July 21, 2018 - July 27, 2018
Film Review: In ‘Skyscraper,’ the Rock towers over action tropes
shows Dwayne Johnson in a scene from “Skyscraper.” (Universal Pictures via
New York (AP) — I like to
imagine what King Kong, as a popcorn-chomping moviegoer, might make of
“Skyscraper,” the latest summer actioner staring Dwayne Johnson. Would he,
watching a goliath ascend the exterior of a high-rise with helicopters and
klieg lights swirling, woundedly mumble, “Hey, that’s my gig.”
But in Rawson Marshall Thurber’s
thriller, there is Johnson steadily — and without too much trouble, really —
swinging up a 100-story-high crane to then leap across a mammoth chasm and
land in an open window on the burning 220-story tower where his wife and
twin kids are trapped.
It goes without saying that if you’re
the sort to scoff at a tale’s implausibility, “Skyscraper” may not be the
movie you’re looking for. Experts in fields including physics,
thermodynamics and screenwriting should proceed cautiously. But then again,
few go to a movie starring the Rock and a tall building (they do have great
chemistry) for sensible and realistic rescue methods. They go for the dumb
fun, the crazy stunts and, above all, the Kong-sized appeal of Johnson, the
towering movie star whose on-screen powers easily exceed those of any other
action star today, superhero or not.
The Hong Kong-set “Skyscraper” is a
kind of West-meets-East “Die Hard,” but without the gritty flair of John
McTiernan’s film, nor anything like the villainous heights of Alan Rickman’s
Hans Gruber. Johnson’s protagonist, too, is a polished family man, the
inverse of Bruce Willis’ unshaven divorcee.
Johnson plays Will Sawyer, a former
military man who, after a haunting hostage encounter, has become a security
systems consultant. “I put my sword down,” says Sawyer, who has a prosthetic
leg from the incident — a welcome touch in a movie world where disabilities
are seldom represented.
Along with his former combat surgeon
wife (the nice-to-see-again Neve Campbell, whose part exceeds the
stereotypical spouse role) and their two kids (McKenna Roberts, Noah
Cottrell), Sawyer is in Hong Kong to ready the security for “The Pearl,” a
state-of-the-art skyscraper promoted as three times the size of the Empire
State Building. With a swirling turbine midway up and a tennis ball-like
sphere at the top, it looks a little like a giant World Cup trophy.
The building is the pride of
billionaire developer Zhao Long Ji (Chin Han), who has filled it with
extravagant attractions, like a kind of digital hall-of-mirrors that will
inevitably serve as the setting for a “Lady From Shanghai”-like shootout. He
presides over it from the penthouse, more than 100 floors above anyone else
in the unfinished high rise.
The Singaporean star Han is one of the
many Asian actors who populate the film, clearly fashioned to appeal as much
to Chinese filmgoers as American ones, though their roles are largely
Sawyer’s family is installed on floor
96, a precarious spot when, just below them, a band of terrorists led by
Kores Botha (a ho-hum Roland Moller) sets a floor on fire, blazing a crimson
line across the night skyline. (“Skyscraper” is lensed by Robert Elswit and
it regularly looks better than you’d expect it to.)
Their aim, like countless bandits
before them, is to smoke out Zhao. It’s an overly elaborate plan considering
they mostly desire the flash drive Zhao carries with him. But what
bloodthirsty international mercenary isn’t a big fan of “The Towering
That the timing felt right to Thurber
and Johnson (who previously teamed for “Central Intelligence”) for a film
about a skyscraper under terrorist assault is itself noteworthy. Such a
movie would have been unthinkable in the years after Sept. 11, and for some,
still is. But this year, for whatever reason, seems to close a chapter in
the post-9/11 disaster movie. In April, “Rampage” (also with Johnson) didn’t
hesitate to topple urban towers in clouds of dust.
“Skyscraper” doesn’t have any such
thoughts — or, really, any thoughts, period — in mind. It’s counting on your
amnesia to the past, on screen and off, and it will readily supply you with
two hours of mindless escape. It does the job better than most, thanks
largely to its hulking hero. When Johnson makes his crane leap — the movie’s
much-promoted central set piece — throngs surrounding the building ooh and
aah. It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s the Rock.
“Skyscraper,” a Universal Pictures
release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for
“sequences of gun violence and action, and for brief strong language.”
Running time: 102 minutes. Two and half stars out of four.
The B-52s are touring on their
40th anniversary - sort of
In this June
21, 2018 photo, Kate Pierson (left) and Fred Schneider, of The B-52s, pose
for a portrait in New York to promote the band’s 40th anniversary. (Photo by
New York (AP) — The B-52s are
celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. But they also may celebrate it
next year. That is, if they haven’t already hit the milestone.
There’s no fuzzy math here — it’s a
just matter of which date adequately represents the origin of the band,
which began in Athens, Georgia.
Vocalist Fred Schneider considers 2018
as their ruby anniversary. “This is 40 years since our first single came
out,” Schneider said. That was the year they released the song, “Rock
The band’s other vocalist, Kate
Pierson, interprets their anniversary a bit more liberally.
“We started in 1976 jamming and we
played our first show on Valentine’s Day 1977, so we can mark 40 from there
or we can mark 40 from 1979 when we did our first record,” Pierson said,
referring to their eponymous album.
Then she added: “It’s flexible. We’re
milking the 40 anniversary because it’s flexible.”
While the actual date may be a “Cosmic
Thing” — just as the title of their fifth album and hit song — there’s no
discrepancy that their reputation as “the world’s greatest party band” has
thrived since the late 1970s.
Yet, while their sound remained upbeat,
the band had some dark days, most notably the death of founding member Ricky
Wilson, who succumbed to AIDS in 1985. He is the older brother of vocalist
“There’s always ups and downs in 40
years. And Ricky’s death in 1985 was definitely a point where we thought we
wouldn’t go on. People always ask, ‘Did you envision that you would have
gone on for 40 years?’ You know, that seemed like the end,” Pierson said.
Instead, they rebounded with “Cosmic
Thing,” and scored their most successful album, and biggest hit single,
“Love Shack” in 1989. Pierson attributes their longevity to friendship above
“We all maintained our connections and
our friendships, which we’ve maintained over all these years. We still like
each other, love each other, and we realize that this was a way to heal and
a way to really bring Ricky back into the mix. I think a lot of the songs
recalled that time in Athens with Ricky,” Pierson said.
She jokes about what would happen if
the band were to try to make it today. “We would go on ‘The Voice,’ and we’d
get kicked off of the first episode, probably,” Pierson said.
As for the tour, the band said fans can
expect more obscure stuff, like “Wig,” as well as the hits. “We’re not going
to say, ‘Hey, tonight I’m sorry. I hope you understand. We’re not doing
‘Rock Lobster’ or ‘Love Shack’ or ‘Roam,’’” said Pierson. “No, we’re going
to do those.”
Producers plan movie
about Thai cave rescue
team members walk inside the cave where 12 boys and their soccer coach were
trapped for 18 days. (Royal Thai Navy via AP)
New York (AP) — The boys are out
of the cave. Now Hollywood wants in.
The producers behind Christian films
like “God’s Not Dead” are already in Thailand with plans to develop a movie
about the 18-day saga of the soccer team trapped in a flooded cave. Though
the drama of headline-grabbing rescues often doesn’t carry over the big
screen, Pure Flix Entertainment co-founder Michael Scott believes the story
about the 12 boys and their 25-year-old coach is ripe for movie adaptation.
“We realized that this would make an
incredibly inspiring movie,” Scott said. “Like a lot of people, we know
there’s not a lot of positive news in the world today.”
Scott said he feels a personal
connection with the story. His wife is Thai and he said he was spending the
summer in Bangkok when the soccer team went missing. Scott and fellow
producer Adam Smith recently traveled to the area around the cave in
northern Thailand, and they have begun talking to some of the participants
about their “life rights.”
But they also stressed that they
haven’t yet pursued most of the families of the boys, who remained
recuperating in a hospital.
“For us it’s not a huge race,” said
Smith. “It’s about making sure we get the authenticity right.”
Many hurdles await. Most films that
enter development never get produced, and the producers are just beginning
to seek a screenwriter. Other film productions companies will surely show
interest, and they could leapfrog ahead with a larger production. But Pure
Flix hopes they can beat any fiction-film rush.
“I don’t think this is a religious
film,” said Scott. “I think this is an inspirational film.”
There’s also some reason to doubt the
box-office appeal of the tale. Ripped-from-headlines movies have not been
setting the world on fire. Though Clint Eastwood’s “Sully” was a success,
his 2018 docudrama about the 2015 Thalys train attack, “The 15:17 to Paris,”
disappointed. Michael Bay’s “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi”
(2016) was the director’s worst performing release. Peter Berg’s 2016
big-budget drama about the 2010 oil rig explosion “Deepwater Horizon”
The best comparison would be 2015’s
“The 33,” about the 2010 mining disaster in Chile that trapped 33 miners for
two months. Though boasting a starry cast of Antonio Banderas, Josh Brolin
and Juliette Binoche, it made barely a blip at the box office, with $24.9
Elvis Costello cancels tour dates after
Elvis Costello is shown in this Nov. 12, 2017 file photo. (Photo by Richard
London (AP) — Elvis Costello has
canceled the rest of his European summer tour after undergoing surgery for a
“small but very aggressive” cancerous tumor.
The post-punk singer-songwriter says he
needs time to recover after the operation.
The 63-year-old musician said in a
statement that he initially thought “normal service had been resumed” but
now realized he needed more rest. He said “therefore, I must reluctantly
cancel all the remaining engagements of this tour.”
He vowed to “return at the soonest
The canceled concerts were in Britain,
Croatia, Austria, Norway and Sweden.
Costello, whose hits include “Alison”
and “Oliver’s Army,” urged men to go to their doctors if they had symptoms
they were worried about.
Release of 5th
‘Indiana Jones’ movie pushed to 2021
Harrison Ford is shown in this Jan. 10, 2016 file photo. (Photo by Jordan
New York (AP) — Indiana Jones
won’t be swinging back into movie theaters until at least 2021.
