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Jerusalem (1996)
This film touched me deeply
14 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A usual problem in films with historical themes is that modern characters are put into a historical environment. The result is a loss of credibility and emotion. Jerusalem is an exception. Its main characters seem very genuine and honest.

We get to follow the tragic impact of revivalism on a small Swedish community and the love affair between two young people, who were supposed to be meant for each other. No clichés. Life doesn't always turn out the way it should.

The film awakened a lot of questions about the meaning of life, happiness and religion, despite my own slightly cynical and atheistic point of view. What do we actually value most? Love? In that case love for what? And what if we cant get what we love most, or if we have to make a very difficult choice?

The visual views are absolutely stunning. The mountainous landscape with lakes and flowing water was breathtaking and filled me with a feeling of deep longing and melancholy, as did the beauty and sad character of Gertrud, played by Marie Bonnevie. If one could just turn back time and change what was said and done.

A very strong scene is when Karin, who first might seem a bit distant and cold, discovers her maternal feelings. In all a very emotional and haunting cinematic experience.
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Cabaret (1972)
Timeless masterpiece
31 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film was made in the early 70s and I've probably viewed it almost ten times, but it still feels fresh and sharp in it's analysis of different people in a highly frustrated and controversial society.

The viewer is taken to the eventful atmosphere of Berlin in 1931. The focus of the film is on an interesting relationship between two opposites. Brian is a young newly arrived English teacher and Sally a cabaret performance artist. Brian seems touchingly innocent and uncorrupted, while Sally is the lively opportunist, who's not unwilling to sleep with producers in hope of a film career. Sally is a bit naive in a very lovable way.

We also get to follow the story of Fritz and Natalia, the gold-digger looking for a rich marriage and the daughter of a rich Jewish merchantman, and their difficult relationship. The Master of Ceremonies and Maximilian, a wealthy aristocrat, both illustrate a nonchalant and immoral life-style. I can't help to be charmed by the elegant self-confidence and "divine decadence" of these two characters. I guess decadence is seen as a stylish virtue in Western jet-set culture.

Any film with such ingredients and cast could be great, but Cabaret is however also a musical. The songs and performances support the storyline perfectly. Unlike in other musicals the songs seem like a very natural part of the story. The most memorable scene is when a youngster stands up and sings a patriotic song. Soon the viewer gets to see the swastika on his left arm and the audience stands up one after one and sings with him. The scene gives you cold shivers, because the emotional impact is quite scary. The scene makes you wonder what your own reaction would have been and helps to understand how vulnerable people are. Most other songs are great too. "If you could see her" (through my eyes) is both heartbreaking and hilarious. Is it a crime to fall in love?

Few films I've seen involve as much depth and many different levels as Cabaret. The film is very entertaining, but also realistic, analytical and critical. My all-time favorite.
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Caligula (1979)
Fascinating ingredients, but cinematographically mediocre
25 December 2005
People tend to understand this movie entirely wrong. It is definitely not just porn.

The story of the Roman emperor Caligula has it all. Love, sex, paranoia, treachery and fear in a morally quite different landscape. I don't think that a pornographic approach is wrong at all when studying a Roman emperor. Our moral barriers are a creation of our own culture and Christian heritage. People might be discussed by the explicit sex scenes, but what are these scenes compared to the facts that these people could murder their own parents, brothers, sisters and even children? In such circumstances perverted orgies seem quite acceptable and realistic to me.

Acting is fair and the choice of music is great (Khachaturyan and Prokofiev). The historical surroundings are adequate, but the camera work is terrible. Some scenes also obviously attempt to shock you at the cost of historical credibility. Even if the overall picture of the movie is positive, you easily start to fantasize what an unforgettable masterpiece you could made using such dramatic ingredients. Ancient Rome is such a fascinating subject, especially from a moral perspective. Some day they'll maybe make a movie of emperor Nero, in which the characters talk Latin and the city of Rome is recreated with computer graphics. The more realistic the would try to make it, the more shocking it would be. Or why not use renaissance Italy? They could be quite cynical too.

