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Update March 2018

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Arts - Entertainment - Film Review World

March 24, 2018 - March 30, 2018

Film Review: Disney’s ‘Wrinkle’ is a cluttered, dizzying jumble


This image released by Disney shows Reese Witherspoon (left) and Storm Reid in a scene from “A Wrinkle In Time.” (Atsushi Nishijima/Disney via AP)

Jocelyn Noveck

Los Angeles (AP) - Go ahead, pick your favorite young, villain-vanquishing fantasy heroine.  Meg Murry probably came first.

Katniss Everdeen?  She arrived in 2001.  Hermione Granger?  That was 1997.  Elphaba, the green girl from “Wicked”? 2003.  But Meg, the reluctant, bespectacled heroine of Madeleine L’Engle’s classic “A Wrinkle in Time,” has been with us, and on the shelves of middle-schoolers, since 1962.

Enter Ava DuVernay, tapped by Disney to put her own spin on this tale of self-discovery across the space-time continuum, for the big — REALLY big — screen.  Talk about pressure.  And the talented “Selma” director does not shy away from the task of adapting the story to the 21st century.  With the help of a terrifically diverse cast anchored by the sweet — but too sweet, here — newcomer Storm Reid, and A-listers like Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, DuVernay has made a film that is unabashedly — some might say relentlessly — of the moment.  Hip-hop quotes, eating disorders, a “Hamilton” reference?  Yup, yup, yup.

It’s also all over the map, in every way possible.  It’s visually gorgeous at times but then boring to behold at others, emotionally poignant at times but stunningly cloying at others.  It’s also confusing (though to be fair, many might call the book confusing, too.)  Mostly, it’s just a frustrating whole comprised of some pretty promising parts.

We begin, as “Wrinkle” fans surely know, with that “dark and stormy night.”  It’s been four years since Meg’s beloved father, a physicist, disappeared mysteriously.  Dad (not really the nerdy type we imagined from the book, but it’s Chris Pine so, OK) had been exploring serious issues involving time travel.  And now he’s gone, leaving Meg (Reid), her mom (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) and precocious little brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) wondering if they will ever see him again.

The outside world is dismissive, including the school principal, who flat-out tells Meg her dad probably won’t be coming back.  Meg has problems at school — she’s said to be aggressive and troublesome, although frankly, this is hard to see from Reid’s appealingly thoughtful, sweet demeanor.  When Meg throws a ball into the face of the reigning mean girl, Veronica, landing her in the principal’s office, it seems strangely out of character.

In any case, soon Meg, Charles Wallace and friend Calvin (Levi Miller), whose quirky character has sadly been turned into a blandly handsome nothing, will be on their journey, via a time travel concept called a tesseract (verb: tessering), to find Dr. Murry.

Accompanying them on this perilous quest, at various stages, is a triumvirate of very entertaining older women, er, celestial beings — Mrs. Whatsit (Witherspoon), Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling) and Mrs. Which (Winfrey).  Witherspoon is the most engaging of the bunch — ditzy and charming and, at 2,379,152,497 years of age, the youngest of the group.

Winfrey’s Mrs. Which is the grande dame, imposing with dramatic white hair, sparkling lips and eyes in various hues, and gems across her forehead, exhorting Meg to be a warrior in tones that recall the late poet Maya Angelou; Winfrey has said she was channeling both Angelou and the good witch Glinda.  Would that Winfrey could speak Angelou’s own words, though, rather than the often hollow lines she’s given by screenwriters Jennifer Lee and Jeff Stockwell.  Kaling’s character is the least compelling, maybe because she’s “evolved past language” and thus only allowed to spout quotes from others, a diverse bunch that includes Buddha, OutKast, Kahlil Gibran, and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

After an initial stay on the ravishing planet Uriel, and a visit to the Happy Medium (a comic Zach Galifianakis, clad, as he notes, in earth tones), the kids end up on the frightening planet of Camazotz, ruled by the dark force called It.  Their time here is the most visually interesting of the film, especially the scene of scarily alike children bouncing the same balls at the same moment outside the same houses.  Here, they will find Dr. Murry, but their journey will put Charles Wallace in grave danger, and Meg will be called upon to decide just how brave she can be.

