Monday, 25 March 2013

Calamari Union [1985]

Calamari Union, Kaurismaki’s second feature, was an absurdist, deliberately confounding and highly experimental film adorned with surrealistic splashes, filled to brim with his customary droll humour, and completely bereft of any conventional narrative structure or flow. The film begins with a group of men, members of the so-called ‘Calamari Union’, all of whom are known as Frank (with one of them played by Matti Pellonpää) assembled in an underground bar in Helsinki. They are all disgusted with the hell-holes they live in, and hence decide to embark on a journey to Eira – a mythical city which is devoid of problems and sufferings. Thus starts the gleefully unpredictable, deliriously idiosyncratic and wildly anarchist trip for this group of neurotic, offball characters, filled with a series of vignettes and bizarre, even outrageous, developments. The Bunuel-esque style, courtesy Aki’s subversion of the ‘normal’ and the ‘expected’, and coupled with the freewheeling narrative where everything and  nothing happen, would make this a darn interesting work for some, and a highly frustrating watch for the others. The sudden interjections anarchy, albeit displayed with disconcerting casualness, and the rambling conversations between the various Frank’s, would add to the absolute strangeness of this film. Yet, its underlying socio-political commentary cannot be missed, while the playfulness with form made this an intriguing, and even a quietly engaging, film. The sharp, resplendent B/W photography provided an immediate counterpoint to the social decay, moral chaos, existential nihilism and the collapse of all orders portrayed herein. The film had a thumping soundtrack as well to boast of.

Director: Aki Kaurismaki
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Social Satire/Experimental Film
Language: Finnish
Country: Finland

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