Category Archives: Estonia

Cinema Traditions

forumcinemasCan you guess what’s my favourite cinema’s name is?

Coca Cola Plaza.

And incidentally, that wonderful place is celebrating its twentieth birthday (technically, the company is but I’ve never been great with details, so…) and I am really happy. Not because it gives me an excuse to see Trance with dad tonight though I should be sleeping but also because it’s like a home to me. I get more tickets in a year than my friend’s family with four of them. I have mentioned that I go to the cinema often and that’s the place I go to. Working there is my ultimate dream and I’d probably kill for it.

Here are the things I love about going to the cinema. (Or how a quirky girl does it in a small country far away2.)

C A N D Y.  So, candy is crucial. It isn’t as noisy (and smelly) as popcorn, it’s cheaper and there are sunny-side-up eggs, vampire teeth, fizzy Coke bottles and the candy that tastes like detergent but what I still never fail to get.

P R E V I E W S.  I generally don’t know anything about the films I go to see. I might know the poster and therefore, some of the actors and the tagline, but not much else. But there are previews before screenings and these are a million times better when seen on the big screen. It feels more special and makes me really happy for some reason. Which might be that it means awesome films are coming my way.

T H E  S E A T S.  They are royal red, fluffy, soft and more comfortable than my bed. It’s one of the greatest things – sitting down, placing your Coke3 on your right, sinking into the chair, knowing the next few hours will be amazing. I mean, really, what beats that?

L O O K I N G  D O W N.  My usual seat is on the edge in an upper row. Sometimes, when watching the film, I glance down and see hundreds of people. Some are crying, some laughing, some clutching to their companion’s arm, some unable to take their eyes off the screen4. It’s fascinating to see how enthralled people are. And it gives a feeling of unity.

T H E  S U N L I G H T  A F T E R. I’m sure you know the feeling – after leaving the dark cinema, it’s still light outside. For me, it feels like I’d been off on a cosmic trip. (Some of my ideas are really weird.)

T H E  P O S T E R S.  They are large, lined up nicely and the perfect scouting place for a new film to see. And in my dreams, one day I will ask the workers if I can take one home with me.

T H E  P E O P L E.  In a sense, going to cinema is like a teaser of a vacation. The people are relaxed and happy, the workers are lovely. Nobody broods. And they usually do it 24/7 in Estonia. It’s an amazing environment to be in.

W H E N  T H E  L I G H T S  G O  O U T.  This is my favourite part. You’re about to embark on a journey – you don’t know if it’ll be good or bad yet, you don’t know what’s about to go on. You take a chance. And that’s definitely one of the best feelings in the world.

jeez, this sounds weird. I’m sorry.
2 Narnia, that is.
3 because, let’s be honest, I’ll always have that.
4 and of course, some morons who are on their phones, shining the bright light  everywhere. I’d ban that if I owned a cinema. Somehow.

Hukkunud Alpinisti hotell (1979)

Title in  English: Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel.

hap2I did not see this coming.

I did not see this coming. I had no intentions of ever reviewing an Estonian film (for those of you who are unaware – yep, I am from Estonia). Yet it so happened that we went to see an Estonian film from the Soviet times with class and I found myself analysing it during the entire thing and then I found that I want to share this.

Plot: Inspector Glebsky is summoned to a remote mountain lodge. To the proprietor’s knowledge, nothing is amiss, but poor driving conditions force Glebsky to spend the evening with the hotel’s strange guests. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from the rest of the world, mysterious events are set into motion – with dire consequences for the guests: Olaf is found dead, and Hinckus tied to his bed, while a man turns up outside the hotel, nearly frozen. Even the physicist Simonet cannot explain the origin of a strange briefcase found near Olaf’s lifeless body. Glebsky springs into detective mode, but the facts lead him to a conclusion that his logical mind cannot reconcile. (source: EF100)

hap3What happened was that there was a decent detective film (the close-ups of faces was extremely creepy, yes, but it was the seventies and we can forgive for that, right?) that the writer couldn’t think of a solution to and then, BAM!, he put in aliens1. I didn’t understand half of what was going on and I didn’t appreciate looking at a helicopter flying for three minutes straight when I couldn’t even understand was it the terrorists’ or the police’s one. And I definitely didn’t appreciate the extremely dragging minutes of an avalanche. Many of the scenes in the film were pointless but come on, an ending has to be fast-paced or it simply doesn’t work. I kind of appreciate the point of the ending; it was incredibly bold and relentless – but it doesn’t really fix much on its own.

Now tell me this isn't creepy.

Now tell me this isn’t creepy. (You have to imagine the face over an enormous screen, though.)

There were some very cool things too, though: a picture of the dead mountaineer the hotel was named after; a pool game scene which started with a bang!, literally and a scene that I really liked; it had loud music playing, a few people dancing in a very flowing and eerie way and Glebsky drinking whiskey (which always looks cool).

One thing I like about old films is that they are on film. Photos shot on film look so real and carry atmosphere with them. And films are very long, moving versions of it – all the better. It’s a real film in any case. Once you get over the fact it’s an Estonian film set in France2 with a Lithuanian lead and everyone’s names sound Swedish or Russian while they all still speak Estonian, it’s rather enjoyable. It’s very real. There are aliens and everything, sure, but it lacks the American/English pretense – it’s hard to explain. It’s something that you feel.3

There’s also a show-stealing dog and Glebsky looks great in his suit. And the picture of the dead mountaineer is rad. If you have time, watch it for an eerie experience, also for something a bit different because that’s certainly one word for it. And then you can come back here and tell me if it felt as creepy to you as it did to me.

1 Like that would explain everything. UGH, just UGH.
2 Or Switzerland. In the Alps where they speak French. Happy?
3 Look at the trailer and you will (probably) understand. Wow, I’m incoherent.