In case you haven’t read the book, we won’t get more specific.  But if you have, beware that some elements — including a pretty major plot twist involving Meg’s road to heroism — are either compressed beyond recognition (as in a tesseract, perhaps) or deleted altogether.

The ultimate themes, though, remain the same: Love can cut through anything, including time and space. And smart girls rock! And our individuality — including our faults — is what makes us strong.

While the faults of this film decidedly do not make it stronger, maybe its well-meaning spirit will be enough to appeal to a new generation of Meg Murry fans.

“A Wrinkle in Time,” a Walt Disney Studios release, has been rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America “for thematic elements and some peril.” Running time: 109 minutes. Two stars out of four.

Givenchy legacy: Hepburn’s little black dress, and much more

In this Feb.1 1952 file photo, French fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy poses with mannequins in his shop in Paris. (AP Photo)

Paris (AP) — In her sleeveless black gown, with rows of pearl at the neck and oversized sunglasses, Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly defined understated elegance.  Hers was the iconic little black dress.

It was the work of Hubert de Givenchy, the French couturier who, along with Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Cristobal Balenciaga, redefined fashion in the wake of World War II.  Givenchy was the epitome of Paris chic.  His death at age 91 was announced last week.

In 1961, Audrey Hepburn wore a little black dress custom designed by Hubert de Givenchy for the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” (Photo/Paramount Pictures)

A towering man of elegance and impeccable manners, Givenchy forged close friendships with his famous clients, including Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Princess Grace of Monaco.

But none were as close to him or the fashion house that bore his name as Hepburn, whose simple chic became a kind of shorthand for the label.  Besides the little black dress from the 1961 hit “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” Hepburn wore Givenchy’s designs in nearly a dozen other movies, as well as on the red carpet and also in real life.

“His clothes for me have always not only thrilled me but also given me so much confidence. I’ve worked in them, I’ve played in them, I’ve borrowed them, I’ve bought them,” Hepburn once gushed in a television interview.

Aiming to reach a wider market, Givenchy launched a line of upscale ready-to-wear and accessories in the 1960s, and its commercial success soon enabled him to buy out his backers, making him one of a handful of Paris couturiers to own their own label outright.

In 1988, he sold the house to French luxury conglomerate LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the parent company of a stable of top fashion labels that now includes Dior, Celine, Marc Jacobs, Pucci and Kenzo.

Givenchy retired in 1995, and was succeeded by John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald, Italy’s Riccardo Tisci and current chief designer Claire Waight Keller, the first woman to hold the post.  Just this month she showed her latest collection in Paris, revealing a brooding and gritty side with razor shoulders and hulking coats.

Givenchy will be remembered as a pioneer of pure lines and flattering elegance — an aesthetic summed up in the motto he shared with Balenciaga: “Make it simple, make it pure.”

‘Mr. Records’ keeps Kenya’s last vinyl music shop alive

In this photo taken Thursday, March 1, 2018, James “Jimmy” Rugami looks through records inside his vinyl records stall in Kenyatta Market in Nairobi, Kenya. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

Joseph Mwihia

Nairobi, Kenya (AP) — Tucked into a busy market in Kenya’s capital is arguably the country’s last record store.

“Real Vinyl Guru” has been open for 28 years and now enjoys the growing interest of music lovers who want to look beyond sleek digital offerings and return to the pleasure of browsing for a classic African vinyl find.

Former disc jockey James “Jimmy” Rugami is at his shop every morning as early as 6, sorting through his latest discoveries.  While many record shops closed in music’s shift to digital and with the rise of piracy, he patiently held on and collected the stock of closing stores.

