Saturday, February 24, 2018 - March 2, 2018
Film Review: ‘Black Panther’ is dazzling grand-scale filmmaking
image released by Disney shows Chadwick Boseman in a scene from
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther.” (Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios-Disney
New York (AP) - The
supposedly cosmically vast Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it’s
called, spans planets peppered throughout the galaxy, but Ryan
Coogler’s Earth-bound “Black Panther,” glittering and galvanizing,
stands worlds apart.
For those of us who have
sometimes felt pummeled by the parade of previous Marvel movies, the
sheer richness of Coogler’s film is almost disorienting. Can
superhero films, so often a dull mash of effects, be this dazzlingly
colorful? Are genuine cultural connections allowed in modern-day
comic book blockbuster-making? Is a $20 billion refund in order?
Unlike many of its more hollow
predecessors, “Black Panther” has real, honest-to-goodness stakes.
As the most earnest and big-budget attempt yet of a black superhero
film, “Black Panther” is assured of being an overdue cinematic
landmark. But it’s also simply ravishing, grand-scale filmmaking.
There are familiar Marvel beats
here. Just as he did in the surprisingly sensational Rocky reboot
“Creed,” Coogler hasn’t reinvented the genre so much as electrified
it with a new perspective and a rare talent for marrying
naturalistic character development with spectacle muscle.
“Tell them who you are” is the
encouragement shouted at the title character, T’Challa (Chadwick
Boseman) prince of the African nation Wakanda. But it could just as
well serve as the overarching rally cry of a film that for many
symbolizes a big-screen affirmation of African-American identity.
“Black Panther” stands for everything that’s been missing from
Marvel’s — and Hollywood’s — universe.
Coogler opens with exposition
on Wakanda, a mighty African country that appears from the outside,
as one Westerner sneers, as “Third World.” But hidden from sight is
a shimmering, technologically advanced metropolis whose stealthy
growth has been fueled by vibranium, a cosmic mineral deposited deep
in its mountains by a meteorite thousands of years earlier.
Vibranium makes up the suit that T’Challa dons as Black Panther, and
its power is much guarded. An early flashback, to 1992 Oakland,
California, shows one Wakandan’s failed efforts to smuggle Vibranium
in order to empower struggling African-Americans.
When the king of Wakanda dies,
T’Challa returns home to take the throne, where he finds the
country’s five tribes — each with their own distinct color and
attire — are beginning to bubble with discord. W’Kabi (Daniel
Kaluuya) of the Border Tribe, in particular, would like to see the
historically isolationist Wakanda give more in foreign aid and to
The issue is brought to the
fore by an unknown Wakandan exile, Erik “Killmonger” Stevens
(Michael B. Jordan), an American-made soldier who aspires to take
Wakanda’s power to rebalance black power around the globe. “The
world’s gonna start over and this time we’re on top,” he vows in the
film’s climactic moments.
But his mission isn’t initially
so clear, as he and a band of rogues, led by Andy Serkis’
black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, begin causing havoc for
T’Challa. Boseman’s Panther is a politician at heart who’s
virtually always flanked by a trio of powerful women: Lupita
Nyong’o’s Nakia, part of Wakanda’s all-female special forces, the
Dora Milaje; the special forces leader Okoye (Danai Gurira); and his
younger sister Shuri (a terrific Letitia Wright, who supplies most
of the film’s comic moments).
There are the expected special
effects set-pieces and a very Bond-like trip to a South Korean
casino. But the conflict at the heart of “Black Panther” is between
separate factions of an African diaspora in a mythological realm
filled with colonizers and racists who curse the Wakandan as
“savages.” It’s powerful myth-making not just for its obvious
timeliness but for the film’s sincere grappling with heritage and
traditional-meets-futuristic costumes and jewelry, by Ruth E.
Carter, are ravishingly detailed. T’Challa’s mystical visit to his
ancestors is gloriously rendered on a twilight plain beneath a
pink-hued sky and the glowing eyes of panthers in a tree. And most
of all, Jordan’s bitter, wounded warrior is uncommonly tender. He
is a “villain” only in quotes; his means are extreme but his cause
Created by Stan Lee and Jack
Kirby, Black Panther first appeared in 1966. But the character has
sparked the imaginations of many since, including the filmmaker
Reginald Hudlin, the author Ta-Nehisi Coates and Wesley Snipes, who
labored for years to adapt the comic into a movie. (Ironically it
was Snipes’ 1998 superhero film “Blade” that kicked off Marvel’s
It’s easy to lament how long it
took to bring “Black Panther” to the big screen. But at least the
wait was worth it.
“Black Panther,” a Walt Disney
Co. release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “prolonged sequences of action violence, and a brief
rude gesture.” Running time: 134 minutes. Three and a half stars out
Judas Priest guitarist Tipton won’t tour due to Parkinson’s
In this Oct. 24, 2015 file photo,
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest performs in San Bernardino, Calif.
(Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)
London (AP) -
Parkinson’s disease has forced legendary guitarist Glenn Tipton to
drop out of the upcoming Judas Priest tour.
The British rockers say Tipton
is stepping down from touring due to the ailment, which began to
afflict him a decade ago. In a statement the band said Tipton can
still play some of their less-challenging songs, but he insisted
that a replacement be named for the tour.
Tipton will be replaced on the
band’s “Firepower” tour by Andy Sneap, a veteran heavy metal
producer, and the guitarist for the British band Hell.
“I want everyone to know that
it’s vital that the Judas Priest tour go ahead, and that I am not
leaving the band; it’s simply that my role has changed,” Tipton
said. “I don’t rule out the chance to go on stage ... when I feel
able to blast out some Priest! So at some point in the not too
distant future, I’m really looking forward to seeing all of our
wonderful metal maniacs once again.”
The band’s tour begins March 13
in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Their biggest hits include “You’ve
Got Another Thing Coming,’ “Living After Midnight” and “Breaking The
Tipton was the lone remaining
original member of Judas Priest’s twin-lead guitar attack that
powered solos on tracks including “Electric Eye” and “Hell Bent For
Leather.” Guitarist Richie Faulkner replaced the other founding
guitarist, K.K. Downing, in 2011.
Tipton’s bandmates Rob Halford
(vocals), Ian Hill (bass), Scott Travis (drums) and Faulkner called
Tipton “a true metal hero.”
“We are not surprised by
Glenn’s insistence that we complete the ‘Firepower’ tour and thank
Andy for joining us to make Glenn’s wishes become real,” they said.
“We have been privileged to witness Glenn’s determination and
steadfast commitment over the years, showing his passion and
self-belief through the writing, recording and performing sessions
Last month, Neil Diamond
announced his retirement from touring, also citing Parkinson’s.
Metallica, Afghan ensemble win 2018 Polar Music Prize
Ulrich of Metallica.
Copenhagen (AP) - American
heavy metal band Metallica and Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music
have won the 2018 Polar Music Prizes, a Swedish award.
It is the first time a heavy metal
band gets an award given each year for significant achievements in
The award panel said Metallica had
“through virtuoso ensemble playing and its use of extremely accelerated
tempos” taken rock music “to places it had never been before.” It said
the Afghan ensemble “revives Afghan music, and shows you can transform
lives through music.”
Drummer Lars Ulrich, who co-founded
Metallica, said getting the prize “puts us in very distinguished
They have been invited to receive
their awards, including a cash prize of 1 million kronor ($124,000)
each, on June 14 from members of the Swedish royal family in Stockholm.
‘Peter Rabbit’ team apologizes
for making light of allergies
image released by Columbia Pictures shows Peter Rabbit, voiced by James
Corden, in a scene from “Peter Rabbit”. (Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) — “Peter
Rabbit” filmmakers and the studio behind it are apologizing for
insensitively depicting a character’s allergy in the film that has
prompted backlash online.
Sony Pictures said in a joint
statement with the filmmakers that “food allergies and are a serious
issue” and the film “should not have made light” of a character being
allergic to blackberries “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.”
In “Peter Rabbit”, the character of
Mr. McGregor is allergic to blackberries. The rabbits fling the fruit
at him in a scene and he is forced to use an EpiPen.
The charity group Kids with Food
Allergies posted a warning about the scene on its Facebook page
prompting some on Twitter to start using the hashtag
#boycottpeterrabbit. The group said that allergy jokes are harmful to
their community and that making light of the condition “encourages the
public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously.”
Kenneth Mendez, the president and
CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, wrote an open
letter to the studio asking for the opportunity to educate the company
and the film’s cast on the realities of food allergies and urged the
studio to “examine your portrayal of bullying in your films geared
toward a young audience.”
The studio and filmmakers say that
they, “Sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this
issue, and we truly apologize.”
February 17, 2018 - February 23, 2018
Film Review: ‘Downsizing,’ a big-picture film about little people
In this image Matt Damon appears in a scene
from “Downsizing.” (Paramount Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - It’s hard
to say what’s better about the first half of Alexander Payne’s
wonderfully weird — or is it weirdly wonderful? — “Downsizing”: the
audacity of its premise, or the delicious skill with which Payne
executes that premise, detail by comically ingenious detail.
The fact that the film shifts
discernibly in the second half, going places and tackling ideas one
wouldn’t necessarily expect, will surely disappoint some and please
others. But there’s no doubt about one thing: the director’s
considerable talent is on full display here. Let him keep shifting;
we’ll keep watching.
As we’ve seen in films like
“Nebraska,” ‘’About Schmidt” and others, Payne likes to make movies
about what some might call small people: ordinary folks in unremarkable
places, struggling to make things work. In “Downsizing,” he’s made a
movie about really small people. As in, five inches tall.
