Blogs Crosscuts

Assayas’ “Carlos” Makes #3 on Best Films of the Year

New York Times film reviewer (and one-time Regis dialogue interviewer) A. O. Scott placed Olivier Assayas’ Carlos at number 3 on his list of the best films of 2010. Read the full article here. Scott summarizes the 6-hour Assayas film as “The failure of global revolution as farce, melodrama, erotic thriller and music video.” The […]

New York Times film reviewer (and one-time Regis dialogue interviewer) A. O. Scott placed Olivier Assayas’ Carlos at number 3 on his list of the best films of 2010. Read the full article here. Scott summarizes the 6-hour Assayas film as “The failure of global revolution as farce, melodrama, erotic thriller and music video.” The Walker is proud to have been one of Carlos’ only big screen locations, but should be available through IFC on the small screen.

A.O. Scott also lists Howl as a runner up.

Carlos Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HH0t5Q9opMI&feature=related[/youtube]

Howl Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba9yazkl0UE[/youtube]

True Grit: The Dude as the Duke

He [Jeff Bridges as The Dude] just totally got it. Toward the end of shooting he’d just ask us, “Did the dude blaze one on the way here?” and if we said yes, he’d just rub his eyes. –Ethan Coen, Regis Dialogue, September 25, 2009 Former Walker Regis Dialogue honorees Joel and Ethan Coen have […]

He [Jeff Bridges as The Dude] just totally got it. Toward the end of shooting he’d just ask us, “Did the dude blaze one on the way here?” and if we said yes, he’d just rub his eyes.

–Ethan Coen, Regis Dialogue, September 25, 2009

Former Walker Regis Dialogue honorees Joel and Ethan Coen have released their newest film: True Grit, a remake of Henry Hathaway’s 1969 classic. The original film, based on a novel by notoriously underrated American author Charles Portis, snared John Wayne his one and only oscar (for best actor).  If the Hathaway True Grit was an exercise in nostalgia (coming out a few years too late for the spaghetti western’s last hurrah) then the Coens’ remake is even more nostalgic, if not retro, passe, or god forbid, metanostalgic.

A remake of a western coming at a time when westerns have all but disappeared, this is a film that no one asked for, but that, curiously, becomes a strength. With an audience who has never seen the original film (except for the old and the obsessed) the Coens are freed to draw from it as much as they want or choose to draw directly from the Portis text.  So, while some scenes seem like shot-for-shot remakes of Hathaway’s film, others come completely out of nowhere.

While much of the first True Grit became iconic, what really stuck was one character: John Wayne’s Rupert “Rooster” Cogburn. A “one-eyed fat man” who is also a drunk and somewhat inept cowboy Rooster is–despite his handicaps–tough as nails, exhibiting true grit. The character stuck and Wayne even went on to play him again alongside Katharine Hepburn in Rooster Cogburn, his penultimate performance. But the Coen True Grit casts Jeff Bridges in his place, an actor they haven’t worked with since his portrayal of “The Dude” in The Big Lebowski (1998).

And, despite his performance in Tron Legacy, in which he plays (essentially) The Dude, Bridges is able to occupy the role of Rooster Cogburn relatively smoothly. If anything, Bridges plays him as more drunk, cantankerous, and inept than John Wayne ever could. Drunkenly mumbling to levels never before reached in Hollywood, some of Bridges’ lines come out too garbled to understand. And despite the excellent writing, his mumbling is a good thing.  Bridges is able to take some of the grace and dignity away from John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn, making him truly gritty.

True Grit opens on the coattails of A Serious Man, the Coens’ micro-epic on the trials of middle-class life, and despite its terrific performances, to me True Grit falls short. It feels more like a well-done genre film than like the transcendent classics that the Coens have put together in the past. With a tacked-on epilogue that seems disappointing and unnecessary, even the beautiful cinematography by Roger Deakins and the beautiful score by Carter Burwell can make this film only good, not great.  But this follows in their historical structure, making a good film followed by a real knockout.

“Fire in My Belly” screening at the Walker

Last week, the Walker began screening three versions of the David Wojnarowicz film, A Fire in My Belly . These free screenings will be held in the Walker Lecture room at 11:30 am on days when the galleries are open, through the end of December. There will be an additional showing on Thursdays at 8:30 […]

Last week, the Walker began screening three versions of the David Wojnarowicz film, A Fire in My Belly . These free screenings will be held in the Walker Lecture room at 11:30 am on days when the galleries are open, through the end of December. There will be an additional showing on Thursdays at 8:30 pm.

