Film Review: The underwhelming rollercoaster of ‘Glass’
shows Samuel L. Jackson in a scene from M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass.”
(Jessica Kourkounis/Universal Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price, or Mr. Glass, as he prefers to be called,
was by far the most compelling part of M. Night Shyamalan’s slow-burn comic
book send-up “Unbreakable.” A brilliant, tortured manipulator and superhero
enthusiast suffering from osteogenesis imperfecta (i.e. brittle bone
disease), Glass is that kind of charismatic supervillain that you can’t get
Nineteen years is
certainly a long time to wait for more Mr. Glass. But Shyamalan, even after
naming this long-gestating film after Jackson’s character, decides to
withhold him from the audience even longer. Yes, he makes Mr. Glass a highly
sedated vegetable who gets to do little more than blink and intensely stare
at the camera for what feels like more than half of the movie.
It’s one of the many
ways in which “Glass,” which seems to delight in building up anticipation
only to pull the rug out from under you, manages to both frustrate and
underwhelm. I’m sure it’s some kind of meta-commentary on the futility of
serialized storytelling, the contrivances and deification of comic book
culture and easily malleable audience expectations, but in execution it
mostly feels like a tub full of half-baked ideas that never really coalesce
into something exciting, meaningful or all that memorable.
doesn’t care to help if you haven’t seen “Unbreakable” or “Split,” either.
It just dives right in with little exposition. We see Bruce Willis’s David
Dunn taking a couple of teen pranksters to task. Then it jumps to James
McAvoy’s multiple personalities, who’ve decided to take four teenage
cheerleaders hostage because they’re “impure” and “need to be punished.”
David, who is working
alongside his now-grown son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark, the same actor from
“Unbreakable,” which is actually a nice touch), has been trying to find the
missing cheerleaders. Joseph warns him to be careful, because David has also
been branded a public nuisance for all of his would-be good deeds that have
left criminals and victims injured and looking for someone to sue. If you’re
thinking, wait, isn’t this sort of the plot of “Incredibles,” just wait
because it even brushes up against some “Incredibles 2” themes,
intentionally or not.
David and the “Horde”
(the term used to describe the collective of all of McAvoy’s personalities,
which range from a 9-year-old boy and an older British woman, to a
terrifying flesh-eating creature called “The Beast”) meet and low-budget
fight a bit, but are interrupted by the authorities and Sarah Paulson’s Dr.
Ellie Staple who take them to the psychiatric hospital where Price is.
Dr. Staple explains
with oozing condescension that she specializes in treating those afflicted
by delusions of grandeur — aka, those who think they have superpowers. She
says their abilities and their weaknesses are all in the mind, and can be
explained away by science and childhood traumas. This little group therapy
session in a bubblegum pink room is one of the more compelling parts, and it
seems like the film is gleefully destroying the superhero origin story myth,
sending its main characters into a spiral of doubt.
But don’t get too
attached to this, or any other path Shyamalan seems to be taking us down,
because he will change course, backtrack and laugh at you for getting too
committed to one narrative (while really going all in on some questionable
ones, like having the Horde’s sole surviving captive from “Split,” Casey
(Anya Taylor-Joy), come back as a sort of Stockholm Syndrome empathy machine
to worry about him).
Mr. Glass does emerge
from his vegetative state, eventually, and kicks the movie into gear as only
Jackson can do. McAvoy is once again giving his all to all the characters,
and watching him shift between them is still enjoyable, but perhaps not
worth all the screen time it gets. Willis barely gets anything to do at all.
But for all the hype behind these three characters meeting, and the years it
took to get it off the ground, “Glass” is one big anti-climax.
“Glass,” a Universal
Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “violence including some bloody images, thematic elements, and
language.” Running time: 129 minutes. Two stars out of four.
‘Game of Thrones’ final season to
debut on April 14
Sophie Turner is shown in this Jan. 29, 2017, file photo. (Photo by Jordan
New York (AP) — “Game of Thrones” fans, get ready.
HBO has announced that
the eighth and final season will begin on April 14. In a one minute and 44
second teaser released last week, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), Sansa Stark
(Sophie Turner) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) are seen in the crypts of
Fans have eagerly
awaited the six-episode finale of the show since Season 7 of the popular HBO
show ended in August 2017.
