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Short Cuts: Walker Art Center again offers virtual screenings of British Arrows

Formerly known as the British Television Advertising Awards, the presentation lets Americans escape our highly commercialized holiday season for ... well, theirs.

Still from clay animation video, with a swan wearing tennis whites sitting in a referee's chair on a grass tennis court, looking down at a human person in a neat blue suit.
In this year's British Arrows, Mr. Swan declares Wimbledon "the official tennis of Sipsmith Gin."
Contributed / Walker Art Center
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DULUTH — Northlanders may not be familiar with the British Arrows , a cherished holiday tradition at the Walker Art Center since the 1980s. Until 2020, you'd have to go to Minneapolis to see each year's program of exceptional TV ads from across the pond, and it might be hard to find time for quirky commercials when there's Mall of America shopping to do.

Since the pandemic landed, though, the Walker has made an online option available. If you're ready to change things up after "Merry Kiss Cam," the Arrows provide an entirely different kind of family viewing — whether you're looking for uplifting montages, caustic British humor or nifty special effects. Each year's collection is also a temperature gauge on what people are responding to in the blizzard of on-air and online ads, and this year's Arrows highlight our shared humanity.

Standouts include a gravity-defying Burberry spot, a Viking-themed pro-helmet PSA and the annual John Lewis ad. That department store's holiday spot is always guaranteed to put a lump in your throat, and this year it's an extraterrestrial story set to Lola Young's haunting cover of the Giorgio Moroder gem "Together in Electric Dreams."

For information and tickets (virtual or in-person), see walkerart.org.

Speaking of Vikings, this week I continued my 2022 cinematic catch-up with "The Northman," which came out in April. I'll say this: what a correctly titled movie. Alexander Skarsgard plays a very Nordic Northman who finds purpose for his rampaging when he gets the opportunity to avenge a wrongful death.

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The line between "wrongful" and "rightful" is pretty muddy in this blood-soaked bruiser of a flick by Robert Eggers ("The Witch"). Don't expect to smile, but if you're in the mood for some unapologetically weird Viking violence and a lot of heavily accented grunting, "The Northman" will answer your call. It's available online for rent, purchase or pillaging.

Courtney Laine Self is moving from New York to join what she calls a "special" organization. In a major moment of transition, the Playhouse has also bought the former Encounter skate park building to use — for now — for storage.

On a much, much more wholesome note, the Duluth Playhouse has released the schedule for its first season of classes under Courtney Laine Self, the newly hired director of education and children's programming.

True to Self's promise, the lineup includes not just a robust range of classes for kids, but also for grown-ups. In one especially intriguing offering, a class spanning several weeks promises to walk adult learners through the entire production process for the Playhouse's NorShor show "Into the Woods."

To learn more, see duluthplayhouse.org. On Tuesday, the Playhouse is offering a late-afternoon opportunity to meet Self, learn more about upcoming classes and enjoy some snacks.

Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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