Title:  Klassikko  (“The Classic”)

Release Date:  2000

Nationality and Language: Finland

Running time: 90 min

MPAA Rating:  n/a (NC-17)

Distributor and Production Company:  Sputnik

Director; Writer:  Karl Vaananen  based on novel by Katl Hotkainen

Producer: Timo Salminen

Cast:  Janne Hyytiainen, Martti Suosato


Relevance to HPPUB site: writing


   Well, this is a delicious satire for literary writers. The film starts when a publisher asks one of its more “sensitive” authors, whose books please the literary critics but “don’t sell well,” to write a personal diary as a pseudo-novel.  That’s a curious assignment, because literary agents and publishers in the United States say that personal accounts from “ordinary” people usually don’t sell well, unless they have overcome some unusual obstacles to establish rooting interests.   The author, not believing that his own life is worth writing about as it is, strings himself into a bizarre world of used fast cars and a homophobic roughneck. It turns into a great Swiftian satire pointing to anarchy. The world needs bad guys so that police and repairmen have jobs. Ordinary men are like “spare parts” (fungible is George Gilder’s word for this). It ends with a reality-TV police car chase (not low speed!) and crash.

  There’s a lot of bizarre perspective here, like the idea of writers “working” for publishers. It really doesn’t work that way!


Another Finnish knockout from the Minneapolis-St. Paul 2002 International Film Festival is Joki (The River), from Metronome (Finnish  Distributor), 2001, directed by Rooka Poulsen, with Sanna Hietata, Antti Ikkala, Jyri Ojansivu.  Several interlocking stories move back in time, in Quinten Tarrentino style. The “role model” young people are striking.  A teenage boy prevents a depressed, jilted mother from drowning her son and then herself (recalling certain tragic crimes in this country in Texas and South Caroline), while another teenager visits his lover (along a paper delivery route) before proving his virility to straight boys in a bungee jumping competition, with a pause for one of the gentlest gay male love scenes ever filmed (with no actual sex). The blue collar other teens and various other older characters seem to be unraveling in the Finnish welfare state, down to the old man demanding to die with dignity in a nursing home as his wife stays by his side. A technician gets sick at work in a paper mill, a scene that impresses the viewer with the overwhelming din of this well-paying blue collar job. Yet Finnish society looks grand, pristine and earthy yet so high tech as almost to resembled Liquid Sky or at least another planet. Stunning Todd-AO photography and digital sound track, the very top of the line technically. This one belongs in Miramax’s offerings in this country. (Matt, Ben, and Chirs Moore: you did screen this one, didn’t you?) Buy your airline tickets on Icelandic.


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