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"Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana"

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki.
Written by Aki Kaurismäki and Sakke Järvenpää.
Starring Kati Outinen and Matti Pellonpää.
Release Year:  1994 

Review Date:  7/16/03 


My friend Heidi and her boyfriend Boaz were up for a flick Sunday, but not one of the Hollywood blockbuster variety.  Oh no, she wanted to see something…oh, Finnish.

Fucking Finns!

Actually, I got this invite because I loved Finn director Aki Kaurismaki’s most recent film, “A Man Without a Past”, and the Pacific Film Archive was doing screenings of Aki’s older works in Berkeley, so I wanted to hang out and see what else the man had to offer.  As it turned out, I can say that at least the company was quite nice.

The 1994 “Take Care of Your Scarf, Tatiana” is bleak, much like “Past” was bleak, but features characters that just don’t connect.  You have a coffee addict that loves to sew (Mato Valtonen), a mechanic that loves to pound moonshine (Matti Pellonpaa), and two women who need to get to a boat within a couple of days:  a Russian (Kirsi Tykkylainen) and an Estonian named Tatiana (played by recent Cannes Best Actress winner Kati Outinen).  The whole of the movie--and, by “whole”, I mean 45 of the film’s 60-minute total running time; I thought “Passenger 57” was short!--is spent with these four characters driving around, not talking but getting to know each other through habit.

I did love the sparse details of Kaurismaki’s framing; this is a Finland that feels desolate, quiet, unpopulated, and without much of an ambient soundtrack things are quiet throughout.  The director clearly loves American rock-and-roll, though, so we get a couple of strange, quirky-yet-misplaced sequences with the characters rockin’ out to tunes they hear on the radio or at a nighttime gathering.  It reminds you of a scene out of “Twin Peaks” more than your most recent Saturday night, and I thought that was a bad thing for this film.

There are some sparse funny moments, but otherwise, the film is mostly forgettable.  Be sure to check out “The Man Without a Past”, though; a great film featuring many of the same elements with much better execution.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09