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Arts - Entertainment - Film Review World

November 24, 2018 - November 30, 2018

Film Review: This new ‘Grinch’ film will only make you flinch

This image released by Universal Pictures shows the character Grinch, voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, in a scene from “The Grinch.” (Universal Pictures via AP)

Mark Kennedy

Los Angeles (AP) - Every Who down in Whoville gets a new Grinch this season. Why, you may ask? The idea defies reason. Does the classic need help from a hot Cumberbatch? Or is this strange union a bizarre mismatch?

The Grinch is the story you learned as an infant, starring a Christmas-hating heel and his doggie assistant. The fuzzy green villain hopes to make holiday gloom. Just like a wicked witch, but without the broom. He targets presents intended for tots. Oh, how horrific is this nasty crackpot.

Seuss never explained what prompted this act. Perhaps the Grinch wore shoes that were too compact? (Or maybe, just maybe, his head had been whacked?) Should he consult a cardiologist chart? The answer is clear: It’s because of his heart.

In “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” liberties are taken. Some are just padding, some quite mistaken. It’s suggested that our old friend the Grinch is an orphan, as though that excuses inflicting misfortune. There’s a new sidekick, a plump reindeer named Fred, and the remaking of Cindy’s mom as unwed. (Could she be a love for the small-hearted bad boy? Kind of, maybe, but look, this isn’t Tolstoy).

Any-who, our Grinch decides to cancel the holiday, or make it as boring as, say, Groundhog Day. He hops inside chimneys to hoover up toys, certain to do it with an insouciant poise. Remember, this guy is the anti-merry — the same one played not long ago by Jim Carrey. Benedict Cumberbatch takes on the part, with an American accent — to give him less heart?

Our narrator here is Pharrell Williams, whose brief days at work likely paid him zillions. Kenan Thompson of “Saturday Night Live” fame, delivers a character who is kind of lame. But Angela Lansbury has a nice cameo (that woman’s as priceless as an unearthed Van Gogh).

The Grinch, diabolically, dresses like Santy Claus, in an ultra-evil cloud of guffaws. He beats by a few hours the real Kris Kringle. (No wonder this loner creature never mingles.) But a run-in with Cindy, as sweet as chocolate liquor, makes something grow huge — that’s right, it’s his ticker.

The Whos down in Whoville don’t mind that they’re gift-less. They gather together, sing and bear witness. Christmas, they say, isn’t about treasure: It’s about family, friends and being together. Then they tuck into roast beast. You, on the other hand, may feel fleeced.

Credit goes to the film’s visual effects folk, who made fur alive and gave texture to smoke. But retreading this story with a Cumberbatch, should send Hollywood bigwigs into the booby hatch. Before you buy tickets and plan a nice dinner, ask who exactly in Whoville thought this was a winner?

“Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG with “brief rude humor.” Running time: 79 minutes. One star out of four.

Michael Buble returns with ‘love’ album after 2-year break

Michael Buble. (Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)

Jonathan Landrum Jr.

West Hollywood, Calif. (AP) — Michael Buble says though his cancer-stricken son aspires to have superhuman powers, he’s already a superhero in his eyes.

“He loves Spiderman, he loves Superman, but they are not real,” Buble said of 5-year-old Noah. “I tell him all the time that he’s my superhero. He is literally the greatest, strongest (and) most beautiful thing I’ve ever been a part of.”

Buble said Noah, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, taught him how to overcome adversity. The stress of his son’s condition coupled with him losing his desire to make music contributed to the two-year break he took to focus on his son’s treatment and spend more time with family.

But Buble said in time things got back to normal with Noah beginning kindergarten. He said his son is “holding up well.”

Now, the Grammy-winning singer returns to music with his 10th album, “love”. He ultimately found his groove after inviting some of his band members to his home.

“I said, ‘Come to the house, let’s get drunk, eat pizza and play Mario Kart,’” he recalled. “And then when we were all toasted. We were like, ‘Yeah, let’s jam.’ And then we started to jam.”

