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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:12 pm 
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ECLIPSE SERIES 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

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The poignant, deadpan films of Aki Kaurismäki are pitched somewhere in the wintry nether lands between comedy and tragedy. And rarely in his body of work has the line separating those genres seemed thinner than in what is often identified as his "Proletariat Trilogy," Shadows in Paradise, Ariel, and The Match Factory Girl. In these three films, something like social-realist farces, Kaurismäki surveys the working-class outcasts of his native Finland with detached yet disarming amusement. Featuring commanding, off-key visual compositions and delightfully dour performances, the films in this triptych exemplify the talents of a unique and highly influential film artist.

Ariel

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n Kaurismäki’s drolly existential crime drama, a coal miner named Taisto (Turo Pajala) attempts to leave behind a provincial life of inertia and economic despair, 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. Ariel, which boasts a terrific soundtrack of Finnish tango and Baltic pop music and lovely cinematography by Kaurismäki’s longtime cameraman Timo Salmimen, put its director on the international map.

The Match Factory Girl

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Kaurismäki took his penchant for despairing character studies to unspeakably grim depths in the shockingly entertaining The Match Factory Girl. Kati Outinen is memorably impenetrable as Iris, whose grinding days as a cog in a factory wheel, and nights as a neglected daughter living with her parents, ultimately send her over the edge. Yet despite her transgressions, Kaurismäki makes Iris a compelling, even sympathetic figure. Bleak yet suffused with comic irony, The Match Factory Girl closes out the “Proletariat Trilogy” with a bang—and a whimper.

Shadows in Paradise

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Lonely garbageman Nikkander (Matti Pellonpää) finds himself directionless after losing his friend and co-worker to a sudden heart attack; unlikely redemption comes in the form of plain supermarket cashier Ilona (Kati Outinen, in her first of many performances for Kaurismäki), with whom he begins a tentative love affair. Boiling down what is essentially a romantic comedy to a series of spare and beautiful gestures, Kaurismäki conjures an unexpected delight that finds hope blossoming even amid gray surroundings.


Last edited by Jeff on Tue Jul 15, 2008 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:23 pm
Great, great news. While I like all three of these films, Match Factory Girl is the crown jewel for me. I'm tickled pink... but not about the pink color scheme. Ugh.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:16 pm 
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A nice set. The Match Factory Girl is the best Kaurismaki film I've seen, and Ariel isn't far behind. But pink?

EDIT: Snap!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:27 pm 
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what the fuck is everybody's problem with pink? I liked the old Viridiana cover, and I think it (the color pink) goes well with grey (which might even suggest Kaurismäki's comic/pastel color palette)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:30 pm 
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Discuss the pinkness over here, please.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:32 pm 
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Nice (and unexpected) set - I'm looking forward to this.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:34 pm 
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meh. i was hoping for a Criterion release of I Hired a Contract Killer when Kaurismaki's name was first rumored, but these are three solid films. Definitely on the "must-buy" list.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:58 pm 
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They're great films, but hardly rarities - I've had my Swedish box for years (which has those three plus Drifting Clouds and The Man Without A Past), and Artificial Eye's set came out last year.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:55 pm 
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htdm wrote:
Nice (and unexpected) set - I'm looking forward to this.

Unexpected? I announced these titles last week.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:22 pm 

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MichaelB wrote:
They're great films, but hardly rarities - I've had my Swedish box for years (which has those three plus Drifting Clouds and The Man Without A Past), and Artificial Eye's set came out last year.

Well, then Criterion should cancel this set.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:32 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
They're great films, but hardly rarities - I've had my Swedish box for years (which has those three plus Drifting Clouds and The Man Without A Past), and Artificial Eye's set came out last year.

True, but then the same could be said about I think all of Kaurismäki's features. The Swedes covered the whole body of work, I believe, and the discs were uniformly solid. However, they didn't come too cheap. I think the set you mention runs in the $100 range. Not unreasonable for five incredible films, but a budget-buster nonetheless.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 3:39 am 
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backstreetsbackalright wrote:
The Swedes covered the whole body of work, I believe, and the discs were uniformly solid. However, they didn't come too cheap. I think the set you mention runs in the $100 range. Not unreasonable for five incredible films, but a budget-buster nonetheless.

...in which case the Artificial Eye sets (which cover everything aside from I Hired a Contract Killer and the two most recent titles, released separately) are perfect substitutes - they're currently going for about $35 apiece on Play.

My point is that most of the Eclipse releases cover material that you can't get anywhere else - whereas these titles are pretty well catered for already.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:23 am 
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Quote:
The Swedes covered the whole body of work, I believe, and the discs were uniformly solid.

Why is everyone referring the Nordic Kaurismäki releases as Swedish? They were published by a Nordic company (Sandrew Metronome) and there are also Finnish sets with identical discs.

