Film Review: In ‘The Mummy,’ Tom Cruise dances with the undead
Annabelle Wallis (left) and Tom
Cruise are shown in a scene from “The Mummy.” (Chiabella
James/Universal Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - Of
all the CGI-ed supernatural forces slung in Alex Kurtzman’s “The
Mummy” (and, believe me, there are a lot), none can compete with the
spectral spectacle of Tom Cruise, at 54.
He and his abs are almost
creepily ageless. So it’s almost fitting that in one of the
typically bonkers scenes in “The Mummy,” Cruise awakes naked and
unscathed alongside cadavers in a morgue, where he bewilderedly
removes the tag attached to his toe. Indefatigable and un-killable,
Cruise really is the undead. He’s like the anti-Steve Buscemi.
Yet Cruise and “The Mummy” —
the opening salvo in Universal’s bid to birth its “Dark Universe”
monster movie franchise — are a poor fit, and not the good kind,
like “Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.” There’s plenty of
standard, cocky Tom Cruise leading man stuff here: running,
swimming, daredevil airplane acrobatics, more running. But his
relentless forward momentum is sapped by the convoluted monster
mishmash that engulfs “The Mummy,” a movie conceived and plotted
like the monster version of Marvel. Increasingly, Cruise — like
big-budget movies, themselves — is running in circles.
He plays Nick Morton, a roguish
Army sergeant who plunders antiquities from Iraq with his partner
Chris Vail (Jake Johnson). In a remote village they, along with
archaeologist Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis), unearth a giant
Egyptian tomb bathed in mercury. In it lies the Egyptian princess
Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) who was mummified alive (imagine that
wrapping job) after trying to unleash the evil Egyptian god of Set
while killing her Pharaoh father, his second wife and the newborn
baby that would deny her the throne. Naturally, she’s going to get
Hers and other backstories are
shown as “The Mummy” stumbles out of its grave, vainly trying to
organize the story around two burial sites (the other is in London),
the strange visions that begin plaguing Morton, and a quixotic (or
merely capitalistic) gambit to stitch together a unifying principle
for the Dark Universe. Mysterious apocalyptic happenings (a swarm
of crows, a horde of rats, occasional ghouls) prompt a series of
helter-skelter chase scenes that eventually lead Morton and Halsey
to Prodigium, a stealth organization led by the dapper Dr. Henry
Jekyll (Russell Crowe) that controls monstrous outbreaks, including
those of its schizophrenic leader.
Prodigium would seem to be the
connecting tissue for Universal’s shared universe, with plans for
“Frankenstein,” ‘’The Invisible Man,” ‘’The Creature From the Black
Lagoon” and more in the works. Much of “The Mummy” hinges on
Boutella’s vengeful and vaguely misogynistic monster (she for some
reason needs a man — Morton, it turns out — to really do damage).
But much of the film endeavors to set up the characters — maybe even
famous phantoms — to come.
What the supposed value of
having these movies “share” a universe is, I’m not sure. Movies
aren’t sandboxes and the only time I remember enjoying a character
connect films was Michael Keaton’s Ray Nicolette popping up in the
Elmore Leonard adaptations “Out of Sight” and “Jackie Brown.”
Where these films could be fun,
though, is seeing a talented star play a big, theatrical character
that would honor the ghosts of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp are already lined up, so who knows?
But the desperate need to graft them into a larger comic-book-like
“world” — and a thinly conceived one, at that — suggests there won’t
be much room for any actor to breathe.
For now we’re cursed with “The
Mummy,” a messy and muddled product lacking even the carefree spirit
of the Brendan Fraser “Mummy” trilogy. There are moments of humor
in the script by David Koepp, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dylan
Kussman, but Cruise isn’t the one (maybe Chris Pratt?) to pull off
aloofly referring to the mummy as “the chick in the box.”
Almost to the degree that he
was in “The Edge of Tomorrow,” Cruise is put through the ringer. A
spiraling cargo plane spins him like laundry. He careens through a
double-decker bus. His rib cage is yanked. Cruise remains, as
ever, eminently game. But he, like us moviegoers, might have to
starting wondering: What god have we angered?
