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Top 3 Films

To finish off the year, I asked a number of folks here at the Walker to list their top three films of 2007. Enjoy. Happy New Year! Look for more blogging in 2008. Greg, Beckel, Pre-Press Production Specialist, Design 1. Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev) 2. Once (John Carney) 3. No Country for Old […]

To finish off the year, I asked a number of folks here at the Walker to list their top three films of 2007. Enjoy. Happy New Year! Look for more blogging in 2008.

Greg, Beckel, Pre-Press Production Specialist, Design

1. Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev)

2. Once (John Carney)

3. No Country for Old Men (Ethan and Joel Coen)

Joe Beres, Assistant, Film/Video

1. Sunshine (Danny Boyle)

2. Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno)

3. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

Emmet Byrne, Designer, Design

1. Bladerunner: Final Cut (Ridley Scott)

2. Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright)

3. Mutual Appreciation (Andrew Bujalski)

Evan Drolet Cook, Intern, Film/Video

1. Red Road (Andrea Arnold)

2. Superbad (Greg Mottola)

3. I Think I Love My Wife (Chris Rock)

Justin Heideman, New Media Designer, New Media Initiatives

1. Sicko (Michael Moore)

2. Grindhouse (Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez)

3. The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass)

Mike Lyon, Ghost of Intern Past, Film/Video

1. No Country For Old Men (Joel and Ethan Coen)

2. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

3. The Darjeeling Limited (Wes Anderson)

Verena Mund, Program Associate, Film/Video

1. Longing (Sehnsucht) (Valeska Grisebach)

2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)

3. Zodiac (David Fincher)

Ryan Nelson, Fellow, Design

1. No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers)

2. Hotel Chevalier (Wes Anderson)

3. Half Nelson (Ryan Fleck)

Dean Otto, Assistant Curator, Film/Video

1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and Two Days (Christian Mugiu)

2. Persepolis (Marjan Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud)

3. Silent Light (Carlos Reygadas)

Matt Reints, Mailroom Services Coordinator, Mailroom

1. No Country for Old Men (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen)

2. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (Andrew Dominik)

3. The Bourne Ultimatum (Paul Greengrass)

Reid Selisker, Public Relations Coordinator, Marketing & Public Relations Department

1. Zodiac (David Fincher)

2. Michael Clayton (Tony Gilroy)

3. No Country for Old Men (Ethan and Joel Coen)

Daniel Smith, Assistant Archivist, Library/Archives

1. Blade Runner – Final Cut (Ridley Scott) -Ridley Scott and Syd Mead imagined a future that grows ever more believable…

2. The Simpson’s Movie (David Silverman) -Oh, Spiderpig!

3. Superbad (Greg Mottola) -Jonah Hill’s performance is a rare thing in comedy, teen or otherwise: suffused with anger.

*Runner up: Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (Dave Willis) -Why was this made, and why did it make me laugh?

Kathie Smith, blogger, Film/Video

Three films is just mean. Once I narrowed down to movies that start with “i” it became much easier.

1. Inland Empire – David Lynch

2. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone – Tsai Ming Liang

3. I’m Not There – Todd Haynes

Morgan Wylie, Department Assistant, Education & Community Programs

1. Eastern Promises (David Cronenberg)

2. Lars and the Real Girl (Craig Gillespie)

3. Sicko (Michael Moore)

Frederick Wiseman on DVD!

I honestly never thought I would see this happen. For the longest time, the only way to see the work of Frederick Wiseman was via a projected 16mm print. That was certainly the case when we presented a retrospective in conjunction with a Regis Dialogue back in 2003. Cinephiles knew they needed to get here […]

I honestly never thought I would see this happen. For the longest time, the only way to see the work of Frederick Wiseman was via a projected 16mm print. That was certainly the case when we presented a retrospective in conjunction with a Regis Dialogue back in 2003. Cinephiles knew they needed to get here to see the films as catching up with them on video was not an option. Since then, Wiseman’s company, Zipporah Films, began to offer VHS copies of his work for sale to institutions. Even that seemed revolutionary given his long-standing stance on presenting his work on film, protecting himself from lost revenue from bootlegged video copies. I was really excited to see today, on Michael Tully’s blog, that Zipporah has now crossed over to DVDs, offering them for sale not only to institutions, but to individuals as well. Now so many more people will be able to catch up with some of the greatest documentaries ever produced. I count High School and Titicut Follies amongst my favorites, but all of his work is worth checking out.

