You've got about 24 hours to catch up with the Kaurismaki

Yeah, I screwed up good. I confess and I apologize. If you are a regular reader of this blog you have a good idea what's been going on this month and won't be surprised that this happened. If you aren't, scroll down and read on.

Now, apologies out of the way, let me tell you to run to the IFC Center in Manhattan and see Lights in the Dusk, the last film in Aki Kaurismaki's "loser" trilogy. I never saw Drifting Clouds, the first film of this trio, but it's not hard to see how this deliciously deadpan black comedy fits with The Man Without a Past, the second film. This is minimalist narrative filmmaking at its most impressively precise, without a single false step.

Briefly, Lights in the Dusk -- a title more optimistic than the film itself -- is about Koistinen, a security guard at an ultramodern, glass-enclosed, soulless shopping arcade, who is seduced and set up by a blonde so icy she makes Hitchcock's glacial goddesses look like Tex Avery cartoons. He loses his job, his dreams and, although the final shot is almost parodistically ambiguous, very possibly his life. Imagine Siodmak's Criss-Cross remade by an infernal duo of Jim Jarmusch and a guy who decorates pinball machines. Or by the director of The Match Factory Girl.

The film is only 78 minutes long and it is as stripped-down in both form and affect as that running time might suggest. No camera movement, little dialogue, no "acting," Lights is another sustained exercise in Bressonian rigor put to uses that Bresson would never have imagined. Or perhaps he might have; there is a certain sweetness of demeanor in Kaurismaki's best work that is not that far from a Bressonian grace, and the film's odd color scheme, with a red accent thrown into almost every shot, owes something to the formal and chromatic delirium of Minnelli (not to mention Kaurismaki's use of wildly emotional music as a counterpoint to his unemotional visual style).

So I finally have written about the Kaurismaki. Now get your butts down to wherever it's playing near you and see it. (And it is playing outside New York all summer. Go here to see the playdates booked so far.)

Comments