Few filmmakers in any medium can match the track record of Pete Docter, the Bloomington native who now heads Pixar. The writer/director has a pair of Oscars for “Inside Out” and “Up,” and his résumé also includes “Monsters Inc.” as well as work on the first two “Toy Story” movies and “Wall-E.” His latest is Pixar’s most ambitious and adult-centric movie yet. Featuring a jazz score created by Jon Batiste in collaboration with Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, “Soul” is about a musician (voiced by Jamie Foxx) who calls on a youthful soul to help him regain his passion for music. (Nov. 20)
‘The West Wing’
The pandemic may have delayed the much ballyhooed “Friends” reunion, but other beloved TV casts have been using the downtime to get reacquainted. That includes the Bartlet administration, which will hold a special session at L.A.’s Orpheum Theatre next month to tape a new version of the 2002 episode “Hartsfield’s Landing” — the one in which the president (Martin Sheen) plays chess literally (with Sam, played by Rob Lowe) and figuratively (with the Chinese). Aaron Sorkin, who is adding new material to his original teleplay, is also giving us “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” an all-star legal drama. (“West Wing” airs sometime in October on HBO Max; “Chicago 7” starts streaming Oct. 16 on Netflix.)
Box sets bonanza
With music fans dropping more money on albums in lieu of concert tickets, record companies are flooding the market with suitcase-size vinyl and/or CD box sets this fall. There are three enticing ones with ’80s Minnesota roots: Prince’s expanded version of “Sign o’ the Times” boasts 63 unreleased tracks (out Friday); the Replacements’ “Pleased to Meet Me” redux adds outtakes, demos and live tracks (Oct. 9); and Bob Mould’s “Distortion” covers his post-Hüsker Dü career, including his early-’90s band Sugar (Oct. 2). Other big bundles include New Order’s “Power, Corruption & Lies” with a 1983 live track from First Avenue (Oct. 2), Sade’s “This Far” anthology (Oct. 9) and Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers” collection (Oct. 16).
Mia’s remodeled Asian galleries
That puff of smoke at the Minneapolis Institute of Art is coming from a dog-shaped, ceramic Vietnamese incense burner. “The smoke comes through the dog’s mouth,” said curator Pujan Gandhi. A 1931 gift to the museum from Alfred F. Pillsbury, “I don’t think it’s ever been on view,” he said. It’s just one of many pieces Gandhi has added to Mia’s South and Southeast Asian galleries, a renovation project he’s been working on since arriving two years ago. Expect fewer walls, new lighting and more colors when the remodeled galleries — untouched since the late 1990s — make their debut Oct. 15.
With his show-must-go-on attitude, this Motown giant isn’t about to let a pandemic disappoint the PACER Center, the Twin Cities nonprofit that works with children with disabilities and combats bullying. Even though its 38th annual gala is going virtual, Robinson will perform live from California. The charismatic legend knows how to deliver sunshine on a cloudy day, whether exploring classics like “Tears of a Clown,” his comeback hit “Being With You” or gems he wrote for others, including “My Girl.” (Nov. 14 via PACER.org. Tickets start at $75.)
Chosen by London’s Daily Telegraph as one of the 15 best plays ever written, Caryl Churchill’s drama is about the price women pay for success. Both experimental and accessible, “Top Girls” finds Marlene celebrating her achievements in business, with the assistance of figures from throughout history, including Joan of Arc. Theatre Pro Rata, which presented one of the last plays to complete its run before the pandemic (the excellent “Silent Sky”), will be one of the first to return with a socially distant production that follows public health guidelines. (Nov. 7-22, Crane Theater, Mpls. theatreprorata.org.)
With its signature style of jazz dance mixed with ballet, tap and hip-hop, Collide Theatrical is taking a hybrid approach to its fall production, offering “The Café” as an outdoor event in the parking lot of Gremlin Theater, where you can watch with a mask while standing 6 feet apart from others, or as a virtual streaming experience you can enjoy at home. The hourlong production follows the story of a dozen characters, performed by eight dancers, navigating modern-day relationships. (7:30 p.m. Sept. 25-26, 550 Vandalia St., St. Paul, 651-395-7903, collidetheatrical.org.)
‘The Sky Where You Are’
Desperate situations require innovative remedies. With no in-person opera on the horizon, Twin Cities ensemble An Opera Theatre is hooking up with eight other U.S. companies to present “Tales From a Safe Distance,” a suite of new online mini-operas. AOT’s contribution is “The Sky Where You Are,” composed by Maria Thompson Corley to Jenny O’Connell’s libretto. It addresses issues of domestic violence during the pandemic quarantine. (Oct. 23 at decameronoperacoalition.org, $15.)
Charles Baxter’s ‘The Sun Collective’
It’s been 12 years since this Minneapolis author has published a novel. Baxter has been turning his attention to short stories of late, with the 2012 collection “Gryphon” and 2016’s “There’s Something I Want You to Do.” But fans of “The Soul Thief” and “The Feast of Love” will want to haunt their favorite indie bookstore on Nov. 17, when “The Sun Collective” hits stores. Set in Minneapolis, it’s the story of a missing young man, a cult and an underground group of extremists. Definitely worth the wait. (Pantheon)
‘Flip the Script: The Great Divide IV’
Pillsbury House Theatre launched this series in the wake of the 2016 election, tapping playwrights to craft 10-minute playlets tackling the nation’s political tensions. Now it goes virtual, with Christina Ham, Alan Berks, Cristina Florencia Castro, Andrew Rosendorf and Aamera Siddiqui addressing this anguished moment in the midst of a pandemic and protests for racial justice. The acting team includes Tracey Maloney, Darius Dotch, Audrey Park, Ashawnti Sakina Ford and Nora Montañez, under the direction of Noël Raymond. (Sept. 25-Dec. 1 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts and at pillsburyhouseandtheatre.org. Free, but donations welcomed.)