2007 British Television Advertising Awards

We’re just past the halfway point of our run of the 2007 British Television Advertising Awards having sold almost every single seat for each of the screenings thus far. Thanks to all that have and will join us for a screening. Last year people used the blog as a means to seek out and offer […]

We’re just past the halfway point of our run of the 2007 British Television Advertising Awards having sold almost every single seat for each of the screenings thus far. Thanks to all that have and will join us for a screening.

Last year people used the blog as a means to seek out and offer tickets to the sold out screenings. Please comment on this post to do so again for upcoming screenings.

As of this writing, we have tickets remaining for the 9pm screening on Saturday, December 22 and the 1pm screening on Sunday, January 23. Those are selling quickly, and beyond that, all advance tickets are sold out for the screenings leading up to the Christmas holiday. There are currently still tickets available to most of the screenings occurring between Christmas and New Years’ Eve, but those are virtually guaranteed to sell out as well, and I encourage you to get your tickets soon. Good luck and thank you for your support.

Click here to go directly to the ticketing page to see what is available.

A Violin, Nanking and Diablo Cody

Just a wee note to keep Walker Film/Video programs on your mind through this Thanksgiving weekend. First, thanks to all the people who made who turned out to make our last Cinemateca screening of the season, Francisco Vargas’ The Violin, such a great success. Although I was unable to attend the screening myself, from what […]

NankingJuno

Just a wee note to keep Walker Film/Video programs on your mind through this Thanksgiving weekend.

First, thanks to all the people who made who turned out to make our last Cinemateca screening of the season, Francisco Vargas’ The Violin, such a great success. Although I was unable to attend the screening myself, from what I’ve heard, Mr. Vargas was quite a crowd pleaser, eliciting some great comments from our friend, Bre Blaesing, a WACTAC member. Cinemateca returns in January with a whole new slate of films so stay tuned for information on that as if becomes available.

In other news, Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s documentary Nanking which screens here at the Walker (as a part of Premieres: First Look series) a week from this Wednesday, November 28, was short listed by the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences (AMPAS) for a Best Documentary Oscar. Also short listed, another amazing documentary we screened at the Walker last spring, The Rape of Europa.

Finally, we are happy to announce another Premieres: First Look screening, this time with close Minnesota ties, Jason Reitman’s Juno. Written by former City Pages writer Diablo Cody, the screening will take place December 13th at 7:30 PM and will be followed by a post-screening discussion with Ms. Cody taking questions from the audience.

Tickets for Nanking (screening November 28 at 7:30 pm) are $12 ($10 for Walker members).

Tickets for Juno go on sale to WALKER MEMBERS on Wednesday November 28 at 11am. Any tickets remaining on December 4 will then be made available to the general public. Tickets are $12 ($10 for Walker Members).

The Annotated Godfather

As universally acclaimed as Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 filmic icon is, its “ubiquitous presence has made The Godfather increasingly difficult to see,” writes The Los Angeles Times’ David Ulin. We remember the broad strokes — the horse’s head, the one-liners repeated ad infinitum by the contemporary Corleones on The Sopranos — but what “we forget, […]

jonesbook.jpgAs universally acclaimed as Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 filmic icon is, its “ubiquitous presence has made The Godfather increasingly difficult to see,” writes The Los Angeles Times’ David Ulin. We remember the broad strokes — the horse’s head, the one-liners repeated ad infinitum by the contemporary Corleones on The Sopranos — but what “we forget, though, is the power of the story, a narrative of assimilation and identity and the compromises we make with ourselves.”