I'm not a huge fan of Kaurismäki myself, but I'd recommend his movies at least to anyone who likes Jarmusch's output as their style is somewhat similar. And he is one of the fairly few notable finnish directors and definitely the most important Finnish director working today (the state of Finnish film industry is pretty bad so one can't even seriously question this).


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:42 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
backstreetsbackalright wrote:
The Swedes covered the whole body of work, I believe, and the discs were uniformly solid. However, they didn't come too cheap. I think the set you mention runs in the $100 range. Not unreasonable for five incredible films, but a budget-buster nonetheless.

...in which case the Artificial Eye sets (which cover everything aside from I Hired a Contract Killer and the two most recent titles, released separately) are perfect substitutes - they're currently going for about $35 apiece on Play.

My point is that most of the Eclipse releases cover material that you can't get anywhere else - whereas these titles are pretty well catered for already.

Heartily agree with this sentiment and without wanting to resurrect the hoary old chestnut of multi-region players etc this will be the first Eclipse set that I definitely won't be getting because I have the aforementioned R2s.

So whereas this release is warmly applauded there will not be the pealing of church bells that would receive news of a Gremillon set (to take only one example of eagerly awaited alternatives).


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:47 am 
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MichaelB wrote:
My point is that most of the Eclipse releases cover material that you can't get anywhere else - whereas these titles are pretty well catered for already.

Point taken. And I should remind myself that, had botched dispatching not led to an order cancellation two weeks ago, I'd have already purchased the Artificial Eye set, which would make this Eclipse joint redundant for me.

Still, there's a fine line of distinction on the "undiscovered and unseen" categorization. Quite a few of the Eclipse titles have been available on non-R1 discs before (the Kleins, Ozus, certainly the Kurosawas). But I'd agree that this Kaurismäki set might be more along the lines of Criterion-christening without supplements.

And oops on the boxed-set country of origin.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:57 am 
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backstreetsbackalright wrote:
And oops on the boxed-set country of origin.

Well, hardly - Sandrew Metronome's head office is in Stockholm, and I'm guessing most international purchasers would have ordered it from discshop.se (at the time of the original release a few years ago, this seemed to be the only convenient way of getting hold of it online). So calling those DVDs Swedish doesn't really merit an "oops!"


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:42 pm 

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I gotta say I'm a little disappointed that at least one of these isn't a full-fledged Criterion. There are so few contemporary directors in the collection and Kaurismaki is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting. His films deserve some scholarly context.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:57 pm 
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Slothrop wrote:
I gotta say I'm a little disappointed that at least one of these isn't a full-fledged Criterion. There are so few contemporary directors in the collection and Kaurismaki is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting. His films deserve some scholarly context.

A Kaurismäki commentary would be an utter joy, but I just can't see it happening - and it would probably consist of long silences interspersed with occasional denunciations.

The third Artificial Eye volume includes Jonathan Ross' 'For One Week Only' documentary in which he essentially goes through his entire output (up to 1991, when it was made), slagging each film off in no uncertain terms. "Self-deprecating" doesn't quite go far enough!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:19 pm 

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Which aspect ratio(s) are the films really in? The Web site says 1.33:1, but the ever unreliable IMDb says 1.66:1 for one of them and 1.85:1 for the others. Which is correct? Also, why is the Eclipse line avoiding scope-ratio films? Peace.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:02 am 
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MuzikJunky wrote:
Which aspect ratio(s) are the films really in? The Web site says 1.33:1, but the ever unreliable IMDb says 1.66:1 for one of them and 1.85:1 for the others. Which is correct? Also, why is the Eclipse line avoiding scope-ratio films? Peace.

They vary - somewhere between 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 depending on the film. He's never gone wider, though (I can't really imagine a Kaurismäki film in Scope).


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:08 pm 

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I'm just glad these correspond exactly to one of the Artificial Eye box sets, so that I can order the other AEs without overlapping (unlike, say, the pairing of Criterion & non-Criterion titles in the MOC Mizoguchi double-features).


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:22 pm 
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I have the Scandinavian releases of all the films -- so I personally don't need this set. But I can only applaud Criterion for a start in making more of Kaurismaki's work available.

FWIW -- My personal favorite is Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana. -- but I like all three films included in this set -- and I recommend that people check the set out (if they haven't aleady gotten the earlier R2 version. ;~}


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 6:35 pm 
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I'm glad this has finally been announced officially, Kaurismäki rightfully being the first Finnish director in criterion canon. And now, maybe, just maybe there is a possibility of getting a Matti Kassila or Risto Jarva box set sometime in the future, after several years have passed. In my opinion, they are Finnish directors who "need" eclipse treatment more than Kaurismäki, even though, as Michael Kerpan said before, I'm glad criterion is now giving more availability for Kaurismäki's films.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:40 pm 

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I loved The Man Without a Past, will I like these?


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:23 pm 
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BWilson wrote:
I loved The Man Without a Past, will I like these?

Yes.


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