Friday, March 06, 2015


FI 2014. Fiction. PC: TAMK. P: Juho Fossi, Valpuri Raappana. D+SC: Jesse Jalonen. DP: Lauri Harju. S: Joni E. Heinonen. ED: Riku Leino. C: Jesse Pihkanen (Pauli), Tommi Raitolehto (Tommi), Riitta Ryhtä (Laura), Marja Pyykkö (Malla), Valtteri Turunen (Pauli's pal), Juha Elomäki (apartment owner), Heikki Kiviniitty (Pulsu on the bus). 23 min
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "When the mother and the stepfather of the 16-year-old Pauli get a divorce, Pauli moves to live with his stepfather."

AA: A story about life in blended families. The awkward approach is both intentional and unintentional. There is an atmosphere of living in temporary circumstances.
    There is a sharp dramatic scene when the stepfather's lady friend and Pauli have a row in the kitchen. The lady friend wonders what Pauli is doing in the apartment, and Pauli replies that at least he is not paying for it with his ass. The wrong thing to say to a pregnant wife-to-be.
    Pauli has now burned his bridges with everybody and stays alone at night in the bitter cold. It is mother who comes to the rescue.
    Visually this borders on home movie quality.

Kukka-Hauta / Flower-Grave

FI 2014. Animation. PC: The Dead Will Rise. P+D+SC+AN+ED: Malakias. S+M: Yrjö Saarinen. Theme song: "Eternal Flame" perf. The Bangles. 5 min
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: ""If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left." (Albert Einstein)"

AA:  A drolatic animation with visual fantasy and wit, a hot and delicious colour world and a wild organic imagination. There are plant forms, a hedonistic bee, and a gravestone being carved. Warm colours, organic forms, splatter images, funeral bureau scenes, a bee captured into a casket going towards the crematorium, saved by a monkey. There is a monkey funeral, and now it's the bee's turn to save the little monkey. "If we die we'll die together".

Lišša / The Scythe

Viikate. FI 2014. Documentary. PC: Saamelaisalueen Koulutuskeskus. P: Erkki Feodoroff. D+SC+AN+ED+M: Jonne Järvinen. DP: Miikka Miinala. S: Miikka Miinala, Elmeri Härkönen. Teacher-advisor: Katja Gauriloff. Featuring: Markus Laiti, Piera Guttorm. 13 min
    Location: Finnish Lapland, Sami region: Utsjoki (the northernmost municipality of Finland and EU).
    In Sami language with Finnish subtitles by Unni Länsman.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "A short documentary film about the love of work through the eyes of two different generations. An old craftsman acts as a guide to a young apprentice into the traditional knowledge of handicraft. Is there still a place for this expertise in modern society? The young man Markus has spent most of his life in the city. Now he returns to his roots and discovers a passion in handicraft. He dreams of making a living through this passion. At his childhood village there lives an old master craftsman, Piera. The master is eager to share his knowledge, and together they create a scythe."

AA: A nice and tender account about tradition and modernity in Lapland.
    Résumé: the old-timer Piera wields his old-fashioned scythe on the meadow. Two guys negotiate the Outakoski river on a speedboat. The old master teaches the young apprentice Markus how to carve and hew a scythe from a piece of solid curved wood (see image above). Splinters fly. The master carpenter is also a boat builder. 
    Visuals: home video quality.


FI 2015. Animation. P+D+SC+AN+DP+S+ED+M: Pink Twins. 10 min
    Contact: AV-Arkki - Distribution Centre for Finnish Media Art / Hanna Joensuu -
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "Parametronomicon presents a model of parametric virtual life. A biomechanic organism moves, multiplies and regenerates in an elaborate series of convulsive movements. Its life spans from simple formations to inevitable apocalyptic visions of an over-the-top visual orgy."

AA: An experimental computer animation, a musical and visual experience. A form emerges from the darkness. It is a fantasy machine in garish colour. The colours change. It is a glamour machine. It evokes disco from the 1970s and the 1980s. The music is at times dominant, pushing the visuals. This is a machine of self-destruction. Perhaps an image of creative destruction.

Pojat / The Sons

FI 2014. Fiction. PC: Lahden ammattikorkeakoulu. P: Erkki Perkiömäki, Isabella Karhu. D+SC: Isabella Karhu. DP: Tuomas Peltonen. S+M: Juho Tanskanen. ED: Saana Jurmu. C: Henrik Heselius (Riku), Antti Kaarlela (Jarkko), Mikko Pörhölä (Keijo), Jemina Sillanpää (Noora), Inkeri Mertanen (mother). 17 min
    A student film for directing, cinematography, editing and sound design.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "Sons tells the story of three quarrelsome brothers, whom are all united once more under the roof of their childhood home to confront each other and a looming tragedy in their family."

AA:  Three brothers return to their parental home in the countryside. Mother is not well. She hardly wakes up anymore. They take turns in watching over her. One of the brothers is a bit tense and hard to bear for the others. "Wouldn't it be nice to live here?" asks the young wife. "Everything has changed now".
    The brothers start to quarrel while the dying mother connects with her young daughter-in-law.
There is a languid approach in this movie. Nothing wrong here, but there is a lack of intensity.

Äiti / Mother

FI/HR 2014. Fiction. PC: Napa Films. Slavica Film. P: Jenni Koski. D: Otto Kylmälä. SC: Otto Kylmälä, Heli Tamminen - based on a story by Otto Kylmälä. DP: Joni Juutilainen. S: Toni Teivaala. ED: Denis Golenja. M: Domas Strupinskas. C: Elias Koistinen (Elias), Seidi Haarla (mother, Helena), Jesse Vinnari (father, Jari). 11 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles by Jenni Koski.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "A family of three is driving in the middle of the night. Mother, recovering from depression, tries to reconnect with her son Elias, after a long absence in mental health institution. Elias is not ready to hear about the painful memories that took his mother away. Instead, Elias asks her to tell him his favourite bedtime story. It is a tale of a peculiar, moonstruck cow, that was let to wander on the fields in the moonlight, trusted with finding her way home. As mother is reciting the story, Elias closes his eyes and wanders off to his imagination. He finds himself on the cow paddock, with his mother, feeling the warmth oozing from the cows. The sweet fantasy ends in a painful memory, with Elias losing sight of his mother going astray in the woods, fearing she is lost forever. Mother is based on a strong emotional narrative of a family dealing with mental illness. The story is accompanied with a provoking and enigmatic visual interpretation that sheds light on the real and magical in the world of bi-polar disorder. Mother presents a moment when there's understanding within the family that gives hope for the future."

AA: There is a strong sense of psychological presence in this family story, and oneiric intensity in the mother's tale of the moonstruck cow.
    Résumé: Darkness. Freeway. The father is driving, the son Elias is playing, the mother is resting on the back seat. "Which circuit, Iceman?". They stay for an ice cream at the service station. While the father is waiting impatiently outside the mother tells Elias a story about the moonstruck cow. We cut into the vision of the nocturnal view, and to a flashback of visiting mother earlier at the mental hospital.

Teemapuisto / Theme Park

FI 2015. Experimental. P+D+SC+DP+ED: Risto-Pekka Blom. Voice: Jouni Piirainen. S: Petri Koskimäki. 5 min
    Loc: Koskikeskus Mall (Tampere).
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "A video about an air-filled figure at the shopping centre."