In a review last week, Ulin suggests that a new book, The Annotated Godfather: The Complete Screenplay (Black Dog and Leventhal, 2007), by Jenny Jones of the Walker’s Film/Video department, can help us see the film “fresh after all these years.”

Jones, who worked at Oak Street Cinema and Portland’s Northwest Film Center before becoming the program associate for the Walker’s Regis Dialogues and Retrospectives, wrote the book to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the film’s release. And she does unearth some surprising information:

Twelve directors turned down offers to make the film version of Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel, including, at first, the then nearly unknown Coppola, who considered it “sleazy.”

One of the most quotable lines in the movie, “ Leave the gun, take the cannolis,” was ad-libbed by actor Richard Castellano.

Paramount Pictures pushed Puzo to write the original screenplay as a modern story “set in the 1970s, complete with hippies.” When Coppola came on board he dismissed it as “a slick, contemporary gangster picture of no importance. It wasn’t Puzo’s fault. He just did what they told him to do.” It took Coppola and Puzo two more drafts to arrive at the final script, which Jones’ reproduces in full, with notes by Puzo and Coppola scrawled in the margins.

The “most famous technical mistake of the movie” remained because of budgetary concerns. In it James Caan as the hot-headed Sonny missed a punch during a street fight with his brother-in-law, Carlo. “At that point we were just rushing, and it turned out that the best take had this one miss,” said Coppola. “Today they could fix it with digital effects.”

With more than 200 production photos, interviews with actors and crew members, and details on deleted scenes and bloopers, the book, says Jones, offers a rich look into “a film that continues to captivate us, decades after its release, and appeals to both erudite film buffs and TV couch potatoes alike.”

Y tu olvidados también

In a recent roundup of Mexican movies on DVD, Village Voice critic J. Hoberman began by asking if cine Mexicano predates the likes of Del Toro, Iñrritu, and Cuarn. Obviously the question was rhetorical–and satirical as well. Here’s another in the same vein: Do Mexican cineastas need global distribution and Oscar nominations to be considered […]

Iñrritu, del Toro, and Cuarn Francisco Vargas Gerardo Naranjo

In a recent roundup of Mexican movies on DVD, Village Voice critic J. Hoberman began by asking if cine Mexicano predates the likes of Del Toro, Iñrritu, and Cuarn. Obviously the question was rhetorical–and satirical as well. Here’s another in the same vein: Do Mexican cineastas need global distribution and Oscar nominations to be considered nuevo?

Put it this way: If you say the French New Wave is Godard, Truffaut, and Resnais, you’re only missing–to name a few–Chabrol, Rohmer, Rivette, Demy, and Eustache. Surely there’s room in world cinema–if not around Charlie Rose‘s cozy table–for a few more young Mexican directors. Señoras y señores, meet Francisco Vargas, Daniel Gruener, and Gerardo Naranjo.

Vargas, who’ll introduce his debut feature The Violin at the Walker on November 16, cites Luis Buñuel‘s 1950 masterpiece Los Olvidados (The Forgotten Ones) as his inspiration to explore an “ ignored reality in Mexico.” Accordingly, the Walker’s nod to lesser-known Mexican directors at the start of its “ Cinemateca” series of Latin American film might owe something to the U.S. acclaim of Babel–whose maker Alejandro Gonzlez Iñrritu famously took the occasion of his Golden Globe award to remind California’s governing terminator of other olvidados, joking, “ I swear I have my papers in order.” If Nuevo Cine Mexicano is about using one’s tools, podium included, to help those less fortunate, Vargas’s Violin could be considered the movement’s theme song: The titular instrument miraculously allows its player to disarm the military oppressors of a Mexican village while bolstering the peasant revolucionarios.

