Rare Exports (2010) - Can't Stop the Movies
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Rare Exports (2010)

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Preemptive Merry Christmas you weird fetishist you!

Rare Exports is so easily explainable in its enjoyments it becomes surreal in trying to do so.  It's not often I find a film mixing the sensibilities of E.T. along with the ethical murkiness of that cheery Kevin Bacon pedophile film The Woodsman.  Yet here we are, looking at a scene directly cribbed from Elliot's flight in the former, on top of a giant pile of temptation from the latter.

This is a weird film and wonderful in its terribly strange way.  It's no surprise it took this long for it to finally come out on DVD as there are very few films can lay claim to having a plot point centered around Santa Claus being a perverted demon who exists beyond time.  This is the sort of discussion point that should have led to an immediate release, but life is how it is, and I'm intensely grateful for this film to have been made public.

It's almost been a year since the initial release and this film is ripe for its time to become a new favorite.  The film is, technically, one of a series created by Finnish writer/director Jalarmi Helander.  Each deal with a families strange encounters with the oddities filling the Finnish landscape and how the participants try to profit off of the natural weirdness of those whom they encounter.

In this case it's the Kontio family (played by real life father/son Omni and Jorma Tommila).  During the winter months they make a living out of harvesting the local deer meat, but after an excavation unearths a strangely familiar ancient evil the Kontio's find their stock slaughtered and a gray bearded man who seems to be responsible.  Equally at fault for releasing this man is a governmental official who bears more than a passing resemblance to the Nazi from Raiders of the Lost Arc, a Spielbergian trend continued more than once throughout Rare Exports.

Just in time to work you into the holiday spirit.

In spite of the violence and occasionally bleak humor, the inclusion of a familiar Spielberg face is not at odds with the rest of the film.  It has a sense of childlike discovery and fascination with the unknown permeates Spielberg's best feature films.  The opening scenes play this to the hilt, showing the younger Kontio casing the excavation site pre-Santa discovery in a way which highlights the danger but also how wonderfully oblivious the children are to it.

The film works best as a perverted inversion of the visuals of E.T. while maintaining much of the heart.  There's even a redemption plot which could be seen as shoehorned to the end of the film if it weren't so good-natured the rest of the way th rough.  Considering this is a movie involving a child using himself as bait to lure a heretofore unknown species of carnivorous and metaphorical pedophiles for capture, this is by no means an easy task.

But the humor is kept light and fresh throughout the film.  Even when we see a freshly decapitated boar's head hung for bait, it comes so soon after the kids appear next to  pile of explosives we're in on the joke of danger just being another part of growing up.  Even the potentially troublesome pedophilic subtext of "Santa" later on in the film is handled with a large degree of humor and funnily appropriate delousing.

An equal mix of wonder and danger makes Rare Exports very enjoyable.

This is the kind of film you throw on at a gathering and just watch the smart, curious faces gather around in rapt appreciation.  It's not striving for any specific point, but it really doesn't need to be.  Rare Exports is a superb entertainment draws inspiration from one of the most popular sources and creates a darkly subversive take on it.

Considering this comes from the man who derives a lot of his inspiration from the Holocaust a take both funny and bleak is to be respected.

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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

Directed and written by Jalarmi Helander.
Starring Omni Tommila and Jorma Tommila.

Posted by Andrew

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  1. Dude, WTF? I’m adding this to my queue asap. It sounds awesome.

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