm (Inspector Axel Kersten), Annemarie Düriger (Helga Hornung), Mario Adorf (Bruno Lüdke). 105 min. A Goethe Institut print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 25 September 2008. - A fine print, the best I have seen from this Goethe package "Germany After the War and Before the Wall". - Siodmak in good form, strong cinematic storytelling, with expressionistic force. I saw only the beginning and am looking forward to seeing it all.

The Smiling Lieutenant

Hymyilevä luutnantti / Leende löjtnanten. US (c) 1931 Paramount. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Ernest Vajda, Samson Raphaelson - based on the operetta Ein Walzertraum (1907) composed by Oscar Straus, with the libretto by Leopold Jacobson and Felix Dörmann (= Felix Biedermann) - and a story in the book Buch der Abenteuer by Hans Müller (= Hans Lothar). DP: George Folsey - early sound aperture 1:1,2. M: Oscar Straus. MD: Adolph Deutsch.
"Toujours l'Amour in the Army", music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey, sung by Maurice Chevalier twice
"While Hearts Are Singing", music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey, played on piano by Maurice Chevalier and sung by Claudette Colbert
"Breakfast Table Love", music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey, sung by Maurice Chevalier and Claudette Colbert
"One More Hour of Love", music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey, sung by Maurice Chevalier
"Kaiserlied (Austrian National Anthem 1795-1918)", music by Joseph Haydn, lyrics by Lorenz Leopold Haschka,
"Ach Du lieber Flausenthurm", sung a cappella by Maurice Chevalier to the tune of the 18th century German folksong "Ach Du lieber Augustine"
"Jazz Up Your Lingerie", music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey, played on piano by Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins and sung by both; reprised on piano by Hopkins [soundtrack listing courtesy IMDB]
Starring Maurice Chevalier (Niki), Claudette Colbert (Franzi), Miriam Hopkins (Princess Anna), Charles Ruggles (Max), George Barbier (King Adolf XV). 89 min. Restored print from UCLA viewed at Helsinki, Cinema Orion, 25 September, 2008. - For the first time I saw a good film print of this. The print is excellent (both sound and image), better than the ones seen of The Love Parade and Monte Carlo. - The synchronization of sound and image is deliciously humoristic, the small details as charming as the gags. - Lubitsch's specialty is that he is not only making an operetta film but also having fun with the whole operetta phenomenon. Somehow he transforms this into a vehicle of satire. The subjects of his satire include vanity and pretension. At the bottom there is great tenderness. We like his characters. We laugh with them. - The slight story starts with a misunderstanding. Maurice Chevalier is smiling at his sweetheart, the leader of the band Viennese Swallows (Claudette Colbert), but the insecure princess (Miriam Hopkins) thinks he is smiling at her. It all leads to marriage, unhappy at first, but Claudette gives Miriam a few sexy tips. At last, the checkers board is thrown on the bed.

Only Yesterday

US (c) 1933 Universal. P: Carl Laemmle, Jr. D: John M. Stahl. SC: William Hurlbut, Arthur Richman, George O'Neill - based on [n.c.] the short story "Brief einer Unbekannten" (1922) by Stefan Zweig - based on Only Yesterday: An Informed History of the Nineteen-Twenties (1931) by Frederick Lewis Allen. DP: Merritt Gerstad. AD: Charles D. Hall. M: Constantine Bakaleinikoff. ED: Milton Carruth. Starring Margaret Sullavan (Mary Lane), John Boles (Jim Emerson), Billie Burke (Julia Warren). 105 min. A Universal Studios print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 24 September 2008. The first screening of this film in Finland. - A very good print. - The first 20 minutes are about the stock market crash of 1929. Jim is about to put a bullet through his head, when he receives the letter from the unknown woman. - The letter reveals to him that there has been a woman in his life that has remained unknown to him. In 1919, young Jim and Mary enjoy a night of love, Jim goes to the front in Europe, Mary becomes pregnant and has their child, but Jim forgets all about Mary, gets married with a society woman and becomes a big businessman. - Her son teases Mary to get married. - But in a New Year's party Mary sees Jim, and they meet in his bachelor apartment. Mary's heart is broken as she realizes that Jim has completely forgotten her and treats her as one of his one night stands. The heartbroken Mary dies. - Reading her letter of farewell Jim decides not to shoot himself and instead to find his son and take care of him. - Cinematically the film is routine, and the storytelling lacks punch, but Margaret Sullavan in her debut role is very touching. - The whole feeling of the Zweig story is changed because the man is not an artist but a businessman. - This is the only one of the first four Zweig adaptations that has no visual flair.

Letter from an Unknown Woman

Kirje tuntemattomalta naiselta / Brevet från en okänd kvinna. US (c) 1948 Rampart Productions. EX: William Dozier. P: John Houseman. D: Max Ophuls. SC: Howard Koch, Ophuls - based on the short story "Brief einer Unbekannten" (1922) by Stefan Zweig. DP: Frank Planer. COST: Travis Banton. M: Daniele Amfitheatrof. Liszt: "Un sospiro". Mozart: Die Zauberflöte. Starring Joan Fontaine (Lisa Berndle), Louis Jourdan (Stefan Brand). 88 min. A 16mm print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 24 September 2008. - Every time this film is different. - This time I paid attention to significant repetitions such as "two weeks", uttered by both Stefan senior and Stefan junior, the latter repetition the more fatal. The theme of the foster parent is repeated, and Lisa, herself having experienced it, can handle the situation tenderly with her own son. - "If only". - "By the time you read this letter I may be dead". - Narrated by a dead woman from beyond the grave. The man who reads her letter has lost his sense of identity, even lost his talent. He has lost himself, and he finds himself one last time as he reads her letter. He can then face death with a smile on his face. - The moment of recognition. - "Tell me more about your father." - "There is always a higher one". -

Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo / Monte Carlo. US (c) 1930 Paramount. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Ernest Vajda - based on the play Die blaue Küste (1915) by Hans Müller - and certain episodes in the operetta Monsieur Beaucaire (1919) by Booth Tarkington and Evelyn Greenleaf, based on the novel (1900) Monsieur Beaucaire by Booth Tarkington. DP: Victor Milner - 1:1,2. AD: Hans Dreier. COST: Travis Banton.
MUSIC: Richard A. Whiting, W. Franke Harling. Lyrics: Leo Robin. "Always in All Ways," words by Leo Robin, music by Richard A. Whiting; "Beyond the Blue Horizon," "Give Me a Moment Please," "Whatever It Is, It's Grand," "Trimmin' the Women," "She'll Love Me and Like It," "I'm a Simple-Hearted Man" and "Day of Days," words by Leo Robin, music by Richard A. Whiting and W. Franke Harling.
MUSICAL PROGRAM: [0:02] Day of Days (sung by Chorus); [0:06] She'll Love Me and Like It (sung by Claude Allister and Chorus); [0:11] Beyond the Blue Horizon (sung by Jeanette MacDonald and Chorus); [0:22] Give Me a Moment Please (sung by Jack Buchanan and Jeanette MacDonald over the telephone); [0:29] Trimmin' the Women (sung by Jack Buchanan, Tyler Brooke and John Roche); [0:42] Whatever It Is, It's Grand (sung by Jack Buchanan and Jeanette MacDonald); [0:48] She'll Love Me and Like It (reprised by Claude Allister and Jeanette MacDonald); [0:53] Always in All Ways (sung by Jack Buchanan and Jeanette MacDonald); [1:03] Give Me a Moment Please / Always in All Ways (reprised by Jack Buchanan and Jeanette MacDonald); [1:19] Monsieur Beaucaire (the opera - David Percy, Helen Garden, Erik Bey, Donald Novis and Chorus); [1:29] Beyond the Blue Horizon (reprised Jeanette MacDonald, Jack Buchanan and Chorus) from http://www.classicmoviemusicals.com/filmsm.htm#carlo
Starring Jack Buchanan (Count Rudolph Farrière), Jeanette MacDonald (Countess Helena Mara), Claude Allister (Count Otto von Liebenheim), ZaSu Pitts (Bertha, the maid of the countess). 89 min. A restored UCLA print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 24 September, 2008. - For the first time I saw on 35mm this film, which I previously knew only from tv and vhs. The difference is big also because there are many long shots, and expressions are hardly visible on video. Lubitsch relishes high salons. - "The Blue Horizon", "Die blaue Küste" is the Riviera, the Côte d'Azur. - The music is catchy, "Always in All Ways" of course has all the Lubitschian meanings. - Lubitsch attacks the operetta musical format with charm, smiles at the clichés and turns it into something witty, beyond parody.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Himmel ohne Sterne

Taivas ilman tähtiä / Himmel utan stjärnor / Sky Without Stars. DE 1955. PC: Neue Deutsche Filmgesellschaft. P: Harald Braun. D+SC+narrator: Helmut Käutner. DP: Kurt Hasse. Starring Eva Kotthaus (Anna Kaminski), Erik Schumann (Carl Altmann), Georg Thomalla (Willi Becker), Horst Buchholz (Mischa Bjelkin), Camilla Spira (Elsbeth Friese), Otto Wernicke (Inspector Hoffmann). 108 min. A Goethe Institut print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 23 September 2008. - A dupe from a (vintage?) English-titled print, low contrast and high contrast. - Thüringen and Bayern. The young mother, Anna, from the East wants her son back from the West. Her own parents live in the East. Her husband has died in the war, and his parents live in the West. There is a kindly Bavarian border policeman, Carl, who helps her. A deserted railway station becomes their meeting place. - One of the best films about the Iron Curtain grows into a full-blown tragedy. Against cliché, it presents the human sacrifice resulting from the political situation. - Käutner has a sensitive touch as a director of actors, but I miss a certain sturdiness in the narrative.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Love Parade

Prinssipuoliso / Prinsgemålen. US © 1930 Paramount. P+D: Ernst Lubitsch. SC: Ernest Vajda - based on the play Le Prince consort (1919) by Léon Xanrof (= Léon Fourneau) and Jules Chancel. DP: Victor Milner - 1:1,2. AD: Hans Dreier. COST: Travis Banton. M: Victor Schertzinger. Songs: "Dream Lover," "My Love Parade," "Paris, Stay the Same," "Let's Be Common," "March of the Grenadiers," "Nobody's Using It Now," "Gossip," "Anything to Please the Queen," "Ooh, La La" and "The Queen Is Always Right," words by Clifford Grey, music by Victor Schertzinger. Starring Maurice Chevalier (Count Alfred Renard), Jeanette MacDonald (Queen Louise), Lupino Lane (Jacques), Lillian Roth (Lulu). There is the Hitchcock favourite John Williams or his lookalike in the first sequence. 109 min. UCLA restoration viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 23 September 2008.