The Walt Disney Co. has announced that the planned
fifth installment in the “Indiana Jones” franchise will be released in July
2021 instead of July 2020. The film was originally scheduled for release in
the summer of 2019.
Script issues are reportedly behind the delay. Last
month, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” co-screenwriter Jonathan Kasdan was brought
on to help write the film.
Steven Spielberg is set to direct the latest “Indiana
Jones” film, with Harrison Ford also reprising his role. Ford turns 79 years
old in July 2021.
Spielberg also has a number of films in front of
“Indiana Jones,” including a remake of “West Side Story.”
July 14, 2018 - July 20, 2018
Film Review: ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ punches above its weight
released by Marvel Studios shows Paul Rudd in a scene from “Ant-Man and the
Wasp.” (Disney/Marvel Studios via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
Not since Animal against the advice of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker
ingested Insta-Growth pills has a movie had as much fun with scale as
“Ant-Man and The Wasp.”
Among the greatest
threats to the shape-shifting heroes of the Marvel sequel are windshield
wipers, salt shakers and seagulls. This is surely the first movie to
weaponize that most fearsome of terrors: a giant Hello Kitty Pez dispenser.
In one of the film’s finest moments, a loud, careening chase culminates in a
dramatic fall into the ocean sounded not with an explosive splash but with a
tiny ripple and a “Plink!”
In both scale and
ambition, “Ant-Man and The Wasp” is an altogether more modest affair, and
it’s so much the better for it. Most Marvel movies strenuously insist on how
much they matter — how much a carefully stitched together comic-book
apparatus hangs in the balance — with only an occasional aside to
acknowledge their inherent silliness. But slapstick is in the DNA of
“Ant-Man and The Wasp.”
For some Marvel
devotees, “Ant-Man and The Wasp” will be a clever enough diversion in
between the more main-event releases. But it’s pretty much exactly what I’d
want in a superhero movie: a funny cast, zippy action scenes and not an
infinity stone in sight.
The Marvel product has,
it should be noted, grown more dynamic and varied in recent years. But if
you’re not going to reach the mythic heights of “Black Panther,” the
light-hearted antics of “Ant-Man and The Wasp” are your next-best bet. As
different as they are, the two films have one crucial thing in common: No
Just as “Black Panther”
styled itself after a spy thriller, “Ant-Man” takes from the heist movie.
The first installment in 2015 was a somewhat muddled franchise debut, thanks
to a late director shuffle. Peyton Reed, who took over production on the
first one, is back here, and he has carved out a real identity for Paul
Rudd’s character, among the most self-contained in Marvel’s “cinematic
And more than its
predecessor, “Ant-Man and The Wasp” has adopted the goofball charm of its
leading man. Coming a few years after “Ant-Man,” Rudd’s Scott Lang is now
under house arrest for his involvement in the Berlin showdown of “Captain
America: Civil War.” When his 10-year-old daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder
Fortson) isn’t around, he passes the time playing drums and learning magic
tricks. With just days to go before Randall Park’s S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is to
remove Lang’s monitoring device, he’s summoned by the brains behind their
last adventure: Dr. Hank Pym (a sometimes in-the-way Michael Douglas) and
Pym’s daughter Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), whose winged Ant-Man-like
suit has earned her the Wasp moniker.
Pym believes his wife,
Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer) has for the last 30 years been locked away in the
“quantum realm,” a mind- and matter-bending subatomic limbo that, it turns
out, has predictably done curiously little damage to the indestructible
Pfeiffer. A Technicolor blur of floating blobs, the quantum realm looks like
a lava lamp’s dream of heaven.
To send someone into
the realm on a rescue mission, Pym and Van Dyne have built a sophisticated
laboratory many stories high that, with a click of a remote, they can shrink
down to carry-on size. Their plans bring them into contact with a
black-market dealer (Walton Goggins) and an old academic colleague of Pym’s
(Laurence Fishburne). It also attracts the interest of the film’s villain,
Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen), whose tragic backstory has left her burning
(figuratively) and blurry (literally) with anger for being robbed of a
The plot is fine but
many of the pleasures of “Ant-Man and The Wasp” come from its digressions.
And no one better breaks down the molecular structure of a Marvel movie than
Michael Pena. Every time he takes the screen, he threatens to destabilize it
with his chatterbox excitement. When Pena’s Luis (Lang’s friend and business
partner at X-Con Security) is given a truth serum, you pray for the movie to
just let him keep talking until the end credits roll. Just as good is Park,
who steals his scenes with a quieter deadpan.
There are more gags,
too. A malfunctioning Ant-Man suit turns Rudd enormous or embarrassingly
child-sized. A Hot Wheels-riff on the “Bullitt” car chase tumbles down the
hills of San Francisco. None of this is earth-shattering stuff, but that’s
part of the fun of it. Here, for once, is a Marvel movie about saving one
life, not a billion.
“Ant-Man and the Wasp,”
a Walt Disney Studios release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture
Association of America for “some sci-fi action violence.” Running time: 118
minutes. Three stars out of four.
