Apparently Classic Finnish Cinema, and FREE VODKA

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10/29/2008 10:30 AM |

Every week or two weeks, I sit down to write the synopses for the L’s repertory film listings, and every week or two weeks I go hmm and add a dozen or so previously unheard-of titles to my mental list of Movies I Will Have Seen Before I Die. I am not making as much progress on said List as I would like to be; not helping in the matter is Scandinavia House, which tonight kicks off a new series on The Golden Age of Finnish Cinema (the 30s-70s, if you’re scoring at home, which seems to be potentially more than an Age), featuring a lot of rare screenings of not particularly available but nevertheless crucial-sounding movies. It begins tonight (and repeats on Saturday) with the 18th century peasant love story Juha, from a director, Nyrki Tapiovaara, who made several lauded late-30s dramas before disappearing for good during the Second World War (he was 28).

Jump, jump for more apparently classic Finnish cinema, and the FREE VODKA, in all caps per thelmagazine.com’s blog stylebook.

Ok dig: also at Scandinavia House, tomorrow night, is a program of Icelandic short films and music videos — for Múm, Seabear, Nico Muhly, etc. — following by a reception with FREE VODKA. Good times, crazy times, everyone has good crazy times.

Now then. Speaking of Finnish movies of which you have never heard prior to now but which sound great and which you may not have the opportunity to see again before now. Coming up on Mondays in November at BAM is a retrospective of four films (previously restored in Finland and projected at MoMA) from the heret-fore unknown maker of melodramas Teuvo Tulio. English-language accounts of the films (including Monday’s series opener The Song of the Scarlet Flower, pictured) is scant, but some screeners were made available. Hence J. Hoberman’s juicy introduction (sounds like Tulio went all-out for the heavy emotional weather) in the current Voice, and Cullen Gallagher’s, in the new L:

One of the most exciting rediscoveries of the year, BAM’s retrospective of Finnish auteur Teuvo Tulio offers four masterpieces of melodrama, all made between 1938 and 1946, whose cinematic grandeur will be nothing less than magnificent on the big-screen. With a painter’s eye, Tulio can turn an idyllic country landscape into
an earthly heaven or a frenzied nightmare — and often his films
fluctuate between those two extremes.

And then gets more specific about it. Ha ha, so many good movies it’s impossible to see them all before you die, but fun to make the effort.