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Etäopetus – digiloikka tuntemattomaan


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Meidän kaikkien elämä on mullistunut Covid-19 -kriisin myötä, mutta keidenkään tuskin niin paljon kuin koululaisten. Etäopetuksesta on tullut perheiden jokapäiväistä arkea ja siihen jokaisella on hyvin vaihtelevat valmiudet – sekä oppilaina että vanhempina. Itselläni kotona on tällä hetkellä kaksi kouluikäistä, toinen ala- ja toinen ylä-, joten pääsen näkemään läheltä kaksi hyvin erilaista maailmaa.

Perheessämme alakoululainen – viidesluokkalainen – on velvoitettu osallistumaan työpäivässä yhden tunnin ajan aamupalan jälkeen etäopetustuntiin, jossa opettaja antaa pienen määrän tehtäviä joita sitten tulisi pyrkiä suorittamaan päivän mittaan. Samaan aikaan kasiluokkalainen istuu aamu puoli yhdeksästä kolmeen joka päivä läpi loputtomat oppitunnit josta jokaisesta tulee liuta tehtäviä jotka pitäisi omaehtoisesti suorittaa päivän mittaan ja jos näin ei tee, merkinnät tulevat koulun kirjoihin. Tehtävät on myös mitotettu usein niin, että niitä on mahdoton saada tehtyä suunnitellun tunnin aikana, etenkään jos kyse on yhtään hitaampitahtisesta opiskelusta, kunnes seuraava Teams-tunti painaa jo päälle. Lopputuloksena on päivän mittaan kasautuvia sälätehtäviä päivän päätteeksi joita sitten yritetään tehdä koulun ja kokeisiinluvun ohessa. Nyt emme siis puhu lukiolaisesta vaan kahdeksasluokkalaisesta. Paine ja kiire on uskomaton, koneen edessä istuu päivä toisensa jälkeen pahemmin uupuva esiteini jolta odotetaan yllättäen ennennäkemätön määrä oma-aloitteisuutta, itseohjautuvuutta ja teknista osaamista. Tämän lisäksi opetuksessa käytetään vähän erilaisia metodeja: joskus tehtävät löytyvät Teamsin Assignments-osiosta, toisinaan Helmi/Vilma/mitänäitänyton-järjestelmistä, toisinaan Teams-keskusteluista viesteinä. Yritäpä siinä sitten vanhempana pysyä mukana, miksi poissaolo- ja palauttajättämisilmoituksia kilahtelee Helmiin kun lapsellakaan ei ole mitään käsitystä mitä pitäisi tehdä. Itse olen istunut useamman tunnin käymällä läpi Teams-keskusteluja salapoliisimaisesti yrittäen tulkita eri kommenteista, onko mahdollisesti nyt annettu suullinen tehtävä, onko tämä viesti jotain, mitä on pitänyt tehdä tunnilla vai tunnin jälkeen, vai löytyykö jotain kenties Assignmentseista.

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Etäopiskelua

Vanhemmille tämä aika ei ole sen helpompaa. Oppilaalta odotettu itseohjautuvaisuus on iso haaste myös kotona; työpäivän aikana ja sen päätteeksi pitäisi kyetä seuraamaan onko lapsi käynyt koulunsa ja tehnyt tehtävänsä, auttaa tehtävissä joihin ei ole mitään kosketusta vuosikymmeniin (itse sain eilen palautella hypotenuusia, kateetteja ja piiärkakkosia päähäni) sillä mahdollisuus opelta nopeasti kysymiseen on vaikeaa, etätunneilla kyssäreiden esittäminen varattu vain aktiivisimmille ja ekstroverteimmille, tukiopetusta on saatavilla vain satunnaisesti.

Etäopiskelu paljastaa koulutusjärjestelmämme nurjan puolen – survival of the fittest nousee pintaan ennennäkemättömällä tavalla. Luokan parhaat ovat äänessä jatkuvasti, hiljaisemmat syrjäytyvät entisestään, hitaammat hautautuvat työvuoren. Ainoa oljenkorsi on vanhempien apu joka vaihtelee kuin yö ja päivä kotien ja tilanteiden mukaan: yläkoululaisten käsittelemät asiat, kuten matematiikka, fysiikka, kemia ja ruotsi ovat saattaneet loistaa poissaolollaan elämästämme niin pitkään että olemme aivan yhtä avuttomia niiden edessä kuin kelkasta hetkeksi pudonnut oppilas. Muuta ei voi tehdä kuin yrittää räpistellä takaisin mukaan, mutta helppoa se ei ole.

Keskustelin oman yläkoululaiseni kanssa – hänelle etäkoulun hyvinä puolina on se, ettei tarvitse lähteä päivittäin minnekään vaan opiskelu tapahtuu keskitetysti ja helposti kotikoneelta. Ei tarvitse herätä liian aikaisin vaan aamupalaan menee vain hetki, jonka jälkeen onkin jo koulun penkillä. Kurjina puolina hän mainitsi kuitenkin kavereiden puutteen, liikkumattomuuden ja sen, että tehtäviä tulee aivan älyttömiä määriä verrattuna käytettävissä olevaan aikaan. Tämän lisäksi olen seurannut digiteknologian käytön haasteita – videoiden siirtäminen puhelimelta koneelle ei ole ihan iisiä, ohjelmat eivät ole itsestäänselvästi käyttäjäystävällisiä ja aikaa kuluu pelkkään tekniseen kikkailuun koulutyön ohella.

Yksittäisiä oppilaista suuremmassa kriisissä on kuitenkin koko koulutusjärjestelmämme.  Suomi, koulutuksen kärkimaa, ei ole kyennyt tekemään digiloikkaansa suinkaan niin sujuvasti kuin ajatella voisi – olemmehan myös teknologiakehityksen huippumaa! Siltikin, käytettävät työkalut ja työtavat ovat kankeita, vaatimustasot vaihtelevat valtavasti ja toteutus riippuu täysin opettajan halusta tehdä oma henkilökohtainen digiloikkansa ja tietenkin hänen viitseliäisyydestä. Osa opettajista haluaa pitää tuntinsa videona etätuntina, toiset lähettävät jossain tunnin vaiheessa ison kasan luettavaa ja tehtäviä juuri sen enempää oppilaita kohtaamatta.

Mihin sitten tätä digiloikkaa ollaan tekemässä? Onko edessä tulevaisuus, jossa pandemioista huolimatta koulutuksesta osa siirtyy etätyöskentelyyn isommissa määrin? Vai palataanko takaisin koulun penkeille samalla mallilla kuin aikaisemmin? Kummassakin on puolensa mutta selvää on, että tulevaisuus tulee olemaan digitaalisempaa, mutta mikä seuraava askelmerkki tässä digiloikassa – ei, vaan kolmiloikassa – on?

Selvää on, että järjestelmämme ei ole valmistautunut tähän vaikka tekninen puoli ja osaaminenkin siihen riittäisi. Tärkeintä olisi yhtenäisen järjestelmän rakentaminen, opettajien kouluttaminen, digikouluavustajien palkkaaminen ja myös laitteiden hankkiminen ja toimittaminen opiskelijoille. Puhelin ei ole digietäopetuksen työkalu mutta perheemme alakoululaisella ei ole läppäriä hankittuna, näinollen toimittajavaimoni, jolle läppäri on elintärkeä työkalu, joutuu aikatauluttamaan omat työnsä niin, että läppäriä voidaan jakaa. Entä miten tämä toimii perheessä, jossa ei ole teknologiaa senkään vertaa? Entä jos lapsia on enemmän tai tilaa vähemmän?

Paljon on ollut puhetta varmuusvarastoista mutta näköjään opetukseen, koko yhteiskunnan yhteen merkittävimmistä tukipilareista, ei ole tehty minkäänlaista varmuusvarastoa tai varmuusvarasuunnitelmaa. Näiden kehittämisen soisin näkevän tiensä hallituksen suunnitelmiin sillä varmaa on, että Covid-19 ei tule jäämään viimeiseksi elinaikanamme kokemaksemme pandemiaksi.

Nyt pohditaan, avataanko koulut vielä pariksi viime viikoksi ennen kesälomia ja jos, niin keille. Itse en toivo että koulut aukeavat, ainakaan yhtään laajemmin kuin tällä hetkellä. Kansanterveydellisesti uskon, että koronasta olisi hyvä päästä kunnolla niskan päälle edes niin, että ymmärtäisimme mistä tässä sairaudessa on kyse ja miten sitä voidaan hoitaa. Tällä hetkellä sairaus on hoitamaton, jonka vaikean muodon ainoa selviämiskeino on pitää sairastuneet teholla ja kiinni koneissa ja toivoa, että kyetään pumppaamaan tarpeeksi happea keuhkoihin että hengissä pysytään yli pahimman. Emme ymmärrä edes sairauden tartuntamekaniikkaa ja vielä vähemmän sitä, miksi se on tappava joillakin, toisilla taas ei. Lapset eivät eräiden havaintojen mukaan levitä tautia yhtä pahasti kuin vanhemmat ihmiset, mutta esimerkiksi täällä Lauttasaaressa, jossa pandemia sairastutti ensimmäisinä alueina ison määrän ihmisiä tauti lähti liikkeelle ala-asteelta – emme siis ymmärrä tätäkään mekanismia juurikaan.

Koulujen aukaiseminen tässä vaiheessa altistaisi niin lapset kuin perheetkin oudolle ihmiskokeelle jossa voittajina olisivat lähinnä stressaantuneet vanhemmat. Opinnollisesti tämän lukukauden tuho on jo tehty ja pelkään, että numeroita saadakseen opettajat lataisivat oppilaille lähinnä ison kasan kokeita räkyiltäväksi loppulukukaudeksi ja valitettavasti etenkin ysiluokkalaisille niistä selviäminen ei ole vain tärkeää vaan koko elämän määrittelevää pakertamista: lukio vai ammattikoulu, siinä on yksi yhteiskuntamme merkittävimmistä ja ensimmäisistä päätöksistä joihin voimme vaikuttaa.

Tämän sukupolven lasten ponnistuksen pituus ja se, mihin se riittää, riippuu nyt hallituksen päätöksistä, koulutusjärjestelmän muuntautumiskyvystä, opettajien suhtautumisesta, vanhempien viitseliäisyydestä ja siitä, mitä ratkaisuja olemme valmiita tekemään tulevaisuudessa – ja kaikista vähiten, valitettavasti, lapsista itseistään, joista valitettavan iso osa jää kärsijän rooliin.

Käsi nousee lippaan sairaanhoitajia ja lääkäreitä, kaupan ja apteekin työntekijöitä ja muiden välttämättömien alojen tukipilareita ajatellessamme mutta otetaanpa siihen joukkoon myös opettajat jotka yrittävät rempoa tässä sekamelskassa eteenpäin niin, ettei meille tulisi kymmenen vuoden kuluttua kouluttautumattomien ja syrjäytyneiden sukupolvi vaan että jokainen lapsi löytäisi mahdollisuutensa ja pystyisi toteuttamaan itseään parhaalla ja monimuotoisimmalla tavalla.

 

Opinions, Reviews, Scifi

Review: Star Wars – The Skywalker Saga


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For over 40 years, Star Wars has ruled the box office. What started off as an insane dream by George Lucas, a young filmmaker from Modesto, California turned into anything but “modest”. Spanning at first through three movies, the first trilogy which begun from the fourth episode, followed by an extensive toy industry with animated series, a bunch of TV movies in the ’80s, finally petered out somewhere in turn of the ’90s. By that time, everyone knew Luke, Leia, Han, and Darth Vader, we knew what a lightsaber would be, how it sounded like and knew exactly what color saber they all had.

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Darth Vader (played by David Prowse and voiced by James Earl Jones), probably the most iconic character of the whole saga, strangling an officer in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

The story was kept alive through the ’90s by a bunch of very successful games – both tabletop roleplaying ones and a good selection of PC game titles, such as X-Wing and TIE Fighter, Rebel Assault and Jedi Knight – while, unbeknownst to anyone, Lucas was writing his prequels.

When Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) hit the cinemas in the late ’90s., it was a major cinematic event. Followed by two more Episodes, the much-beloved franchise got its’ first serious fan backlash, too. While the cinema tickets sold like hotcakes, fans were not that in love with new elements, such as the Midi-chlorians, an attempt to explain the force through weird physics, and while some of the new characters were welcomed, like Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) and young Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and Queen Amidala (Natalie Portman), some were loathed: Jar-Jar Binks (Ahmed Best) soon became the most hated character of the series, and once Lucas let go of the franchise after Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005), Jar-Jar (along with the Midi-chlorians) disappeared like fart in Sahara.

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Young Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd) appearing in front of the Jedi Council in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Meance

After Episode III, it took quite a while for Star Wars to come back – ten years, to be exact. Again, during that time the story was kept alive by the toys and gaming industry, but the savior came from a surprising new place: Lego started to produce Star Wars toys, introducing the franchise to a third new generation. The Lego sets were followed by Lego Star Wars -games, which became hugely popular and the first stepping stone to the generation who had missed the first two trilogies. Simultaneously, animated Star Wars series, first Star Wars: Clone Wars (2003-2005) and later Star Wars: Rebels (2014-2018) kept filling in the gaps between the trilogies.

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Rey (Daisy Ridley) became the torch-bearer of the Jedi legacy in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens

When Lucas finally sold his Star Wars empire to Disney, the third series was inevitable. J.J. Abrams, who had successfully rejuvenated Star Trek back in 2009,  was hired to produce the first of the upcoming trilogy. When Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015) hit the theatres, it crushed all the previous records and brought the story back to life with full power. Introducing a set of new characters, of which all managed to strike the right chords among the fanbase and the new viewers, Star Wars was again the biggest and the best in the cinema.

 

Fans did notice, though, that Abrams’ Star Wars was doing a disservice to itself by over-serving the fans: to some, it felt like a best-of of the original trilogy, bringing very little new to the scenario. The same elements were still there – The Empire, only now known as The First Order versus the Rebels, planet-size weapons capable of destroying other planets and the new Emperor/Darth Vader -characters – Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) with his apprentice, the troubled young Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) – ruling over the galaxy. Still, it was clear that the Star Wars universe was welcomed warmly, and yet another generation was able to jump onboard the fun.

The Force Awakens was followed by a spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, directed by Gareth Edwards), which served as a film to tie one of the open ends of the original trilogy, telling where did the Rebels learn about the weakness in the Death Star. The film was grittier than Star Wars had been before, and after its’ success, a whole universe of Star Wars Stories was planned.

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2018, directed by Rian Johnson), the second part in the latest trilogy, was received with even more fan backlash. While the critics revered it, the fans were less enamored. The film was more ponderous than its’ predecessors, but the problems were more script-related: some of the timelines the film presented didn’t seem to make sense and it didn’t take seriously enough some of the rampant fan theories and some of the setups The Force Awakens had put in place. Still, the film was a big hit in box offices around the world, and people were attuned to wait for the final part of the trilogy.

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The epic lightsabre battle of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2018) took place between Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

Before that,  though, Star Wars experienced probably the biggest slap in the face of the franchise in decades, when they ventured in the history of the most beloved character of the series, Han Solo. Solo: A Star Wars Story (directed by Ron Howard), which came out in 2018, wasn’t loved by the critics, the fans or the box office. It technically killed the Star Wars Stories -spinoff-series, trashing the plans of a Boba Fett -movie that was rumored to follow. It showed that the fans are willing to watch Star Wars movies, as long as the films take themselves serious enough, don’t tamper with old characters, and give us the adventure we are looking for, the good versus evil -battle in its’ true, pure form. Solo went against the grain, being maybe a bit too self-aware, too cocky and – unfortunately – too general to find a proper place in Star Wars universe.

Meanwhile, the games and toys industry grew bigger and bigger. EA brought Star Wars: Battlefront -franchise back to life and served two greatly loved Star Wars games to the gamers, while selling Lego sets, plushies, helmets… you name it, they had it. They did, though, find out the unfortunate fact of the Star Wars series – the most beloved characters, events, and elements were still the ones from the original trilogy. Nothing the follow-ups had brought up – save maybe Darth Maul (played by Ray Park) – could ever rival Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz) or Boba Fett (first played by Jeremy Bulloch) or Jabba The Hutt (voiced by Larry Ward) or Han Solo (Harrison Ford), not to mention Darth Vader (David Prowse and James Earl Jones).

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Star Wars: Battlefront (2015, Electronic Arts)

Finally, as the second decade of the 2000s was about to wrap up and the world was about to step in the Cyberpunk era of the 2020s, the last and final episode of the Skywalker saga hit the theatres. Not before The Mandalorian (2019-, created by Jon Favreau), a TV-series set in the Star Wars universe, another spinoff patching up some of the blank holes in the backstory, would premiere at the newly-established Disney+ streaming service.

