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on 24 March 2008
Wenders would say that Ozu was a secret treasure of cinema...well, if there is such a thing.
For me I would put Aki Kaurismäki's films as a would-be treasure as well.
Simple plot, deadpan humour, great shot compositions in color or bw...JUST WHAT FILMS SHOULD BE ABOUT
Even when he goes wrong he's more right than most films around.
A secret PLEASURE of cinema! Makes Jarmusch an apprentice of minimalism.
Here in Brasil, we cannot find a single film from his collection, even his brother's films (who lives here) is hard to find.
Lucky you!
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on 2 November 2009
One of Kaurismäki's early films, Shadows in Paradise centres on the burgeoning love affair between a bin man, Nikander, and a supermarket checkout girl, Ilona. The romantic leads are played by Matti Pellonpää and Kati Outinen, Kaurismäki's favorite actors whom he used consistently since, and are both excellent. The film displays many of the qualities and themes that Kaurismäki has developed throughout his career - a love affair characterised both by tenderness and a shy awkwardness and formality; characters in poverty or otherwise on the edges of society, minimalistic and stylised dialogue and an unmistakable visual aesthetic. This isn't a masterpiece, but is nevertheless impressive for such an early work and it is interesting to see the strength with which Kaurismäki had found his unique voice so early in his career.

The Match Factory Girl the gem of this collection, and undoubtedly one of Kaurismäki's best works. The film is minimalist (even for Kaurismäki!), with very little dialogue (the first line comes 12 minutes into the film) and a sparse but profoundly compelling plot that unfolds at an impeccable pace. On screen for nearly every minute of the film, Kati Outinen holds the piece together as Iris, the Match Factory Girl of the title, whose downtrodden, poverty-ridden existence takes a turn for the worse when a man she meets, and sleeps with, makes it very clear to her that she was a one night stand - and she then discovers that she's pregnant. Her response to her situation is as unexpected as it is thrilling. Outinen won the Best Actress award at Cannes in 2002 for her role in The Man Without a Past, but I really think her performance in this film is even better - she's simply mesmerising.

Ariel is the weaker film of the three. It has strong thematic similarities to Kaurismäki's 2002 masterpiece THe Man Without a Past in that it follows a man who suffers a series of misfortunes that seem designed to crush his spirit and his hope. Ariel has less gravity than the 2002 film and is also somewhat darker. This is an interesting film, especially when viewed in conjunction with The Man Without a Past but really not Kaurismäki at his best.
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on 15 January 2010
I really enjoyed all three films from this volume. I would say that they are minimalist, with lovely retro music. They reminded me of old films and theatre. They are stories of a dustman, a supermarket assistant, a worker in a match producing factory and a miner. The characters do not talk very much so I can recommend the films even for people who hesitate to watch films with subtitles. Besides, it is nice to hear Finnish. However, a blockbuster fan may be disappointed. Mirka J
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on 24 March 2016
I started with 'The Match Factory Girl' which is the reason why I bought this collection. Set in the late 80s probably in Helsinki, this picture relies heavily on the simplicity and power of body language; it is stripped bare to a minimum of conversation. A plain looking but sweet girl probably in her early twenties, working in a factory producing match boxes and match sticks (hence the title of the film), is looking for love but is hopelessly unsuccessful. This young lady who possesses nice habits and loves to read, lives with her conservative parents. And she soon goes off with the first man who shows interest in her at a Club; to the man it is a one night stand, but not for our sweet girl. I don't want to give too much away in order not to annihilate the suspense for potential viewers. Eventually, our girl discovers she is pregnant but is harshly rejected by the man, and her parents too who feel she is trouble and a "whore". The rejection by the closest and dearest completely alters the sweet nature of our girl who become deeply hurt, turns totally cold and decides the exact ruthless vengeance. I found the film sad from the outset, as I found myself empathising with the girl and recognising the incredibly realistic aspect of the scenario painted by this simple masterpiece that captures and portrays existential despair perfectly.

Ariel: Having read the reviews of others and believed that after watching "Match Factory Girl" the climax was over, I was indeed surprised that "Ariel" was absolutely brilliant and engaging; in fact, more so than "Match Factory Girl". "Ariel" is an unfortunate series of events that lead the main character's life in a direction he had not intended nor expected in his wildest dreams. It is a brilliant picture that captures how our lives can snowball from one event and be altered irrevocably. My attention was arrested from start to finish. The main character is a miner in and from the countryside, with a vagrant streak, who happens to inherit a car and money from a co-worker who commits suicide having become fed up with the lifestyle of a manual labourer without much money but always engaged in hard work. Our lead drives off into town looking for something better. Unfortunately, circumstances are that his life turns out for the worse in an adventurous life of crime. The film rolls on and keeps one captivated. It is my view that "Ariel" is even better than "Match Factory Girl" as there is more action along with a story line that one cannot possibly forsee; there is suspense all through.

And the final piece that I watched was "Shadows in Paraside"; a romantic classic about the uncertainties and convoluted nature of dating and falling in love. This film captures the dating game in a totally realistic fashion unravelling the nature of feeling a connection with another as a phenomenon that does not always happen instantly, and that the feeling of connection is uninfluenced by money or looks. In this film, the star is a garbage collector who falls in love with a girl he has dated twice and moved in with, and pursues her as she engages in another relationship with her boss in her new job.

I would highly recommend this collection.
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on 20 March 2013
First two films, great, third film not so great...the plot line is thus: woman gets pregnant after one night stand, woman gets snubbed by lover, woman loses baby, woman poisons some people. That's it. Still my favorite director, though.
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on 14 February 2010
This is the third Aki Kaurismaki collection I have bought for my son and he is just as impressed with this one as the other two.
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