Close Up

2 October 2017: Calamari Union


Calamari Union
Aki Kaurismäki
1985 | 80 min | B/W | Digital

“Up and down Helsinki's mean streets, seventeen leather-jacketed wanderers, all named Frank, spend a long night trying to get to a seaside suburb where the air is clear. This is the premise for Aki Kaurismäki's very dry spoof on the urban gang movie, part Scorsese, part Threepenny Opera, and all hilariously out of place in antiseptic Helsinki. All the Kaurismäki actors converge to form the Calamari Union: Kari Väänänen (Rosso, Helsinki Napoli), as the leader of the pack, a kind of gangland guru; Matti Pellonpää (The Worthless, Shadows in Paradise), with his indelible sneer; Hamlet's P.-P. Petelius, once again playing a confirmed neurotic; Markku Toika (Crime and Punishment) doing a Finnish DeNiro, and Aki himself in a grave cameo. These are overgrown angels actually with very clean faces hiding behind sunglasses at night. Like the young DeNiro and Keitel gone Scandinavian, they spout platitudes to one another with conviction and wax poetic, each in his turn, about things like hunger, the inexplicable ignorance of their fellow man, and the crowded, hateful conditions under which they were raised. In this, Calamari Union is not such a far cry from Aki Kaurismäki's first film, Crime and Punishment; both are critiques of the cruel anonymity of our times.” – BAMPFA

Part of our season on Aki Kaurismäki