The fantasy series
based on the George R.R. Martin novels has been one of HBO’s most successful
HBO isn’t getting out
of the “Game of Thrones” business. A prequel created by Martin and
writer-producer Jane Goldman is underway, with Naomi Watts set to star, and
other spinoffs are possible.
Star of the upcoming
“The Sopranos” prequel reveals details
(Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) —
The star of the upcoming “The Sopranos” prequel, Alessandro Nivola, says a
young Tony Soprano will be a part of the film — but had good reason to be
careful about how much else he revealed about “The Many Saints of Newark.”
“I guess I got to be
kind of discreet about it, so David Chase doesn’t kill me,” Nivola said.
“I’m playing Dickie Moltisanti, who is the central character in the movie,
and he is Christopher Moltisanti’s dad.”
who was played by Michael Imperioli in the series, was a protege of Tony
Soprano, the New Jersey mob boss portrayed by James Gandolfini.
Though the elder
Moltisanti never appeared in the series, he is often mentioned as part of
Christopher’s backstory. The father was gunned down when Christopher was
young and Nivola said the film will explore the interlocking history of
Dickie Moltisanti and Soprano.
“Tony will be a
character in the film, and as was mentioned throughout ‘The Sopranos’
series, my character was an important person in his life, and it examines
that relationship as well,” Nivola said.
The film begins in 1967
with the backdrop of the race riots that tore through Newark, New Jersey.
Nivola said racial tension is “a big part of the story.”
Nivola cited “weird
coincidences” that told him this role was meant for him, including the fact
that his real-life neighbor is Tim Van Patten, who directed many episodes of
connects his own family to the show: An episode in the second season shows
Soprano visiting Naples, Italy, and in one of the scenes, just over
Gandolfini’s shoulder, is seen a sculpture — made by Nivola’s grandfather,
the artist Costantino Nivola. “So it was meant to be or something,”
Alessandro Nivola said.
Chase will produce “The
Many Saints of Newark” and has written the script with “The Sopranos” writer
Lawrence Konner. Alan Taylor, who helmed episodes of “The Sopranos,” ‘’Mad
Men” and “Game of Thrones,” will direct. “The Many Saints of Newark” begins
shooting in April.
Street singer gives voice to
Venezuela’s growing diaspora
In this Jan.
12, 2019 photo, Venezuelan singer Reymar Perdomo performs with fellow
Venezuelan and guitarist Omar Rumbos at a fair on the beach of San Bartolo,
Peru. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Manuel Rueda and Cesar Barreto
Lima, Peru (AP) —
A year ago, Venezuelan migrant Reymar Perdomo was singing for spare change
on jammed buses, struggling to make ends meet while building a new life in
But her life took a turn when she wrote
a heartfelt reggae song about leaving her homeland that went viral on the
internet and has brought tears to hundreds in the Venezuelan diaspora that
has spread around the globe. Now Perdomo combines her street performances
with appearances at concerts and on TV programs, and her song has become the
unofficial anthem of Venezuelans who have fled their country’s economic
“This song gives me goosebumps” said
Junior Barrios, a Venezuelan migrant who listened to Perdomo perform her
song “Me Fui” — Spanish for “I Left” — recently at a busy plaza in Lima.
“Leaving your home from one day to the next day isn’t easy, and this just
makes a whole bunch of emotions surface at once.”
“Me Fui” is Perdomo’s retelling of how
she left Venezuela reluctantly with her “head full of doubts,” pushed by her
mother, who insisted there was no other way for her to make something of her
life in a country racked by food shortages and hyperinflation.
The song, which the 30-year-old plays
with a ukulele after her guitar broke while busking, talks about how she was
robbed and faced other hardships as she had to cross four countries to reach
Peru, pressing on while “speaking softly and crying along much of the way.”
“I had lots of mixed feelings about
having to leave Venezuela, and felt a lot of pain. And I just needed to
express that in order to move on with life,” Perdomo said in an interview
after performing on the streets of Lima’s wealthy Miraflores district.