AA: A humoristic dramatization of the dancing balloon's imagined monologue. "You are being loved. You owe to no one. You will get everything".
    Visual look: home video quality.

Rakastuneita naisia / Women in Love

FI 2014. Fiction. P+D+SC: Eeva Putro. DP: Elka Lupunen. S: Toni Ilo. M: Perttu Inkilä. 7 min
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 9), Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "Eeva Putro’s new film Women in Love tells about the diversity of gender, the different ways of being a woman and above all, about love."

AA: There is a delicate sense of intimacy and tenderness in Eeva Putro's movie. The blonde and gentle one has questions about the dark and strong one's gender. "An ex of mine once messed up with my head". "I never wanted to be a man". "I see you as a woman. I am very happy about that".

Perintö / The Legacy

FI 2014. Fiction. PC: Silva Mysterium Oy. P: Mika Ritalahti, Niko Ritalahti. D: Jussi Hiltunen. SC: Petra Forstén. C: Onni Tommila, Iivari Raittinen, Aki Oksala, Sasa Toivonen, Jorma Tommila. 27 min
    A film belonging to Suomalainen Novellielokuva 2014 / The Finnish Short Story Film 2014 by The Finnish Film Foundation and The Finnish Broacasting Company.
    Contact: +358 40 7074848 - -
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

Official introduction: "Pojista tulee esikuviensa kaltaisia" - "Boys grow up in the likeness of their models."

"A short film, a growing-up story, about brotherhood and a chain of a Legacy from the father and the grandfather which will destroy them if it is not broken. Two brothers, aged six and twelve, have a fateful meeting during one summer day with two grown-up brothers. The meeting forces everyone to make choices with irreversible outcomes."

AA: Fiction, a short story film, a violent family story, with actors. The grandfather's legacy is a handgun. The two sets of brothers meet with a fatal outcome, but there is hope in the younger generation. Well-made, with good performances by the young actors.


FI 2013. Documentary. D+DP+ED+S: Lauri Astala. 10 min
    Contact: AV-Arkki - Distribution Centre of Finnish Media Art / Hanna Joensuu,
Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "The theme of Transit revolves around the collective visual ideas and notions of the urban environment. Through the camera movements, angles and framings, the “documentary” shots taken in New York shift the city into a fictitious urban space, whose visual familiarity stems from the history of film."

AA: Experimental. Visions of New York from unexpected angles. Nocturnal, upside down, in slow motion. There is an affinity with Ernie Gehr. The film is about New York as a living entity seen from constantly and totally changing perspectives. Energetic, impressive and effective.


FI/CZ 2014. Animation. D+SC: Katariina Lillqvist. AN: Alfons Mensdorff. DP: Patricia Ortiz Martinez. S: Tero Malmberg. ED: Katariina Lillqvist, Patricia Ortiz Martinez. 9 min
    No dialogue.
Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "In an remote east European town, the evening bells can´t hide the cry of a hungry baby. His father, a street-musician named Baro, is also having a bad day. The social curator is blaming him to be a miserable parent, and shivering the whole day in a square is not healthy option for the child anyway. But Baro refuses to obey the advice of the curator: he definitely won´t put his little one into the BabyBox across the street, no way how poor they are. But the old grandfather disagrees, and finally the whole family ends down into the mysterious labyrints of BabyBox where everything is on sale."

AA: A new masterful puppet animation by Katariina Lillqvist, Baby-Box is set in post-Wall Eastern Europe. The animation is magical, the visual quality is excellent. There is a dark sense about the dangers to humanity in our liberalistic world, yet also a sense of hope for mankind.
    My résumé: There is an accordeon player and his crying baby, and a Baby-Box for unwanted children for adoption. It looks like a furnace door. The accordeon player descends via the sewer to the underworld. There is a desperate fisherman. The fisherman decides to put the baby into the box. There is a sound of the baby falling into the abyss. The baby enters the infernal reception center. The baby is rejected for adoption. There are two other options: "trash" or "transplant". The accordeon player catches a luminous fish. The repentant accordeon player and fisherman rush into the the baby box. They find the transplant department with body parts. Finally they all land into the trash sewer. Meanshile, the fisherman has discovered and rescued the baby there. They give the baby box lady the tar and feathers treatment. Finally the gypsies all play together in a Glowing Gypsies of the Universe band.


FI 2014. Documentary. P+D+SC+DP+S+ED: Okku Nuutilainen. 6 min
Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

TFF: "What happens to a domestic animal when it is no longer useful for anything."

AA: An experimental style documentary. There is a female commentator telling about a childhood memory of catching rats to destroy them, and raising geese and abandoning them. The last surviving goose could fly but does not. Yet finally it escapes to freedom. The visuals, often blurred, are in home video / experimental style. Thoughtful about our way with nature and animals.

Karkuri / The Deserter

[the title appears also in Arabic]. Animation. A film based on an interview with Mohamed Botros. FI 2014. PC: Pirkanmaan Elokuvakeskus. P+D+AN+SC+ED: Kalle Raittila. M: Tenho Mattila. S: Juho Salmi. 14 min
    In Arabic with English subtitles.    Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

Tampere Film Festival: "The Deserter is an animated film about a high-ranking Syrian police officer, who graduated the police academy a few years before the Syrian Uprising. 'I felt then that the duty of every honest citizen was to help save what was to be saved from the hands of the corrupt people backed by the ruling junta,' he says. He ends up betraying his government after witnessing its organized brutality towards ordinary people. As he also has a medical degree, he begins to offer secret medical aid to the victims of the violence. Apart from the personal story, the film touches upon the birth of the ongoing conflict in Syria through the narrator's own experiences and memories. He talks about corruption, the decades-long oppression of the Sunni Muslims, the refugees starving at the camps in neighbouring countries, the indifference of the rest of the world, and the radicalization of ordinary citizens. This man, who chose helping instead of killing, has to pay a high price for his actions."

AA: The devastating story of Syria as an animation based on a true story starts in a small village outside Aleppo. There is a rich view of the life, caught in tracking shots. There is an account of the police force seen from the inside. Anti-government graffiti leads to police repression. There is a simple, efficient graphic quality in the account on police torture and executions. The injustice fires a rebellion. The protagonist helps victims and warns about planned raids. The protagonist himself is warned. "Therefore I left Syria." The protagonist helps rebels as a doctor. The unjust silence of the world raises questions in Syria. The children are left in a place of no return. "All my attempts to get asylum failed until I came to Finland."
    I like the sober and stark quality of this engrossing animation.


Силламяэ. Fiction. FI 2014. PC: Aalto University. P+D+SC: Lauri Randla. DP: Tuomo Hutri. S: Tiia Vestola. ED: Leo Liesvirta. M: Tiia Vestola. 9 min
    Contact: Aalto University / Saara Toivanen,
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival, Friday, 6 March 2015

Tampere Film Festival: "The 7 year old Johannes is staying at his grandparents in an enclosed military town of Sillamäe. Desire to see his mother puts Johannes on an escape journey through the steep hills of Sillamäe military district. As a getaway car he has a toy Moskvitch and as a companion his only true friend Crocodile Gena, as they drive towards the city of Tartu 180 kilometers away."

