A scene from "Brother, Where Art Thou?"
During tough economic times, it’s easy to imagine entertainment falling by the wayside. But during the Great Depression, movies remained popular. In part, that’s because films were a relatively inexpensive form of escapism. Since America is once again facing economic troubles, we thought it would be fun to look at some of the greatest movies ever to address financial concerns. Don’t worry. They aren’t all downers. Plenty of movies built around poverty and strife are not only entertaining but inspirational. In fact, we found several sub-genres that fit neatly beneath the umbrella of “Spare-change cinema.”
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Reno pianist James Winn says the Nevada Chamber Music Festival is not only an excellent event for local music lovers, it’s great for local musicians.
“I think it’s good for Reno audiences because they get to hear these wonderful people,” Winn says. “It’s good for Reno musicians because we get to play with these wonderful people and keep our chops up at the level where they belong.”
This year’s festival, which begins Dec. 28, features seven concerts with some of the finest classical musicians in the world. The lineup includes Grammy-nominated violinist James Buswell, world-renowned cellist Clive Greensmith, Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour and Cleveland Orchestra principal violist Robert Vernon.
These internationally known musicians will perform alongside Winn and other players from Reno, and the locals say that helps them gauge their abilities.
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Performers from "Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy."
In the theater world, it’s good to be a triple-threat — a performer who can sing, dance and act. To star in “Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy” it takes even more.
“I kind of give myself the title of quadruple threat,” said Marco Balestracci, a “Jungle Fantasy” performer. “You’ve got singers, actors, dancers. You have gymnasts. … Not many people can do everything. I can sing a little bit. … I danced for 11 years, strictly ballet with jazz and modern and tap and all the other stuff on the side. Then I took gymnastics for 12 to 13 years competitively. … Now I can actually add to my resume that I’ve been on Broadway and that I’m an acrobat, too.”
It takes a multitalented entertainer to lead a show like “Jungle Fantasy,” opening at the Pioneer Center today, because it shares traits with both cirque (or circus) productions and Broadway theater. Although cirque is French for “circus,” the production is a far cry from a Ringling Brothers show. Rather than focus on animals performing in rings, it blends traditional circus acts into the ongoing story of a man discovering life in the jungle.
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Sean Penn plays Harvey Milk in the new movie.
In 1977, Harvey Bernard Milk became the first openly gay man elected to a major public office in California. A year later, the San Francisco city supervisor was in the national spotlight again, one of two victims of a double homicide.
Thursday is the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Milk and San Francisco Mayor George Moscone. Both were gunned down by Dan White, a former supervisor who had resigned his post and become angry when Moscone refused to re-appoint him.
White’s defense team argued that he was depressed and not fully responsible for his actions, citing his consumption of mass amounts of junk food. The argument was called the “Twinkie defense.”
The anniversary of the killings is being commemorated this week by the release of the film “Milk,” with Sean Penn in the starring role. The film opens today in the Bay Area and other major markets today, with arrival in Reno scheduled for Dec. 12.
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James Van Praagh in action.
James Van Praagh sees dead people.
In fact, he feels like the movie “The Sixth Sense” — about a boy who communes with the deceased — is based on his life.
“I was that boy,” he said. “But I used to see very positive things, not really negative impressions or visions. It was all very positive.”
Van Praagh began seeing things others couldn’t when he was just a child, he said, but it wasn’t until he reached his twenties that he saw the opportunity to make a living with his visions. Today, he is a professional medium who teaches classes, writes books, hosts television shows and leads seminars, and Saturday he will make an appearance at the Grand Sierra, giving hundreds the chance to see him in action.
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Have you heard the one about the presidential candidates who walk into a bar?
If you’re a comedy buff, you probably have.
For six to 12 months, political humor has been front and center on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” “The Late Show With David Letterman,” “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” at comedy clubs and even at the movies. Heck, Tina Fey got more publicity for her Sarah Palin impersonations than anything in her career.
It’s enough to make one wonder, “What now?”
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The Reno Philharmonic will continue its search for a new music director and conductor next week when Christopher Confessore leads the orchestra through two performances. Confessore is resident conductor of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and music director and principal conductor of the Brevard Symphony Orchestra in Florida. He also is one of five finalists competing for the music director job in Reno.
Reno Gazette-Journal arts editor Forrest Hartman had the opportunity to ask him four quick questions in advance of his Sunday and Nov. 18 performances.
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After 4 ½ years, Magic Underground is pulling a disappearing act, but it isn’t one of magician Mark Kalin’s famous illusions.
He and his wife-assistant, Jinger Leigh, decided earlier this year that it was time to permanently draw the curtains on their intimate Pioneer Center venue. The primary reason, Kalin said, is that the theater — devoted almost entirely to magic — demanded too much time, preventing them from taking long-running gigs elsewhere.
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After two decades in show business, Madchen Amick knows how painful it is to watch a project fail.
- Madchen Amick
“Unfortunately, you have to learn to really be passionate and love what you do and really dedicate yourself to the time that you do it,” the Reno-born actress said. “You just can’t get too attached. It hurts too much.”
Amick, who grew up in Reno, has been working steadily in Hollywood for about 20 years, and she’s hoping her latest project is pain free. She has a key supporting role in “My Own Worst Enemy,” an NBC drama starring Christian Slater as a spy with a split personality.
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Reno-raised actor Kristoffer Polaha said it was tough when he learned that his most recent sitcom project, “Miss/Guided,” was canceled.
He starred across from comedian Judy Greer in the short-lived ABC show and said he loved every minute of the production process.
“It was such a joy to be part of,” Polaha said. “Everyone thought we were going to get picked up (for a longer run). We’d just got nominated for a Teen Choice Award. “» Then, next thing we know, I get a call from (director) Todd Holland, and he’s like, ‘Yeah, Steven McPherson, the president of ABC, has decided that he’s not going to pick it up.'”
The sting diminished just 11 days later, when Polaha learned he had landed a lead role on the dramedy, “Valentine.”
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