Buble said his new album will provide a snapshot into his mindset during the past couple years. He also will offer his perspective on love, which he calls a “complicated word.”

“I think it reflects my sense of romance or how sentimental I am,” he said. “It obviously reflects a lot of pain that I felt, feel and go through. It was kind of therapeutic for me. To be able to invest and get right into the song and tell the story of both sides of this word and this feeling that means something to all of us.”

These days, Buble said he is trying to meditate and pray as often as possible to stay positive. He also wants to continue to spread love through his music.

“My favorite thing about music is that it’s open for interpretation,” he said. “I hope some people fall in love. I hope someone who is going through a horrible time is carried through to the next day. I sure hope some babies can be made to it. We need more baby-making music.”

November 17, 2018 - November 23, 2018

‘Hunter Killer’ is a submarine movie on steroids

This image shows Gerard Butler in a scene from “Hunter Killer” (Jack English/Lionsgate via AP)

Lindsey Bahr

Los Angeles (AP) - There are so many good movies in theaters right now — thoughtful, artistic, well-acted and well-told movies that studios preciously save for this time of year with the distant hope of Oscar gold in their future. The Gerard Butler submarine movie “Hunter Killer “ is not one of those movies — it is bombastic and garish, ridden with clichés, preposterous politics and diplomacy, and frenetic, video game energy. And it so often so unintentionally silly that it’s actually kind of a fun watch.

“Das Boot” this is not, nor is it “The Hunt for Red October,” but you probably already knew that from name at the top of the marquee. In Gerard Butler parlance, “Hunter Killer” is the “London Has Fallen” of submarine movies, genetically engineered in a lab to entrance the nation’s dads in basic cable reruns for next 25 years.

The film starts out confusingly. An American submarine is torpedoed by a Russian sub in Russian waters, but back in the U.S., all they know is it’s disappeared, and they’ve got to go find it. The man for the job, Rear Admiral John Fisk (Common) concludes, is Captain Joe Glass (Butler), who we’re told is not like the other guys. He “never went to Annapolis.” Why that makes him especially qualified for this mission will basically remain a mystery, other than the fact that he’ll readily disobey orders and go rogue at any opportunity. He’s seen stuff, guys, and not in a Naval Academy classroom.

We meet him in the middle of nowhere, in snowy terrain about to shoot a CGI buck across a glassy lake with a bow and arrow. But then he looks to the right of the buck and sees its CGI family close by and decides to lower his weapon. This moment lets the audience know a few things: a) That Joe Glass has empathy and b) that this movie has no subtlety. The next thing we know a military helicopter is swooping down to pick him up and take him to his sub.

Their mission gets even more puzzling, as a Russian sub hidden in the crevasse of an iceberg starts firing on them. Back in the U.S., NSA worker Jayne Norquist (Linda Cardellini, one of three women in this film), decides Fisk needs to send a ground team (Toby Stephens, Michael Trucco, Ryan McPartlin and Zane Holt) to Russia, which ends up feeling like a Peter Berg short film accidentally cut into a submarine movie. It all eventually comes together when they realize that there’s been a coup on the Russian president, but why anyone makes any of these decisions prior to this is just baffling to say the least. Also no one seems to be able to communicate with anyone else, like when Captain Glass decides to save a Russian captain played by the late Michael Nyqvist, except in an extremely pivotal moment that makes you wonder why no one did this earlier.

Diplomatic conversations really go out the window when the Americans — against the protest of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Charles Donnegan (Gary Oldman, for some reason) — decide their best option is to rescue the Russian president from his own soldiers and not tell anyone about it. The plot and the international politics leave a lot to be desired, although they do end up manufacturing a silly but effective stand off by the end.

Based on the book “Firing Point,” this is the first Hollywood film from South African director Donovan Marsh, and he does cook up some captivating action set pieces, like navigating a submarine through a fjord of mines, or even just an old fashioned, ridiculously over the top shootout, which may have you laughing, rolling your eyes or even cheering (as a fair amount of people were in my screening), but it’s never boring.

