The Experimental City

Rated: not rated by MPAA.

Theater: St. Anthony Main.

Editor’s note: Star Tribune columnist James Lileks will be part of a panel discussion of the movie following Friday’s 7 p.m. screening.

 

The Minnesota Experimental City was a bold, brilliant, idealistic example of 1960s techno-optimism: a quarter of a million Minnesotans living in a planned community built for the future. Hubert Humphrey supported it; Buckminster Fuller was on board, as was the University of Minnesota and industrial giant 3M.

One name, however, doesn’t ring many bells today — Athelstan Spilhaus. He was a futurist, geophysicist, oceanographer and creator of a popular Sunday newspaper cartoon about the future. (JFK said it was the only cartoon he read.)

Drawing on archival materials and interviews, “The Experimental City” examines the attempt to build a new city from new ideas in the middle of undeveloped northern Minnesota. What happened? What went wrong? Will anyone ever try this again?

James Lileks

 

Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy

⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars

Rated: PG.

Theater: Uptown.

 

This documentary asks us to appreciate art for art’s sake, and that’s not a tough ask at all. It’s a follow-up — sequel? — to a profile that filmmaker Thomas Riedelsheimer made 16 years ago, “Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time,” Here he revisits the artist to see what’s changed in his life and his work.

Goldsworthy, whose work typically brings nature to an urban environment, is “still just trying to make sense of the world,” he says, although his artwork “does make sense of my life.” He makes artworks out of natural materials, such as mud, wood, ice and stone. Leaves are a medium of choice in this film, especially yellow and red ones. Most of his work is temporary, ever fleeting. That work is preserved through photography and video.

The artist, 61, is working with his daughter Holly now. But his mission remains the same: to create a natural harmony and spirituality in the physical world. There’s a poignancy in the idea of impermanence, and Goldsworthy is very aware of his own.

G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle