Poll

What's your favorite film by Aki Kaurismaki?

haven't seen any
5 (33.3%)
don't like any
0 (0%)
other
0 (0%)
The Saimaa Gesture
0 (0%)
Crime and Punishment
0 (0%)
Calamari Union
0 (0%)
Shadows in Paradise
0 (0%)
Hamlet Goes Business
0 (0%)
Ariel
0 (0%)
Leningrad Cowboys Go America
1 (6.7%)
The Match Factory Girl
3 (20%)
I Hired a Contract Killer
1 (6.7%)
La vie de bohème
1 (6.7%)
Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana
0 (0%)
Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses
0 (0%)
Total Balalaika Show
0 (0%)
Drifting Clouds
0 (0%)
Juha
0 (0%)
The Man Without a Past
2 (13.3%)
Lights in the Dusk
2 (13.3%)
Le Havre
0 (0%)
The Other Side of Hope
0 (0%)

Total Members Voted: 15

Author Topic: Kaurismäki, Aki  (Read 2593 times)

MartinTeller

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Kaurismäki, Aki
« on: April 19, 2011, 02:12:52 PM »
1. The Match Factory Girl
2. Drifting Clouds
3. Leningrad Cowboys Go America
4. Total Balalaika Show
5. The Man Without a Past
6. La vie de boheme
7. Shadows in Paradise
8. Le Havre
9. Ariel

10. Calamari Union
11. I Hired a Contract Killer
12. Hamlet Goes Business
13. The Other Side of Hope
14. Leningrad Cowboys Meet Moses
15. Rocky VI
16. Juha
17. Lights in the Dusk
18. Crime and Punishment
19. Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana


Also the L.C. music videos, which are amusing.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2023, 10:58:18 PM by MartinTeller »

Verite

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 03:43:43 PM »
top tier
Drifting Clouds
The Match Factory Girl
Le Havre
The Man Without a Past
Calamari Union
Ariel
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 03:52:27 PM by Verite »
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roujin

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 05:17:24 PM »
Saw three films by this man.

1. Le Havre
2. The Man Without a Past
3. I Hired a Contract Killer

I've forgotten pretty much everything about the last one, though it was good.

1SO

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2013, 01:45:30 AM »
1. The Match Factory Girl
2. Leningrad Cowboys Go America
3. Drifting Clouds
4. The Man Without a Past
5. Le Havre
6. Fallen Leaves
7. Shadows in Paradise
8. Ariel

9. Total Balalaika Show
10. I Hired a Contract Killer
« Last Edit: January 25, 2024, 10:12:15 PM by 1SO »

MartinTeller

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2014, 02:28:15 PM »

The Match Factory Girl (rewatch) - It had been over 5 years since my last viewing of this movie.  In my memory, it was much funnier, filled with the style of stone-faced deadpan comedy that Kaurismäki is known for.  There is humor here, especially as the tale works towards its black conclusion, but on the whole this is the Finnish director at his bleakest.  And yet, it's not a doom and gloom sort of bleakness.  As dire as Iris's situation is, as horribly as people treat her, there is too much affection for her -- and paradoxically, too much stoic detachment as well -- for it to be a "depressing" film.  I would still call it a black comedy, not because of the number of laughs but because the blackness is kept at bay.

Criterion bundles this as part of Kaurismäki's "Proletariat Trilogy".  The director himself would never use such lofty terms.  But it certainly a working class story, with sympathy for the forgotten cogs in the machine.  Iris lashes out to be recognized as a relevant member of her small society, her morbid rebellion an act against society at large.  Her defiance, which starts with the simple act of buying a dress with the money she earned at her dreary factory job, is sparked by the image of the lone figure standing up against the tanks at Tiananmen Square.  Iris's rebellion is not as grandiose, but it's borne out of a need to be acknowledged as a human being.  Class and social standing isn't necessarily part of the equation, but it's clear than Aarne (the main target of her revolt) is in a position of some higher privilege.  His disregard for her is analogous to the disregard society has for its workers.  Though it's worth noting that the lower classes aren't all heroes... Iris gets it just as bad from her apparently unemployed stepfather.

