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Hamlet Goes Business (1987)

Aki Kaurismäki, Finland

86 minutes
Finnish
“Perhaps Kaurismäki’s most original film and probably his best” (William Fisher), this brilliant refashioning of Shakespeare’s tragedy, set in the cutthroat world of high finance, makes surprising analogies between the rotten state of Denmark then and the corrupt state of Finland in the money-hungry ’80s. This Hamlet’s ineffectual prince (Pirkka-Pekka Petelius) is a chubby, google-eyed electronics buff with a “heart as warm as a refrigerator,” who schemes and conspires to sell his father’s shipbuilding business so that he can corner the market on rubber ducks; Polonius is a property manager, Laertes a marketing man, and Ophelia (Kati Outinen, natch) an infatuated, suicidal wannabe. “Confidently post-Fassbinder in its noir-ish angles and deadpan cool” (J. Hoberman, The Village Voice), Hamlet Goes Business is gorgeously shot in stylish black and white, but as Kaurismäki himself warns, “Don’t be fooled by the plastic beauty of this movie: the question is about money — a matter of life and death.”

Duration
89 minutes
Language
OV finnish
Subtitles
german & french
Video Quality
1080p
Available in
Switzerland, Liechtenstein
Aki Kaurismäki
Ariel (1988)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
73′
A Finnish man goes to the city to find a job after the mine where he worked is closed and his father commits suicide.
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Le Havre (2011)
Aki Kaurismäki
France
94′
When an African boy arrives by cargo ship in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home.
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La Vie de Bohème (1992)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
103′
Marcel (André Wilms) is an impoverished Parisian poet and playwright who is evicted from his extremely modest room after he is unable to pay rent for it. While roaming the streets of Paris, he meets Rodolfo (Matti Pellonpää), a painter from Albania who is almost equally poor and is in the country illegally. They quickly discover they are kindred spirits since they both share the same love for art without much regard for their worldly well-being. The two eventually make another friend in Schaunard (Kari Väänänen), an Irish composer who is now renting Marcel's former room. The three friends help each other in the daily struggle to survive by sharing whatever little money they have among each other in order to maintain a basic and simple standard of living. Rodolfo's life is interrupted when he meets Mimi (Évelyne Didi), a poor French girl with whom he falls madly in love. But Rodolfo is soon deported back to Albania due to not having a visa. He is unable to return to Paris for six months and, by then, Mimi has moved on and found another boyfriend. Rodolfo, Marcel and Schaunard scrape together what food they have and have a meal together to celebrate the feast of All Saints. Mimi shows up and informs Rodolfo that she has left her boyfriend to be with him again, but she is ill and dies the next spring.
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Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
79′
The Leningrad Cowboys, a band with foot-long quiff hairstyles and long Winklepicker shoes to match, are seeking success in Siberia, but nobody seems to like their music, except for the mute village idiot, Igor (Kari Väänänen). Thwarted by a lack of local commercial potential, they are encouraged to move to America, for people will "buy anything" there. They depart for New York, bringing with them a band member who had frozen the previous night while practicing outside. They arrive at the CBGB bar in Manhattan. An agent offers them a gig at a wedding in Mexico and recommends that they change their musical style to rock and roll. They buy a used 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine, strap the coffin carrying their frozen band member onto the roof and set off to earn their way through the Deep South, adapting their musical style to suit local tastes at each new location. All the while they are being driven on and exploited by their money and food hoarding manager Vladimir (Matti Pellonpää), who has a seemingly unlimited supply of beer in the ice-filled coffin. Meanwhile, Igor, who stowed away on the plane, follows the band by his own means of transportation. When he finally catches up with them, they appoint him as their road manager. During the trip, the band spends time in jail, has their car engine stolen, causes a nightclub to close after playing an unsuccessful show, and reunites with a long-lost cousin (Nicky Tesco) whose singing gives positive reception from the audience. They eventually make it to Mexico and perform their wedding gig, where the thawing bass guitarist is revived with a shot of tequila and joins the group on stage, as does Igor. Vladimir watches them play then wanders off, but the band finally finds success in Mexico, making the top ten.
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Drifting Clouds (1996)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
95′
Ilona Koponen (Kati Outinen), a head waitress at Dubrovnik restaurant, is married to Lauri (Kari Väänänen), a tram driver. The couple live in a small, modestly furnished apartment in Helsinki. As they both come home from work late one night, Lauri surprises Ilona with a new television which he purchased on store credit. There is a short discussion between the two regarding their ability to meet their financial obligations but they agree that the TV payments are manageable. Next day, as Lauri gets to work, he learns that the company will be laying off several workers due to non-profitability of certain tram routes and he is randomly chosen as one of the workers to be laid off. The day after Lauri has finished working his last scheduled shift Ilona is informed by the owner of Dubrovnik that the restaurant is being sold to a chain restaurant company and all the employees will be let go since the new company will be bringing in its own employees. Both of them set out looking for work immediately but with discouraging results. Lauri gets offered a job as a bus driver but is unable to pass the medical exam and subsequently loses his professional driver's licence. Ilona gets a job at a rundown bar/restaurant which doesn't even have a name and is owned by a tax evading crook. After 6 weeks of working there, the restaurant gets shut down by the state and Ilona does not get paid by the dishonest owner. During their search for meaningful employment, both Lauri and Ilona enter bouts of heavy-drinking, all the while running into their former co-workers who are dealing with similar difficulties. At one point, the two even sell their car and take the money to a casino in hopes of doubling the money but they, however, end up losing it all. Most of their furniture as well as the new TV that Lauri bought is repossessed by the creditors. One day, Ilona accidentally runs into Mrs Sjöholm (Elina Salo), her former boss. Sjöholm suggests that Ilona should open up a restaurant. Since Ilona does not have the financial means needed for such a venture, Sjöholm agrees to provide the capital for the restaurant to start operating with the understanding that Ilona will pay back the loan to Mrs Sjöholm. Ilona, humbled by her recent experiences, is initially reluctant to accept the offer for fear of the restaurant failing and her not being able to repay Mrs Sjöholm. She eventually does agree. Ilona names the restaurant Work and hires some of the staff from Dubrovnik, including the troubled chef Lajunen (Markku Peltola), plus Lauri. Filled with anxiety during a slow lunch hour on opening day, Ilona's worries quickly disappear as she watches the restaurant fill to capacity later the same afternoon. After receiving a call from a Helsinki union asking for a reservation for 30 people, Lauri and Ilona exit the restaurant and stand on the front steps appearing emotionless and looking at the skies as more people enter the restaurant.
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The Man Without A Past (2002)
Aki Kaurismäki
Finland
97′
The film follows a man who arrives in Helsinki and gets beaten up so severely he develops amnesia. Unable to remember his name or anything from his past life, he cannot get a job or an apartment, so he starts living on the outskirts of the city and slowly starts putting his life back on track.
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