Aki Kaurismäki

"Kaurismäki's finest work celebrates resilience and (more rarely) the supportive power of love, while sharply but gently acknowledging through detailed, deadpan comic observation the absurdity of vanity." - Geoff Andrew (The Director's Vision, 1999)

Aki Kaurismäki

Director / Screenwriter / Producer / Editor
(1957- ) Born April 4, Orimattila, Finland
Top 250 Directors / 21st Century's Top 100 Directors

Key Production Countries: Finland, Germany, Sweden, France
Key Genres: Comedy, Comedy Drama, Drama, Road Movie, Romantic Drama, Psychological Drama
Key Collaborators: Timo Salminen (Cinematographer), Kati Outinen (Leading Actress), Matti Pellonpää (Leading Actor), Esko Nikkari (Character Actor), Elina Salo (Leading Character Actress), Sakari Kuosmanen (Leading Character Actor), Raija Talvio (Editor), Kari Väänänen (Leading Character Actor), Markku Pätilä (Production Designer), Outi Mäenpää (Character Actress), André Wilms (Leading Actor), Markku Peltola (Leading Actor)

"Aki Kaurismäki is Finland's most famous director, and together with his older brother Mika, he once accounted for a third of the country's film output. His films are characterized by laconic humour, detached irony and smoking - he could be considered the Nordic cousin of Jim Jarmusch... Directors who rigorously pursue the same themes through the same visual idioms can often become parodies of their former selves, but Kaurismäki has been honing his instinct and finessing his palette. He has made some classics, like Match Factory Girl, Ariel and Leningrad Cowboys Go America, but it was the deadpan and soulful The Man Without a Past that epitomized classic Kaurismäki with its ambient melancholy, impressive low-key acting, and spirited and quirky use of music." - Lloyd Hughes (The Rough Guide to Film, 2007)
"Kaurismäki's ironic sense of humour lends his best work a wacky, off-the-wall quality. Forming a production company in 1981 with brother Mika (who has also directed several films), he quickly made a name for himself with witty, irreverent, almost comic-strip-style adventures, comedies and melodramas, plus one or two revisionist versions of famous dramas (Crime and Punishment, Hamlet Goes Business), which paid a little, if not much more attention to the story." - David Quinlan (Quinlan's Illustrated Guide to Film Directors, 1999)
"The films of maverick Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki are mostly about taciturn losers in soulless jobs in bleak surroundings. However, their grimness is enlivened by his dry humour... Kaurismäki's philosophy is summed up in a line from Drifting Clouds: "Life is short and miserable. Be as merry as you can." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)
"He worked as an artist, dishwasher, builder, postman and machinist before collaborating with his elder brother, film-maker Mika Kaurismäki; as a team, they became key figures in the development of Finnish cinema... His films are characterized by their deadpan humour, melancholy feel and sympathetic portrayals of outsiders." - Chambers Film Factfinder, 2006
"Inventiive, prolific young director who began receiving international recognition in the late 1980s. Kaurismäki's output has ranged from wacky, comic-book style adventures (Calamari Union 1985, Leningrad Cowboys Go America 1989) to revisionist adaptations of literary classics (Crime and Punishment 1983, Hamlet Goes Business 1987), and he has proved himself adept at combining a gritty, nourish realism with sly, sardonic humor (Ariel 1988)." - The Virgin International Encyclopedia of Film, 1992
"Aki Kaurismäki's films can be described as black comedies, with the actors delivering their lines deadpan, while immersed in coffee and cigarettes... Kaurismäki observes his native country through the economic depression of the early 1990s, the search for an identity at the dawn of the new millennium, and starting out life anew in a country that's now grown colder than ever before. Yet although Kaurismäki does not seem to think that Finland's spiritual vacuum might be filled in the near future, even his bleaker pictures tend to leave the audience with a glimmer of hope." - Lauri Loytokoski (501 Movie Directors, 2007)
"I have two methods. If I have a screenplay, I follow it. If I don't, I improvise. Nobody else improvises - not the cameraman or the actors. Just me." - Aki Kaurismäki
TSPDT Guide
Highly Recommended
The Man Without a Past (2002)
Recommended
Crime and Punishment (1983), Shadows in Paradise (1986), Ariel (1988), The Match Factory Girl (1990) , La Vie de Bohème (1992), Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatjana (1994), Drifting Clouds (1996), Juha (1999), Lights in the Dusk (2006), Le Havre (2011)
Worth a Look
Calamari Union (1985), Hamlet Goes Business (1987), Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989), I Hired a Contract Killer (1990), Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet (2002) [also directed by Chen Kaige, Victor Erice, Werner Herzog, Jim Jarmusch, Spike Lee & Wim Wenders]
Acclaimed Films / IMDB Filmography
21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
Aki Kaurismäki / Favourite Films
L'Âge d'or (1930) Luis Buñuel, L'Atalante (1934) Jean Vigo, Bicycle Thieves (1948) Vittorio De Sica, Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932) Jean Renoir, The Gold Rush (1925) Charles Chaplin, Mon oncle (1958) Jacques Tati, Nanook of the North (1922) Robert Flaherty, Sunrise (1927) F.W. Murnau, Tokyo Story (1953) Yasujiro Ozu, Z (1969) Constantin Costa-Gavras.
Source: Sight & Sound (2012)
Amazon Products
Films / Books
    The Man Without a Past
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