Her nostalgic song has had more than 2
million views on YouTube thanks to a passer-by who recorded Perdomo singing
and posted the video online. It’s also gotten a wave of attention on radio
and television, helping Perdomo get noticed by famous pop artists around
South America who have asked her to be the opening act at their concerts.
She has also produced a slicker version that has had 1.3 million views on
In December, Perdomo was invited to
Colombia by a popular satirist and Youtuber who had her sing on a bus,
surprising her by bringing along Latin Grammy winner Carlos Vives and Andres
Perdomo said she almost fainted as
Vives, who was wearing a hat and fake moustache, threw his disguise away and
started to sing the chorus of her song.
“That happened exactly a year to the
date after I left Venezuela” Perdomo said. “And for me to be there,
performing with one of my favorite singers, singing my song, just felt like
proof that God exists.”
Perdomo used to be a music teacher at a
public school in the rural state of Guarico and once participated in a
televised talent show. Although she says she never voted for Venezuela’s
socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, as a public employee she was required
to sing at pro-government rallies, something a few online critics have held
Though becoming something of a symbol
of the Venezuelan exodus, she still struggles to get by.
Her mother, brother, sister-in-law and
year-old nephew have joined her in Peru and all share a small rented
apartment in one of the city’s working class districts. Only Perdomo’s
brother has found a permanent job, working as a bouncer at a nightclub, so
the street performer works long days to help sustain her family.
Still, social media fame is opening new
Perdomo says that Vives has invited her
to perform on a regular basis at his nightclub in Bogota and that she is
speaking with organizations in Colombia about the possibility of recording
an album focused on the plight of migrants.
These opportunities have her thinking
about moving yet again — this time to Colombia’s capital.
“This has been a tough year, but it has
also been amazing” Perdomo said. “I think that to help people and do what
you love, you don’t need a lot of money. You just need to believe in
yourself and be willing to work real hard.”
Film Review: ‘Green Book’ is sure to put a smile on your face
shows Viggo Mortensen (left) and Mahershala Ali in a scene from “Green
Book.” (Patti Perret/Universal Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) –
If there is a big studio movie that’s more generally crowd-pleasing than
“Green Book “ this season, I have yet to find it. In this landscape of
challenging, provocative, edgy films, Viggo Mortensen, Mahershala Ali and,
of all people, director Peter Farrelly have come along with a movie about
friendship that goes down so easy that it’s almost suspect, as though it
were flung out of 1996 and gifted to our weary 2018 brains.
Based on a true story,
“Green Book” recounts a 1962 road trip when a Bronx bred Italian-American
Frank Anthony Vallelonga, also known as Tony Lip (Mortensen), was hired to
drive a renowned black pianist, Dr. Don Shirley (Ali), to all of his concert
engagements across the Deep South.
The two men are
obviously mismatched — what would anyone have to learn if they weren’t? Tony
is a working-class bruiser and world class eater with a wife (Linda
Cardellini), two sons, a limited vocabulary, institutional racism, but a
generally good heart. Dr. Shirley is a wealthy, erudite dandy, a master of
his art, a snob and a loner. He also knows he needs reliable protection on
this journey to a segregated south, asks around and finds this Copacabana
bouncer Tony Lip is the one for the job despite the prejudices.
The constructs will
feel familiar and well-worn and surprises are few on this journey toward
acceptance and friendship, but the pleasure of this film is in the larger
than life characters created by the two leads and their perfectly askew
chemistry. Mortensen is almost unrecognizable as Tony, packing extra pounds
and an astute comedic sensibility. He knows just how far to push his
caricature without making it cartoonish. When Dr. Shirley says to make sure
that there’s a Steinway piano at every concert venue, Tony scribbles down
“STAINWAY” on a sheet of paper. His doltishness is endearing, not annoying.
And Ali, so memorable
and heart-wrenching in “Moonlight,” puts his own stamp on a character who
feels alienated from his own race and those he’s performing for. Although a
considerably more staid role than Tony, Ali also manages to have his own fun
with Dr. Shirley’s seemingly incurable snobbery, wincing at Tony’s lack of
decorum, or care.