We begin with a groundbreaking
discovery. A renowned Norwegian scientist has figured out how humans
can reduce their footprint and save Earth from overpopulation. It’s
called downsizing, and it’s irreversible — but if enough people do it,
it could save humanity. Paul Safranek (an excellent Matt Damon in the
ultimate Everyman role), an occupational therapist at an Omaha meat
company, watches on television with astonishment.
Shift to 10 years later.
Downsizing is catching on. Entire communities have sprouted up around
the world. Paul and his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig), childless and
still living in the house where Paul grew up, attend a school reunion.
Suddenly, Paul’s now-five inch friend, Dave (Jason Sudeikis), and his
wife are wheeled in. “Dave? He never struck me as the kind of guy
who’d go get small!,” Paul marvels. Later, Dave, perched on a cracker
box on the kitchen counter, explains the best thing about going small:
the economic benefits. At that size, you can live in total luxury for a
fraction of the price. Forget the planet, Dave says — “downsizing is
about saving yourself.”
Paul and Audrey go visit
Leisureland, a top-notch downsized community, and a saleswoman explains
how they’d suddenly be multi-millionaires, able to afford a mansion with
a pool and tennis court. (In a hilarious cameo, small people Neil
Patrick Harris and Laura Dern demonstrate the good life — and the cheap
price of tiny diamond jewelry.) Soon, Paul and Audrey decide to take
the plunge. They put their wedding rings in a keepsake box, and head
At the facility, the couple are
separated into gender-specific downsizing areas, where they’ll be shrunk
to .0364 per cent of their original body volume. First, body hair must
be shaven off, for obvious reasons. Dental technicians remove gold
tooth fillings, or else heads will explode. Workers go down the
assembly line after mass reduction is completed, scooping up miniature
people with spatulas like fresh-baked cookies.
When Paul awakes, he’ll be greeted
by a surprise we won’t reveal. Suffice it to say that a year later,
things aren’t going well. Then he meets his neighbour Dusan (Christoph
Waltz), a Serbian playboy who has a shady trade business and throws
noisy parties with his wealthy friend, Konrad, who notes that being
small is great because you’re instantly rich — unless you’re poor, “and
then you’re just small.”
It is through Dusan that Paul meets
someone who will change his life — not to mention change the tone and
direction of the rest of the film. Her name is Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong
Chau, in a terrific breakout performance), a Vietnamese dissident who
was downsized against her will and arrived in America in a TV box. She
survives by cleaning houses, and lives in a slum — yes, there are slums
in downsized communities, too — behind a big wall.
The last part of the film takes the
group to the idyllic fjords of Norway, where the original downsized
community still exists. It is here where the issue of climate change
and the earth’s sustainability take centre stage. Revealing any more
would spoil the surprise.
Except to say that Paul, through
his new friends, learns more than he expected about making a difference
in the world — and what it means to be big or small.
Spoiler alert: It might not be
“Downsizing,” a Paramount Pictures
release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America “for
language including sexual references, some graphic nudity and drug use.”
Running time: 135 minutes. Three stars out of four.
Brush up on your Klingon for a new vacation hotspot
ambassadors’ hold a presentation of Klingon culture at a theater in
Stockholm, Saturday, Feb. 3. (AP Photo/David Keyton)
Stockholm (AP) — In search
of a new and different vacation spot, with great food and cultural
delights? Look no further.
A theater in Stockholm is playing
host to a Klingon delegation seeking to promote tourism to Qo’nos
(pronounced “Kronos”), the home planet of the ruthless yet honorable
race of warriors from the cult TV franchise “Star Trek.”
The event shows off the best of the
race’s culture, including opera, martial arts and culinary delights such
as Gagh — a delicacy of well-seasoned live worms — and blood wine.
Along with a stage presentation —
offered four times a week in English and Klingon — the lobby of the
Turteatern has displays offering vacation packages to Qo’nos, extolling
the merits of Klingon culinary tours (“the best kept secret of the Beta
Quadrant”), and seeking to attract students to courses at the military
academy (“find your inner warrior in outer space”).
Star Trek fans were out in force
earlier this month for the show’s premiere, eager for first contact with
Klingons. “I think it was a really good show,” said Urban Andersson,
chairman of the Stockholm Trekkers association, dressed in his Star
Many fans were relieved to see that
the visitors from Qo’nos resembled the Klingons from the 1990s “Star
Trek: The Next Generation,” rather than from “Star Trek: Discovery,” the
latest installment produced by CBS.
“They are exactly the way I
expected them to be,” said Snoret Linden, dressed as a Star Fleet
‘Trill,’ a humanoid species from the planet Trill.