There has been a lot in the press and online about the removal of A Fire in my Belly from Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. The Walker is joining many museums and galleries across the country in showing this film and defending artistic freedom (read the recent blog by Walker executive director Olga Viso). To put this work of art into context we are showing all three versions, including the official National Portrait Gallery version which was edited by curator Jonathan Katz and Bart Everly including audio from a 1989 ACT UP march in which David Wojnarowicz’ voice is audible. This will give our audiences a chance to see the work for themselves. Links to the film that can be found online are often to alternative versions, including one by Rosa Von Praunheim for a film called Silence=Death with a soundtrack by Diamanda Galas.

David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was a prominent artist in New York in the 1980’s working easily across media, including painting, drawing, printmaking, photography, film, and performance art. He called his work “fragmented mirrors of what I perceive to be the world.” This aptly describes his style of filmmaking which incorporated quick, rough montage and recurring images to create a poetic meditation on man, life, death, faith, and suffering. A Fire In My Belly was made in part as a response to the AIDS-related death of his close friend, artist Peter Hujar. [Hujar’s photographs are currently on view in the Walker’s Event Horizon exhibition]. In the original 13-minute silent film, Wojnarowicz juxtaposes black and white footage from the streets of Mexico including wrestlers in masks, legless beggars, a cockfight, and police officers on their beat with iconic images such as Day of the Dead votives, sugar skulls, tarot cards, and puppet skeletons. Integrated into the film are images from the making of Wojnarowicz’s Ant Series, a body of photographic work that portrays ants on a crucifix, Mexican coins, and Day of the Dead votive candles. Many of these images in the film are set in Mexican cemeteries which are usually lavishly adorned, particularly around Day of the Dead celebrations when people leave food for their deceased loved ones. While the images of the ants were staged by Wojnarowicz, similar images may have also easily been found in this setting, especially on the day after a Day of the Dead night vigil when religious icons fall to the ground and left over food offerings attract bugs to the site.

After Wojnarowicz’s own untimely death from AIDS in 1992, a separate seven minute, silent, Super 8 version was found in his studio.

All three versions of the film are being screened at Walker as a 24-minute program. Made in 1986-87, primarily in Mexico, and, notably, in the era when AIDS was being feared as an epidemic, the film explores ideas of struggle and death. As health care for AIDS in the US was being debated at that time with those opposing government funds to be used for treatment calling it a “gay disease,” travel to Mexico became a common path to find affordable medical care.

Links for more information:

The two original versions of A Fire in My Belly are posted on P.P.O.W’s Vimeo channel

P.P.O.W News Page

Additional images of his other works, including Christ with Ants and Untitled (One Day This Kid…) can be found on his artist’s page

National Portrait Gallery Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition

Chronicle of responses to the Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture exhibition and the removal of David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in My Belly

New York Times article by Holland Cotter “As Ants Crawl Over Crucifix, Dead Artist Is Assailed Again

Walker Director Olga Viso on Walker’s stand with national peers in support of artistic freedom

Mike Leigh’s Another Year

In the fall of 2008, the Walker paid tribute to English writer-director Mike Leigh with the ten film retrospective and regis dialogue, Mike Leigh: Moments. Over the course of Leigh’s marvelous and prolific career, he’s garnered special attention for bringing psychological and emotional clarity to a decidedly English brand of mannered comedy. His latest ensemble […]

In the fall of 2008, the Walker paid tribute to English writer-director Mike Leigh with the ten film retrospective and regis dialogue, Mike Leigh: Moments. Over the course of Leigh’s marvelous and prolific career, he’s garnered special attention for bringing psychological and emotional clarity to a decidedly English brand of mannered comedy. His latest ensemble piece, Another Year, opened at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival in competition for the Palme d’Or and will make its US premiere fittingly at the end of the year, on December 29th. Like so many of Leigh’s films, the title aptly hints at the picture’s theme.

In Mike Leigh’s Another Year, four seasons come and go, characters arrive and depart, produce ripens and rots, everything and nothing changes. There’s such weariness in that title. Living is shadowed by dying, bounty is turned over by hunger, loneliness is assuaged by company. People can’t go on, yet they still do. They fret through Sunday night to board the train on Monday morning.

See the full review by Eric Hynes.

Leigh, who has to be reckoned as one of the greatest living actor’s directors, casts three longtime collaborators as the central characters: the ebullient, inimitable Jim Broadbent inhabits the skin of Tom, a geologist, while the long-faced, expressive Ruth Sheen plays his wife, Gerrie, a medical counselor; but it is Lesley Manville’s performance as Mary, a dipsomaniac and friend of Gerrie’s, that has attracted the most attention. With her emotional expansiveness, Manville brings to light the vulnerable semi-tragic, semi-comic sides of her character and has already won the best actress award from the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. Another Year should be another film lover’s delight.

The Mike Leigh Regis Dialogue with Scott Foundas is also available for your enjoyment on the Walker Channel.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cm-mfxOiUXI&feature=related[/youtube]

So long for now, folks. This is my first foray into the Walker’s blog as a new Film/Video intern.

