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Walker Art Center to host 'Dark Knight' director Christopher Nolan

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: March 24, 2015 - 4:06 PM
Director Christopher Nolan on set for "Interstellar," 2014. Photo courtesy Photofest © Paramount Pictures.

Director Christopher Nolan on set for "Interstellar," 2014. Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures.

Over the last quarter century, Walker Art Center’s program of Dialogues & Film Retrospectives has presented outstanding filmmakers from a broad variety of backgrounds. The series has hosted Hollywood celebrities (Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Harry Belafonte, Jodie Foster and Robert Altman) and international notables (Taiwan’s Ang Lee, Germany’s Werner Herzog, France’s Marcel Olphus, Thailand’s Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Hungary’s Bela Tarr, and Heddy Honigmann, the Peruvian-born Dutch director of Polish heritage). The 57 public conversations have included some prominent oddballs (John Waters and Guy Madden), and even Minnesota-bred talents (Jessica Lange, Terri Gilliam, Joel and Ethan Coen).

But never in its 25 years has it presented a billion-dollar box office genie like Christopher Nolan. The 44-year-old London-born filmmaker is a 21st century pop wizard whose closest British rival might be Mick Jagger. He’ll be the guest at a dialogue with Variety chief film critic Scott Foundas May 5, and the focus of a Walker full-career retrospective running May 7-24.

As director and screenwriter Nolan has created some of the last two decades’ most critically praised and commercially successful films, adding unusual levels of humanity, pathos and metaphysical inquiry to outstandingly popular mysteries. His 2000 feature “Memento” was followed by “Insomnia,” “Batman Begins,” “The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight,” “Inception,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and 2014’s much discussed and debated sci-fi epic “Interstellar.” Each will screen, along with Nolan’s 1998 debut “Following,” a stylish 69-minute black and white film noir.

Fitting Nolan’s traditionalist filmmaking preferences, each film will be shown in 35mm. Screenings of “Following” and “The Prestige” are free. Triple admission to the films in The Dark Knight Trilogy is $15 for Walker members, seniors and students, $20 for the public. The other features are $7 for members and $9 for the general public.

Tickets for Nolan’s appearance and dialogue (which he does outstandingly well) will go on sale for $25 for Walker Film Club members April 7, Walker general members April 14, and $30 for the public beginning April 21, though the Walker advises that it could draw an early sellout. Tickets are available to Walker Film Club member by calling 612-375-7641, to Walker members and the general public at walkerart.org/tickets or by calling 612-375-7600.

Adopt Films' new film may be its latest Oscar contender

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 27, 2015 - 1:51 PM
Laia Costa as "Victoria." Photo: Adopt Films

Laia Costa as "Victoria." Photo: Adopt Films

Since it started in 2011, Adopt Films has marketed four best foreign feature Oscar nominees in the U.S.

The New York/Twin Cities film distributor may soon be adopting a fifth.

Its new acquisition is the Berlin film festival prize-winner “Victoria.” Jury president Darren Aronofsky (director of “The Wrestler,” “Black Swan” and “Noah”) awarded the Silver Bear, saying “This film rocked my world.”

“Fly away, ‘Birdman,' there’s a new one-shot wonder in town,’” crowed Variety’s breathless review, calling it a “heart-in-mouth heist thriller … with a surprising degree of grace and emotional authenticity.”

Adopt founder Tim Grady calls “Victoria” a sort of updated “Run Lola Run” with a bravura technical breakthrough. Celebrated films like “Rope,” “Russian Ark” and “Birdman” have presented the illusion of one continuous take from start to finish, but “Victoria” truly delivers the goods. A single shot by Norwegian cameraman Sturla Brandth Grøvlen chases the cast across Berlin uninterrupted for two hours.

They race from a throbbing rave club to a botched bank robbery to a landslide of dangerous and funny consequences. The diverse international cast improvised their all-English dialog from a terse 12-page script by German actor turned director Sebastian Schipper.

