‘Fly Me to the Moon’, Jason Isbell and the best L.A. culture this week

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in "Fly Me to the Moon," in theaters July 12.

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in “Fly Me to the Moon,” in theaters July 12.

(Dan McFadden / Apple TV+)

Hello and welcome to another otherworldly edition of the Essential Arts newsletter where the artistic minds of The Times’ Entertainment section give you a fast guide to our top picks and plans for arts- and culture-related things to do around L.A. We’ve got another fresh crop this week that encompasses romantic movies about moon landings and artwork that appears to be from another planet.

Best bets: What’s on our radar this week

1. Tellers of Tales: The Films of Powell & Pressburger
The innovative British directing-writing-producing duo of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger will be celebrated by a 10-film series at the Academy Museum that includes 4K restorations of many of their greatest, most gorgeously crafted works together, including 1945’s “I Know Where I’m Going,” 1946’s “A Matter of Life and Death,” 1951’s “Tales of Hoffman” and Powell’s notorious 1960 solo effort “Peeping Tom.” The series will launch with a rare 35mm nitrate screening of 1947’s ecstatic “Black Narcissus,” including a conversation with Powell’s widow, the Oscar-winning film editor Thelma Schoonmaker.
Through Aug. 19. 6067 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, academymuseum.org
Mark Olsen

2. “Fatherland”
Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you’re on, you’ll likely find “Fatherland” riveting, especially given the intimacy of the Fountain Theatre in East Hollywood. The 75-minute documentary play, conceived and directed by the Fountain Artistic Director Stephen Sachs, centers on the son who tipped off the FBI about his father’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection. The show is taken entirely from court transcripts, case evidence and public statements. Only six performances remain before the world premiere ends its twice-extended run and the stellar four-person cast moves on to reprise their performances in an off-Broadway run.
Through July 21. 5060 Fountain Ave., L.A. fountaintheatre.com
— Ashley Lee

3. “Rusalka”
The water nymph asks the silvery moon to find her prince. “Song to the Moon,” the aria from Dvorák’s best-known opera, contains the Czech composer’s most inspired melody. But artificial moonlight rarely cuts it on the opera stage, which may help explain why “Rusalka” languished in this country for 75 years before San Diego gave the U.S. premiere in 1975. When Rusalka sings to the moon this weekend and next in Pacific Opera Project’s new production, she will address the real thing: The performances are under the stars at Descanso Gardens.
Through July 21. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, pacificoperaproject.com
— Mark Swed

4. Jason Isbell at Hollywood Bowl
Jason Isbell fought hard for his vantage point in folk and country music. He’s progressive but unsentimental, steeped in music history but thoroughly of this time, and hard-bitten about his journey to sobriety yet genuinely hopeful for redemption. Over nine solo albums (following his stint in the Drive-By Truckers), Isbell and his frequent, excellent backing band the 400 Unit have earned their place in the contemporary songwriting canon. 2023’s “Weathervanes” won the Grammy for Americana album, all while keeping a droll sense of humor (he’s sort-of responsible for the “30-50 feral hogs” meme) and stretching his talents (he had a much-praised role in Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon”). Here he performs an unlikely KCRW combo bill with experimental electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso and the beguiling young vocalist Uwade.
7 p.m. Sunday, July 21. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 Highland Ave, Los Angeles. $15-$159.
— August Brown

The week ahead: A curated calendar

The Rolling Stones have announced a 2024 North American tour that finds its way to SoFi Stadium in July.

The Rolling Stones have announced a 2024 North American tour that finds its way to SoFi Stadium in July.

(Kevin Mazur / Getty Images)


The People’s Joker The DIY parody/radical trans coming-of-age-tale, a cause célèbre on the festival circuit, screens in a new 35mm print with writer-director-star Vera Drew in person.
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Friday. New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles. thenewbev.com

Missy Elliott The hip-hop legend and recent Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee is joined by Busta Rhymes, Ciara and Timbaland.
7 p.m. Thursday-Friday. Crypto.com Arena, 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A. cryptoarena.com

Fly Me to the Moon Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum star in this high-stakes rom-com directed by Greg Berlanti and set during the lead-up to the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing.
Starts Friday (with Thursday previews) in theaters. flymetothemoon.movie

The Lost Weekend of Forgotten Films Filmmakers, critics, journalists and authors introduce their favorite overlooked gems, including Carroll Ballard’s “Never Cry Wolf,” Harmony Korine’s “Mister Lonely” and Louis Malle’s “Black Moon.”
Friday-Sunday. Los Feliz Theatre, 1822 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. americancinematheque.com