A great work of restoration, perhaps partly from difficult materials? The first time I see a good print of this film. (I had only seen the Prague print of 92 min). - Chevalier the military attaché of Sylvania is banished from Paris because of his love scandals. He is to be punished by the Queen (Jeanette MacDonald) but gets a dinner invitation, instead. Things escalate into marriage. - Highlights include the royal guard commanded to sneak to avoid waking up the queen, the reading of the confidential report, the telling of a risqué joke, playacting a regular first date (what can be left for later? plenty!), the Afghan ambassador's grim warning "No chongo!" ("It won't work!"), bad omens before wedding, the hesitation of the groom before the priest, the annoying cannon shots during the wedding night, the wedding night duet of Lupino Lane and Lillian Roth, the sponsored radio announcement, the boredom of the prince consort, "Nobody's Using It Now", the opera gala with the prince consort as a star. - The Lubitsch touch: the salacious details are always conveyed via reactions.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Recipes for Disaster

Katastrofin aineksia / Ingredienser för en katastrof. FI/DK (c) 2008 Millennium Film / Magic Hour Films Aps / [a third company]. P: Kristiina Pervilä. D+SC: John Webster. Shot on video, digital intermediate, distributed on 35mm film, colour. 85 min. In English (part Finnish) with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Staffans. Viewed in Kinopalatsi 2, Helsinki, 20 September 2008. - A home video look. Largely handheld video with stock footage inserts transferred to video and back to film. - The Webster family's experiment to a year without oil and plastic. - Also this film (like Kummeli Alivuokralainen) starts in Africa. - An interesting experiment that threatens the happiness of the family. - They manage to cut their ecological footprint into half. - It belongs to the extremist-experimental trend of the current documentary film. - There has been a lot of attention to the film, there was a good attendance in the show, and the viewers seemed positively surprised, there was lively discussion of the details and the large issues. - We need to act decisively, but everyone feels confused and disoriented as the opinion leaders do not seem to live as they teach. - This film shows that a lot can be done by personal initiative.

Kummeli Alivuokralainen

[Kummeli Underhyresgästen]/ [Kummeli The Subtenant]. FI (c) 2008 Solar Films. P: Jukka Helle, Markus Selin. D: Matti Grönberg. SC: Timo Kahilainen, Heikki Vihinen based on their play. DP: Jari Mutikainen - shot on HDTV (Sony CineAlta F23)- distributed digital and 35mm - 1:2,35, color. Starring Heikki Silvennoinen (Pauli Bergström), Mikko Kivinen (Lauri Mustonen), Timo Kahilainen (Robban), Heikki Hela (John Molotov / Josef Molotov), Tuija Ernamo (Lydia Molotova), Ritva Jalonen (Marketta), Leea Klemola (Rautiainen), Risto Korhonen (Rafu), Jussi Lampi (Hirvonen), Oiva Lohtander (Pena), Taneli Mäkelä (man at service station), Jasper Pääkkönen (Roger / Kikke), Jukka Rasila (host), Mari Turunen (Inkeri Sortavala). A digital projection at Tennispalatsi 2, Helsinki, 20 September 2008. - A bright and pleasant HD digital look. - The fourth Kummeli film. - The Kummeli is a popular Finnish comedy team with a comedy series of their own. The dvd releases of their comedy episodes have tremendous success. The team consists of Heikki Silvennoinen (1991–), Timo Kahilainen (1991–), Heikki Hela (1992–), Heikki Vihinen (1995–), Olli Keskinen (1991–1994, 1999–2000), Mari Turunen (1995–), Miia Selin (2003–), Mikko Kivinen (2003–) (thanks to Wikipedia for this list, the complete Kummeli-graphy can be found in the Finnish Wikipedia). - I have seen all the Kummeli cinema films, and this I liked best. - Pauli and Lauri have been living on a very affordable rent in a spacious apartment (the actual apartment used is in Ullanlinna, Kapteeninkatu 20-22), but when the rent is updated by a sergeant major inheritor, they need a subtenant, and promptly there is a young gay nobleman. - The farce is largely based on the prejudices against gays. It would be interesting to hear what gays think about it, but to me it seemed it presented gays as men who are confident with their identity and not afraid to have fun with it. - It felt strange to have many children in the audience. I would not recommend it to under-teenage viewers.

Shinji Imaoka at the Imaginary Japan Conference

Mr. Shinji Imaoka, film director, guest of The Helsinki International Film Festival (Love & Anarchy), visited the Imaginary Japan Conference (Japaneseness and Fantasy in Contemporary Popular Culture) organized by Suomen Elokuvatutkimuksen Seura (SETS, The Society of Finnish Moving Image Researchers). The Saturday programme took place in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 20 September 2008. The host interviewer was Alex Zahlten, and the translator, Mr. Sami Hilvo.

Mr. Shinji Imaoka is one of the "seven lucky gods of the Pinku Eiga". He shoots Japanese sex films on 35mm, shot in one week, on low budget, with a team of amazing pros, they are rated 18, the duration ca 60 min, five sex scenes are obligatory.

In his youth Imaoka was impressed by the roman porno genre, now extinct. Imaoka: they started me as a film maker, at 25 I became assistant director of pinku eiga, at 30, director. - In annual pink festivals, Imaoka receives awards. Renamed, his films reach art cinemas, expanded by half an hour, and those 90 min versions are called "director's cuts". The pink films have even a female fan base. - Issues of sex are eternal.

Excerpts were shown from data files with English subtitles.

Tamamono (Lunch Box, JP 2004). Protagonist: a young woman who does not speak, boyfriend at post office, woman prepares lunch boxes for him, but he is no good. In the excerpt a talking black head persuades: "strike". The man is seen in a pool of blood. The woman has been neglected, she internalizes the killing, it's the first time she feels free, that moment brings her freedom.
In pink films the more sex the more it is accepted, but ther has to be more, more feeling, it has to move.
Imaoka: I did not feel myself as part of a group.
Yumika Hayashi (1970-2005) was the star of the new porn for 15 years, a beautiful, wonderful actress.
Now working with a monster-pink film mix, and a musical-pink mix.

Ojisan tengoku (Uncle's Paradise, JP 2006) is set on a small coastal town, realist setting turns surrealist, there is a pathway to hell, the monster is a squid, man approaches woman forcibly, the squid kills a man whose face is spotted, there is a wake at the coffin.
The films have changed, there is the ensemble, they were more melancholy, now getting more dynamic. Imaoka: I'm not aware of a change, but the circumstances are different, friends have died. The strange insect comes back to life from hell.

Tasogare (JP 2008). A story of sex among seniors, tenderness among the elderly. The Buddhist woman and the amorous man. Sexual tenderness interrupted by a lullaby and by a flashback to youth, the girl slapping the boy's oversized penis.
Imaoka: the performers are almost amateurs, the screenwriter Akira Taniguchi (65) is a first-timer, a former teacher of ethics at high school. Old classmates get a new life. Based on personal experiences.
The pinku eiga films are screened in special pinku eiga cinemas. They are old, worn out, run-down. The art cinemas are high class, very nice.
There is an industry self-censorship body in Japan.
The reason for using 35mm is purely financial.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Burn After Reading

US/GB/FR (c) 2008 Focus Features. P+D+SC+ED: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen. P also: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner. DP: Emmanuel Lubezki - 35mm - digital intermediate - print 35mm color 1:1,85. M: Carter Burwell. Starring George Clooney (Harry Pfarrer), Frances McDormand (Linda Litzke), Brad Pitt (Chad Feldheimer), John Malkovich (Osborne Cox), Tilda Swinton (Katie Cox), Richard Jenkins (Ted Treffon), David Rasche (CIA Officer), J.K. Simmons (CIA Superior). A FS Film print viewed at the opening gala of the Helsinki International Film Festival (Love & Anarchy) at Bio Rex, Helsinki, 18 September 2008. - Print with a slightly denatured digital intermediate look. - The Coen brothers in good form. - Joel Coen: "If you want to call it a comedy I wouldn't protest. It's sort of about the CIA, the culture of physical fitness and internet dating". - The auteurs see this as the third film of their idiot trilogy. - A black comedy with fine performances (the best performance I have seen from Brad Pitt) and effective music by Carter Burwell. - The satire of a soulless way of life got a good laugh response from the audience. - The sharply written film has surprising twists, the ensemble is excellent, and it is not totally empty.

Crin blanc

Crin blanc, le cheval sauvage / White Mane, Wild Horse / Valkoinen ori / Vildhästen / [Valkoharja, villihevonen]. FR (c) 1953 Films Montsouris. P+D+SC: Albert Lamorisse. DP: Edmond Séchan. M: Maurice Leroux. LOC: Camargue. Starring Alain Emery (Folco). 40 min. A Films Distribution print with English subtitles by Siomann O'Neill. E-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 18 September 2008. - A good print, with a slightly duped look, with some noise on soundtrack. - A children's classic. Folco of the fisherman's family meets Crin blanc, the untamable lead stallion of a pack of wild horses. A film of natural poetry. High points: Crin blanc drags Folco through the water and the reeds; the fight of the horses for leadership; the captors attempt to catch Folco with fire and smoke; rabbit hunt; the final hunt to the sea. - It's a dream about liberty. - One of the case studies in André Bazin's essay "Montage interdit".