Ira Sachs’ “Last Address” Shows in Honor of World AIDS Day

As a part of World Aids Day, Ira Sachs’ Last Address will be screening at museums across the country.  The Tate Modern, The Museum of Art & Design, The Wexner Center for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Museum, El Museo de Barrio, Grey Art Gallery at NYU, CCS Gallery at Bard College, Memphis Brooks Museum […]

As a part of World Aids Day, Ira Sachs’ Last Address will be screening at museums across the country.  The Tate Modern, The Museum of Art & Design, The Wexner Center for the Arts, The Andy Warhol Museum, El Museo de Barrio, Grey Art Gallery at NYU, CCS Gallery at Bard College, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Leslie/Lohman Gay Art Foundation, and The LGBT Center of NYC, among others, will mark 20 years of action and remembrance of Day With(out) Art by screening Last Address on Wednesday December 1, 2010.

Keith Haring, Robert Mapplethorpe, Norman René, Peter Hujar, Ethyl Eichelberger, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Cookie Mueller, Klaus Nomi….the list of New York artists who died of AIDS over the last 30 years is countless, and the loss immeasurable. In Last Address, filmmaker Ira Sachs (The Delta, Married Life, and the 2005 Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning Forty Shades of Blue), who first moved to the city himself in 1984, uses images of the exteriors of the houses, apartment buildings, and lofts where these and others were living at the time of their deaths to mark the disappearance of a generation. The elegaic film is both a remembrance of that loss, as well as an evocation of the continued presence of their work in our lives and culture.

Last Address screened in the Walker’s Lecture Room from May 4th through June 30th.  The full film is available, along with artist bios at www.lastaddress.org

Remembering Ousmane Sembene

At the Walker we are proud of the success of the recent film retrospective, Ousmane Sembene: African Stories, co-presented by the University of Minnesota’s Global Spotlight.  Not only did it bring out the Twin Cities’ film loving community in droves, but it sparked important discussions with the professors and authors who introduced the films.  This […]

At the Walker we are proud of the success of the recent film retrospective, Ousmane Sembene: African Stories, co-presented by the University of Minnesota’s Global Spotlight.  Not only did it bring out the Twin Cities’ film loving community in droves, but it sparked important discussions with the professors and authors who introduced the films.  This overwhelming success proved, once again, why the Twin Cities remain one of the most diverse and interesting places in the country.

Many of these discussions were recorded, and will be posted on the Walker Channel so you can relive the discussions you saw and catch up on the discussions you missed.

As a sort of a retrospective of the retrospective, we present an essay from a local film/video maker and producer.

ALESHIA MUELLER is the owner of Reel Nomad Productions and the President of Minnesota Women in Film and Television (MN WIFT). She works on long and short media projects that range from narrative films, commercials, podcasts, music and travel videos, and scientific, social, and historical documentaries, many of which have screened at festivals worldwide. Aleshia’s curiosity, fearlessness, and passion for her craft continue to take her on storytelling adventures throughout the world.

Inspiring Generations of African artists

How does a man who has seen colonialism oppress the voice of his people rise up to reclaim and redefine his culture’s stories? For Ousmane Sembene, a Senegalese high school drop out and manual laborer turned literary genius, it was through film. Using the moving image to reach a larger audience than his novels ever could, Sembene takes a stand against colonialism, racism, religious persecution, and traditional forms of authority. I had the honor of meeting Sembene at a forum on the Future of African Cinema at FESPACO 2005 and with the same energy as his earlier years, he continued to fight the odds to improve conditions for African filmmakers and inspire generations of African artists.

Francophone Africa has carried the torch of African cinema, but it isn’t always a pure African voice. Despite the freedom brought by Independence, many feel that African cinema is still trying to escape neocolonial rule as financing often comes from ex colonists. Hailed as the father of African cinema, Sembene was also seen as an artistic and cinematic revolutionary. He was a passionate anti-colonialist and injected true Senegalese culture and common routines into his films. Up until Mandabi in 1968, the mentality was that a film had to be made in French, but Sembene was committed to promoting his national language and culture. Drawing on his roots, he gathered lost voices and brought them back to life. He emphasized, “Art is political. Without art, there are no free men.”

Sembene’s films include part of his personal experience and philosophy. He believes that “ideas come by finding, by meeting, by listening to someone. You can make movies with just about any idea, but it’s how to elaborate and make a film coherent from beginning to end.” Sembene dedicated the second half of his life to producing movies that shared truths, exposed injustice, and imagined a better world.

