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Ariel-DVD Review 04/28/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Dark Comedy, Finnish language film, Light Drama, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, National Society of Film Critics Awards, Romance, Swedish language film.
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ARIEL (Finnish) 1988
Written and directed by Aki Kaurismaki
Starring Turo Pajala and Susanna Haavisto

WINNER, Bronze St. George-Best Actor (Pajala); FIPRESCI Prize (Kaurismaki); NOMINATED Golden St. George (Kaurismaki), Moscow International Film Festival
WINNER, NFSC Award-Best Foreign Language Film, National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

After the mine he was working in closes down and his father commits suicide, Taisto (Pajala) gets thrown in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He escapes and leaves town, hoping to find a new life in a big southern city. Almost immediately he meets Irmeli (Haavisto); they strike up a very low-key romance, but soon Taisto gets caught up in trouble.

Dry and quirky humor. Not a big award winner, this short (only 73 min.) film definitely has the 80s look about it. It’s the second part of Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy, which also includes Shadows in Paradise and The Match Factory Girl.

73 min.

On Amazon, I could only find it as part of the Criterion Collection.
Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy

Here it is on IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094675/

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Elena-DVD Review 04/20/2013

Posted by Films to consider in Cannes Film Festival, Drama, European Film Awards, Ghent International Film Festival, Moscow International Film Festival, Movies, Psychological Suspense, Russian language film, Suspense, Thriller.
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ELENA (Russian) 2011

Directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev
Starring Nadezhda Markina, Andrey Smirnov, and Elena Lyadova

Among other awards and nominations:
WINNER, Un Certain Regard-Special Jury Prize; NOMINATED, Un Certain Regard Award (both Zvyagintsev), Cannes Film Festival
NOMINATED, Best Actress (Markina), European Film Awards
WINNER, Grand Prix-Best Film, Ghent International Film Festival
WINNER, Russian Film Clubs Federation Award (Zvyagintsev), Moscow International Film Festival

Elena (Markina), a middle-aged woman, marries for a second time, and her husband Vladimir (Smirnov) turns out to be a domineering man who is wealthy but tight-fisted. Even after Vladimir has a heart attack and comes close to death, he refuses to help Elena’s son financially.

The director makes good use of striking images and outstandingly suspenseful music (Philip Glass). The film is labelled a thriller on the DVD case, but I’d consider it more of a psychological suspense.

109 min. Not rated. Adult themes.

For more info:
Elena