The Mandalorian brought in rave reviews. Suddenly, the whole Internet was going crazy over a character named Baby Yoda (who, of course, can’t be Yoda since, well, Yoda is dead Jedi ghost these days). One would think that such a great response would pave the way for the grand finale of the film series, but again, the fan backlash was waiting just around the corner.

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Rey (Daisy Ridley) is about to find out the truth about her past in Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019, directed by J.J. Abrams) was received with an extremely divided audience and critical response – the worst one in the series since the days of Lucas. To some, the fast pace J.J. Abrams, who returned to the helm after Rian Johnson’s previous “disaster” (as so many fans put it), was too much. To some, important characters were played in and out quickly, and the plot felt rushed and incoherent. Probably many just didn’t want the Skywalker saga to end, and had already chosen their side: this can not, should not, and will not be the end of it.

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Baby Yoda from The Mandalorian has captured the hearts of the Star Wars fans.

Simultaneously, The Mandalorian was continuing the story. It was beloved by the fans, and it had the first new, greatly beloved character in it – the mysterious Yoda-like child, whom we know very little of as of now. In some way, The Mandalorian‘s success could’ve even turned against The Rise of Skywalker. It was the Star Wars the fans wanted, not the film that tried to end it all.

The biggest problem with Star Wars, from the very beginning on, has been the fact that it’s not really built to follow an arc. Each of the trilogies is written independently and even each film within the trilogy is written independently, often directed by different directors, each with a strong need to bring a new angle to the ages-old Star Wars franchise. All this while Disney, the new owner of the franchise, is trying to keep the fans happy and buying the toys, paying the tickets to the films and the theme park rides. But still, for over 40 years, the series has leaned on characters and events devised by George Lucas in the ’70s, and nothing any of the new installments have brought on has stuck as hard as the stories and characters of the original trilogy.

And boy, they have tried. There was Darth Maul and the Pod Race in the second trilogy, loaded with huge galactic plotting schemes and backstabbings, but all of that was too confusing to really fall in love with. Then, there was Kylo Ren and Snoke, both of whom were just too much like Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader to really kick in hard. There was BB-8, the new robot – practically, a new R2-D2, and even bigger battles, none of which were able to outdo what Battle of Hoth did in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980, directed by Irvin Kershner). Now, we have Baby Yoda, while most of the characters of the original series are either dead or ghosts floating around in Jediversum.

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AT-ATs of the Empire attacking the Rebel forces during the Battle of Hoth in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The whole Skywalker saga said what it had to say in its’ first three outings, and nothing that was added to it, later on, was really needed to make the already epic story any stronger. Still, I’m really happy Star Wars has always been there, all through my life, in different forms, shapes, and formats. And now, as I watch the excellent The Rise of Skywalker ending the whole saga, I do feel sad and nostalgic. It’s not necessarily an end of an era – Star Wars, if you ask from Disney, is just gettings started – but it’s an end of a set of beloved characters whom I’ve known nearly better than any other characters from any other franchises, save The Lord of the Rings.

Looking back, I think the biggest mistake the series did was that it kept Lucas on for as long as it did in the director’s seat. I think he should’ve been kept as a guardian of the storyline, one through whom all the scripts would pass, one who would give guidance and direction to where the story would go – more like a showrunner – while leaving directing to others. This way, Episodes I-III could have stood the test of time better, and the whole series would feel more together. Also, I don’t think the Star Wars Stories were necessary additions since while I did like Rogue One, Solo did show the fact that Star Wars just isn’t for every director, and not every character needs to have a carefully laid backstory that’s force-fed to the audience; we like to make up the untold histories ourselves.

But all in all, Star Wars – The Skywalker Saga is an important franchise that deserves the acknowledgment in the annals of great sagas of modern times. It’s may not be the Lord of the Rings, but it’s the about the second best thing from that.

There’s a lot of directions the series can go from here, but I do hope they first focus on creating a big story arc and finding a franchise runner who can carry it through a series of upcoming trilogies/TV-shows/whatever it is they have in mind. Maybe it’s worthwhile to consult George Lucas once more since it’s from him where the most valuable assets the series has have sprung from. I’m excitedly waiting for the future, and will definitely be coming back to the 12+ movies and TV-series Skywalker Saga has to offer.

Thank you, George Lucas, J.J. Abrams, and others. You’ve given a lot to us.

Stars? Should I give a star rating to these 40+ years of Star Wars? How could I, even? It’s such a mixed bag… But it is a review, and I like giving stars, so here we go:

In short: A convoluted and mixed franchise, which relies heavily on the original trilogy, but manages to keep us entertained and grow and involve new viewers, generation after generation.

And here’s the film-by-film order:

Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977, George Lucas)

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The beginning of the most epic adventure we’ll see, possibly ever, Episode V is a stunning work of art and adventure. To think, one film brought us characters like Darth Vader, C3-PO, R2-D2, Luke Skywalker, Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca… Again, all in just one film. This was a momentous movie, like The Beatles coming together for the first time, which changed the whole film industry forever.

 

 

 

Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980, Irvin Kershner)

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Darker in the tone, and grander in the scale, The Empire Strikes Back nailed Star Wars into history, making it more than a one-hit-wonder, but a franchise to look out for. Introducing special effect techniques never seen before, even more unforgettable characters like Yoda, and continuing the adventures of the original heroes in such ease, the film is what every sequel should be.

 

 

Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983, Richard Marquand)

Star_Wars_Episode_VI_Return_of_the_Jedi-351307626-largeMaybe just a bit too childish with the lovely, furry Ewoks, Return of the Jedi manages to bring in even more intriguing characters and making this grand adventure feel not just a story, but mythology, to which one just simply can’t stop falling in love with. The new set pieces – this time, jungle – give it a fresh breath of air, and the ending of the first trilogy is pure magic.

 

 

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999, George Lucas)

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George Lucas couldn’t keep his hands off the Star Wars and returned 15 years later to his creation, only this time, unfortunately, the magic was lost. The film has some amazing set pieces like the Pod Race, and a wealth of new characters, but the script stumbles trying to get us interested in the birth of the Empire and the internal struggles of the Senate. Not only that, but it also ages terribly – the VFX are nowadays sub-par, but they must’ve been that already back then – Terminator 2 had come out in 1992, that’s seven years earlier, and first Lord of the Rings was already in the making.

 

Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002, George Lucas)

715aZ-gZP1L._SY679_Casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker was a mistake. While probably not a terrible actor, when he jumped onboard Star Wars franchise, he was way overshadowed by everyone else. He could not muster enough interest in the character, which, in its’ inner struggle would’ve needed a much stronger actor (luckily they did choose Adam Driver to play Kylo Ren to patch this up). The story itself introduces interesting concepts, like the Clones, but the film, while managing to rekindle some of the original Star Wars flame, was still too crappy to really have a character of its’ own.

 

Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005, George Lucas)

61nAp2cNlbL._SY741_While definitely the best of the second trilogy, not even the big space battles and the huge set pieces in the arena, or terrific Count Dooku (played by Christopher Lee) can save us from the mopy glances of Hayden Christensen’s Anakin Skywalker, or such plot twists like “I have the high ground”. The visuals are better than in two earlier ones, but there’s way too much of everything for the film to look like anything but a mess.

 

 

 

 

Star Wars: Clone Wars (2008, Dave Filoni)

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The Clone Wars is the first animated feature film of the Star Wars series, based on the popular and liked TV series, which maps the time between episodes I and II. The film has a strong, unique visual style and has some very likable characters, but ultimately, it doesn’t feel like it really belongs in the saga instrumentally.

 

 

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015, J.J. Abrams)

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Just like he did with Star Trek, J.J. Abrams managed to walk into Star Wars franchise and blow some fresh air into it, without ruining it. The Force Awakens is a really strong, new start which brings back old legends and introduces new, interesting characters. It looks amazing, sounds amazing and rolls on with a fast but never rushed pace – just like the original trilogy did. The film does succumb to a lot of fan service and finds itself playing the best-of of the original trilogy, but hey, that’s what we came in here for, right?

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016, Gareth Edwards)

MV5BMjEwMzMxODIzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzg3OTAzMDI@._V1_SY1000_SX675_AL_Darker than its’ predecessors, and the first of the Story -spinoffs, Rogue One manages to feel like a grittier version of the Star Wars saga, bleaker and more grown-up story which, firstly, doesn’t have a happy ending, and secondly, tells a story that’s not really part of the trilogies. The film goes to tell the backstory of the Death Star and introduces several quite dark set pieces, and while it does feel like it doesn’t belong really anywhere, it’s a great watch and a strong movie all in all.