In fact, this film
allows everyone to play against their Hollywood-prescribed “type,” from the
actors to the director, who is perhaps the most surprising revelation of
The Farrelly name
conjures up a very specific kind of movie: The big, bawdy comedy that he and
his brother made their own and, later, failed to keep fresh. If anything,
the charm and success of “Green Book” makes a heck of a case for giving
directors more room to work outside of the genres or styles that they became
There is certainly a
more serious story to be told out of this road trip, and about Dr. Shirley’s
extraordinary life. “Green Book,” taken from the title of the guide Tony has
to use to find the establishments and hotels where people of color are
welcome at throughout the South, scratches at the surface of the horrors and
indignities Dr. Shirley faced while being a “guest of honor.” Those range
from being asked to use an outdoor toilet to being denied the right to dine
in the place he’s about to perform. This film chooses a different route, and
is in turn funny, heart-warming, illuminating and a joy to watch.
“Green Book,” a
Universal Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association
of America for “thematic content, language including racial eapithets,
smoking, some violence and suggestive material.” Running time: 130 minutes.
Three and a half stars out of four.
Tia Fuller, fierce woman in jazz,
takes shot at 1st Grammy
This Jan. 6,
2019 photo shows saxophonist Tia Fuller posing in Piscataway, New Jersey.
(Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) —
Saxophonist Tia Fuller was crying in bed. And praising God.
She’d just received the
news that she was nominated for her first-ever Grammy Award — but it’s not
just any nomination: Her inclusion in the best jazz instrumental album
category is a historic moment for women because they have rarely been
nominated for the coveted award throughout the Grammys’ 61-year history.
And if Fuller wins, she
becomes just the second women to take home the prize.
“I feel really blessed.
Anytime I think extensively about being in the category and (anything)
Grammy-wise, I start tearing up,” said Fuller, this time smiling ear-to-ear
with light tears of joy in her eyes. “It’s really a dream come true. I’m
realizing that dreams can become reality and everything is tangible.”
Her nominated album,
“Diamond Cut,” is a smooth and striking collection that has brought the
skilled performer, who once played with Ray Charles during her college years
and toured with Beyonce, to the next level. The album, her fifth, was
produced by another woman making critical waves in jazz, Terri Lyne
Carrington. The drummer, who came to national prominence decades ago in “The
Arsenio Hall Show” band, became the first female to win best jazz
instrumental album at the 2014 Grammys.
the win as bittersweet because of the “many great female instrumentalists
that weren’t nominated ever, so that was really disheartening.”
It’s one of the reasons
Carrington, a three-time Grammy winner, is excited for Fuller’s success and
has been a mentor to the artist.
“I feel like this
record is showing her growth and her evolution,” Carrington said. “If
nothing else, I believe that she’s really motivated to keep pushing herself
and keep evolving into all that she can be.”
“Diamond Cut” is
Fuller’s first album in six years. She’s been busy as a professor at the
prestigious Berklee College of Music since 2013, and that decision to move
to Boston to fulfill a lifetime dream came at a crossroads: In the same
24-hour period that Fuller was offered the teaching position, Beyonce asked
Fuller to perform again with the band.
“That was the year I
think they were doing the Super Bowl and she was going back out on tour,”
recalled Fuller, who performed with Beyonce from 2006 to 2010.
“While I was on tour
with her something came over me and spoke, ‘You have to move in faith and
not fear. Don’t be afraid of what may not happen, or get attached to the
artificial result of, ‘I’m playing with Beyonce,’” she said. “So the reason
why that I ended up not going back is because I realized that it was time
for me to move on.”
Now, in between the
teaching and playing — she’s also busy dress shopping for her big day at the
Grammys, taking place Feb. 10 in Los Angeles.
“I actually reached out
to one of Beyonce’s stylists and he responded, so he’s going to help and
connect me with some of his designers,” she said. “I’m trying to find a
healthy mix between making a statement and me being me.”
With blockbuster effects, Peter Jackson brings WWI to life
shows a scene from the WWI documentary “They Shall Not Grow Old,” directed
by Peter Jackson. (Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)
New York (AP) —
Peter Jackson has used digital wizardry to conjure J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle
Earth and King Kong’s 1930s New York, but he has now — in perhaps his most
acclaimed film — employed all his technical powers to bring to life the
Western Front of the first World War.