His love of vinyl has seen his collection grow into the thousands and earned him the nickname “Mr. Records.”

“Every time I knew somebody is closing down and he has records, I couldn’t stop the urge to buy one, including even crossing borders,” he said.

Hundreds of collectors now flock to his store in Nairobi, and he has won attention from fellow vinyl fans overseas.

The producers of the Grammy-nominated Somali album “Sweet as Broken Dates: Lost Somali Tapes from the Horn of Africa,” culled from popular music of the 1970s and 1980s, gifted him a copy.

“This is it,” Rugami said, smiling as he pulled the record from his collection.

Neighboring Somalia has been chaotic since dictator Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, and the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab extremist group now carries out frequent attacks, even crossing into northern Kenya.

“Something good coming from Somalia, a country that has been in turmoil in all those years and discovered by somebody.  But too bad it was foreigners and they actually had an ear to know this is good sound,” Rugami said.  “Well, it’s good.”

His customers now include tourists on the hunt for other gems of African music.

“Finding a vinyl shop in Nairobi was quite an exciting thing,” said Firouz Khairoullaev, who was visiting from Turkey.  “I think the vinyl is back.  Essentially it’s something that is cool and it’s something that unites and it’s like a hobby.”

The shop’s popularity after years of dire predictions about vinyl means that Rugami can now afford to employ five staffers.

“It is not once or twice I have been labelled insane, very many times,” he said. “Guys actually ask me, ‘That was like 10 years ago, what are you doing with this kind of whatever, we are moving forward but you are moving downwards, what’s the reason?’

“Well, I couldn’t stop.”

Update Saturday, March 17, 2018 - March 23, 2018

Film Review: Plummer rescues ‘All the Money’ from the dustbin


This image shows Christopher Plummer in a scene from “All the Money in the World.” (Giles Keyte/Sony Pictures via AP)

Jake Coyle

New York (AP) — Should Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” be measured by the usual critical apparatus or with a stopwatch?

If the latter, Scott’s movie wins the race, hands down. “All the Money in the World”, with remarkably few signs of haste, accomplished its unenviable task of recasting Kevin Spacey’s role with Christopher Plummer. Plummer parachuted in at short notice to shoot his nine days of work, and Scott toiled around the clock to recut and remake his own movie.  Like a bank thief covering tracks and wiping fingerprints, Scott erased all trace of Spacey.

That alone makes “All the Money in the World” a fascinating footnote in the larger ongoing drama of the “Me Too” reckoning.  And considering the way things are going, Plummer should keep his bags packed.  We may need his services again.

But was it worth the trouble?  “All the Money in the World,” about the 1973 kidnapping of the grandson of billionaire oil tycoon John Paul Getty (Plummer), is, for better and worse, every bit a Scott production: a solidly built, no-nonsense drama, largely without surprise.  But its saving grace isn’t Plummer.  It’s Michelle Williams.

She plays Gail Harris, the distraught mother of the kidnapped 16-year-old “little Paul” (Charlie Plummer, no relation).  When Getty refuses to pay the kidnappers’ demands of $17 million, she’s left virtually alone in seeking his release, aside from the inattentive help of Getty’s overconfident, former-CIA fixer, Fletcher Case (Mark Wahlberg).  As a woman locked inside an oppressively male world, Williams’ performance — gripping and glamorous — slides in comfortably with Scott’s best female protagonists (Ripley, Thelma, Louise).

Based on John Pearson’s 1995 book, “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty,” David Scarpa’s script doesn’t attempt to show the larger soap opera of the younger Getty generations, many of whom suffered through drugs, depression and worse because of their father’s hostility and inattention.  Getty married five times and young Paul was one of 14 grandchildren.  When he was taken, Getty, then one of the richest men in the world, told reporters: “If I pay one penny now, I’ll have 14 kidnapped children.”

