Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Adventures of Woody Woodpecker 4

Pistol Packin' Woodpecker (1960), D: Paul J. Smith
Southern Fried Hospitality (1960), D: Jack Hannah
The Bird Who Came to Dinner (1961), D: Paul J. Smith
Franken-Stymied (1961), D: Jack Hannah
Poop Deck Pirate (1961), D: Jack Hannah
Sufferin' Cats (1961), D: Paul J. Smith
Woody's Kook-Out (1961), D: Jack Hannah
Home Sweet Home Wrecker (1962), D: Paul J. Smith
Rock-a Bye Gator (1962), D: Jack Hannah
Room and Bored (1962), D: Paul J. Smith
(c) Universal, PC: Walter Lantz Productions, P: Walter Lantz.
Vintage prints, perfect Technicolor, 1,2:1, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 25 Dec 2008.
No sign of tiredness in the continuing Woody Woodpecker saga. My favourite of these was Franken-Stymied. Seen in programmes like these the repetitiveness of the mutual destruction formula becomes grating.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Painajainen ennen joulua / Mardröm före jul. US (c) 1993 Touchstone Pictures. P: Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi. D: Henry Selick. SC: Caroline Thompson - based on the subject and characters by Tim Burton. DP: Pete Kozachik - Technicolor - 1,66:1. Digital effects: Ariel Velasco Shaw. AN: Eric Leighton. Characters: Bonita De Carlo. M: Danny Elfman. ED: Stan Webb. Characters: Jack Skellington, Sally / Shock, Dr. Finkelstein, Oogie Boogie, Santa Claus. 76 min. A vintage print with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri / Eirik Udd. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 25 Dec 2008. - A beautiful print with good, full colour. Interestingly there are a lot of warm, soft hues. - Revisited: the puppet animation masterpiece based on the concept of Tim Burton and directed by Henry Selick. - It is in verse form. - When Shrek was released, it was seen as Anti-Disney, but Disney, themselves, did it better here. - I liked the film even more this time.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Batman [1989]

Batman. US 1989. PC: Warner Bros. D: Tim Burton. SC: Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren - based on the characters created by Bob Kane. DP: Roger Pratt. M: Danny Elfman. Songs: Prince. Cast: Michael Keaton (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Jack Nicholson (Jack Napier / Joker), Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale), Michael Gough (Alfred), Billy Dee Williams (Harvey Dent). 122 min. A print with Finnish / Swedish subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, 19 Dec 2008. - Print clean but not bright. - Revisited: the first movie of the current Batman cycle, interesting to compare with The Dark Night. - Jack Nicholson is great as the Joker, but Heath Ledger is more profoundly shocking. Billy Dee Williams is Harvey Dent but without the Two-Face aspect of Aaron Eckhardt. Kim Basinger is charming and sensitive, but she is denied the opportunity to be active and important; this was corrected in Burton's next Batman film, in the way Michelle Pfeiffer took over the Catwoman character. - Great Tim Burton touches all through the picture.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tilinteko