Jackson’s “They Shall
Not Grow Old” is the 57-year-old filmmaker’s first documentary. Commissioned
by Britain’s Imperial War Museum to coincide with the centenary of the
Armistice, Jackson assembled the film from more than 100 hours of footage
from the front and 600 hours of audio interviews conducted in the 1960s with
surviving British soldiers.
In the course of the
five-year project, Jackson restored the heavily damaged, grainy footage,
colorized it, stabilized the frame rates (many were only 13 frames per
second, and could vary based upon how fast the cameraman was cranking) and
transferred the film into 3-D. Along with adding battle sound effects, he
even employed expert lip readers to recreate the unheard dialogue.
With the kind of
technology usually employed on a big-budget spectacle, the fog of time
lifted from the footage, revealing the soldiers anew.
“The people on the film
became human beings again. Their humanity jumps out at you,” Jackson said in
an interview. “Their faces and the subtle way they move and their
expressions, you just realize you’re seeing you’re seeing these people for
the first time in 100 years.”
“They Shall Not Grow
Old,” which takes its name from the Laurence Binyon poem “For the Fallen,”
has already played in the U.K., where it earned Jackson the best reviews of
his career. “The effect is electrifying,” wrote the Guardian. “The
faces are unforgettable.”
For Jackson, it’s the
culmination of a passion project, one undertaken in part as a tribute to the
New Zealand filmmaker’s grandfather, who fought in the war. The first three
years of the project, edited at Jackson’s post-production facility, Park
Road Post, weren’t spent cutting anything together but sifting through the
material and cleaning it up.
Startled by the
clearness of the restoration, Jackson opted to impress as little as possible
on the film. The only narration is that of the soldiers recounting their
experiences; even dates and locations of battles have been withheld to
capture the view of the war from those in the trenches. “They only saw what
was right in front of their eyes,” says Jackson.
The recollections of
the British soldiers are surprisingly pragmatic and straightforward, lacking
any sense of regret or self-pity. “They didn’t want that and they didn’t
expect that,” says Jackson. “I don’t think they would really approve of the
way we think of the first World War now.”
But the director is
also quick to point out that the 120 men interviewed don’t reflect a
universal story of the war. These are survivors, many of whom went on to
have families and productive lives, looking back decades later. “If we had
interviews from the millions of soldiers that were killed, they would tell a
different story,” says Jackson.
Clarity has always been
elusive in WWI, a war with puzzling beginnings and staggering loss of life
that nevertheless became overshadowed in the popular imagination by World
War II. But the simple, unclouded lucidity of “They Shall Not Grow Old”
offers a small window into the Great War. Jackson hopes it inspires young
people to learn about WWI and archivists around the world to make similar
restorations of historical film.
“There Shall Not Grow
Old” is, in some ways, a characteristically Jackson film, with the notable
exception that he wasn’t there to shoot any of it. Not that he minded.
“I don’t actually like
being on set, particularly. I always regard that as being an arduous chore,”
he says. “So in a way I was quite happy to skip over the shooting part of
it. The boys on the Western Front a hundred years ago did all the hard work
filming it, and I was able to go straight to the part I like the most.”
Film Review: Too much Spider-Man? Not in the Spider-Verse
shows a scene from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” (Sony Pictures
Animation via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” gleefully scrambles the notion there can
be only one friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and offers the exciting idea
that he can be anyone. He can be a girl, he can be a middle-aged dude with a
paunch and he can even be a cartoon pig.
It’s hard to underestimate what this
means, but this film does what comics and graphic novels have long
experimented with, but this time makes the leap to the big screen. It
literally opens up a universe of possibilities. “Anyone can wear the mask.
You can wear the mask,” we are told.
The result is a film that’s
fantastically fresh, both visually and narratively, trippy and post-modern
at the same time and packed with intriguing storytelling tools, humor,
empathy and action, while also true to its roots — still telling the story
of a young man learning to accept the responsibility of fighting for what’s
Our main hero here is one plucked from
a spin-off from the main Spider-Man comic book universe: Miles Morales, a
half-African-American, half-Puerto Rican teen from Brooklyn who has a Chance
the Rapper poster on his wall. He looks and acts nothing like previous Peter
Parker types — Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland — and that’s
great. Hey, if Cate Blanchett can play Bob Dylan in a movie, why not offer
us a new look on Spidey?