The Walker Art Center series, Ousmane Sembene: African Stories, has presented us with scenarios that confront the racial and economic oppression of colonial regimes as well as the corrupt African bourgeoisie that followed. Sembene praises the strength of African women and stands up against traditional practices.

“Carlos” Screening this Saturday and Sunday

To close off this month’s Regis Dialogue and Retrospective, Olivier Assayas: Between Love and Terror, the Walker will screen Assayas’ epic new work, Carlos, this Saturday and Sunday. The five-and-a-half-hour portrait will include two intermissions, and span 20 years of Carlos the Jackal’s revolutionary life. Every ticket will also include a limited edition program book […]

To close off this month’s Regis Dialogue and Retrospective, Olivier Assayas: Between Love and Terror, the Walker will screen Assayas’ epic new work, Carlos, this Saturday and Sunday. The five-and-a-half-hour portrait will include two intermissions, and span 20 years of Carlos the Jackal’s revolutionary life. Every ticket will also include a limited edition program book from the IFC center in New York, including interviews, historical context, analytical writing and glossy pictures.

Carlos Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3QkM7uyF10[/youtube]

Benjamin Heisenberg introduces “The Robber” Wednesday

Benjamin Heisenberg, a young director in the New German Cinema movement, will be here this Wednesday to introduce his newest film, The Robber (Der Räuber). After a successful run through the festival circuit, this film is finally making its rounds to the Twin Cities, and will be screening one time only here at the Walker […]

Benjamin Heisenberg, a young director in the New German Cinema movement, will be here this Wednesday to introduce his newest film, The Robber (Der Räuber). After a successful run through the festival circuit, this film is finally making its rounds to the Twin Cities, and will be screening one time only here at the Walker Cinema.

Heisenberg is a part of a new group being referred to as the New German Cinema (not to be confused with the late 1960′s New German Cinema).

In 1998 this group of young film students at the Munich Film Academy, later film directors Christoph Hochhäusler and Benjamin Heisenberg among them, founded the film magazine Revolver. They were motivated in part by their passion for thinking about making movies and in part by a frustration about the open disregard for theory, film history, and reflection at their film school. Hochhäusler and Heisenberg have since moved to Berlin and left a mark with their first films. Heisenberg’s Sleeper (2005) presents the highly topical subject of a suspected terrorist “sleeper”– but transforms it into a study about the pervasiveness of suspicion; a suspicion that quite literally infects not only the Arab protagonist Farid’s (Mehddi Nebbou) friends and colleagues, but also the camera’s and the spectator’s gaze.

See the full article by Ekkehard Knörer

Heisenberg’s new film will follow the same attention to detail and technique, but focus instead on a real life criminal.  Based on the true story of Johann Kastenberger aka Pump-gun Ronnie, Heisenberg’s new film chronicles the discipline and addiction of a competetive marathon runner/bank robber. Perpetually compared to Tom Twyker’s Run Lola Run (1998), The Robber (Der Räuber) portrays an addictive, incredible figure who mus keep on running. A discussion of the film with the director, Rembert Hueser (University of Minnesota) and Winfried Pauleit (University of Bremen, Germany) follows the screening.

Subtitled Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIupR5Zplw8&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

German Trailer:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLeOeh_dtQ8[/youtube]

Director Olivier Assayas in Minneapolis this Wednesday!

We at the Walker are pleased to be one of three U.S. sites hosting filmmaker Olivier Assayas and a retrospective of new prints of his films (along with BAMcinématek in New York and the American Cinematheque in LA). This Wednesday, Kent Jones joins Assayas on the Walker Cinema stage to discuss his prolific filmography, inspirations, […]

We at the Walker are pleased to be one of three U.S. sites hosting filmmaker Olivier Assayas and a retrospective of new prints of his films (along with BAMcinématek in New York and the American Cinematheque in LA). This Wednesday, Kent Jones joins Assayas on the Walker Cinema stage to discuss his prolific filmography, inspirations, and history. In addition to the retrospective, October 30-31, Assayas’ new film Carlos screens exclusively in the Walker Cinema. Here’s the latest great press on the film:

New York Times review

Anatomy of a scene from Carlos

Tickets to the Dialogue are still available.

HOWL on the Walker Channel

Just in time for the Minneapolis release of the new film Howl, the Walker Channel now features the introduction and post-screening Q&A for the Twin Cities premiere of the film that took place in our Cinema on September 30. In attendance were directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and producers Elizabeth Redleaf and Christine Walker. […]

Just in time for the Minneapolis release of the new film Howl, the Walker Channel now features the introduction and post-screening Q&A for the Twin Cities premiere of the film that took place in our Cinema on September 30. In attendance were directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, and producers Elizabeth Redleaf and Christine Walker. Take a look!

Oscilloscope Laboratories is releasing the film in Minneapolis on October 15th at the Landmark Lagoon.

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