Friday, November 05, 2010


Truth is stranger than fiction, and that's why I like documentaries. I like foreign films because they frequently show us cultures that we would rarely see if it were not for their films.

STEAM OF LIFE is an absolutely fantastic film that happens to be both a doc and a foreign film. It's a tough film to recommend a film because is so different from what American audiences are used to seeing. It's a Finnish film. In fact it's hard to even describe, as its' really about... life itself.

Ostensibly, it's a film about saunas. But really, it's about the intimate bonding that happens when men share time in a sauna. I don't think there is an American parallel to this. Maybe the closest is the male bonding that happens when men get drunk together. But it's tough to recommend a film in which almost every shot of every scene there are naked (and very unattractive) men sitting together. (Seriously, where are the hot hunks? These guys are all old, flabby, or skinny as a rail.) And not much else happens. There's no action, it's just guys sitting around naked, and talking. Yet the stories so fascinating that they really draw you in. Some of the men speak so poetically you almost think it was scripted, but it's not, they are just being very honest about their life experiences.

The film is also extraordinarily well shot, especially when you consider how limited the choices must have been for sticking a camera in a sauna.

If you get the chance to see this film, I highly recommend it. You will be moved. I have a feeling that I will be thinking about these characters for a very long time.
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