I don't regret buying this film at all. The first and last ten minutes of this film are great. The way to approach the movie is also far more correct than the melodramas of the 50s and the 60s. Give it a chance.
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"We just didn't quite make it this time"
22 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
ABTF is probably the most accurate war-film ever made. It could almost be a documentary. It tells the story of a gigantic airborne operation, which intended to end the war in Europe by Christmas 1944. The idea was to conquer three vital bridges behind enemy lines and push on with British tanks into the German industrial area of Ruhr. The operation was codenamed Market Garden.

Because of insufficient reconnaissance, bad weather, problems with the equipment and arrogance by the planners, the operation became a real disaster for the allies.

Huge sums were spent on making the scenes as realistic as possible and on hiring the best cast ever seen on cinema. The result is a good picture of the events 60 years ago. The acting is highly professional and the use of cameras is great. I still got the feeling like something was missing. Maybe it's because I'm of a younger generation than the filmmakers that some scenes seem a bit old-fashioned and almost melodramatic. The movie is good, but I think it could have been much better if some scenes were emotionally stronger and some melodramatic scenes were cut out. It is also annoying when the woman in the prologue says that the war is still going Hitlers way in 1944. You wouldn't expect such a comment in an otherwise so accurate movie. I think "A Bridge too Far" is very good as a documentary on war, but it's not a Cinematographic masterpiece. I recommend it to anyone interested in history and or war.

"It felt like the generals sent us to do something they didn't have the justification for" (a private of the British 1st airborne division)
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The Boys (1962)
Growing up during wartime. Fun, fun and sorrow
22 December 2001
"Pojat" ("lads or boys") is prehaps the director Mikko Niskanen at his very best, in spite of the fact that he has done some other good films too. It tells the story about five teenage-boys in the city of Oulu in northern Finland during the so called Continuation war (1941-1944, a continuation to the Winter war 39-40). The second world war was a very difficult time for Finland and the poverty is obvious. But that fact is not a problem for these boys; the war doesn't mean real war for them cause they're so young. It's more of a big adventure (compare with the British movie "Hope And Glory"). They admire the German alpine-troopers who travel through their city on the way to the front. The presence of the Germans offers interesting opportunities for these boys: they sale and trade things with the German soldiers. At the other hand they go to school and try to live a normal life during a war, just like the normal teenagers they are. The patriotism in Finland at that time is strong and the director catches that spirit very skillfully. In many scenes the viewer forgets that it's a movie. Pojat is not theater; it's a quite realistic description of life at the home-front during the war.

The acting is very convincing. The main-characters differ a bit from each other just like in Paavo Rintala's novel "Pojat". All the persons are individuals as in in real life. Vesa Matti Loiri makes an especially strong impression as Jake, a sensitive boy who's not as "rough" as the other boys, probably because of his situation at home. The music is mostly played with flute; it relives the movie's spirit.

Pojat is a very entertaining (at least for Finnish viewers) but also a tragic film. You don't forget that there's a war going on while watching it. Some scenes feel a bit melodramatic and exaggerated, but the overall impression is good. I recommend "Pojat" specially for Finnish viewers, but also for older people. Maybe for somebody who grew up during the war.
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Love & Money (1982)
Quite mediocre...
20 October 2001
but very entertaining. Byron Levin (Ray Sharkey) is a middle-class man who is working in a bank somewhere in Los Angeles. He is living together with his grandfather and a girl, who's just a friend according to Byron. Frederic Stockheinz (Klaus Kinski) is a businessman and owner of a multinational company, obviously a symbol of the bad capitalistic world. Mr. Stockheinz asks Byron to travel to Central America and talk to the president of Costa Salva (Costa Salva?), because he is afraid that Costa Salva is heading politically too far left, something that could cause a problem to his mining in the region. But wait, this is not all. Byron is also banging Mr. Stockheinzs' wife, a young and absolutely gorgeous woman (something that can be bought with money).