AA: A tender character study of a little boy 30 years ago in Soviet Estonia. The little boy Johannes is on his way to Tartu on his toy car. He is given a lift by his friendly grandfather. Johannes's mother calls him and sings him a lullaby. Beautiful cinematography by Tuomo Hutri.

Seeing Black Cows

FI 2014. Experimental. P+D+SC+AN+DP+ED: Nuutti Koskinen. M: Jani Lehto, Nuutti Koskinen. S: Jani Lehto.
    DCI 2K (1.85:1), 13 min
    Tampere Film Festival, Friday 6 March 2015

Official introduction: "Seeing Black Cows is an experimental animated short film. The name is derived from a metaphor "the night in which all cows are black", coined by Hegel to criticize the philosophy of romanticism. As a metaphor the black cows represent something in the threshold of our perception: a kind of indefinable, inseparable otherness, loathed by our rational mind which seeks to measure, quantify and classify our existence. However, could it be that in the end this quantification turns against us, converting the black night into white noise, the indefinable into the purposeless?"

"The work compares our tendency to define ourselves as separate from our environment, from other people as well as our bodies and (in the end) our very thoughts - spinning this cartesian spiral of identification towards alienation.

AA: Experimental photorealistic animation - visionary - an ominous sound world - nocturnal nature, forest - imagery like in negative -  starkly reduced and transformed colours - changing layers of perspective - animation based on photorealism - trees fall - apocalyptic sounds - like in an earthquake - a strange light emerges from an abyss - flying stones - flying leaves and debris - a freeway tunnel with a 100 km speed limit - an animated car driver - the dashboard - the side mirrors - a change of perspective to the senior female living by the roadside - back to the driver - slow motion - the two coffee cups - coffee like magma - flying objects in the senior woman's room - split image: the driver and the senior woman having coffee - the driver checks his heart ate at his mobile device - extreme close up of heart biology - the microbic world - the electronic world - back to the dark forest - concluding in an orange sunrise.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Who the Devil Can See in the Dark / Kuka piru pimeässä näkee

Mari Soppela sets with his father to find her grandfather in Germany
FI/NL (c) 2015 KTV B.V., LPMA Productions. Documentary. PC: L.P.M.A. Productions. P: Mari Soppela, Leo Anemaet. D+ED: Mari Soppela. DP+M+S: Leo Anemaet. Theme song: "Sulle salaisuuden kertoa mä voisin" (George de Godzinsky, Eine Laine) perf. Harmony Sisters & Dallapé Orchestra (1942). "Yö pustalla" (V. Tynnilä, J. Kukkonen, K. Valkama), Dallapé Orchestra (1939). 71 min
    2K DCP in Finnish and German with Finnish subtitles
    Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015
    The title of the film is a quotation by the director's grandmother, herself not absolutely sure about the identity of the father of her baby.

Elonet synopsis: "The father's father of director Mari Soppela was a German soldier whom the offspring now tries to track."

DocPoint 2015 introduction: "Taboos are finally being broken. Mari Soppela‘s latest documentary is a journey into Finland’s intimate recent history. Soppela’s grandmother left Finland with a German soldier during World War II and returned with a child. The boy grew up in the northern Finland not knowing who his father was."

"Thousands of people in Europe have the similar background. In Finland, it is estimated that there are 700 children who were fathered by German soldiers. The mothers have been branded as fallen women and traitors."

"In the documentary, Soppela and her father set out to investigate who her grandfather was and what his story might have been. All they know about him is his name, and even that isn’t fully confirmed. When the investigation begins, old photos, Facebook and DNA tests all prove to be useful tools. The film is a perceptive portrayal of secrets within a family and the relationships between family members. It has taken 70 years for this topic to be tackled in films.
" Taina Vuokko, translation: Liina Härkönen

AA: A family affair, an intimate documentary created within the inner circle. Via reminiscences, letters, and photo albums we approach the mystery of the director's grandfather, a German soldier stationed in North Finland.  There are also military records, prison records, and death certificates. Mari Soppela recognizes in herself a transgenerational identity trauma, but her father could hardly be bothered. (A familiar set-up in the tradition of intimate family trauma documentaries of the last generation or so, in films such as Pappa och jag). There is a comical aspect in this quest as the director's father reluctantly agrees to participate in her daughter's obsession. The film feels like the director's therapy exercise into which we are invited. But there is nothing pathological here. Instead, there is a droll sense of humour.

Another humoristic vision is the question-mark-riddled family tree of the sought-after grandfather, introduced as Peter Jung but actually called Ernst Elter; he had more than one child off the official, marriage-based lineage. There is a DNA test. The fundamental question: what is it that makes a family? And for the director: who am I? The father compares her daughter with Don Quixote. In Amsterdam the result of the DNA test is revealed: it is negative. There is a scene of mutual embarrassment as the quixotic nature of the quest is confirmed.

There is a home-cooked quality in this film.


Between Rings / Estherin kehä

Between Rings. Esther Phiri, national heroine of Zambia.
Woman on Hold. FI/ZM 2014. Documentary. PC: Helmi Films Ltd. P: Tahir Aliyev. D+SC: Salla Sorri, Jessie Chisi. DP: Marita Hällfors, Päivi Kettunen. S: Anne Tolkkinen, Mikko Mäkeläinen, Miki Brunou. ED: Jukka Nykänen, M: Miki Brunou. 83 min
Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

IMDb: "After trading her marriage for a boxing career, 7 time world welterweight champion, Esther is torn between her family obligations and cultural expectations."

Tampere Film Festival: "Whilst most young women in her home town in Zambia were busy planning weddings, Esther Phiri had other ideas - to stay single, be a professional boxer and complete the high school education that she abandoned, when her family fell on hard times. Her quick and meteoric rise to a undefeated world champion took not only the boxing world by surprise but sent emotions to a fever pitch. But whilst the global press rushed to portray the image of the strong and confident woman tagged 'Zambia's Million Dollar Baby', in private, Esther slowly crumbled under the weight of her success. Adulation and celebrity had increased on the one hand but so had criticism, envy and expectations from her family and fans. In the pursuit of independence from a husband, her global success had made her a symbol of hope and empowerment and a provider for her family and friends whose demands increased as Esther's fortune grew."

AA: This fascinating documentary film on Esther Phiri, the national heroine of Zambia, could also make a fine companion piece with Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby (2004) starring Hilary Swank. With When We Were Kings (1996) it could make a triple bill.

But Esther Phiri's story is unique, a story of strong woman's struggle against traditional expectations. Her strength is physical, but even more decisively, it is spiritual. This is a story about the strength of character. It is about achievement and also about knowing when to stop.

Her mother: "I just put her onto God's hands".

The gym scenes are lively, full of energy, rhythm, and a sense of humour. We see Esther as a role model in keeping fit. We see Esther also as an advisor to her niece who fails to follow her advice on getting education. We see her throwing a big garden party. We see her enjoying life after her boxing career. But there is a final caption: Esther returns to boxing in 2014.

Beautiful cinematography by Marita Hällfors and Päivi Kettunen. A tribute to the beauty of the light and the people of Zambia.


Matka minuksi / Becoming Me

FI 2014. Documentary. PC: Avanton Productions. P: Sonja Lindén. D: Mina Laamo. DP: Päivi Kettunen, Tuomo Hutri. ED: Tuuli Kuittinen. S: Janne Laine. M: Karl Frid & Pär Frid. 75 min
    2K DCP. In Finnish with English subtitles by Jukka Sorsa.
    Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

The producer's motto: "Avanton Productions produces creative documentaries, which observe humanity and the world around us with a personal and sensitive touch."