“The Mummy,” a Universal
Pictures release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association
of America for “violence, action and scary images, and for some
suggestive content and partial nudity.” Running time: 110 minutes.
One and a half stars out of four.
Monterey Pop gave rise
to today’s blockbuster rock festivals
Adler is shown in this June 26, 2008 file photo.
(AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Los Angeles (AP)
- Before Burning Man and Bonnaroo, Coachella
and Lollapalooza, Glastonbury and Governors Island, there was Monterey
Fifty years ago,
the three-day concert south of San Francisco became the centerpiece of
the “Summer of Love” and paved the way for today’s popular festivals.
The Monterey International Pop Festival created the template for giving
emerging artists exposure alongside blockbuster bands while showcasing
different genres of music in outdoor settings.
John Phillips of
The Mamas & the Papas came up with the idea for three days of music with
proceeds going to charitable causes. He brought in Grammy-winning
record producer Lou Adler, promoter Alan Pariser and publicist Derek
Taylor, who worked with the Beatles.
The festival was
planned in just seven weeks with the goal of validating rock music as an
art form in the same way that jazz and folk were regarded in 1967.
“The focus was the
music and how to present it in the best possible way,” Adler said
recently at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles. “The byproduct of that
was the feeling that took place in Monterey — love and flowers.”
Hendrix performs at the Monterey Pop Festival in Monterey, Calif., June
18, 1967. (Monterey Herald via AP)
out the best musicians, sound and lighting systems and food “lift the
level of what rock ‘n’ roll should be,” Adler said.
They signed on
Jefferson Airplane, The Who, the Grateful Dead, the Jimi Hendrix
Experience, Simon & Garfunkel, Big Brother and the Holding Company
featuring Janis Joplin, Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, and The Mamas & the
“We sort of had our
pick,” Adler recalled, noting no one booked acts that far out at the
It was Shankar’s
introduction to an American audience, and the Indian sitar player was
the only one who got paid, Adler said. He received $3,000, while the
others had their flights and hotels comped.
wanted to play, and that’s why they signed on,” Adler said.
performance was by soul singer Otis Redding, who died six months later
in a plane crash.
Redding was backed
by Booker T. and the MGs. Bandleader Booker T. Jones was 22 and “an
innocent guy” at the time, he recalled. Jones and his band were
escorted to the show by the Hells Angels motorcycle gang. “I remember
the music impressing me,” he said. “We’d only been doing R&B. I learned
to love rock ‘n’ roll during that time.”
era’s peace and love vibe didn’t extend to Hendrix and Pete Townshend of
The Who. Both were known for destroying guitars and amplifiers.
Adler recalled that
neither wanted the other to perform first, so Phillips flipped a coin.
The Who won.
“Hendrix jumped up
on a table and said, ‘OK, you little (expletive),” Adler recalled. “‘No
matter what you do, I’ll do something that burns you.’”
Aware that The Who
planned an explosive finale, Hendrix capped his set with a version of
“Wild Thing,” kneeling over his guitar and setting it on fire before
smashing it repeatedly and tossing the remains into the crowd.
Not all the biggest
names of the day played Monterey. The list of cancellations and no
shows was equally impressive, including the Rolling Stones (Mick Jagger
and Keith Richards couldn’t get work visas because of drug arrests), the
Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Kinks and Bob Dylan.
Fifty years later,
Adler is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, having worked with some of
music’s biggest names. Today, the white-haired, beret-wearing
83-year-old is best known as Jack Nicholson’s seatmate at Los Angeles
attends Coachella in the Southern California desert, still imbued with
the easygoing spirit of Monterey.
“I couldn’t have
asked for more,” Adler said. “We’re still talking about it.”
Yoko Ono, a co-producer on ‘Imagine,’ gets
New York (AP) —
Yoko Ono, who was previously credited as a co-producer on John Lennon’s
“Imagine,” will earn a co-writing credit on the 1971 song.
David Israelite, the president and
CEO of the National Music Publishers’ Association, said at an event last
week that Ono would earn the co-writing recognition on the song 48 years
after its release.
