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Aki Kaurismäki

1.  Ariel / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland
2.  Crime and Punishment / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland
3.  Drifting Clouds / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland-Germany-France
4.  Juha / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland
5.  La vie de Boheme / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland-France-Sweden-Germany
6.  Le Havre / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland-France-Germany
7.  Leningrad Cowboys Go America / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland-Sweden
8.  Lights in the Dusk / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland-Germany-France
9.  Shadows in Paradise / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland
10.  The Man without a Past / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland-Germany-France
11.  The Match Factory Girl / Aki Kaurismäki, Finland-Sweden

In this representation of the world, people speak very little. They rarely touch each other. They move their facial muscles even less. Sometimes many of them beat up on a single one. He gets up, brushes himself off and walks away. Towards where, he doesn’t know. To do what, is of no importance. On his way, he meets a girl. She says something; he agrees. He takes her to a bingo night. After a few days they get on a boat and move to another country. The melodies in this world are rock and opera; couples do the tango. Romance does not feel the need to hide – it’s non-negotiable.
Everyone’s short of money. Some seek ways to earn it; others breathe, walk and talk without it. Still others, who are never visible, have it but won’t share it with anyone. Others impose irrational rules and labyrinthine red tape. There are dogs everywhere. And cigarettes, alcohol, old cars and empty streets. Sometimes miracles happen. Most times, the feeling at the end is liberating and sweet. Without exception, all cases point to a cinematic experience that’s specific and clear: an Aki Kaurismäki film.
Aki Kaurismäki’s films may appear at first glance to be plain and austere, but each one develops towards increasingly finely woven ramifications and synapses, exuberant in their sensations and overtones – much like any good music album reveals hidden pleasures and brilliant notes with each consecutive listen.
There’s something magical in the way in which Kaurismäki casts his wand on unfamiliar places, alien humans and irrational dialogues, enveloping them in a cloak of familiarity, tangible and ecumenical at the same time. Social and cinematic rules are flouted in his work. He honors the roots of the genres, but then proceeds to subvert the genres themselves – be they film noir, melodrama, comedy or fairytale. Laughter turns into tears; everyday life into terror; drama into froth.
But it’s not about reducing them to nothingness – Kaurismäki respects the human condition. Too much for that. Which is why his is a political cinema. The face of power may – almost – never be shown, but each frame is a battle in the fight for justice, equality, understanding and love. That such battles are won in the end is a proof that his work is truly revolutionary.
In any case, it’s very easy to see that rock is in Aki Kaurismäki’s blood.

Elena Christopoulou
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