April 28, 2018 - May 4, 2018
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..