Monty Python celebrate
‘Life of Brian,’ honor ailing Jones
is shown in this April 24, 2015 file photo.
(AP Photo/Andy Kropa/Invision)
London (AP) —
Celebrations for the 40th anniversary of the Monty Python comedy classic
“Life of Brian” are being somewhat overshadowed this month by the health
news of member Terry Jones.
Jones is “very robust”
although “on the downhill slope” due to dementia, according to his friend
and colleague Michael Palin. Jones was diagnosed in 2015 with a form of
dementia that impairs the ability to speak.
“I go and see him and
the great satisfaction is just to get a reaction; sadly, he doesn’t speak
much. But I read him some stuff that we’d written together a long, long time
ago and Terry actually started to laugh at it, and he laughed only at the
bits that he’d written,” Palin recalled in a recent interview.
“Life of Brian,” which
Jones directed, is among the group’s revered 45 TV comedy episodes, five
films and a blockbuster Broadway musical. When the film came out four
decades ago, it was a huge hit, but also stirred controversy because of its
plotline: It was about a man named Brian Cohen who was born in the stables
next to Jesus and mistaken for the Messiah. Palin played Pontius Pilate with
a speech impediment.
Palin recalls the film
was actually banned from a town called Aberystwyth in Wales until 2008.
elected a new mayor, and the mayor they elected was Sue Jones-Davies, who
played Brian’s girlfriend, romping around in the nude. She was mayor of
Aberystwyth and the first thing she said was, ‘We’re going to release this
film in Aberystwyth,’” he recalled. “It was only shown for one night.”
Iron Maiden singer made honorary citizen of Bosnia’s capital
Bruce Dickinson poses for cameras with his
honorary citizen certificate at the city hall in Sarajevo,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Saturday, April 6. (AP Photo/Eldar Emric)
Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) —
Bosnia’s capital city has made Iron Maiden lead singer Bruce Dickinson an
honorary citizen for a concert he performed while Sarajevo was under siege
during the 1992-95 war.
Mayor Abdulah Skaka presented the award
earlier this month at a ceremony in Sarajevo City Hall, which was badly
damaged during the long Bosnian Serb siege of the city and since restored.
“The arrival of Mr. Dickinson in
Sarajevo in 1994 was one of those moments that made us in Sarajevo realize
that we will survive, that the city of Sarajevo will survive, that
Bosnia-Herzegovina will survive,” said Skaka.
April 6 is Sarajevo Day, which marks
the city’s 1945 liberation during World War II and the start in 1992 of the
Bosnian Serb siege that killed more than 11,000 people, including 1,600
Dickinson, who also walked through the
city center greeting people and signing autographs, said that “it’s a great
honor to be given the honorary citizenship of Sarajevo.”
“In a world where things only last for
about five seconds on social media ... people are still remembering it.
That’s really quite something,” he told The Associated Press. “This is a
brilliant day, a lovely day and it’s great to be back.”
Film Review: ‘Dumbo’ remake takes flight on its own charms
shows Colin Farrell, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins in a scene from “Dumbo.”
(Disney via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
The original “Dumbo” was released in the summer of 1941
while Germany was spreading across Europe and war was breaking out in the
Pacific. Crafted as a simpler Disney fable after the more extravagant
“Fantasia” disappointed at the box office, “Dumbo” — only 64 minutes in
length — took flight just as far more chilling creations were taking to the
Almost eight decades later, “Dumbo” is
alight again in Tim Burton’s somber and sincere live-action remake of the
animated classic. Burton has refashioned “Dumbo” as a sepia-toned
show-business parable tailored to more animal rights-sensitive times.
“Dumbo” is the latest in a circus
parade of Disney remakes (“The Lion King” and “Aladdin” are due out later
this year) that brings classic characters into seemingly more real worlds
with the aid of digital wizardry. None of them will overwhelm anyone by
their necessity. Movies, after all, aren’t smart phones that require
That said, Burton’s “Dumbo,” while
inevitably lacking much of the magic of the original, has charms and
melancholies of its own, starting, naturally, with the elephant in the room.
Of all the CGI make-overs, this Dumbo is the most textured, sweetest and
most soulful of creatures. Like the original, he doesn’t speak and trips
over his floppy ears. Whether cowering at a new height or finding
astonishment as he, with a sneeze, is sent airborne, the digitally rendered
Dumbo is one precious pachyderm.
The film opens in 1919 on the heels of
World War I. Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell, who has grown into the most
sensitive and consistent of leading men) returns from war, minus an arm, to
his two children, Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins). Though Dumbo
endures separation from his mother in Burton’s film, the deeper grief in
“Dumbo” has been transferred to the humans: The children’s mother died while
Holt was away at war from an influenza that, as one character says, “hit
like a hurricane.”
Other things have changed, too. The
traveling circus where the Farriers make their home has fallen on hard
times. Settling down in Joplin, Missouri, the camp is half its former size.
Its owner, Max Medici (Danny DeVito, spectacular), has sold off the horses
that Holt rode in his act. Medici sinks all his remaining money into an
elephant that he hopes will revive the circus, only to feel swindled when
she produces such a droopy-eared offspring, discovered at birth beneath a
heap of hay.