Avanton Productions synopsis: "Becoming Me follows three young women who are struggling with the real and imagined demands and pressures of today’s society. The film is a journey from alienation towards the slow process of accepting yourself, reaching out for others and trying to find the lost feeling of belonging."

DocPoint introduction: "Three young women from different parts of Finland all have blogs where to share a specific part of their lives. Behind the screen they drift between their own thoughts and feelings and the expectations of the outside world."

"Elli has quit her blog because it idealised eating disorders. She believes that the blog dragged her even deeper into her illness. She has gradually overcome her eating disorder but mentally she is still unstable."

"Juulia does not simply drink her coffee but asks her mother to take a picture of the occasion first. Under the colourful shell is a business administration student who would rather avoid social situations. Her job is to produce pictorials of beautiful clothes and get buried under piles of makeup. It is interesting to see how one of the most renowned fashion bloggers in Finland describes the commercial cooperation of blogs and businesses."

"Laura who struggles with self-loath becomes anxious as she tries to eat healthy, ethically and ecologically. She hopes that everything will get better when she finally moves to Japan."

"This stylishly filmed documentary follows these three women as the seasons change, when everything seems close to crashing down and new hope rises. It reaches deep without becoming voyeurism.
" Aino Salonen / Translation: Anniina Hautakoski. DocPoint 2015

AA: Mina Laamo is on a journey to almost inaccessible layers of the human mind, delicate and fragile processes of building one's identity.

One of the fundamental changes of documentary film-making has been the one in attitudes to privacy. We talk about "the end of privacy" in discussing the ubiquitous cyber surveillance such as documented in Citizenfour.

But this is also an age of a voluntary end of privacy, people revealing almost everything about their private life on the internet. The three blogger protagonists of Becoming Me, Elli, Laura, and Juulia, discuss fashion, anorexia, and food, as means in their quest for identity. "I have often heard that one is a heap of diagnoses. [Disapproving chuckle.] 'Diagnosis Elli'". "I function at the level of 56." Three candles are burning: HOPE - LOVE - JOY.

There are original insights here about cyberworld and the popularity of self-portraits on the net. But Becoming Me is not a film about the internet, it is a film about the three young female protagonists. The intimacy is astonishing. There is even therapy session footage. No actress could be more impressive. The current generation has learned to portray self naturally in a documentary film. In the history of the documentary film that has been exceptional during previous generations. An element of narcissism may be involved, but there is more.

As is characteristic for Avanton productions, the film is visually ravishing. Päivi Kettunen and Tuomo Hutri are to be congratulated for the delicious cinematography. The film deals with depression, among other things, and the light and joy of the visuals are an essential counterweight. Life is beautiful, if we can only make the most of it.


Talvivaaran miehet / Men of Talvivaara Mine

FI 2015. Documentary. PC: Zone2 Pictures Oy. P: Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen. D+SC: Markku Heikkinen. DP: Markku Heikkinen, Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen. ED: Tuula Mehtonen. M: Joonatan Portaankorva. 73 min
Contact: Zone2 Pictures Oy / Hannu-Pekka Vitikainen,
Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

Tampere Film Festival: "It is snowing on a huge steamy field. The spotlight sees orange dots moving around. Radiophone conversations: “What’s the temperature like? The new block seems to function alright, the bacteria are working, good vibes, over 40 degrees Celsius…”"

"The Man from Talvivaara is a documentary about the meaningfulness of working for a mining company going from crisis to crisis. The film will follow four professionals from Kainuu working in a gloomy sci-fi setting, whose proportions make a human being but a small cog in a big machine."

"The state-of-the-art process of “bioheapleaching” was said to bring nickel and zinc into the world market and to give proper processing industry work for the hundreds of employees facing unemployment. What is the worth of a professional now in this mining company balancing on the brink of bankruptcy? How should he justify the meaning of his work to himself and to those close to him, if his job is constantly in the midst of a profitability and environmental crisis? How can you be the man from Talvivaara, when you cannot even send your son to day care wearing a Talvivaara cap, and when your family is concerned about your health?"

"Workers between the ages of 30 and 40 are stuck between a rock and a hard place: their houses are now built, and new babies are on the way. They would like to live in Kainuu, close to the wildlife, being able to hunt and fish – if only they could bring in their daily bread from Talvivaara."

"The film begins in the foggy production fields of Talvivaara. It is November 2013, and the financial crisis is starting to dawn on everyone in all its gruesomeness. It is now up to those who work at Talvivaara to find out if the conditions set by the investors can be met: productivity has to be improved, the machinery has to work properly, no accidents are allowed, and the water masses gathered in the area have to be drained. The fate of the company will be decided within the next couple months. Will the company be forced to declare bankruptcy or debt restructuring, or will it fall into the arms of a new owner? What will the men from Talvivaara do? Might there be other kind of work available for them?

AA: A solid, well-researched, sober piece of investigative film documentary journalism about the debacle of the Talvivaara Mining Company in Sotkamo in the Kainuu region famous for its splendid forests, lakes and rivers. It is also the home of the largest nickel deposit in Europe.

The ambitious and experimental strategies of the mining company failed spectacularly, and the company was in scandal headlines for years.

Markku Heikkinen and Heikki-Pekka Vitikainen dramatize the conflict directly via the protagonists and the participants of the tragedy. Clean nature and clear water are among the treasures of Finland, now in danger in Sotkamo.

The visual look is of excellent documentary quality. There is a dynamic contrast between heavy industry and sublime nature. The interviews and the footage of talking heads are lively and engaging. This is very much a human drama thanks to the documented urgency in the faces and the voices of the deeply concerned protagonists.



FI 2014. Documentary. PC: Gateway Films Oy. D+SC: Lasse Keso. DP: Heikki Färm, Sampsa Huttunen, Minna Laatikainen, Lasse Keso - 2K DCP (Tommi Gröhn / James Post). M producer (Gateway Films): Lasse Keso. S: Jyrki Sahla (sound design), Pekka Karjalainen (sound mixing / Meguru Film Sound). ED: Lasse Keso. Research: Deniz Bedretdin. 74 min
    2K DCP in Finnish with English subtitles by Sarka Hantula.
    Tampere Film Festival, Thursday, 5 March 2015

Gateway Films introduction: "A documentary film about music and life - about letting go and starting over In the early 70s, the Finnish guitarist Jukka Tolonen, celebrated by the international music press, chose to continue his well-begun solo career instead of joining the bands of artists such as Cat Stevens and Abba. However, things didn't go as planned. By the late 90s, Tolonen found himself living in staircases in Stockholm and ended up in Kerava Prison in 2008 for assaulting his girlfriend under the influence of amphetamine and alcohol. His life had been a mess for a long time, his marriages had broken up and he was in poor health. Doctors considered it a miracle that he was even alive. The documentary follows Tolonen from 2006 onwards, from the time just before the sad incident through druggy guitar sessions, the trial, prison time and his release. The film winds up in year 2012 - in a studio where Timo Kämäräinen, Risto Toppola and Teemu Viinikainen are recording a tribute album of Tolonen's compositions. Jukka attends the recordings and passes the baton to a new generation of master musicians. The documentary is a warm and touching story of giving up, survival and finding a new beginning. It is also a story of how Tolonen's music continues to live on in the hands of young musicians. The tribute album Kämäräinen, Toppola, Viinikainen Play Tolonen was released at the turn of 2014."

