BANDS STREAMING LIVE
Quest Lovers Rock
Since March 22, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of the Roots has been deejaying for four hours per night from his Manhattan apartment. The streams started out on Instagram Live but have since migrated to the Roots page on YouTube. So far, the shows have been masterful blends of sensual soul and R&B, with D’Angelo and Roberta Flack segueing into Cody Chestnutt and Raphael Saadiq. There’s no set schedule, so keep an eye out on the drummer’s @Questlove Instagram page.
— Dan DeLuca
The formerly Philadelphian DJ-producer is among the hardest-working men in self-isolated streaming. The music maker born Wesley Pentz is doing four shows a week. Friday at 10 p.m., it’s a downtown Corona Sabbath ambient evening. Saturday at 11, a Coronanight Fever rave. And Sunday at 4, a Major Lazer-themed dance hall and reggae afternoon party. Next Thursday at 10, it starts up again with the country-flavored Thomas Wesley show. All events are streamed on his @diplo Instagram and his YouTube and Twitch channels.
Grand Ole Opry
The country music institution that began broadcasting in 1925 is carrying on during the pandemic, albeit without an audience. Last Saturday, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, and Brad Paisley appeared live on the Opry stage, exhibiting model behavior by sitting six feet apart. This week’s performers are not yet announced, but the Opry is committed to keep going, at least through April 4. Saturday at 8 on YouTube at Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius/XM Radio.
Since the coronavirus hit, in-demand Philadelphia guitarist Kevin Hanson has re-dubbed himself No Gigs Hanson, after an amusing 30-second unemployment blues he posted March 19. Since then, he’s carried on with one newly written song per day, some of which charmingly feature his daughters Phoebe and Chloe on vocals. At twitter.com/kevvyjhanson and facebook.com/kevin.hanson.378.
Rolling Stone “In My Room”
Rolling Stone magazine has started an intimate performance feature named after the Beach Boys’ 1963 self-quarantining masterpiece. The series appropriately kicked off with Brian Wilson alone at the piano, and has since included Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo from her Paris apartment and John Fogerty (and his dog Creedence) in his California backyard. Those episodes are archived, and new ones are being posted, at rollingstone.com/t/inmyroom.
BIG MOVIES, FRESH FROM THEATERS
This animated Disney-Pixar movie had two fair weeks at the virus-limited box office before making the jump to your home. Chris Pratt and Tom Holland voice elf brothers who go in search of magic in order to reunite with the father they never knew. Directed by Dan Scanlon (Monsters University). Available on streaming services and video-on-demand. (Rated PG, $19.99)
— Howard Gensler
This new Vin Diesel sci-fi/actioner bombed in theaters but that may be more a reflection on people staying home than people not wanting to see Diesel. On the other hand, in the retread plot, Vin plays a dead soldier who’s brought back to life with superpowers. Eiza Gonzalez costars with Sam Heughan (for the Outlander crowd). Dave Wilson moves over from the Visual Effects side to direct. Now available on VOD. (Rated PG-13, $19.99).
The Call of the Wild
Harrison Ford stars in another adaptation of Jack London’s classic novel, but this version has $100 million worth of special effects. Audiences heeded the “Call” when the movie opened at the end of February ($62 million gross) so 20th Century Fox is rushing it to VOD March 27. An adventure movie for the family may be just the cure for cabin fever. (Rated PG, $14.99)
Sam Mendes’ triple Oscar-winner set during WWI was available for home viewing a few weeks ago, but this weekend moves to a lower price point. It’s the story of two soldiers who must race to deliver a message that could save their fellow soldiers from a massacre. If that hits a little to close to home now, we understand. (Rated R, $5.99)
Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, the character who stole Suicide Squad from a bunch of psycho thieves, returns. She’s getting over her relationship with The Joker by teaming up with Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) to, dare we say it, do a little good. The movie has grossed closed to $200 million in theaters worldwide but is being sped to homes while it’s still fresh. Available on streaming services and VOD. (Rated R, $19.99).
The Way Back
Ben Affleck stars as a troubled alcoholic — hmmm … — who returns to the school where he was once a basketball star to coach the team that hasn’t been good since he played there. Penn grad Gavin O’Connor (Miracle, Tumbleweeds, Warrior) directs. The movie comes to streaming services and video-on-demand after a brief theatrical run. (Rated R, $19.99).
Alfre Woodard, who’s always great, stars as a prison warden being beaten down psychologically by the number of executions she’s forced to oversee, especially the latest one. With Richard Schiff, Aldis Hodge, and Wendell Pierce. Written and directed by Temple grad Chinonye Chukwu. Available on streaming services and VOD. (Rated R, $14.99).
Also new on-demand this week: the Jamie Foxx/Michael B. Jordan legal drama Just Mercy (2019, PG-13) and the Guy Ritchie-directed crime/comedy, The Gentleman (2019, R) starring Matthew McConaughey and a lot of familiar Brits. If you need a break from all this testosterone, Emma (2020, PG), the latest retelling of the Jane Austen classic launched on VOD last Friday.
THE BEST ON TV
Looking for stories of people doing hard things to save lives? Andrew Garfield stars in this 2016 biopic about World War II combat medic Desmond Doss, a pacificist who refused to carry a gun but whose lifesaving exploits at the Battle of Okinawa, earned him the Medal of Honor. 7 p.m. Friday, AMC.
— Ellen Gray
Third season of the crime drama picks up six months later. Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, and Julia Garner — who won a supporting-actress Emmy for her role — all return, and a potentially disruptive new character is introduced. Because running a family laundering money for a drug cartel apparently isn’t complicated enough. Friday, Netflix.