“All the Money in the World” ought to have aimed more ambitiously for the complete tragedy of the Gettys, or stuck more resolutely to Gail’s perspective.  Instead, it bounces erratically between its main players and loses steam every time Williams leaves the screen.  At times it’s preoccupied with studying the astonishing greed of its penny-pinching Scrooge, at others with trailing the thrilling plot of Gail’s pursuit of Paul.  It doesn’t necessarily follow any one character.  It follows the money.

Opening with a black-and-white sequence of the kidnapping in Rome, Scott’s movie continuously cuts to Paul’s travails as the prisoner of Calabrian bandits.  Expecting a quick payday, they settle in the mountains of Southern Italy for months, growing increasingly impatient.

Seesawing between the mafia-controlled hills of Italy and the mammoth English estate of the Getty’s, “All the Money in the World” seeks for a larger portrait of people prioritizing money over basic human decency — of putting the art of the deal above all else, you might say.  When first told of the kidnapping, Getty doesn’t even look up from the stock ticker.

It’s hard not to spend some of the film’s running time wondering what Spacey might have brought to the movie.  I suspect his performance would have been icier, and perhaps smacked of stunt. (Spacey donned copious makeup and prosthetics to age him into the role.)  Plummer, on the other hand, quite naturally feasts on the part, fully embodying Getty’s privilege and power.

At 88, Plummer has spent much of his superlative late period playing King Lears presiding over the ends of their empires.  Give him a mansion and a backstory, and he’ll go to town (just as he did in the World War II thriller “The Exception”).  But the miserly Getty of “All the Money in the World,” so totally focused on his fortune, makes the Grinch look like a philanthropist.

Aside from the audaciousness of its last-minute face-lift, “All the Money in the World” is fairly routine.  If Scott was replacing stars, he might as well have yanked Wahlberg while he was at it.  The story doesn’t suit the action star’s considerable gifts, and he’s out of place from the start.

Still, the extreme measures taken by Scott are fitting.  The restless director is driven by an obsession for work not so different than Getty’s.  Only when a crisis took his movie hostage, Scott immediately intervened at an estimated cost of $8 million.  The lesson holds: Just pay the ransom.

“All the Money in the World,” a Sony Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “language, some violence, disturbing images and brief drug content.” Running time: 132 minutes.  Two and a half stars out of four.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, turning 70, looks back and forward

Andrew Lloyd Webber is shown in this Jan. 28, 2018 file photo. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Mark Kennedy

New York (AP) — Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 70th birthday is coming up on March 22 and it turns out there is something the composer really wants on his special day.  More work.

The man behind such blockbuster shows as “Cats,” ‘’The Phantom of the Opera” and “Evita” has shows in London’s West End, Broadway and on tour, but he’d like to be composing another one.

“The biggest birthday present to me would be to know that I’ve found another subject.  Genuinely, that’s what I would most want for my 70th birthday: To know I’m writing,” he said.

Lloyd Webber may actually be close to another musical subject but doesn’t want to jinx it by revealing details.  “Knowing me, I’ll find some speed bump along the line,” he said.

It’s typical of this restless, self-described perfectionist that he’s looking forward as his past is being celebrated in words, performances and music.

His autobiography, “Unmasked,” is being released this month, along with a massive, four-CD collection of his songs, performed by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Lana Del Rey and Madonna.

The book, which he jokingly refers to as a “medium sized doorstop,” covers the years from his birth to the birth of “The Phantom of the Opera.”  It’s honest and very funny.

“I just hope it shows a little more about me to people who perhaps don’t know me,” he said in his apartment overlooking Central Park.  “I just hope I’ve told some of the funniest stores and they’re not too boring for people.”

One of the book’s most fascinating sections involves the troubled creation of “Cats,” which became a global phenomenon.  Lloyd Webber had to put his own money into the show and watched its progression nervously.

“We were asking people to believe that human beings were cats.  It appeared to have no story-line,” Lloyd Webber said.  “There was not one ingredient that anybody could see was anything other than a recipe for the worst disaster that had ever happened in the history of musical theater.”

