Widescreen tidbits: Orchestral splendor, underwater spectacle

Posted8/9/2019 6:00 AM

Class up your summer at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9, when WTTW Channel 11 airs the Vienna Philharmonic's 2019 Summer Night Concert as part of PBS' "Great Performances" series.

Performed amid the beautiful gardens of the Austrian city's Schonbrunn Palace, this year's edition of the annual orchestral concert features a largely American repertoire and is led by conductor Gustavo Dudamel of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Famous selections by Leonard Bernstein, George Gershwin, John Philip Sousa and Aaron Copland are joined on the bill by Frederic Chopin, Antonin Dvorak and Johann Strauss.


The international celebration extends to the orchestra's featured performer, Beijing-born pianist Yuja Wang.

If you want to hear more from the Vienna Philharmonic, search "Wiener Philharmoniker" on Spotify.

James Wan, second from left, directs a scene in "Aquaman" featuring Amber Heard, Jason Momoa and Willem Dafoe.
James Wan, second from left, directs a scene in "Aquaman" featuring Amber Heard, Jason Momoa and Willem Dafoe. - Courtesy of Warner Bros.-DC Entertainment
'I can't believe how awesome this is'

I said that about a half-dozen times the first time I watched "Aquaman," last winter's surprise superhero smash, and now you can say it this weekend when it premieres at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, on HBO.

Literally no one could have predicted that the lame dude whose main superpower is talking to fish would be the Justice League's top-grossing hero -- $1.15 billion in global box office -- but the brain trust at Warner Bros. and DC Films made two very smart hires: star Jason Momoa, the absurdly handsome, charismatic actor previously known as Khal Drogo on "Game of Thrones;" and director James Wan, who launched one franchise with "The Conjuring" and nailed the most difficult installment of another with "Furious 7."

What "Aquaman" lacks in familiar characters and crackling writing -- which the Marvel films have perfected over 11 years -- it more than makes up for in pure spectacle.

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Yeah, yeah, I know ... you can see spectacle on the big screen every weekend. But "Aquaman" has colorful underwater warriors riding sharks (and shooting laser beams -- Dr. Evil would be proud), plus bright and clear action that you can actually follow, and Julie Andrews voicing a titanic sea beast.

What more does a movie need?

Speaking of Jason Momoa ...

... he is among the celebrity guests scheduled to appear later this month at Wizard World Chicago in Rosemont. The annual pop culture convention returns to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 North River Road, Rosemont, on Thursday, Aug. 22, for four days. Look for our full preview in an upcoming edition of Time out! Sunday, and visit wizardworld.com for tickets and more information.

• Follow Sean on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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