“Hunter Killer,” a Summit Entertainment release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “violence and some language.” Running time: 120 minutes. Two stars out of four.

They’re back, minus Posh: Spice girls to tour UK next summer


The Spice Girls are shown in this undated file photo. (AP Photo)

London (AP) — The Spice Girls are coming back for a British stadium tour next summer.

The band plans to take the stage without fashion designer Victoria Beckham, who performed as “Posh Spice” during the group’s 1990s pop heyday.

The band said that Beckham would not take part because of business commitments but “will always be one of the Spice Girls and remains aligned with Emma, Mel B, Melanie C and Geri in preserving their unique legacy.”

The tour will mark the first time the group has performed together since the 2012 Olympics.

June dates have been scheduled in Manchester, Coventry, Sunderland, Edinburgh, Bristol and London.

New Taiwan performing arts center billed as largest in world

The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts designed by Dutch architect Francine Houben is shown in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan. (National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts via AP)

Taijing Wu

Kaohsiung, Taiwan (AP) — A sprawling complex of four theaters billed as the biggest performing arts center in the world has opened in southern Taiwan.

The National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts houses a 1,981-seat concert hall, a 2,236-seat opera house, a play house and a recital hall under a single roof covering 8.2 acres.

The opening season offers a range of artistic performances. The debut installation opera “Paradise Interrupted” is an international co-production with New York’s Lincoln Center Festival, the Spoleto Festival USA and the Singapore International Festival of Arts. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under Gustavo Dudamel, who conducts in Taiwan for the first time, will perform in the venue’s vineyard-style concert hall.

The center, which opened last month, was built over eight years at a cost of NT$10.7 billion (US$350 million) on the site of a former military barracks in Kaohsiung, a southern city of about 2.8 million people. Residents still call the new center by the name of the military camp, Weiwyuing.

Performers are seeing the new venue as an opportunity.

“Not many people can say that they have performed” at Weiwyuing, said Chloe Young, a member of the Sydney Dance Company. She said it was an honor to be dancing there. “And I think it’s really gonna boost my career, saying I performed in Taiwan, in an amazing theater, amazing facility, and I feel super super lucky.”

The design by Dutch architecture firm Mecanoo reflects the port city’s tropical location and maritime links. It includes an undulating white roof and a large public space with hoists and other cargo ship features.

“I think what is really unique is this roof, what was inspired by the banyan trees with the crown,” said Francine Houben, the creative director of Mecanoo. “I had to create a really new public space specifically for Taiwan, for Kaohsiung, that catches the wind of the ocean and the ventilation of the tropical space.”

The concert hall has the biggest pipe organ in Asia with 9,085 pipes. Built by a German manufacturer, its asymmetric design recalls bamboo.

“I have played many organs both in Taiwan and abroad, but this one is the biggest and the best,” said organist Liu Hsin-hung.

The center also includes an outdoor amphitheater.

He Wen-jhang, a 62-year-old retired physics and chemistry teacher who lives nearby, said he prefers the art center to another real estate development.

“Coming here to exchange views greatly influences citizens’ temperament,” He said. “In the past, people only rushed to factories to make a living. But now, we have a place to relax and chat to each other. This has a big impact on Kaohsiung’s cultural aspect. A positive impact.”

November 10, 2018 - November 16, 2018

Film Review: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ won’t rock you, but Malek will

This image shows Gwilym Lee (from left), Rami Malek and Joe Mazzello in a scene from “Bohemian Rhapsody.” (Alex Bailey/Twentieth Century Fox via AP)

Jake Coyle

Los Angeles (AP) - Where does a preening, pansexual rock god get his powers? The Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” traces his sonorous majesty to an unlikely place: his back teeth.

Mercury, nee Farrokh Bulsara, was born with four extra incisors, giving him a bigger mouth. Introducing himself to his future Queen bandmates Mercury, as played by Rami Malek, explains that the added chompers have benefits beyond a provocative, pronounced overbite. It endows him with enhanced vocal range.