As always, Kaurismäki traffics in an ultra-minimalism.  There is little said.  The only spoken dialogue in the first 20 minutes (of a 70-minute film) is Iris ordering a beer.  Much of the remaining dialogue is equally transactional.  The economy of the film is masterful -- it tells you exactly what you need to know, and not a bit more.  Kaurismäki is more concerned about letting you occupy a space with his characters than telling you about them.  Or occupy a space without them, as in the lingering final shot... those extra seconds let us really feel the absence of Iris, and maybe hope she will reappear through the doorway.  The visuals are decidedly unfussy, but nonetheless have a striking sense of tone, with muted, drab pastels that are occasionally punctuated with flashes of color.  And, of course, there is Kati Outinen.  Outinen carries the whole weight of the film -- and her dire existence -- on her shoulders, and does with a face that speaks volumes with so, so little.  Her expressions are so blank that when she does finally smile, it feels like a monumental occasion.

If the film isn't as funny as I recalled, it is no less gripping.  Kaurismäki effortlessly draws you into his rhythms, his world of quiet desperation, with running commentary by a soundtrack of the usual rock obscurities and pointed (but charmingly cheeseball) ballads.  It was the first movie by the director that I ever saw, and seeing it again brings back the same enthusiasm to see more.  Rating: Great (93)
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 04:45:34 PM by MartinTeller »

1SO

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2014, 02:34:46 PM »


The Match Factory Girl

Quote from: Roger Ebert
The Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki fascinates me. I am never sure if he intends us to laugh or cry with his characters--both, I suppose. He often portrays unremarkable lives of unrelenting grimness, sadness, desolation. When his characters are not tragic, he elevates them to such levels as stupidity, cluelessness, self-delusion or mental illness. Iris, the match factory girl, incorporates all of these attributes.

Before I get into content I have to say with much admiration, that Kaurismäki's film is one of the most adamantly minimalist films I've ever encountered. Very few speaking roles, few sets, aside from song lyrics and TV news there's maybe 20 lines of dialogue. This is a stripped down version of a Dardenne Brothers story. At least those usually deal with two people. This one focuses on one very passive individual who goes from prey to predator without changing her deadpan expression.

Told in under 70 minutes, Kaurismäki does a lot while seeming to do nothing at all. If you saw Steven Soderbergh's Bubble you have some idea what to expect here. Even that film is busy and over-plotted by comparison. So how did I stay awake? How was I not checking the time every 5 minutes? I dunno, though the brief running time certainly helped. I just found Iris to be a very interesting character, especially since she doesn't just ride one note the whole time. My opinion of her changed from warm to cautious. They style was so stripped down, I perked back up every time there was a new image to savor. Some occasional deadpan bits helped, and I enjoy the director's song selections. If you've never seen a Kaurismäki film I still believe Leningrad Cowboys Go America is the place to start. This one is the most extreme version of his style I've seen to date, and it has me excited for whichever of his I watch next.
RATING: * * *
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 02:38:34 PM by 1SO »

MartinTeller

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2014, 02:58:23 PM »
Did you just happen to watch this at the same time, or are you reposting an old review?

1SO

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2014, 03:05:59 PM »
I'm reposting in the hopes that our back-to-back recommendation may have a stronger persuasive effect.

oneaprilday

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2014, 03:37:06 PM »
I'm reposting in the hopes that our back-to-back recommendation may have a stronger persuasive effect.
Great, intriguing reviews, MT and 1SO. Sold! Now, how do I get a hold of this?

Edit: Local indie video story has a copy!
« Last Edit: July 23, 2014, 03:38:43 PM by oneaprilday »

roujin

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Re: Kaurismäki, Aki - Director's Best
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2014, 07:46:33 PM »
1. Le Havre (2011)
2. The Man Without a Past (2002)

I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)