8/31/2007 throiugh 9/2/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
To quote the
cliché, dying is easy, comedy is hard. Indeed, of all film types, comedy is
also the most subjective. Add foreign elements to this volatile mix, and
communication difficulties increase, as illustrated by Finnish director Aki
Kaurismaki's droll Lights in the Dusk. Probably
still best known for his 1989 Leningrad
Cowboys Go America, Kaurismaki has a decidedly slow, quiet, deadpan humor.
He requires a considerable shift from expectations of any fast, witty, or
buoyant elements to enjoy this 78 minute film.
Lights in the Dusk is
internally coherent and consistent, though it's too low key for any enthusiasm
on my part. Those who can settle in for small, tongue-in-cheek moments will
enjoy the change of pace with central character Koistinen who works as a
security guard in Helsinki.
Shunned by his colleagues, Koistinen's relative isolation and irritation sets
the plot into motion.
Taking advantage of Koistinen's
vulnerability and the kindness he shows a sweet dog, a Russian gang targets
Koistinen as easy prey for Mirja, their attractive female conspirator, to
victimize. In the most amusing scene, Mirja meets Koistinen and soon
accompanies him as he begins his security check of the mall he protects. The
predictable, subsequent robbery leads to unexpected incidents, several
involving Aila, a woman who runs a food van. I'd have loved more of her. All
the incidents cast a dreary pall over the proceedings, presented with desaturated
colors and slow editing.
long shots of Helsinki
show a relatively lifeless, concrete world devoid of an inviting landscape. As
such, Lights in the Dust joins two
other Kaurismaki films as a sad commentary on modern society. Drifting Clouds focused on unemployment
while The Man Without a Past depicted
the rough world of homelessness. This entry on loneliness, loyalty, and the
lack of joy in life completes a loose trilogy. A talented filmmaker like
Kaurismaki will certainly continue in his own unique voice. He reveals a great
deal very economically and directs meticulously with well-chosen, complementary
music. But I for one hope he finds some more joyful, satisfying fare to
Lights in the Dust is in Finnish and
Russian with English subtitles. At Webster
Moore auditorium at 8p.m. from Friday, August 31st through Sunday, September
KDHX is now curating a Saturday brunch series at the Stage with live music from local musicians and delicious, locally-sourced food and drinks from the Magnolia Café.
Brunch at the Stage takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m....
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