“Imagine” received the Centennial
Song Award at the annual event by the organization. Israelite told
Variety that the process of officially getting Ono the credit is
magazine ranked “Imagine” at No. 3 on its list of “The 500 Greatest
Songs of All Time” in 2004.
Film Review: Even The Rock’s biceps can’t
lift up ‘Baywatch’
image shows (from left) Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, Ilfenesh
Hadera as Stephanie Holden and Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker in a scene
from “Baywatch.” (Frank Masi/Paramount Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - Of this,
dear moviegoer, rest assured: Dwayne Johnson’s biceps still ripple and
glisten in the sunlight. So do his triceps, pecs, abs, delts, quads,
lats and the other 600 or so muscles of the human body.
And that charismatic, multi-million
dollar grin? Still there, too.
But the dude isn’t a magician. And
only a true magician could find a way to make something light and fun
and fresh out of the unwieldy, derivative and mostly unfunny endeavor
that is “Baywatch.”
Now, maybe the filmmakers weren’t
thinking light and fun and fresh. They opted to make an R-rated film,
upping the raunch factor of the ’90s TV series starring David Hasselhoff
and a slo-mo running Pamela Anderson. But the R rating doesn’t mean
they’ve gone all dark and deep; it just seems to mean lots of raunchy
language, humping gags and extended crotch shots. That last category
includes a centerpiece scene in which our two leading men, Johnson and
Zac Efron, play around with a penis on a corpse in a morgue. Yes,
that’s actually what they do.
Let’s try to wipe that image out of
our brains now, shall we? “Baywatch,” directed by Seth Gordon, begins
by establishing the heart and brawn of our main guy, Mitch Buchannon,
leader of the Baywatch squad and hometown hero. We see him hurtling
into the water to save a kitesurfer from certain death. Running along
the beach, he ducks into a basketball game to expertly block a shot. He
passes an adoring beachgoer building an elaborate sand sculpture of him.
But his PR-obsessed boss needs to
embellish the Baywatch brand, so he brings in a new guy — Matt Brody
(Efron), a gold-medal Olympic swimmer who has a bit of an attitude
problem (any resemblance to Ryan Lochte, including mouth grill, is
totally intentional.) It seems that after a night of drinking at the
Olympics, Brody vomited in the pool and ruined his team’s chance to win
He may not be a team player, but he
IS ripped, and so, after Brody shows up on his motorcycle looking all
James Dean, shirts come off and we get our obligatory macho competition,
which includes lifting two refrigerators at once. “This has nothing to
do with saving people!” complains Brody. Mitch grunts back: “This is
In any case, Brody joins the squad,
which includes sexy blonde CJ (Kelly Rohrbach, running slowly),
ambitious Summer (Alexandra Daddario), Mitch’s co-leader Stephanie
(Ilfenesh Hadera), and Ronnie (Jon Bass), chubby and awkward, in the
young Jonah Hill role.
Now, if you never saw the TV show,
a key point of the plot — though plot is definitely NOT key — is that
these lifeguards don’t just save kids in deep waters. They’re also
crime-solvers. So when a city councilman ends up dead in a boat fire,
they figure out pretty fast that he was murdered.
But why? Could this have anything
to do with villainous Victoria Leeds (Priyanka Chopra), a club owner
whose ambitions for Emerald Bay include some very sinister side
activities? And can the squad manage to solve the case and stay alive?
It eventually gets wearisome,
despite the best efforts of Efron and especially Johnson, who can
enliven any scene. His disdainful mocking of Efron’s character is one
of the more amusing themes, especially the nicknames he uses: “Hey, One
Direction.” ‘’Yo, ‘N Sync.” Best of all: “High School Musical.”
But darned if that quick reference
to Efron’s breakout franchise doesn’t make you all nostalgic for some
old-fashioned entertainment that didn’t rely on F-bombs, crude
anatomical references, or toying with a corpse. (Sorry to bring that up
again, but, UGH.)
Or maybe just some old episodes of
“Baywatch.” In one meta reference, a skeptical Brody tells the squad
that their crime-busting plans sound like “a really entertaining but
far-fetched TV show.”