Uppgörelse / The Final Arrangement / [Un règlement de comptes] / [The Final Account]. FI (c) 1987 Villealfa. P: Aki Kaurismäki. D: Veikko Aaltonen. SC: Veikko Aaltonen, Aki Kaurismäki. DP: Timo Salminen - Eastmancolor - 1:1,85.
Live performance: Markus Allan: "Syyspihlajan alla".
Oldies records: "Rattaanpyörä" perf. Ilkka Rinne and Rytmi-yhtye. "Harmaat silmät" perf. Henry Theel. "Pieni kukkanen" perf. Laila Kinnunen. "You Are My Thrill" perf. Billie Holiday. "Pojat" perf. Laila and Ritva Kinnunen.
Jussi Björling tracks: "Du är min hela värld", "Tra voi belle".
Hymn at the church: Hymn 440 "Jo vääryys vallan saapi".
Filming locations: Suodenniemi, Kankaanpää, Lavia (in the middle between Tampere and Pori).
Cast: Juhani Niemelä (Kalervo Mäkinen, "Nieminen"), Esko Nikkari (Timo Varjola, mayor), Kaija Pakarinen (Leena Palo), Seppo Mäki (Reidar). 72 min. An excellent vintage print with perfect colour. At Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 17 Dec 2008. - Two men commit grand burglary. Varjola murders the two drivers of the mail bus and tries to kill his companion, Nieminen. Seven years after, Nieminen, on leave from the prison, returns to the town where Varjola is now mayor, a father, and a pillar of society (church, Lions Club, etc.). - An interesting film in the Villealfa canon. Veikko Aaltonen has a good grip on the ironic, laconic, antirealistic Melville style of the crime movie. There is a good steady cinematic drive all through the picture. The collaboration with the cinematographer Timo Salminen is perfect and functional. There are also affinities and touches common to the Villealfa school, such as 1) the terse, telegraph-style dialogue, 2) the almost autistic passivity of the male protagonist, 3) the man is also passive towards the woman, 4) the imagery and the colour scale are strong and recognizably like Salminen's work with Aki Kaurismäki, 5) the importance of music records and the jukebox, 6) Kekkonen, 7) the final insane act of violence of the passive protagonist. - The most lively figures are Esko Nikkari as the former robber and murderer, now a pillar of the society, soon promised a career as a minister of justice, and Kaija Pakarinen as the hairdresser who needs to take the initiative in seeking male company. - Veikko Aaltonen, himself, has stated that the screenplay was unfinished. The film was shot in ten days. - Well made but does not finally quite make enough sense.

Monday, December 15, 2008

CHI MI FRENA IN TAL MOMENTO (DONIZETTI: LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR)

"Chi mi frena in tal momento" is the great sextet in Gaetano Donizetti's opera Lucia di Lammermoor (1835), based on the novel by Walter Scott: Parte seconda (Il contratto nuziale). Atto primo, quadro secondo - Arturo attende trepidante la promessa sposa all'altare. Lucia viene, e la cerimonia nuziale è sconvolta dall'inattesa irruzione di Edgardo ("Chi mi frena in tal momento").
During the first half of the 20th century it became the symbol of opera and the symbol of culture in popular cinema.
- Enrico Caruso: Lucia di Lammermoor (1911) - magnificent early sound film in widescreen
- Howard Hawks: Scarface (1932) - Scarface's murder anthem
- Jean Renoir: Madame Bovary (1933) - Madame Bovary's encounter with culture
- George Cukor: Little Women (1933) - Jo's cultural awakening
- Tex Avery: I Love to Singa (1936) - Owl Jolson is taught to sing opera
- Walt Disney: Willie the Operatic Whale (1946) - a signature tune at the Met
- Tex Avery: Little 'Tinker (1948) - proof of the singing skunk's refinement

Scarface

Arpinaama / Scarface - Chicagos siste gangster. US (c) 1932 The Caddo Company. Presented by Howard Hughes. D: Howard Hawks. SC: Ben Hecht (screen story); Seton I. Miller, John Lee Mahin, W. R. Burnett (continuity and dialogue) - based on the novel Scarface (1930) by Armitage Trail. DP: Lee Garmes, L.W. O'Connell. AD: Harry Oliver. M Directors: Adolph Tandler, Gus Arnheim. "Chi mi frena in tal momento" from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor: Scarface's whistled theme song before murder. "Some Of These Days" and "A Mighty Rough Road" pres. by Ann Dvorak. S: William Snyder. ED: Edward Curtiss. Cast: Paul Muni (Tony [Antonio Camonte]), Ann Dvorak (Cesca [Camonte]), Karen Morley (Poppy), Osgood Perkins ([Johnny] Lovo), C. Henry Gordon (Guarino), George Raft ([Guino] Rinaldo), Vince Barnett (Angelo), Boris Karloff (Gaffney), Tully Marshall (Managing editor), [Gus Arnheim and his Cocoanut Grove orchestra].
Versions: 90, 95 or 99 min. The shortest is definitive - without the police introduction, the moralistic newsroom scene and the ending with trial and hanging - thank you for this information, Todd McCarthy, your mail 13 June 2008.
The Universal 2003 dvd release includes the police introduction and the moralistic newsroom scene but has the street shooting ending, 90 min at 25 fps plus as an extra the alternative ending (henchman instead of Scarface shot on the street, trial and execution of Scarface by hanging, 10 min)
BFINA print of the Universal 1980 reconstruction with the police introduction and the original ending (maybe not with the moralistic newsroom scene, but my mind may have wandered), duration 93 min
Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 14 Dec 2008.
This was the best print I have ever seen of this film. The print was without splices and scratches and apparently in good condition. However, there was a slightly dark veil over the image, as if the print had been painstakingly struck from a challenging master.
THE WORLD IS YOURS - COOK'S TOURS. Revisited: the gangster classic clearly inspired by Sternberg, as can be seen from the Lee Garmes footage in the beginning.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Young and Innocent