Jerusalem backlash casts shadow over Eurovision contest
In this May
12, 2018 file photo, Netta Barzilai from Israel celebrates after winning the
Eurovision song contest in Lisbon, Portugal. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
Jerusalem (AP) —
When the United States recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israelis
hoped other countries would follow suit. Instead, the move has created a
backlash. The latest setback threatens the contested city’s hopes of hosting
the 2019 Eurovision song contest — an affair that has become something of a
“There is a greater
concern this year than any other year I can remember about the political
backdrop surrounding Eurovision,” said William Lee Adams, who runs a popular
Eurovision blog. “Many Eurovision fans build their whole year around a trip
to Eurovision, and just given the nature of what’s going on their ideal has
Israel won Eurovision
in May with a flashy pop tune called “Toy” by the charismatic, previously
unknown singer Netta Barzilai, who dazzled viewers with her feminist lyrics,
unconventional appearance and signature chicken dance. Her victory won
Israel the right to host next year’s Eurovision contest.
But the celebrations
were tempered by continued bloodshed along the Gaza border, as well as the
controversial move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem two days later.
More than 120
Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since weekly protests began in
the Gaza Strip in March. Some 60 people were killed on May 14, marking a
jarring contrast to the Israeli jubilation over the embassy move and the
The so-called BDS group
— for Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions — has called on the European
Broadcasting Union, the contest’s sponsor, to boycott the Eurovision contest
in Israel next year.
“This contest must be
boycotted to avoid complicity and business-as-usual with this regime and to
avoid irreversibly tarnishing the Eurovision brand with Israel’s egregious
human rights record,” the group said.
Activists had targeted
Barzilai and her song ahead of this year’s contest with a campaign calling
on voters to award her zero points. But win she did.
The winning country
traditionally hosts the contest the following year. But exactly where the
show will be held remains an open question.
In Europe, capital
cities have usually played host. But the city Israel considers its capital —
Jerusalem — is not recognized as such by most of the international
community. Just two countries, Guatemala and Paraguay, have followed the
U.S. and moved their embassies to Jerusalem.
Hosting the competition
in Jerusalem could present a predicament for the public broadcasters that
make up the European Broadcasting Union, sparking criticism that they are
taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel is expected to
present four cities as potential hosts, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Israel held the Eurovision contest in Jerusalem following its previous
victories, most recently in 1999, without incident.
culture and sports minister, Miri Regev told Kan Bet radio, “the state of
Israel has the right to decide where Eurovision will be held. I will
recommend to the government and to the prime minister that it won’t be right
to host Eurovision if it will not be held in Jerusalem.”
Paul McCartney ready to release his 17th solo album
McCartney is shown performing in this July 26, 2017 file photo. (Photo by
Los Angeles (AP) — Paul McCartney is inviting fans on
a musical journey as he prepares to release his 17th solo album.
The former Beatle, who
turned 76 last month, announced on social media that “Egypt Station” will be
released on Sept. 7. The title comes from the name of one of McCartney’s
paintings and it will be his first full album since “NEW” in 2013.
McCartney posted the
singles “I Don’t Know” and “Come On To Me.”
In a statement,
McCartney says he thinks of the album “as a dream location that the music
“Egypt Station” was
recorded between Los Angeles, London and Sussex, England.
Peruvian restoration center rescues art from ruin
restorer works on a sculpture of Jesus Christ in a studio of the Ministry of
Culture’s Restoration Center in Cuzco, Peru. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)
Cuzco, Peru (AP) —
The old colonial palace high in the Andes and crowded with treasures from
Peru’s bygone golden age feels more like an emergency room than a workshop
for recovering damaged artwork.
But sculptures of
decapitated Roman Catholic saints, dismembered angels and charred paintings
from remote churches across the spine of the Andes all find their way here,
where a team of dedicated specialists works to restore them after
catastrophic fires and centuries of neglect.
“They are like patients
suffering terminal cancer who we are bringing back to life,” said Erwin
Castilla, head of canvas conservation at the Ministry of Culture’s
Restoration Center in Cuzco.
The facility, which
opened in 2003, claims to be the only one of its kind operating in Peru and
has already made major contributions to the country’s cultural heritage:
Between 2015 and 2017 it rescued more than 500 paintings, sculptures, and
The center’s teams of
more than 50 conservationists wear surgical masks and use modern technology
— like X-ray and ultraviolet machines — to uncover images that over time
have faded away on canvases that average 300 years old.
Cuzco was the capital
of the ancient Inca Empire, and from the 16th to 18th centuries it became an
epicenter for Catholic-themed art under Spanish colonizers.
Paintings from the
“Cuzco School” reflect a rich blend of European influences with indigenous
imagery and homegrown artistic techniques that later spread throughout South
In the meticulous
workshop, conservationists keep detailed records of each piece, as if they
were a patient’s medical chart. A board of experts then pores over the
records to determine how to bring the works back to life.
The center receives
calls for help from small churches in remote Andean villages that have
existed for centuries, and many of the paintings have endured punishing
rain, sun, mold, nibbling moths and even flawed repairs by untrained hands.
“We have to advance bit
by bit,” Castilla said. “Sometimes it takes us years.”