It was a point stressed by the
Klingons themselves, who had a message for Quentin Tarantino, director
of the upcoming “Star Trek” movie.
“We have seen Discovery. We do not
approve of this malicious portrayal of Klingons,” said Ambassador
Ban’Shee of the House of Duras.
“Treat our race honorably in your
upcoming picture and we will let you lick our feet. Fail, and pray for
The show runs until the end of
Director Ridley Scott to be
honored by British film academy
director Ridley Scott.
(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
London (AP) - “Blade Runner”
director Ridley Scott is to receive the British Academy Film Awards’ highest
The academy announced earlier this
month that the 80-year-old filmmaker will collect the BAFTA Fellowship at
the British academy awards ceremony.
Scott’s films include “Alien,” ‘’Thelma
and Louise” and “Gladiator.”
His latest release is kidnap drama “All
the Money in the World,” which underwent last-minute reshoots to replace
Kevin Spacey after allegations of sexual misconduct.
Scott said it was “very gratifying” to
be honored for his body of work.
The fellowship is awarded to one person
a year for “outstanding and exceptional contribution to film, games or
television.” Previous recipients include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock,
Elizabeth Taylor and Judi Dench.
The awards ceremony takes place Feb. 18
at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
Lady Gaga cancels European tour dates due to ‘severe pain’
London (AP) — Lady Gaga has
canceled 10 concerts in Europe because of severe pain, the tour’s promoter
Live Nation said the musician is
“suffering from severe pain that has materially impacted her ability to
In a statement posted on social media,
Lady Gaga said she was “devastated” to disappoint her fans. She said her
medical team “is supporting the decision for me to recover at home.”
The singer had been due to play this
month at London’s O2 Arena as part of her Joanne World Tour. The other
canceled concerts were in Manchester; Zurich; Cologne, Germany; Stockholm;
Copenhagen, Denmark; Berlin and two shows in Paris.
Lady Gaga previously postponed her
European shows in September after being hospitalized in Rio de Janeiro
suffering from “severe physical pain.”
In her statement, Gaga apologized to
fans in Europe and Rio, saying “I love you, but this is beyond my control.”
She resumed the tour in North America
in November and in January played several dates in Europe.
The 31-year old singer-songwriter,
whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, has spoken about
suffering from fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition.
Lady Gaga has been open about her
physical and mental health struggles, saying in September she has been
“searching for years to get to the bottom of them.”
Paul Simon announces his
upcoming tour will be his last
Musician Paul Simon is shown in this Sept.
22, 2016 file photo.
(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
New York (AP) — Only a few days
after Elton John announced he will retire from touring in three years,
another venerable music figure is throwing in the touring towel — Paul
Simon, 76, took to social media last
week to say his upcoming tour will be his last, citing the personal toll of
touring and the death of his lead guitarist, Vincent N’guini.
“I feel the travel and time away from
my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing,” he
wrote. Retiring from the road “feels a little unsettling, a touch
exhilarating, and something of a relief.”
His “Homeward Bound — The Farewell
Tour” kicks off in May in Vancouver, Canada, and will take him across North
America and Europe. His last date is July 15 in London with James Taylor
and Bonnie Raitt as special guests.
Simon’s best-known songs include “The
Sound of Silence,” ‘’Mrs. Robinson,” ‘’Bridge Over Troubled Water” and
“Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes.”
Paul Simon is a member of the
Songwriters Hall of Fame and has been inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall
of Fame, both as a member of Simon & Garfunkel and as a solo artist. The
singer-songwriter said he will still do the “occasional performance” after
his last tour.
Late last month, the 70-year-old Elton
John said his upcoming would tour would be his last, saying he wanted to
spend time with his family. His “Farewell Yellow Brick Road” tour will end
Update Saturday, February 10, 2018 - February 16, 2018
Film Review: Forward motion of ‘Maze Runner’ stalls in 3rd entry
This image shows (foreground from left) Dylan O’Brien,
Giancarlo Esposito and Rosa Salazar in a scene from “Maze Runner: The Death
Cure.” (Twentieth Century Fox via AP)
New York (AP) —
Moviegoers who come late to the “Maze Runner” franchise, which now numbers
three, will doubtless have one very reasonable question: Where, pray tell,
are all the mazes I was promised?
Alas, the maze of “Maze
Runner” — referred to as “the Glade” by the few dozen teenagers who were
mysteriously dropped into it — has been in the rearview since the first 2014
installment, a modestly budgeted YA adaption and a bit of a “Hunger Games”
knockoff. But what the two sequels, first “Maze Runner: Scorch Trials” and
now “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” have lacked in labyrinths, they have made
up for in running.
Literal running but
also a genuinely kinetic forward movement. The “Maze Runner” films, which
have all been directed by former visual effects supervisor Wes Ball, move
better than the average dystopia. So many fantasies bog themselves down
with backstory and world-explaining, but the chief pleasure of the “Maze
Runner” films is that the characters are perpetually grasping their
predicament right along with the audience.