Nuori ja viaton / Ung och oskyldig. GB 1937. PC: Gaumont British Picture Corporation. P: Edward Black. D: Alfred Hitchcock. SC: Charles Bennett, Edwin Greenwood, Anthony Armstrong - dialogue: Gerald Savory - based on the novel A Shilling for Candles (1936) by Josephine Tey. DP: Bernard Knowles. AD: Alfred Junge. M: Louis Levy. ED: Charles Frend. CAST: Nova Pilbeam (Erica Burgoyne), Derrick De Marney (Robert Tisdall), Percy Marmont (Col. Burgoyne), Edward Rigby (Old Will), Mary Clare (Erica's Aunt), John Longden (Det. Insp. Kent), George Curzon (Guy), Basil Radford (Erica's Uncle). 80 min. A fine 1989 print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 10 Dec 2008. - Fine definition. - Revisited the first half an hour of a delicious less-known Alfred Hitchcock movie. - The quarrel of the married couple. The jealousy of the husband to his star actress wife. The thunderstorm at the coast. The blinking of the eye. The woman's corpse thrown by the waves to the beach. The scream of the women and the seagulls. The headlines. - The innocently suspected man gets an incompetent lawyer and escapes to defend himself, and reluctantly the police chief's daughter comes to help him. - Relaxed humoristic observations in a film that is not too tightly strung. This was an age when hurry was not ubiquitous, and there were still personalities around. - Heikki Nyman asks whether this film is a thriller at all, and prefers Lesley Brill's characterization of a "comic romance of false accusation". - I like the setpieces (the mine, the mill, the children's party) of this rambling film.

MP - minä pelkään

MP - jag är rädd / [MP - I Live in Fear]. FI 1982. PC: Lähikuva Oy. D+SC: Pekka Hyytiäinen. DP: Petteri Kotilainen - shot on 16mm - colour and b&w - released on 35mm - the director's last will: the 16mm print is definitive. CAST: Liisa Halonen (mother), Pekka Valkeejärvi (father), Heta Hyytiäinen (Mari, their young daughter), Matti Kanerva (soldier). 83 min. A 16mm print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 10 Dec 2008. - Pekka Hyytiäinen in memoriam (he died in January 2008). He directed three totally original feature films, of which this is the last. - This film got only 302 spectators during its term of release, so we, though not many, were a significant part of the total audience of the film which has never been transmitted on tv or released on home formats. - The print has a soft quality and the colour looks faded, but this seems to have been the case already at the release. - It begins and ends without image, with a male voice. - It's a poet's vision of the fear of war. A family retreats at their country house, incessant sounds of military exercises are heard day and night. - Nightmares and visions of warfare are intercut with the story of the family's stay. - There is a lone soldier in the wood nearby, and he makes an attempt to rape the mother, interrupted, as he cannot sustain erection. - Cinematic stream of consciousness. - There is some affinity with Ingmar Bergman's Skammen. - The film would deserve to be much wider known, with friends of experimental film, to begin with. It is marred by its substandard technical and visual quality (in a Jack Smith kind of way).

