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, 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.
It's time again for a commercial interruption. Walker Art center's annual presentation of the cream of Britain's TV advertising opens Friday and runs through Jan. 6. As always, the spots in the 75-minute showcase display extraordinary creativity, whether they're clipped, clever info-blips or ambitious entries dripping with cinematic production values.
A few even boast movie stars, peppering the spots with the kind of smartly targeted celebrity appeal not often seen in U.S. advertising. There's Hugh Jackman getting slapped silly for Lipton Tea, Kiefer Sutherland longing for a high school crush for Axe Body Wash, and Kevin Bacon, Michael Fassbender, Godzilla and He-Man making cameo appearances.
Some of the commercials are riotous (a small girl's fantasy of playing house with imaginary friends on Ikea furniture), some shocking (the ambulance service advert comparing cancer and accident fatalities) and some solemnly breathtaking. The Commercial of the Year winner, "Meet the Superhumans," a tribute to the extraordinary commitment of athletes in the Channel 4 Paralympics, will make any viewer reconsider his definitions of "handicapped" and "disabled." Tickets ($12 for the public, $10 for Walker members) sell out fast. Call (612) 375-7569.
At the final Talking Volumes event of the 2013 season, crime novelist (and jazz lover) Michael Connelly said he was co-producing a documentary about Minneapolis-born jazz saxophonist Frank Morgan, who died in 2007. Connelly said he often listens to jazz when he writes, especially when he's writing about his popular detective hero Harry ("Hieronymous") Bosch.
Connelly said that Morgan's family members, some of whom were in the audience at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul on Tuesday, had been very helpful in making the documentary, "Sound of Redemption," which Connelly said is likely to be released in spring 2014.
Morgan was born in Minneapolis in 1933, raised mostly in Milwaukee and then moved to Los Angeles, where drugs soon led him to an adult life spent in and out of prison. His late-in-life comeback began in the mid-1980s, and included gigs at the Dakota in Minneapolis, after he moved back to Minneapolis in 2005. The Morgan documentary is being directed by N.C. Heikin, and includes interviews as well as archival footage. James Egan is another producer.
Connelly has written about his love of Morgan's music, and how he came to the idea that detective Bosch would love it, too.
Chuck Logan, far right, met the stars and director of "Homefront," based on his book at a premiere at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. They include, starting third from left: Kate Bosworth, Jason Statham, Izabela Vidovic, Winona Ryder, James Franco and director Gary Fleder. Photo by Eric Charbonneau.
At his first red carpet event for a major Hollywood release, the "Homefront" premiere at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas Wednesday, Stillwater author Chuck Logan described a chaotic scene. "Cameras everywhere, people moving you along -- I wound up lost in some storage area at one point." Logan spoke briefly with both top-billed stars, Jason Statham and James Franco, and was struck by how much bigger Statham looks onscreen than in real life.
"Actually Franco's almost bigger than him, I think," he said. "I don't know what they do, maybe have everyone else walk in specially dug trenches so they look shorter, like they used to do with Alan Ladd."
A feature on Logan and the movie runs Sunday, and a review of "Homefront" next Wednesday.
POST BY CAROLINE PALMER, SPECIAL TO THE STAR TRIBUNE
While it may not be as glamorous as sitting in a grand theatre and watching a live performance, the opportunity to see an internationally revered dance company on a large movie screen is almost as good as being in the moment, particularly when London’s Royal Opera House Ballet is putting on the show.
Last month several area cinemas played host to a screening of the troupe’s vibrant “Don Quixote” and on Tuesday night “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” was the main event. Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, this production (premiered in 2011 and revived in spring 2013) is as hare-brained as anyone would desire when it comes to the Lewis Carroll classic. On film it’s possible to enjoy close-up the production details and they are mighty clever, right down to every inch of the Mad Hatter’s anarchic tea party, the antic flamingo croquet match, and the tiniest jam tarts over which many a battle is fought. Sara Lamb (who ably meets the challenge of appearing in nearly every scene of the ballet) is full of good humor and sardonic delight as Alice while Zenaida Yanowsky (the Red Queen) is the very essence of head-lopping derangement.
In December the film series continues with “The Nutcracker.” This production, created by Peter Wright, first premiered in 1984 at Covent Garden and has been a holiday mainstay for the Royal Opera Ballet ever since. The interpretation is based on the traditional story of a girl’s Christmas Eve fantasy filled with toys come to life, battling mice, and, of course, a performance by the Sugar Plum Fairy. The performance screening, as with the two previous ones, features behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage, information about the creative process and interviews with some of the main artists.
“The Nutcracker,” Tues., Dec. 19 at 7 p.m. Five cinema locations in the metro area. Prices vary. Visit www.fathomevents.com for further information.