One restored painting
by the indigenous artist Diego Quispe Tito was scorched in a 2016 fire at a
Cuzco church along with more than 30 other works. Authorities estimate
losses from that fire at nearly $2 million.
The team also restores
delicate sculptures depicting Catholic martyrs made from wood and cloth that
are often missing heads or arms.
The workshop struggles
to run on a shoestring budget of $700,000 a year, said Nidia Perez, an art
historian who heads the workshop. But the team never loses sight of its
“We are keeping alive
the memory of Andean art,” she said. “We must fight every day to keep it
Ramayana performance in Myanmar
celebrates diplomatic ties with Thailand
performers staged the Ramayana epic in Myanmar last month to celebrate ties
between the two countries.
The Thai Ministry of Culture has held
Ramayana performances to mark the 70th anniversary of Thai-Myanmar
The four act performance, which
included epic battle scenes, took place in the three Myanmar cities of
Yangon, Naypyidaw and Mandalay between June 19 and 23.
Minister of Culture Weera Rojpojanarat
said that the Ramayana is a high form of art and performance that has been
revered for many generations and has become a symbol of Thailand. He noted
the three performances in Myanmar were all sold out and helped enhance
relations between the two countries in all regards, including tourism and
July 7, 2018 - July 13, 2018
Film Review: In ‘Day of the Soldado,’ an equally bleak ‘Sicario’
shows Benicio Del Toro (left) and Josh Brolin in a scene from “Sicario: Day
of the Soldado.” (Richard Foreman, Jr./Sony Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
There’s an oppressive bleakness to the brutal action-thriller “Sicario: Day
of the Soldado.” But with faces like Josh Brolin and Benicio del Toro, what
are you going to do?
Amid the dust cloud of
violence that settles over the “Sicario” sequel, nothing stands out like the
furrowed brow of Brolin’s grimace or the cold, worn-out stare of del Toro.
They look like gunslingers from an Anthony Mann or Sam Peckinpah western,
just with heavier ammo and dark sunglasses. With such sunken, world-weary
eyes, in the heyday of film noir del Toro and Brolin would have made a
They do plenty of that,
too, in “Sicario: Day of the Soldado.” Matt Graver (Brolin) and his cartel
lawyer turned undercover pal Alejandro Gillick (del Toro) are again called
into action in a black-ops operation along the Mexico border, this time
without the benefit of Emily Blunt, who starred in Denis Villeneuve’s
Blunt played a less
experienced FBI agent with the naivety to be horrified by things that Graver
and Gillick wouldn’t bat an eye at — you know, sissy stuff like dozens of
decaying corpses stuffed like insulation into a Mexican cartel safe house.
No, Graver and just-as-grave Gillick have seen it all. And Blunt’s absence
leaves “Day of Soldado” without the mounting sense of dread that defined the
It also lacks the
muscular camera work of Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins. With
such missing talent, it would be easy to view “Day of the Soldado” as a
cheaper knockoff. Easier, still, considering the movie’s poster — of a
gun-toting skeleton draped in a flag — most resembles a Guns N’ Roses album
It’s better than that,
but not by much. Stefano Sollima (“Gomorrah”) steps in to direct a script by
Taylor Sheridan, whose neo-westerns (“Hell or High Water,” ‘’Wind River”)
have made him the genre’s best new hope. Sheridan wrote “Sicario,” too,
which sought to modernize the drug-war thriller to catch it up to the lethal
battles of today’s cartels.
But in its ballet of
SUVS sweeping across the border, “Sicario” mostly stood for a ruthless,
borderless American power equaling the ultra-violence of a new era, with all
the moral doubt that accompanies such a fight. “Day of the Soldado” begins
with a similar stab at political relevance. A supermarket in Kansas City is
attacked by a swarm of suicide bombers, the last of whom we watch detonate
his vest just as a mother and child are trying to tiptoe past.
Sheridan and Sollima
could easily defend the imagery: This is indeed a not uncommon happening.
But it’s a sensationalist way to show it. Is there anyone left who doesn’t
understand the horror of terrorism?
It’s believed the
bombers were jihadis who infiltrated the country by slipping through the
Mexican border. Told that the cartels control the trafficking of migrants
over the border, the Secretary of Defense (Matthew Modine) opts to
clandestinely prompt a war between two cartels. Graver’s plan is to kidnap
the 12-year-old daughter of a cartel kingpin to kick-start the war.
“There are no rules
this time,” Graver tells Gillick, even if it’s unclear how much Graver ever
heeded the rules in the first place.
Where “Day of the
Soldado” most succeeds is in the blur or maybe altogether disintegration of
American altruism in a heinous fight. In one scene, Gillick switches from
kidnapper to DEA agent by unhurriedly slipping on a government jacket, but
not changing gun or even his seat.
Things go from dark to
darker still, as “Day of the Soldado” sets its genre tale against the
backdrop of Mexican migrants in a way that sometimes feels topical and
sometimes exploitive. As grim as the world of “Sicario” is — and Sollima and
Sheridan really wants us to know just how grim it is — there’s also a
sentimental stab at redemption by way of the kingpin daughter (played by a
very good Isabela Moner), who ends up in a desert trek with Gillick.
Still, there’s a mean
potency to the borderland noir of both “Sicario” films, enough that it
sometimes recalls another tale of explosions and drug enforcement agents on
both sides of the border: Orson Welles’ “Touch of Evil.”
“Day of the Soldado” is
too sober and grim for the sweaty heat of “Touch of Evil.” But it has taken
to heart one of its best lines: “All border towns bring out the worst in a
“Sicario: Day of
Soldado,” a Sony Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture
Association of America for “strong violence, bloody images, and language.”
Running time: 123 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
Knight fever: Bee Gees star becomes Sir Barry Gibb at palace
Singer and songwriter Barry Gibb talks with
Prince Charlesm (left) during an Investiture ceremony to award a knighthood
to Gibb, at Buckingham Palace in London, Tuesday June 26. (Dominic
Lipinski/PA via AP)
London (AP) — Bee Gee Barry Gibb has received a knighthood at
Buckingham Palace, and says he hopes his late brothers Robin and Maurice are
proud of him.
Gibb is the last
surviving member of the fraternal trio whose falsetto harmonies and disco
beats powered huge 1970s hits including “How Deep is Your Love,” ‘’Stayin’
Alive” and “Tragedy.” Maurice died in 2003 and his twin Robin in 2012.
After being knighted at
the palace by Prince Charles on Tuesday, June 26, the 71-year-old songwriter
said: “If it was not for my brothers, I would not be here.”
Gibb, who can now call
himself Sir Barry, said the honor was “a bit surreal.” He said “it is a high
award that your culture can give you and that is something I am enormously
Joe Jackson turned his children into stars, but at a price
(left) and his son Michael (right) are shown in this March 14, 2005 file
photo. (AP Photo/ Carlo Allegri)
Nekesa Mumbi Moody
New York (AP) —
Joe Jackson once had his own dreams of success. He tried to be a boxer and
then played guitar with a group called The Falcons. But he realized early on
that there was an overwhelming pool of musical talent in his children,
particularly a little bright-eyed boy named Michael.
He channeled his
ambition through them, creating one of the greatest pop vocal groups, The
Jackson Five, and launched the career of one of entertainment’s greatest
legends in Michael Jackson, as well as another superstar talent, daughter
Yet the legacy of
Jackson, who died last week in Las Vegas at the age of 89, was steeped not
only in the brilliant guidance of his children into the world’s premiere
entertainment dynasty, but the iron fist with which he did it. Michael
described beatings with the switch of a tree branch, and a fear so great of
his father that he would sometimes vomit at the sight of him. His children
called him Joseph — they weren’t allowed to call him by fatherly terms.
“You call me Joseph,’”
Janet Jackson recalled her father telling her once when she called him dad.
“I’m Joseph to you.”
By the time they were
all adults, his children severed professional ties to him, preferring to let
others guide the careers he once nurtured.
Still, in times of
turmoil, it was Joe that they continued to turn to. When Michael Jackson
stood trial on allegations that he sexually abused a child (he was
acquitted), it was Joe Jackson who was at his side on most days. Janet
Jackson rationalized that her father wanted the best for his children, even
if he didn’t go about it the right way.
Michael credited his
father with making sure his children weren’t cheated by industry vultures,
and noted that unlike some child stars, his parents didn’t take their
children’s money to enrich themselves.
“I’d say we’re among a
fortunate few artists who walked away from a childhood in the business with
anything substantial — money, real estate, other investments. My father set
all these up for us,” Jackson wrote in his 1988 autobiography. “But still I
don’t know him, and that’s sad for a son who hungers to understand his own
father. He’s still a mystery to me and may always be one.”
The relationship with
many of his children never improved. Janet Jackson said in a CNN interview
in 2011 that she rarely spoke to her father, and by adulthood, they had
severed ties with Jackson as their manager.
When Michael Jackson
died of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol in 2009, he had been
estranged from his father, and his bodyguards recall not allowing Joe
Jackson in when he attempted to see the superstar at his estate.
In his own
autobiography, Joe Jackson acknowledged being a stern parent, saying he
believed it was the only way to prepare his children for the tough world of
show business. But he denied many of the claims of physical abuse.
After 4,000 episodes,
a halt for Jerry Springer’s show
TV talk show
host Jerry Springer is shown in this Jan. 16, 2014 file photo. (Photo by
New York (AP) —
Somehow it doesn’t seem right for Jerry Springer to exit quietly.
There should be one
last thrown chair or a bleep-filled tirade, at the very least. Instead, it
was announced with no fanfare recently that he will stop making new episodes
of his memorably raucous talk show, and neither Springer nor his bosses will
talk about it.
Producers said “there
is a possibility” that more original episodes could be ordered sometime in
the future but, since they wouldn’t answer questions, it’s not known how
serious that possibility is.
At its heyday in the
1990s, Springer’s show challenged Oprah Winfrey for U.S. daytime television
supremacy with TV studios filled with seething spurned lovers, gender fluid
guests before that was a term and pretty much anyone who was spoiling for a
fight. It even provoked serious end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it talk.
Springer, a former
Cincinnati mayor who realized he had to do something to distinguish himself
in a competitive market, was the low-key ringmaster who didn’t take himself
too seriously and let you know he was in on the joke.
During an interview
with The Associated Press at his show’s 25th anniversary three years ago,
Springer said that anyone could do his job if they learned three phrases:
“You did what?” ‘’Come on out!” and “We’ll be right back.” He presided over
Some of his shows last
month illustrated that the formula hadn’t changed much: “Stripper Sex Turned
Me Straight,” ‘’Stop Pimpin’ My Twin Sister,” ‘’My Bestie is Stalkin’ You,”
‘’Hooking Up With My Therapist” and “Babes with Baguettes.”
After more than 4,000
episodes, it’s hard for things to register on the outrage meter. Between
reality television and the verbal slugfests of cable television news, there
are plenty of places viewers can turn for experiences that fill the role
that Springer once did.
“He was lapped not only
by other programs but by real life,” said David Bianculli, a television
historian and professor at Monmouth University.
At this point, asking
to talk about Springer’s legacy is a little like commenting on an obituary
for someone you forgot was alive, he said.
June 30, 2018 - July 6, 2018
Film Review: Family fun and insight
in sprightly ‘Incredibles 2’
released by Disney Pixar shows a scene from “Incredibles 2”. (Disney/Pixar
Los Angeles (AP) -
“The Incredibles” writer/director Brad Bird has said that his characters’
powers are all born of stereotypes. Dad is strong, mom is stretched in a
million directions, teenage girls put up shields, little boys are full of
boundless energy and babies are unpredictable. It’s why he decided that for
the sequel, “Incredibles 2 ,” a buoyant and quick-witted romp, he’d pick up
right where we left off, in that parking lot after Dash’s track meet where a
new threat emerges from underground. No matter that in reality, 14 years had
actually passed. Animation is not bound by time or aging actors.
For the rest of us,
however, 14 years is still 14 years. And in the past 14 years, the business
of Hollywood has become the business of superhero movies.
It’s hard to remember a
time when there weren’t a dozen a year. But when “The Incredibles” came out
in 2004, they were still a bit of an anomaly at the multiplex — its cheeky,
mockumentary realism, its jokes about capes, secret identities,
“monologue-ing” and the dangers of toxic, obsessive fandom was the perfect
introduction (and indoctrination) to superheroes for those who couldn’t care
less. Pixar magic made superhero believers out of the skeptics. And by 2008,
we all thought, sure, let’s see about this Tony Stark fellow and someone
called Iron Man.
In “Incredibles 2,” it
seems like Bird himself is wrestling with a culture he helped facilitate —
not totally dissimilar to what Steven Spielberg did earlier this year in
“Ready Player One.” But instead of nostalgia on trial, it’s superheroes and
The villain here is
called Screenslaver, who uses screens to hypnotize anyone watching. It’s
both the most retro plan of all (keeping with Bird’s love of the 60s
aesthetic) and still somehow utterly modern. Annoyed by how blindly and
wholly consumerist everyone has become at the mercy of screens and simulated
experiences in lieu of real ones, from movies to video games, Screenslaver
has set out to end that, and squash Municiberg’s dependence on and obsession
with superheroes. As with the first, there are a million ideas at play here
(not a flaw, by the way), including evolving family dynamics.
Most of the original
voice cast has returned, including Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr.
Incredible, Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl, Bird as Edna Mode, Sarah
Vowell as Violet Parr and Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone (the only
slight change in the main players is that Dash Parr is now voiced by Huck
Milner). And once again, superheroes are still on shaky ground in
Municiberg and are put on ice after the Parr family accidentally damages
some public property while trying to take down a criminal.
But a wealthy heir and
superhero appreciator Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech savvy
sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) have a plan to rehabilitate their image.
Right now, the public only sees the destruction. The Deavors propose
outfitting superheroes with body cams to get exciting footage of their
provides a bit of a corrective on a micro level to the first film’s gender
politics by sending mom off to work and making dad stay home (although
wasn’t that a little antiquated 35 years ago?). The animation is also a heck
of a lot better. “The Incredibles” looks downright primitive and even a tad
ugly in retrospect.
Although it gets off to
a slow start, ultimately it’s also quite a bit of fun, from the absurd (Jack
Jack’s burgeoning powers) to the grounded (Dad helping Dash with his math
homework or trying to make up for getting in the way of Violet’s date and
embarrassing her even further in the process).
Like “Ready Player
One,” however, “Incredibles 2,” kind of loses the thread by the end. A
villain is a villain no matter how salient their point, and Mr. Incredible,
Elastigirl and their offspring are our heroes and thus we must root for them
even while thinking that Screenslaver might be on to something.
It’s still fun to watch
smart storytellers like Bird working within the system and using his
platform to self-evaluate or comment on what’s going on, even if the
conclusion is a little flimsy. Bird could have easily just brought back his
lovable characters, leaned on Jack Jack’s antics and cashed in the check. It
makes the effort and care here seem even more incredible.
“Incredibles 2,” a Walt
Disney Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “action sequences and some brief mild language.” Running time:
118 minutes. Three stars out of four.
