Monday, November 27
(1988) The film that put Kaurismäki on the international map and winner of the National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Language Film. In this drolly existential crime drama, a coal miner named Taisto (Turo Pajala) attempts to leave behind a provincial life of inertia and economic freefall, only to get into ever deeper trouble. Yet a minor-key romance with a hilariously dispassionate meter maid (Susanna Haavisto) might provide a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Boasting a terrific soundtrack of Finnish tango and Baltic pop music and lovely cinematography by Kaurismäki’s longtime cameraman, Timo Salmimen. 35mm print courtesy of Janus Films. Approx. 93 mins.
“Beautifully made…. Reiterates the theme of Shadows in Paradise with greater sureness and skill. The film has a balladic compression and a lyricism that’s both affecting and sour… Effortlessly shifting gears from road film to worker drama to prison story, Kaurismaki’s deadpan saga is filled with oblique sight (and sound) gags.”
– J. Hoberman, Premiere
“A compelling blend of gritty realism and escapist fantasy.”
– Anton Bitel, Eye for Film
“Pares down storytelling to bare-bone essentials to create a sense of darkly amusing absurdity that actually has more meaning than any number of more conventional films trying to find significance in the lives of marginal people.”
– Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times