Le Ballon rouge

Punainen ilmapallo / En röd ballong / The Red Balloon. FR (c) 1956 Montsouris. P+D+DC: Albert Lamorisse. DP: Edmond Séchan - Technicolor. M: Maurice Leroux. LOC: Ménilmontant (Paris). Starring Pascal Lamorisse (Pascal). 35 min. A Films Distribution print with English subtitles. E-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 18 September 2008. - A children's classic, a contemporary fairy-tale, a Technicolor dream in Paris. The red balloon expresses the immemorial aspiration of transcendence. One of the main examples in André Bazin's essay "Montage interdit".

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aurinkotuuli

Solvinden / Sun Wind. FI 1980. PC: Filminor. PC: Kullervo Kukkasjärvi. D: Timo Linnasalo. SC: Ilpo Tuomarila, Linnasalo - based on the novel by Kullervo Kukkasjärvi. DP: Heikki Katajisto. M: Antti Hytti. ED: Juho Gartz. Starring Paavo Piskonen (gravity researcher Erik Rankamaa), Lilga Kovanko (gravity researcher Laura, Pauli's wife, Fabian's daughter), Antti Litja (Paul, doctor), Erkki Pajala (Fabian, janitor). 122 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 17 September 2008. - Ok print. - A rare Finnish scifi film. - Erik has been deep-frozen after his death in 1970, and he is brought back to life in 1999. A film of visions and reflections, not based on special effects, very slow, an ecological warning of a decaying world with dilapilated buildings, air without sun. - A memorable opening shot: the composition is divided in half by sea and shore, and slowly the camera turns upside down. - I watched half an hour this time.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fanfaren der Liebe

Lemmen serenadi / Kärlekstrumpeten / Fanfares of Love (the translated title on print). DE 1951. PC: Neue Deutsche Filmgesellschaft. P: Harald Braun. D: Kurt Hoffmann. SC: Heinz Pauck - based on the story by Robert T. Thoeren and Michael Logan (1935). DP: Richard Angst. M: Franz Grothe. Lyrics: Willy Dahmel. Starring Dieter Borsche (Hans), Inge Egger (Gaby), Grethe Weiser (Lydia), Kurt Thomalla (Peter), Oskar Sima (Hallinger). 91 min. A Goethe Institut print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 16 September 2008. - The print looks at first slightly too softly duped (even digitally mastered?) but there are better passages later, or maybe the eye just gets adapted. - The second film version of Thoeren and Logan's story that finally transformed into Some Like It Hot. The story is to a high degree familiar. Two unemployed musicians are ready for almost anything, they become Gypsies, Blacks... and finally women, and board the night train to the Alps, where they join the all-woman band Die Alpenveilchen (The Alpine Violets). The bachelor's dream or nightmare? - Even the characters of Hans and Peter have similarities to the performances of Lemmon and Curtis. - Grethe Weiser is very nice as Lydia. - Billy Wilder crafted a diamond-sharp masterpiece of the material, Marilyn Monroe became an immortal Sugar Kane, and Lemmon and Curtis had a high comic charge. In comparison, Fanfaren der Liebe is just a nice regular musical comedy.

Terra em trance

Valta ja kumous / Jorden skälver / Land i trance (DK). BR 1967. PC: Mapa / Difilm. D+SC: Glauber Rocha. DP: Luiz Carlos Barreto. M: Sergio Ricardo. M extracts: Verdio, Carlos Gomez, Villa Lobos. ED: Eduardo Escorel. Starring Jardel Filho (Paulo Martins), Paulo Autran (Porfirio Diaz), José Lewgoy (Felipe Vieira), Glauce Rocha (Sara), Danuza Leao (Silvia). 107 min. A perfect DFI print with danske tekster viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 16 September 2008. - Looks like a first generation print, in good condition. - A political trance film. Feverish, dynamic, with constant motion, music, non-narrative, theatrical, anti-realistic, satirical. Not based on identification, based on Verfremdung, highly stylized, to be compared with contemporary political theater and political cabaret, but purely cinematic. - Set in a fictive Eldorado that reflects the state of things in Latin America after colonialism. There are sweeping vistas, helicopter shots, big rallies, ecstatic parties, jazz. The film is like a jazz session, with a sense of improvisation, spontaneity, constant development. The visual style includes many tracking shots, pans, handheld, and dynamic cutting. It's a meta-film that reflects the African and Catholic religious traditions. Oh, mystic trance, if we only could see clearly. - It's about the frenzy of power and violence.

Narkose


Narkose (1929), Renée Héribel. Donation Roger Corbeau. Localisation: Charenton-le-Pont, Médiathèque de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine. Crédit Photo © Ministère de la Culture - Médiathèque du Patrimoine, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / image RMN-GP.

Narkose. Briefe einer Unbekannten. DE 1929. PC: G.P. Films. P+D: Alfred Abel. EX: Ernst Garden. SC: Béla Balázs - based on the short story by Stefan Zweig (1922). DP: Günther Krampf. AD: Julius von Borsody, Willy Brummer. Titles design: M. Tuszkay. Starring Renée Héribel (Angélique Laumain), Jack Trevor (writer René Vernon), Alfred Abel (manservant Jean). 2426 m /24 fps/ 88 min.
    Print: Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchivum (low contrast copy on sound stock with left side missing and a light bar below) 1352 m /24 fps/ 49 min. E-subtitles AA. Translator's screening at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 17 September 2008.

Revisiting a forgotten gem from the golden age of German cinema, praised in its time by René Jeanne and Charles Ford and Lotte Eisner.

Only a torso survives, but it is makes sense even so.

A fascinating dream film, much of it the hallucination of the woman in her ether narcosis in the delivery room.

The art of the moving camera, art direction and text design. The expressive details. The fascinating special effects. The elaborate superimpositions. The poetic use of the shimmer of the water and the swelling drops in the superimpositions. Beautiful montages. Expressionism very effective in the dream. The dazzling glasses of the teacher.

There are the white roses, the roses that are seen first are a bit fading. Montages of roses.

Montages of letters returned to sender.

There are changes to the original story. The persons have French names. Towards the end the bestselling author is falling out of favour. Unsterbliche Liebe is no longer wanted, instead, Moderne Liebe is in demand. The writer's hand is paralyzed, and he cannot type. Sister Angélique gets to take dictation for his new work Die Unbekannte (The Unknown Woman), but she rejects it as a lie and leaves. But she comes back to his arms.

The only film adaptation of this story with a happy end.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Macbeth (Pauli Pentti 1987)

Macbeth / Macbeth. FI 1987. PC: Villealfa. P: Aki Kaurismäki. D+SC: Pauli Pentti - based on Shakespeare's play (1606). DP: Olli Varja. M: Mikko Mattila, Tapio Siitonen (synthetizators). Verdi: Aida. "Love Me Or Leave Me" performed by Mari Rantasila (voc), Eero Raittila (piano). ED: Timo Linnasalo. Starring Markku Valtonen (Macbeth), Pirkko Hämäläinen (Lady), Antti Litja (Dunkku / Duncan), Pertti Sveholm (Bankko / Banquo), Paavo Piskonen (porter). 66 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 September 2008. - In the presence of Pauli Pentti interviewed by Markku Varjola. PP had known Aki Kaurismäki since the school days, both always avid film buffs. There was the playful idea of a Shakespeare trilogy, of which Aki directed Hamlet Goes Business, and Pauli, Macbeth. The third project, Mänttäri's Lear, never got off the ground. It was a consciously downgraded project. Markku Valtonen as Macbeth was famous from the Sleepy Sleepers (soon to be transformed into Leningrad Cowboys) and the Radio City show Pullakuskit (Bun Drivers). - Deadpan modernization turning the Macbeth plot into the present-day gangster world in Finland, shot in Helsinki, Savonlinna Opera Festival, and London. The anti-realistic gangster ambience is based on the films of Melville and Godard. The blunt dialogue is intentionally comic and made the audience laugh in the right places. The men carry sunglasses at all times. - The Lady goes mad and walks into the sea. Macbeth has been warned that the Pihlajasaari island will attack him, and finally, a vessel masked as a forest approaches. - This is one of the Villealfa films which had a similar ambience with the later Tarantino films (his company called A Band Apart, both companies' names are tributes to Godard).

Jon

Jon / Jon. FI (c) 1983 Tambur Film. P+D+ED: Jaakko Pyhälä. SC: JP, Heikki Vuento. DP: Pertti Mutanen - colour: Agfa-Gevaert - Technovision 1:2,35. M: Antti Hytti. Sound: Paul Jyrälä, Matti Kuortti - Dolby Stereo. Starring Kari Väänänen (Jon), Vesa-Matti Loiri (Öljys-Heikki), Pia-Beate Tellefsen (Gunilla), Anne-Beate Odland (Susanne de Wrees, film producer-director), Vesa Vierikko (Dietmar), Helena Lindgren (waitress). 127 min. In Finnish, partly in Swedish and Norwegian with Finnish subtitles. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 September 2008. - In the presence of Matti Kuortti, interviewed by Markku Varjola. MK told about the extreme conditions of film-making in the Far North in the autumn storms, with hail raining upwards the hill, the ferry line precarious to the island of Vuoreija / Vardö. The Technovision equipment was heavy, the scope format was the sound engineer's dream, this was the second or third film in Finland in Dolby Stereo. Loiri stayed in costume also outside the shooting, and he surprised the local yuppies with his skill at pool. They never got to enter the game. - The print did justice to one of the best examples of cinematography in Finnish cinema, with the haunting light of Lapland, shot by the Barents Sea, Nordkap. There is a pleasant warmth in the sunlight. - I saw this film for the first time. Visually it's striking and original, it has a true vision, and there are several strong and memorable visual ideas to the sequences. The bar, the art exhibition, the escape in the rain, the Hakaniemi square, the military exercises in the fog, Ivalo, the Barents Sea, the Island of Vardö. - The brilliant images keep coming, but the film is going nowhere. - This is one of the Finnish films (the first?) where a large vintage white Cadillac convertible serves as the escape vehicle. - Conceived first as an "account of the end of the world", and subsequently as "a young man's odyssey" it displays strong visual talent but the basic feeling is confused. - Kari Väänänen as the chaotic Jon has a tough anti-hero attitude. No nice guy, he beats women, is rude, his speech is ugly. He has the makings of a gangster. Yet he protects a child from her mother, and in women he attracts sympathy that he does not deserve. - The main content of the protagonists' lives is wandering, drinking and fighting. There are gunfights, and finally the gangsters on Dietmar's trail find him. Jon survives. - The women are attractive, their parts underwritten. - Although set in the cod fishing milieu, there is little sense of fishing and the industry linked with it.

