These are two superb but criminally underrated films which I recommend to everyone whose senses haven't yet been blunted by overexposure to Hollywood pap. Kaurismaki's films shouldn't work- but in some wonderfully inexplicable way they do. Full of wit and pathos, with brilliantly delivered lines like, "The working class has no fatherland", they are proletarian fairy tales where the ending isn't always happy. Kaurismaki has managed to capture the contradictory and often fragmentary nature of the reality of working class existence (NB, existence, not life) under late capitalism and expressed it cinematically. In spite of their apparent dourness, (and "dourness" is a criticism often unfairly levelled at Kaurismaki's work) both the main characters in the films, Henri in "I hired a contract killer" and Iris in "The match factory girl" are desperately struggling to live. And it's through their struggle that you realize the beauty, but also the agonizing tragedy of existence. Both films have great soundtracks, and the opening sequences are unforgettable. And all of that without an iota of pretentiousness. It's been de riguer of late to flirt with "working class" themes and characters- the mind numbing "8 Mile" and the god awful banality of "Maid in Manhatten" spring to mind. But don't be misled. After watching Kati Outinen's excellent performance as Iris, it throws into stark relief what total patronising drivel Hollywood is churning out these days, and makes you wonder how they get away with it.