Jarpie somehow left out that there are two Tuntematon sotilas films, one directed by Edvin Laine in the fifties which is considered as a classic which is shown on tv every year on our independence day (and it really isn't a patriotic film in a flag waving sense: it's more like a description of war from the ordinary soldiers point of view without heroes) and one made in the eighties by Rauni Mollberg which divides opinions. I, for one, think it is a masterpiece and even better than the original film. It is not a remake of the previous film but more like a different version of our greatest novel depicting our latest wars. It really captures the original left wing spirit of Väinö Linna's work and has very surreal and horror-like details in it. Talvisota instead is not a great film but a pretty dull one with fine special effects. Pohjanmaa is a much better piece by the same director, Pekka Parikka.
Mollberg in general is very recommended, so is Risto Jarva. His last film The Year of the Hare is a loved classic which gathers about million viewers every time it is shown on tv, which is not bad in a country with a population of five million. Mikko Niskanen's films and especially his four hour masterpiece Eight Deadly Shots are essential parts of our cinema. Other directors from the 60s and onwards (after our new wave): Jörn Donner (also a film critic and a writer), Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Aku Louhimies (propably the most popular Finnish director nowadays), Pirjo Honkasalo, Jarmo Lampela and Åke Lindman (81 years actor, director and screenwriter, still directing). Some of the older masters include Matti Kassila (the fantastic inspector Palmu films), Erik Blomberg, Nyrki Tapiovaara, Valentin Vaala, and Teuvo Tulio (our master of melodrama). Spede Pasanen and Ere Kokkonen were very productive film directors and producers which weren't (and aren't) appreciated by critics but loved by the "ordinary folk". Their comedy Uuno Turhapuro armeijan leivissä (Numbskull Emptybrook in the Army) was seen in it's original run by 750 000 movie goers. Most of their films are cheaply made comedies with childish and innocent humor.
edit. By not liking our films made in the past 25 years, Jarpie propably shows the sad attitude especially the young Finns have which arises usually from the shame about our "vulgaric" language which isn't considered as "cinematic" and the angst and melancholy usually linked to our films and our art in general. Melancholy is not cool and is not considered media sexy enough. I, myself, strongly oppose the phenomenon of the past few year's where most of the successful Finnish films mimick aspects usually known from Hollywood films (fast and jumpy cinematography and editing, popular rock music and overtly sentimental score music as a soundtrack, grey and dull digital look...) which has, anyway, been in great favor of our youth as opposed to more Kaurismäki-like film making. Anyway, our cinema is not filled with superb masterpieces every year but there are still quite good and worthy films to watch in every decade.
Sorry for forgetting the two different Tuntematon Sotilas-movies, and as you thought, I was talking about the '55-version of it. What put me off in the '55 version, is the "Rillumarei"-style, which made it seem like "War is fun, while we sing, crack jokes and spray down the ruskies!", the last time I watched it, was some years back, but I might watch it again next time it's on TV. I have never seen the Mollberg's movie, but it probably is more to my liking.
Actually, I like our language quite a lot, and I'm not ashamed of it at all, quite the opposite, I think it would suit the movies very well, because of the "vulgarity", especially when used to express anger, disappoitment and cursing. The dialogue is just very usually poorly written, and we lack a great writers, such as Mamet. The Finnish-language would have a lot to offer, because it's very nuanced, and could be greatly used for cleverly written dialogue.
The reason why I dislike the movies from the past 25 years is the visual dullness and conservative way of doing movies in Finland. For example, I've yet to see a Finnish movie which would use the winter setting well, and would emphahise the coldness, the feeling of isolation what piles of snow and the darkness can bring to people. Actually, I'm fan of melancholy and downbeat movies, which is why I love the film noirs and neo-noirs. Some people claim, that it's because of the small budgets that finnish movies looks dull, plain and the lighting looks always the same, but I highly disagree - Brick was made with very small budged and it was shot brilliantly and stylistically.
Unfortunately, I haven't seen many old Finnish movies, but one has stuck on my mind: "Hän varasti elämän" (could be translated as He Stole a Life) made in the '62. I saw it in the mid-to late 90s from TV and it impressed me quite a lot. Sadly, it haven't been released on DVD and I didn't see it on the rerun couple years back.
I am one of those people who dislikes Pasanen & Kokkonen duo's movies, especially their comedies (like Turhapuro-movies), but I can understand why some people would like his westerns for example, and I have to give some respect to Pasanen for trying something different with his westerns.
Since the early 2000s, it seems that there might be a new generation of talented finnish movie makers rising up, among them Energia Productions who released their Star Trek and Babylon 5 parody "Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning" in 2005 (which was in development for about 6 years, made with very small budged and partly by amateurs), and are now in the pre-production of their next movie "Iron Sky", thanks to very succesful "Star Wreck", which enabled them to form a professional production company. Just released Muukalainen (Stranger) looks interesting, at least visually, and I've heard some positive things about the movie "Sauna".
Maybe we should form a new topic in some other sub-forum about Finnish cinema