Welcome to Artcetera. Arts-and-entertainment writers and critics post movie news, concert updates, people items, video, photos and more. Share your views. Check it daily. Remain in the know. Contributors: Mary Abbe, Aimee Blanchette, Jon Bream, Tim Campbell, Colin Covert, Laurie Hertzel, Tom Horgen, Neal Justin, Claude Peck, Rohan Preston, Chris Riemenschneider, Graydon Royce, Randy Salas and Kristin Tillotson.

"Interstellar" offers futuristic space travel, old school film presentation

Posted by: Colin Covert under Movies, Tickets Updated: October 29, 2014 - 5:18 PM
Matthew McConaughey in "Interstellar." Photo: Paramount Pictures.

Matthew McConaughey in "Interstellar." Photo: Paramount Pictures.

If you don’t want to wait for the much ballyhooed space drama “Interstellar” on its opening Nov. 7, you can see it in Plymouth on the 5th. Or Apple Valley on the 4th.

The highly anticipated film starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain will be debut in early screenings two or three days before it hits major theaters.

Director Christopher Nolan, a true believer in the heritage of 20th century film, rather than digital camera work, is the best way to capture and present images. He remains one of the last filmmakers to shoot exclusively on celluloid, along with Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson and J.J. Abrams.

Nolan hopes to draw viewers into theaters with the top projection equipment to demonstrate how much better that film form is. He persuaded the “Interstellar” production partners, Paramount Pictures Corporation and Warner Bros. Pictures, to back his old school release idea even though the vast preponderance of U.S. theaters have converted to digital projection systems and can no longer show film.

Apple Valley’s Great Clips IMAX at the Minnesota Zoo is the only statewide cinema presenting it in 70mm IMAX projection Tuesday, Nov. 4 at 8 and 11:15 p.m.. Only 37 nationwide are hosting such premieres three days in advance of the standard format opening.

If you’re not an IMAX enthusiast, there’s another local option just for you. Plymouth’s Willow Creek 12 will be the sole theater in the state, and one of just 10 theatres in the country, playing “Interstellar” in classic 70mm motion picture film format. It shows the film at 1:30, 5 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 5, two days before its wide release.

Share your adoption stories for a new play

Posted by: Kristin Tillotson under Theater, Culture Updated: October 29, 2014 - 4:26 PM

Wonderlust cofounder Leah Cooper, right, recently received a $35,000 Arts Challenge award from the Knight Foundation's Dennis Scholl, at left. That money will be used to stage a play about the State Capitol. The theater company is also in the early stages of crafting a play about adoption in Minnesota and invites the public to share their stories.

Launched last year by the husband-and-wife creative team of Alan Berks and Leah Cooper, Wonderlust Productions creates and stages live theater that adds non-professional community members into the mix. Their first play, put on last fall at Fort Snelling, was themed around the experiences of military veterans, with a cast including both actual vets and actors. Written by a playwright, the show was based on soldiers' anecdotes and memories of war and its aftermath. 

This time around, Wonderlust is soliciting the stories of people affected by adoption, including adoptees, adoptive parents, birth parents and siblings. Several story circles are being hosted at various locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul over the next month to gather and weave these the recollections into a cohesive fictional play. The next one is 2-4 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 8 at Nautilus Music-Theater Studio, 308 Prince St. in Lowertown St. Paul. See wonderlustproductions.org for the schedule and more information.

Chris Koza goes solo -- again

Posted by: Chris Riemenschneider under Music, Minnesota musicians Updated: October 28, 2014 - 3:43 PM
                                                                                                Photo by Sara Montour

                                                                                                                                  Photo by Sara Montour

Usually it goes the other way: Start a band, build up a good following, and then piss off half of your fan base by starting your solo career. Rogue Valley frontman Chris Koza did that trajectory in reverse, however, releasing three well-received solo records before giving his band its own name and identity -- and its own major motion picture placement and crazy-ass ambitious project to pull off beautifully. So his fans certainly won’t mind that he’s releasing another record today under his own name, a week and a half ahead of the Nov. 9 release party at the Cedar Cultural Center.

