More good movies…

I saw some good movies during the second half of the Love & Anarchy film festival as well. Here’s three.

Possibly the best film I saw during the whole festival was Nicolas Klotz’s Heartbeat detector. The original, and much more evocative title is La question humaine. The movie is about the rhetoric and language of a technical society and its impact on being human, and it does it beautifully, forcefully and with gorgeous detail. Every character, from the confused yet aggressive psychologist protagonist to the melancholy CEO who’s hiw object of study fits perfectly into the larger thesis of the movie, but it still feels like something about real people.

Aleksei Balabanov’s misanthropic Cargo 200 is a kind of anti-nostalgia movie, but maybe that’s obvious from the poster pictured above. I found the poster only now as I googled for pictures for this post. Its a movie set during the perestroika, with a backdrop of dead bodies arriving from the Afghanistan war. The story is straight out of the eXile’s Death Porn section, and features authority figures who are brutish, nasty and deranged. The only character who makes it to the end with everything intact is a young guy in a CCCP t-shirt who never rescues the girl, instead going on to make it rich like a proto- Young Russian.

Carlos Reygadas’s Silent Light was as good as I hoped it would be. I’ve rarely seen this kind of self-confiedence with long takes and slowly moving story, but the sheer emotional power of the images is incredible. Its set on a Mennonite community in northern Mexico, and filmed in the strange Mennonite language. I’ve seen many directors described as heirs to Tarkovsky, but this guy is the only one I’ve seen who pulls it off.

Wedding Photo

We got the photos of our summer wedding today. Its been lovely looking through them. I see so many moments captured that I didn’t see at the wedding, because I was in the spotlight.

All the pictures are by Katri Lassila, who did a wonderful job.

Good movies…

I’ve been sitting through the Love & Anarchy film festival, which started last Thursday and will go on until next Sunday.

So far, the best movies have been these three:

Ken Loach’s It’s a Free World… is a story about a woman who is fired from her job at an employment agency and sets up her own, hustling immigrants into low-paying, semi-illegal jobs paid by the day or the hour. It’s strange to see a movie that so resolutely refuses to make the lead character into a hero or an antihero or a villain. She’s just a regular person, with good intentions and bad decisions. And sometimes bad intentions. This is the fifth globalization movie I saw on this festival, and also the best. Another good one was the Dardenne brothers’ Lorna’s Silence.

I really looked forward to seeing Bruce La Bruce’s Otto; or Up With Dead People. I loved the movie he made before this, Raspberry Reich, but this was possibly even better. Its a zombie movie about a young undead gay guy who ends up in an underground movie playing a young undead gay guy. There’s a black and white Louise Brooks lookalike hovering around, and the whole thing’s very sharp despite the charade of silliness.

I missed Veiko Õunpuu’s Autumn Ball at the Midnight Sun Film Festival in June, but friends saw it there and recommended it. I’m a sucker for this kind of deadpan comedy in a movie set in pretty dismal surroundings, about dismal people. It may have not been a fun movie, but the funny bits were the best at the festival so far.

Antarctic Research Blog #73: Encounters at the End of the World

Documentary: Werner Herzog: Encounters at the End of the World (U.S.A. 2007)

A kind of a sequel to Herzog’s scifi speculation documentary The Wild Blue Yonder, this is a movie about the people who go to work in Antarctica. Its a very good movie, poetic and beautiful even when it doesn’t make anything prettier than it actually is.

I like Herzog’s seemingly effortless, essay-like style, with all of the voiceovers and commentaries it entails. Somehow he makes many of the truly bizarre things and customs make sense in their own context, so that you have to think for a bit to remember that this is, in fact, very strange.

Of special interest were the footage from inside the plane from Christchurch to McMurdo, the volcano Mt Erebus and the many buildings and locations at McMurdo.

More photos from our movie

Here’s a couple more photos from our short film Pyhää maata (Soil of Our Fathers):

(Photo: Matti Näränen. Osma Rautila, with Matti Onnismaa in the background. In the movie, they were father and son.)

(Photo: Matti Näränen. Discussing a shot. From left to right, Pekka Aikio, Aino Lappalainen, Joona Pettersson and Juhana Pettersson.)

(Photo: Elina Lindroos. Hospital basement, one of our locations.)

10 minuuttia aikaa jäi yli…

(Kuva: Matti Näränen. Lyhytelokuvan Pyhää maata kuvauksista.)

Olin mukana joukkueessa, joka osallistui Uneton48-lyhytelokuvakilpailuun. Ideana oli tehdä lyhäri alusta loppuun 48 tunnin kuluessa.