Teeth-assisted or not, Mercury’s voice was so expansive that it prompted genuine scientific inquiry. But range is one thing sorely lacking in Bryan Singer’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a slavishly conventional rock biopic that at every turn opts for the stereotypical despite a subject who devoted himself to the unconventional. It’s a remarkably bland movie about a deliciously vibrant performer.

Yet while “Bohemian Rhapsody” is so hollowly, even comically formulaic that even Dewey Cox of “Walk Hard” might snicker, it’s filled, often fantastically, by Malek’s sinuous, fully inhabited performance as the Queen frontman. It’s as if he didn’t get the note about the half-hearted filmmaking going on around him, or if he did, he’s hell-bent on ignoring it.

Malek, the “Mr. Robot” actor, throws himself into every strutting second of screen time as Mercury. He lacks both Mercury’s voice (it was overdubbed for singing and performance scenes) and Mercury’s teeth (Malek was outfitted with fake ones). But Malek’s performance, especially on stage, is so full-bodied that he transcends both his own differences with Mercury and the tepid surrounding melodrama.

That “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a bit of a mess isn’t altogether a surprise. Singer was fired toward the end of shooting for not showing up on set (Singer said it was to visit an ill parent) and was replaced by Dexter Fletcher. Singer remains the credited director; Fletcher is listed as a producer.

The script, too, underwent several passes before one by Anthony McCarten (“Darkest Hour, “The Theory of Everything”) ultimately prevailed. The film opens moments before Queen’s Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985, and — as if by rock biopic decree — shifts back in time to young Freddie, in his mid-20s and living with his parents in the London suburbs.

Mercury was born to a Parsi family from Zanzibar (he attended boarding school in India), but we get only the slightest of hints of his family heritage or what made Mercury run from it. By the time we meet him, he hasn’t yet adopted his Roman god moniker (more than a stage name, he made “Mercury” legal), but he might as well have. Young Freddie is already a larger-than-life figure clearly destined to a life of skin-tight jumpsuits and glam-rock anthems. In a flash he goes from slinging luggage on the Heathrow tarmac to convincing guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) that he’s their new lead singer.

Everything in “Bohemian Rhapsody” happens less with the thrust of life than the rapid-fire recounting of a biographical history, sometimes rigorously in step with Wikipedia, sometimes taking shortcuts to avoid anything that strays outside a neatly contrived narrative. In the span of minutes, Queen is a sensation with a record contract (Mike Meyers joins for a tongue-in-cheek cameo as EMI executive Ray Foster) and aspirations for much more: a world tour, a far-out concept album and beyond. Our sense is that Mercury has swiftly — and with curiously little trouble — realized his true self, in all his peacocking glory.

The conflict, hinted at in passing glances in between recording sessions, is that Mercury, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1991 at 45, isn’t quite so free off stage as he is on, despite all his radical flamboyance. Much time is spent with his longtime partner Mary Austin (Lucy Boyton) and, later, with a diabolical personal manager-boyfriend, Paul Prenter (Allen Leech), who gets most of the blame for anything bad Mercury ever did.

But the film mostly sticks to the familiar trajectory of rock stardom: studio magic, backstage excess, band infighting, misguided solo efforts, drug problems and — that most heinous of menaces in the music biopic — the temptation of disco.

The only time “Bohemian Rhapsody” works is when it finally retreats from not just the standard biopic narrative but from storytelling altogether. It concludes with a nearly song-by-song recreation of the band’s reunion show at Live Aid which, despite the movie’s fudged timeline, took place two years before Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis. Still, the power comes mainly from the tunes and from Mercury/Malek’s magnificent stage presence. “Bohemian Rhapsody” might be easy come, easy go, but Malek makes for a show-stopping silhouetto of a man.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” a 20th Century Fox release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language. Running time: 134 minutes. Two stars out of four.

Guitarist Jimmy Page looks back at 50 years of Led Zeppelin

This Oct. 10, 2018 photo shows Jimmy Page posing for a portrait at the Fender Factory in Corona, Calif. (Photo by Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)

Andrew Dalton

Corona, Calif. (AP) — Jimmy Page once painted a dragon, and used it to slay.