Based on the heroic adventures of activist musician Carlos Prieto, The Violin is set in the 1970s, although the film’s ingenuity extends to capturing the mood of polarized Mexico in the months before the contested election of conservative president Felipe Caldern. Just weeks before the movie’s premiere at Cannes in May of 2006, some 200 protesting farmers were arrested in the brutal crackdown of San Salvador Atenco near Mexico City. Lacking violins, some family members of those jailed in the conflict performed Christmas pastorelas at Santiaguito Prison in order to gain permission to visit loved ones. As reported in Counterpunch, the relatives, costumed as Biblical figures, were subjected to body cavity searches (even the “ Virgin Mary” was ravaged)–though, once inside the prison, the “ three wise men” and company did manage to fire off a round of “Presos Politicos Libertad!”

Guillermo Del Toro, whose Pan’s Labyrinth dramatizes the war of fanciful artistry against everyday oppression, hardly minced words himself when, in answer to Rose’s one and only question about Mexican authorial identity in an hour-long broadcast, claimed, his blue eye gleaming on PBS, “ One thing we [Nuevo Cine filmmakers] all share is a distrust of institutions.” S, though the “ Cinemateca” films express more than skepticism. Gruener’s Never on a Sunday (screening Friday)–wherein a Mexico City man’s dead uncle gets sold for scrap to a medical school–employs a distinctly Day of the Dead-ish style of black humor to do away with the notion of proper burial. “ This is a country that smiles at death,” Gruener told critic Michael Guillén. “ Mexicans know they won’t avoid it by ignoring it.” Death becomes the Nuevo Cine. Gruener is currently prepping a Mexican film of Frankenstein; Del Toro’s next feature is–no surprise here–Hellboy 2.

Before threatening humanity’s extinction in Children of Men, Alfonso Cuarn snuck a few Day of the Dead sugar skulls into the Honeydukes candy store for his Harry Potter episode in 2004. Not to say that the Grim Reaper has only just arrived on the Mexican set. Indeed, scholar Michael Chanan has traced the history of tragic melodrama in Mexican cinema all the way back to 1919′s Santa, in which a provincial innocent is forced into prostitution before meeting her maker. Some 90 years on, the teen whore Tigrillo in Naranjo‘s amped-up, downbeat Drama/Mex (screening November 9) distracts an Acapulco office worker from suicide–only because she reminds him of his own young daughter, with whom he has been having an affair.

Albeit woven tapestry-style a la Iñrritu, Naranjo’s narrative plays like a demolition of Babel with its towering perspective on what it takes to cure the world’s ills, one hanky at a time. As Slant‘s Paul Schrodt has pointed out, the film’s key line is “ Stop being so international”–Naranjo’s way of saying that Drama/Mex has enough soap opera to deal with on its own shores. Where the so-called three amigos of Nuevo Cine merely distrust convention, their younger hermanos intend to derail it. Indeed, Cuarn’s Y tu mam también might look like Three’s Company once Naranjo unsheathes his own teen-sex opus, teased in indieWIRE as “ my hate letter to the people who made me suffer when I was a kid.” Mams , lock up your muchachas.

Stephanie Rothman Retrospective in Vienna

All who enjoyed Stephanie Rothman‘s films The Working Girls (1974) and The Student Nurses (1970) during the Working Girls special program at Women with Vision 05 will be thrilled to hear that the Vienna International Film Festival is honoring her with a retrospective these days. Rothman, who was a guest at the Walker in May […]

All who enjoyed Stephanie Rothman‘s films The Working Girls (1974) and The Student Nurses (1970) during the Working Girls special program at Women with Vision 05 will be thrilled to hear that the Vienna International Film Festival is honoring her with a retrospective these days. Rothman, who was a guest at the Walker in May 2005 and had long discussions with the audience about filmmaking in Exploitation Cinema as a woman and L.A. in the 1970s, will present five of her films in Vienna. It is the biggest retrospective of her work so far and namely not just in Europe. Even in the US such a film series of “one of the most headstrong and interesting women of American cinema of the 1960s and 70s” (Viennale catalogue) is still to be done.