That doesn’t sound so bad, in
“Baywatch,” a Paramount release, is
rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “language
throughout, crude sexual content, and graphic nudity.” Running time:
116 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.
Tom Cruise reveals
‘Top Gun 2’ to start filming soon
(AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
Sydney (AP) - The Danger
Zone may have gotten old and dusty, but Tom Cruise says he’s about to
fly back in.
The 54-year-old actor says the
long-discussed sequel to “Top Gun” is a sure thing and should start
Cruise made the announcement in
response to questions from anchors on the Australian morning news show
The actor said filming will likely
begin within the next year. He added, “It’s definitely happening.”
Cruise has said in similar
interviews that the film was in development and a strong possibility,
but has not offered such clear confirmation.
The 1986 Reagan-era flyboy epic
propelled Cruise to superstar status.
Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of the
original, had been dropping hints too. He posted a picture of himself
and Cruise last month at the 31st anniversary of the original’s release.
Earth, Wind & Fire take to the road with hits - and sadness
White (from left), Philip Bailey and Ralph Johnson of Earth, Wind and Fire
perform at the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Gala in Beverly Hills, Calif., Feb.
14, 2016. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) —
Earth, Wind & Fire goes on the road this summer with some classic hits, a
new touring partner and lingering heartache.
The hits include
“September,” ‘’Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland,” while they’ll share
the stage with the band Chic, featuring Nile Rodgers. The sadness comes
from the loss last year of their founder Maurice White.
“We’re still healing,”
said drummer Ralph Johnson, one of three original members still playing the
band’s infectious hooks. “I think the way we’ve dealt with it has been to
do the music.”
Concertgoers can expect
a teary memorial to White amid the disco grooves and horn-driven funk. The
band has always honored its missing member — White stopped touring in 1995 —
but this time the section has a final kiss to it.
“It’s not something you
get over. Maurice will always be part of us. We cut our teeth on Earth,
Wind and Fire. He was our mentor, our leader, our Elvis, our John Lennon,
all in one guy,” said White’s brother, Verdine.
Earth, Wind & Fire and
Chic embark on their Live Nation tour July 12 in Oakland, California. Each
night, after unleashing a top-heavy string of hits, Earth, Wind & Fire get
serious during the White tribute. It comes during the song “That’s the Way
of the World,” when a video memorial of Maurice White plays. He died at 74
last year after suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Johnson and Verdine
White — joined by fellow original member, singer Philip Bailey — said they
try to avoid looking at each other during the show’s memorial part for fear
that tears will fall. Many fans stop to pull out cellphones and capture the
“Everything is fun,
fun, fun, fun. Then we get to that section and that’s when the show gets
heart. All we see is just phones,” said White. “It’s heavy. It’s deep.
It’s beautiful, though.”
Earth, Wind & Fire was
inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, played the 2005 Super
Bowl halftime show and has six Grammys.
Each generation seems
to rediscover the band, in part because popular culture can’t get enough of
its bouncy vibe. Last year, in one November weekend, the band had three
songs in the world’s top two movies — “Trolls” and “Doctor Strange.”
“I think people will
always be enamored with bands that can really play — live performance. You
can’t beat that,” Johnson said. “There’s something you get from a live
performance you can’t get from a record or a CD. The experience is very
How long will they keep
at it? Until the boogie wonderland stops.
“Maurice wanted a band
that could play all genres of music and a band that would not be standing
still onstage. We’re always in motion, there’s always something going on,”
“We’re just carrying on
the vision. This is the legacy. The three of us — Verdine, Philip and
myself — we’re carrying on for as long, as I tell people, we put butts in
Roger Waters on veterans,
touring and his new, solo album
(Photo by Victoria Will/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) - Roger Waters
isn’t sure how much longer he will tour, or if his current one will be his
last. But there’s one thing the former Pink Floyd co-founder is sure of —
if you’re a veteran, there’s a place for you at his shows.
Waters, whose father was killed in
World War II, holds a special place in his heart for those who served.
That’s why for every performance, he allocates a block of tickets for vets.
“When I started touring with ‘The
Wall,’ I just started inviting veterans in every town we go to, and I’ll do
that on this tour, as well. We’ll reserve a certain number of places in the
auditorium for veterans if they want to come,” Waters said.