Mr. Stockheinz: "It's not 1949, nationalization belongs to history. In the future multinational companies will own the world."

Well... Probably true. But this movie isn't actually left-wing criticism against the rules (money) and idealists aren't always what they look like in the beginning. But I'm not convinced that all movies have a message and I'm not going to search for one here. When you try really hard, you'll probably find something deeper in it, maybe even something that never crossed the mind of the ones who made the film. I guess that is quite common in film-criticism.

To me the film is simply a black comedy, maybe a sign of perverted humour? Kinski is a lift to the film, and I admit that he was the reason why I went to see this film. I believe that "Love and Money" is something for Kinski-fans, not for any objective viewer.
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The Patriot (2000)
Braveheart 2. 'The Patriot Mel Gibson' is a bad deja vu
27 January 2001
This is one of those movies where you know the entire story, even if you've never seen it. I was very right about that, there wasn't a single surprise or unexpected turn in the movie. Or maybe one; it underestimated the viewer more then I'd ever imagined.

I'm sure that the fair Americans had all rights to fight for their independence, but do we really need an idiot-proof dualism? In every war there are victims and butchers, but I don't consider it necessary to collect all the bad things in the world and put them together in one person. The result is something like an incarnation of satan. We've already got the point, the British shouldn't be there.

If I were an American I would probably be proud of it, but not because of this movie. The Patriot crosses the border between emotional and cliche countless times. Some of the war scenes are well done but the concept is old. If there is any words to describe it, I would probably use dogmatic plastics. Anyways, I'm happy I saw it, thats the way I learn to appreciate good movies. No blue eyes can save this one.
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for people with a sense of irony...
26 December 2000
Absolutely the best way to spend an evening when you're tired. "L & D on Long Island" is a comedy, even if it might seem a bit slow and boring in the beginning.

It's a story about an older British man who's a member of the British society of literature. He's life has probably been very much the same for the last 25 years but one evening he goes through the wrong door in the cinema, to some kind of B-class teenage movie. He's just about to leave when he sees an actor and gets a crush on "it". I don't want to spoil the entire film, so this is enough of the story...

The humorous sense in the film is built up around a base of stereotyped people, with a lovely ironic tune. British means old-school British and the sights of Long Island are quite common American too with there motel and huge cars. Then there's comments like "He's a writer, from London England. He likes words". Most of the humour is implicit, but it's better that way because it requires something from the viewer. It's quite obvious what's going to happen but the excitement is created of how it happens.

The movie is not a famous masterpiece, but great relaxing entertainment. Just what one needs for an evening at home.
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strong, warm and humane
25 December 2000
There are probably a lot of prejudices people have against Russian film. Mine were gone after I had seen this one.

"Kavkazskij plennik" is a film about a youth who's being sent to Chechnya to fight for the Russian army. He's together with another Russian soldier being captured in Chechnya by an older Chechnyan man who wants to change them for his own son, who's is being held by the Russians. There being locked into an old house high among the Caucasian mountains. Soon a friendship develops between them and young girl who brings them food and water.

This movie was made after and during the last months of the first Chechnyan war. Everybody's a victim and there is nothing to win in this war, specially for the Russians. It is just a matter of how much you lose. The persons in this film do not hate each other because their fighting on different sides. The Chechnyans probably hates what these Russian soldiers represent, but they know that this war isn't caused by these two Russians. They are both just a small, meaningless part of it. Russia does not give a damn about their lives, probably because it's leaders have lost the humane touch, while calculating their offensives. Lives have been reduced into numbers on white sheet. But there are people who care, even among the "enemies". Normal people still show respect for humanity.

The rhythm of the movie is great, it leaves the viewer enough time to think and also find the deeper thoughts from the movie. The music is well selected too, I just cant get that tune out of my head. This together with a realistic humane aspect gives this movie a strong pacifistic tune. Definitely worth to take a look at.
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