AA: A rock documentary. The rise and fall story of Jukka Tolonen made together with him and his circle. It is also a tribute to the entire span of Jukka Tolonen's musical career, including an extended contemporary tribute by the young musicians Timo Kämäräinen, Risto Toppola, and Teemu Viinikainen.

We witness the emergence of a talented young guitarist with a nice and gentle personality, a good family man. But the tour managers of the record labels maybe considered it de rigueur to provide stars with drugs and groupies. Be that as it may, Tolonen hit rock bottom, and injured, lost his ability to play. In this film he faces the facts on camera.

Tolonen belongs to the early inspired phase of progressive rock. Born in 1952, Tolonen started to play professionally in 1966, and his first appearance on a music record was in 1967 (on Finnish cover versions of "No Milk Today" and "Lady Jane"). The Jimi Hendrix Experience played in Helsinki in 1967, an important influence on Finnish progressive rock via Blues Section (1967-1968), itself an inspiration on Tolonen and his band Tasavallan Presidentti (1969-1974 with many reincarnations). Tolonen's guitar playing in its prime still sounds terrific.

But "I needed a punishment severe enough to realize how I have sinned". A long sequence is dedicated to Jukka Tolonen's Eastern Orthodox Church experience. I have nothing but respect to its religious substance.

But Jukka Tolonen's gospel music is a punishment to the viewer. I am constantly amazed at the fact that the best music in the world is religious. One need only to be reminded of one name: J. S. Bach. With music like that, one could ignore everything else. I'm equally amazed at the fact that so much of the most banal music is religious. As a listener to Yle Radio Ykkönen I get to hear the morning devotion programmes with daily reminders of that.

Tolonen is a solid rockumentary, but I would prefer the gospel part shortened. The message of "I once was lost and now I am found" is clear enough anyway.


Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Hulluus ja yhteiskunta / Madness and Civilization

Utøya island
FI 2015. Experimental. 55 min. D: Teemu Mäki. SC: Harri Virtanen. DP: Anton Verho. S: Ari Mursula. ED: Anton Verho. P: Teemu Mäki. Contact: AV-arkki - Distribution Centre for Finnish Media Art / Hanna Joensuu, -
    In Finnish with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 2), Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Tampere introduction: "A drama documentary about xenophobia, misogyny and the relationship between violence and pleasure. Pierre Rivière, Anders Breivik and Michel Foucault; two murderers and one philosopher are the main characters. The dialogue of the film is based on court minutes and on Foucault's writings."

AA: "I would make myself immortal by dying instead of my father". That was the intention of Pierre Rivière, but it went otherwise. An experimental film by Teemu Mäki based on the Pierre Rivière papers made famous by Michel Foucault. René Allio had already directed an important film based on them, and it, too, had been covered by a meta-documentary on the Allio experience, Retour en Normandie by Nicolas Philibert.

But in Teemu Mäki's film two multiple murders are covered, the one committed in 1835 by Pierre Rivière, and the other in 2011 by the Norwegian madman, "the Commander of the Anti-Communist Resistance Movement of Norway", both covered by documentary records and juxtaposed and dramatized in a radioplay by Harri Virtanen and Juha-Pekka Hotinen. Teemu Mäki's work is a film adaptation of the radioplay - "an audiovideo". We see the locations recorded today by a moving camera, but no action is reconstructed.

These are two kinds of madness. The first one is about a private tragedy, directed towards the family. The other one is the tragedy of a marginalized fanatic, directed towards society.

The final third highlights Michel Foucault as a bon-vivant philosopher on a ride with two friends on his Jaguar on a winter night to Stockholm. But the night club is already closed. Extended excerpts of Foucault's texts are heard.

A controlled montage of extremely disturbing material. The artists ask a lot of questions about the dark side of the human mind. Yet there are also images of positive creativity and the spontaneous joy of life, and in the end they prevail.

Hymyjen maa / The Land of Smiles

FI/TH 2014
PC: Höyry Films Oy
P: Heikki Häkkinen, Joni Luomanen
Directed by: Heikki Häkkinen
Written by: Heikki Häkkinen, Joni Luomanen
Cinematography: Joni Luomanen
Edited by: Joni Luomanen
Music: Mikko M. Koskinen
Color grading: Sampsa Lehtinen
Produced by: Heikki Häkkinen, Joni Luomanen
Dramatist: Pekko Pesonen
2nd camera: Eero Lämsä
Sound recording: Joni Luomanen
Voiceover recording: Henry Kaprali
Sound post production & mixing:
Henkka Niemistö / Chartmakers Oy
Graphic design: Teemu Koskenoja / Anthem Graphic Oy
Website: Jussi Solja
Translations: Laura Haavisto
Thai-translations: Mali Turunen, Kanyarat Mäkinen
DCP-production: Jussi Sandhu, Ville Hakonen / Wacky Tie Films Oy
PR: Manna Katajisto
SPECIAL THANKS: Tuomas Kela, Kaarina Kela, Päivi Rantanen, Raimo Tuppela, Jari Vuoristo, Essi Suomela, Noora Räisänen, Tomi Puhakka, Ulla Simonen, Ilona Tolmunen, Eveliina Maaninka
THANKS TO: A-Klinikkasäätiö, Khwanta Hansuri, Mika Lahnanperä, Jyrki Mäkinen, Restaurant Alex, Ride, Jussi Solja, Kristiina Wheeler, Timo Vuorensola, Tomi Saarinen, Marketta Häkkinen, Vesa Virtanen, Ossi Riita
PEOPLE WHO DONATED TO HELP TUOMAS: AK, apasra, Borde, Corzi, Hihhih, I ovn, J__, Jimbeam, jkfkr, Jocce, Jombie, Jone, Julle, JUPESO, Juusot, ko vis, Lappis, Läskipää, M. Vanninen, MauKhang, Natus, Nitalis, P. Peltomaa, Raid71, RAMITI, Ride, T. Mether, Tiiku-m, Wagner
    Contact: Höyry Films Oy / Joni Luomanen,
    In Finnish, English, and Thai, with English subtitles.
    Tampere Film Festival (National Competition 2), Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Official introduction: "How far would you be willing to go in order to help out a friend?"

"Tuomas, a man in his thirties, has lost everything in Thailand – his family, his possessions and the trust of his friends. Hoping to qualify for an early age pension in his native Finland, Tuomas is in such a bad shape that even his legs can’t support his skeletal body anymore."

"Will anything change when Tuomas’s friends decide to help the man with a drinking problem for one last time and set out to get him home from the streets of Thailand?

Tampere translation: "Thomas, a man in his late thirties, has lost everything to Thailand - his family, his wealth, and the trust of his friends. Dreaming of early retirement he has fallen in such a bad shape that even his feet are not able to carry his skeletal body anymore. Will anything change when the friends of the alcoholic Thomas decide to help him one last time and bring him home from the streets of Thailand?"