Veterans can grab a ticket to his shows
through a variety of veteran’s groups, including the Wounded Warrior
Project, VetTix and MusiCorps.
Recently, the outspoken 73-year old
rocker sat down with The Associated Press to talk about veterans, his latest
solo album — titled “Is This the Life We Really Want?” — and his political
AP: Your support for veterans
has been relentless. Why?
Waters: Maybe it has something
to with my father. It has partly to do with Bob and Lee Woodruff. They
have a foundation because he was a journalist who got half of his head blown
off and survived. They have a thing called Stand Up for Heroes every year
to raise money for veterans, and they asked if I would perform.
AP: But it didn’t stop there.
Waters: I had an idea, which was
to put together a band of wounded men. So I went to Walter Reed (National
Military Medical Center), and I met a guy there called Arthur Bloom, who ran
a program, and we made a band. We performed for a couple of years doing
that and these men became my brothers, and I’m close friends still with a
lot to them. And so the connections that I made through playing music with
them informed my desire to get to know more of them.
AP: The album seems inspired by
the dire overtones of our current world. Is it about fear?
Waters: Yeah, it’s fear of the
fact that everything is running away from us and nobody is the child who
says, “But the emperor is not wearing any clothes.”
AP: Tell us about the tour?
Waters: The show is called “Us
and Them,” which is the title of a song from “Dark Side of the Moon,” which
is from 1973, or ’74, but it’s extremely appropriate and apposite today.
That song means just as much today as it did in 1973. And these new songs
off this album are essentially about our dilemma as human beings as to
whether we can find ways to accommodate each other’s needs, and to discover
our potential for empathy for others.
AP: You have always been
outspoken when it comes to politics, and have been attacked on your support
of a boycott of Israel. Some have called you anti-Semitic because of it.
Waters: I’ve got nothing against
Israel, and I’ve certainly not got anything against Jewish people or
Judaism. But I am fundamentally opposed to people being subjugated and not
having rights under the law. So I’ve finished my little speech, but people
have suggested that I’m anti-Semitic, which I am clearly not... I will go to
my grave defending the rights of ordinary people, under a law, under a
AP: How much longer can you do
Waters: Probably, not much
longer. This might well be the last one. If it goes on for a couple of
years I may well be done. We’ll see. You never say never. I try and stay
fit. I am fit, otherwise I couldn’t do it. So we’ll see.
AP: Is it possible that any time
before you call it quits, you and former Floyd guitarist David Gilmour will
do a set of shows?
Waters: I think it’s very
Singer Phil Collins cancels show after hotel room fall
London (AP) — Singer Phil
Collins was rushed to the hospital last week after a fall in his London
hotel room left him with a severe gash near his eye that required stitches.
His management said in a statement that
concerts planned for London’s Royal Albert Hall have been postponed until
The 66-year-old former Genesis star,
who suffers from a gait abnormality after a back operation, tripped over a
chair in the middle of the night.
He was given stitches for the cut on
his head and was kept under observation for 24 hours.
Collins was expected to continue his
comeback tour in Cologne, Germany, before performing at British Summer Time
Hyde Park on June 30.
Film Review: ‘Wonder Woman’ film and star live up to the name
is shown in a scene from “Wonder Woman”. (Clay Enos/Warner Bros.
Entertainment via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - “Wonder Woman
“ has been the subject of so much superfluous fuss, it’d be easy to forget
that behind all of the hand-wringing and both symbolic and real pressure to
succeed there’s actually a movie meant to entertain.
Yet, like the heroine at its center,
“Wonder Woman” the movie rises with powerful grace above the noise. It’s
not perfect, but it’s often good, sometimes great and exceptionally
Director Patty Jenkins’ film is so
threaded with sincerity and goodness it’s a wonder how it got past the
pugnacious minds responsible for what’s come before. “Wonder Woman” evokes
not only the spirit of Richard Donner’s “Superman,” but also Joe Johnston’s
“Captain America: The First Avenger,” while still being its own thing. Just
look to the image of Gal Gadot confidently striding out alone onto an
unwinnable battlefield with only a shield, a sword and a mission — and
prevailing. It’s enough to give you goosebumps.
