January 2005 Views
Club Finndigo to present Kaurismaki's Juha Jan. 21
By Joe Kirkish
HOUGHTON -- As a prelude to Hancock's annual Heikinpäivä celebration, the Calumet Theatre
will present its third annual Club Finndigo, Friday, Jan. 21st. It will kick off the
weekend events that culminate on Saturday night with a grand buffet and dance
in Finlandia Hall on the Finlandia University campus.*
Once again, the film chosen for Club Finndigo will be by Aki Kaurismaki, who not only has become popular in his native country, but has taken on film lovers around the world. In 2002, Kaurismaki won an Oscar for Best Foreign Film with
The Man Without a Past -- shown as last year's Club Finndigo and again just recently at the Finnish
American Heritage Center in its monthly Nordic film series.
Juha (yoo-ha) is this year's selection; it was made in 1999, and like all of Kaurismaki's movies is another departure from standard forms. He began with a silly satire about a second-rate pop group who travels to America to make it big; then we saw a touching story about a man with amnesia who ekes out a living and a loving on the outskirts of Helsinki. And now, with
Juha -- at a time when American filmmakers like to split their movies into teen comedies, sex and action flicks -- Kaurismaki takes a risky approach to a more mature comedy drama. In
Juha Kaurismaki does a flip into the past for his photographic techniques; he turns out a modern silent movie in a richly handsome and detailed black and white -- complete with sound effects and an award winning musical score written expressly for this movie.
Based on Juhani Aho's novel, told in broad strokes, it never tries to be more than an enjoyable parody with a plot borrowed from old farmer's daughter/traveling salesman stories.
Juha is a good-natured naïf, so beefy he has trouble getting through
doorframes; and his bed is at least a foot too short for his length. He is married to pretty Marja who seems to love him very much. Then one day an old cad with thinning hair, but who fancies himself
as some sort of playboy, stops at Juha's farm. His car has broken down and he seeks shelter for the night. While Juha works on the car, Shemeikka makes explicit overtures to Marja and against her good
judgment she responds, if hesitantly. And thus begins an unusual mix of drama and comedy in Kaurismaki's typically understated manner.
The film has been hailed as "a movie that wins over its audience with its simplistic charm" -- a trademark for the director, who admits he likes to make films about "losers" and who approaches them in
a characteristic deadpan manner.
Along with Juha, a short, prize-winning feature titled Finland, Winter
Wonderland will be shown. It's a cleverly created travelogue that takes the viewer on a broad range of activities and scenes around city and country.
Since 1998 Finnish filmmakers have managed to turn out at least 10 well accepted movies a year, taking a world market share of 15% -- no small feat, a clear indication of a whole new generation of foreign filmmakers arriving on the American scene.
The movies will be shown at 7:15 p. m. Preceding them, at 6 p.m. as in the past, there will be a Finnish buffet created by chef Eric Karvonen from Eagle River's Fitzgerald restaurant. Finnish cookbook in hand, chef Karvonen plans a mini buffet of genuine ethnic food from soup to snowy dessert. His main course will feature a true Finnish pasty complete with potato crust, and he plans to serve pickled herring on the side. Of course, gourmet coffee will be the featured drink. The movie/buffet combination costs $15; movie alone, $2.50. Half price for children under 12. Reservations should be made in advance for the buffet by calling the theatre at 337-2610.
Northern Auto of Hancock is the sponsor for this Club Finndigo event.
|Editor's Notes: Read about the author of this
column, Joe Kirkish.
Visit the Keweenaw Now discussion forums to comment
on this article.
*Read more about the Heikinpäivä celebration on their Pasty.com
Views expressed by our guest columnists are not necessarily the views of Keweenaw Now.
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