films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


The Match Factory Girl

Tulitikkutehtaan Tyttö
1990 / 69m - Finland
Comedy, Drama
The Match Factory Girl poster

It's been a while since I last watched a Kaurismäki film. I'm not entirely on board with his barren, stark style, but the man has a clear signature and that's worth something. The Match Factory Girl is one of the better films I've seen of him, in part because it's also one of the shortest I've seen of him.

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Iris still lives with her parents, two very strict and old-fashioned people. She works in a match factory, hardly the most engaging job in the world. When she gets pregnant after a one-night stand with a man who mistakes her for a prostitute, Iris decides it's time to live her life the way she wants.

There isn't too much emotion here, not in the performances, nor the plot, nor the styling, even so Kaurismäki does manage to insert some humor into his film. I did appreciate his minimalist approach up to a certain point and the ending, though not quite surprising, was well handled. A pretty interesting film.

The Man without a Past

Mies Vailla Menneisyyttä
2002 / 97m - Finland
Comedy, Drama
The Man without a Past poster

Another micro-shorts anthology. They were relatively popular for a while, but they rarely lived up to their potential. With just a single minute to make an impression, directors were given a tricky challenge. One that proved a bit too daunting for most involved, as too many of the entries failed to make an impact.

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This isn't so much a real film as it was an experience though. There doesn't remain a proper copy of this anthology since it was only screened once, then burned right after. I usually stray from watching low-quality recordings, but with nothing else available, it was either that or not watching it ever.

There are some interesting names here, but few of them stand out. The goals of the project are lofty, but it's all very conceptual and the films themselves never really match or strengthen the project's ideals. It's a good thing that the score is pretty interesting, which at least kept me going. Not all that interesting.

I like a good anthology, but when there are too many directors and the project is a little too vague or open-ended, it's difficult to turn it into something coherent (not just a random bunch of shorts bunched together). Visions of Europe is a miss in that regard, but it's still worth checking out.

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The title is pretty self-explanatory. 25 directors from 25 different European countries were given the chance to direct a short film about Europe. They were given free rein, which means you'll find many different ideas and approaches here, though few are actual straightforward narratives.

There are some pretty familiar and respected names (Tarr, Boe, Greenaway), but most of the directors are pretty niche and have limited appeal outside of their bubbles. There's a handful of memorable shorts, the rest is pretty forgettable, but it's at least quite varied and the shorts are well short, so it never gets too dull.

Shadows in Paradise

Varjoja Paratiisissa
1986 / 74m - Finland
Shadows in Paradise poster

Aki Kaurismäki is one of Finland's cinema's most recognizable export products, but I never really saw the appeal. I don't mind a bit of Scandinavian dryness, but not when the presentation of the film suffers because of it. Shadows in Paradise is a rather simple drama about regular Joe's living their lives, and that's all I got from this film.

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Nikander works as a garbage collector. A colleague approaches him, asking him if he wants to go independent, but before their plans come to fruition, the man dies. Instead, Nikander is teamed up with the less reliable Melartin, and he hooks up with Ilona, a store clerk who just got fired from her job.

The setting is grim, the characters don't have much going for them and the drama feels pedestrian at best, though the film does become a bit livelier during the second half. The film is short though and it's not the worst spending some time with these people, but it's not my idea of a good time.