|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
The Other Side of Hope aka "Toivon tuolla puolen" [Blu-ray]
(Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Artificial Eye / Criterion Collection Spine #922
Region: 'B' / 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:40:08.416 /1:40:12.423
Disc Size: 34,616,572,830 bytes / 49,097,931,456 bytes
Feature Size: 30,451,329,024 bytes / 30,477,060,096 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps / 36.08 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 24
Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Transparent BD case
Release date: July 24th, 2017/ May 15th, 2018
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio Finnish / English 1772 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1772 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio Finnish / English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Finnish 2443 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2443 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
•Music Video (3:09)
• Trailer (1:58)
New interview with actor Sherwan Haji
Description: This wry, melancholic comedy from Aki Kaurismäki, a response to the ongoing global refugee crisis, follows two people searching for a place to call home. Khaled (Sherwan Haji), a displaced Syrian, lands in Helsinki as a stowaway; meanwhile, middle-aged Finnish salesman Wikström (Sakari Kuosmanen) leaves his wife and his job and buys a conspicuously unprofitable restaurant. Khaled is denied asylum but decides not to return to Aleppo—and the paths of the two men cross fortuitously. As deadpan as the best of the director’s work, and with a deep well of empathy for its down-but-not-out characters (many of them played by members of Kaurismäki’s loyal stock company), The Other Side of Hope is a bittersweet celebration of pockets of human kindness in an unwelcoming world.
If you know the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki, you’ll know he makes the driest of dry black
comedies that rarely put a step further than a Helsinki bar
– with a quiffed rockabilly band and pack of cigarettes
never far away. His film are gems of poker-faced comic
absurdism, full of expressionless faces and gloomy rooms.
That’s still the case with ‘The Other Side of Hope’ – but
this time the veteran filmmaker’s mind is on the European
refugee crisis. In his own idiosyncratic way Kaurismäki
addresses this hot topic by asking: why would anyone want to
come to horrible old Finland anyway?
There’s an ambivalence to the title of Aki Kaurismäki’s latest film –
the second in an intended trilogy set in harbour towns and which, so
far, have highlighted the theme of migration and refugees. The flipside
of hope is generally considered “despair” but what if the other side is
not somewhere negative, but where you end up when your hope is realised?
These hints of positivity in otherwise dark places are the meat and
bread of Kaurismäki’s films, where individuals are shown to be
frequently more inclined to acts of kindness than society as a whole.
He’s a filmmaker who also takes pleasure in deconstructing stereotypes,
to see the person beyond the initial perception.
The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki’s gorgeous and cuttingly poignant
comedy, begins with a young Syrian asylum seeker emerging from a coal
pile in Helsinki’s industrial port. He is Khaled (Sherwan Haji), and has
wound up here by accident, after escaping violent persecution by jumping
aboard a freighter in Eastern Europe.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Other Side of Hope gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye. It's in dual-layered territory with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1 hour 40-minute feature. The film is comprised of many medium shots and deadpan silence. There is some minor depth in the, original, 1.85:1 frame. It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical version of the film The Other Side of Hope. The film is not particularly dynamic, in a visual sense, but the HD transfer seems a strong replication.
The Criterion is advertised as a "New 2K digital transfer, approved by director Aki Kaurismäki". Predictably, it is quite similar to the AE - dual-layered, high bitrate - the Criterion has deeper black levels colors and skin tones warm, but framing and detail have parity.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
More Blu-ray Captures
As usual, AE offer a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1772 kbps or a linear PCM stereo track - both 16-bit and in the original Finnish with some English, Arabic and Swedish used in the film. The live music sounds very lounge-like-natural and grassroots in the lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
Audio also gets a DTS-HD Master in 5.1 surround and it is likewise effective with minor depth in the lossless supporting the film's music by performed by Tuomari Nurmio, Olavi Nyrhilä & tango-orkesteri Kipiniä, actor Sherwan Haji, Harri Marstio and Antero Jakoila and others. Criterion add optional English subtitles on their Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.
Only a 3-minute music video of the Kaipuuni Tango by Marko Haavisto and Poutahaukat plus a theatrical trailer.
Criterion include many supplements - we have a new 1/4 hour interview with actor Sherwan Haji and he discusses his move to Finland, working with director Aki Kaurismaki, and the ongoing plight of Syrian refugees. Included are 1/2 hour of footage from the press conference for the film’s premiere at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival, featuring Kaurismäki, Haji, and actor Sakari Kuosmanen . The director addresses his humanistic approach to filmmaking. He won the festival's Silver Bear award for best director for The Other Side of Hope. Aki and Peter, a new, 12-minute, video essay by filmmaker Daniel Raim, based on a 1997 essay by critic Peter von Bagh, to whom The Other Side of Hope is dedicated. Raim explores Kaurismaki's oeuvre through the words of von Bagh. There is 12-minutes worth of four full versions of music videos of songs that appear, in part, in the film. There is also a trailer and the package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Girish Shambu.
Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Upper tier Kaurismaki makes for wonderful viewing. The Criterion Blu-ray advances with it's supplements and this package is absolutely recommended! A great way to dive into this appealing director's work.
July 20th, 2017
April 3rd, 2018