Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sex, lies and videotape

JP Siili's movie The Panopticon (and no, that's not its name, instead we have, absurdly, "Young Gods") got a very chilly critical reception in its time. It was accused of being titillating, pointless semi-pornography - and that surely was a reasonable expectation (especially concerning his later productions, slick and calculated, though not especially daring or pornographic). The viewers though hated it almost as much as the critics, and there are very few things that are more beloved by movie goers than titillating, pointless semi-pornography. I guess it still qualifies as such for some. I wouldn't say it myself - nudity, genitals, our various sexual activities seem rather commonplace, matter of fact things. This is what we are and what we do, not very elegant, perhaps, but there we are. Yes, surely there is also an element of titillation, often at least, but if the movie is any good, the story absorbs it: nudity, genitals, the various (and invariably quite banal) acrobatics will connect seemlessly with the rest of the action. And if they don't, well, then it does tend to become pointless semi-pornography and, so, much beloved by most people. The Panopticon is an odd movie, I guess it's not really good, very clumsy in parts (and one wonders what the intentions really were), unpleasant, but it works in its fashion, and is strangely impressive. One of the very few modern Finnish mainstream movies that doesn't treat sex sentimentally and/or commercially. Sex really isn't a very sentimental business, in the final analysis. Or even commercial.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Look into your heart, you will find a county Sligo

Once again reading ancient Irish history (which can only be bettered by the taste of whiskey). Rehearsing familiar scenes, Collins dying, de Valera definitely living (might have been better the other way round). Strange how early I became interested in Irish history (especially the years between 1880-1923). But it was only a lengthy stay in Ireland that got me to combine my even older anglophilia with the hibernian equivalent. Yeats, of course, and the Anglo-Irish tradition, but seeing and feeling the place made the difference. There are many parallels with Finland of course, not only in history and politics, but in mentality. Swedes I think mix better with the middle class English. A certain common narrowness also, but I think the cultural barrenness lasted longer in Ireland though Finland never reached such heigths from where to descend. High ideals seem to have a universal way of transforming into mundane and dispiriting realities...