If you've visited our blog or store recently, you've perhaps noticed how very excited all of us here at Book Soup are to be carrying Criterion Collection DVDs. I personally was thrilled to be able to strong arm Tosh (our buyer) into ordering a particular title for our stock- Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy. The terms were that I had to write a blog, effusing my love for said director. Done and done.
Now I'm going to disclose something, so you don't feel like you're being tricked; I may or may not have a cultural bias for my fandom. When Aki Kaurismäki came up in conversation with a fellow Finnish person ages ago, he leaned in conspiratorially to ask if I really liked Kaurismäki's movies or if I, perhaps like many other Finns, felt compelled to like him as dictated by a communal sense of national pride. Of course I said that yes, I really did and I stand by that affirmation.
At this point, if you're even still reading, you may be wondering who in the fuck is Aki Kaurismäki? Well friend, Aki Kaurismäki sort of is the Finnish film director. If you have to ask where Finland is, you have problems with which only a good, hard look at a map can help you. Back to the point- why should you care about Aki Kaurismäki? He's not for everyone, fair enough. But if you like either of his self-proclaimed favorites, French New Wave affiliated directors Jean-Pierre Melville and Robert Bresson, or Kaurismäki's friend and American contemporary, Jim Jarmusch, then Kaurismäki may be for you. Let me put this into a poor attempt at cinematic analysis: the pathos of Bresson combined with the cool noir of Melville as filtered through the laconically dry humor of Jarmusch. Or visually:
and that will get you
Or something like that. Incidentally, Fassbinder fanatics tend to like him to, at least as far as Wikipedia is concerned.
Still not convinced? Like the man for his politics. He boycotted the Oscars twice in protest of the Bush administration's war mongering, once not showing up to the ceremony when his movie, Man Without a Past, was up for Best Foreign Film and another time refusing Lights in the Dusk from even being considered for the award. Kaurismäki also declined to attend a film festival in New York out of solidarity for an Iranian film director friend, Abbas Kiorastami, who was refused a visa.
Enough of my drivel, let his work do the talking. I'm posting a link to the beginning of Ariel, included in the delightful Proletariat Series boxed set from Criterion's Eclipse series. We're probably the only store in Los Angeles that carries it. Come in to Book Soup and buy it. You and I will be just about the only people in Los Angeles who will own it. And care.
P.S. It might be worth mentioning- this is a comedy.