Aikalainen

[A Contemporary]/ En samtida. FI 1984. D: Timo Linnasalo. Based on the novel Notes from Underground (Zapiski iz podpolja, 1865) by F.M. Dostoyevsky. Starring Paavo Piskonen (the Underground Man). 72 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 September 2008. - In the presence of Timo Linnasalo and Paavo Piskonen, interviewed by ?Eero Tammi?. TL and PP told that the idea came from PP, based on the dramatization by Ilpo Tuomarila, directed for the stage by Heikki Mäkelä. A Russian critic commened: poor guys, now you'll never get rid of Dostoyevsky. Piskonen met Jack Nicholson in ?Cannes?,and he said: Know Thyself. - This time I watched only the introduction to this rare film version of the first existentialist novel.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vierailu

The Visit / Besöket. FI 1981. PC: TTK/ETV. P+D+SC: Tapani Lundgren - based on the short story (1950) by Pentti Haanpää. Starring Erkki Pajala, Eeva-Maija Haukinen, Svante Martin, Heta Haukinen. 21 min. - The 35mm print looks like a blowup from 16mm. - An attempt at poetic interpretation and modernization. The Earth in space. Water flowing. The voice-over. A press conference. A boiler room. A girl and a mirror. Erkki Pajala as the ghost is gruff and smug. A failed film. - The original short story by master Pentti Haanpää is the vision of an alcoholic farmer who has lost the family estate and conjures the ghost of his grandfather from his grave. The farmer and the ghost make a droll excursion to the modern world. They even visit the cinema (scene not included in the film). A rough translation:
"They even sat in the movies, but not for long, since old Adolf did not like them.
- I don't understand why you have to devour such picture flicker until your belly is full. Before long you'll lose your sense of whether you're dreaming or not. And what about those glimpses of skin, picture skin! They are too much for a young man, who is always sticking out anyway...
He barked about the pictures so long and in so many ways that young Adolf got fed up.
- And what about your kind? Is it even fit for the pictures! There has been enough trouble already because of the fact that you cannot be seen..."

Kastematojen aika

The Age of the Worms / Daggmaskarnas tid. FI (c) 1985 YLE TV1 Lasten ja nuorten ohjelmien toimitus. D+SC: Matti Ijäs. DP: Jouko Paavonen. M: Antti Hytti. With pieces by Tom Waits, Keith Jarrett, and Jan Garbarek. LOC: Helsinki. Starring Kimmo Lempinen (Jontti), Vieno Saaristo (Jontti's mother), Oiva Lohtander (Jontti's father), Erkki Pajala (the angler), Samuli Edelmann (Höödi the bike boy). 35 min. 16mm sepmag production presented in digibeta, alas. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 September 2008. -An original coming-of-age story of a teenage boy. Spying on undressing girls. Violently clashing with parents. Making friends with an old tramp called the Angler in the fishing harbor. They steal money from fishing boats? and also collect worms for fishing; after a blind man's bluff on the jetty the old man splashes into the sea, and Jontti goes to buy dry clothes for him. But he gets a lift from an older teenager boy (Samuli Edelmann in one of his first parts) who takes him to the special part of the beach where boys and girls make out. Threatened by bikes, the old angler falls on a bridge looking lifeless. - Full of interesting observations, with a strong sense of the confusion in teenager's mind. - Interesting score by Antti Hytti. - Boldly nocturnal cinematography by Jouko Paavonen. Jontti is not a hero, he has mean and vicious traits. Nor is the angler a nice old fellow.

THE 1980S SEEN BY FINNISH CINEMA: SEMINAR DAY 2

The 1980s Seen by Finnish Cinema: the seminar day 2 at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 September 2008. Organized by The Risto Jarva Society together with National Audiovisual Archive
12.00 From the Lookout Spot of the Critic: Helena Ylänen Interviewed (by Eero Tammi)
13.30 Directors' Panel - the Circumstances of Film-Making Then and Now, with Jarmo Lampela, Timo Linnasalo and Claes Olsson, moderator: Kaarle Stewen
Helena Ylänen was the main film critic in Finland in the 1980s, and Kaarle Stewen edited a high profile tv programme on films, and they both had a complete view about that decade's developments in the Finnish cinema. Both had a warm, personal touch, and presented many sharp insights from today's perspective.
Excerpts seen from the 1980s from Kaarle Stewen's Valkokangas (Silver Screen) TV programme:
- Jörn Donner meets Spede Pasanen (1981)
- Timo Linnasalo at Nurmijärvi (1984)
- Matti Ijäs and Koomikko (The Comedian) (1983)
- Tulipää at Cannes, with Pirjo Honkasalo and Pekka Lehto (1981)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lain ulkopuolella

[Outside the Law] / Utanför lagen. FI 1987. PC: Filminor. P: Heikki Takkinen. D: Ville Mäkelä. SC: Olli-Pekka Parviainen. DP: Olli Varja. Theme song: "Sinun omasi" (Rami Sarmasto, Tamara Lund) sung by Tamara Lund. ED: Timo Linnasalo. Sound: Matti Kuortti. Starring Taneli Mäkelä (Sakari Nevalainen), Kari Heiskanen (Jari Jokela), Pirjo Luoma-aho (Saara Nevalainen), Antti Litja (Antti Kaitanen), Jouko Klemettilä (attorney Holmström), Leena Huotila (Mrs. Kaitanen). 84 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 13 September 2008. - The 25th Anniversary Film of Filminor. - In the presence of Ville Mäkelä, Timo Linnasalo, Matti Kuortti, interviewed by Markku Varjola. The only cinema film directed by Ville Mäkelä: "I made the mistake of switching into this horrible industry. Nice images for stupid stories. There was a pre-existing screenplay by Olli-Pekka Parviainen. I'm not attracted to scandal. My trusted man was brother Taneli, his friend was Kari Heiskanen, we played hockey, trained a lot. When Antti Litja was hired he had terms of his own. The film was important for him, released something in him. All locations are real." - TL: there was a chronological version first, but part of the crucial court scene was switched to the beginning on the suggestion of Antti Peippo. - VM: "The starting point was the question of taking justice into one's own hands. Rape was invented afterwards. The question of the rape is not treated properly. But it was based on Pirkko Viitala's research: rape is less a matter of sex than humiliation and degradation. Pentti Siimes refused the part of the rapist: there is enough injustice in the world, and I don't want to deal with it more." Ville Mäkelä summed up "that these were not stories for me, I did them as well as I could, but it was not from the heart". - After this introduction we saw the film that is taut and compelling. Saara Nevalainen is raped, but the rapist, Antti Kaitanen, is not convicted, as there is not enough evidence, and the whole process is extremely humiliating both for Saara and her husband Sakari. Unfortunately, there is Saara's hothead brother Jari, who provokes Sakari with him to take justice in their own hands. Mrs. Kaitanen finally confesses to the police that she had given false alibi to her husband, and she herself knows her husband to be guilty. But Jari is killed by a police sharpshooter, and Sakari gets a heavy sentence while Antti Kaitanen gets a mild one. Sakari is even committed to a prison for the mentally ill. - This is a strong and thought-provoking film, psychologically believable, and important as a social film, as it shows how justice can be derailed. Also the theme of rape is very responsibly presented, with its terrible repercussions in two families.

Elvis kissan jäljillä

[On the Track of Elvis the Cat] / I Elvis-kattens spår. FI 1987. P+D+SC+starring: Claes Olsson. 84 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 13 September 2008. - Presented by Claes Olsson, interviewed by Markku Varjola, we heard a funny account of an independent film-maker's life that led to his first feature film. He gave a personal angle to the independent, avantgarde, political culture since the 1960s. - This time I saw the introduction only.

Calamari Union

FI 1985. PC: Villealfa. D+SC: Aki Kaurismäki. 82 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 13 September, 2008. In the presence of Timo Eränkö (Frank), Pertti Sveholm (Frank), and Markku Toikka (Paavo) interviewed by Eero Tammi. All in character, perfect. - I revisited the start only of this weird film, in one scene of which the Franks visit Cinema Orion and see the eyes of Ivan Mozzhuhin as Father Sergius. Cinema Orion became the Film Archive cinema in 1984. - The cinema was full, Calamari Union having become a cult film. There is even a Calamari Union Fan Club which had also toured the other locations of the film.

Leningrad Cowboys: Thru The Wire

FI 1987. D: Aki Kaurismäki. 6 min. A 35mm print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 13 September 2008. - From the year Leningrad Cowboys was formed out of the cult band Sleepy Sleepers

"Enkä mä herätä sua" / [Nor Will I Wake You Up]

[Inte heller ska jag vecka dig]. FI 1983. PC: Koulu-TV, Yleisradio. D: Eero Tuomikoski. Based on the poems by Teemu Hirvilampi. DP: Pauli Sipiläinen. [M: Ari Taskinen?]. Starring Tomi Salmela (Pentti Jupiter Toikkanen), Teemu Hirvilammi (the man seeking Toikkanen). Reader of poems: Matti Pellonpää. 29 min. A digibeta (alas) of a 16 mm sepmag production viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 13 September 2008.