“Wonder Woman” is structured as a
coming-of-age story about how Diana, the Amazonian princess, becomes Wonder
Woman. It’s framed, clumsily, as an over two hour flashback provoked by a
note from Bruce Wayne. Of all the stupid interconnected universe things!
Thankfully, Jenkins transitions quickly
into the actual story about a naive idealist who comes to accept the
complexities of mankind. From a tender age, Diana, living on the achingly
idyllic island of Themyscira, dreams of being a warrior. Her mother, Queen
Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen) disapproves, although she inexplicably withholds
the real reason.
It’s no wonder Diana aspires to fight.
She’s been told that their sole purpose is to keep the peace and destroy
Ares, the god of war. Also, and not insignificantly, the warriors led by
General Antiope (Robin Wright), are some of the fiercest babes ever to grace
the screen. They fly around with swords and shields, bedecked in armored
mini dresses and wedged gladiator sandals that allow them to leap 50 feet in
Young Diana trains in secret, and then
with reluctant permission, until an American spy, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine),
crash lands on the island and tells the Amazons about the “war to end all
wars.” Diana concludes World War I must be Ares’ doing and decides,
impetuously and like so many arrogant superheroes before her, that she’s
ready for battle.
In London and at the battlefront, Diana
gets a crash course in humanity, from the ills (sexism, alcoholism,
colonialism, racism, apathy) to the good (babies, snow, ice cream). It’s
all very simplistic, but Gadot’s serious and unapologetic curiosity sells
the dubious premise that a woman so versed in so many things from Socrates
to the “pleasures of the flesh” could be this unaware of human flaws.
Perhaps they only teach the good stuff in Themyscira. But that’s what
Trevor is there for — to help this otherworldly crusader acclimate.
Pine plays Trevor as a spiritual cousin
to Indiana Jones (he even gets to goof around with an accent that
immediately evokes the “tapestries” bit from “The Last Crusade”). He’s on
his own mission, to stop the comically evil Germans General Ludendorff
(Danny Huston) and Doctor Poison (Elena Anaya) from prolonging the war, but
it’s never a question that this is Diana’s show.
Jenkins keeps the look and feel of the
film classical, as it breezes through a strong second act. But, being a DC
film, “Wonder Woman” can’t help but devolve into a blurry, concrete-busting
third act that feels dispiritingly like all the rest, not to mention a
baffling reveal that negates most of Diana’s growth. It’s not enough to
negate the good, though, and much of that is Gadot’s doing.
She is the perfect Wonder Woman — a
true blue hero who’s as believable in her bafflement of women’s fashions and
social mores as she is dead-lifting a tank and swatting away machine gun
fire with only her arm cuff.
I never cared about Wonder Woman
before. Now I do.
“Wonder Woman,” a Warner Bros. release,
is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “sequences
of violence and action, and some suggestive content.” Running time: 141
minutes. Three stars out of four.
Liverpool fetes ‘Sgt. Pepper’ with help from its friends
Cars drive past a billboard showing the late Beatles manager
Britain Epstein, created by artist Jeremy Deller as part of the “Sgt. Pepper
at 50” festival, in Liverpool, England.. (AP Photo/Jill Lawless)
Liverpool, England (AP) — It was
50 years ago that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.
The band is long gone, but the music of
The Beatles still reverberates — and nowhere more loudly than in Liverpool,
where the 50th birthday of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is the
spark for a citywide festival.
The album, released in the U.S. on June
2, 1967 — just after its British debut — was a psychedelic landmark whose
influences ranged from rock to raga to English music hall. For many critics
and fans, it’s the Fab Four’s finest achievement.
Half a century on, Liverpool has asked
13 artists to respond to the album’s 13 tracks, for a “Sgt. Pepper at 50”
festival that runs through June 16. The artists come from Britain, the
U.S., France, India and Australia, and their works range over theater,
dance, public art, puppetry, film, fireworks and music.
