The Grump is a man from the past. A man who knows that everything used to be so much better in the old days. Pretty much everything that's been done after 1953 has always managed to ruin ... See full summary »
A sort of "Divorce Finnish Style," Mika Kaurismäki's rambunctious comedy, The House of Branching Love , recounts the breakup of a thirty-something professional couple - Juhani, a family ... See full summary »
A ski jumper descends from winning 4 Olympic Gold Medals, to serving two years for stabbing a relative. Careers as a stripper and singer, plus five marriages, replete with allegations of ... See full summary »
It's been three years since we last met Janne and Inari. Since then, they've had a daughter named Lumi. Janne and his friends experience a new adventure, this time on an autumn night. The ... See full summary »
A comedy about Janne, a man from Lapland in Northern Finland, a man who has made a career out of living on welfare. Inari, his girlfriend, is tired of Janne's incapability of getting a grip... See full summary »
A PATRIOTIC MAN has an inspired concept: a man with a special blood type is used as a human doping device for the athletes on his national ski team. Director Arto Halonen has made the most of this darkly comic subject, and captures a surprisingly broad and powerful range of emotions, excitement and humor. In a sly parody of a Christ story, the main character gives his blood to bring false glory to the skiers and coaches who use him. The actor playing the lead role gives a wonderful, detailed performance, and the actress playing the woman skier who relies most deeply on his blood provides an equally memorable turn. Throughout the film, Halonen's directorial method is clean and unblinking, with a distinctive style of clear-eyed black humor that manages to be both very funny and very emotional without ever turning saccharine. I know not everybody can see the skill and art that goes into a style like this, which never calls attention to itself, but Halonen's steady, classical technique is relentless in exploring the characters and bringing out the flavor of the story. This kind of directing is, in many ways, much harder than flashier styles, and makes the film more complex and multi-sided than pushier approaches. The screenplay, by Halonen and Jouni Kemppainen, is a marvel. It gathers together a huge cast of characters in a complicated series of athletic and personal events, yet always maintains a straightforward drive and intelligence. The dialogue from start to finish is wonderful: smart, funny, incisive. Overall, the film is very different from anything else out there, and is definitely worth seeking out. Like any movie that has its own style and tone, it gets bigger in your mind when you get away from it and look back on it later. Here's hoping that more of Halonen's films get shown in America in the future, and that he writes more screenplays with Kemppainen.
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