- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 14, 2003

The Embassy of Finland is showing the work of Tapio Wirkkala, its greatest designer-craftsman, through June 13. Mr. Wirkkala (1915-1985) witnessed the birth of numerous art movements — cubism, surrealism, abstract-expressionism, pop and minimalism — but remained true to the purity and simplicity of his Nordic design roots. Whether working in glass, woods, metals, porcelain or plastics, he looked to nature and its underlying geometry for inspiration. His work, as seen in the exhibit, includes chunky “ice-formed” containers, sculptural stainless steel flatware and intricately laminated plywood floor sculptures as well as bank notes and his signature Absolut vodka bottles. Tapio Wirkkala — Design Legend from Finland is at the Embassy of Finland, 3301 Massachusetts Ave. NW, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through June 13. Free. 202/298-5800.

Joanna Shaw-Eagle

New 35mm prints of Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bete have become available, and the American Film Institute Theater has reserved a pair. A revival booking for two weeks begins tomorrow at the AFI’s new Silver Theatre. A one-week engagement is scheduled for the AFI’s National Theater at Kennedy Center starting May 23. Originally released in 1946, the film set distinctive atmospheric standards for fairy-tale stylization in live-action movies. In fact, Beast’s castle may have an enhanced charm in this period of digital overkill, illustrated at its most repetitious and conspicuous in “The Matrix Reloaded.” Mr. Cocteau and his designers had to depend on stagecraft and editing tricks. Their manipulation of slow motion, especially when Beauty first enters the castle, remains more elegant than anything contrived for the levitating action scenes of the “Matrix” spectacles. Josette Day and Jean Marais played the title characters for the director. A period piece with staying power, the film may be just the ticket for spectators who want to sample the renovated Silver by attending a classic that harks back to the early years of the original auditorium, which opened in 1938.

Gary Arnold

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