Dancing in the dark with SATANTANGO

435 minutes. Seven hours and 15 minutes. It’s not a lot of time. It’s less than half our waking hours on any given day, and the approximate time we spend sleeping each night. Ironically this is almost the exact amount of time I spent at work on Sunday. But I spent most of my 435 […]

Satantango435 minutes. Seven hours and 15 minutes. It’s not a lot of time. It’s less than half our waking hours on any given day, and the approximate time we spend sleeping each night. Ironically this is almost the exact amount of time I spent at work on Sunday. But I spent most of my 435 minutes at work Sunday thinking about the 435 minutes I spent in the Walker Cinema Saturday with Bela Tarr’s exceptional Satantango.

Prior to Satantango, I think the longest film I had seen in a theater was, unfortunately, Gone With the Wind. (If only Kurosawa could have come up with fifteen more minutes for Seven Samurai, I could have had a much better alibi.) At almost half the running time, I think it is fair to say that Gone With the Wind is about as far from Satantango as you can get, and would be little help in preparing me for the experience that Bela had planned for me. We modern movie-goers are trained to expect a two hour narrative, give or take 30 minutes for the proper resolution of conflict du jour. Once films push much beyond that two hour threshold, distributors seem to get twitchy, either demanding cuts or, in the most obscene circumstances, releasing one film in two parts. The industry seems convinced that audiences don’t have the tenacity for films over three hours. Fortunately, I don’t think Bela Tarr had the film industry or the film audience in mind when he crafted Satantango, a film that debunks all standards, and I was more than up to the challenge.

For the record, the Walker’s Saturday screening of Satantango was the third chance to see the film theatrically in the Twin Cities. The Oak Street Cinema hosted two screenings of Satantango earlier this year over a weekend that, coincidentally, I had family in town. (My family might have a base understanding of my obsession with movies, but asking them to accept that I would be busy for nine hours watching a movie would be crossing the line.) As the Facets DVD release of Satantango seemed to be on perpetual hold, I was convinced that I would never get to see this film. But it’s funny how things work out. It wasn’t long before I heard that Bela Tarr was coming to the Walker along with all of his feature films, including his new film than premiered at Cannes, The Man From London, and, of course, Satantango.

The biggest adversary to the screening Saturday was the “not-too-many-more-days-like-this” October weather. In my case, the leaf raking and garden cleaning would just have to wait. Nearly a hundred of us traded sunny and 61 degrees for a dark, rainy dance with the Devil, and, as the lights went down at 1:05pm, you could feel the collective energy of anticipation in the air. Nine hours later that collective energy had evolved into something else entirely (those of you there will have to help me out with this one), as we followed Bela Tarr down a path that was both visually mesmerizing and thematically devastating. Told in twelve sections (a tango, as mentioned in the program notes, six steps forward and six back, although I’m not sure where the going ‘forward’ part is) that weave together a communal story through multiple perspectives, each overlaying the other with cumulative significance. The long takes and extended scenes that Satantango is known for seem to break down that barrier that exists in traditional films between audience and character, and two hours into the film, I felt myself start to get restless in the unnerving physical presence of the doctor…and his writing…and breathing…and drinking. I wouldn’t call the result more intimate, but more tactile and sympathetic. The sustained tone of the film is nothing short of brutal, not unlike Kelemen’s “plodding along and plodding and plodding along” into oblivion.

The last three hours of the film were the hardest, both physically and mentally. I had grown tired of the two positions I could stretch my legs without putting them on the shoulders of the person in front of me, and the narrative thread of the film had taken a turn to something more divisive. With the fate of the villagers looming like an oppressive dark cloud, I struggled to assimilate the facts either into a straight narrative or an allegorical satire. As the credits began to role and the lights came up with most of the audience still intact, we all sat in stunned silence. There was no victorious feeling of crossing the finish line, but only what I can describe as a 435 minute heartache. Almost forty-eight hours later my head is still spinning with the overwhelming scope of the film and the irrepressible images.