Produced by Phillip Lord and
Christopher Miller, the duo behind the acclaimed “The Lego Movie,” this
Spider-Man saga pops with outstanding animation, constantly changing its
styles. At times, it can be hyper-real, then surreal. It includes anime,
slo-mo, color distortion, Pop art, hand-drawn elements, CG animation and
even tweaks its own origins by adding dialogue in little panels.
The animators place their story in a
wonderfully gritty New York, complete with screeching, graffiti-streaked
subway cars and charmless pedestrians. One quibble: Their ability to have
things in the foreground appear in sharp relief while objects in the
background bleed away makes it seem as if you’re watching a 3D film without
those weird glasses.
Our hero Miles (Shameik Moore) is
trying to navigate life between his cop dad (Brian Tyree Henry) and his
cooler uncle (Mahershala Ali). After being bitten by a radioactive spider,
he witnesses the death of Spider-Man. But Miles soon learns there are many
other Spider-People, freed from their realities by the hulking Kingpin (Liev
Schreiber), who has built a nuclear collider that allows access to
“New Girl” star Jake Johnson voices a
flabbier and depressed Peter Parker who wears sweat pants and is going
through a divorce to Mary Jane. There’s a fedora-wearing, black-and-white
Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage) who has been teleported from battling Nazis.
There’s also a cool-girl Spider-Gwen played by Hailee Steinfeld, and Kimiko
Glenn voices an anime schoolgirl from the future. And there’s Spider-Ham
(John Mulaney) who is rooted in Saturday morning kiddie cartoons, including
the use of a dropping anvil.
This odd family unites to take down
Kingpin and return to their universes, winking forever at themselves and the
viewer, not a little like the “Deadpool.” Directors Bob Persichetti, Peter
Ramsey and Rodney Rothman — Rothman and Phil Lord wrote the story — also
ground the tale with a great soundtrack that includes Elliphant, Run-DMC,
The Notorious B.I.G., James Brown and Nicki Minaj.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” a
Columbia Pictures release, is rated PG for “for frenetic sequences of
animated action violence, thematic elements and mild language.” Running
time: 117 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show vocalist
Ray Sawyer dies at 81
of the rock band Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show.
Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP) —
Guitarist and vocalist Ray Sawyer of the rock band Dr. Hook & The Medicine
Show died last week at the age of 81.
Wearing a black eyepatch, Sawyer was
the face of the band as they produced several hits in the 1970s.
His agent, Mark Lyman, said Sawyer died
in his sleep Monday, December 31 in Daytona Beach, Florida, after a brief
illness. Lyman declined to give a cause of death out of respect for his
Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show’s hits
included “Sylvia’s Mother,” ‘’When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman,”
and “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone.’”
Sawyer wore a patch over his right eye
after suffering an injury from a car accident as a young man.
Lyman says Sawyer toured up until two
Presley’s ‘Comeback Special’
still relevant, 50 years later
Presley is shown in this Aug. 1969 file photo. (AP Photo)
(AP) — Elvis Presley wanted an honest answer.
Steve Binder gave him one.
Presley was meeting
Binder for the first time in Binder’s office in Los Angeles in 1968. A
music and television producer, Binder had been asked to put together an
NBC television special featuring Presley, who had become more of a movie
actor than a rock ‘n’ roll singer in the 1960s when the Beatles and the
Rolling Stones were dominating the rock world.
Presley and Binder
talked for about an hour about music and established a rapport, Binder
recalls. Then Presley popped the question: “What do you think of my
“I was young and
brash in those days,” Binder told The Associated Press in a phone
interview. “I said, ‘I think it’s in the toilet.’”
Binder, Presley said: “Well finally, somebody’s talking straight to me.”