Ohjasin elokuvan yhdessä vaimoni Maria Petterssonin kanssa, ja olimme eilen illalla Andorrassa palauttamassa luomustamme yhdessä tuottajamme Elina Lindroosin kanssa. Palautustiskillä oli kuumottava laskuri. Olin itse paikalla ensimmäisenä, koska olin joutunut hakemana vielä yhden allekirjoituksen näyttelijäsopimukseen viime hetkellä. Maria tuli paikalle kun aikaa oli jäljellä 20 minuuttia palautuskuoren ja yhden DVD:n kanssa. Elina marssi sisään kun aikaa oli 10 minuuttia toisen DVD:n kanssa, ja saimme palautuksen tehtyä.

Viimeinen palauttaja juoksi sisään kun aikaa oli jäljellä 50 sekuntia.

Meidän aiheenamme oli historiallinen elokuva. Päädyimme Jatkosotaan, ja teemaksi tuli Suur-Suomi -fantasiointi. Yksi hulluimpia hetkiä, joita olen koskaan kuvauksissa kokenut, oli lauantaiyönä, kun hytisimme kylmästä Meilahden Biomedicumin takana kuvaamassa elokuvan viimeistä kuvaa. Näyttelijät hoilasivat Porilaisten marssia sydämensä kyllyydestä ja ajattelin, että miltäköhän tämä mahtaa näyttää noiden vartijamiesten mielestä, jotka kuikuilivat kauempana.

Elokuvan nimi on Pyhää maata.

Kilpailun ehtojen takia en voi laittaa elokuvaa esille tähän, mutta tiedottelen täällä aina, kun se on näytillä jossain, ja vuodenvaihteen jälkeen voin laittaa sen YouTubeen.

Kun elokuva oli palautettu, keräännyimme meille katsomaan, mitä olimme saaneet aikaiseksi. Onneksi oli shampanjaa jääkaapissa!

Työryhmä:

Rooleissä:

Sophia Wekesa

Amanda Kauranne

Matti Onnismaa

Rauha S. Virtanen

Osma Rautila

Aino Lappalainen

Mike Pohjola

Ohjaus: Juhana Pettersson & Maria Pettersson

Käsikirjoitus: Mike Pohjola

Kuvaus: Joona Pettersson

Leikkaus: Matti Näränen

Äänisuunnittelu ja äänitys: Pekka Aikio

Kuvaussihteeri: Aino Lappalainen

Tuottaja: Elina Lindroos

Musiikki: Jorma Kaulanen, Älymystö

(Kuva: Matti Näränen. Kuvaaja Joona Pettersson työssään.)

(Kuva: Matti Näränen. Näyttelijä Matti Onnismaa ja kansallisromanttinen maisema.)

Antarctic Research Blog #72 – Shadows on the Wasteland

Non-fiction: Mike Stroud: Shadows on the Wasteland (Penguin, 1994)

The copy I got from Amazon’s used books is signed! The book also has an unusually poetic title, with the reference to the T.S. Eliot poem Stroud also quotes at the beginning of the book:

Who is the third who walks alwaus beside you?

When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road

There is always another one walking beside you

The book describes the attempt by Mike Stroud and Ranulph Fiennes to make an unsupported trek from one coast of Antarctica to another. It was successful, but led to public fireworks as Fiennes made some unpleasant comments about Stroud in his book Mind Over Matter. This account was published after Fiennes’s book.

This is a thin, readable, human, but also routine account of a modern Antarctic manhauling expedition. I expect it to become more interesting after I read Fiennes’s book, and the portrait Stroud paints of his companion is very good, since Fiennes is such a large figure in Antarctic adventuring.

Uneton 48

I’m in a team participating in a short film competition called Uneton 48. The idea is to make a film in 48 hours about a subject you only get to know at the beginning. In our case, Mike Pohjola wrote the script on Friday night, and we shot yesterday with me and my wife Maria Pettersson directing, Joona Pettersson doing the cinematography, and Pekka Aikio on sound. Right now, the material is being edited by Pekka and our editor, Matti Näränen. Elina Lindroos produced through the weekend. There’s still a few hours left until the deadline…

Right now, I’m astonished at what we managed. I’ll post something about the film itself later. Meanwhile, here’s a photo from the shoot:

Antarctic Research Blog #71: Scott of the Antarctic

Film: Charles Frend: Scott of the Antarctic (U.K. 1948)

This is the old Ealing Studios version of Scott’s fatal, final adventure. At the time the movie was made, Scott was still a saint, and you can see it in the film. This is not a movie so much as a creaky series of illustrations of the famous moments of the great explorer’s last expedition.

The Scott of this movie is not even a hero, he’s a symbol spouting famous lines. They’re all here, from “Great God, this is an awful place”, to “I may be some time”.

It didn’t help that the DVD I watched this from had an absolutely wretched picture and sound, although it probably wouldn’t have been much better even in pristine quality.