 

Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017, Rian Johnson)

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The Last Jedi is more ponderous and talky than its predecessors, with beautiful concept artwork sequences, but it’s a script that’s lacking: the story is incoherent, the timeline seems to be off and the film feels too serious in a wrong sense, too. We stay way too long with Luke in a forlorn island, while the Rebels are running away – quite boringly – from the New Order fleet. The story feels like a mashup of the new Battlestar Galactica and some weird Samurai movie of the 80’s. In addition to this, for some reason the visual effects seem more glowy and smooth compared to Abrams’ takes, and while the vistas are beautiful, they do feel like someone drew a beautiful concept art of a sequence which was then attempted to bring to life.

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018, Ron Howard)

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Solo was doomed to fail from the beginning: nobody can replace Harrison Ford, just like you can’t replace Arnold Schwarzenegger. He created possibly one of the most iconic characters of film history with Han Solo, and while Alden Ehrenreich does his best, he’s nowhere near the same ballpark as Ford is. In addition to this, the story feels like it’s not taking itself seriously enough; the film stumbles on as a gangster movie and a space opera, without being able to decide which one it actually is. Also, the backstory it gives to Solo is a pretty lame one.

 

 

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (201, J.J. Abrams)

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What a way to end the saga! The film, which was plagued by production problems with directors and writers going in an out of it, delivered a perfect ending for the Skywalkers! J. J. Abrams managed to run the story with such precision, pacing and scale that it felt constantly fresh and new, while never forgetting its’ roots. Daisy Ridley’s Rey grows from a pretty bland character into a proper hero, and Adam Driver’s sheer charisma makes the connection between the two characters feel natural and organic. It’s a huge film and knows its’ duty: to end the 40+ years of film history with dignity.

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Elokuvajournalistit, rauhoittukaa.


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

Elokuvajulkaisujen rytmi ja niistä raportoiminen on alkanut todella tekemään hallaa niin elokuville kuin niistä nauttiville katsojillekin. Sitä mukaan kun nettijournalismin julkaisu- ja käsittelytahti kiihtyy, myös niistä kirjoittavien toimittajien paineet saada ulos ensimmäisenä kattavimmat arvostelut, laajimmat analyysit ja rajuimmat paljastukset kovenevat.

Kun vihdoin pitkään odottamasi elokuva laskeutuu teattereihin tai Netflixiin, on se jo mediassa ehditty ruotia niin puhki että teatteriin meneminenkin on jo statement. Meillä tavallisilla katsojilla kun ei ole mahdollisuutta nähdä puoli vuotta ennakkoon festivaaleilla näytettyjä elokuvia silloin, eikä journoilla tunnu pysyvän housut jalassa että he osaisivat pitää mölyt mahassaan edes enskariviikkoon asti.

Eikä leffajutuilta nykyään voi välttyäkään. Kyllä, olen yrittänyt väistellä esim. Jokeria käsitteleviä juttuja ennen sen julkaisua – mahdotonta. Elokuvan jokainen potentiaalinen skandaalin aihe raahattiin kansainvälisissä medioissa framille pitkään ennen kuin elokuva pääsi teattereihin missään päin maailmaa. Ja skandaalejahan riittää! Jokainen vähääkään kiinnostavampi elokuva luetaan nykyään kannanotoksi mielenterveydesta, tai #metoosta tai aselaeista tai mistä hyvänsä mistä otsikoita saadaan veisteltyä. Istu siinä sitten jouralistien ristitulessa jotka riitelevät siitä innostaako joku elokuva massamurhiin tai mihin hyvänsä kun itsellä ei ole mitään mahdollisuutta nähdä koko rainaa vielä pitkään aikaan.

Sitten tuli El Camino. Elokuva ehdittiin ylistää ja sitten lytätä ja hakata kappaleiksi mediassa Netflixin julkaisusekunnilla ja seuraavalla ylistää toisten kriitikoiden toimesta taivaisiin ja sitten alkoikin jo riita siitä, saako pitääkö voiko jne jne jne. Itse en ehtinyt perjantai-iltana tuijottamaan ruudun äärellä elokuvaa, halusin katsoa sen lauantaina – silloin se alkoikin jo olla vanha juttu.

Nyt jännitetäänkin Scorsesen seuraavaa, mutta johan sekin on ehditty nähdä jossain maailman kolkassa. Viiden, kuuden, seitsemän tähden arvosteluja satelee mutta itselläni ei ole vieläkään kunnon ymmärrystä koska tämän kohutun elokuvan pääsisi kukaan näkemään. Nyt jo journalistit kirjoittavat syväanalyysejaan elokuvasta ja sen julkaisumenetelmästä ja plip plap plop. Itse vaan pyörittelen päätäni että missä tämä elokuva on, kuinka sen voi nähdä, teatterissa vai kotisohvalta.

Etenkin skandaalinhakuinen leffajournalismi kaipaisi hieman jarrua höyryjyräänsä. Ymmärrän, väsyneitä näyttelijähaastatteluja ei kukaan jaksa enää lukea. Starakulttuuri on väljähtämään päin ja se ei ole yksinomaan huono asia  ja jotain jutun juurta pitää pystyä elokuvista kaivamaan että niistä puhuttaisiin. Tämän päivän nettiskandaali on toki huomioarvoltaan mitä parahinta bensaa tähän, mutta aika orvoksi sitä jää kun leffa keritään repimään kappaleiksi ja kursimaan kasaan ennen kuin sitä kukaan muu kuin alan omistautunein toimittaja ehtii näkemään.

Myös Netflixin (ja muiden streaming-palveluiden) epämääräiset julkaisuaikataulut tekevät leffanörtin elämästä entistä kaoottisempaa: tuleeko leffa teatteriin Suomessa, jos niin koska ja kuinka lyhyt ikkuna se on, pitääkö mennä sivuteatteriin katsomaan kohtalaisilla vermeillä vai olisiko IMAX tai edes Scape (vai mikäköhän Isense se olikaan nykyään) mahdollista?

Tiedän, sekavaa ja hieman turhautunutta rämbläystä mutta mutta. Arvon leffajournalisti. Blogaaja. Kolumnisti. Kulttuuritoimittaja: antakaa vähän armoa. Antakaa meidän katsoa leffa, puhutaan sitten. Säästäkää tulikivenkatkuisimmat analyysinne vaikka enskariviikkoa seuraavalle viikolle. Niin että ehditään vähän itsekin mutustelemaan, tehtävänänne ei ole ajatella ja jauhaa meidän puolestamme näitä kulttuurituotteita puhki ennen niiden julkaisua. Ettekä ole huonompia journoja jos ette ole heti ensimmäisten Buzzfeed-artikkeleiden seassa jakamassa korvaamattoman arvokkaita näkemyksiänne – tarjotkaa näkökulmaa elokuvan sen potentiaalisesti nähneille ihmisille. Väitän, että toimisi muuten paremmin pitkäjänteisemmän lukijakunnan kehittämisessä.

PS. Mainittakoon muuten etten erityisesti puhu suomalaisille journalisteille vaikka juttu onkin Suomeksi kirjoitettu. En vaan yksinkertaisesti jaksanut nakuttaa tätä enkuksi kun paukutan samaan aikaan kässäriä englanniksi toisella välilehdellä.

PPS. Enkä muuten vieläkään tiedä tai muista kirjoitetaanko Suomeksi vai suomeksi vai Englanniksi vai englanniksi. Ei vaan jää päähän. Vähän sama juttu > ja < -merkkien välillä. En ikinä opi kumpi meinaa kumpaa ja yksikään nokka sinne nokka tänne -ohje ei ole auttanut.
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How Joker destroyed the DC universe (and basically the rest of the superhero franchises).


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

I saw Joker last week and enjoyed the movie immensely. I think it was both entertaining, cinematic and interestingly written; unique and modern movie in the superhero franchise, the closest relative to it being Wolverine movie back a few years ago, but Todd Phillip’s Joker was on a whole different level. I’m not good at putting words to what I love, so you can read for example Mark Kermode’s review on Joker, which I think is pretty spot on.

But one thing I thought was apparent and clear in the film, but I haven’t come across mentioned, was the fact that it states that the whole DC Universe superhero universe is merely a figment of Arthur Fleck’s insanity. Apparently, here come the spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, do that first before reading this.

The movie itself is a tangled mess of fantasies and reality, told from the perspective of a schizophrenic mental patient. Sometimes, he sees things that are real, sometimes his narcissistic mental issues take the driver’s seat: he finds himself getting called in front after speaking out loud in a talk show audience; the girl in his apartment building who once smiled at him at an elevator becomes his girlfriend. The film itself doesn’t take too much screen time explaining which one is a reality, which is happening in his mind. It’s a very popular storytelling method in films about mental ill subjects – see A Beautiful Mind as a grand example of this.

At the end of the movie, after Fleck has killed Robert DeNiro’s talkshow host character, they take him to a police car and drive him away. On the way, he watches as riots sparked by his murder spree rage all over the city. Suddenly, we even leave his perspective and follow Bruce Wayne’s parents walking away from a theatre to a dark alley, getting whacked as it happens in the Batman lore. We go back to the car where Arthur is detained, and suddenly an ambulance crashes on the side of the car. A clown-masked person comes out and helps him on the hood of a car. There, slowly, he rises up, watching as the masses of masked freaks surround him and greet him as the messiah of them all.

Then we’re back at the hospital. The woman asks: “What are you laughing about”. He says he was just thinking of one thing. Obviously, none of that happened – the ambulance never crashed the car and Arthur never was rescued from the car and made the wicked messiah he fantasizes himself to be. But that’s not all. We cut now to a single shot of Bruce Wayne as a kid, surrounded by his dead parents. The implication is that this is where he becomes Batman; then, we cut back to Arthur. Again, this was part of his fantasy. This never happened. Since we’ve stayed with Arthur all the time, cutting to another point of view, and especially at this point in the movie only implies this is his fantasy again. He creates Batman, right there, to fight the insanity in his brain, a counter-part to his cracking personality, but in reality, Bruce Wayne never becomes Batman. Probably his parents never even die.

It’s all a figment of Arthur Fleck’s imagination, and so are all the following insane characters, whether it’s the Penguin or Riddler or Catwoman. He fantasizes about this whole universe, but in reality, he’s just a nutcase who’s stuck in an asylum for the rest of his life.

Not only that, the film seems to be making a gesture towards the rest of the equally-insane superhero movies out there. I mean, look at us. We used to watch western movies, or science fiction movies, or gangster movies… But suddenly, we’re just watching, and taking very seriously, caped guys running around with fucking huge hammers, flying faster than light, snapping fingers to kill half of humanity. It’s fucking insane what we nowadays take as a regular cinema. It’s all just a weird brew spewing from some insane person’s head. And this is what Joker the movie is telling us.

 

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Ihmisperseyden lyhyt oppimäärä


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

Olen saanut työskennellä urallani monien upeiden ihmisten kanssa. Joukkoon mahtuu kuitenkin aina myös liuta ihmisperseitä, jollaisten kanssa työskentely musertaa uskon koko elokuva-alaan, mutta ongelma on toki olemassa myös muilla taide- ja kulttuurialoilla. Kiinnostava artikkeli muotialalta – tai siis, muotialalle tähtäävistä opinnoista – julkaistiin juuri Long Play -palvelussa, otsikolla “Muodin huipulla”, jossa käsitellään melko kattavasti Aalto-yliopiston professorin käytöstä oppilaitaan kohtaan – kuten myös oppilaitoksen suhtautumista valituksiin.

Leffapuolella vastaavanlaista pokkurointia ja kiukuttelua saa kokea monilta eri tahoilta. Näyttelijät ovat yleensä ammattilaisia ja ammattimaisia, mutta äänekkäitä poikkeuksiakin on. Ohjaajalle asti ongelmat kantautuvat usein vasta myöhemmin, mutta meikki- ja pukuosasto tuntuvat olevan hyvin usein tulilinjalla kun näyttelijällä on paha päivä, itsetunto mudassa tai repliikit hukassa. Iron Sky The Coming Racea tehtäessä erään näyttelijän kohdalla ongelmat kärjistyivät melkoisesti. Olimme keskellä kuvauksia kun näyttelijä saapui, tapansa mukaan, naama happamana maskista harjoituksiin. Harjoitukset vedettiin kireissä tunnelmissa ja näyttelijän poistuttua maskeeraaja tuli itkuisena kertomaan saamastaan huonosta kohtelusta. Ilmeisesti kyseinen näyttelijä oli jo pitkään purkanut omaa pahaa oloaan maskissa ja käyttäytynyt karmealla tavalla ammattiaan harjoittavia maskeeraajia kohtaan – ja useammin kuin kerran hänen lähdettyään tekijät olivat purskahtaneet itkuun.

Minulla napsahti sillä olin osaltani katsellut näyttelijän diivailua ja jatkuvaa huomion kerjäystä jo pitkään mutta ohjaajana ottanut sen vastaan osana ammattia. Näyttelijät harvemmin käyttäytyvät ohjaajalle suoraan erityisen paskamaisesti mutta jo jatkuva huomion kinuaminen, suoranainen lepertely ja muu outoilu ovat merkkejä siitä, että kulisseissa asiat ovat todennäköisesti huomattavasti pahemmalla tolalla. Puhuin näyttelijälle suoraan maskiosaston terveisistä ja kuten tyypillistä, näyttelijä kielsi kaiken ja suorastaan kertoi tunnelman olevan jatkuvasti ihana kaikkien välillä. Tämä jo itsessään kertoo usein siitä kuinka syvälle omaan perseeseensä henkilö on päänsä työntänyt. Otin sittemmin asian tuottajien kanssa puheeksi ja teimme toimintasuunnitelman asian korjaamiseksi. Näyttelijän vaihto oli tässä vakavasti harkinnassa sillä kuvauksia oli mennyt vain pari päivää hänen osaltaan.

Ongelma kuitenkin ratkesi ennen sen suurempia muutoksia, muiden näyttelijöiden toimesta. Nämä olivat katselleet sivusta mainitun näyttelijän diivailua ja lopulta kaksi näyttelijöistä, erittäin kokenut pitkän linjan näyttelijä ja ensimmäistä rooliaan tekevä näyttelijä, kumpikin avautuivat illallisella suoraan huonosti käyttäytyvälle näyttelijälle. He kertoivat totuuden melko konstailematta: “kukaan ei pidä sinusta – maskeeraushuoneessa sinua vihataan, kuljettajat vihaavat sinua, puvustuksessa sinua vihataan – kaikki johtuu siitä, miten käyttäydyt ihmisiä kohtaan”. Näyttelijä oli aluksi kauhuissaan ja kielsi kaiken, mutta lopulta totuus alkoi imeytyä.

Tarinalla oli onnellinen loppu: seuraavana päivänä mainittu näyttelijä oli täysin muuttunut henkilö. Kuvaukset sujuivat hänen osaltaan upeasti loppuun – ei pelkästään työyhteisöllisesti vaan sain myös parhaat näyttelijäsuoritukset hänestä irti. Tuntui, kuin asennemuutos olisi myös höllännyt näyttelijän itsetietoisuutta ja vapauttanut jotain hänen sisällään. Kaikkiaan tulkintani oli, että kyse ei ole sisäsyntyisesti paskamaisesta tyypistä, mutta ison tuotannon roolin paineet olivat hänestä sellaista muovaamassa.

Kurjempiakin lopputuloksia koettiin. Erään HoD:in (Head of Department – elokuvatuotannoissa tuotannon osa-aluetta johtava taiteellinen päävastuullinen, näitä ovat esim. kuvausosasto, maskeerausosasto, puvustusosasto, lavastusosasto, jne.) kohdalla asiat olivat olleet jo pitkään huonolla tolalla. Tuottajat olivat puuttuneet osaston työoloihin mutta mikään ei ottanut vaikuttaaksen. Mainittu HoD oli polttanut osastonsa rahat kaikenlaiseen uskomattoman turhaan pitkään ennen kuvausten alkua ja tämän tajuttuaan rähjännyt viikkotolkulla alaisilleen, pakottaen heidät vääntämään mahdottomia työsuoritteita puutteellisilla tai olemattomilla resursseilla. Lopulta tilanne kärjistyi siihen, että osaston työntekijät, erään kuvauspäivän aamuna, kävelivät linjatuottajan puheille ja ilmoittivat että joko he lähtevät tai HoD lähtee.

Kesken kuvausten vaihtoehtoja ei juuri ollut ja tuottajat tekivät oikean päätöksen – HoD joutui jättämään työpaikkansa jo saman aamupäivän aikana ja poistumaan tarkkaan vartioituna (ettei veisi mukanaan mitään tuotannolle kuuluvaa). Lopputuloksena oli erinäistä kränää ja kädenvääntöä. Itse sain ko. henkilöltä muutaman yhteydenoton myöhemmin jossa hän halusi tarjota “oman näkökantansa” tapahtuneeseen, mutta tuskin siitä olisi hullua hurskaammaksi tullut. Raivo- ja itkukohtaukset, työntekijöiden nimittely ja henkinen pahoinpitely – ja budjetin melko karkea väärinkäyttö – eivät kuulu työympäristöön jossa haluan tehdä omaa työtäni.

Palatakseni alkuperäiseen artikkeliin, jossa Aallon professoriksi nimitetty muotisuunnittelija käyttäytyy kaksivuotiaan pikkulapsen tavoin, hämmästyttävää ei kuitenkaan ole se, että joku itsestään tärkeästi ajatteleva reppana käyttäytyy huonosti vaan opiston päävastuullisen vähättelevä suhtautuminen tähän. Valituksia on jutun mukaan riittänyt oppilailta jo pitkään, työtä on tehty yötä myöten omalla budjetilla itku kurkussa, stressitasot ovat katossa ja oppilaiden masennus syvää. Kun toimittaja ottaa asian esille, ensin ollaan hämmästyneitä, sitten lyödään luuri korvaan ja kysymyksiin kieltäydytään vastaamasta tai kommentoimasta mitään. Ja huom! Kyse ei ole edes mistään lyhyestä tuotannosta joka alkaa ja loppuu aikanaan vaan jatkuvasti vallalla olevasta tilasta Suomen arvostetuimmassa muotialan oppilaitoksessa.

On toki selvää että taitavista ja luovista tekijöistä ei haluta päästä eroon. Elokuvissa näyttelijät muovaavat roolin usein niin lähtemättömästi että vaihtaminen on mahdotonta ja tämä näkyy siinä, miten paljon sontaa vastaanotetaan. Ohjaajien asema on myös usein liki vaihtamaton, mutta onneksi viime aikoina ollaan alettu näkemään enemmän tapauksia joissa huonosti käyttäytyvä saa kenkää, oli kyse millaisesta starasta hyvänsä. Bohemian Rhapsodyn ohjaaja Bryan Singer sai fudut, tosin vain paria viikkoa ennen kuvausten loppua, mutta kenkää tuli joka tapauksessa. On myös hyvä nähdä että huono käytös itsessään riittää syyksi irtisanomiseen – aikaisemmin vaadittiin vähintään raiskaussyytöksiä. Kaikenlainen pahoinpitely työ- ja opiskeluyhteisössä on oltava tuomittavaa ja siihen on kyettävä reagoimaan pian, aggressiivisesti ja periksiantamattomasti.

Koulukiusauksen ongelmat lähtevät usein opettajien välinpitämättömyydestä. Olenkin seurannut oman 14-vuotiaan koulunkäyntiä ja useaan otteeseen ollut yhteydessä poikani ala-asteeseen kiusaamistapausten vuoksi. Näihin suhtauduttiin kuitenkin vähätellen vaikka poika oli tullut kotiin useaan otteeseen itkien. Onneksi asiat muuttuivat koulun vaihduttua yläasteeseen, jossa poikani kertoo olevan nollatoleranssi kiusaamisen suhteen. Se toki tiedetään, että koulukiusaaminen ei suinkaan rajoitu koulun pihoihin ja etenkin somessa kiusaaminen on noussut otsikoihinkin viime aikoina, mutta ainakaan oman lapseni kohdalla tämä ei käsittääkseni ole ongelma.

Itse olin kouluvuosinani erikoistapaus joka sain osaltani kiusausta osakseni koulun pihalla. Opettajanamme oli muuan nykyään kirkon parissa vaikuttava mies, joka saikin lopulta (huhujen mukaan) oppilaan pahoinpitelystä johtuen kenkää koulusta. Omina kouluvuosinani tämä opettaja kannusti luokan pahimpia rehvastelijoita heidän häiriökäyttäytymisessään, lähenteli kuvottavalla tavalla luokan tyttöjä ja meitä “erikoisia” pilkkasi julkisesti, puhetavan matkimisesta virheiden erotteluun ja muuhun piristävään. Opettajasta tehtiin valituksia rehtorille kymmeniä, mutta rehtori ei näihin uskonut, vanhempainillat olivat yhtä sotaa koulun puolustaessa mainittua, narsistista raivoalkoholisti-opettajaa, mutta mitään ei asian eteen tehty ennen kuin oli täysin pakko.

Vähän vastaavia kaikuja soi Aalto-yliopiston tapauksessa. Johtavilta virkahenkilöiltä toivoisinkin etenkin opintopuolella tiukempaa puuttumista tapauksiin. Emme halua työelämään valmistuvien raahustavan välittömästi työkyvyttömyyseläkkeelle kun pelkkä opiskelu on ollut yhtä helvettiä. Taiteellisesti lahjakkailla on oikeus huonoon käytökseen, mutta tehköön sitä omassa studiossaan omalle peilikuvalleen. Yhdenkään työntekijän tai oppilaan ei pidä joutua sellaista kokemaan.

Opinions

Hungry Game Industry


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Photo by Juha Jormakka

My son messed up the other day.

He logged on to our Playstation, opened a game and deliberately went into the store section of the game, and bought something called 600 R6 Credits for a game called Rainbow Six Siege. By doing that, he used credit on my PS4 account, which he was not allowed to do, and thought he could get away with it.

Well, of course, I get an email notification whenever somebody uses my credit, and he was caught, red-handed. I got really pissed off, not because of what he had bought – it really cost only 5€ – but it’s more about the trust, and so forth and so forth – you know the drill. He promised not to do it again, I took away his gaming rights for two weeks and he’ll have to get the money back, and now that’s settled.

He’s a good kid, I’m actually pretty convinced he’ll never do that again.

And in the end, it’s my mistake. The game is rated for 18 years old plus, and my son should have no business playing the thing in the first place. I’m a too lenient father, I know that.

But that does bring me to the wider issue of games these days. The truth is, games these days, they are all just big fucking ruses, meticulously created to fool kids way too young to understand anything about money into spending hundreds of euros to absolute nothing: skins, game credit, special guns, in-game clothes and all that. Every game has some kind of a sneaky scheme going on and parents are either too uninterested or technically debile to really be able to look after where the kid actually uses money, why and what he/she gets out of it.

Back when I was young, I used what little money I had to toy soldiers, action figures and later on, to RPG books and figures and so forth. Stuff I was able to bring home, which my parents saw, they might have disagreed with (my dad’s a notorious pacifist so he wasn’t too crazy about the soldiers, and banned all toy guns in the house) but at least they were pretty much aware of what I was buying. But with the games, the parents have absolutely no grasp of how the kids use their money. All they do is buy prepaid PS4 cards to their kids, completely harmless-looking plastic things, but they have no idea, or even control on how the actual credit is spent – and how much of it! It might be that in addition for purchasing a videogame of 70€, your kid sends additional 250€ of your money to the company, and absolutely nothing of any real value has been gained.

One way to look at it, of course, is that instead of spending money on plastic that ends up into a dumpster sooner than later, none of that is created, and that’s a big, good, green thing, which I support wholeheartedly. But the issue is more in consumer culture. The earlier our kids are hooked to the reckless consuming online, where assets exchange ownership and value is gained only by the ones who run the big picture, the deeper in capitalist hell we all end up.

Instead, we need to start teaching kids consuming in schools. I’m not saying we are any better ourselves at consuming, but we come from the world where we experienced at least a bit of the transition from physical to digital, but the next generation, our kids, will spend more and more time shopping online, putting value on entirely digital elements, elements which worth is harder and harder to determine, which leaves a huge, gaping opening for cons, schemes and consumer control by outside entities. Our whole culture is completely hooked up to consuming and it’s gotten badly out of hands and the ever-hungry money-munching machine wants our kids’ souls as soon as they can type in their login-ID.

Having said all that, there’s really nothing wrong with the game industry making money with their products; as an independent filmmaker, I only wish our industry had some of that business thinking at our disposal. The problem is, games are by definition made to hook you on to them: one more round, one more mission… you know how it goes. Your brain feeds on the dopamine bursts the micro successes result in, which in turn creates an ideal environment for very invasive and near-addiction-based business models.

Casinos and gas stations with slot machines come with very strict regulations, one being, you need to be at least 18 to play them. I don’t see why the same approach wouldn’t apply with video games? Why not make it illegal to put in-game purchase mechanisms for games that are available for kids under 18, how about that?

 

Opinions, Top Films

Best Films Of 2018


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The year has skipped past faster than I could even register. Wasn’t it just January, when I flew back from China and prepped to finish the shoot of The Ark in Finland? And then February, which I spent in Berlin and China, followed by March which I spent in the courthouse in Finland defending my life’s work for a malicious asshole who tried to claim it his own? And now it’s already May, I’m in LA shooting additional footage for Iron Sky The Coming Race… Oh, I mean August, and I’m back in China doing post production for The Ark… September, October finishing The Coming Race, which is going to get released in just few weeks.

Where did the year go, indeed?

But amidst all the chaos, I did have a chance to enjoy a bunch of films. I started patching my IMDB Top-250 list, watching loads of Indian movies, Korean movies and oldies goldies. At hotel rooms, on planes and airports, and some at home. But film theatres, I didn’t get to go as much as I would have wanted to.

I simply didn’t have time to sit in movie theatres, to see the brand new ones – but I did catch a set of great films –  so, without further ado, here’s my list of the top 10 films released in 2018!

bestfilms

MV5BMjMxNjY2MDU1OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzY1MTUwNTM@._V1_.jpg1. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR 

Alright, I admit it – Avengers gets the first place half because I’m so absolutely stunned a Marvel film even made my list, and half because it’s just a brilliant film. I’ve not been into superheroes after Raimi’s first Spider-Man, but Avengers manages to mend the damage done by the billion other films I never cared too much about – be it Hulk or Thor or whatever-Man, by rationing all of these characters precisely the amount I can stand them in a movie, and putting it together in a way that just plain works for me.

MV5BNTJmNzExOGItZTQyMi00YzBlLTk0ZTQtNzAxYmUwZDQwZjU4XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODE1MjMyNzI@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg2. COLD WAR

Ahh, what’s better than a black-and-white Polish drama set in the late 40’s through mid-60’s? Well, thanks to director Pawel Pawilowski, pretty much nothing, not this year at least. Like watching a 40’s beautiful black and white photo coming alive, the film tells a tragic, tragic jazz and lust filled story that takes us through the years of Communist oppression, as seen by the most cinematic couple played by Joanna Kulik and Tomasz Kot. Close to a masterpiece, this one!

 

 

MV5BMjUyOTE1NjI0OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTM4ODQ5NTM@._V1_.jpg3. BLACKKKLANSMAN 

A Spike Lee joint is always a bit of a guessing game – sometimes, they hit hard and exactly the right way, sometimes they go way off. Well, at least that’s what I’ve heard, but truth be told, I’ve only seen good Spike Lee films, and Blackkklansman is definitely one of them. It’s not as game-changing as Clockers or Do The Right Thing, but it tells a great story with some stellar performances – Jasperi Pääkkönen’s as the one we Finns love, and with a good reason.

 

MV5BOTU5MDg3OGItZWQ1Ny00ZGVmLTg2YTUtMzBkYzQ1YWIwZjlhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAzMTY4MDA@._V1_.jpg4. HEREDITARY

I don’t watch horror movies as much as I should, since I usually like the genre if it’s well made – like Hereditary is – and has some truly creepy shit – as Hereditary does have. Being truly scared shitless from time to time is a novel experience and thanks to our jaded we’ve-seen-it-all entertainment industry harder and harder to come by, but unlike many think, one doesn’t need no crazy bells and whistles to get there, but a good story, slow, creeping cameras and scary-face little kid and voilá, I’m jumping in the ceiling.

MV5BNjRlZmM0ODktY2RjNS00ZDdjLWJhZGYtNDljNWZkMGM5MTg0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjAwMjI5MDk@._V1_5. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT

Tom Cruise and Mission Impossible seem to be an infallible combo, and Fallout really drives the point to home. My hands were sweating the whole time I was crushing the edges of the seat at the theatre, and while the plot is really nonsensical and thoroughly confusing if you try to understand it even the least bit, as an action film it’s a great friggin’ thrill ride!

 

 

borap6. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

As a life-long Queen aficionado, I came in for the music, and didn’t leave disappointed. That said, the film might have been a bit clumsy, and definitely not the Oscar-hoarding megabiopic everyone was hoping it to be, but although looking like an unholy mix of a Deep One and Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek does a terrific job. The grand finale at Live Aid – a concert I’ve watched at least a thousand times as a kid – is impeccably staged and played, and brings home what might have been slightly jarring softball of a biopic in the second act.

MV5BMDBhOTMxN2UtYjllYS00NWNiLWE1MzAtZjg3NmExODliMDQ0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjMxOTE0ODA@._V1_7. FIRST MAN

Subject matter matters, and it’s more true with First Man and me than any other film this year, save maybe BoRap. It’s interesting, the poster promises kind of Apollo-13 -kind of a thriller with cool CGI and explosions and whatnot – but instead, the film delivers a slow, ponderous and muted-colour period piece – and that’s just fine! It’s like a very detailed history lesson which makes us to appreciate the effort and dangers humans had to endure to get us on the Moon, in rickety tin cans. When descending on the Moon, lights blinking and the whole film theatre rattling around us, the viewer really feels like he’s in there with the guys, barely letting us breathe. Ryan Gosling is playing stronger than I’ve seen him play in a while, with an ocean roaring inside, and nothing showing outside. Not sure how accurate his performance of Neil Armstrong is, or maybe he’s just playing himself, but he does it very well nevertheless.

26340328. ROMA

Another black-and-whiter, Roma stuns you with the amount of people in every scene, the extras are abundant and all feel really, really well placed and their actions feel really well designer. This wouldn’t normally be a topic, but with Roma it is an instrumental element to completely sink you into the story – you don’t feel alone, but smothered by people everywhere, and the main actor Yalitza Aparicio’s terrific performance amidst it all is unforgettable.

 

uxzzxijgPIY7slzFvMotPv8wjKA.jpg9. BLACK PANTHER

Shit, another Marvel pic in my Best Of -list. Last year I would’ve never guessed this, I tell you… But Black Panther is good. It’s really pulling you in to the story – the production design, the accents, the costumes, the music, the main cast acting, it all feels very fresh and enjoyable popcorn entertainment. The CGI is sometimes a bit lackluster, but in the big picture it all goes down really well.

 

Tyhjio_108010. TYHJIÖ

This year, the only Finnish film I went to see and loved so much it made my top-10 -list was Aleksi Salmenperä’s tragic yet damn funny and close-to-home -hitting black comedy Tyhjiö (“The Vacuum”), which tells a story of an artist couple struggling with their lives and art. Poignant and snappy with its’ humour, and the third black-and-whiter (mostly) on my list this year, the film was bound to leave the small but devoted audience laughing and talking about the film for quite a long time after.

 

 

1fcadbb8433bcf5d0dc834cd99719ca2RUNNER-UP: A STAR IS BORN 

Argh, I wanted to love this film but I couldn’t get past the fact that it becomes quite a molasses-laden Hollywood-by-the-book -pic of the old days by the third act. It’s really great to see the cast doing wonderful job, and music being so beautiful, I just wish it had been … Ahh, who cares. I enjoyed it. It felt good. I just needed a very salty snack afterwards.

 

 

PS. This list consists of films that were released in 2018 and which I saw. I saw quite a load of other films that were either released in Finland in 2018 which I loved (Death Of Stalin, A Prayer Before Dawn, Lucky to name a few) but they are out of the scope of this list.

China Diary, Opinions

Day 204: Five Stages Of Screenings


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On Wednesday, we sat down together with editor’s assistant and finished the latest cut of the movie, and then went out to screen our film with Max.

There are five stages of screening a work print that I’ve observed through all the films I’ve worked on:

  • Assembly cut: The first screening. Usually, the film is too long, gets jarring and boring and is full of mistakes, plus all the VFX is missing so it’s also very confusing – but you get a great feeling of the characters and the story, if they work overall, or not.
  • Director’s cut: Now, you’ve had a chance to work on the film with an editor, and this version is something you are happy with – given the early stage VFX and sounds you have at use. Usually, this film will work for you the director very well, since you reference it to the assembly cut, but the producers are usually a bit more suspicious at that stage. A good producer can smell at this point whether or not the director has lost his or her’s mind, and either allow him/her to proceed – or find another editor to help.
  • The Uncanny cut: This is the cut which you’ve worked hard with every department. You have 70% finished VFX, preliminary sound work, early stage music and more advanced edit. Now this here is the hardest cut to watch, since usually for an outsider, it looks just terrible cheap TV. The reason is because, well, nothing is ready, but they appear to an unexperienced eye like they could almost be finished, but just don’t do anything to you emotionally. Also, during this time you also realize that you indeed need one more round of heavy editing. The film is 70% done, but the last 30% is what really counts!
  • The Locked cut: At one point, you will have to lock the cut and then nothing can be done to it anymore. After that, you just have to wish you’ll be able to guide the film towards a favorable outcome, but it’s tricky, since what you see as the locked cut will probably be still very heavily in the uncanny valley, and getting it right might feel like an almost impossible task. But as things progress – you get the dialogue premix, you get more advanced VFX, the actual music starts to find its’ tone and place – the film just turns better and better.
  • Final film: At this point, you have no more any idea whether or not your film is worth anything, or just a confusing mess. You’ve stared at the cut, the sound edit, the music edit and the thousands of changes to VFX for so long, it’s really hard to see the big picture anymore. All you can do is focus on getting the details right, and hope the big picture works. If you’ve paid enough attention to the four previous steps, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about – but if you’ve skipped one of the steps above, you might even end up jumping back to uncanny valley and re-opening the cut again.