And like the previous
chapters, “Maze Runner: The Death Cure” picks up right in medias res.
Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his close-knit crew of escapees-turned-rebel
fighters (Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Rosa Salazar, Barry Pepper) speed after a
train on a desolate plain, hop aboard, and when security guards for the
nefarious organization called WCKD (short for World in Catastrophe: Killzone
Experiment Department, and pronounced “wicked”) start swarming, they outwit
them, and, somehow, fly away with a train car full of kids.
They are among the few
left on Earth immune to a virus that turns all into zombies. In “Maze
Runner,” they escaped the enormous concrete maze they were plopped into with
their memories erased. By “Scorch Trials,” they realized the institution
that sheltered them (WCKD, under the command of an icy scientist played by
Patricia Clarkson and a severe commander played by Aidan Gillen) wasn’t to
be trusted. They broke out and joined with a band of resistance fighters.
In “The Death Cure,” they try to free the remaining lab rats, including
their pal Minho (Ki Hong Lee), who are housed in the last remaining city, a
walled-in cluster of skyscrapers.
The “Maze Runner”
trilogy has essentially skipped from high school (the Glade) to college
(WCKD) and finally into the urban workplace. Just one with, you know,
zombies and poor health care options. But these are very sincere movies
about the fellowship of friends trying to survive together and figure out
just who they can trust. There is a drinking game’s worth of moments where
a character vows not leave their buddy behind.
“The Death Cure” is the
biggest budgeted, most bloated and longest running entry for the franchise.
It maintains the movies’ quick pace before stalling in an overlong finale.
It should be a mutually understood condition that if you’re going to name
your movie “Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” you’ve got to turn in a cut under
Think too much about
the plot and it will surely spoil the fun of “The Death Cure.” WCKD may be
an imperfect organization, but then again, the fate of the human race hangs
in the balance. WCKD’s chief motivation is to study the blood of the immune
so that an antidote can be discovered. Literally millions of lives would be
saved if only a millennial listened.
But if the “Maze
Runner” films have chronicled major stages of young adulthood, they have
graduated a few along the way. O’Brien has shouldered the films well, even
as much of their enjoyment derives from the scattered ensemble of characters
actors (Giancarlo Esposito, Will Poulter, Walton Goggins). But Ball’s
command of the camera and his ability to hurtle his character through
science-fiction realms has visibly grown through the three movies. For too
long “The Death Cure” stays in one place; it’s best when on the move. And
now, it’s probably time for Ball to move on, too.
“The Maze Runner: The
Death Cure,” a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion
Picture Association of America for “for intense sequences of sci-fi violence
and action, language, and some thematic elements.” Running time: 142
minutes. Two stars out of four.
Jam-packed Super Bowl show fails to dazzle
Justin Timberlake performs during halftime of the NFL
Super Bowl 52 football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New
England Patriots Sunday, Feb. 4, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
New York (AP) - Justin
Timberlake ended his Super Bowl halftime show last Sunday with no
unintentionally exposed body parts.
Still, the singer made
reference to the infamous 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction,” the
incident where he raised a ruckus by yanking off part of Janet Jackson’s
costume and freeing her bare breast.
Timberlake played “Rock
Your Body,” the same song he performed with Jackson 14 years ago that
resulted in “nipplegate.” This time, though, Timberlake omitted the lyric
that proclaims “bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song.”
It may have been the
only thing left out of the halftime show, where Timberlake seemed intent
upon involving everyone in the stadium except the Eagles and Patriots. He
appeared to try every idea thrown at him in production meetings.
One may have worked
well — opening his set in the bowels of the stadium in what was made to seem
like a small club — if the performance hadn’t rendered his new single
steps out into the stadium, down a runway to a stage while singing “Rock
Your Body.” He was constantly surrounded by dancers, enthusiastic musicians
and jumping audience members, so much so that it made the star of the show
He danced on the NFL’s
midfield logo, brought out a marching band dressed in tuxedos, gave audience
members giant reflecting mirrors, played at a gleaming white piano, had two
elaborate stage sets and even climbed into the audience to take “selfies”
with a young fan.
Sitting at the piano,
he performed a “duet” with the Twin Cities’ late star, Prince, whose image
was projected on a giant scrim beside Timberlake. It was a touching
tribute, particularly when cameras outside the stadium caught Prince’s
insignia in lights, although the song choice of “I Would Die For U” felt
Timberlake was at his
best in his breezy hits “Sexyback” and “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” which
emphasized his appeal as an adept song-and-dance man. It was why the NFL
brought him back despite the history with Jackson. In fact, a backlash had
grown recently among people who wondered why Jackson seems to be forever
punished for the “wardrobe malfunction” while Timberlake skated by.
