I’ve been watching some good TV shows lately – one of the best interviews I have seen was from Cinéma Cinémas, which was an excellent French TV show about cinema (and I mean cinema in the best sense of the word).
Anyway, the sequence I enjoyed so much was an interview with the Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki (from the 14 April 1990 episode of the show), which was conducted by Christian Meunier, who, for all I know, could still be emotionally scarred by the experience. Wherever he is, I wish him well!
Get the 4 disc boxset of Cinéma Cinémas – I would if I were you. If you don’t speak French, there are loads of interviews in the English language, which have been subtitled in French. But, in the meantime, here are my highlights from Aki Kaurismäki:
Things you learn about Mr Kaurismäki:
- He used to work “in the lowest depths of the building industry” before he got into cinema “By accident, I was no good for any honest work”
- He’s had no training in acting or film making
- He’s not a conservative, but he’s not politically involved
- He could not film a bourgeois trilogy even if he wanted to – “I lose the rest of my little bit of talent when I go in a bourgeois place”
- The Proletariat Trilogy should really be called the Losers Trilogy – Losers are “one step under proletariat, who are not conscious enough to belong to a class”
- Sometimes Kaurismäki is “rather pessimistic, sometimes a little bit optimistic” – he always decides to put a sad ending on his films but sometimes he takes pity on his characters and at the last moment puts a happy ending
- He would never make a farce
Kaurismäki has a clear process of working. I did a diagram, look:
Clear? Better be!
The interviewer says that in France Kaurismäki’s films are seen as “dark, cruel, realistic with a strong sense of humour”. What does Kaurismäki think?
I’ve done another diagram to make this easy to understand:
Looking like a pyromaniacal version of a young Harry Enfield
Saving the best for last. Here’s the Chinese Bookie story. The background is, Kaurismäki has total control on his films because he does everything himself – writing, producing, directing, editing, etc – but the question remains:
Interviewer: How do you find the money?
Kaurismäki: I get them from Manhattan from a Chinese bookie man
Kaurismäki: Him? Not anymore. He financed my films.
Well, it made me smile anyway – something like this, a ghost of a smile:
To close, here are a couple more screen grabs to tickle your Kaurismäki tastebuds: