Daily Archives: July 5, 2021

Wallflower’s Revenge [THE MATCH FACTORY GIRL]

From the February 19, 1993 Chicago Reader. I may have underrated this movie. — J.R.


** (Worth seeing)

Directed and written by Aki Kaurismaki

With Kati Outinen, Elina Salo, Esko Nikkari, Vesa Vierikko, Reijo Taipale, and Silu Seppala.

Here’s what Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismaki has written about The Match Factory Girl:

“Suddenly, last spring, I was running aimlessly around the city, talking too much and twisting and shaking my head in the most ridiculous way.

“The next day I spent lying silently under my bed and hated myself bitterly. In revenge I decided to make a film that will make Robert Bresson seem like a director of epic action pictures.

“Later, I named this piece of junk The Match Factory Girl (Tulitikkutehtaan Tytto), as the name is long enough to be easily forgotten.”

A few glosses on the above:

(1) It’s typical of Kaurismaki, who’s given to dandy’s gestures, that we don’t know what he means by “revenge,” though we certainly know what the film’s mousy title heroine, Iris (Kati Outinen), means by it.

(2) The statement clearly asks to be read as a series of hip disclaimers: “running aimlessly,” “talking too much,” “twisting and shaking my head in the most ridiculous way,” “this piece of junk . Read more

Choreography With a Camera [on Ruiz’s MAMMAME]

This review appeared in the November 6, 1987 issue of the Chicago Reader. J.R.-



**** (Masterpiece)

Directed by Raoul Ruiz

Choreographed by Jean-Claude Gallotta

With the Emile Dubois Dance Company.

The more attention is paid to stylizing the screen, to make the quality of how it looks convey the meaning, the closer you get to dance, which is precisely that — the communication of meaning through the quality of movement. — Maya Deren


While it seems plausible, even likely, that Raoul Ruiz is currently the most inventive filmmaker working in Europe, one does not ordinarily go to his work looking for masterpieces. An obsessive doodler — in the same serious way, one should add, that the cartoonist Saul Steinberg is, combining philosophical and metaphysical wit with a penchant for rethinking the world so that it encompasses his boundless energies — Ruiz is blessed and cursed by never knowing when to stop. Indeed, one could argue that his interest in producing lively work, combined with his disinterest in producing masterpieces, has made him the most prolific and proliferating idea man to have emerged in the cinema since Godard. Born 11 years after Godard (1941) in Chile, Ruiz started work on his first feature the year after Breathless (1960), but it wasn’t until he became an exile in France, following the Chilean military coup of September 1973, that his career began to accelerate to Godardian proportions. Read more