Presented by Markku Varjola: film as poem, poems in a new form, with many layers: the everyday and society, dreams, and philosophy.

The remarkable film has suicide as its theme. Aerial shots of Helsinki. Birds in slow motion. The girl with the cape. The man lying dead on the ground. In this play no dialogue is needed. The vista from Tähtitorninmäki. A play of the cards: life is over now. I don't want to play anymore. You ate your notes. The bloody hand. The helicopter shots. Japanese artificial hearts. The reflections in the window. Lucrative domestic flights available. Our computer can get you a friend for correspondence. Computer music and matter-of-fact commentators. The model in the window opens her eyes, and our boy takes her for a real woman. Metallic liquids in coffee cups. A rainy freeway at night. Shots of pure abstraction.

THE 1980S SEEN BY FINNISH CINEMA: SEMINAR DAY 1

The 1980s Seen by Finnish Cinema: the seminar day 1 at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 13 September 2008. Organized by The Risto Jarva Society together with National Audiovisual Archive
13.00 Opened by Matti Kuortti and Eero Tammi
13.15 Hannu Waarala: Gold and Ashes of the 1980s Finnish Cinema
14.00 Markku Varjola: on Eero Tuomikoski, plus film Enkä mä herätä sua
15.00 In the Shadow of Korvenheimo - Anssi Mänttäri interviewed by Eero Tammi
16.00 Markku Toikka: An Actor in the 1980s Cinema

Läpimurto

Breakthrough / Genombrott. FI 1981. D: Janne Kuusi. SC: Janne Kuusi, Jouni Tommola. DP: Tahvo Hirvonen - 16mm. Assistent Camera: Timo Salminen, Renny Harlin. ED: Anne Lakanen. Starring Susanna Haavisto (Small Redhaired Girl), Matti Laustela (Moritz), Eero Saarinen (Jaska), Ulla Tapaninen (Priscilla), Timo Torikka (Max), Jukka Asikainen (Guard), Renny Harlin (Policeman), Jukka-Pekka Palo (Policeman), Kari Väänänen (Policeman), Elina Salo (Teacher), Janne Kuusi (Horseheaded Man). 44 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 12 September 2008. - Together with Valehtelija / The Liar, FI/DE 1981. - Guests: Mika Kaurismäki, Janne Kuusi, Jouni Tommola. - JK, JT: the background was the students' theater of the 1970s. The film was a joint project of the theater school and the film school. The manuscript was a mere accident, just a list of scenes. There were no models of any kind. We hated the old theater, the affected way of reading the lines. We acted in a new way, put ourselves into it, meaning to rebel. We hardly knew anybody from the film scene. We irritated them and almost risked our lives. Maybe there is a Buñuel, Fellini connection. Fuck influences. To the hell with everything old. We wanted something new of our own. Maybe we sat on Buñuel thinking Fellini. Maybe the Kaurismäkis were thinking about Godard and Truffaut when they were thinking of nothing. - Print ok for a 16mm. - I saw but the beginning, it's all about theatre students and their rehearsals. - A parodic revolutionary scene. - Mirror rehearsals. - A silent film parody, very lowbrow, more so than Spede Pasanen. - A mixed sauna scene with booze and sex. - The next day the rehearsals are interrupted by vomiting, the actors revolting. - Here at 22 pm I called it a day

Huhtikuu on kuukausista julmin / April is the Cruellest of Months

April är grymmast av månader. FI 1983. PC: Reppufilmi. P: Anssi Mänttäri. D+SC: Suvi-Marja Korvenheimo (= Mänttäri). Ass. D+co-DP: Heikki Katajisto. DP: Eero Salmenhaara. Theme song: J. Karjalainen. M also: Erik Satie, P.I. Tchaikovsky. Starring: Antti Litja (Olli), Markku Toikka (Unto), Marianne Anttila (Sari Helkama), Paavo Piskonen (Leevi), Liisa Halonen (Raija), Olli Tuominen (critic Veiviäinen), Mikko Majanlahti (artist professor Mikkonen), Aki Kaurismäki (Ville Alfa), Lauri Kanerva (provincial author Maaselkä), Rea Mauranen (woman expressing grief), Jone Takamäki (policeman), Päivi Istala (radio journalist). 74 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 12 September 2008.

In the presence of Anssi Mänttäri, Heikki Katajisto, Paavo Piskonen, Päivi Istala.

AM, HK: The annoying visual look was based on Eero Salmenhaara overdoing his concept of a soft lens, distancing himself from naturalism. - AM: there were no makings for a trilogy in the Suvi-Marja Korvenheimo films. - AM: The Women's Rights Society Union's director was reportedly delighted by the vision of the "woman director": "when a woman makes a film we all get to see what pigs men are".

AA: The film is a parody of certain cultural circles of Helsinki, and some of the characters have obvious models. Olli is based on Hannu Salama, Leevi on Leo Lindsten, and Mikkonen on Mikko Niskanen. I could not help laughing at the juicy performance of Mikko Majanlahti as Mikkonen. The film got a good laughing response from the audience. - In the final scene on the deserted beach Ville Alfa (Aki Kaurismäki) asks about the secret of success from the alcoholic pig Olli (Antti Litja). The answer: "Booze and short sentences".

Jotkut teistä ovat ehkä kuulleet minusta

[Some Of You May Have Heard About Me] / [Några av er har kanske hört om mig]. FI 1985. D: Anssi Mänttäri. Featuring Kari Uusitalo, Pirkko Hämäläinen, Markku Toikka, Paavo Piskonen, Matti Pellonpää, Kristiina Repo, Liisa Halonen, Pauli Pentti. 9 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 12 September 2008. - A good, pleasantly photochemical print. - A parody of an interview with a film-making team, with Kari Uusitalo, the living encyclopedia of Finnish cinema, spoofing himself. - Planning a "death trilogy". - The second heaviest profession after the astronaut is the film director. - Pirkko Hämäläinen: this is really no return in front of the cameras, I have hardly been away.

Täältä tullaan, elämä!

[The title is impossible to translate. Life, Here We Come. Här har du oss, livet: approximate direct translations.] FI 1980. D: Tapio Suominen. Starring Esa Niemelä, Kati Outinen. 117 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 12 September 2008. - I watched the two first reels of the familiar film, which started a new period in Finnish cinema. A sure touch with "problem youth", authentic punk ambience. The print has a full photochemical impact. - Preceded by a contemporary 5 min video interview with Tapio Suominen by Kaarle Stewen (Valkokangas).

THE 1980S SEEN BY FINNISH CINEMA

The inspired retrospective and special weekend has been planned mainly by Eero Tammi with Matti Kuortti and Markku Varjola of the Risto Jarva Society together with National Audiovisual Archive. It takes place in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, starting 12 September 2008.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Adventures of Woody Woodpecker 2

Nakke Nakuttajan seikkailuja 2 / Hacke Hackspätt på äventyr 2. US (c) 1956-1958 Universal International. PC: Walter Lantz Productions. D: Paul J. Smith. SC: Jack Cosgriff, Homer Brightman. M: Clarence E. Wheeler. Technicolor. Vintage prints with full, bright, beautiful colour but with "rain" and joins in starts and tails. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 9 September 2008.
Crazy "cartunes" featuring the irrepressible woodpecker.
Chief Charlie Horse (1956). Cigar store Indian mixed with the real thing.
Get Lost (1956). Baby woodpeckers challenge a hungry cat.
Woodpecker from Mars (1956). Woody in a tv space costume mistaken for a Martian.
Dopey Dick the Pink Whale (1957). Moby Dick parody.
Fodder and Son (1957). Bears as park bums do the poor beggar act and Elvis imitations.
International Woodpecker (1957). Woody's history of the world, mayhem at every turning point.
Misguided Missile (1957). The insurance salesman with an intelligent missile to help with claims.
Round Trip to Mars (1957). Woody on holiday disturbed by a rocket scientist.
The Unbearable Salesman (1957). Woody the salesman meets a bear set for hibernation.
Everglade Raid (1958). Woody meets alligator. Alligator sees dinner, Woody sees luggage.

Monday, September 08, 2008

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Päivä Ivan Denisovitshin elämässä / En dag i Ivan Denisovitsj' liv. GB/NO 1970. PC: Group W Films LLC / Leontes / Norsk Film. P+D: Caspar Wrede. SC: Ronald Harwood - based on the novella Один день Ивана Денисовича (1962) by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. DP: Sven Nykvist - Eastmancolor. Starring Tom Courtenay (Ivan Denisovich Shukhov). Original in English. 105 min. Print without subtitles. Memorial screening of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) in the presence of the Wrede family in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 8 September 2008. - A fine print with colour intact. - The film had no premiere in Finland, as it was banned during the Cold War. - I revisited the first reel of the film. It shows the morning of the day in the grim Stalinist concentration camp after WWII, Ivan Denisovich's sickness, the appalling food. - I remember first having read Solzhenitsyn at the age of 16 in 1971, it was The First Circle. Solzhenitsyn's books had been published so far in the most prestigious books series, the Yellow Library of the Tammi company. Reading Solzhenitsyn was very moving, but I knew about the Gulag already from other books, even from left-wing memoirs, and the theme was well represented in the media, particularly in the main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. The banning of the film was ludicrous, an insult to the liberty of freedom and it certainly contributed to a general hatred of the Soviet Union. - In the 1970s Solzhenitsyn's most famous book, The Gulag Archipelago, was not published in Finnish by Tammi but by Wahlström & Widstrand in Stockholm (the first volume) and Kustannuspiste in Tampere (the rest). It was easily available in Finland. - It has been stated that Solzhenitsyn's books contributed decisively to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Certainly so, but as Solzhenitsyn's books focused on the crimes of the Stalin era, also officially condemned by the USSR, one might add that the persecution, banning and exile of Solzhenitsyn weighed even more. - The noble Wrede family dates to 13th century Germany, and since the 17th century it has been prominent in Finland. - The age of political bans of films in Finland ended with the glasnost of the USSR in the 1980s. Finnish film censorship was abolished in 2001.

