Thursday, 21 February
End of the Road Cinema: Zombie and the Ghost Train
ZOMBIE AND THE GHOST TRAIN 1991 (Zombie ja Kummitusjuna) Directed by Mika Kaurismäki 88 minutes In Finnish with English subtitles
Like the early films of Jim Jarmusch, the films of Mika Kaurismäki (older brother of Aki Kaurismäki') tend to be reveries about outcast hipsters, outsiders who don't seem to fit in anywhere. Finland can be wintry and bleak, and the young man who is the focus of this movie, aptly named Zombie, would do anything to get free of his dead-end existence. He is desperate and drinks like a madman... or like someone who is pulled down by the confusion of his own life and can't pull himself up. He can't hold down a normal job, and the only two things he can really do is play bass guitar and drink. But this movie is also about friendship, and the lengths that a person is willing to go out of love for a friend.
The two Kaurismäki brothers are the wonders of Finnish filmmaking, but their films are very different in style and mood. Whereas Aki balances his gloom with deadpan humor, his brother Mika balances it with a poetic, reflective quality in this film. Zombie is based on a true story about someone the director once knew. The acting is melancholic and the atmosphere is made even thicker by the terrific soundtrack which includes the lonely eerie dirge "Solitude" by Black Sabbath, a riff that captures perfectly Zombie's aimlessness. At one point the film shifts to Istanbul, where the main character tries to disappear in that exotic city which is a no-man's land between the west and the east. This unusual and illuminating film has hardly ever been screened anywhere outside its home country.... so this is another rare one. A real gem that is waiting to be uncovered... it's piercing and will haunt you. The film is situated between humor, melancholia and loss.
One viewer's reaction: "Zombie And The Ghost Train from 1991 remains Mika Kaurismäki most successful film and its odd blend of darkly absurd comedy and haunting fatalism suggests Withnail & I meeting Leaving Las Vegas in a Helsinki bar to watch Louis Malle's drink 'n' death drama Le Feu Follet while Jim Jarmusch gets the beers in."
Date & Time: