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Review: A visionary sci-fi thriller is born in ‘Ex Machina’

Photo provided by A24 Films -- Domhnall Gleeson plays the sharp programmer in the new sci-fi thriller, 'Ex Machina.'

Cinema has always been fascinated by androids. From “Metropolis” to “Blade Runner,” the juxtaposition of humans next to their artificial form has provided endless hours of stories that can be as exhilarating as they are poignant. Tough moral questions about consciousness and humanity go down easier when hidden under the glossy sheen of genre, after all. With… Continue reading →

Review: ‘Adaline’ is both ludicrous and deeply moving

This image released by Lionsgate shows Blake Lively in a scene from "The Age of Adaline." (Diyah Pera/Lionsgate via AP)

Is it possible for a movie to be at once ludicrously silly and genuinely moving? That’s the strange question you might find yourself asking while watching “The Age of Adaline,” a romantic fantasy with surprising heft that will likely have you scoffing at one moment, then furtively wiping away a tear the next. It’ll also have you… Continue reading →

Review: Russell Crowe’s ‘Diviner’ a robust, assured war tale

This image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Russell Crowe in a scene from "The Water Diviner." (Mark Rogers/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Making his directorial debut with the brawny and big-hearted Australian war drama “The Water Diviner,” Russell Crowe taps a deep well of symbolism, cultural empathy and good old-fashioned storytelling. Crowe, who also stars as a grieving father stoically bulldozing through Turkey in search of three sons missing in action after the World War I… Continue reading →

Jazz Fest’s first weekend boasts blockbuster lineup

Advocate staff photo by MATTHEW HINTON -- An unusually large crowd covers both the horse track and Fair Grounds infield as Eric Clapton plays at the main Acura Stage at Jazz Fest in 2014.

Blockbuster lineups featuring major music stars have become the norm for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The 2015 edition of the festival follows the trend and then some. This year’s eclectic headlining acts include classic rock acts The Who and Elton John; the super-duo of Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga; country music… Continue reading →

Open casting call for two feature films set for Saturday

Central Casting Louisiana will conduct an open casting call for the feature films “The Magnificent 7” and “Hush” 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Celtic Media Centre (Studios), 10000 Celtic Drive, Baton Rouge. For the classic western “The Magnificent 7,” all ethnicities of men with facial hair and “good western looks” are being sought, as well as women… Continue reading →

Trio to close out River City Jazz Masters Series

Photo provided by Marcus Roberts Enterprises, Inc. -- From left, Marcus Roberts, Jason Marsalis and Rodney Jordan form the Marcus Roberts Trio.

Next week virtuoso jazz pianist, composer, recording artist and educator Marcus Roberts will make his first appearance in Baton Rouge since 2000. The Marcus Roberts Trio, featuring New Orleans drummer Jason Marsalis and one of the pianist’s music professor colleagues at Florida State University in Tallahassee, bassist Rodney Jordan, will perform Wednesday at the Manship Theatre.… Continue reading →

Outlying areas for April 24-30, 2015

Photo provided-- Baton Rouge native Charles Pillow, assistant professor of jazz saxophone at Eastman School of Music, will give a concert Friday night and join the Southeastern Jazz Ensemble for a concert Saturday afternoon, both in the Pottle Auditorium at SLU in Hammond.

CHARLES PILLOW & FRIENDS: 7:30 p.m., Pottle Auditorium, Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond. Baton Rouge native Pillow is assistant professor of jazz saxophone at Eastman School of Music. Part of the Bill Evans Jazz Festival. $15. BROADWAY, BITES AND BUBBLIES: Shadows Bend home of Tommy and Mary Carol LeBlanc, New Iberia. To benefit the Iberia… Continue reading →

Finland, Australia, Japan on the Helsinki bandstand

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Trombonist Katja Toivola, vocalist Tricia Boutte and trumpeter Leroy Jones will present the New Orleans Helsinki Connection band. (featuring Finnish and New Orleans musician friends) at two gigs during April.