Lloyd Webber is positive he’d be unable to get backing for a show like that on Broadway today, though he cheers the imagination of current hits like “Hamilton,” ‘’Dear Evan Hansen,” ‘’Come From Away” and “The Band’s Visit.”  None seem safe bets: “Every single one of those four would be considered to be written by somebody who is terminally insane,” he said, laughing.

His 480-page autobiography ends in 1986 with “Phantom”: “I resembled a jelly about to enter a pizza oven.”  But he doubts he’ll write a second volume.  By the end of the first, several key relationships have frayed and betrayal is felt.

“On the way down sometimes is when you see peoples’ true colors.  I don’t want to write about that.  I never want to write about the bad side of people or things,” he said.

The CD collection of 71 songs proves Lloyd Webber’s range, including a song he wrote for Elvis Presley, orchestral suites, and tunes performed by everyone from Donny Osmond to Beyonce.  Lana Del Rey performs “You Must Love Me” and Nicole Scherzinger does “Memory.”

“I’m rather unfashionable now because I’m not sure that melody is as fashionable as it was,” he says.  “But what I do is melody and I still believe there’s a place for that.”

Universal launches plans for third ‘Jurassic World’ film

This image shows a scene from the upcoming “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”. (Universal Pictures via AP)

New York (AP) - Four months before “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” hits theaters, Universal Pictures has announced plans for a third installment in the rebooted dinosaur franchise.

Universal says “Jurassic World 3” will land in June 2021.  The film is to be written by Emily Carmichael and Colin Trevorrow, the director of 2015’s “Jurassic World.”  Carmichael co-wrote the upcoming sci-fi adventure “Pacific Rim Uprising.”

“Jurassic World” ranks among the biggest box-office hits.  It launched with a $208.8 million opening weekend and finished with $1.7 billion worldwide in ticket sales.

Trevorrow and Steven Spielberg are executive producing each new “Jurassic World” film.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, opens June 22.

Update Saturday, March 10, 2018 - March 16, 2018

Ed Sheeran is world’s best-selling recording artist of 2017


Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is shown arriving at the 68th edition of the International Film Festival Berlin, Berlinale, in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Feb. 23. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

London (AP) — If you think there’s no escape from the songs of Ed Sheeran, you may be right.

A global music industry group says the British singer-songwriter is officially the best-selling recording artist of 2017.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry says Sheeran had the world’s top-selling album last year with “Divide,” as well as the best-selling single, “Shape of You.”

The group’s chief executive, Frances Moore, said that Sheeran’s success “is astonishing and testament to his ability to write and perform songs that connect with a truly global fan base.”

The IFPI’s Global Recording Artist of the Year Award measures sales in both digital and physical music formats.

The 2016 winner, Drake, came second in 2017.  Rounding out the top five were Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem.

Pitt, DiCaprio set to star in Tarantino’s Manson film

Los Angeles (AP) — Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are set to star in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Sony Pictures says that the film has been dated for a theatrical release on Aug. 9, 2019.

Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the project has become widely known as Tarantino’s Charles Manson film.

Neither DiCaprio nor Pitt will be playing Manson however. Tarantino says they will play a pair of struggling actors. DiCaprio will appear as a former Western TV series star and Pitt as his stunt double. Their characters live next door to Sharon Tate.

A longtime resident of Los Angeles, Tarantino has been working on the script for five years. It will mark his ninth feature.

Update Saturday, February 3, 2018 - February 9, 2018

Film Review: ‘Phantom Thread’ spins a rich showcase for Day-Lewis


In this image Vicky Krieps (left) and Daniel Day-Lewis appear in a scene from “Phantom Thread.” (Laurie Sparham/Focus Features via AP)

Lindsey Bahr

Los Angeles (AP) - With echoes of “Rebecca” and lavish Max Ophuls productions, writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson spins the tale of an obsessive fashion designer and his muse into a suspenseful and often funny parlor drama with all the trimmings in “Phantom Thread.”

Anderson is revered for his grand stage meditations on the American man (“Boogie Nights,” 3There Will Be Blood,” 3The Master”). But here, and perhaps to the dismay of some of his fans, he both narrows and redirects his gaze elsewhere to a single couture house in 1950s London and the very particular man behind the designs, Reynolds Woodcock.

The great Daniel Day-Lewis, in what may be his final film performance, plays Reynolds as a soft-spoken dandy whose precise rules and polished look thinly veil his volatile artist’s temperament. We’ve certainly seen this kind of thing before — a celebrated artist who literally cannot stomach anything outside of his routine from ugliness to general unpleasantries and everything in between — but it is something special and distinct in the hands of Day-Lewis, who is perhaps the only working actor perfect and exacting enough to play someone so perfect and exacting.

Reynolds’ nature is just one of the reasons why he’s sailed past middle age and has not only never married but also will proudly tell a woman on a first date that he is a “confirmed” and “incurable” bachelor. The audience sees Reynolds and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), who runs the business side of the House of Woodcock, dispose of a pretty woman early on for the crime of wanting his attention (and disrupting breakfast by offering him an unwanted pastry).

Thus we’re not expecting anything very different when he takes a shine to Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress at a restaurant in the country whom he teases and flirts with by ordering an excessively large breakfast spread for just himself and grinning widely at his next prey. Alma, who seems shy and awkward in her lanky body, bumping into chairs and blushing at the sight of Reynolds, smiles and plays along and gladly accepts his dinner invitation, and, soon one to come back to London to model for him.

But this is not “Funny Face” or “My Fair Lady” or “Pretty Woman” or any number of “ugly” duckling turns to swan with the help of a hairbrush/expensive clothes/great man stories. It’s not even really about fashion (although Mark Bridges costumes are indeed sumptuous). It’s a story of relationships and power.

Alma, we come to discover, is not like the other girls even if she fits the mold (Cyril tells her plainly that she has the perfect shape — “he likes them with a little belly”). She has a bite and will push back on some things and concede on others. “He’s too fussy,” she says defiantly after a disastrous breakfast where Reynolds storms off because she’s buttering her toast too loudly, only later to succumb to the library silence he prefers in the morning. Ultimately, it seems, Alma is testing the waters in hopes of carving out her own unique relationship with Reynolds.

Why Alma loves this petulant genius is something the film doesn’t really make any effort to explain. It’s just a fact, and an occasionally infuriating one. This takes a somewhat surreal twist halfway through, but it’s intriguing enough to carry you to the end of the film.

Even in the unusually confined setting, Anderson gives moments and characters room to breathe in this silky smooth film that lulls you in before taking you on the unexpected ride of the third act. Giving one of the most beautifully subtle performances of the year, Krieps more than holds her own against Day-Lewis, and in some cases even goes so far as to outshine him — a fitting parallel to her character. Manville, too, is superb as Cyril — a Mrs. Danvers-type, without the sinister angle.

Like all of Anderson’s efforts, “Phantom Thread” is beautiful and intriguing, but it’s also a film that is not unlike its central character: easy to respect and admire, and nearly impossible to fully love.

“Phantom Thread,” a Focus Features release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “language.” Running time: 130 minutes. Three stars out of four.

Brit Awards give top honors to Dua Lipa, Stormzy

Singer Dua Lipa poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2018 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 21. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Jill Lawless

London (AP) — Hometown London stars Dua Lipa and Stormzy were both double winners last week at the U.K. music industry’s Brit Awards, where many guests wore white roses to symbolize the fight against sexual harassment and assault.

Stormzy, who has helped propel the grime genre of rap into the commercial mainstream, was named best male British solo artist, and also won album of the year, for his debut “Gang Signs and Prayer.”