Häät (1986)

Bröllopen / The Wedding. FI (c) 1986 TTK / ETL1. D+SC: Esa Illi. DP: Eero Könönen. Lights: Perttu Leppä, Mauno Haapala. S: Jaska Ojala, Jaakko Virtanen. ED: Outi Hyytinen. CAST: Tarja Heinula (bride), Martti Suosalo (groom), Konsta Mäkelä ( Markku), Jori Halttunen (Janne), Jaakko Virtanen (the man leaning on a cab). 7 min. The comic story of a failed wedding on an army leave.

Pee-wee's Big Adventure

Pee-ween suuri seikkailu / Pee-wee's stora äventyr. US 1985. PC: Aspen Film Society / Warner Bros. Pictures. D: Tim Burton. SC: Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens, Michael Varhol. M: Danny Elfman. CAST: Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman). 91 min. A print avec sous-titres francais viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 9 Dec 2008. - Ok print, slightly worn, colour slightly diluted, we screened it at 1,37:1. - Revisited: the beginning of Tim Burton's first feature film, already mad, stylish, absolutely crazy, about Pee-wee's quest of his lost bicycle.

Frankenweenie

US 1984. PC: Walt Disney Productions. P: Rick Heinrichs, Julie Hickson. D: Tim Burton. SC: Lenny Ripp. DP: Thomas E. Ackerman - b&w - 1,66:1. M: Michael Covertino, David Newman. CAST: Barret Oliver (Victor Frankenstein), Shelley Duvall (Mother Frankenstein), Daniel Stern (Father Frankenstein), Paul Bartel (Mr. Walsh). 30 min. A Walt Disney Company print screened once with special permission at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 9 Dec 2008. - A slightly dark and soft print, a slight unintended tint in b&w. We screened it at 1,37:1, but then twice mikes were briefly visible. - Revisited: the wonderful short, already a perfect Tim Burton movie. - The IMDB synopsis: "When young Victor's pet dog Sparky (who stars in Victor's home-made monster movies) is hit by a car, Victor decides to bring him back to life the only way he knows how. But when the bolt-necked "monster" wreaks havoc and terror in the hearts of Victor's neighbors, he has to convince them (and his parents) that despite his appearance, Sparky's still the good loyal friend he's always been. Written by Kathy Li". - A delicious variation on the Frankenstein theme, but there is a new twist after the conflagration at the mill: the "monster dog" saves the boy, and the whole neighbourhood joins forces to jump-start the dog with the power from their car engines. Attractive music.

Vincent

US 1982. PC: Walt Disney Productions. D+SC: Tim Burton. B&w, 1,37:1. AN: Stephen Chiodo. AD+puppets: Rich Heinrichs. Narrator: Vincent Price. Animation. 6 min. A Walt Disney Company print by special permission screened once at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 9 Dec 2008. - A slightly dark and soft print. - Revisited: the perfect prelude to Tim Burton's oeuvre. - IMDB plot synopsis: "Young Vincent Malloy dreams of being just like Vincent Price and loses himself in macabre daydreams which annoys his mother." - High contrast visual style, angular shapes, Vincent Price reciting Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" in his regal voice.

Hitlerjunge Quex

DE 1933. PC: Ufa. P: Karl Ritter. D: Hans Steinhoff. SC: K. A. Schenzinger; Bobby E. Lüthge - based on the novel by Schenzinger. DP: Konstantin Irmen-Tschet. AD: Artur Günther. M: Hans-Otto Borgmann. Theme song written for this film "Unsere Fahne", lyrics : Baldur von Schirach (it became the official HJ song). S: Walter Tjaden. ED: Milo Harbich. LOC: Berlin-Müggelsee, Seddinsee bei Berlin, Anhalter Bahnhof. CAST: Heinrich George (Father Völker), Berta Drews (Mother Völker), Jürgen Ohlsen (Heini Völker), Claus Clausen (Bannführer Kass), Ramspott (Kameradschaftsführer Fritz Doerries), Helga Bodemer (Ulla Doerries), Hermann Speelmans (Communist Agitator Stoppel), Rotraut Richter (Gerda), Karl Meixner (Fanatical Communist Wilde), Hans Richter (Franz), Ernst Behmer (Kowalski), Hans-Joachim Büttner (Doctor), Franziska Kinz (Nurse). 92 min. - This film has been banned in Germany since 1945. It was never released in Finland and has been screened in our country only at the film archive screening 13 Feb 1976 at Cinema Bristol (thank you, Leena Suvanto, for this info). - A Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau- Stiftung print by special permission of Auswärtiges Amt with e-subtitles in Finnish by AA and and introduction by Pasi Nyyssönen in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 9 Dec 2008.