Perhaps that left him
feeling that he had to try too hard to get back into the public’s graces.
He wasn’t the only
performer at the Super Bowl. Leslie Odom Jr. performed “America the
Beautiful” before the game and Pink sang “The Star Spangled Banner,” perhaps
the most anticipated version of the national anthem in Super Bowl history.
After a season where a
political controversy was caused by some NFL players who protested against
police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem, cameras watched to
see if the Super Bowl would be used as a protest venue. But none of the
players took part in any demonstration.
Pink took a throat
lozenge out from her mouth before singing. She seemed to sing to a
pre-recorded track, since the performance had an orchestra accompaniment and
there wasn’t one on the field.
Viva Forever? Ex-Spice Girls
meet up amid reunion rumors
In this Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012 file photo,
British band ‘The Spice Girls’ perform during the Closing Ceremony at the
2012 Summer Olympics, in London. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
London (AP) -
All five former members of the Spice Girls have met up amid rumors of a plan
to reunite the girl-power group.
Photos posted by
several group members on social media showed Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham,
Melanie “Sporty Spice” Chisholm, Emma “Baby Spice” Bunton, Melanie “Scary
Spice” Brown and Geri “Ginger Spice” Horner.
They had been seen
earlier last week arriving at Horner’s home north of London, along with
former manager Simon Fuller.
newspaper reported the quintet is considering several projects, including a
TV talent show, though not a live tour.
The Spice Girls were a
1990s phenomenon, with hits including “Wannabe.” They split in 2000 and
last reunited at the 2012 London Olympics.
Now the group’s
highest-profile member is Beckham, a fashion designer married to former
soccer star David Beckham.
Helen Mirren talks ‘Winchester’ film, impact of gun deaths
Actress Helen Mirren is shown in this Nov. 11,
2017 file photo. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Mike Cidoni Lennox
Los Angeles (AP) -
Helen Mirren says her new film “Winchester” isn’t a horror flick, but rather
a ghost story with foreign roots and a distinct American element — the
psychological impact of gun deaths.
Mirren plays the
real-life Sarah Winchester, a 19th-century heiress who inherited a massive
fortune from her husband’s creation of the Winchester repeating rifle
shortly after the Civil War. In the film, Winchester believes she is
haunted by those killed by the firearm, which allowed for more rapid firing
than previous rifles.
“It’s a ghost story,
hopefully in the tradition, the very grand tradition, of Japanese ghost
stories, ghost films,” Mirren said in a recent interview. “You know, the
Japanese love ghost stories and have great belief in the power of the
ancestor spirits, of the ancestors, as many cultures do.”
Part of the film was
shot at Winchester’s mansion in San Jose, California, where she moved after
the death of her husband in 1881. Now known as the “Winchester Mystery
House,” it is a popular tourist attraction and has more than 160 rooms, 10
thousand windows, two thousand doors and forty staircases.
According the lore
around Winchester’s life, she ordered constant construction on the home to
try to confuse the ghosts she believed were haunting her.
“There are many
theories why she did this,” Mirren said. “And one of the theories that we
explore in the film was that she was trying to placate the ghosts of the
people who’d been killed by the Winchester rifle. She felt their deaths
very strongly. She felt responsible. She felt the weight of their deaths
upon them. And she was trying, in her own way, to placate their spirits.”
themes, Mirren, 72, said the film isn’t trying to make any broad statements
about gun ownership in America.
“What I like about it
and I think ... about America is that it doesn’t deal with whether you can
carry guns or not. That’s kind of not the issue,” she said. “The issue is
more putting the question mark or the weight of moral decision upon the
people who make a fortune from making arms — whether they’re guns, bombs,
grenades ... or whatever it is. It puts a moral decision upon the people
who make huge fortunes from making them.”
Update Saturday, February 3, 2018 - February 9, 2018
Film Review: Hemsworth leads a solid wartime film in ‘12 Strong’
This image shows Chris Hemsworth (center) in a
scene from “12 Strong.” (David James/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
In the days and months following the Sept. 11 attacks, a small U.S. Special
Forces unit led an offensive against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in
Afghanistan. They worked in harsh conditions alongside a local warlord and
his men, an uneasy alliance at best, and, even with all the technology and
money of the U.S. military, executed the successful mission largely on
The operation — Task
Force Dagger — was classified for years and explored later in Doug Stanton’s
2009 book “Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S.
Soldiers who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan.” It provides the basis for “12
Strong,” a long-in-the-works adaptation from producer Jerry Bruckheimer
(“Black Hawk Down”) and director Nicolai Fuglsig, a Danish photojournalist
who has shot the war in Kosovo, a Levi’s short film, and a Coca-Cola spot in
his eclectic career.
