Eclipse Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

Discuss DVDs released in the Eclipse and Essential Art House lines and the films on them.
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swo17
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#51 Post by swo17 » Tue Sep 23, 2008 10:51 am

Just a few suggestions:

- Can you not give an "NA" in the supplements section? It seems a 1/10 should go to extras that are there but are terrible. Whereas by definition, an Eclipse set will never have any extras, so this category is really not applicable.

- Can you just reflect that the possible points are lower in the total score? So instead of 4.3/10, it would be 4.3/6, or whatever the maximum possible score is (i.e. whatever an Eclipse set would score if it had 10/10 for both picture and audio).

I apologize if these suggestions have been brought up before. The reviews are very valuable regardless of the scoring issue. I'm not nitpicking, just trying to help!

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#52 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:25 am

cdnchris wrote:I'm still playing with the rating system but the basic idea behind it is I enter in scores for each aspect and then the system calculates the score based on a formula. I thought about ignoring supplements for Eclipse titles (and even getting rid of the scoring) but then there'd be a lack in consistency and there are certain sites that have no consistency (*cough*digitalbits*cough*) in their scoring which makes them useless. I know the 4 doesn't jive with me recommending it (and I do, it's a great set despite the lack of supplements) but at the same time I can't give it a 7.6 (which I think is what the system would round it out to if it ignored the supplements) because that would give the impression that it's just about as impressive a release (overall) as The Furies when it's not.
But an Eclipse release will never have supplements, and we all know that. It's not crazy to get rid of the Extras rating and give an Eclipse release a 7/8/9 out of 10.

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MichaelB
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#53 Post by MichaelB » Tue Sep 23, 2008 2:02 pm

Excellent Michael Atkinson piece - he really nails Kaurismäki's appeal.

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#54 Post by DSelwyn » Mon Oct 13, 2008 11:52 pm

I just discovered today that my Proletariat Trilogy box set contained 2 copies of Shadows in Paradise and no copy of The Match Factory Girl. Oh well, I sent an email to Jon Mulvaney and I'll be checking my email to see what he says. I loved Shadows in Paradise and I'll watch Ariel before sending the box set back for a replacement. It's delightful how Kaurismaki's deadpan minimalism tranlates across different languages.

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nick
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#55 Post by nick » Tue Oct 14, 2008 10:52 am

DSelwyn wrote:I just discovered today that my Proletariat Trilogy box set contained 2 copies of Shadows in Paradise and no copy of The Match Factory Girl. Oh well, I sent an email to Jon Mulvaney and I'll be checking my email to see what he says. I loved Shadows in Paradise and I'll watch Ariel before sending the box set back for a replacement. It's delightful how Kaurismaki's deadpan minimalism tranlates across different languages.
The same thing happened to me. I emailed Mulvaney and sent back just the duplicated Shadows In Paradise and Criterion mailed me a copy of The Match Factory Girl.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#56 Post by GringoTex » Sun Nov 16, 2008 8:20 pm

This is a sincere question and not a provocation: if I got absolutely got nothing out of Match Factory Girl, should I bother with the other two films in the set? Are they in the same vein?

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#57 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sun Nov 16, 2008 9:22 pm

I'd say give Shadows in Paradise a try -- if that does nothing for you, wait a decade or so -- and then give Kaurismaki another shot.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#58 Post by MichaelB » Mon Nov 17, 2008 3:22 am

Although it's one of my very favourite Kaurismakis (and he in turn is one of my favourite filmmakers), I absolutely wouldn't recommend The Match Factory Girl as an introduction to his work. Even though it was about the fourth or fifth of his films that I saw (on its original UK release in 1990), it wasn't until I rediscovered it on DVD a few years ago (having by then seen virtually Kaurismaki's entire output) that the penny really dropped as to what an extraordinarily jet-black, ruthlessly unsentimental antidote to the romantic comedy it truly is.

