Archive for September 6th, 2011

By Marilyn Ferdinand

Those of us who love musicals have long lamented the demise of the traditional examples of the form. Fanciful stories of royal or mythic creatures, or regular folks in all sorts of circumstances elevated by energetic songs and dances—these were the escapes from our plodding existence we craved.

But musicals never went away, not really. Ever since the mid 70s, beneath the notice of most traditional consumers of film musicals, new forms were emerging. For example, Nashville (1975) gave us the soundtrack of life, not popped out of the plot in a flight of fancy, but right down on the dirty, squalid ground. In the following decades, many musicals were made for African-American and Latino audiences, and occasionally something like La Bamba (1987) or Selena (1997) would break briefly into the zeitgeist and then submerge again. In 2006, one musical film that blended several trends in filmmaking—modern pop-rock music, independent production, and nonprofessional acting—hit white audiences right in the bread basket at exactly the right time and ended up walking away with an Academy Award for Best Original Song. The song was “Falling Slowly,” and the film was Once. (more…)

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by Allan Fish

(Finland 1938 87m) not on DVD

Aka. Varestettu kuolema

They don’t stay long 

p  Erik Blomberg  d  Nyrki Tapiovaara  w  Erik Blomberg, Matti Kurjensaari, Eino Makinen, Runar Schildt  ph  Erik Blomberg, Olavi Gannari  ed  Erik Blomberg, Nyrki Tapiovaara  m  George de Godzinsky  art  Kaarlo Oksanen

Tuulikki Parnaanen (Manja), Ilmari Mänty (Robert Hedman), Santeri Karilo (Jonni Claesson), Annie Mörk (Madame Johansson), Bertha Lindberg (Mrs Hedman), Hertta Leistén (aunt), Aku Peltonen (morgue guard),

His is a name that should be mentioned in the same breath as Sadao Yamanaka, Michael Reeves, Pen Tennyson and Arthur Woods, names taken ahead of their time.  The latter two Brits died in action in World War II, Yamanaka in the Japanese war with China, and Tapiovaara died in action against the Soviets in 1940, a fate tinged with irony when one considers this, his finest of only five films.  It was a film I’d never even heard of until when looking at various best films lists a few years ago it was listed in the BFI list of best 360 films in the early 1980s in between Alexander Nevsky and The Wizard of Oz

            The setting is Helsinki at the turn of the century when the country was under Tsarist rule and resentment was simmering beneath the surface.  Robert Hedman comes from a well-to-do family but spends his time printing subversive pamphlets on an underground printing press.  One of his comrades observes “isn’t it time the people had more in their hands than mere paper?”  So they need guns and bombs and, as one character amusingly says, “they don’t fall out of the sky.”  They have a meeting arranged with one such illegal operator, Claesson, only to find his price is astronomical.  They refuse it, but then the dealer says if they don’t buy he’ll alert the authorities to their little group’s actions.  They received help from Claesson’s long-suffering young mistress who joins their cause and they undertake a coup to steal the guns from Claesson. (more…)

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