May 22, 2009

In & Out of Fashion: William Klein Retrospective at the Walker

Despite the onslaught of summer blockbusters over the last three weeks, there's still a lot of pretty decent stuff in Twin Cities theaters if you know where to look. Considering the abominable reviews Terminator: Salvation has received over the last few days, you could hold off and check out Anvil!, Goodbye Solo, Sin Nombre (@ The Parkway) or Tyson. Also, the Oak St. Cinema is going to have Three Monkeys and The Chaser this Fri.-Sun. only. I missed the recommended The Chaser at MSPIFF, but I did write some brief thoughts on the riveting Three Monkeys. Probably want to catch that one while you can.

On top of all of these, the Walker is right in the middle of their William Klein Regis Dialogue/Retrospective: "In & Out of Fashion". It actually started last Friday, so we've already missed Mr. Freedom, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, and Messiah. All tickets are in the Walker Cinema and only $8, or $6 for Walker members.

Here's the remaining schedule:

Friday, May 22, 7:30 pm

In & Out of Fashion

A documentary retrospective of Klein’s oeuvre, In & Out of Fashion combines his abstract paintings, revolutionary photography, books, and excerpts from his films in an autobiographical look at five decades of a multifaceted life and career. 1998, 35mm, in English and French with English subtitles, 88 minutes.

Friday, May 29, 7:30 pm

The Model Couple (Le Couple Témoin)

This pioneering sci-fi farce was startlingly prophetic regarding today’s reality television as well as issues of government encroachment on privacy. In an attempt to anticipate the desires of tomorrow’s consumer society, an average young couple is chosen by the French “Ministry of the Future” for a six-month scientific study. Filmed and recorded 24/7 in a high-tech apartment, they are besieged by behaviorists and psychologists who measure and test them, all in the guise of public service. 1975, 35mm, in French with English subtitles, 100 minutes.

Thursday, June 4, 7:30 pm, Free


Broadway by Light

An experimental meditation on Times Square marquees and iconic advertising, Klein’s first film captures the concurrently seedy and dazzling aspects of New York’s Great White Way. Illustrative of Klein’s transition from photographer to filmmaker, Broadway by Light was declared by Orson Welles to be “the first film I’ve seen in which color was absolutely necessary.” 1958, 35mm, 12 minutes.

Far from Vietnam (Loin du Vietnam)

Seven directors (Klein, Alain Resnais, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnès Varda, Claude Lelouch, Joris Ivens, and Chris Marker) present a searing indictment of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. In his segment, Klein featured Norman Morrison, the Quaker activist who, inspired by Vietnamese Buddhist monks, set himself ablaze to protest the war. 1967, 35mm, 20-minute excerpt.


Klein dissects the contact sheet from one recent roll of film, deconstructing his editing technique and injecting a brutally honest assessment of his art. As the New York Times put it, “Half a century of work can add up to two blinks of an eye.” 1983, 35mm, 15 minutes.

Friday, June 5, 7:30 pm

Eldridge Cleaver, Black Panther

While in Algiers to cover the 1969 Pan African Cultural festival, Klein met Eldridge Cleaver, charismatic leader of the Black Panthers and a fugitive from the United States. For this documentary, made at the request of Cleaver and the Algerian government, Klein filmed Cleaver nonstop for three days, capturing a fascinating sketch of the controversial figure as he reflects on racism in America, the attempts on his life, the Vietnam War, and the relationship between the American Black Power movement and African liberation groups. “A wrenching piece of direct cinema” (Harvard Film Archive). 1970, 35mm, 75 minutes.

Saturday, June 6, 7:30 pm

Muhammad Ali the Greatest

Klein’s extraordinary, incendiary film provides a probing look at the legendary and polarizing Muhammad Ali, following his career from his breakthrough 1964 bout with Sonny Liston to the epic “Rumble in the Jungle” with George Foreman in Zaire a decade later. With unprecedented access, the film traces the boxer’s transformation from the clean-cut, loud-mouthed Cassius Clay to the outspoken antiwar revolutionary/Black Muslim Muhammad Ali to a seasoned, wily pugilist and international idol. 1974, 35mm, 120 minutes.

May 31–June 30

The Little Richard Story

Lecture Room; Free with gallery admission

Tuesdays–Sundays, 1 and 3 pm; additional screenings Thursdays, 5 and 7 pm

William Klein captures flamboyant entertainer Little Richard, “America’s black superman,” as he attempts to resolve the conflict between his divine calling and profane success. Acting on advice from his Bible-peddling managers, Little Richard walks off the film set, yet is barely missed as Klein quickly shifts focus from the man himself to the deconstruction of his status as cultural icon by way of a limitless array of impersonators and fans. As Little Richard says, “Elvis may have been the King, but I am the Queen.”

1980, 16mm transferred to video, 92 minutes.

Friday, June 26, 8 pm

Regis Dialogue - Director William Klein with Paulina del Paso

$15 ($12 Walker members)

Meet the legendary William Klein in conversation at the Walker with Paulina del Paso, filmmaker and associate programmer for FICCO 2009 (Festival Internacional de Cine Contemporáneo de la Ciudad de México). The Regis Dialogues and Retrospectives program, now in its 20th year, brings to the Walker the most innovative and influential filmmakers of our time for in-depth conversations about their creative process, illuminated by film clips, anecdotes, and personal insights.


I haven't seen any of Klein's films, but the docs about Ali and Cleaver sound pretty interesting, as does The Model Couple. Now all that's needed is some bad weather to justify heading inside on an otherwise sun-soaked later spring evening. Take a walk around the sculpture garden and admire the freshly painted cherry and spoonbridge beforehand. I still don't understand this sculpture, but then I really don't "get" most modern art. Here's a shot I took with some weird clouds last year:

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