Of course, Dumbo’s stock rises once he
does, too, and Medici’s suddenly sensational circus quickly attracts the
interest of a much more big-league circus impresario, V.A. Vandevere
(Michael Keaton, in a devilishly slick performance), who brings Medici’s
whole circus to his Coney Island kingdom as a means, we immediately grasp,
of luring Dumbo away and dispensing, like a vulture capitalist, with the
It’s a kind of reunion for Burton,
Keaton and DeVito, who 27 years ago came together in “Batman Returns.” The
film, starring a bird that couldn’t fly in DeVito’s Penguin, was like a
wicked version of “Dumbo,” and similarly full of misfits and so-called
freaks. “Dumbo” is naturally lighter terrain for Burton but for the first
time in years, the director — so long an expert at the proximity of fantasy
and horror — seems at home.
And he steers “Dumbo,” from a script by
Ehren Kruger, toward a grand corporate satire as the big-city conglomerate
tries to co-opt the genuine wonder of Dumbo and Medici’s traveling band.
Greed and exploitation close in on them as the big-tent gets bigger. That
such a story line should come in the biggest big-tent of them all, Disney
(whose Disneyland isn’t so dissimilar to Vandevere’s Dreamland) is either an
awkward or happy irony, depending on your level of cynicism.
But it is wondrous when Dumbo takes
flight. Burton’s camera feels genuinely mesmerized at his elephant’s magic
act. The filmmaker’s recent films have been well outside his best work; it
was his woeful “Alice in Wonderful” that kick-started much of the Disney
live-action remakes. But when Dumbo soars, it’s clear that Burton is a
believer, still, in the ability of a beautiful oddity to transcend.
“Dumbo,” a Walt Disney Co. release, is
rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for peril/action, some
thematic elements, and brief mild language. Running time: 112 minutes. Three
stars out of four.
Swedish superstars ABBA: New song later this year
Swedish pop group ABBA are pictured at the
Dorchester Hotel in London in this file photo dated Nov. 5, 1982. (AP
(AP) — ABBA’s Bjorn Ulvaeus says fans can expect
a new song “in September or October” from the four-member Swedish pop group
that broke up 37 years ago.
Ulvaeus told Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet
tabloid that “it takes an extremely long time” to make the video with the
avatars of the group members, adding “it has been delayed for too long.”
The band earlier said Ulvaeus, Benny
Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad and Agnetha Faltskog reunited to plan a
virtual tour featuring digital avatars, and that one of the two new songs is
entitled “I Still Have Faith in You.”
ABBA shot to fame by winning the 1974
Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo,” and had big hits in the 1970s
including “Dancing Queen” before splitting up in 1982.
‘Fake’ Botticelli work turns out to be from artist’s studio
Heritage Conservator Rachel Turnbull completes the conservation of “Madonna
of the Pomegranate”, a painting revealed as a rare example by the workshop
of Sandro Botticelli in Florence. (Christopher Ison/English Heritage via AP)
London (AP) —
Art experts in Britain have discovered that a painting long thought to be a
fake Sandro Botticelli in fact came from the master’s own Florence workshop.
After stripping back a century of
yellowing varnish and surface dirt, conservators confirmed that “Madonna Of
The Pomegranate” — a smaller version of the famous 1487 painting in
Florence’s Uffizi Gallery — was “stylistically too similar to be an
The painting had been assumed to be a
later copy because it’s different to the original in detail, and the thick
yellow varnish had concealed the quality of the vivid reds, blues and golds.
But Rachel Turnbull, a senior
conservator at the charity English Heritage, which cares for hundreds of
historic sites, said that X-ray and infrared tests showed an under-drawing
and changes to the composition that’s uncommon in imitations.
“It was of the right period, it was
technically correct and it was painted on poplar, a material commonly used
at the time,” she said.
The circular painting, part of a
collection bought by a diamond magnate, shows angels flanking Mary, who
holds baby Christ and a pomegranate symbolizing his future suffering. Though
small, it includes exquisite details and features gold leaf adorning Mary’s
halo and the wings of the angels worshipping her.
It is currently on display in Ranger’s
House, a Georgian villa in southeastern London.
‘Captain Marvel’ gets an average introduction
image released shows Brie Larson in a scene from “Captain Marvel.”
(Disney-Marvel Studios via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
If there is one thing that’s true of most of the movies in the Marvel
Cinematic Universe, it’s that they have life and spirit to spare. It’s a
kind of an intoxicating joy that dares even the most comic
book-apathetic to get onboard and delight in the spectacle, and it
usually comes down to the characters. You might not care about whatever
Earth-threatening foe is at large this time, but you care about Captain
America, Black Panther and Black Widow and enjoy spending a few hours
I spent over two hours with Captain
Marvel/Carol Danvers and I still have no idea what her personality is.
Sure, there’s a lot more going on in “Captain Marvel ,” but it’s a
pretty egregious failing considering that the creative bigwigs at Marvel
had 10 years and 20 films to work it out. It’s hard to say whether
that’s a flaw in Brie Larson’s performance or a failure of the script,
but I came out of the film from writers/directors Anna Boden and Ryan
Fleck not caring all that much about her beyond what her dazzling powers
might mean for the next Avengers film, which is perhaps the lamest way
of all to experience these movies.
