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Fourteen desperate men named Frank, band together to escape from a repressive section of Helsinki. An English-speaking non-Frank named Pekka joins the barroom conspirators, whose avoidance of last names, and any affect, help them outsmart overwhelming forces as they sneak through dark subway tunnels and alleys, hoping against despair to reach magical seaside Eira. The Calamari Unionists take advantage of unending night to venture their intrepid journey. Written by
'Aki Kaurismaki' said in an interview that this is the only film he has made where he either was drunk or had a serious hangover while shooting. See more »
In the art museum, both the camera and boom operators are reflected in the glass on the paintings. See more »
Gentlemen! I don't want to tire you and especially myself by going through those many reasons which make life completely impossible in this part of the city. We all know the circumstances forced on us in our early years: crowded homes, ignorance and hunger. Not to mention the bad air conditioning in the busses with their irregular timetables. In this part of the city there are more hills than anywhere else in the world. Loose-running kids and dogs make it impossible to move in the ...
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...but not necessarily in this order and not necessarily the only ones, are the main sources for this movie, my first Kaurismaki movie in an attempt to watch his filmography in as much a systematic order as possible. It is also my first film in Finnish and the language doesn't pose any problems. It is neither funny nor tough on the ears and sometimes it's even beautiful. Stories involving "gangsters" doing gangsta s...t have been told before. Add to the basic story a touch of irony and trickery and you get Godard (A bout de soufflé, Band a part), add to that some surrealism and a pinch of absurd and you get Fassbinder (Der Amerikanische Soldat), take the resulting mix and give it a purely American flavor and you get Jarmusch (Stranger than Paradise). Shove this back to Europe and add a queer language and you get this movie, not bad but given the already used idea, a bit too unoriginal and predictable. Classical American gangster movies are predictable too but you don't have to work so much with the movie to be entertained, that comes out much easily. Calamari Union is hard to decipher at first, it then becomes wearisome because you don't really know whether to take it seriously or not (you can't take it too seriously anyway but you think maybe this is like Bresson where things do get serious at some point). When you get to understand that it's all a bunch of crack jokes wrapped up with some style with no clear purpose in view you no longer care.
Kaurismaki avoids a tag of art-house bore because he gets the jokes across and his style is unique and sincere. But playing with a recipe that already proved to be a dead-end doesn't do him good in this movie.
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