I’ve made it back alive. In the last forty-eight hours, I’ve watched a Finnish film that made me wish for antidepressants, a Peruvian film that made me question human nature even more than I usually do, and the sixteen short films by college students that were voted the best in the state. And I went to Ben & Jerry’s somewhere in there.
The Finnish film, Laitakaupungin valot (a.k.a. Lights in the Dusk), tells the story of the lonely Koistinen, security guard at a Helsinki mall (they have Subway restaurants there, by the way), who is seduced by a gangster’s beautiful, Grace Kelly-ish girlfriend and becomes the unwitting accomplice in a bold robbery of said mall. If this film is anything to go by, Helsinki jails are terrible. Also, everyone there smokes. Everywhere. All the time. They smoke in police stations, prison cells, break rooms, and while mopping floors. You know those trailers that people fix up as mobile diners, selling hamburgers and snacks? They smoke in those, too. That’s got to be a health code violation.
Peru gives us Madeinusa (pronounced May-din-OO-sa), the title character being a teenage girl who lives in a remote Andean village and longs to see the world — or at least Lima, where her mother supposedly ran off to long ago. Judging by what I saw of the girl’s father, I don’t blame the woman for leaving, but she really should have taken her kids with her. The arrival of a young man from Lima, temporarily stranded in her village, sparks the hope that Madeinusa’s dreams might become reality. Set against the surreal backdrop of the village’s Holy Time festival, a sort of compressed reenactment of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, with our heroine playing the Virgin Mary, things quickly get out of control. The villagers believe that during this celebration, God is literally dead, and there is no such thing as a sin. So you can imagine what kind of parties they have. I’d tell you the story of how Madeinusa got her name, but the movie didn’t cover that. I’m sure it’s very interesting, though.

Madeinusa, her creepy father, and her jealous younger sister after she is crowned the town’s reigning Virgin.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to try to review sixteen short films, especially since several of them defy explanation, seeing as they don’t have plots. I’d just like to mention that the Coen brothers might want to put an option or something on Pinmonkey. It’s that classic boy meets girl, girl dies, boy refuses to notice and falls in love with her anyway kind of plot that they really like.