ANTONIONI AND HITCHCOCK

I vinti - Strangers on a Train
Il grido - Vertigo
L'avventura - Psycho
Il deserto rosso - Marnie
Blow-Up - Rear Window
Zabriskie Point - North by Northwest
Profession: Reporter - The Man Who Knew Too Much

Sunday, September 07, 2008

L'avventura

Seikkailu / Äventyret / The Adventure. IT/FR 1960. D: Michelangelo Antonioni. 141 min. The restored version by Mediaset / Compass Film etc. A Cinecittà Holding print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, 7 September 2008. - The definitive version, but print has a slightly duped look (not quite sharp). - I watched the first reel of the masterpiece only. In Rome, Anna (Lea Massari) says goodbye to his father. He has retired from his job as a diplomat (decades of lies), and is now retiring from his position as a father. In vain he warns Anna from Sandro (Gabriele Ferzetti, famous from having portrayed Casanova and Puccini). He has seen through him. Anna and Claudia (Monica Vitti) drive to Sandro, at whose home Anna seduces him to make love. They start the sea journey on a yacht to the Aeolian islands of Sicily. The sense of freedom and alienation is unique from the outset. In Antonioni's obituaries (the best of which was written by Martin Scorsese in The New York Times) this film's status as a turning-point in film history was confirmed. It taught us a new way to see.

Jour de fête

Lystikäs kirjeenkantaja / Den roliga brevbäraren / Holiday. FR 1949. D+starring Jacques Tati. The digitally restored (1995) Thomsoncolor version, 79 min. With e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 7 September 2008. - I watched the last reel only of Tati's masterpiece to check out the restoration of the experimental Thomsoncolor. It was pleasant but felt slightly too much duped, the film has the same look as hand-painted silents a hundred years ago, the colour scale is a bit like watercolour, not perfectly matching the outlines, and it even resembles computer-coloured videos. I remember having seen also colour footage from this film with a more pointillistic approach. I prefer the black & white version, but both are great.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Erottamattomat

De oskiljaktiga / [The Inseparable]. FI (c) 2008 Kinotar. P: Lasse Saarinen, Risto Salomaa. D: Hanna Maylett. SC: Tarja Kylmä. DP: Jyri Hakala - HDTV - shot on Sony CineAlta F23 - digital intermediate Generator Post, Digital Film Finland - distributed in 35mm 1:2,35. M: Sanna Salmenkallio. LOC: Tyrnävä. Starring Minna Haapkylä (Eve), Tiina Lymi (Taru), Kaneli Johansson (Ninni), Jorma Tommila (Harri). 101 min. Released by Nordisk with Swedish subtitles by Saliven Gustavson. Viewed at Maxim 1, Helsinki, 6 September 2008. - A gray digital intermediate look. - On a horse farm in the province of Pohjanmaa, Finland, the teenage daughter Ninni is kicked by the maverick Indigo and taken to hospital by her stepmother Taru and her father Harri. Her biological mother Eve, who lives in Sweden, is alerted, and she comes back the next day having abandoned her baby ten years ago. - The single kick of a horse causes turbulence in all of their lives. - Strengths include performances by Minna Haapkylä and Tiina Lymi. The visual concept of the film is effective, juxtaposing the stagnation in the protagonists' lives with the life force of the horses and the presence of a big river and its rapids. - The film were better if the concept were more dynamic in its storytelling or otherwise. - Boldly the film has been shot in the gray rain of October. Much of the force of the crane shots and other well-composed images is lost in digital transition.

Con Michelangelo

IT 2005. D: Enrica Antonioni. 58 min. Dvd from Cinecittà Holding viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 6 September 2008. - Painting with the assistance of a young woman. - Driving to Cannes, meeting Thierry Frémaux. Since his paralysis in a stroke in 1985 Antonioni was unable to speak. - Looks beautiful for a dvd. - I saw the first 20 min only.

Antonioni, lo sguardo che cambiò il cinema

Antonioni: The Eye That Changed Cinema. IT 2001. D: Carlo di Carlo, Sandro Lai. 60 min. A Betacam from Cinecittà Holding with English subtitles by Charlotte Lantery viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 6 September 2008. - A comprehensive and exciting compilation of Antonioni's statements about his art, from his early shorts till Al di là delle nuvole. - L'avventura outtake (the cobbler game). - Antonioni & Monica Vitti screening rushes. - The question of colour: the blatant manipulation in Il deserto rosso and Blow-Up. "I changed London to become more London". - "Each film is a battle". - Blow-Up: "other films I did with my stomach, this one with my head". - Zabriskie Point difficult to film because of the US working methods, difficult to improvise. - Chung Kuo Cina: the concept of community, belonging. The trouble afterwards was related to the status of Chou En Lai. - Professione: reporter: the first film not based on my own script. More discreet narrative. - Il mistero di Oberwald: tv cameras, electronics, changing colour at will. - Identificazione di una donna: "not characters in crisis but characters who reveal crises." - 1983: "screens are getting smaller, tv sets bigger." - Quantum physics: "nothing is certain." - Communicating incommunication. - Silence. - Against shot / counter-shot. "People misunderstand each other even face to face." - "For Wenders, film-making is crazy fun, for me, almost suffering." - "The woman is a subtler filter of reality, with more ties to mystery." - "The moral purpose in life can also be called God." - Antonioni exhibition with artwork based on Il deserto rosso. - The companionship of Enrica Antonioni. Filming Al di là delle nuvole, Enrica: "Wim is an angel". The tender look at Enrica. "The most courageous." Final image: Jack Nicholson extends him the Oscar in 1995.

WALL*E

WALL-E / WALL-E. US (c) 2008 Disney / Pixar. EX: John Lasseter. D: Andrew Stanton. SC: Stanton, Jim Reardon - based on a story by Stanton, Pete Docter. M: Thomas Newman. "La Vie en rose" perf. Louis Armstrong. Supervising AN: Alan Barillaro, Steven Clay Hunter. Directing AN: Angus MacLane. Original format: Digital - distributed as D-Cinema and 35mm film prints in 1:2,35. Voice talent: Ben Burtt (WALL-E / M-O), Elissa Knight (EVE), Jeff Garlin (Captain), Fred Willard (Shelby Fortright - BnL CEO), MacIn Talk (AUTO), John Ratzenberger (John), Kathy Najimy (Mary), Sigourney Weaver (Ship's Computer). 98 min. Released in Finland by Buena Vista International Finland. Original English version with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Marko Hartama / Janne Staffans viewed in 35mm at Tennispalatsi 5, Helsinki, 6 September 2008. - A masterpiece. - Digital animation at its best, a satire of the mechanical world and pollution. A vision of the brave new world in the Huxley tradition. The earth has become unfit to live. Mankind has escaped on a mothership to outer space, and in 700 years everybody has become a paunchy couch potato, practically invalid, subsisting on fast food and the ubiquitous entertainment monitor. - The main relationship is between two robots, vaguely similar with Lady and the Tramp. - Fine scenes: the space dance, the revolt of the computers. - The scifi tributes are not overdone, end credit art is a beautiful exercise in pastiche. - Thomas Newman's whimsical music has affinities with Henry Mancini (Hatari!). - The computer definition of "Earth" includes a glimpse of D.W. Griffith's A Corner in Wheat.

Presto

US (c) 2008 Disney / Pixar. D: Doug Sweetland. 5 min. - Released in Finland by Buena Vista International Finland. 35mm at Tennispalatsi 5, Helsinki, 6 September 2008. - The rabbit sabotages the magician's act as he refuses to feed it with a carrot.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hitler's Children

Hitlerin lapset. US (c) 1943 RKO. P: Edward A. Golden. D: Edward Dmytryk. SC: Emmet Lavery - based on the book Education for Death (1941) by Gregor Ziemer. DP: Russell Metty. M: Roy Webb. Starring Tim Holt (Ltn. Karl Bruner), Bonita Granville (Anna Miller), Kent Smith (Prof. Nichols), Otto Kruger (Col. Henkel), H.B. Warner (the Bishop), Lloyd Corrigan (Franz Erhart), Erford Gage (Dr. Schmidt), Hans Conried (Dr. Graf), Peter Van Eyck (arresting sergeant). 82 min. A 16mm C&C television print viewed at Bio Asta, Filmens Hus, Copenhagen, 5 September 2008. - Dmytryk already had a long career when he started to attract attention directing films like this. It is a straightforward political drama about Nazi Germany in 1933-1939, with an interesting montage in the beginning. The fictional story bringing to life the story of the rise of Hitler's Germany. The main characters are the schoolchildren Karl and Anna who grow into young adults, Karl into a Gestapo soldier, Anna into a young woman believing in the American ideal of liberty (she is an American citizen). - The drama is harsh and abrupt, but not far removed from reality? - The Nazis are not caricatures, which makes convincing the greatest horror that Anna could become a Nazi, too. - A memorable character is journalist Franz Erhard, who has to be afraid of his own children. He never gives up silent resistance. - A major theme: compulsive sterilization for those who cannot support strong Germany, including women with incorrect political thought. - A turning-point at the church where the bishop is proud to denounce the Führer. "Let me die while I'm still proud I'm a German". "A special prayer for our speedy destruction at the hands of our enemies". - As Anna is about to be whipped and sterilized, Karl rescues her, but submits to a radio trial, where he is expected to give an example for all. He utilizes the opportunity to praise Goethe's lesson of life against an education for death. "To live is to be free. Long live the enemies of Nazi Germany". All Germany hears Gestapo shoot Karl and Anna live on the air. - The film is based on the personal experience of Gregor Ziemer, an American educator in Germany in the 1930s. The book was also the source for the Disney propaganda short Education for Death (also 1943).