A beautiful print.

The Hitler-Jugend film supervised (n.c.) by Baldur von Schirach.

There were three Nazi propaganda feature films produced in the "Kampfzeit", in the period of the struggle. This, the third, portrays Nazis as the ideal for the young. They defend themselves against Communist violence with self-discipline and in a spirit of sacrifice. There is no racism in this picture. - Although this was the only of the three that was unreservedly approved by the Nazi leaders, it was reportedly in active circulation only for one year. Already by the end 1934 its line was old-fashioned.

Steinhoff (1882-1945), a talented and experienced director, advanced to the top of the industry on the basis of this film. - Let's first state that this is a film to legitimize the brutal, anti-democratic, militaristic, and racist coup of the Nazi movement.

For an explicit propaganda film, the film has interesting features.

1) Visually it is strongly linked to the great tradition of the Weimar cinema, although Nazis fought Weimar culture as decadent.

2) One of the main locations is the Rummelplatz, the pleasure garden, so important in German since Caligari and before. It is portrayed in an inventive and original way.

3) The role of the Moritatensänger is interesting as a social commentator and the popular poet of dark deeds.

4) The lucrative Swiss army knife has an interesting symbolic role. It is a recurrent motif, always with a different meaning.

5) Heinrich George is at his best as the Communist father, a complex and powerful role. He's seen as a figure of elemental power, with a capacity to tenderness and empathy but also to brutality, misled by the Communists. The classic scene is when he hears his son sing the HJ song and teaches him the Internationale manually, slapping his face to the rhythm of the song! There is a direct link to his Franz Biberkopf in Piel Jutzi's version of Berlin-Alexanderplatz.

6) Berta Drews is very moving as the mother. The double suicide sequence is the film's most forceful, three minutes without dialogue, with powerful music theme by Hans-Otto Borgmann in the otherwise non-stop talking movie. It brings to mind Mutter Krausens Fahrt ins Glück, also by Piel Jutzi.

7) Stoppel (Hermann Speelmans) the Communist agitator is an interesting fellow, with lucrative and humoristic characteristics.

8) Rotraut Richter is attractive and believable as the Communist seductress Gerda.

9) And Jürgen Ohlsen (1917-1994) as Quex, a difficult role, is perfect. This was his first film in a film career of only two feature films.

10) All other Nazis are bland.

11) The "Unsere Fahne" theme song sounds more engaging here than in Triumph des Willens.

A remarkable work in the history of German cinema justifiedly banned as the legitimation of a murderous movement.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Oliver Twist (Roman Polanski 2005)

Oliver Twist / Oliver Twist. FR/GB/CZ (c) 2005 Oliver Twist Productions LLP. P: Robert Benmussa, Alain Sarde, Roman Polanski. D: Roman Polanski. SC: Ronald Harwood - based on the novel by Charles Dickens (1838). DP: Pawel Edelman - shot on Super 35mm - digital intermediate - 35mm print 2,35:1. PD: Allan Starski. M: Rachel Portman. ED: Hervé de Luze. Studio: Barrandov (Prague). CAST: Barney Clark (Oliver Twist), Ben Kingsley (Fagin), Jamie Foreman (Bill Sykes), Harry Eden (Artful Dodger), Leanne Rowe (Nancy), Edward Hardwicke (Mr. Brownlow), Ian McNeice (Mr. Limbkins), Mark Strong (Toby Crackit), Jeremy Swift (Mr. Bumble). 130 min. The NFI / Columbia Norway release print with Norwegian subtitles by Harald Ohrvik viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 7 Dec 2008. - A print without signs of wear, the image slightly too dark and soft. - Film Indexes Online synopsis: "Adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic novel. Young orphan Oliver Twist escapes from the workhouse and working for an undertaker and runs away to London. There he is taken under the wing of Fagin, who operates a gang of young thieves, and is taught to steal." - In Polanski's oeuvre, this can be seen as a companion piece to The Pianist: the ordeal of the protagonist, the survival against all odds. - In Ronald Harwood's oeuvre, this can be seen as a part of a trilogy with Ivan Denisovich, and The Pianist; all share similarities of imagery and situations of humiliation and terror. - Charles Dickens' second novel has been filmed some 20 times. David Lean's version (1948) is still superior. - Both Lean and Polanski were inspired visually by Gustave Doré's London: A Pilgrimage (1872). - The lush Romantic score by Rachel Portman can be compared with the composers of Hollywood's Golden Era. - Polanski's special emphasis is on the terror of the 10-year old protagonist, with which he could identify, having been a Holocaust fugitive in Nazi-occupied Poland at the same age. - Another special emphasis is Fagin's death row agony. No clue to Fagin's Jewishness.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Fall

The Fall / The Fall. IN/GB/US (c) 2006 Googly Films. Presented by: David Fincher, Spike Jonze. D: Tarsem - based on Yo Ho Ho (BG 1981, D: Zako Heskija). DP: Colin Watkinson - shot on 35mm film in Super35 - Laboratoire LTC (Paris) - 4K digital intermediate - released on 35mm at 1,85:1. Duboi effects. M: Beethoven: 7. Symphony, etc. LOCATIONS: Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India; Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India; Andaman Islands, South Pacific, Pacific Ocean; Argentina; Bali, Indonesia; Brazil; Cambodia; Cape Town, South Africa (hospital scenes); Charles Bridge, Prague, Czech Republic (Blue bandit jumps from bridge); Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India; Chile; China; Egypt; Fatehpur Sikri, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India; Fiji; Himalayas, Nepal; Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, USA; Italy; Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India (blue city); Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, India; Maldives; Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India; Namibia; Paris, France; Prague, Czech Republic; Romania; Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia; South Africa; Turkey; Valkenberg Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa (Hospital). CAST: Catinca Untaru (Alexandria), Justine Waddell (Nurse Evelyn / Sister Evelyn), Lee Pace (Roy Walker / Blue Bandit), Kim Uylenbroek (Doctor / Alexander the Great), Aiden Lithgow (Alexander's Messenger), Sean Gilder (Walt Purdy), Ronald France (Otto). 122 min. Released by Scanbox Entertainment Finland with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Jaana Wiik / Saliven Gustavson. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 5, Helsinki, 6 Dec 2008.

Brilliant visual look does not betray its digital intermediate. - Four years in the making, in 28 countries, without CG effects, financed by Tarsem, himself. - A 1915 Hollywood stuntman has broken his legs and needs morphine. He tells a fairy-tale to a little girl. It's wild and weird and a framework to some of the most breathtaking locations around the world, such as the Blue City in Jodhpur. - Cinema of attractions, indeed. Tarsem has been for 20 years a master of music videos and commercials. He made The Cell (2000), and this is his second feature. His strength is imagery, colour and music. His is not narrative cinema. But with his next feature films, one might hope, not traditional storytelling, but more structure or continuity or symphonic drive. And as with Paradjanov's Sayat Nova, shorter is better if one builds on separate, brief, stunning visual units.

Friday, December 05, 2008

AILA MERILUOTO: LAURI VIITA, LEGENDA JO ELÄESSÄÄN (A MEMOIR)

Helsinki: WSOY 1974. Third edition, pocket book, 2008, with cover photographs from the motion picture Putoavia enkeleitä. - I'm grateful for the film for the inspiration to read this wonderful book. One of my favourite books of all times, in any language, is L. Onerva: Eino Leino (1932). Both are written by a female poet on a male poet. Neither avoids the terrible issues of madness and alcoholism. Both give insight to the inspiration of the genius. Both are labours of love.
I have been impressed by the short film Lauri Viita - rakentaja (1962), where Lauri Viita unforgettably recites his poem "Alfhild". The short film tells more about him than Putoavia enkeleitä.
Meriluoto reports that in his later years Viita recorded poems in a mannerist way, which was unlike his original, fresh way. It would be interesting to know to which period the short film's recital belongs.

