Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


LIGHTS IN THE DUSK (2006). Director: Aki Kaurismäki.

Koistinen (Janne Hyytiäinen) is a sullen, friendless night watchman in Helsinki who meets a woman (Maria Järvenhelmi) who dates him but who's really only interested in getting him to show her the security codes for the store where he works. This doesn't lead to anything good of course. Although the film holds the attention -- it's only 78 minutes long -- it's never exactly what you could call gripping. The low-key "minimalist" style has all the actors walking through the film with one expression -- on all of them. It's like an American "B" movie if you edited all of the emotion and energy out of it. Actor Janne Hyytiäinen is really too handsome and sexy an actor to be convincing as a schlemiel. The soundtrack is punctuated with operatic arias, mostly by Puccini (and sung by Jussi Bjorling) that don't seem to bear much, if any, relationship to what's going on onscreen. Although the movie is well-photographed by Timo Salminen, those arias are far more artistic than they film that they're showcased in.

Verdict: From Finland and not quite from hunger. **.

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