6 Essential Films of Aki Kaurismaki – My favorites

In my previous blog post, I expressed my admiration for director Satyajit Ray and how I aspire to be a director like him someday. Now, there is a quite a long list of directors I am fond of. Ray is number one on that list and now I move on to the second – Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki. I’ve always been enamored of his films and the reasons are plenty. To begin with, his actors are not at all good-looking. Haha. They are some of the ugliest actors I’ve seen. Then comes his minimalist storytelling with dialogues used sparingly. All the characters are losers. Even some character who owns a big restaurant happens to be a loser.

These are desperate characters placed in desperate and bleak circumstances but Kaurismaki never tries to make these stories look that depressing. His films are distinguished by their deadpan humor and an enormous compassion for the characters that occupy them. They (well, most of them) are also noted for their remarkable sense of optimism. And last, but not the least, the lighting and production design of his films is straight out of the 60s. Okay, now enough of my rambling. Below, I list 5 of my favorite films from this wonderfully gifted filmmaker. I’ve reviewed some of them and you can read by clicking on the highlighted titles. One of them, Leningrad Cowboys Go America, features a cameo by director Jim Jarmusch, of whom Kaurismaki is a huge fan.

1) The Man Without a Past (2002)


2) Drifting Clouds (1996)


3) Le Havre (2011)


4) I Hired a Contract Killer (1990)


5)  Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989)


6) Shadows in Paradise (1986)



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