Putoavia enkeleitä

Fallande änglar / Falling Angels. FI (c) 2008 Blind Spot Pictures. P: Petri Jokiranta, Tero Kaukomaa. D: Heikki Kujanpää. SC: Sami Parkkinen, Heikki Kujanpää, Heikki Huttu-Hiltunen - based on Aila Meriluoto's memoir book Lauri Viita - legenda jo eläessään (1974). DP: Harri Räty - digital intermediate DFF. CAST: Elena Leeve (Helena), Tommi Korpela (Lauri), Elina Knihtilä (Aila), Oiva Lohtander (Lars Djupsjöbacka), Juhani Niemelä (Hermanni), Hannu Kivioja (Juha Mannerkorpi), Erica Pitkänen (Helena at 5-6), Tiina Pirhonen (Svea), Antti Litja (the publisher), Taisto Oksanen (the publisher's son), Taneli Mäkelä (Aila's father), Jaana Pesonen (Aila's mother). 102 min. Released by Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland with Swedish subtitles by Joanna Erkkilä. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 2, Helsinki, 5 Dec 2008. - A shoddy digital intermediate look, unpleasant colour gamut dominated by a dull brown. - "When you create, create a world" (Lauri Viita). Motto of the film. - I loved Pieni pyhiinvaellus / The Little Pilgrimage (1999), Heikki Kujanpää's cinema debut feature, one of my favourite Finnish films of the last ten years, and one of my favourite Pohjanmaa films of all times. - Lauri Viita and Aila Meriluoto are two great and widely loved poets of the post-WWII era in Finland. - Kujanpää's theatre production of Falling Angels was acclaimed in Q Theatre in Helsinki in spring 2005, and my wife Laila confirms that it was a powerful production full of poetry. - Now there is the cinema film of the same subject and based on the same cast (TK, EK). But unfortunately there is something wrong now. Poetry is missing.

THE DIGITAL CHAIN OF THE MOVIE FROM THE SHOOTING TO THE SCREEN (SEMINAR AT THE FINNISH FILM FOUNDATION)

At the Auditorium of the Finnish Film Foundation, a great seminar organized by Mr. Harri Ahokas.
MODERATOR IN THE MORNING: MR. PETRI SIITONEN
The Digital Convergence / Mr. Pekka Korpela, Talvi Digital
Digital Shooting from the Viewpoint of the Cinematographer / Mr. Rauno Ronkainen, FSC
Digital Shooting: The Equipment, the Opticals, the Media / Mr. Artturi Mutanen, Elokuvakonepaja
The Processing of the Image in Post-Production / Mr. Olli Leppänen, Digital Film Finland
Digital Cinema: Colour Definition / Mr. Marko Terävä, Generator Post
RED Workflow / Mr. Petri Siitonen, Talvi Cinema
Sound in the Digital Production Chain / Mr. Pekka Karjalainen, Meguru
Direct Digital Prints / Mr. Nils Jörgen Kittilsen, Nordisk Film Post Production (Oslo)
MODERATOR IN THE AFTERNOON: MR. HARRI AHOKAS
Digital Viewing Copy: Mastering and Manufacture / Mr. Mihkel Mäemets, Digital Cinema
Digital Projection and 3-D Presentations in the Cinema / Mr. Ari Saarinen, Finnkino
The Requirements for a Digital Cinema / Mr. Marko Röhr, Bio Rex Cinemas
The Digital Process of a Finnish Movie from the Viewpoint of the Producer / Mr. Lasse Saarinen, Kinotar
Finnish Digital Copies from the Viewpoint of the Distributor / Mr. Petri Viljanen, Nordisk Film
The Viewpoint of the Cinema Projectionist / Ms. Riitta Haapiainen, SES Auditorium
Digital Cinema from the Viewpoint of the Spectator / AA
Conclusion / Harri Ahokas