Titled “In Real Time,” the album was posted in its entirety earlier today via Bandcamp and is certainly worth a good listen. He recorded it with a more veteran cast of players, including Semisonic bassist John Munson, pedal-steel ace Joe Savage and percussionists Ken Chastain and Richard Medek, plus pianist/harmonizer Alicia Christenson (née Wiley) and elegance specialists the Laurel Strings Quartet.

Sample the whole record below, or click here to go straight to "Wishing Well," one of the standout tracks and a good example of how it carries a little more slick production and poppy hookery than the RV albums without sacrificing any of Koza’s soft, bright-eyed songwriterly charms.

Click here for details on the Cedar concert with Reina del Cid.

Women composers nearly absent in orchestra programs

Posted by: Claude Peck under Music, Classical, Culture, Orchestras, Seen elsewhere: Neat stuff Updated: October 28, 2014 - 2:39 PM

Women composers remain almost entirely unrepresented in the concert programs of major U.S. orchestras, including the Minnesota Orchestra.

That is among findings of a new study by a writer attached to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Ricky O'Bannon pooled the 2014-15 classical concert seasons of 21 orchestras and looked at ages of composers, whether composers were living or dead, and the countries of origin of composers being played.

Female composers represent 1.8 percent of the works performed. When looking at works by living composers, those by women increases to 14.8 percent. The current season at Minnesota Orchestra includes one work by a woman composer in its regular subscription season (Polina Nazaykinskaya's "Winter Bells," Nov. 13-15 ). Two women composers will be played in the Jan. 16 Future Classics program.

The BSO study determined that the average date of all compositions performed is 1886, and that 9.5 percent of all music performed was composed since 2000. American composers made up less than 11 percent of pieces performed. Additional details are illustrated below. 

R&B star Marsha Ambrosius disses and seduces at the Fine Line

Posted by: Jon Bream under Music Updated: October 27, 2014 - 3:59 AM

R&B star Marsha Ambrosius has a reputation almost as much for her mouth as for her music.

She is known for telling it like it is in concert – a no nonsense approach in telling off that woman who took up with Marsha’s man or her man who has a girl on the side. She’s been known to dish and dish it out in concert in the spirit of 1970/80s soul princess Millie Jackson. If Miss Jackson was X-rated, Ambrosius is more R-rated but, on Sunday at the Fine Line Music Café in Minneapolis, she dropped her share of words unsuitable for print in the Star Tribune.

Still, Ambrosius wasn’t raunchy, though she peppered her patter with fiery trash talking. And she used hashtags projected on a backdrop to deliver messages. For example, #sophisticatedly ratchet was her way of describing her style – a little classy, a little trashy.

She mostly came to lay out her rules of relationships or, more specifically, to diss, dice and discipline her man – with a few love songs mixed in.

Backed by a live drummer and recorded music, Ambrosius played selections from her two solo albums, 2011’s “Late Nights and Early Mornings” and this year’s “Friends & Lovers.” The music was mostly repetitious slow jams with her lyrics and delivery being the most compelling elements. 

At times some of her tunes suggested Alicia Keys doing Sade but Ambrosius, who was sporting long braids and a wide-brimmed hat a la early Keys, has a voice with more range than either of those stars.

A Brit who has lived in Philadelphia for several years, she demonstrated everything from a seductive coo to hip-hop cadence to high trilling that suggested perhaps a little classical training somewhere along the line. She clearly can be an emotional singer, as evidenced on “Your Hands,” with its piercing pleas, and the big ballad “Run.”

Sometimes she came up with intriguing musical ideas such as the boss nova cool of “Kiss and F**k” but it was merely a short interlude that lasted less than two minutes.  “Stronger,” her reworking of Sade’s “Love Is Stronger Than Pride,” was musically uncompelling but proved that she can wail vocally. More appealing was “La La La La,” a seductive love song that mashs up her own work with Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You” (a mini-ripoff?).

Ambrosius’ second Fine Line appearance this year, the 80-minute performance went over well with the many women in the audience – and even a few of the fellows they brought with them.  

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