The British Arrows, the annual reel of the UK’s best commercials, will return to the Walker for the 33rd time. From Friday, Nov. 29, through Sunday, Dec. 29, 95 screenings are scheduled for the Walker Cinema. For many people, the Arrows are a holiday tradition. Last year, 30,071 tickets were sold.
Why pay to see commercials? Some of us pay for equipment and services that let us fast-forward through commercials, many of which are annoying, time-wasting interruptions.
But British commercials are different. Maybe because Americans are suckers for a plummy accent. Maybe because the ads are little windows into another culture. Or they seem less about shilling, more about storytelling.
They’re definitely more daring. One of this year’s winners spends three minutes singing the praises of the vulva. No, that wasn’t a typo for Volvo. Another was banned from airing on British TV earlier this month because it’s “too political.” Featuring the voice of Emma Thompson as a little girl who finds a baby orangutan (“rang-tan”) in her bedroom, it was created by Greenpeace as a protest against the destruction of rainforests for palm oil production. The rang-tan is there because it has nowhere else to go.
There’s the usual supply of heart-tuggers and tearjerkers. A little girl digs deep into her purse to buy a Cadbury bar for her harried single mum. In “The Boy and the Piano,” a Christmas gift of an upright piano changes a young boy’s life. But the absolute worst, in terms of Kleenex needed, is an ad for the International Committee of the Red Cross reminding us that “every day, health workers are attacked in war zones.”
There’s a silly campaign for Skittles (watch for David Schwimmer, aka Ross in “Friends”) and an amazing ad for Range Rover. And an even more amazing one for the Fifa World Cup 2018 launch. Created for the BBC, it’s a literal tapestry of iconic moments in football history (soccer, to us), in which every frame was woven from thread and embroidered.
Amazon and Apple together have nine winning ads in this year’s Arrows. Amazon’s clever “Alexa Loses Her Voice” campaign features Cardi B, SNL’s Leslie Jones, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins and Jeff Bezos himself. Apple enlisted directors Dougal Wilson and Spike Jonze to school us on the powers of facial recognition and Siri’s ability to deliver what we want and need.
Nike turned in an epic spectacle, a 3-minute visual paean to young London athletes, amateurs and pros. Along with an Arrow, this tale of one-upmanship (and -womanship) won the first Cannes Lions Social/Influencer Grand Prix. You’ll wish you could hit rewind to catch everything you missed, because it goes by quickly.
Tickets are on sale now ($14/$11.20). Some screenings are already sold out. Each ticket includes a free gallery admission, $10 off a new Walker membership and a $5 Walker Shop discount.
Now at the Lab: The Moving Company: “What If.” Conceived by Steven Epp (most recently King Leontes in Ten Thousand Things’ splendid “The Winter’s Tale”), directed by Dominique Serrand, this new devised work asks us to look at ourselves and our world in different ways. It’s told in two parts, the first featuring Epp and the second featuring Sarah Agnew and Nathan Keepers. That’s all we know, and all we need to know to be intrigued. The Moving Company’s “Speechless” was one of the best things we saw in 2017. Previews through Sunday, Nov. 24, then performances Thursdays-Sundays through Dec. 29. FMI and tickets ($20-38).
Opens today (Friday, Nov. 22) in theaters everywhere: “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” No violence, no murders, no monsters, no cynicism, no lies, no tweets, no full frontal nudity. Just empathy, kindness and decency. And cardigans. Two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks stars as Fred Rogers in a “small, sweet miracle” directed by Marielle Heller. It sounds like a refuge in a storm.
Tonight at the Loft: The Loft Presents If: Catfishing on Catnet: Naomi Kritzer with Kelly Barnhill. MinnPost readers might know Naomi Kritzer for the election guide she writes each year on local races. (She lives in St. Paul.) Kritzer is also a Hugo Award-winning writer of science fiction and fantasy. She’ll be in conversation with Newbery-medal-winning author Kelly Barnhill about her latest book, “Catfishing on Catnet,” and other topics including internet privacy and online friendship. There will be cat pictures. 7 p.m. FMI and tickets ($10/$5 members).
Tonight and Saturday: Lyra Baroque Orchestra: “Les Caractéres de la Danse.” Period music performed on period instruments, with period dance. Internationally known Baroque dancers Paige Whitley-Bauguess and Thomas Baird will perform three works by Jean-Féry Rebel (1666-1747), and Brazilian virtuoso violinist Luís Otávio Santos will lead a pair of violin concerti by Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764). 7:30 p.m. tonight at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Rochester, tomorrow at Hamline’s Sundin Music Hall. FMI and tickets ($30/$25/$5).
Opens Saturday at Mia: “Storytelling: Julie Buffalohead.” A solo show of new work by St. Paul-based artist Buffalohead, an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, includes three monumental diptychs and two smaller works. Curator Jill Ahlberg Yohe calls the diptychs “especially powerful, as their scale quite literally immerses you in a story.” Buffalohead’s work always tells stories, their characters both human and animal. In Gallery 255. Closes Sept. 6, 2020.
Monday at the University of St. Thomas, Anderson Student Center: In Conversation with Edwidge Danticat. The Haitian-American author, American Book Award winner and MacArthur fellow will read from her latest, “Everything Inside,” and other titles. She’ll also discuss the concept of “reckoning,” a theme the university’s English department is currently exploring. The Student Center is in Woulfe Alumni Hall. 7 p.m. Free and open to the public.
One pipe organ, four hands, four feet. On Dec. 3, Elizabeth and Raymond Chenault – the Chenault Duo, the world’s premier duo organ team – will put Northrop’s restored Aeolian-Skinner through its paces. Their “Holiday Program of Organ Duets” features works commissioned and arranged by or for them, including “White Christmas” and “The Christmas Song.” The pair will also perform more traditional works for organ. Here’s rehearsal footage from earlier this year. 7:30 p.m. FMI and tickets ($20). On Saturday, Nov. 30, they’ll give a free organ master class at Northrop.