Taraji P. Henson stars as NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson — who helped send Americans into space and who died on Feb. 24 at age 101 — in a movie that deserves to count toward a couple of hours of home schooling, if only for the inspiration to keep plugging away at math. 8 p.m. Saturday, FX.
Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Think God Friended Me with more than a touch of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. This musical dramedy, which stars Jane Levy (Suburgatory) as a computer coder who gains the ability to know what’s in people’s heads and hearts by seeing them perform in over-the-top production numbers, is one of my favorite new escapes. 9 p.m. Sunday, NBC.
The Baker and the Beauty
ABC’s version of a Notting Hill-style romantic comedy about, yes, a baker and a world-famous beauty, doesn’t premiere until April 13. The Israeli show on which it’s based is streaming now, and with 20 half-hour episodes, ripe for bingeing. Amazon Prime Video.
Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker
No one does don’t-you-dare-underestimate-me like Octavia Spencer. The Oscar winner stars as the African American hair-care entrepreneur who went from washerwoman to millionaire in the early 20th century. The four-episode limited series also features Tiffany Haddish, Blair Underwood, Carmen Ejogo, and Garrett Morris. Netflix.
Stay Home & Have Hope
“When many of us can’t go outside, we come together to look inside.” That’s your invitation from the digital wellness powerhouse The Well and the integrated-health platform Chopra (a collaboration between Deepak Chopra and Oprah) to a live global meditation event livestreaming at noon Sunday. The mantra-based meditation will be led by Chopra, who is expecting millions to join him. Sign up at the-well.com/stayhome. You can join from a PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, or Android device.
— Becky Batcha
SHOW TUNES, LOCAL THEATER, FINE ARTS
#SunshineSongs on Twitter
A lot of ink was given to student athletes who missed out on their spring seasons, but not much lto the theater geeks whose spring musicals got axed. Broadway star Laura Benanti wanted to fix that and told young performers to tweet her home videos of their performances. Stephanie Block and Lin-Manuel Miranda joined the cause. #SunshineSongs now features a wealth of clips of young belters singing and dancing and making an otherwise gloomy situation a little better.
Going Viral: A Facebook Live Short Play Festival
Philly’s theaters are closed, but its theater people are reaching out to audiences on virtual stages, including this festival of small-cast, 10-minute plays that, in the spirit of social distancing, were rehearsed and performed over video chat. Produced by Eleanor Safer and Paige Zubel, the festival runs through Sunday on Facebook Live (a Facebook search for the title will bring you to it). Free, but there are links on the page to support local artists. 7 p.m. through Sunday, Facebook Live.
Ethics of the Fathers AKA The Gangster & the GrandPa
Theatre Ariel’s first livestream is a play written and performed by Jesse Bernstein and directed by dramaturg Deborah Baer Mozes. 4 p.m. Sunday on Theatre Ariel’s Facebook page and its YouTube channel.
Orchestras from everywhere on WRTI-FM (90.1)
The Temple University station has long carried broadcasts of recorded live orchestra concerts, and now the service seems suddenly critical. You can hear orchestras from all over, on a daily rotation, on the station’s HD-2 channel, easily accessible on WRTI’s website and app. Weekend programs, all at 7 p.m., include the Philadelphia Orchestra (Thursday), New York Philharmonic (Friday), and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (Saturday). Sunday at 1 p.m. is the Philadelphia Orchestra’s weekly broadcast. This week’s program: “Wizards, Sorcerers, and Magic.”
The 7 p.m. HD-2 shows pick up again on Monday (the Philadelphians again), Tuesday (Chicago Symphony Orchestra), and Wednesday, the San Francisco Symphony).
— Peter Dobrin
Blanka Zizka reads Etel Adnan’s “There”
Wilma Theater lead artistic director Blanka Zizka reads a chapter a day from There by Lebanese poet Etel Adnan. The Wilma produced an adaptation of the work as part of the Fringe Festival this past fall, but here, presented in Zizka’s spare, spoken to-camera reading, it is stripped down to its essential elegance. Chapter 1 is on the theater’s website, at wilmatheater.org/pandemic-response/a-message-from-blanka. Subsequent readings are on YouTube. She’s thinking this weekend will bring chapters 9 through 11.
Mitch Gillette art tours on Facebook
Even as he finishes his own epic, 304-page graphic novel Tales of the Buffoon, Gillette guides visitors to his Facebook page on a quirky tour of art through the ages. . Comic book images, stills of early film stars, and artifacts of mid-20th-century TV kitsch are as likely to appear as overlooked masterpieces. A glowing landscape by Norwegian painter Harald Sohlberg flickered across the Facebook feed recently, as did a publicity photo of Jim Backus with Mr. Magoo.
LOCAL FILM FESTS, LIVE
The Garden State Film Festival
With movie theaters in New Jersey closed, one of the area’s top independent film festivals is going online f through Sunday, March 29. More than 240 films are in the fest and they’ll be shown on a schedule, as if you were attending and not just sitting on your couch. Screening fees run from $15 for an individual block to $55 for the whole four days. (livestreaming, tickets at gsff.org/tickets).
Gershman Philadelphia Jewish Film Festival Virtual Netflix Watch Party
Thursday, March 26, at 7 p.m. the JFF and Tribe 12 offer up episode 1 of Unorthodox, the German TV mini-series, directed by Maria Schrader. Unorthodox, which will air in four parts on Netflix, is the story of an ultra-Orthodox woman who flees her country in order to break free of her arranged marriage. It’s in German, English, and Yiddish with English subtitles. It’s free.