We’ve finally come out of the holiday season, which is a good time for the local arts — they tend to do popular holiday-themed events that bring in a welcome infusion of funds — but can be a bit of a downtime for a critic. I may get more pleasure out of writing about Christmas than many critics, but there gets to be a point where you’ve covered as many productions of “A Christmas Carol” as you want to.
The new year brings new art, and a superabundance of it. There’s really too much going on for me to point it all out, but I can offer a few highlights from this weekend.
First of all, the Trylon Microcinema continues to fulfill a function once served by the Twin Cities’ handful of revival house theaters: exposing audiences to films so far off the beaten path that they have beaten another path altogether. Take, for example, the phenomenon of poliziotteschi, or Italian crime films. The Trylon is offering restored versions of four films by one particular director, Fernando Di Leo, whose sudden burst of stylized violence and almost expressionistic editing influence John Woo and Quentin Tarantino, and whose works the Trylon has helpfully dubbed “spaghetti noir.”
This weekend, the theater screens “Caliber 9,” the first film in a series of three fims dubbed the Milieu Trilogy that Tarantino repeatedly lifted from for “Pulp Fiction.” This film tells of a former inmate whose attempts to go straight are hampered by the fact that everybody, including the local mob boss, thinks he still has 300,000 stolen dollars. As is typically the case, the path to righteousness is a fraught one; you don’t leave the criminal world without leaving a few bodies behind.
Soo Visual Arts Center is home to one of the more puckish art shows in town just now: The work of Minneapolis artist David Sollie, who purports to be the grandson of the founder of a corporation called Shackway Inc. Sollie’s works are all documents of that corporation, many of them advertisements for the company’s morally ambiguous products. “Learn to Hypnotize While Hypnotized!” one ad intones, looking like it might have been published in the back of a 1960s comic book. An image of a nondescript mountain range comes with the caption “Go To a Famous Place Kit,” as though you could simply build a Grand Canyon in your backyard from the contents of a mail-order box. And their corporate philosophy seems summed up by another anonymous image of nature, this one of a rippling brook in a cloud-capped canyon, underneath which is printed “We have all the answers but there is literally no way to contact us.”
Icebox Quality Framing and Gallery has had an exhibit going for quite a while that somehow escaped my attention until just now: A collection of the photographs of Ulvis Alberts called “Camera as Passport.” Alberts is one of the workingest celebrity photographers in history, and, to my tastes, one of the best — his black-and-white photographs generally have an impromptu feel to them, like he was just hanging out with the most famous people in the world and happened to take a snapshot when they were goofing around. His images somehow manage to be iconic and thoroughly deglamorized — he often frames his subjects in nondescript or even rundown backgrounds, such as a series of images of Jimi Hendrix in which the guitarist, dressed in his typical phychedilic excess, hangs around in a depressingly drab greenroom, sitting on metal folding chairs.
Speaking of new art, the Minnesota Orchestra, under the leadership of Osmo Vänskä, is offering its annual “Future Classics” series tonight, exploring music that will be called “classical” in 100 years. Tonight’s concert offers two premieres, starting with a piece by Boston-based composer Andreia Pinto-Correia called “Xántara.” Pinto-Correia’s compositions look to the folk music of Iberia, drawing heavily from Arab-Andalusian poetic forms, which isn’t a typical influence in classical music.
The other premiere will be the intriguingly titled “God Music Bug Music” by New York composer Hanna Lash, who has posted some of her compositions on her web page, and they are striking. Some are angular and haunted, sounding perhaps a bit like the soundtrack to a Hitchcock film, while others have the feel of the music you might play behind a documentary about industrial production, while others feel like a sophisticated take on the folk-inspired exotica of Martin Denny or Les Baxter. It is, of course, impossible to actually predict what will enter the canon in 100 years, but if the future of music includes more female composers, and composers who can offer up this sort of variety of music, it’s a good future we have to look forward to.