Why, by my scones and crumpets, look here! It’s the return of the Twin Cities’ favorite end-of-year English tradition.
No, not another production of “A Christmas Carol.” Walker Art Center is hosting its special event for the Anglophile in your life: a monthlong screening of the 2017 British Arrow Awards — the advertising industry’s version of the Oscars.
It’s more than a grab bag of trophy winners. The celebration of the UK’s most innovative, poetic and extraordinary video commercials is one of the museum’s perennial favorites. And the program, swarmed by fans for decades, looks as good on its 31st anniversary as it has in years past.
It makes sense that it’s housed in an art center. The presentation is a treat for cinema fans, performance enthusiasts and music lovers. The best of British marketing is focused more on inspired entertainment than hard sells to bully you into conspicuous mass consumption. The BAA is an extravaganza where you can enjoy a mesmerizing duet between Italian prima ballerina Alessandra Ferri at age 52 and a hologram of herself 33 years younger.
Then again, you can watch household items crash clamorously on unlucky homeowners to hilariously address the value of good storage shelves.
And while Ikea (which commissioned those ads), H&M, McDonald’s and other familiar vendors are on display here, they’re largely used as the punchline, their logos showing up for a one-second end credit. Others are unknown to American audiences, all the better. You don’t need to know what Bupa is to enjoy its ad showing a woman of a certain age opening up energetically and emotionally on the dance floor. In fact, not knowing helps.
Somehow in Britain it doesn’t matter if an advert runs for a few seconds or several minutes. With the right ideas and talent involved, the latter can give us extravaganzas like “Come Together” for H&M.
It’s a flawless miniature film by Wes Anderson, with Adrien Brody playing a railroad conductor whose passengers will be stranded from their Christmas destination by bad weather. As you would expect from the director of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” an entire train was apparently rebuilt with old-school elegance for this undertaking. Since the group aboard can’t join their loved ones at home, an emergency Plan B is needed, and the solution is memorably charming. Until Anderson’s next film (a dystopian canine animation titled “Isle of Dogs”) arrives in the spring, this will do nicely, thank you.
The clothing chain also continues its droll comedy doubles act by David Beckham and Kevin Hart in “The Road Trip.” Their impeccably mismatched partnership debuted last year with Hart invading the soccer star’s life to prepare to play him in a biopic titled “I, Beckham.” Here, they’re on the road to Las Vegas to sell a musical version of the project. Everything that could go wrong with the hapless Hart at the wheel of a luxury tour bus does, and more, with Beckham as his unflappable straight man.
It’s fashion with a capital F in “The Tale of Thomas Burberry,” with Domhnall Gleeson, late of the “Star Wars” franchise, playing the creator of the iconic trench coat with full, heavily fictionalized seriousness. We follow the title character as he creates gabardine uniform jackets for British soldiers during World War I, outfits Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic explorations, experiences deep love and dark betrayal. With Sienna Miller, Dominic West and Lily James co-starring, a sweeping soundtrack and ostentatious production design, this easily could be the extended trailer for a big-bucks feature.
The collection includes a wonderful turn by singer-songwriter James Blunt as a somewhat more egocentric version of himself, an astonishing action movie fight scene unspooling in reverse, a touching public service short showing mirror images of how a girl’s life might evolve with and without support from others, and an outstanding musical number of supposedly “disabled” people showing how living without a couple of limbs isn’t as limited and gloomy as conventional folks might imagine. Altogether, it’s 73 minutes well spent.
Colin.Covert@startribune.com • 612-673-7186
British Arrow Awards 2017
Where: Walker Art Center, 725 Vineland Pl., Mpls.
When: Friday through Dec. 30.
Tickets: $14 ($11.20 Walker members, students and seniors) at Walkerart.org. Each ticket includes free gallery admission.