Films about U.S.
military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have a somewhat dicey track
record. They can veer from too sentimental to too macho and bloviating
depending on who’s in front of and behind the camera. But “12 Strong” is,
while perhaps not the deepest entry, a very solid movie with an engaging
story, script and cast led by Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth.
camouflaged behind a modern haircut and some manicured stubble, Hemsworth is
Capt. Mitch Nelson, who is on leave with his young daughter and wife (played
by his real-life spouse Elsa Pataky) but springs into action at the sight of
the World Trade Center falling on the news. He raises his hand to assemble
a team and get over to Afghanistan as soon as possible.
Before that happens,
however, we must sit through another obligatory farewell-to-the-families
sequence to remind us that many of these guys have wives and children to get
back to — some of whom are withholding sex as incentive for a quick
homecoming and others who couldn’t be any crueler to a member of their
family whom they very well might never see again. (There must be a way to
make these scenes feel less rote.)
It’s when the men get
to the Middle East that the film becomes truly gripping, thanks to an
ominous score, a hair-raising helicopter ride that rivals moments in Kathryn
Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty,” and the inherent tension of a mission that, as
Nelson puts it, has no playbook. Their task is to meet up with Gen. Abdul
Rashid Dostum (an excellent Navid Negahban) who may be equally motivated to
fight the Taliban if properly persuaded.
Dostum and Nelson form
a tenuous bond that is tested throughout the film, as they trade the shield
of modern technology for horses and mules to cross the treacherous landscape
(New Mexico plays Afghanistan here). The action sequences are riveting, if a
little numbing at times, and their evolving mission is engaging throughout.
What separates “12
Strong” from the pack, however, is its ability to introduce and stay with a
band of brothers worth caring about. In addition to Hemsworth, they are
played by Michael Shannon, Michael Pena, Trevante Rhodes, Geoff Stults, Thad
Luckinbill, Austin Stowell, Ben O’Toole, Austin Hebert, Kenneth Miller,
Kenny Sheard and Jack Kesy. The dialogue (Ted Tally and Peter Craig have
screenplay credits) is more crackling than standard wartime action pic fare,
and actors like Hemsworth, Shannon and Pena make it their own too.
consequences, both before and after this mission, are of little interest to
the filmmakers beyond wistful musings of Dostum, who makes passing comments
about how Afghanistan is the “graveyard of many empires” and how the U.S.
forces will be cowards if they leave and enemies if they stay.
But stirring and solid,
“12 Strong” is the kind of film that might make you think twice about
January releases, and spotlights a riveting story in our recent history that
many Americans might not know.
“12 Strong,” a Warner
Bros. Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “war violence and language throughout.” Running time: 130
minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
Diamond says he has
Parkinson’s, retires from touring
is shown performing on NBC’s “Today” show in New York in this Oct. 20, 2014
file photo. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
York (AP) — Neil Diamond is retiring from touring
after he says he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
Days shy of his 77th birthday, the rock
legend canceled his tour dates in Australia and New Zealand for March. He
was on his 50th anniversary tour.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer offered
his “sincerest apologies” to those who planned to go to his shows and says
he plans to still write, record and work on other projects “for a long time
Diamond’s numerous hits include “Sweet
Caroline,” ‘’America,” ‘’Love on the Rocks” and “Hello Again.”
Diamond turned 77 on January 24 and was
due to receive a lifetime achievement award at last Sunday’s Grammy awards.
Bruno Mars crashes rap’s big party at the Grammys
Bruno Mars poses in the press room with his
awards at the 60th annual Grammy Awards ceremony in New York, Sunday,
Jan. 28. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) —
The Grammy Awards seemed poised to make this a triumphant year for rap
at music’s showcase event — until Bruno Mars crashed the party.
man from Hawaii won all six awards he was nominated for last Sunday
night, including the three most prestigious Grammys for song (“That’s
What I Like”), record (“24K Magic”) and album of the year. His music
also dominated the rhythm and blues categories.
The Grammys also
saw Kendrick Lamar win five awards, Jay-Z go home empty-handed, some
memorable performances by the likes of Lamar, Kesha, Mars and Logic, an
odd oversight of singer Lorde and a surprise cameo from Hillary Clinton.
In accepting a
trophy for the album “24K Magic,” Mars recalled when he was 15 and
singing shows for tourists. He’d perform hits written by Babyface,
Teddy Riley and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, and loved looking down from the
stage to see people from all over the world who had never met dancing
together and toasting one another.
“All I ever wanted
to do with this album was that,” he said. “These songs were written with
nothing but joy.”
Mars has won 11
Grammys in his career.
however, instantly became a target for second-guessers, similar to
people befuddled last year when Adele won album of the year over
Beyonce. Social media filled with commentary about whether Lamar’s
hard-hitting disc “DAMN” was more deserving. One meme that spread on
Twitter showed Houston Rocket James Harden rolling his eyes in supposed
“reaction” to the news.