In 2002, musicians from Finland and New Orleans, united by the universal language of jazz, formed New Orleans Helsinki Connection. As often happens with jazz bands, though, players on the bandstand can vary. That’s true whether New Orleans Helsinki Connection is playing in Finland, Norway, New Orleans, Moscow or São Paulo. Planned… Continue reading →

Tedeschi Trucks blends musical styles, takes powerhouse on the road

Photo by VIKAS NAMBIAR -- Derek Trucks, left, and Susan Tedeschi lead the Tedeschi Trucks Band

The Tedeschi Trucks Band — featuring Derek Trucks’ slide-guitar virtuosity, Susan Tedeschi’s soulful singing and blues guitar, two drummers and three-piece horn section punch — is a roots-music powerhouse ripe for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Trucks, who shares the band’s name with his wife, Susan Tedeschi, said the group performs a… Continue reading →

Review: A visionary sci-fi thriller is born in ‘Ex Machina’

Photo provided by A24 Films -- Domhnall Gleeson plays the sharp programmer in the new sci-fi thriller, 'Ex Machina.'

Cinema has always been fascinated by androids. From “Metropolis” to “Blade Runner,” the juxtaposition of humans next to their artificial form has provided endless hours of stories that can be as exhilarating as they are poignant. Tough moral questions about consciousness and humanity go down easier when hidden under the glossy sheen of genre, after all. With… Continue reading →

Percy Sledge remembered as a singer who lit up concert stages with his smile: ‘A genuinely good guy’

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Sanricca Sledge Lawrence sings during the funeral services for singer Percy Sledge at Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, La..

Percy Sledge, singer of “When a Man Loves a Woman,” the 1966 No. 1 hit that became a soul-music classic, was remembered Tuesday as a kind and charismatic man who lit up rooms and concert stages with his unmistakable smile. The three-hour-plus funeral service for Sledge at Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker was streamed live… Continue reading →

Live video: Watch Percy Sledge's funeral services from Baker church

Advocate staff photo by Bill Feig -- Mourners stop to pay respects to singer Percy Sledge before funeral services Tuesday, April 21, 2015, at Bethany World Prayer Center in Baton Rouge.

Tuesday’s funeral services for singer Percy Sledge, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and longtime Baton Rouge resident whose recording, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” was an international hit in 1966, will be streamed on the internet at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at www.percysledge.org. Sledge died Tuesday, April 14, in Baton Rouge at the… Continue reading →

Joan Jett emotional at Rock Hall induction

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Saturday, April 18, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

CLEVELAND (AP) — Joan Jett couldn’t keep her rough rocker edge for long. Once she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Jett was overcome by the moment and moved to tears. “I tried not to cry and be tough,” she said, her black mascara starting to run. Jett and other music… Continue reading →

’Furious 7’ outpaces ‘Paul Blart’

Photo courtesy Sony Pictures -- Kevin James returns as Paul Blart in ‘Paul Blart: Mall  Cop 2.’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Even in its debut weekend, Kevin James’s “Paul Blart” sequel couldn’t outpace “Furious 7.” The reigning box office champion might have slowed from its blockbuster debut, but “Furious 7” maintained first place for the third weekend in a row with an estimated $29.1 million, according to box office tracker Rentrak on Sunday.… Continue reading →

British director Rupert Goold tells ‘True Story’

Photo by MARY CYBULSKI -- Director Rupert Goold assesses a scene on the set of 'True Story.'

In “True Story,” Michael Finkel, a star reporter at The New York Times, loses his job after he fictionalizes a story about modern-day slavery in Africa. Reeling from his swift dismissal, Finkel learns that an accused murderer, Christian Longo, assumed the reporter’s identity prior to being apprehended. Later, the ex-reporter and imprisoned alleged murderer agree to… Continue reading →

Review: Disneynature explores ‘Monkey Kingdom’

Photo by JEFF WILSON -- Kip's a character in Disneynature's 'Monkey Kingdom.'

In the ruins of an ancient city in the Sri Lankan jungle, a community of macaque monkeys goes about its organized, even ritualistic monkey business. And monkeys, like the most powerful humans on Earth, play politics. “Monkey Kingdom,” an immersive new Disneynature documentary, quickly establishes the troupe’s rules and pecking order. As in human society, there… Continue reading →

Review: Tom Hardy excels, but ‘Child 44’ feels like 40 movies

Lionsgate photo by LARRY HORRICKS -- Tom Hardy appears in a scene from the film, 'Child 44.'

The best-selling novel “Child 44” by Tom Rob Smith runs well over 400 pages, and that’s perhaps the first hint as to why the movie based on it seems to veer in 40 different directions. It’s a political movie. It’s a war film. It’s a crime thriller. And suddenly, late in the proceedings, it becomes an… Continue reading →

Dance company presents contemporary version of ‘Romeo + Juliet’

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Choreographer Pavel Zustiak gives direction as Of Moving Colors dancers practice and perform scenes from Romeo + Juliet.'

Of Moving Colors’ company dancers are excited about where Pavel Zustiak will take them next in their telling of William Shakespeare’s most popular romance. Zustiak, artistic director of the New York-based dance company Palissimo, is a collaborator for the contemporary dance company’s “Romeo + Juliet.” Performances are Tuesday and Wednesday in… Continue reading →

Baton Rouge Concert Band to play spring concert

Advocate file photo by HEATHER MCCLELLAND -- Sheily Bell will direct the Baton Rouge Concert Band's 'Scenes and Landscapes' concert.

The Baton Rouge Concert Band will welcome spring with its annual spring concert, titled “Scenes and Landscapes,” at 3 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church, 529 Convention St. The band, under the direction of Sheily Bell, will perform a lineup of songs that paint pictures of landscapes throughout the world.… Continue reading →

Spring Art Hop set for Saturday

The Bocage Cultural District and N the Art Space will host their Spring Art Hop 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Saturday at N the Art Space, Buildings B, C and G, 7809 Jefferson Highway. The event will feature 37 open art studios, 10 guest artists, the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge tent, refreshments by… Continue reading →

Rocking Out: After 5 years, ‘Guitar Hero,’ ‘Rock Band’ to return

Photo provided by Activision Publishing, Inc. -- An In-game screenshot is shown from 'Guitar Hero Live' from Activision Publishing, Inc.

The publisher of “Guitar Hero” is readying a comeback tour. Activision Blizzard Inc. announced plans Tuesday to resurrect the once-popular video game franchise, which involved players rhythmically tapping guitar-shaped controllers along to music. The new entry scheduled for release this fall is titled “Guitar Hero Live” and introduces a redesigned… Continue reading →

Fairs and festivals calendar for April 17-23, 2015

Advocate file photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- One of several bulls wait in the chute during the Angola Prison Rodeo in October. The spring rodeo is this weekend.

NATCHITOCHES JAZZ/R&B FESTIVAL: Cane River banks, downtown Natchitoches. Music festival with headliners .38 Special, Mitch Ryer and Hoe Molland’s Badfinger. $20, weekend pass. www.natchjazzfest.com 12TH ANNUAL BAYOU TECHE BLACK BEAR FESTIVAL: downtown Franklin. The festival’s purpose is to educate the public about the Louisiana black bear, a species… Continue reading →

Review: Reba shines on ‘Love Somebody’

“Love Somebody” is Reba McEntire’s best album of the 21st century because it draws on her strengths: That is, subtly and powerfully interpreting substantial story songs about adult relationships set to contemporary country music. At 60, the performer — she bills herself by her first name these days… Continue reading →

Hilary Duff admits to playing catch up in fast-paced music biz

Invision/AP photo by AMY SUSSMAN -- Hilary Duff

Though Hilary Duff is 27, when it comes to the music industry, she’s first to admit she’s trying to make up for lost time in the seven years since she last released an album. “When I first started it was all about selling records and I was lucky to sell… Continue reading →