‘Fun, Fun, Fun:’ Beach Boys team up with Royal Philharmonic
musicians Mike Love (left) and Bruce Johnston (right) talk during an
interview at Spiritland in London, Wednesday, June 13, 2018. (AP
London (AP) - Summer is coming
and the season in Britain is being marked by a return to the airwaves of the
Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun” with a new version featuring the Royal
The raucous teenage classic has been
reborn with a classical twist, one of 16 Beach Boys tunes given a new lease
on life on a CD recorded at Abbey Road, a London landmark forever associated
with another great ’60s band, the Beatles.
Beach Boys singer Mike Love seems
somewhat mystified by the continuing appeal of tunes he helped pen with
cousin and fellow Beach Boy Brian Wilson more than five decades ago.
“They’re playing ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ on the
radio these days, which is great,” says Love, who was in Britain for days of
live performances. “Brian and I wrote that years and years ago. I said,
Brian, ‘we ought to do a song about a girl who borrows her dad’s car and
goes cruising in it rather than to the library.’”
The slightly preposterous song (romance
develops after the girl’s father takes her Thunderbird away) had a first
life as a hit, a second spell as a nostalgic encore at hundreds of Beach
Boys concerts, and now a third incarnation that combines the band’s early
sound with a premier orchestra.
“They’ve done a great job of honoring
the original vocal performances and complementing them with the
orchestrations,” said Love.
The project has been approved by all
the surviving Beach Boys, including Brian Wilson, who had recently been
embroiled in bitter lawsuits with Love. Brian’s two brothers — Carl and
Dennis Wilson — have both died.
Brian Wilson is not touring with the
current incarnation of the Beach Boys — he’s been concentrating on solo
projects for some 20 years — but he sees the Philharmonic project as
validation of his belief that classic compositions like “Good Vibrations”
are “pocket symphonies.”
“I always knew the vocal arrangements I
did back in the 1960s would lend themselves perfectly for a symphony,” he
said in a statement. “I am both proud and humbled by what they have created
using our songs.”
The album, released this month, is
already the Beach Boys highest charting album in Britain in 28 years. The
Royal Philharmonic has had success with this approach before, releasing
earlier albums “with” Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Aretha Franklin.
Producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick
use the orchestra to set the stage with dramatic introductions to well-known
songs, then add bits and pieces to highlight key passages, but they don’t
play with the vocal tracks or alter the mood of the songs.
For Beach Boy Bruce Johnston, the
reworking of his “Disney Girls” — a nostalgic paean to growing up in the
1950s — is a revelation that breathes new life into a song he wrote for the
band’s 1971 album, “Surf’s Up.”
“They brought a dream to life,” he
said. “I never thought ‘Disney Girls’ would ever get this treatment. I
couldn’t even imagine it this way. It’s a surprise.”
Sons of Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago face off in ‘Creed II’
Michael B. Jordan is shown in this June 16, 2018 file photo. (Photo by
Los Angeles (AP)
— The sons of Apollo Creed and Ivan Drago
will pick up where their fathers left off more than 30 years ago.
MGM and Warner
Bros. Pictures last week released the first trailer for “Creed II,” the
sequel to the 2015 “Rocky” spinoff.
Michael B. Jordan
returns as Adonis Creed, with Sylvester Stallone by his side as former
heavyweight champ and trainer Rocky Balboa. In the trailer, Balboa warns
Creed his opponent is dangerous.
Creed is training
to box Viktor Drago, the son of Ivan Drago, who killed Apollo Creed in
“Rocky IV.” Romanian boxer and kickboxer Florian Munteanu plays Viktor.
“Creed II” is
directed by Steven Caple Jr.
The eighth film in
the “Rocky” franchise is scheduled to be in theaters Nov. 21.
Sridevi, ‘Jurassic World’ actor
Khan win Indian film awards
The late actress Sridevi was honored at the
Indian Film Academy Awards in Bangkok, Sunday, June 24. (AP Photo)
Bollywood actress Rekha poses on the green
carpet at 19th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards in
Bangkok, Sunday, June 24. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Bangkok (AP) —
The late Sridevi was among Indian cinema performers honored at
Bollywood’s biggest annual event, the International Indian Film Academy
Awards that concluded last Sunday in Bangkok.
the best actress award for her final role, in the 2017 film “Mom,” in
which she played a woman seeking vengeance after her stepdaughter is
lady of the 1980s and ’90s, Sridevi was described as the first female
superstar in India’s male-dominated film industry. She accidentally
drowned in February while in Dubai for a wedding.
The leading film
coming into the event, “Tumhari Sulu,” took home the best picture prize.
The story of a housewife who becomes a radio jockey had seven
Chaudhary and actor Irrfan Khan won top awards for “Hindi Medium,” a
tale of parents seeking a good education for their daughter. Khan, best
known internationally for his role as the park executive Masrani in
“Jurassic World,” has been undergoing treatment for neuroendocrine
Sunday included Rekha, who returned to the stage for the first time in
20 years. The 64-year-old star is known as Bollywood’s timeless beauty
and has acted in more than 180 films.