The guitar guru was so bursting with creative inspiration 50 years ago that he felt compelled to pick up a brush and use his skills from art school to take poster paints to his favorite instrument, a 1959 Fender Telecaster, and decorate it with a psychedelic beast.

He calls the axe “the Excalibur” that he wielded through the wildly eventful year of 1968, when his old band, the Yardbirds, crashed, and his new band, Led Zeppelin, was born just two months later.

“My whole life is moving so fast at that point,” Page, now 74, said as he reflected on Led Zeppelin’s 50th anniversary in an interview with The Associated Press at the Fender guitar factory in California. “Absolutely just a roller-coaster ride.”

Page said he had Led Zeppelin’s sound, and first songs, fully formed in his mind before the Yardbirds were even done.

“I just knew what way to go,” Page said. “It was in my instinct.”

He found his first ally in singer Robert Plant, whom he invited to his house to thumb through records and talk music.

Page said he used an unlikely bit of folkie inspiration — Joan Baez — to show Plant the sound he wanted, playing her recording of the song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” and telling him to emulate the way she sang the top line of the song. Zeppelin would put the tune on its first album.

Page still marvels at how fast the whole thing took off after Plant brought on drummer John Bonham and Page pulled in his friend John Paul Jones to play bass.

“The whole journey of Led Zeppelin and the rise of Led Zeppelin, each tour was just extraordinary, and the growth and the respect and love of the band, and the people that were flooding to see us,” Page said.

The first record also included “Dazed and Confused,” with Page famously using a violin bow on the dragon guitar, which he played on every electric song on the record.

The guitar had been a cherished gift that guitarist Jeff Beck had given Page to thank him for recommending Beck for a job in the Yardbirds, which had brought a handsome payday.

“He’d bought a Corvette Stingray, and came roaring up my driveway with it,” Page remembered. “He said, ‘This is yours.’ I was absolutely thrilled to bits. It was given to me with so much affection.”

Page said he made immediate and intense use of the instrument, and wanted to “consecrate” it, so he went at it with paints that were used at the time for psychedelic posters, and summoned the dragon.

Page later left the guitar behind at his home in England on an early U.S. tour with Led Zeppelin in 1969. He’d come to regret it.

When he returned, exhausted and abuzz, he found that a ceramicist friend who had been serving as his house-sitter had painted over the dragon in his own mosaic style as a “gift” for Page.

“It was a disaster,” he said.

Page angrily stripped off all the paint and he placed it in storage, where it sat for decades.

Flash forward 50 years. Page was assembling a book for the band’s anniversary, and the dragon guitar kept popping up in pictures.

Page felt that maybe it was time to bring the old beast back to life. He worked with a graphic artist who helped illustrate the book, using photos to repaint the guitar, and recreate its old look.

He loved the result so much that he approached Fender, guitar maker happily signed on to make an anniversary rendition for the public. The design will be unveiled in January.

“It’s absolutely identical,” Page said. “You wouldn’t see any difference. If anything, the colors were just slightly richer.”

Four different versions of the guitar will be released next year.

Along with the book, the instruments are a tribute to the band’s 50-year legacy.

Asked what kind of gift one might get for his bandmates for such a milestone, Page said, “I might give them a paintbrush, and the body of a guitar, and see if they can do something with it.”

Michael Caine looks back in ‘Blowing the Bloody Doors Off’

British actor Michael Caine poses for a photograph in London, Thursday, Oct. 11. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Jill Lawless

London (AP) - Michael Caine has been looking back, and on the whole he likes the view. Regrets? He’s had few.

The 85-year-old star of “Alfie,” ‘’Get Carter” and “The Dark Knight” — among many, many others — reminisces fondly in “Blowing the Bloody Doors Off,” whose title adapts a line from his 1969 heist caper “The Italian Job.” The book is part memoir, part advice manual for aspiring actors and anyone else nursing an elusive dream of success.