I feel that with The Ark, we are now stepping from Uncanny Valley towards the Locked Cut. There are still few things I’d like to tweak, and Max has also few things he wants to try out for the beginning of the movie, but I had a great feeling after our Wednesday screening, and I’m hopeful we are pretty well in the way of making the film rock solid.

After the screening, VHQ had arranged a party for the clients, and while I was hopelessly late from there, there was still good vibe going on with loads of people hanging around, having drinks and talking shop and non-shop. I sat down with Chris over a bunch of drinks and chat, but headed back home around midnight (after a quick McD night snack) because the next morning would be an early one for me, as I would be heading back to Finland.

WechatIMG983

The China Diary continues when I go back next time, so until then, thanks for reading! And don’t forget, Iron Sky The Coming Race is starting its’ theatrical run in our world fan premiere on 16.1. – stay tuned!

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Opinions

Me Too, You Too, we all do… let’s not.


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It’s been a year to remember. Starting with #MeToo campaign and the fall of Harvey Weinstein, followed by the demise of Kevin Spacey and so many others, the tables have truly turned in the film business. Women have stepped up, even some men, who have clearly spoken out about the dark side of the film business, in a manner we haven’t heard or seen before. It started in USA, and has been popping out in many Western countries. Unfortunately, the East is still to be conquered by the movement, let’s hope it reaches there, too.

Here in Nordic countries, Sweden practically collapsed because of the whole #MeToo campaign. Many entities were dragged into the light and revealed to the public for the creeps they are, and not just in film. Nearly every industry was affected.

On the flipside, some of it went too far, to some, the whole #MeToo became a hobby with nothing to do with actually outing the perverts but more just a thing to do to make yourself be part of some movement. We all want to belong, to some it means even if it’s belonging to a group of abuse victims.

In Finland, the discourse has been, as it typically is, quite a bit more muted, but just recently, three things happened: a director (Heidi Lindén) spoke out about a handful of names in the business who constantly harass women (she didn’t release the list of these names, though, so we were all left wondering); an ex-professor in the most prominent film school (Lauri Törhönen) in the country turned out having been highly inappropriate and abusive towards rather helpless students; one of the most well-known director in the country (Aku Louhimies) turned out having used questionable directing methods, which are borderline sexual, emotional and physical abuse.

There is, and will be, also cries out for the wolf in Finland, too. Even though we are this dark, Nordic isloation-enjoying people, there are always those longing for attention, and failing to get it any other way, they will become desperate.

Big problem is also, there’s a lot of victim-blaming going on, which seems to be the case every time especially a female falls a victim of abuse of any kind. We humans are disgusting in that way.

So, let’s try to keep our eyes on the ball: the business is offering a roof for creeps and those getting their kicks from power games of all sorts, and those we don’t need in the business. Let’s oust them. This is supposed to be a working environment which is first and foremost, safe, artistically fulfilling to ourselves, preferably slightly profitable in exchange for the time we spend doing it,  and last but not least, sometimes fun. And never, ever dangerous or abusive.

Simultaneously, let’s remember we are humans, we interact with other humans, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so. Also, we are artists, sometimes our “arts” fail to connect. Not every time situations like this are “abuse” or deserve a #MeToo hashtag, or any equivalent of it.

One thing is for sure, though; times *have* changed, and that’s a *good* thing. It means, now there is a direct way to communicate, the problem has an easily-identifiable name and there are loads of brave people who acted out and told their stories. And some creepy stories they are. Those actions we need to commend. Witness.

Truth is, guys, we can do this better. It’s not hard, even. Refuse to abuse, and refuse to accept any abuse from people around you. This doesn’t require any special codex to decipher, you know when things are wrong if you are an approximately mentally healthy human being. And by “approximately” I mean you are not a sociopath.

We shouldn’t feel too bad we haven’t interfered every time we’ve seen some shit go down, however we try to avoid it, some of it has been “silently accepted part of the business” – you know, “we all know him, he’s always like that”…. but from now on, if we still decide to not to behave like humans when we see an abuse happening around us, then it’s on us. What we’re doing is a fucking illusion, a suspension of disbelief, a charade, and no amount of “it’s great art” -crap can fill the emotional gap an abuse-approving environment leaves in the business.

The film business is shedding its’ skin. Let’s show the next iteration is better.

Opinions, Oscars

How To Make The Oscars Better


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I’m an avid Oscar-watcher. Every year since 2008 I’ve always tried to watch every contender in every category (save Best Song, which I think is a dumb category), and I do it because it’s a good incentive for me to go out to the theatres and see some of the most remarkable movies of the year. Also, I enjoy watching the show. I think the people look amazing over there, the production values are top notch and the political twist the Oscars have every year is fun, sometimes even remarkable. Also, it’s a great look into American culture: this is what American TV-entertainment is, every day, throughout the year. Once a year is enough for me. It’s really, really exhausting.

Having said that, the unfortunate fact is that this year, the Oscar ratings dipped to all-time low, marking fourth year of steady decline since 2014. Apparently, something is wrong. And there are many reasons: the awards season is packed with all kind of shows competing on importance, and many have managed to gain foothold in the recent years. Also, the competition is more fierce: how to get people dragged away from their games, sports, other shows, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu – for four consecutive hours? And last, but not least, it’s a 90-year-old TV format, which hasn’t practically changed at all during those ninety years, how can you expect to keep the attention of people of nowadays?

So, for the Academy, I have compiled here a list of changes you need to do in order to get the show back on track for next year. Let the new era of Oscars begin.

oscars-2018-full-nominations-list

1. Algorithm it! What the hell are you doing with this ages-old secret Illuminati-type organization called “Academy”, when you can go full-on Orwell, create a secret yet always changing algorithm which creates an infallible system on which you choose the films for each category.

2. Gamify it! I mean, a real competition, that’s what’s popular nowadays. Let the academy choose each category contenders, but the audience to choose the actual winners. And don’t make it boring: make them reprise their whatever role it is: actors performing their roles, directors directing, sound designers creating their sounds… Live. That’s sexy nowadays. Like American Idol. That shit sells. And cooking shows.

3. Optimize it! I mean, it’s totally possible have different set of films, awards and presenters for each group out there, all you have to do is just to optimize it based on the person’s political views. Current Oscars are missing the apparently massive amount of Americans who support Trump, NRA, school shootings, racism, sexism and all that stuff -so why even bother showing the current format to them. Better yet, just create your own presenters for every different segment, and it’s all much better and nobody needs to get upset.

4. Make it a journey! Customers need to be brought to the new media in a completely new way. You have to start making the Oscars a journey for the audience. You have to add an Augmented Reality layer on movies, where one can start awarding their Oscars right when they watch movies. They form Teams and then you can all be #TeamShapeOfWater or #TeamThreeBillboardsOutsideEbbingMissouri on the social media and make it a fight that lasts not just one night but the whole year.

5. Geofence it! There’s something Americans will never believe: we still love you. We want to see your award ceremonies in Europe, so start selling those advertisements locally so that we have a chance to watch the show everywhere. And no, even if you sell it to say China broadcasting, it doesn’t mean China broadcasts the show live, which is kinda the idea, really.

6. Micro-Momentisize it! Would you like to know more? Do I need to say more? People want to spend time with your show, but four hours is quite a long time. Make it possible for them to do so at their own pace, base don their own interests. Just remember to add a nice price tag to every click and split the revenue between presenters and award-winners so everyone can make this into a nice dog and pony show for their paycheck.

7. Build Some Smart Content! We want to feel special, right. Wouldn’t it be nice if the winners would say: “…and I want to give special thanks to Timo, who made it all possible for me.” I’m sure there’s an easy tech fix for that, just scan the nominees and make them come wearing a green hood over their heads when they pick the award and everyone can be mentioned.

These are just some of the brilliant ideas I think would really spark up the Oscars. So, see you next year, and feel free to call me in for more terrific consulting. Oh, and the buzzwords are stolen from this website. Thank you Isabella Andersen!