“This is younger than a lot of our films,” Grady said. Adopt has acquired over 20 foreign language films since it began, mostly promoting mature fare like the 2014 Oscar nominee “Omar,” and last fall’s Cannes Palme d’Or winner “Winter Sleep.” “But there’s an audience for this,” he said, thanks to its creative verve. Its American release is planned for fall, the customary start of Oscar season.  

Five international design honchos to speak at Walker Art Center

Posted by: Mary Abbe Updated: February 27, 2015 - 1:23 PM

Andrew Blauvelt, Walker Art Center design curator. Star Tribune photo by Tom Wallace

Walker Art Center's "Insights 2015 Design Lecture Series" will feature talks by top talent from Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York, Amsterdam and Liverpool, running March 3 through March 31. The opening talk March 3, by the Walker's own design guru Andrew Blauvelt, is sold out but will be available for viewing as an archived webcast on the Walker Channel. Later talks will also be available on the Walker Channel.

Cosponsored by AIGA Minnesota, the series is augmented with an exhibition"MGDA/AIGA Minnesota: A History Exhibit about the history of the AIGA Minnesota chapter on the occasion of the AIGA's centennial.

Lectures 7 p.m. Tuesdays, March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31. Tickets for individual lectures are $24; a series ticket providing admission to all five talks is $100. Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Av., Minneapolis.  For ticket information call 612-375-7600 or go to www.walkerart.org.

Lectures and events will showcase:

March 3: "Minnesota Design: A Celebration" :  Andrew Blauvelt, Senior Curator of Design, Research, and Publishing at Walker Art Center will discuss the history of innovative design in Minnesota which ranges from the Honeycrisp apple to the sticky note and the Prince logo. Blauvelt will introduce the Walker's new web-based virtual Minnesota design collection.

March 10: "Technology and Art": Los Angeles-based April Greiman will address "2-D thinking in a 3-D world." A pioneer in desk-top publishing and design, artist-designer Greiman has a long association with the Walker starting with her production of a 1986 issue of the center's influential "Design Quarterly." Known for her early embrace of digital technology, she was art director with Jayme Odgers of Wet Magazine, and brought postmodernist sass to a stripped-down sans-serif world.

March 17: "K-HOLE": A five-member New York based collective, K-HOLE seems to be all-things to all design-savvy people. A shape-shifting entity, it does consulting and web development, makes art, turns out a publication, has a hand in fashion, dabbles in advertising or mock advertising, and appropriates the lingo of trend-forecasting. It's been credited with the invention of such terms as "Youth Mode," "Brand Anxiety Matrix," and "Normcore." Plus the K-HOLE crowd has consulted for private equity and generated its own line of deodorant. Why not?

March 24: Bart de Baets, Amsterdam: Described as a "fierce formalist" and "unrelenting experimenter," this Netherlandish talent works in art, music, performance and film including clubs, fanzines, posters and political statements. Plus he teaches graphic design at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, and the Royal Academy of Arts, the Hague.

March 31: "Design Fiction" : Liverpool designer James Langdon will go back to basics and focus on the storytelling and emotional pull that are essential to the success of design.

Minnesota Orchestra board elects Warren Mack as new chair

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson Updated: February 19, 2015 - 4:55 PM

Warren Mack succeeds Gordon Sprenger as board chair of the Minnesota Orchestra, the state's largest arts organization.

Warren Mack, a partner at the Minneapolis law firm of Fredrikson & Byron, has been elected chairman of the board of directors of the Minnesota Orchestra.

Mack thanked the community at large for its support of the orchestra and said, "In return, the musicians, Osmo [artistic director Osmo Vanska], the staff and the board pledge to give you some of the most exciting music in America.” 

Mack succeeds Gordon Sprenger, who he credited with helping the orchestra's management and musicians reunite after a bitter 16-month lockout over labor disputes. Allen Lenzmeier, who was to have succeeded Sprenger, had to withdraw over health issues.

