Monday, April 22, 2013
778. ARIEL (1988)
Running Time: 74 minutes
Directed By: Aki Kaurismaki
Written By: Aki Kaurismaki
Main Cast: Turo Pajala, Susanna Haavisto, Matti Pellonpaa, Eetu Hilkamo, Erkki Pajala
Even though I'm due at work at 7:00am and it's currently twenty minutes till midnight, I've decided to pop in and write up my thoughts on the film I've just finished: "Ariel". This movie had been sitting near the top of my Netflix queue for some time now and finally, after being on a wait, the red and white film distributing company decided to send it to me.
This is my very first Aki Kaurismaki film and since I've heard a lot of great things about him, as a director, I went into the film with hope and I'd say I got my money's worth. The main character is Taisto Kasurinen (T. Pajala), a coal miner who inherits his father's convertible, just minutes before he (the father) takes his own life. Before his suicide, Taisto's father is filled with dread about the world they're living in and tells Taisto to get out of town and try to find something better for himself. Taisto takes his now deceased father's advice and splits, but not before withdrawing 8,000 marks from the bank. Once on the road, Taisto is soon robbed of his savings and left with no tender to live by. He gets a temporary job at the docks, loading sacks of grain onto wooden pallets and that gets him by for a little bit, giving him enough money to get a room at a local, Red Cross-type place. After a while, he meets Irmeli (Haavisto), a woman whom he picks up right away and strikes a relationship with. Irmeli has a son and holds down several different jobs, just to make ends meet. Later, Taisto encounters the man who robbed him of his 8,000 marks and in an attempt to try and beat it back out of him, he is arrested and sent to prison for twenty-three months.
I wasn't totally blown away with "Ariel", by any means, but nor was I disappointed. I found his atmosphere to be one that I'd normally embrace - somber and droll. However, I found his characters to be completely devoid of any sort of emotion - almost like the types of characters you'd find in a Hal Ashby feature. In fact, I kind of like that Hal Ashby reference, so I think I'll run with it, because the story even fits into a, sort of, Hal Ashby mold as well. Had the film been filled with just a little more emotion and a director that coaxed "just a little more" out of his actors, this could've been a grand slam with me. As it is, I'd call it a nice double play (damn, I really need to lay off the baseball; either that or just keep the damn references out of my movie reviews). The film certainly didn't sour me on Aki Kaurismaki, as I'd be totally up for taking in a few more of his movies and really getting a taste for what he's all about. I almost wish THE BOOK had included a couple of more, because just one taste and I can't decide whether he's a genius or not. If anyone has any good suggestions for a second Kaurismaki film, that would be a good follow-up to "Ariel", drop me a comment and I'll see what I can do.
Anyway, this was kind of one of those movies that I can neither praise, nor beat down, because it deserves neither. Therefore, the review suffers because I really can't take one side of the fence or the other and I'm left babbling on, trying to pick a side: thumbs up or down. After a while (days, weeks), I may sweeten a little bit on "Ariel", but for now, I'll call it a slight success, as it introduced me to Kaurismaki, a director who seems to have potential - at least as far as MY personal tastes are concerned.
RATING: 6.5/10 Maybe once recap time rolls around I can up that to a '7' or better, but for now that seems like a fine number to give "Ariel".
MOVIES WATCHED: 663
MOVIES LEFT TO WATCH: 338
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