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Nära livet (D-Cinema)

Elämän kynnyksellä / So Close to Life. SE 1958. PC: Nordisk Tonefilm. D: Ingmar Bergman. SC: Ulla Isaksson - from her short stories. DP: Max Wilén. Starring: Eva Dahlbeck (Stina Andersson), Ingrid Thulin (Cecilia Ellius), Bibi Andersson (Hjördis Pettersson). With: Barbro Hiort af Ornäs (Brita, nurse), Erland Josephson (Anders Ellius, Cecilia's husband), Inga Landgré (Greta Ellius, Anders' sister), Gunnar Sjöberg (Nordlander, chief physician), Max von Sydow (Harry Andersson, Stina's husband), Ann-Marie Gyllenspetz (Gran, curator). 84 min. D-Cinema released by Europe's Finest, in Finland with Bio Rex Distribution and Pirkanmaan Elokuvakeskus, with English subtitles. Viewed in Bio Rex 3, Sello, Espoo, 3 Dec 2008. - The first D-Cinema release of a classic film in Finland. - First screened in Finland on 2 and 3 Dec, 2008. - I was the only spectator in the second screening of the film that was screened without advertising. - The D-Cinema presentation was good, very close to a 35mm screening. There was a real black, the picture was ultra-sharp. Better than 16mm, better than Blu-Ray. The presentation did justice to the film. - NB: this is a film shot completely in interiors, with few people, with many medium shots and close-ups. - Last summer I saw many vintage Bergman prints, which looked like they have been struck from the negative. It would be interesting to compare a good 35mm presentation with D-Cinema of The Seventh Seal.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Maciste all'inferno

Maciste helvetissä / Den ondes besegrare. IT 1925. PC: Fert-Pittaluga (Torino). D: Guido Brignone. SF: Segundo de Chomón. Starring Bartolomeo Pagano (Maciste). The restored edition with Desmet colour by The Lumière Project (1993): Cineteca del Comune di Bologna / Det Danske Filmmuseum with materials from Cinemateca Brasileira. 2450 m /20 fps/ 107 min. A DFI print with e-subtitles in Finnish by Lena Talvio viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 2 Dec 2008. - A great print and a great job of restoration with apparently very challenging materials, but it looks consistent. The Desmet method makes the tinting look too heavy and overbearing to my taste. The speed could at least here and there be even slower than 20 fps, probably sometimes 16 fps. But for the total rhythm and duration 20 fps might be best. - Not one of the best Maciste films, this looks older (even 15 years older) than it is with its exaggerated gestures. - Maciste is a farmer who defends his neighbour, the single mother Graziella, from the attack of the devils. The devils suggest a pact with Maciste. But his curse banishes him to Hell. There the kiss of a woman turns a man into a devil, himself. Maciste becomes a devil in chains, but the Christmas prayer of Graziella's son releases him back to Earth. - Fellini's early favourite enchants with its childish naivety and grandiose visions of spectacle.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Ei kukaan ole saari / No Man Is an Island (dvd)

No Man Is an Island. FI (c) 2006 Screenday Films. P+D: Sonja Lindén. DP: Peter Flinckenberg - shot on 16mm - screening materials digital. M: Mahler, jazz. LOC: Saimaa. 40 min. Dvd (available also in English) watched at home, Helsinki, 1 Dec 2008. - A masterpiece. - Four seasons during the last year of an old man's life. He lives alone with the cat Eino on an island at lake Saimaa, fully equipped, in daily telephone contact with his wife who is at hospital. He prepares to die, leaving humoristic instructions about everything, even preparing his coffin. In the last image he rows away into the lake and vanishes into the mist. - Beautifully shot, with full command of the natural light, fine scenes of nature, interesting close-ups, nothing fancy, just the mastery of simplicity. - Fine views of nature are challenging in this digital transitional age, but here they look good even on dvd and did on Digibeta projection in Cinema Orion, where I saw half of this two weeks ago.