Taking the stage, he thanked God, his mother, his family his team and south London, where he grew up.

Stormzy said the album was “the hardest thing, I’ve never worked on something like this in my life.  I’ve never given my entire being, I didn’t have anything left after... we made something I feel that is undeniable, that I can stand by today,” he said.

Stormzy also energized a show that bordered on bland.  In an electric closing performance, he put Britain’s prime minister on the spot, singing “Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell” in reference to last year’s deadly London tower block blaze.

Lipa, whose self-titled debut was one of 2017’s breakout albums, was named British female solo artist and British breakthrough artist.

Lipa dedicated her solo artist trophy to all the female musicians who “have allowed us to dream this big.”

“Here’s to more women on these stages, more women winning awards and more women taking over the world,” said Lipa, who topped U.K. charts with her catchy breakup anthem “New Rules.”

Following up on gestures at the Golden Globes, Grammys and British film awards, guests at Britain’s biggest music awards show were given flowers or white rose pins to wear in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement.

Calls for change have swept through the entertainment industry since women began coming forward to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein last year.

The white rose symbol made an appearance at the Grammys in January.  At the Globes and British Academy Film Awards women wore black to oppose sexual misconduct and bullying.

Performers at the show at London’s O2 Arena, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, included Justin Timberlake, Rita Ora, Sam Smith, Foo Fighters and Kendrick Lamar.

International winners included Foo Fighters in the group category, female solo artist Lorde and male solo artist Kendrick Lamar.

Soulful singer Rag’n’Bone Man took the trophy for best British single for “Human.”

Ubiquitous singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran won the global success award, which goes to the year’s best-selling British artist.  His album “Divide” has sold more than 12 million copies around the world.

In what felt like a symbolic handover between generations, Sheeran’s prize was introduced by a video message from Elton John. He was given his trophy by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, who called Sheeran “a lovely young guy.”

Ariana Grande had been due to perform, but was forced to pull out because of illness, organizers said.  She had been due to make a surprise appearance in tribute to 22 people killed when a bomber blew himself up at a Grande concert in Manchester in May.

Manchester-born Liam Gallagher stepped in instead, performing the Oasis classic “Live Forever.”

Most winners at the Brits are chosen by a ballot of music-industry members, with several selected by public vote, including video of the year, decided by public ballot during the show.  For years that prize was invariably won by One Direction; this year it went to a member of that band, Harry Styles.

French customs officials find stolen Degas in luggage on bus

This photo provided by French Customs shows a stolen painting by French painter Edgar Degas. (Marc Bonodot/French Customs via AP)

Paris (AP) - French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years after it was reported stolen.

The French Culture Ministry said that customs agents in Marne-la-Vallee were surprised to find a work of art bearing the signature “Degas” inside a suitcase in the bus’ luggage compartment. The ministry says none of the passengers claimed the suitcase during the Feb. 16 search.

Experts verified the artwork as Degas’ “Les Choristes” (“The Chorus Singers”), which depicts a scene from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.”

The painting was stolen from a Marseille museum in 2009 while on loan from Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.

French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said she was delighted by the recovery of a work “whose disappearance represented a heavy loss for the French impressionist heritage.”



Back to Main Page

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Film Review: Disney’s ‘Wrinkle’ is a cluttered, dizzying jumble

Givenchy legacy: Hepburn’s little black dress, and much more

‘Mr. Records’ keeps Kenya’s last vinyl music shop alive

Plummer rescues ‘All the Money’ from the dustbin

Andrew Lloyd Webber, turning 70, looks back and forward

Universal launches plans for third ‘Jurassic World’ film

Ed Sheeran is world’s best-selling recording artist of 2017

Pitt, DiCaprio set to star in Tarantino’s Manson film

‘Phantom Thread’ spins a rich showcase for Day-Lewis

Brit Awards give top honors to Dua Lipa, Stormzy

French customs officials find stolen Degas in luggage on bus

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