Beyond being a
critical favorite, Lamar seemed primed to be the evening’s star. He
opened the Grammys with a hard-hitting medley that depicted black
dancers falling to the floor to symbolize being shot, and won the
night’s first televised award. His work swept the rap categories, the
prime factor in the night’s most-nominated artist, Jay-Z, winning
Lamar paid tribute
to Jay-Z and other forebears in accepting a Grammy.
“I thought it was
about the accolades and the cars and the clothes,” he said. “But it
really is about expressing yourself and putting that paint on the canvas
for the world to evolve for the next listener, the next generation after
that. Hip-hop has done that for me.”
appearance was the punchline for a skit where host James Corden
pretended to cast celebrities for what he thought would be a sure-fire
Grammy contender for spoken world performance next year, reading from
Michael Wolff’s best-seller about the Trump administration, “Fire and
Fury.” Cher, John Legend and Snoop Dogg left him frustrated, but then
Clinton lowered a copy of the opened book in front of her face to reveal
The attempt at
humor wasn’t a hit with everyone: President Trump’s ambassador to the
United Nations, Nikki Haley, tweeted that the skit ruined the show for
Most of the show’s
political references — to topics like gun violence, immigration reform
and women’s rights — were carefully scripted.
Kesha was joined by
Cyndi Lauper, Camila Cabello, Julia Michaels, Andra Day and others in a
performance of her Grammy-nominated song “Praying,” which is about
fighting back from abuse. Singer Janelle Monae introduced Kesha and
tied the appearance to the current flood of women speaking up about
“We come in peace
but we mean business. To those who would dare try to silence us, we
offer two words: Time’s Up,” Monae said. “It’s not just going on in
Hollywood. It’s not just going on in Washington. It’s here in our
The show also
featured a somber performance of Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” by
country artists Maren, Eric Church and the Osborne Brothers. All were
on the bill for the Las Vegas show in October that was torn apart by a
Social media was
curious about the seeming snub of album of the year nominee Lorde. She
wasn’t among the night’s performers, even as classic rockers Sting and
U2 made multiple appearances.
“It’s hard to have
a balanced show and have everybody involved,” Recording Academy
President Neil Portnow said backstage. “Every year’s different. We
can’t have a performance from every nominee.”
The Grammys were
also a clear example of rock ‘n’ roll’s decline as a creative force. No
rock awards were given during the televised portion of the Grammys.
Sting sang a 30-year-old hit and the majority of rock’s references were
about artists who had died like Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Tom Petty.
The Rolling Stones,
once judged rock’s kingpins, won the third Grammy of their career — for
best traditional blues recording.
Alessia Cara won
the Grammy for best new artist, and remembered the time when she would
“win” Grammys in her dreams while singing in the shower.
Chris Stapleton won
three Grammys in country categories. Other multiple winners included Ed
Sheeran, CeCe Winans, Justin Hurwitz and Jason Isbell.
The late Leonard
Cohen won a Grammy for his performance of “You Want it Darker.” Actress
Carrie Fisher and sound engineer Tom Coyne were other posthumous
‘Hobbit’ director Peter Jackson making WWI documentary
New Zealand film director Peter Jackson.
(AP Photo/Francois Mori)
London (AP) -
“The Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson is going from Middle
Earth to the Western Front, transforming grainy black-and-white footage
of World War I into 3-D color for a new documentary film.
announced last week, is among dozens of artworks commissioned by British
cultural bodies to commemorate 100 years since the final year of the
Zealand-based director of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” series
has restored film from the Imperial War Museum using cutting-edge
digital technology and hand coloring, pairing it with archive audio
recollections from veterans of the conflict.
He said the aim is
to close the 100-year time gap and show “what it was like to fight in
“We all know what
First World War footage looks like,” Jackson said. “It’s sped-up, it’s
fast, like Charlie Chaplin, grainy, jumpy, scratchy, and it immediately
blocks you from actually connecting with the events on screen.
“But the results we
have got are absolutely unbelievable. They are way beyond what I
“This footage looks
like it was shot in the last week or two, with high definition cameras.”
The film will
premiere during the London Film Festival in October before being
broadcast on BBC television. Every school in the U.K. will also receive
The film is part of
the government-backed 14-18 Now project, which has presented works by
more than 200 artists over four years to remember a conflict in which 20
million people died.
premiering this year include a large-scale performance piece by South
African artist William Kentridge about African porters who served in the
war; processions to mark the 100th anniversary of some British women
winning the right to vote; and a performance celebrating wartime homing
pigeons that includes birds fitted with LED lights.
Millionaire” director Danny Boyle — who helmed the 2012 London Olympics
opening ceremony — will create a mass-participation work to be performed
on the anniversary of the Nov. 11, 1918, armistice that ended the war.