“No­body acts in my films. They don’t wave their hands like wind­mills. They are con­trolled. Even if they don’t know it”

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Film -

ei­ther to­tally drunk or to­tally sober. There is nowhere in be­tween.”

In the early days, Kau­ris­mäki was ex­tremely pro­lific. He could, with­out strain­ing his drink­ing arm, de­liver two de­cent films a year. In re­cent times, he ap­pears to have slowed down a bit. He ad­mits that he used to tease Jim Jar­musch, the great Amer­i­can film-maker, for spend­ing too long be­tween projects.

“He was Mr Slow. Now he’s catch­ing me up,” he says. It has been six years since his last full-length film, Lights in the Dusk. He has spent the time in Por­tu­gal with his “very pa­tient” wife of 28 years. He picks mush­rooms. He reads. He watches the oc­ca­sional silent film. So what fi­nally per­suaded him to launch into Le Havre? It sounds as if he has a fairly pleas­ant life.

“Yes, I live there be­cause Por­tu­gal is about as far as you can get from Helsinki – ex­cept

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maybe Ire­land. Ha, ha!” he says. “Well, if I hadn’t stopped my car I would have ended up film­ing in Bel­gium. I was driv­ing from the south look­ing for a lo­ca­tion. I went through Spain and Por­tu­gal. I got to Le Havre and I just stopped. I had no more gaso­line.”

You never quite know when Kau­ris­mäki is tak­ing you for a ride. His sense of irony has evolved to such a point that con­ver­sa­tion takes on the qual­ity of an elu­sive, ab­sur­dist drama. Ask him if it’s true that he in­tends to re­tire af­ter mak­ing 20 films – Le Havre is his 18th – and you get a re­sponse that swings both ways with­out top­pling over into a firm an­swer. Maybe the booz­ing is all an act too. Per­haps he spends his evenings drink­ing tea and serv­ing as a lay preacher.

No, that doesn’t re­ally work. He’s just too darn Fin­nish. One won­ders will he ever re­turn home. No na­tion should be de­prived of its ge­niuses.

“I pre­fer places where peo­ple talk,” he says. “When they are drunk in Fin­land they talk too much. But dur­ing the day they don’t talk enough. Ev­ery­one looks like they’re in Night of the Liv­ing Dead.”

There’s no dan­ger of Kau­ris­mäki be­ing mis­taken for a zom­bie. It’s 3.30pm and he’s al­ready im­pres­sively fes­tive. Good for him.

“It would have been nice to share a drink with you! But I’ll have one for you. Okay?”

That’s fine by me.

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