The other two films in the box are much better introductions - Ariel was my first, and it's still a pretty good starter, if the weakest of the trio.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#59 Post by marcus » Thu Nov 20, 2008 4:13 pm

shadows in paradise is great (all the films are great). but shadows is my favorite.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#60 Post by T99 » Sun Nov 23, 2008 8:21 am

The most logical introduction to Kaurismäki would be "Drifting Clouds" or "The Man Without a Past" - two of his most accessible (and best) films.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#61 Post by Narshty » Mon Nov 24, 2008 7:58 pm

I thought the films in the set got better and better as they went along. Shadows in Paradise seemed very rambling and unfocused, with more than a touch of dreaded whimsy. Ariel was far more engaging, though rather conventional underneath Kaurismaki's deadpan exterior. The Match Factory Girl, however, is absolutely stunning. It's so stripped down it makes the other two films look Altmanesque, but is totally riveting from start to end. I don't think I've ever seen a better use of awkward silences to amp up tension and comedy. I don't know if it's a masterpiece, but on its own terms, it's essentially perfect.

Essential viewing time: here's part 1 of Jonathan Ross's hilarious Channel 4 documentary on Aki Kaurismaki from 1990.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#62 Post by justeleblanc » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:04 pm

Narshty, I wonder if your thoughts about the films getting better have anything to do with your warming up to Kaurismaki in the process. If you were to watch Shadows in Paradise again, I bet you might like it more.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#63 Post by Narshty » Mon Nov 24, 2008 9:21 pm

Oh, I'm no stranger to Kaurismaki, I just thought it was fairly ramshackle. It's due back tomorrow (I rented the identical UK set for £1.00 for the week - thanks Islington Libraries!), but if I find a spare hour at some point I might settle down to it again.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#64 Post by GringoTex » Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:12 pm

MichaelB wrote:Although it's one of my very favourite Kaurismakis (and he in turn is one of my favourite filmmakers), I absolutely wouldn't recommend The Match Factory Girl as an introduction to his work. Even though it was about the fourth or fifth of his films that I saw (on its original UK release in 1990), it wasn't until I rediscovered it on DVD a few years ago (having by then seen virtually Kaurismaki's entire output) that the penny really dropped as to what an extraordinarily jet-black, ruthlessly unsentimental antidote to the romantic comedy it truly is.

The other two films in the box are much better introductions - Ariel was my first, and it's still a pretty good starter, if the weakest of the trio.
So I watched Ariel, which I enjoyed (if rather half-heartedly), and then Match Factory Girl arrived from Netflix AGAIN even though I didn't re-add it to my queue, so I took it as a sign and rewatched it. This time it clicked. I realized Kaurismaki does take every trope from the romantic comedy and turn it on it's head. I also saw the second time around that he loves his protagonist, whereas on the first viewing I thought he hated her.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#65 Post by Michael Kerpan » Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:29 pm

Glad Match Girl clicked. Perhaps now that you have tapped into the secret of Kaurismaki's methodology, you will love most of his other films too. ;~}

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#66 Post by MichaelB » Thu Nov 27, 2008 4:04 pm

GringoTex wrote:I also saw the second time around that he loves his protagonist, whereas on the first viewing I thought he hated her.
ABSOLUTELY not! In fact, Kati Outinen is his preferred female interpreter, and I just can't see him casting her as someone he despises. In fact, her character here is probably the most perfect example of a Kaurismäki protagonist.

(That said, my single favourite Outinen scene is in my single favourite Kaurismäki film Drifting Clouds - it's that utterly sublime moment when she's trying to get another job, but is told that she's unemployable because she's too old. "But I'm only 38", she says. "Exactly", the man replies, "you could drop dead at any moment." My girlfriend of the time was 38, so it struck a particular chord - happily, she's still alive too).

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#67 Post by jojo » Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:06 pm

Knocked off the entire set in two nights (all watched prior to going to bed!)

This set was my intro to Kaurismaki. I KNOW OF his newer films, but I felt that this set was a good price to spend some XMas money on and it SEEMED to encapsulate themes that interested me, so I took a gamble on it.

I'm glad I did! I still don't know if I would "love" Kaurismaki's style after seeing more of his films but to me it's just about perfect in this set of films. You really have to have a distinctive style to unify a 'trilogy' such as this, even if these films were not necessarily meant to be seen as such.

A few thoughts:

Katie Outinen is a really good actress. It's not anyone who can go from street-wise tough girl to dour-faced loser girl and not miss a beat. She's surprisingly convincing in both roles and I can see why Kaurismaki liked her so much.

I see people here discussing these films in order of preference although because of the way it's presented, I tend to see them as all part of a larger whole in no particular order (much like how I see much of Ozu's late output). Because of this, I can't say I've decided yet which one I like the best (I'd recommend viewing all of them to get the full impact), although I will admit The Match Factory Girl is very impressive in its bare-essentials minimalism.

I'm not sure if I would like to categorize these films as either drama or comedy (which in this case many describe to be jet-black). That is one of the problems with the expectations of movies-- they have to be one or the other. Or, even if a film is actually on the grim side, people have to view it as a black comedy to subvert it into something supposedly more watchable. What I see is that Kaurismaki here has total control of the shifting tones and emotions of these characters so that it doesn't lend itself into being pigeonholed. Life usually isn't strictly a comedy or tragedy; it has elements of both but ultimately it just is what it is. I think that's what Kaurismaki "gets" here --even if these ARE, in fact, very stylized movies.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#68 Post by CSM126 » Mon Jan 05, 2009 4:54 am

I made this set my intro to Kaurismaki and, um, wow. Here I thought I knew what black comedy was...not really! It's incredible how Kaurismaki can make films so bleak and dour and even sad so funny. I was especially impressed by The Match Factory Girl, which is absolutely hilarious. I laughed out loud a lot during that one, and I felt bad every time because of how awful the events on screen were. But I like that. Makes me look at myself a little differently ("My God, did I just laugh at quadruple murder? I did...Wow, I'm totally f'ed up.") On the whole, I'm also impressed by the economy of the films, packing so much into such short run times but never feeling rushed (if anything, I thought they felt longer than they really were and I mean that as a compliment).

Definitely a great set to have, and further reason for me to believe I can't go wrong scooping up Eclipse boxes (I also blind-bought Late Ozu and Larisa Shepitko and was also absolutely delighted with what I got).

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#69 Post by Morbii » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:41 am

Does it matter what order these films are watched in, or is "trilogy" just loosely attributed?

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#70 Post by Doctor Sunshine » Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:36 am

Doesn't matter. It's one of them "theme" trilogies.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#71 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jan 17, 2009 8:53 am

Ariel is a good starter (it was mine).

The Match Factory Girl is a terrible starter - if it's your very first Kaurismäki, it might well put you off for life.

Which would be a great shame.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#72 Post by Michael Kerpan » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:12 am

MichaelB wrote:Ariel is a good starter (it was mine).

The Match Factory Girl is a terrible starter - if it's your very first Kaurismäki, it might well put you off for life.

Which would be a great shame.
I wouldn't say "terrible", I would say "risky".

I started with Drifting Clouds -- which was also a wonderful starting point.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#73 Post by MichaelB » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:26 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:I wouldn't say "terrible", I would say "risky".
Yes, I agree - I really don't want to associate the word "terrible" with one of his very best films!
I started with Drifting Clouds -- which was also a wonderful starting point.
Still my favourite, not least for one of the most truly, radiantly happy endings in cinema history. (And the fact that it derives from something so ostensibly banal makes it all the more affecting).

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#74 Post by Morbii » Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:25 pm

If it matters, I asked my question because I thought Match Factory Girl looked the most interesting of the three, so it was my "risky" introduction to Kaurismäki. I did enjoy it! I suppose this goes out to those who dare to be as risky as I was.

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Re: Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

#75 Post by mteller » Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:56 pm

MichaelB wrote:Ariel is a good starter (it was mine).

The Match Factory Girl is a terrible starter - if it's your very first Kaurismäki, it might well put you off for life.

Which would be a great shame.
MFG was my first Kaurismaki and I instantly fell in love. It remains one of my favorites.

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