Most of the advice is resolutely old-fashioned. Learn your lines. Work hard. Be nice to people. And be lucky. Caine knows he has been extremely fortunate.

“The luck I’ve had, you couldn’t make it up,” Caine said during an interview in his riverside London apartment. “I mean, even once I was a success, I made a lot of flop movies. But I only made three at a time before I had a hit.”

In print and in person, Caine describes his success as sequence of lucky breaks. His first big movie break, as a British Army officer in “Zulu” in 1964, was followed by a role as a world-weary spy in “The Ipcress File.” On the back of that came his breakthrough as a callous man-about-town in “Alfie.” That film made blond, bespectacled Caine a symbol of Swinging London, brought him American fame and earned him the first of six Academy Award nominations.

He went on to win two Oscars — for “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “The Cider House Rules.” Later came a stint as butler and mentor Alfred in three Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan. Along the way, he became an icon, and his signature glasses and Cockney accent spawned a thousand imitators.

Caine says his optimistic outlook is rooted in his hardscrabble early years. Born Maurice Micklewhite into a working-class London family, he was a child during the London Blitz and later, as a teenage conscript, was sent to fight in the Korean War.

“I have found it pretty easy to be happy since then,” he notes in the book. “Once you’ve been on maneuvers in Korea, everything else seems like quite a lot of fun.”

When he returned to London and a dead-end job in a butter factory, Caine resolved to be an actor, although he had little idea how to go about it.

The 60s made Caine a star, and he wasn’t alone. Suddenly, he writes in the book, “everybody I knew seemed to become a household name.”

Caine enjoyed fame, when it came, but also worked extremely hard, at one point making 12 films in four years. The result is a resume of more than 100 features, of varying quality. Caine is cheerful about the low points, films like schlocky shark sequel “Jaws: The Revenge” or “The Swarm,” a disaster movie in both senses of the word.

Of his recent films, he’s proudest of Italian director Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth,” in which he played an aging orchestra conductor.

“I don’t play the leads in movies now — I’m too bloody old to be getting up every morning at half past six,” he said. “I just take little character parts and have a bit of fun.

“You don’t give up movies — they give up you. And while I get these parts, I’ll keep doing them.”

November 3, 2018 - November 9, 2018

Film Review: 40 years later, ‘Halloween’ slashes again

This image released by Universal Pictures shows Jamie Lee Curtis in a scene from “Halloween”. (Ryan Green/Universal Pictures via AP)

Jake Coyle

Los Angeles (AP) - With hollow eyes and sagging cheeks, the flabby white mask of Michael Myers is horror’s great blank slate. Project your fears here, it says. Myers doesn’t speak. His movements never rise beyond a deliberate gait (well, aside from all the stabbing and strangling). Even his name is purposefully bland.

Decades after John Carpenter’s slasher landmark, David Gordon Green has resurrected the faceless Boogeyman of “Halloween” and set him loose on another Halloween night, 40 years later. Time has done little for Michael’s personality. He is still a poor conversationalist. (He hasn’t uttered a word in the intervening decades, says a doctor at the sanatorium that holds him.) He is still handy with a knife.

There are no roman numerals in the title of Green’s film, nor any of those dopey subtitles like 1998’s “Halloween H20,” which presumably delved into the very real fears of dehydration. As if to draw closer to the original (and to ignore the nine sequels and reboots in between), this “Halloween” has simply taken Carpenter’s 1978 title. And with gliding cameras, Carpenter’s score and original cast members Jamie Lee Curtis and Nick Castle (the man under the mask), it has tried very hard to take much more, too.

But while Green’s “Halloween,” which he penned with Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley, has faithfully adopted much of what so resonated in Carpenter’s genre-creating film — the stoic killer, the gruesome executions, the suburban nightmares — what makes his “Halloween” such a thrill is how it deviates from its long-ago predecessor.

Setting the template for countless slashers to follow, Carpenter’s film often reserved its most painful endings for more promiscuous girls or drug-using teens. As a grim reaper carrying out a metaphorical reckoning, Michael had questionable biases.