Films at the Nordic meeting

Viewed at the Nordic meeting, Bio Carl, Filmens Hus, Copenhagen, 5 September 2008.
Med Ingrid Bergman på Berns (SE 1953) 6 min. A sample.
Et luftangrepp paa Padua (IT 1917) 6 min. Billeder af nedskudte fly udenfor byen Padova. Billeder af ödelagte huse. Desuden billeder fra Bassano og Castelfranco. A sample.
Carmen, Jr. / Baby Peggy som Tyrefägter (US 1925), D: Alfred J. Goulding, 11 min. A sample

Chapellerie et charcuterie automatiques

FR 1908. P: Gaumont. D: Alice Guy. Print preserved at Svenska Filminstitutet. Short film projected from the dvd Gaumont Box: Le Cinéma premier Vol 1 (1897-1913) Guy - Feuillade - Perret. Viewed at the Nordic meeting, Bio Carl, Filmens Hus, Copenhagen, 5 September 2008. - A fantasy comedy of the marvellous machine that produces hats and sausages.

La Fée aux choux

FR 1910. P: Gaumont. D: Alice Guy. Print preserved at Svenska Filminstitutet. Short film projected from the dvd Gaumont Box: Le Cinéma premier Vol 1 (1897-1913) Guy - Feuillade - Perret. Viewed at the Nordic meeting, Bio Carl, Filmens Hus, Copenhagen, 5 September 2008. - Charming fantasmagoria: children are born from cauliflowers.

Sydpoleekspedisjonen 1910-1912

[The South Pole Expedition 1910-1912]. Shot by Roald Amundsen and his crew. Restored by Nasjionalbiblioteket (Norge) (2008). Based on the original negative and the English print with English subtitles. Presented by Morten Skallerud at the meeting of the Nordic film archives, Bio Carl, Copenhagen, 4 September 2008. 21 min. - First screened as HDSR projection, and then as a film projection. - The Norwegian Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole in 1910-1912. Incredibly, there was also a film record, shot by Amundsen and his colleagues. - A good definition. - The ship being fitted up for the expedition. The provisions, the dogs (Greenland huskies and a Samoyed lead bitch). Entertainment aboard, a man in woman's clothes. A lively atmosphere. - The chef is the Henrik Lindström well-known in the Nordic countries for his "Lindström's steak". - The Bay of Whales: shoals of whales. - Dwellings. Antarctic midsummer. Minus 60 grades Centigrade. - Not filmed: sledges hauled by dogs take the men to the South Pole. - Funny shot of man meeting penguin, in a silhouette-like composition. - (Not in the film: killing seals, penguins and many of the dogs for food.) - Since the 1980s a short English version has been available but maybe not very well-known. Now the original material has been restored and reconstructed properly. - Also Shackleton shot South Pole footage before and after Amundsen. Scott filmed South Pole footage simultaneously with Amundsen. Penguins were a favourite motif with all. - The HDSR projection looked good, the 35mm film print even better.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Reinventing Ourselves in Programming (at The Nordic Film Archives' Meeting in Copenhagen)

The world of the moving images changes so fast that we, the programmers of film archives, need to reconsider our vision annually and even more frequently. Home cinemas with large screens, internet downloading, dvd, high-definition dvd such as Bluray, digital television and high definition television – they all change the landscape rapidly.

    Besides, during the recent decades the film festival proliferation and their growing popularity, art museum and gallery presentations of moving images, and huge high profile live cinema and other events have brought new and exciting forums for quality films and classics of the cinema for wider audiences.

    As many of us have stated, we are no longer as unique as we used to be during the decades from the 1940s to the 1970s. I think all this is great. And of course, we the archives are participating in much of these new phenomena.

    Yet, although an extraordinary selection of films is available on tv, dvd, and the net, if we look at our programmes, most of the titles there are still difficult or impossible to find for home viewing. That, however, is likely to change.

    But regarding home viewing we know that nothing can replace the cinema experience. A big film's feeling for space and landscape can only be experienced in the cinema. An intimate psychological film, a chamber piece such as Ingmar Bergman's, is at its most intensive in the cinema. A comedy is many times funnier when experienced by a cinema audience with its successive waves of laughter. A thriller or a horror film is much more effective in the darkness of the cinema.

    Although festivals, art cinemas, galleries such as Centre Pompidou and special events offer many of the things that cinematheques have traditionally presented, and sometimes better than we do, the combination of a film archive's programming is unique.

    Each of us has a distinctive profile of programming, but we have many things in common. The following is an attempt to summarize the Finnish recipe of programming in 16 points. The Finnish programming aims at "full service" of everything that a cinematheque is expected to offer. The vision has always been to present "all cinema" in a meaningful way. During our 50 years of activity we have gained a special role in the country's cultural life, close links with other arts and a nationwide presence from Helsinki to Lapland. We have achieved a brand of quality. This, however, can never be taken for granted. Each season, the brand has to be earned over again. The only constant is change.

    1. META-PROGRAMMING. Meta-programming means that there are continuities and balances that stretch over years and even decades. Some films have "heavy rotation" to borrow MTV terminology, other themes unfold slowly. There are attempts to balance films of various periods and countries, without mechanical constraints. Sometimes there are practical reasons to programme too many films of the same era, of a similar sensibility or cultural background. Then adjustments need to be made to restore the balance in the next future.

    2. FILM HISTORY. The most important keynote principle is to present the great outlines of film history - the main periods of style, the historical turning-points, the key works. A rule of thumb is that a young person who comes to Helsinki for five years to study can get a good general education of film history by following the screenings of Cinema Orion. More profoundly, history can be examined through cinema, and even fiction films seen as documents of history. Most excitingly, we can trace a philosophy of history through the cinema.

    3. THE WORLD CINEMA. Another keynote principle is world cinema. The general cinema distribution is dominated by Hollywood entertainment. It is our pleasant vocation to pay tribute to the rest of the world. Even European cinema is under-represented in the current commercial Finnish cinema repertory. Asian and Latin American cinemas deserve attention. Satu Laaksonen's series of Arab, Iranian and African films have been especially ambitious, and they have left lasting marks. The archive has always played an essential role in opening up Japanese cinema to Finnish audiences.

    4. NATIONAL CINEMA. Cinema Orion is the home of Finnish film art in its whole spectrum. Central artists such as Jarva, Kurkvaara, Tapiovaara, and the Kaurismäkis get special treatment. Complete retrospective are mounted of even the most prolific directors such as Vaala, Laine, Leminen, Kassila, Unho and Hällström. Restored films are brought to the screen sometimes after generations (Tulio). Finnish cinema in extenso is the largest retrospective, and in a small country like Finland it is possible to screen all: of the 1250 Finnish feature films produced in a hundred years 690 have been screened in Cinema Orion. Together with the Risto Jarva Society dozens of film artists have been celebrated as special guests in extensive tributes to Finnish cinema.

    5. THE CLASSICS. The concept of the classic (even if elusive, shifting, changing, controversial) is at the core of cinematheque programmin. The top ten films of Britain's Sight & Sound (last polled in 2002) are also examples of the best-loved films in Cinema Orion: Citizen Kane, Vertigo, The Rules of the Game, The Godfather, Tokyo Story, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Battleship Potyomkin, Sunrise, 8½, and Singin' in the Rain.

    6. THE BIG RETROSPECTIVES. The big or complete retrospectives of the masters are trump cards of the film archive. They take a lot of space, but every generation deserves a full retrospective of Mizoguchi, Renoir, Hitchcock, Bergman... In between it makes sense to mount selective retrospectives. It is equally important to present the lesser-known directors in a proper balance. The anti-Hollywood bias of the archive audiences sometimes plays tricks with the attendance to retrospectives of American directors, including even John Ford, whose work we would like to screen more than the audience is ready to receive.

    7. AVANTGARDE. Cinematheques have always been a cradle of experimental films (avantgarde, artists' films). They are treated with tender love, because in experimental films cinema is born again. The experimental film collections and series of The Museum of Modern Art and the Goethe-Institut have received a lot of space in Cinema Orion, and together with Mika Taanila, himself a film artist, and the Avanto Festival, ambitious events have been arranged, as the quasi-complete retrospective of Finnish experimental film accompanied by the book Sähkömetsä (The Electric Forest), and a large and successful tribute to P. Adams Sitney and Jonas Mekas' New American Cinema tours in 1968.

    8. DOCUMENTARY. Another constant is the emphasis on the documentary film. Besides feature-length documentaries, for the last 25 years, there has been an inspired series called Treasures from the Archives edited for the Tampere Short Film Festival by Raimo Silius and Lauri Tykkyläinen. And in this decade there have been over 40 special programs called In the Core of the Documentary, curated by Ilkka Kippola and Jari Sedergren, with a radical agenda of rewriting film history, and maybe even rewriting history.

    9. ANIMATION. A further major strand is animation, from Japanese anime, Russian fairy-tales and Czech classics to the surrealism of the Quay Brothers. The great Americans such as Walt Disney, Tex Avery, and Warner Bros. have been screened really extensively in Cinema Orion, but animation mega-series seem to wear out most spectators. The main dilemma is that the films are meant to be screened singly, but in a retrospective they need to be packaged together. The most popular animation figure in Cinema Orion is Krtek (The Little Mole): his shows sell out. Finnish animation (Katariina Lillqvist and others) is presented with special care.

    10. COUNTER-HISTORY. There has been a revival of the secret histories of the cinema thanks to the Tarantino phenomenon. Blaxploitation, Hong Kong martial arts movies, Italowesterns, Hammer horror and Japanese monster films had been screened in Cinema Orion before Tarantino, but thanks to him, there has been a new level of ambition comparable to the Venice Film Festival's "secret history of the Italian cinema" projects. Two guest curators, Lauri Lehtinen and Antti Suonio, have mounted special retrospectives in Cinema Orion with such inspiration that they themselves have received brand recognition. Formerly popular concepts such as "cult movies" and "B movies" are fading as being too broad and misleading in this new generation of discovery.