AA: Unflinching, personally engaged documentary film-making in extremis. The film-makers are fully involved in the horrifying rescue story. The camera is ubiquitous, recording surprising aspects of Thai life, even a visit to the hospital.  Lao Khao liquor is killing Thomas. A film about utter marginalization. A four day trip ends to an emergency room in Finland. But during the end credits we learn that after rehabilitation and having received his early retirement Thomas returned to Thailand.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mysterious Island [1961]

Salaperäinen saari / Den hemlighetsfulla ön. GB/US © 1961 Ameran Films. A Charles H. Schneer Production. Original distributor: Columbia Pictures. P: Charles H. Schneer. D: Cy Endfield. Ass D: Rene Dupont. SC: John Prebble, Daniel Ullman, Crane Wilbur – based on the novel L'île mystérieuse (Paris, 1874) by Jules Verne – suom. Salaperäinen saari, lyhennettynä 1904, 1947, 1953, 1961, 1979 Samuli S./ Otava, kuv. Poika Vesanto – suom. täydellisempänä 1927, 1969 (Haaksirikkoiset ilmapurjehtijat, Saareen heitetty, Kaksi vuotta saarella, Saaren salaisuus) Urho Kivimäki / Karisto – suom. 1935, 1936 Petroskoissa / Kirja (Haaksirikkoiset ilmapurjehtijat, Saareen heitetty, Saaren salaisuus). DP: Wilkie Cooper – Eastman Color by Pathé – SuperDynaMation – 1,85:1. Underwater cinematography: Egil Woxholt. Camera operator: Jack Mills. AD: Bill Andrews. VFX: Ray Harryhausen. Text design: Bob Gill. M composer and conductor: Bernard Herrmann – performed by: London Symphony Orchestra. S: John Cox (sound supervisor); Peter Handford, Bob Jones (sound recording) – mono (Westrex Recording System). ED: Frederick Wilson. C: Michael Craig (Captain Cyrus Harding), Joan Greenwood (Lady Mary Fairchild), Michael Callan (Herbert Brown), Gary Merrill (Gideon Spilett), Herbert Lom (Captain Nemo), Beth Rogan (Elena), Percy Herbert (Sergeant Pencroft), Dan Jackson (Neb), Nigel Green (Tom). Studio: Shepperton Studios (England). Loc: Espanja: – Benidorm, Alicante, Comunidad Valenciana – Costa Brava, Girona, Catalonia – Sa Conca Beach, S'Agaró, Castell-Paltja d'Aro, Girona, Catalonia. Helsinki premiere: 5.1.1962 Adams, distributor: Columbia Films – tv: 30.6.2007 ja 1.1.2009 Nelonen – dvd: 2003 Egmont Entertainment – VET 56169 – K8 – 2775 m  / 101 min
    SFI-FA print at 97 min with Swedish subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Cinema and Music), 20 Feb 2015
    Other film adaptations: Salaperäinen saari (The Mysterious Island, US 1929, D: Lucien Hubbard, [Benjamin Christensen, Maurice Tourneur, n.c.], C: Lionel Barrymore / Captain Nemo = Prince Dakkar), Salaperäinen saari (Tainstvennyi ostrov, SU 1941, D: B. M. Tshelintsev, Eduard Pentslin), serial Salaperäinen saari (Mysterious Island I-XV, US 1951, D: Spencer Gordon Bennet), Mysteerien saari (La isla misteriosa y el capitán Nemo, ES/FR/IT 1973, D: Juan Antonio Bardem, Henri Colpi, C: Omar Sharif / Captain Nemo), tv series Salaperäinen saari (Mysterious Island CA/NZ 1995), Mysterious Island (US 2005, D: Russell Mulcahy, C: Patrick Stewart / Captain Nemo), tv-elokuva Jules Verne's Mysterious Island (US 2012, D: Mark Sheppard), Matka 2: Salainen saari (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, US 2012, D: Brad Peyton).

AA: Jules Verne's novel The Mysterious Island has constantly inspired film-makers since the silent age. This 1961 film adaptation, which belongs to the remarkable fantasy film series created by the team of Charles H. Schneer, Ray Harryhausen and Bernard Herrmann, is a solid, well-made fantasy film. It was screened at Cinema Orion in the context of our Cinema and Music lecture series, and the lecturer, the composer Mr. Pessi Levanto, had selected it for our series as a sample of the work of Bernard Herrmann - as a less obvious showcase of Herrmann's ability to create a unique sound world for each film.

Among Herrmann's main modes were "the sound of mental disturbance" and "the sound of fantasy adventure escape", both brilliantly in evidence for instance in the overture of On Dangerous Ground. Mysterious Island is a delightful example of the latter mode, Herrmann's fantasy inspiration - there are sounds that are thrilling, suspenseful, stormy, exotic, and droll.

Ray Harryhausen's creations provide much of the fascination: - the balloon caught in the biggest storm in American history that brings our Civil War refugees to a lost island in the Pacific - the giant crab, bird, bees and octopus - the pirate ship - Nautilus - and the volcanic eruption that causes the island to perish utterly. The miniatures, the stop motion animation, and the travelling mattes are not photorealistically smooth, but there is an endearing quality in their handcrafted artistry that is charming like in the work of Georges Méliès. My favourite Harryhausen sequence here is the one with the giant honeycomb where the young lovers are trapped. (Honey trap!).

The actors are not of the first rank, but Herbert Lom brings a quality of dignity to his performance as Captain Nemo, as does Joan Greenwood to hers as Lady Fairchild.

Cy Endfield's direction is sober and matter-of-fact which befits a fantasy adventure. We do not need visual and directorial flourishes in a story as outlandish as this. Mysterious Island is a satisfying fantasy adventure: we expect storms, giant monsters, ingenious devices, pirates, and volcanic eruptions from such a fairy-tale. Is there a sense of wonder? Yes, there is.

Mysterious Island is an original Robinsonade. The men and women work together for survival, for creating some comfort, and for building a vessel to escape. Although there is no psychological depth in the characters, there is a sense of team effort. The aspect of young love remains on the level of nice smiles and some cheesecake & beefcake.

At its most profound, Mysterious Island reminds us of Captain Nemo's pessimism about the self-destructive urge of mankind about to destroy itself via war. There is a subtext in Jules Verne's Nemo stories about the death drive. But Mysterious Island also reminds us of Captain Nemo's optimism about more effective nourishment via his incredible inventions. Better technology could be an alternative to a Neo-Darwinian battle of the survival of the strongest, and to a Hobbesian world of bellum omnium contra omnes.

Mysterious Island is both a Dystopian story about the end of the world and a Utopian story about how we can save ourselves via technology.

A worn vintage print with a duped look yet watchable and with a sense of the original colour.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s (exhibition at LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art)

Boris Bilinsky, poster for The Joyless Street (Die freudlose Gasse), c. 1925, directed by G. W. Pabst, La Cinémathèque française. Source: LACMA website. Click to enlarge.
Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s. LACMA Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Art of the Americas Building, Level 2. September 21, 2014–April 26, 2015. Visited on 12 Feb 2015.

Official introduction: "Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s explores masterworks of German Expressionist cinema. From the stylized fantasy of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (dir. Robert Wiene, 1919) to the chilling murder mystery M (dir. Fritz Lang, 1931), cinema during the liberal Weimar era was innovative in aesthetic, psychological, and technical terms."