But what Carpenter did do was equate sex with violence, a connection that Green has elaborated on with a more feminist streak. Having survived the “Babysitter Murders” of 40 years ago, Laurie Strode (a fabulously fierce Jamie Lee Curtis, reprising the role that was her film debut) is now a self-described “twice-divorced basket case” living in a run-down house on the outskirts of the fictional Haddonfield, Illinois. She has turned her home into a training ground and domestic fortification (beneath the kitchen island is a well-armed shelter) for the second coming of Michael she’s always been sure will happen.

Her daughter (Judy Greer) and her son-in-law (Toby Huss) have grown tired of Strode’s fanatical survivalist paranoia. Certain that the world isn’t so bad a place as Strode insists, they plead for her to get over it. Their high-school daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak) isn’t so sure, and she naturally gravitates to the grandmother she’s been shielded from.

The curiosity of “Serial”-like podcast journalists (Jefferson Hall, Rhian Rees) introduces us to both the locked-up Myers and the withdrawn Strode. Before curtly dismissing them, Strode insists their investigation into Myers is pointless. “There’s nothing to learn,” says Strode, surely no fan of, say, neo-Nazi newspaper features. Hunt evil, she believes, don’t analyze it. It’s a message peppered throughout “Halloween” with clear reference to today (and to some of the earlier “Halloween” installments that sought to understand Michael).

Needless to say, both those who dismiss Strode’s deep-seated trauma and those who would rather study evil than confront it are gonna get their comeuppance. When Michael is transferred to another facility, hell predictably breaks loose. Once Michael is again stalking the suburban streets of Haddonfield, custom kitchens start seeing their cutlery disappear, and the shadows and closets of seemingly safe neighborhoods are again rife with danger. Evil — soulless and unkillable — lurks everywhere, even if does wear a silly mask.

Green, the sometimes brilliant, sometimes confounding filmmaker of art-house indies (“George Washington”), broader comedies (“Pineapple Express”) and, more recently, a few starry studio projects (“Our Brand Is Crisis”), can’t recreate the eeriness of Carpenter’s original. But he pumps more blood into the story, both literally and figuratively. Foggy nights and gas-station bathrooms turn predictably gory, more so than the original. But the scenes that fall between those foreboding, twinkling piano notes have far more warmth and spirit than you’d expect. You almost wish Green — easily the most talented filmmaker in the franchise since Carpenter — was instead making something original here on the same streets, with the same cast (including the scene-stealing Miles Robbins) and none of the skull crushing.

But there are rituals to observe, and this “Halloween” lives up to its name.

“Halloween,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for horror violence and bloody images, language, brief drug use and nudity. Running time: 105 minutes. Three stars out of four.

Danny Boyle to gather Britons on beaches to mark end of WWI


British filmmaker Danny Boyle holds a photograph of Private Walter Bleakley, who lived on the same street where Boyle went to school, as he announces plans for his Armistice Day First World War centenary commemoration, on the beach, in Folkestone, England, Friday Oct. 5. (Gareth Fuller/PAvia AP)

London (AP) — Filmmaker Danny Boyle is urging thousands of people to gather on British beaches and make silhouettes in the sand on Nov. 11 to mark 100 years since the end of World War I.

Sand artists will also create giant portraits of people killed in the war, which will be washed away by the incoming tide.

The beachside commemoration caps four years of British cultural activities marking the centenary of the 1914-18 conflict, in which 20 million people died.

Boyle said beaches “are truly public spaces, where nobody rules other than the tide.”

“They seem the perfect place to gather and say a final goodbye and thank you to those whose lives were taken or forever changed by the First World War,” he said.

The “Trainspotting” and “Slumdog Millionaire” director stepped down earlier this year from the helm of the next James Bond film over what producers said were creative differences. He has been replaced by Cary Fukunaga.

Boyle said giving up the 007 job had helped create more time to work on the World War I project.

“I was absolutely desperately keen to do this,” said Boyle, who also directed the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. “My involvement in it would have been slightly compromised by that workload.

