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RIPA HITS THE SKIDS [Ripa Ruostuu] (1993).

Co-produced by Aki Kaurismaki, this film is stark, bleak and even more life-oppressive than most Finnish productions. For his b&w feature debut, director-writer Christian Lindblad offers up a week-long glimpse into the wretched existance of Ripa (Sam Huber), a long-haired, hard-drinking lug whose first act of the day is to run to the toilet for a quick vomit. A cross between Mickey Rourke in BARFLY and Benicio Del Toro in FEAR AND LOATHING, Ripa is also a filmmaker-wannabee, whose last two projects were condemned for their sex and violence. A Parasite Deluxe, who barely recalls his previous night, Ripa cruises the bars and meets bank-teller Tiina (Mari Vainio), who squirms atop him the moment he boasts of being a director. He's continually drunk, she's perpetually horny, and armed with a pocket-full of cash (thank to a hot-shit producer), these two deserve each other. Still, all is not pleasant in Ripa-ville. The Tax Man visits and takes his '63 Mercedes, an ex-squeeze demands the money he owes her, and after trying to hit up his conservative, corporate-rooted father for cash, Ripa's only alternative is to get pissed. His old pal Antti is a pretentious (but inexplicably successful) underground filmmaker whose forte has aging punks indulging in sado-masochistic acts. And by the time Ripa takes a role in Antti's buttfuck epic, he's over the edge -- going with any woman who has "lots of booze at home," killing her hubbie when he walks in on them, and becoming a wanted man. To say he's having a bad week is putting it mildly. Admittedly, there's little to embrace in this flick, since Ripa is a broke, womanizing slob. Still, his lifestyle is so unapologetically fucked-up that you can't help laughing at his blind-drunk adventures. Imagine Fellini's 8 1/2 as conceived by a lobotomized Charles Bukowski, with a backdrop so sleazy it might as well be '70s Times Square. My only negative criticism involves the unnecessary, static-and-video segues, which might be innovative, but only detract from the mood. While RIPA doesn't work all of the time, when it does grab hold, this transforms into a caustic, one-of-a-kind slice of (low)life, fueled by liquor, cigarette smoke, drunken desire, and bad decisions.

© 1998 by Steven Puchalski.