Maestro of the Movies: The Music of John Williams and More David Newman conducts the L.A. Phil for three nights of thrilling cinematic scores.
8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 7:30 p.m Sunday. Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood. hollywoodbowl.com

Gordon Parks The exhibition featuring 40 photographs from four decades of the artist’s work includes a celebratory summer block party at the gallery on Saturday.
Friday-Aug. 30. Pace Gallery, 1201 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles. pacegallery.com


The Rolling Stones Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood bring their Hackney Diamonds tour to L.A. with opening act the Linda Lindas.
7:30 pm. SoFi Stadium, 1001 S. Stadium Drive, Inglewood. sofistadium.com

Sum of the Parts: Serial Imagery in Printmaking, 1500 to Now The exhibition explores five centuries of pictorial narratives, thematic groupings and structural and conceptual progressions in works from artists including Albrecht Dürer, Jacques Callot, Wassily Kandinsky, Henri Matisse, Bridget Riley and Zarina.
Saturday–Nov. 24. UCLA Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood. hammer.ucla.edu

L.A.’s biggest culture news

Three members of the Tesserae Baroque Ensemble play very old instruments on an otherwise darkened stage in Sierra Madre.

Tesserae — Andrew McIntosh, left, Ian Pritchard and Joshua Rubin — perform “Bowling, Animals and the Ocean” at the Sierra Madre Playhouse.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

Classical Music Critic Mark Swed reports on some recent summer concerts by the New Hollywood String Quartet and Tesserae Baroque that show us how Hollywood studio musicians can be uniquely qualified for chamber music.

A David Lynch photo of himself with singer Chrystabell, released to promote their new album coming out in early August.

A David Lynch photo of himself with singer Chrystabell, released to promote their new album coming out in early August.

(David Lynch)

Music and culture writer Steve Appleford spent time with David Lynch as the filmmaker and musician returns with more surreal, Lynchian work: a dreamy, otherworldly new album made with singer Chrystabell.

A long, rectangular concrete structure cantilevers out over thin air against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains.

Timmelsjoch Experience Pass Museum by Werner Tscholl in Timmelsjoch, Austria.

(Alexa Rainer / From Werner Tscholl)

Arts writer David A. Keeps writes about a new Phaidon book with contributions by L.A. writers Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin that explores the way concrete has been shaped in the most adventurous ways around the world.

More culture news, briefly …

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The Getty’s massive PST ART program will kick off with a bang Sept. 15 with a monumental daytime fireworks display at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum created by contemporary artist Cai Guo-Qiang. Cai, who was commissioned to create the experience, is known for his explosive displays, and uses eco-friendly pigments and dyes rather than traditional fireworks in his work. Titled “WE ARE: Explosion Event for PST ART,” the display will also feature over 1,000 aerial drones and is meant to highlight the major theme of this year’s PST ART event, which is “Art and Science Collide.”

“The Beatles LOVE,” ended its 18-year run at the Mirage on July 8. The only licensed Beatles production in the world, and a cornerstone of the avant-garde circus company Cirque Du Soleil’s Las Vegas empire, “LOVE” was seen by more than 11.8 million people over the years. It became necessary to close the show after Hard Rock bought the Mirage from MGM Resorts International in 2023.

Willem Dafoe photographed in New York

Willem Dafoe photographed in New York

(Paul Yem / For The Times)

Actor Willem Dafoe has been named the new artistic director of the theater department of La Biennale di Venezia for 2025-2026. Biennale Teatro was founded as an independent department of the world-renowned art festival in 1943.

The Getty recently acquired a masterpiece of the Flemish renaissance. Titled “Madonna of the Cherries,” circa 1529 by Quentin Metsys, the painting was purchased for about $13.5 million. It was rediscovered after it was long thought to have been lost. It depicts the Madonna and child hugging on a royal throne, and originally disappeared in 1668 after being purchased by an anonymous buyer. It resurfaced in Paris in 1920 but was almost unrecognizable after being overpainted. The still-marred version reappeared in 2015 and was finally restored to its original condition and recognized as the lost masterwork. “Madonna of the Cherries,” will be shown in the Getty Center’s North Pavilion.

A remarkably well-preserved marble statue of Hermes was recently discovered in an ancient Roman sewer in the Bulgarian village of Rupite. The 7-foot-tall discovery was made during an excavation near the former city of Heraclea Sintica, which was abandoned after AD 500.

And last but not least

In case you needed a reminder of why investing in crypto is a crapshoot: Doja coin skyrockets, then plummets after hackers use Doja Cat’s X account to boost sales.

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