“But I was still very, very keen to do it because it’s a real, proper privilege to do something like this where you hope to connect with everybody in the country in some way, as much as you can, rather than through your normal channels, like the box office.”

Paul Stanley: Kiss farewell tour could include ex-members

In this Oct. 13, 2018 photo, Paul Stanley, singer and guitarist for the rock group Kiss, poses next to his artwork at a gallery in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

Wayne Parry

Atlantic City, N.J. (AP) — It won’t be all night, but former members of Kiss might get the chance to rock ‘n’ roll with the band one last time.

Kiss frontman Paul Stanley says the band’s (second) farewell tour could include former members performing onstage.

In an interview in Atlantic City where he was promoting his artwork, Stanley told The Associated Press the band’s “End of the Road” world tour starting next year could include appearances by former members. He did not single out anyone by name, but living ex-members are guitarists Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent and Bruce Kulick, and drummer Peter Criss.

Since the tour was announced last month, Kiss fans have been clamoring for a farewell that includes former members.

“I wouldn’t discount any possibilities,” said Stanley, who plays the Starchild character in the band. “I learned long ago to never say never. Would I negate the possibility of former members making appearances? Absolutely not. I don’t know in what capacity.”

Stanley then went on to extol the virtues and stability of the current lineup: himself, bassist and vocalist Gene Simmons; drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer, calling it “the crux and the core of the band on tour.”

That lineup is already rehearsing the farewell show, even as its elements remain undecided. Stanley said the set list will be expanded from the recent 16 songs to 25, adding the band has “thrown away every piece of hardware that we used on any of the previous tours and created a completely new show.”

Formed in 1973, Kiss did a farewell tour in 2000 with the original lineup of Stanley, Simmons, Frehley and Criss. Yet within a year, Simmons and Stanley decided to keep the band going, promoting guitar tech and band assistant Thayer to the role of full-fledged lead guitarist, and bringing back Singer, who first drummed with the band following the death of Eric Carr in 1991 through the 1996 reunion tour of original members.

Tensions within the band soon resurfaced in 2000.

“In the emotional state that we were in, we thought that it’s better to put down the horse rather than nurse it back to health,” Stanley said. “We in essence threw the baby out with the bath water.”

Those tensions are never far from the surface when former Kissers get together — and could still scuttle a last hurrah for them, despite everyone’s best intentions.

“There are personalities and histories and things that may make it impossible to spend a romantic evening with your ex-wife,” Stanley said.

Speaking of ex-wives, Stanley started painting several years ago while in the midst of a divorce.

“Anyone who’s been through a divorce probably spent a lot of time either banging their head on the wall or crying a lot,” Stanley said. “It’s a very tumultuous time. My best friend said to me, ‘You should paint.’ I never painted. But my life is pretty much built on the premise of ‘why not?’ instead of ‘why?’ I had no idea how or what I was going to do. And I started painting.”

His pieces include self-portraits, paintings of fellow Kiss band members, as well as Jimi Hendrix, Marilyn Monroe, and more abstract art. It’s heavy on bold color and simple in brush strokes and design.

He has sold over $10 million worth of art through the Wentworth Gallery in the past five years.

‘Wonder Woman’ sequel pushed back to summer 2020

Actress Gal Gadot will reprise her starring role in a “Wonder Woman” sequel, now slated to open in 2020. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

Los Angeles (AP) — The world will have to wait a little longer for the “Wonder Woman” sequel, which will now arrive in theaters in summer 2020.

Warner Bros. have announced that “Wonder Woman 1984” will now open on June 5, 2020. The film starring Gal Gadot as the Amazonian superhero had been slated for a November 2019 release.

Patty Jenkins is returning as director and has teased fans with tidbits about the series’ time jump to the 1980s.

The first “Wonder Woman” was a major blockbuster for Warner Bros.’ DC Comics franchise. The film earned more than $800 million globally. The original became the most successful live-action film directed by a woman.

The sequel would have been released a month after the “Joker” which is scheduled to open on Oct. 4, 2019.



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