Mack has served on many for-profit and nonprofit boards, including Buffalo Wild Wings, North Memorial Health Care, Madeline Island Music Camp, and the Michael Steinberg & Jorja Fleezanis Fund for Music. He has experience on nearly all of the orchestra board's committees, most recently co-chairing, with Principal Trombone Douglas Wright, the Liaison Committee, a  group of musicians, staff and board formed immediately following the labor dispute.  An Orchestra subscriber for more than forty years, Mack is also a pilot and an amateur cellist.

Mack said that he and his wife, former Star Tribune architecture critic Linda Mack, “appreciate our world-class orchestra's sound delivered by Orchestra Hall's unbeatable acoustics. We bought our first season tickets in 1969 and sat in the top balcony of Northrop Auditorium, where we could hear some of the music some of the time and vaguely see Stanislaw Skrowaczewski’s arms waving in the distance.  Now we sit in the third row where we feel intimately connected with Osmo and the musicians.  Every concert is a thrill.”

Oscar winner Marisa Tomei's back in town (this time on screen)

Posted by: Colin Covert Updated: February 12, 2015 - 2:36 PM

Marisa Tomei and Hugh Grant in "The Rewrite." Photo: Lionsgate

Marisa Tomei and Hugh Grant in "The Rewrite." Photo: Lionsgate



Marisa Tomei came to the Twin Cities for a longish stay twice in the last 24 years. She returns Friday at least in film form, co-starring with Hugh Grant, J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney in “The Rewrite,” a light, charming comedy showing at AMC Arbor Lakes.

She last visited Minneapolis in 1992 to make “Untamed Heart,” a four-Kleenex weepie with Christian Slater, where they played soulful, lonely restaurant workers in a bittersweet romance. She was just a year off winning the Oscar for her hilarious turn in the legal comedy “My Cousin Vinny” as Mona Lisa Vito, a witness so lovely that lawyers kiss her hands in the courtroom. That seemed like the perfect time to take a role that required her to march across piles of Midwestern snow.

“I really did love Minnesota,” she said in a recent phone call. “A lot. I always did want to go back there,” even though she was filming in the winter. 

“It was so beautiful and I really, really, really loved the people. They’re very open-minded, people who just seem really awake, really conscious. I didn’t really know what to expect, because it was a long time ago. I was really young and hadn’t really thought about them when I got there. “

“I just felt like, ‘These are my people!’ I thought I’d so like to be there in the spring,” Tomei said. It wasn’t until 2005 that she came back to shoot in Minneapolis in short sleeve weather. She starred in the funny and grim comedy/drama “Factotum.” She was good in the role of a wealthy barfly, drinking alongside Matt Dillon as he played an unkempt version of novelist Charles Bukowski.

In “The Rewrite,” Tomei plays a lead role as a bright adult student in a college class being taught by Grant’s character, a cad whose Hollywood career is on the skids. Writer/director Marc Lawrence, who made “Two Weeks Notice,”  “Music and Lyrics” and “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” with Grant, felt that Tomei would make his ideal costar. What pulled her in was “that everyone loves Marc Lawrence, he’s so passionate and easygoing and very, very collaborative,” and the chance to play against Grant.

“To be able to do every scene with him was just totally exciting. He’s one of the greats, the best dance partner you could ask for. When you get in the zone with him you feel like you’re flying.“

Equally attractive, she said, was playing “a role that doesn’t require overthinking.” Tomei, who began her career at age 20 in the 1984 horror spoof "The Toxic Avenger," has spent the last three decades making a staggering variety of movies. She has combined iconic dramas like “The Wrestler” and “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” with studio-backed comical fare like “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and indie romps like “Cyrus,” where her manipulative grown son, played by Jonah Hill, tried to sabotage her affair with John C. Reilly. Her multiple next projects are equally mixed. “Loiter with Intent,” currently in limited release, puts her and Sam Rockwell in romantic comedy territory, while the upcoming “Let it Snow” is a Christmas satire with Diane Keaton and John Goodman.

“It really depends what comes up and sails over," she said. "I’ve been around for a long time, so I’ll just take whatever is up. I really don’t have much control over what comes my way. Whatever is around. The way it works, I’ll go for whatever’s around.”


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