The story drops you in the middle
of things and gives Carol Danvers a convenient case of amnesia as she
tries to piece together her past by dreaming of Annette Bening while
training to be a soldier with Jude Law on the planet of Kree. She is
told at least 10 times in the first 10 minutes of the film that she
needs to control her emotions, mostly by Law. This is a charged thing to
say to a woman, but also confusing because “emotional” is the last word
I would use to describe the character as she’s presented. She’s more
impulsive and bullheaded than anything else. Emotions and heart don’t
seem to have anything to do with her decisions. At times it even seems
like she’s channeling the Terminator.
But this is also a script that has
Larson delivering eye-rolling lines like “enough of your mind games”
with a straight face. She’s a great actress, but that’s a tall order for
the best of them.
The film is meant to be
disorienting, especially at the beginning. She’s confused and so the
audience must be too, I guess? But things start to come together when
she crash-lands on Earth in the middle of a Los Angeles Blockbuster
Video somewhere around 1995, which you know because there’s a “Babe”
poster and a cardboard display for “True Lies.” The filmmakers have fun
with all their mid-’90s references from computers to musical cues (if
you like angry ’90s girl pop anthems you’re in luck), but I wish someone
would have been paying that much attention to the continuity of Larson’s
curls, which change even in the middle of scenes.
In LA, she comes across a young
Nick Fury, played by a digitally de-aged Samuel L. Jackson, whose
infectious liveliness is a godsend. Together they try to both track down
shapeshifting alien invaders called the Skrulls (led by Ben Mendelsohn)
and also get answers about her past, which honestly sounds a lot more
interesting than her present. But this is the origin story they went
with and it does not include Bening teaching Larson how to fly a fighter
There are some twists and turns and
a scene-stealing orange cat that would be difficult to discuss here
without spoiling everything. All-in-all it’s fine, but nothing to get
too excited about. And it could have and should have been so much
better: The cast was there, the cool directing talents, the budget and
the “brand” goodwill. Halfway through most Marvel movies I don’t often
find myself dreaming up some other Brie Larson, Jude Law, Annette Bening,
Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Mendelsohn and Gemma Chan movie (oh right Gemma
Chan is in this as a glorified extra), but it happened in “Captain
The first female-led movie of the
MCU deserved more.
“Captain Marvel,” a Walt Disney
Studios release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and brief
suggestive language.” Running time: 124 minutes. Two and a half stars
out of four.
Ex-Fox executive banks on crowdfunding to produce MH370 movie
Darlene Lieblich Tipton.
executive Darlene Lieblich Tipton is driven by the fact that the friends
and families of the 239 passengers and crew on-board Malaysian Airlines
flight MH370 that went missing on March 8, 2014 “need and deserve
With never-before seen MH370 pics
and video taken after the plane disappeared, Tipton has launched
headfirst into MALAYSIA 370 – a feature film project “dedicated to the
heroic actions of the 239 passengers and crew on board Malaysia Airlines
#370.” Crowd-funding activities were activated on October 1, 2018 with
Tipton investing most of her personal funds into the production.
“So far I have raised over USD 1.4
million – USD 500,000 from my retirement savings and the rest from
friends, family, and supporters of my last movie,” Tipton said, adding
that most of the funds raised so far were from people who have worked
with her personally in Hollywood.
Tipton said, “The minimum
production budget is USD 7.5 million, with a maximum budget of USD 30
million.” Tipton offered several unique perks to crowd-fund the project.
Her preference for financial support is to have users download the
movie’s hauntingly beautiful theme song, “Remember Me”. The song is a
tender message from a passenger on MH370 to bring comfort and closure to
a loved one left behind. This song has been recorded in English,
Mandarin, Greek, Spanish and Russian. Tipton would also like to have a
version recorded in Bahasa Melayu recorded under a paid contract in Los
Angeles with a full orchestra.
Acknowledging the presence of
naysayers and trolls, she said the negative media reports used details
that sometimes have put a 180 degree spin on what she actually said. “I
was not given the opportunity to correct the inaccuracies, and once
something is on the Internet it becomes a lasting piece of incorrect
Once the financial target is
achieved, Tipton wanted to give the first and full priority to the
talent and crew – above and below the line production positions – who
have been banned from China. The list includes Oscar-winning film
director Martin Scorsese, Brad Pitt, Sharon Stone, Harrison Ford and
musical stars like Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and Bjork.
“There is no major Hollywood studio
that will let us shoot on their lot... Shooting the movie at an indie
production facility like Amazon’s Culver Studios would be a dream come
true,” Tipton concluded.
Crowdfunding efforts thus far are a
multi-pronged approach of donations, sale of memorial coins and theme
song downloads. Tipton said, funds received from the sale, rental, and
distribution of ‘MALAYSIA 370’ will be allocated to the 239 families
affected. “The goal is to be able to give each family USD 100,000 for a
total output of USD 23,900,000.”
from the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is displayed during a
Day of Remembrance event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, March 3,
2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)