    11. RESTORATION. Rescuing films from oblivion, saving them from destruction, and actually preserving and restoring them, is the core concept of the archives, and screening restored treasures is our happiest mission. The 70th anniversary tribute to La Cinémathèque française and the Centenary retrospective of the Nordisk company in brilliant prints from Det Danske Filminstitut have been some of those happy occasions, as well as recent retrospectives of Sjöström and Stiller from Svenska Filminstitutet or the new Lubitsch prints from the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung.

    12. EARLY CINEMA. Particular attention is paid to early cinema, the films before the First World War, the age of the pioneers before the breakthrough of the feature film. We have acquired our own sets of prints of Helsinki's first Lumière show, of Edwin S. Porter and the Edison Manufacturing Co., and of the Skladanowsky films. Our foreign film archivist, Juha Kindberg, has preserved, restored and researched in depth our own early film treasures, also for the Orion screenings. Among the discoveries: an exciting Pathé compilation of the Russian revolution of 1905, including the original Pathé version of the Battleship Potyomkin.

    13. THE FORBIDDEN, THE DIFFICULT, THE IMPOSSIBLE. Some films have been impossible to see anywhere but in the archive. In 2001, film censorship was abolished in Finland, but during decades many classics were banned by the Finnish counterpart of the Production Code Administration (Trouble in Paradise, The Blue Angel... ) and later by the state board of classification (the ban of One, Two, Three in Finland until 1986 was itself a Wilderian joke). The archive was the place to see Salò and The Empire of the Senses, then banned, now free. Since the glasnost the discoveries of banned films from Russia and East Europe have been abundant, including the Locarno discoveries of the Unknown Soviet Cinema. It is also the task of the archive to screen films that are extremely short (early cinema, Fluxus) or extremely long. Cinema Orion is the place to see in full Scenes from a Marriage (Bergman), Berlin Alexanderplatz (Fassbinder), Hitler (Syberberg), Shoah (Lanzmann), Pagnol's Marseille trilogy in one long night, or the Finnish masterpiece The Eight Deadly Shots (Niskanen) in its only correct version of over five hours.

    14. RARE FORMATS. For a long time film archives were the only venues where one could see silent films properly projected. It is a pleasant sign of the times that awareness of the correct presentation of silent and classic films is spreading. All aspect ratios, projection speeds, sound formats including magnetic sound, sepmag 16mm, and so on are respected in Cinema Orion, which also belongs to the archival cinemas that still screen nitrate. It has been a privilege to see first generation nitrate prints of Finnish classics in the Vaala, Leminen, and Unho retrospectives. Also screenings of nitrate copies of Murnau, Sternberg, Ophuls, Flaherty and Ford have given the Orion spectators a special awareness of their art. The definition of light was often personally supervised by the director. Current generations can still see the result first-hand.

    15.  PUTTING INTO PERSPECTIVE. Film programming is not stamp collecting. It is revisiting films, rediscovering films both in the large context of history and culture and as single electric jolts. Special theme series give accents and create new connections. Programme booklets give introductions to the current themes, program notes give detailed facts and interpretations of the single films, sometimes at a high ambition level. Artists themselves and experts, scholars and archivists as special guests, lecture series, seminars, and live cinema events, all deepen the experiences and make them unique. Cinema is the privileged art of "time regained" in the Proustian-Benjaminian sense. Screenings can change the way we see history, our parents' and grandparents' lives, ourselves.

    16. ACCESS AS WIDE AS POSSIBLE. Film archives are not film distributors, but in Finland, access is as generous as possible within FIAF standards and the rights-holders' consent. Besides the archive's own programming in ten university cities from Helsinki to Lapland (in Helsinki, Joensuu,
Jyväskylä, Lahti, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa) we are partners for film festivals and special events of nation-wide relevance, let film students access archival prints, organize national tours of new prints of classic film and participate actively in the global exchange of programming. Film clubs have always been our best friends, and although we don't circulate archival prints in film clubs, our common interest is to get more new prints of classic films into general distribution.

     The question of attendance has become topical in the last couple of years. Our attendance in Cinema Orion, which seats 216, had a steady average of some 60 viewers per screening, until in the autumn in 2006 there was a drop to some 50 per screening. This can still be a matter of a natural ebb and flow. In the Finnish archive's other cities the performance has been strong, and film festivals (many of them with archival features) are at the peak of their popularity. But this is a challenge, and it has to be taken seriously. There are many fronts to consider. The single most important is the home front: the new home viewing with the magnificent home cinemas and the seemingly limitless access to films from the net, dvd, and tv. It has come to stay and will get much stronger. Yet people will notice the superiority of the cinema experience. Our core audiences tend to live in cramped circumstances, and they want to enjoy the space of the cinema.

    One of the challenges is the audience specialization. In 2002 we mounted an anime series of the best-known standard titles with great success, although the prints available were dubbed in English. In 2007 we mounted a much more ambitious anime retrospective in original-language prints with English subtitles. It was not so successful, and apparently the reason for that was that the anime fans have meanwhile specialized into several subgroups that are more difficult to reach.

    Facing new challenges, we need to reinvent ourselves. In Finland we are expanding our film education activity, working with schools and children. Our close cooperation with the universities' student film activists has been wakened after a certain period of passivity.

    Quality becomes more important: quality of films, prints, and presentation. Paradoxically, tolerance of films that are not translated into the national language is weakening, perhaps because of the growing availability of subtitled films for home viewing. We now feel the need to offer a Finnish translation of films in Swedish or with Swedish subtitles only, although Swedish is the second official language of bilingual Finland. Eventually all films ought to have Finnish in them, and there is likely to be a big jump ahead in electronic subtitling with D-Cinema.

    There is the disquieting situation of film criticism (and of film culture, and even of any appreciation of "difficult" culture). Globally the space of serious film writing is diminishing in the main media. In Finland we were hit hard a few years ago. There were seven film journalists that had an active interest in the film archive in the main newspaper Helsingin Sanomat. Now there are only two. Our atmosphere in the traditional media has shrunk.

    Cinephilia is a key question. In Helsinki we still have a core group of cinephiles that have attended our screenings since day one for over 50 years. They include the founders of the archive, Jörn Donner and Aito Mäkinen. New generations have joined them, and pleasantly enough, there are several young cinephiles.

    We are searching for the best way to establish a stronger internet presence. The archive's homepage has already been a major channel for years, but we want to build on this. We are launching ourself in Facebook. We are looking seriously into online ticket sales, which at first seems overwhelming for a small organization, but we need to go there.

    As colleagues have stated, we are living in an event culture. We need to face this and create events ourselves, realizing that this is a time of increasingly specialized audiences that can time and again cross over.

Back to Bataan

Viidakon partisaanit / Djungelpartisaner / Urskovens partisaner. US 1945. PC: RKO. EX: Robert Fellows. D: Edward Dmytryk. SC: Ben Barzman, Richard H. Landau - from a story by Aeneas MacKenzie, William Gordon. DP: Nicholas Musuraca. M: Roy Webb. Starring John Wayne (Col. Joseph Madden), Anthony Quinn (Capt. Andrés Bonifácio), Beulah Bondi (Bertha Barnes), Fely Franquelli (Dolici Dalgado), Lawrence Tierney (Lt. Cmdr. Waite). 95 min. A DFI print with danske tekster viewed at Bio Carl, Filmens Hus, Copenhagen, 4 September 2008. - The story of the Philippines during WWII told as Hollywood entertainment. Japan conquers the Philippines from the US and grants them fake independence. The US manage to win even former anti-US Filipino freedom fighters to their side (the Bonifácio story). - An interesting feature is that the influential Filipino female speaker on the Japanese radio, Dolici Dalgado, is actually a counter-spy for the US. - John Wayne is very good in his role of the guerrilla leader. - It starts with desperate losses, and guerrilla warfare is punished with excessive retribution by the Japanese. - Wayne portrays convincingly the control needed in heated moments, when he is provoked, and especially when the arguments against him are valid: the terrible moral choice of carrying out guerrilla strikes while innocent civilians get sacrificed. Wayne can project leadership based on innate authority and dignity. - Beulah Bondi is also very good as the schoolteacher turned guerrilla. - There are fine action scenes, as the one where Andrés Bonifácio (Anthony Quinn) is rescued from the prisoners' terrible death march by ruse. - Maybe the finest sequence is the confession in the Catholic church, where Bonifacio disguised as a priest meets Dolici and first then realizes that she is on their side and not the Japanese propagandist everyone thinks she is. Also Fely Franquelli gives a fine performance.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chung Kuo - Cina parte 1

Chung Kuo - Kiina osa 1 / Antonionis Kina 1 / China 1. IT (c) 1972 RAI. D: Michelangelo Antonioni. SC: Antonioni, Andrea Barbato. DP: Luciano Tovoli - original format? - colour - print 35mm. TV documentary. The whole film 207 min, the first part 76 min. A 35mm Cinecittà print with English subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 2 September 2008. - A good 35mm print, with full colour, as good as it gets, of a film that was apparently shot on 16mm. - Antonioni's fascinating tv documentary was made when China was barely emerging from the purgatory / hell of the Cultural Revolution, and Antonioni was one of the early witnesses of China's opening. - The documentary is honestly presented as one strictly controlled by the authorities. - It starts on the Tiananmen Square, the children's song "I Love Tiananmen Square", the center of the world, Chung Kuo meaning "the central country". - Antonioni traces faces, gestures, habits. We are conscious of the bans and restrictions imposed on him. - Tai chi. - Caesarean section with acupuncture anaesthesia. - The society of a huge textile factory, with kindergartens, simple homes, work is not hectic. - Art and culture to the masses. - The Great Wall. - The Holy Road of the Spirits. - The Museum of the Revolution. - The life in the land is constant struggle. Visiting farms and markets. - Back in Peking, in the Forbidden City, which has recently been opened. Interminable waiting of the imperial era brings to mind Kafka. - An old woman whose feet were deformed in the old era. - The new Peking, new urbanization. - Tien Tan: the Temple of the Heaven. - Cheng An: the puppet theatre with many puppet musicians.