The experience itself was emotionally overwhelming, to say the least. As I rode my bike home past the Saturday night revelers on Nicolette Avenue, I felt totally empty, almost outside of my skin. At the time, I had no idea how to answer, “How was the movie?” except to just nod, and say, “Yeah. Good.” (Of course the look I got was, ‘Come on, you just saw an eight hour movie and that is all you’re going to say?’) Collecting my thoughts about the film beyond a gut reaction seemed impossible, let alone trying to come up with a rudimentary analysis. Even comprehending the visual elegance and narrative balance that never seem to wavered in those seven hours is beyond me. I find myself revisiting scenes in my head and mapping exactly how they play out, but then getting confused about how the chapters stacked up and in what order. Was it raining the whole time? Or did it stop raining twice? And by the way, what happened to Kelemen after he picked up the doctor? Was he just a diabolical messenger sent to push us over the edge with his intoxicated rambling? And what exactly were the two officers typing up near the end? Was it simply Irimias proclamations? And what was with all the antagonism towards the bar owner? I really don’t know. In the end, Satantango has left me with one of the most amazing film experiences I’ve ever had and, of course, the inordinate compulsion to revisit the film…second screening anyone?

> Don’t miss the last installment of the retrospective this weekend with the regional premier of The Man From London screening Saturday at 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. It’s only 132 minutes.

Free Screening of Susanne Bier’s Things We Lost in the Fire

This Thursday, October 18, we will be offering a sneak preview screening of Things We Lost in the Fire. Walker Art Center’s annual Women with Vision film festival presents new work by women directors from around the world. A discovery in 2002 was Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, then unknown to US audiences, with her film […]

This Thursday, October 18, we will be offering a sneak preview screening of Things We Lost in the Fire.

Walker Art Center’s annual Women with Vision film festival presents new work by women directors from around the world. A discovery in 2002 was Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier, then unknown to US audiences, with her film Open Hearts. In 2005 the festival showed her next film, Brothers. Now working in the United States, Bier’s first studio film is Dreamwork’s The Things We Lost in the Fire.

Academy Award-winners Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro star in director Susanne Bier’s (the Oscar-nominated After the Wedding) powerful new drama Things We Lost in the Fire, a compelling drama about two people brought together by fate.

Audrey Burke (Berry) is reeling from the shock of the news that her loving husband of 11 years, Brian (David Duchovny), the father of their two young children, has been killed in a random act of violence. Desperate to fill the painful void caused by her husband’s death, Audrey impulsively turns to Jerry Sunborne (Del Toro), a down-and-out addict who had been her husband’s close friend since childhood. She invites him to move into the room adjacent to their garage in the hope that he can help her and her children cope with their sudden loss. Jerry faces a daily battle to stay off drugs, but in his unexpected role as surrogate parent and friend to Audrey’s son and daughter, he finds a core of inner resilience. As Jerry and Audrey navigate grief and denial, they discover the strength to move forward. 2007, 35mm, 117 minutes.

Free screening of Things We Lost in the Fire – Thursday, Oct 18

Things We Lost in the Fire Thursday, October 18. 7:30pm Walker Cinema [youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=7JPpGb41b4E[/youtube] European director Susanne Bier (director of the Academy Award Nominated After the Wedding) makes her American directorial debut with Things We Lost in the Fire. The film centers around a recent widow played by Halle Berry and her two children dealing with […]

Things We Lost in the Fire

Thursday, October 18. 7:30pm

Walker Cinema

[youtube]http://youtube.com/watch?v=7JPpGb41b4E[/youtube]

European director Susanne Bier (director of the Academy Award Nominated After the Wedding) makes her American directorial debut with Things We Lost in the Fire. The film centers around a recent widow played by Halle Berry and her two children dealing with the loss of the families patriarch (played by David Duchovny). While grieving, Berry invites her husband’s drug addled best friend (Benicio Del Toro) to come live with the family while they both try to put their separate lives back together, even if she never understood why he and her husband were friends. What unfolds is not just a common story about coping with loss but an examination of what happens when people try and hold their worlds together, even as it falls apart around them. The film treads dark territory, but manages to take seemingly cliché ideas and turn them on their head.

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