1 The joyous film “Jersey Boys” doubles down on its rags-to-riches theme. It follows Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons from working-class beginnings to Top 40 success, back down the charts, then up again to comeback glory and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A Broadway phenomenon since 2005, this sort-of-true account bounces from mob debts to family friction, drug deaths to neat-freak quarrels over hotel towels. And not 10 minutes passes without a hit song being sung. As directed by Clint Eastwood, “Jersey Boys” is a model of light, crowd-pleasing, song-propelled pop entertainment.
2 On his first album of new material since 1996, Willie Nelson delivers a keeper in “Band of Brothers.” He cowrote nine of the 14 tunes, offering wisdom and irreverence set to his classic sound. There are waltzes, blues, ballads, Western swing and honky tonkers with guitar solos from Willie and harmonica seasoning from Mickey Raphael. Standouts are about the still-restless 81-year-old’s life and the music biz — “The Songwriters,” “Hard to Be an Outlaw” and the closing “I’ve Got a Lot of Traveling to Do.”
3 Marianne Moore’s poetry long was considered “important” but also “difficult.” Only late in her long life (she died in 1972 at age 84) did the odd duck step out and become Time-magazine famous. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, she lived with her mother for 37 years, including in a Greenwich Village apartment so tiny they sat on the edge of the bathtub to eat their meals. Linda Leavell’s biography “Holding on Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore” has plenty of scholarly heft (she researched Moore for 30 years), but she keeps the fascinating story unfolding with the momentum of the latest Jo Nesbø.
4 As far as dying onstage goes, Bob Malos’ performance at Park Square in “The Red Box” is at once essential to the plot and unwittingly droll. He was poisoned and dies in the office of detective Nero Wolfe. New York playwright Joseph Goodrich adapted this two-act from the fourth novel in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe detective series. Director Peter Moore’s entertaining staging is more suggestive than active because this whodunit is mostly a head game. parksquaretheatre.org.
5 Minneapolis’ Groveland Gallery is rolling out its own fun version of “Summer Shorts,” a season-long program that includes three short shows with five guest artists — Gregory Ganeles, Greg Graham, Jack Dale, Miriam Rudolph and Niki Havekost. Plus seven Saturday programs including studio tours and a porch party on June 28, “porch painter demos” on four dates and a Plein-air Smackdown on July 26 when more than 15 artists will fan out in south Minneapolis in the morning and return to the gallery for a reception and sale of their day’s work from 4 to 6 p.m. BYO sun screen. grovelandgallery.com
Poll: Of "naughty" and "nice" Christmas movies, which is your favorite naughty one?