"Organized by La Cinémathèque française, Paris, the exhibition features over 150 drawings, as well as manuscripts, posters, and set models, the majority gathered by Lotte Eisner, German emigrée film historian and author of the pioneering 1952 text The Haunted Screen. Additional works come from the collections of LACMA’s Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies and from the archives of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Kino Ektoplasma—a three-screen installation created for the exhibition by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson—resurrects lost films of the Expressionist era in mesmerizing film sequences. The exhibition was designed by Amy Murphy and Michael Maltzan with Michael Maltzan Architecture, Inc."

"In Los Angeles, Haunted Screens is presented by LACMA in association with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and is generously supported by the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and Riza Aziz.
" (Official introduction).

AA: On display as an art exhibition some of the most legendary images from the German cinema before 1933, inspired by Lotte Eisner's groundbreaking art historical book L'Écran démoniaque, many of the images familiar from her book itself, but also with dozens of less known ones.

I did not see the original La Cinémathèque française edition of this exhibition, and this is a revised edition anyway with many works added from LACMA's own collections. This is a tribute to the great art of Hermann Warm, Otto Hunte, and their colleagues, who here can be appreciated not only as designers of unforgettable sketches but also as masters of the charcoal, pencil, watercolour, oil, and gouache. The sensual, aching quality of their art, expressionist, Neue Sachlichkeit or otherwise, comes into its own.

This exhibition is a part of the LACMA's long-term dedicated project of Expressionism and German culture, building on the Robert Gore Rifkind collection and other sources of their own. I had also the privilege to visit the Robert Gore Rifkind Center for German Expressionist Studies and see samples of their fantastic collections of German graphic art before 1933.

I seriously considered visiting also the Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933–1950 exhibition at the Skirball Cultural Center (2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd), but the LACMA exhibition was so powerful and overwhelming that I could not have managed it after that.

AFTER THE JUMP BREAK: LACMA Blog articles by Britt Salvesen and Claudine Dixon.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Grove (Los Angeles) with a Chinese New Year Theme

The Grove on Valentine's Day 2015. Photo: the official Facebook page of The Grove .
The Grove and Farmers Market, 189 The Grove Drive (3rd St. at Fairfax Ave.), Los Angeles. Visited on 11 Feb 2015.

Built in 2002, The Grove is now a quintessential Los Angeles phenomenon, an artificial paradise and a shopping center that has been compared with Rodeo Drive, the Universal CityWalk and Disneyland.

The last time I visited, the most famous Farmers Market of Los Angeles was still intact (there are some 50 Farmers Markets in L.A., but this is the best-known) and it still seems to thrive, incorporated now into the extravagant shopping theme park.

The Grove is an entertainment tour dedicated to consumption, today with a beautifully designed Chinese New Year theme. The bright red illumation of the stylish dragon and sheep ornaments dazzle as darkness falls.

When I lived in L.A. the Universal CityWalk had recently opened, and it was amusing to realize that in this city you need a specially constructed space to actually to enjoy a walk on a city street. The same applies to The Grove.

Bookstores thrived in Los Angeles twenty years ago. One could spend a day in them on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica or in the Media City Center in Burbank. Now they are in death throes thanks to the black plague of culture called Amazon. I ask friends for advice on bookstores in L.A. now and get three:

1. Barnes & Noble - The Grove. For books in general. A fine grand full service bookstore, also with music and dvd / blu-ray departments. Three floors.

2. The Iliad Bookshop. 5400 Cahuenga Boulevard, North Hollywood, CA 91601 (Corner of Cahuenga and Chandler Blvds.). Good for film books and out of print books.

3. Larry Edmunds Bookshop, 6644 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, 90028. In business over 70 years, (one of) the most legendary film bookshop(s) is still with us.

I was determined to visit all three, but distances are overwhelming. I need to return soon again.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The Imitation Game

Photo credit: Jack English. Copyright: © 2014 The Weinstein Company. All Rights Reserved. Click to enlarge.
The Imitation Game / The Imitation Game. GB/US © 2014 BBP Imitation LLC. P: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman. D: Morten Tyldum. SC: Graham Moore - based on the book Alan Turing: The Enigma (1983) by Andrew Hodges. DP: Óscar Faura - shot on 35 mm film (Kodak Vision3 250D 5207, Vision3 500T 5219) - Super 35 - cameras: Arricam LT and Arricam ST, Zeiss Master Prime Lenses - 2K digital intermediate: Company 3 - processing: i-Dailies (London) - colour - 2,35:1 - Dolby Digital - released on: DCP. PD: Maria Djurkovic. Cost: Sammy Sheldon Differ. Make-up and hair designer: Ivana Primorac. M: Alexandre Desplat. ED: Willam Goldenberg. D: Benedict Cumberbatch (Alan Turing), Keira Knightley (Joan Clarke), Matthew Goode (Hugh Alexander), Rory Kinnear (Det. Robert Nock), Allen Leech (John Cairncross), Matthew Beard (Peter Hilton) with Charles Dance (Commander Denniston) and Mark Strong (Stewart Menzies). 114 min
    DCP viewed at The Samuel Goldwyn Theater (Motion Picture Academy screening), Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, 9 Feb 2014.
    Academy Award nominations: - Best Motion Picture of the Year: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman - Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role: Benedict Cumberbatch - Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Keira Knightley - Best Achievement in Directing: Morten Tyldum.

Official synopsis: "During the winter of 1952, British authorities entered the home of mathematician, cryptanalyst and war hero Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) to investigate a reported burglary. They instead ended up arresting Turing himself on charges of ‘gross indecency’, an accusation that would lead to his devastating conviction for the criminal offense of homosexuality – little did officials know, they were actually incriminating the pioneer of modern-day computing. Famously leading a motley group of scholars, linguists, chess champions and intelligence officers, he was credited with cracking the so-called unbreakable codes of Germany's World War II Enigma machine. An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, The Imitation Game follows a genius who under nail-biting pressure helped to shorten the war and, in turn, save thousands of lives. Directed by Morten Tyldum with a screenplay by Graham Moore, the film stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Allen Leech, Matthew Beard, Charles Dance and Mark Strong." (Official synopsis from the Production Notes).

AA: A well-made mainstream biopic with special insight in WWII, foreign intelligence, and the birth of the computer. A character-driven story firmly grounded in history and the evolution of information technology. The subject, Alan Turing, is considered the "Father of Theoretical Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence" (Wikipedia).

Compared with The Imitation Game, the simultaneous British success film of a troubled genius, The Theory of Everything is feelgood entertainment. The Imitation Game is a tragedy. The British government, having benefitted immensely from Alan Turing's insight during the war, poisons him with hormons to "cure" him of his homosexuality.

The screenplay is intelligent, discussing ever-relevant themes about human and artificial intelligence.

The Imitation Game is also a different kind of a war film. We are in one of the centers where the outcome of the war was settled. Although we are far from the front, we often sense the immediacy of the war. There are telling details such as a brief shot of a legless war invalid, which convey the general horror quite powerfully.

A puzzling aspect is the ethical dilemma of war. Not all discoveries could be put to use, because that would have exposed to the Nazis the fact that the Enigma had been cracked.

The codebreaking philosophy has wide-ranging implications. "How's that different from normal people talking. They never say what they mean". As an outsider, Alan Turing has been able to make observations like that.

The Imitation Game will be remembered as the film about the first computer. The film creation, here called Christopher, is bigger and more exciting than the real thing, almost a character in its own right.