That meeting became
a meaningful step in the creation of the one-hour TV show “Singer
Presents...Elvis,” better known today as the ’68 Comeback Special. Aired
on Dec. 3, 1968, the program was a rapturous return for the 33-year-old
Presley, whose music had mostly stuck to soundtrack songs from his often
pulpy, saccharine films. It was sponsored by Singer, the sewing machine
Relaxed at some
points, energetic during others — and always inspired — a still-handsome
Presley sounds strong and soulful. He appears genuine: He sweats, his
black hair gets messed up.
The finale features
an emotional Presley singing “If I Can Dream,” a moving piece written
for the show that served as a response to the tumult of 1968, when the
Vietnam War served as the backdrop for the assassinations of the Rev.
Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
Presley returned to
prominence. He began performing for sold-out crowds in Las Vegas and
produced “From Elvis in Memphis,” an album that included “Suspicious
Minds” and “In the Ghetto.”
would slow down. He divorced his wife, Priscilla, and began abusing
prescription drugs. He died of a heart attack on Aug. 16, 1977, in
popularity has remained high. Graceland, the tourist attraction built
around his former Memphis home, draws 500,000 visitors a year. HBO
recently released a documentary, “Elvis Presley: The Searcher.” And his
image and voice are regularly used in films, TV shows and commercials.
Much has been said
about the importance of the ’68 Comeback Special to Presley’s career. In
a 2008 Los Angeles Times article, writer Robert Lloyd calls it a “moment
“He regains his
voice,” Lloyd writes.
Television had been
an early friend to Presley. He made groundbreaking appearances on
variety shows hosted by Ed Sullivan and Milton Berle. Later, however,
they became sources of embarrassment. Binder says Presley complained
that hosts openly made fun of him.
Presley’s return to
TV required a leap of faith. Binder says Presley’s manager, Col. Tom
Parker, wanted a Christmas-themed special but Blinder would have no part
of it. The typically hard-nosed Parker eventually relented and the
special included only a small reference to the holiday, with “Blue
Billy Goldenberg said he had to find a path to Presley’s “subconscious
character, the things that were going on that he didn’t say, but did.”
wanted to “bring Elvis into the 1960s” and make him “valid.”
was validated. The special became its top-rated show of the year and has
grown in stature since. A box set released in late November includes a
Blu-ray version of the program, and Binder has written a book about the
A show he never
thought would endure.
“Nothing is dated.
That show could have been shot yesterday,” Binder said. “I had no idea
it would ever be seen again.”
Uffizi urges Germany to return
painting stolen by Nazis
Schmidt, director of the Uffizi Gallery, poses as he holds onto a copy
of a still-life “Vase of Flowers”, by Dutch artist Jan van Huysum,
inside the Uffizi gallery, in Florence, Italy. (Uffizi Gallery press
office via AP)
Milan (AP) —
The director of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is urging Germany to
return a Dutch masterpiece stolen by Nazi troops during World War II,
dramatizing its absence by hanging a black and white photo of the work
with the label “Stolen” in three languages.
Eike Schmidt said
in a New Year’s appeal that the still-life “Vase of Flowers” by Dutch
artist Jan van Huysum is in the hands of a German family who hasn’t
returned it despite numerous appeals. Instead, intermediaries for the
family have demanded payment for its return to Italy.
“The painting is
already the inalienable property of the Italian State, and thus cannot
be ‘bought,’” Schmidt said.
The oil painting
had been hanging as part of the Pitti Palace collection in Florence from
1824 until the outbreak of World War II. It was moved for safety during
the war but was stolen by retreating German troops. It didn’t surface
again until Germany’s reunification in 1991, when the offers to sell it
back to Italy began.
“This story is
preventing the wounds inflicted by World War II and the horrors of
Nazism from healing,” said Schmidt, who is German. “Germany should not
apply the statute of limitations to works of art stolen during the war,
and it should take measures to ensure that those works are restored to
their legitimate owners.”
He called it
Germany’s “moral duty” to return the artwork, adding, “I trust that the
German government will do so at the earliest opportunity, naturally
along with every other work of art stolen by the Nazi Wehrmacht.”
returned 16,000 objects to Holocaust survivors and their families under
a 20-year-old international agreement on returning art looted by the
Nazis. But Schmidt said the so-called Washington Principles apply only
to public collections, not private ones..