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SPECIAL SCREENINGS

'Boheme' and 'Zombie' Top Finnish Series

October 16, 1992|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The UCLA Film Archive's richly diverse "Shadows in Paradise: Films From Finland 1948-1992" continues this weekend in the university's Melnitz Theater.

Following the 7:30 p.m. Saturday screening of Aki Kaurismaki's 1992 "La Vie de Boheme," drawn from Henri Murger's 19th-Century novel "Scenes de la Vie de Boheme," is his brother Mika's 1991 "Zombie and the Ghost Train." It is as fine as anything either of the talented, charismatic Kaurismaki brothers has ever done. It is a rueful, often darkly funny portrait of a skinny, terminally wistful young man nicknamed Zombie (Silu Seppala), a talented bass guitarist who can't get his act together. He betrays his lover (Marjo Leinon) and his best friend (Matti Pellonpaa, a wry, shrewd presence in many of the films of both Kaurismakis), who plays a popular country-and-Western singer and band leader.

In the process, Zombie drifts into an alcoholism that's as self-destructive as it is enigmatic in its causes, as is so often the case in real life. (We sense, though, that for Zombie, life in Finland is a bore and that his musician pal's ersatz Americana is foolish.) Although "Zombie and the Ghost Train" sounds depressing, it is shot through with a dark, absurdist sense of humor and is ravishing to behold in its elegant, easy flow of shimmering images. Information: (206) FILM.

There's a terrible irony in the deeply moving "Ishi, the Last Yahi" (at the Nuart Saturday and Sunday noon only), for this eloquent, meticulously researched documentary at once shows how, thanks to bounty hunters, the Yahi, a Northern California tribe of American Indians, had been reduced to one man by 1911 and how, in turn, some pioneering anthropologists dedicated themselves to trying to communicate with Ishi in order to comprehend and preserve as much of his culture as possible. Directors Jed Riffe and Pamela Roberts and writer Anne Makepeace point up another irony: This so-called "wild man" proved to be gentle, kind, accommodating--and ultimately the victim of the white man's civilization. Information: (310) 478-6379.

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