The characters are contradictory in a way that feels true to life, but there is a mainstream polish in the production. For instance the talented and incredibly prolific Alexandre Desplat has here composed a conventional score that I feel simplifies the emotional flow.

As a Finn I start to think that an interesting film could be made of WWII Finnish codebreakers, too. And also of the Stella Polaris operation of rescuing intelligence abroad when the war was about to end.


The Packard Humanities Institute: The Film and Preservation Center (Santa Clarita)

The Film Archive and Preservation Center. Photo: BAR Architects. Click to enlarge
The BAR Architects presentation: "Located on a 64.5 acre site in Santa Clarita, The Film Archive and Preservation Center provides the highest standards of preservation and storage for one of the most significant collections of film and television moving images in the world. The buildings are designed to preserve the park-like setting of the oak tree savanna hillsides and maximize views to create a quality workplace. The project includes a film preservation laboratory, digital moving image and audio preservation laboratory, film video and paper storage archive, central plant and staff offices adjoining the existing underground nitrate film storage vaults."

"Client: Packard Humanities Institute
Architect: BAR Architects
Total Site Area: 64.5 Acres
Total Planned Area: 226,400 gsf
Project Components:
Two 20-Seat Screening Rooms
Digital, Moving Image and Audio Preservation
Film, Video and Digital Archives Storage
Nitrate Film Vaults
Central Plant
Gallery Exhibit Space
Research and Study Center
- BAR Architects

"The new building will be comprised of two distinct parts, the Collection Storage and the Stoa. The Collection Storage portion is a large, unobtrusive, functional structure—primarily underground—housing temperature and humidity controlled collection storage vaults, collection services, loading dock, film lab facilities and a central plant for the entire project. The Stoa, inspired by ancient Greek Stoas with two story colonnades, is an L-shaped structure housing the preservation labs, work rooms, preservationists’ offices and administrative functions. The interior architecture recalls motifs from the Florentine monastery of San Marco and is designed to inspire the preservationist’s work. The palette of materials is Mediterranean with terracotta roof tiles, light-colored precast columns and walls, terracotta floors, plaster walls with parking located beneath an olive orchard." (Architecture MMXII)

AA: An amazing place: state-of-the-art film archiving in an architectural setting that is faithful to the Classical vision, even utilizing Italian marble. A tribute to the craft and profession of film archiving. The buildings are there, and the installation of the equipment is going on. The premises will house the giant collections of the UCLA Film and Television Archive; many of their treasures are already here. Perfection in every detail: high quality premises can inspire high quality work. While marvelling at the view we notice condors patrolling the sky.*

* Evidence of the success of the California Condor Recovery Plan. Some 30 years ago there were no wild condors left in California; all survivors lived in captivity.

Hollywood Costume (exhibition at the Academy Museum)

Hollywood Costume. The Hollywood edition of the exhibition inaugurated in Victoria & Albert Museum in 2012, curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis. At Academy Museum, 8949 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, 2 Oct 2014 until 2 March, 2015. Viewed on 9 Feb 2015.

The exhibition catalogue: Deborah Nadoolman Landis: Hollywood Costume. First published by V&A Publishing, London, 2012. Published in America by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills. 320 large pages, high quality illustrations.

The official intro: "The Victoria and Albert Museum, London and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences present the final showing of the groundbreaking multimedia exhibition Hollywood Costume in the historic Wilshire May Company Building, the future location of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, at Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles. Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, this ticketed exhibition explores the central role of costume design–from the glamorous to the very subtle–as an essential tool of cinematic storytelling. On view October 2, 2014 through March 2, 2015 the exhibition brings together the world's most iconic costumes from the Golden Age of cinema to the present."

"The Academy is enhancing the V&A's exhibition and includes more than 150 costumes. The Academy's presentation added more than 40 costumes to this landmark show, including Jared Leto's costume from Dallas Buyers Club (Kurt and Bart, 2013) – a recent acquisition from the Academy's Collection – as well as costumes from such recent releases including The Hunger Games (Judianna Makovsky, 2012), Django Unchained  (Sharen Davis, 2012), Lee Daniels' The Butler  (Ruth E. Carter, 2013), The Wolf of Wall Street  (Sandy Powell, 2013), American Hustle  (Michael Wilkinson, 2013), and The Great Gatsby  (Catherine Martin, 2013)."

"In addition, Hollywood Costume showcases the Academy's pair of the most famous shoes in the world – the original ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (Adrian, 1939) shown with Dorothy's blue and white gingham pinafore dress."

"Hollywood Costume is curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, Academy Award®–nominated costume designer and founding director of UCLA’s David C. Copley Center for the Study of Costume Design, whose credits include National Lampoon’s Animal House  (1978), Raiders of the Lost Ark  (1981), Coming to America   (1988) and the music video for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”  (1983); with Sir Christopher Frayling (Professor Emeritus of Cultural History, Royal College of Art), and set and costume designer and V&A Assistant Curator Keith Lodwick."

"Swarovski is the presenting sponsor of Hollywood Costume.
Additional support is provided by Pirelli and the Blavatnik Family Foundation.
In-kind support provided by Barco, ARRI, JBL and Samsung.

AA: Many of the obvious choices are here, as they should be, and it is hard to imagine the amount of work needed in putting all these precious and legendary pieces together.

I admire Deborah Nadoolman Landis's artistic concept and the execution of the huge show. The word that comes to mind is eloquent. This is a history of the American cinema seen through the costume design. Costume drama can be heavy, but the vision here is guided by wit. Martin Scorsese sums it up: "Costume is character". It is all about costume, and it is all about character.

There is a dramaturgy in this exhibition, most excitingly in a series of dialogues orchestrated between the director and the costume designer, seen on vertical screens facing each other: - Edith Head and Alfred Hitchcock - Sandy Powell and Martin Scorsese - Ann Roth and Mike Nichols - and Colleen Atwood and Tim Burton.

Of the obvious exhibits, Charles Chaplin's tramp costume is for me especially poignant in this context, among all this splendour. Last year in Le Giornate del Cinema Muto the mayor of Pordenone commented that it is a sad fact that the Tramp is a more topical figure today than a generation ago.

Two costumes from Alfred Hitchcock's movies linger in my mind. The vibrant, rich, full green of the costume of Judy Barton (Kim Novak) in Vertigo, and the eau de Nil green of Melanie Daniels's (Tippi Hedren) costume in The Birds. Green is my favourite colour, but it almost always fails in clothes although it never fails in nature. My interpretation of the secret of the green is that in nature it is not a single colour at all but a combination of dozens of shades that are permanently changing. Yet green can in exceptional cases succeed in costumes, and those two Edith Head-Alfred Hitchcock creations are among them.

The new Academy Museum scheduled to open in 2017

The design for the new Academy Museum scheduled to open in 2017
"The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is building the world's leading movie museum in the heart of Los Angeles. Located in the historic Wilshire May Company building on the campus of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the six stories Academy Museum was greenlighted by the Academy's Board of Governors in October 2012." (From the official Academy site).

They are all set to build a new magnificent movie museum for the Motion Picture Academy on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills. It can definitely become the international landmark.

Meanwhile, there is still a chance to visit the superb Hollywood Costume exhibition in the current museum space here, curated by Deborah Nadoolman Landis.