The festival is endorsed by surviving
Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, who have both sent messages of
Claire McColgan, director of public
body Culture Liverpool, said the festival aims “to take something that is so
iconic, that is so known throughout the world, and give a whole
contemporary, fresh interpretation of it.”
“These four boys from this city never
left here,” she said. “Their songs tell a story of this place.”
“Sgt. Pepper” was partly the product of
The Beatles’ frustration with fame. Exhausted by touring, they played their
last live concert in August 1966 and devoted their energies and creativity
to the studio. Working with producer George Martin at London’s Abbey Road
Studios, they made a multilayered, technologically innovative album that was
never intended to be played live.
Half a century on, “Sgt.
Pepper”-inspired artworks are springing up across Liverpool. A dockside
grain silo sports a colorful pop-art mural by American artist Judy Chicago.
Roadside billboards, the work of Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller, proclaim
“Brian Epstein died for you.”
There are concerts of Indian classical
music — a major influence on George Harrison — and a film set on a city bus
route inspired by “A Day in the Life.” Meter maid “Lovely Rita” is the
starting point for an “outlandish procession” through the streets by cabaret
artist Meow Meow, clad in a fabulous dress made from parking tickets.
To say Liverpool is proud of The
Beatles is an understatement. The group is a cross between guardian spirit
and major industry, one that has helped the port city rebuild after the
decline of its once-thriving docks. Today there are Magical Mystery bus
tours, a Beatles museum and even a Beatles-themed hotel.
Director Julia Samuels of youth theater
company 20 Stories High said that for younger Liverpool residents, the band
is “part of their subconscious.”
Her colleague Keith Saha compared it to
the way Liverpudlians are either “red or blue” — a supporter of Liverpool
soccer club or its rival Everton.
“Everyone’s got their favorite Beatle,”
he said. “Everyone’s got their favorite album.
“The good thing about Liverpool is we
haven’t Disneyfied The Beatles, and that’s what’s really important about
Grande returns to Manchester
to honour victims with benefit
Crowds cheer at the One Love Manchester tribute concert in Manchester,
Sunday, June 4. The event raised more than £10 million for those affected by
the bombing in Manchester on May 22. (Dave Hogan via AP)
Hilary Fox & Mesfin Fekadu
Manchester, England (AP) —
Ariana Grande paid tribute to the city of Manchester last Sunday with an
energetic, all-star concert that raised millions for victims of a suicide
bombing that tore through her last performance in the city nearly three
Grande was emotional and teary-eyed
throughout the One Love Manchester concert, which the British Red Cross said
raised more than £10 million for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund,
created for those affected by the attack at Grande’s May 22 show.
Ariana Grande (left) and Miley Cyrus perform at the One Love Manchester
tribute concert in Manchester, north western England, Sunday, June 4. (Dave
Hogan via AP)
She closed the three-hour-plus event
with a cover of “Over the Rainbow,” crying onstage at the song’s end as the
audience cheered her on.
“Manchester, I love you with all of my
heart,” Grande said before the performance, and just after singing “One Last
Time” with Miley Cyrus, Pharrell and more of the show’s performers standing
behind her in solidarity.
Grande enlisted some of music’s biggest
names for the benefit concert, including Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Liam
Gallagher, formerly of Oasis, earned
loud cheers from the audience as he emerged in his home town in surprise
form. He sang and offered encouraging words to the crowd, who held
inspirational signs in their hands.
One of the most powerful moments was
when the Parrs Wood High School Choir performed Grande’s “My Everything”
with the singer. The 23-year-old pop star held the young lead performer’s
hand, both with tears in their eyes, as the rest of the singers joined in.
Perry also left a mark with her
resilient performance: She sang a stripped down version of her hit, “Part of
Me.” Backed by two singers and a guitarist, she delivered the song wearing
all white, singing, “Throw your sticks and your stones, throw your bombs and
your blows, but you’re not gonna break my soul.”
“I encourage you to choose love even
when it’s difficult. Let no one take that away from you,” she said.
Bieber shared similar words onstage,
even coming close to crying when he spoke about God and those who died at
“(God) loves you and he’s here for
you. I wanna take this moment to honor the people that were lost, that were
taken,” he said. “To the families, we love you so much. ... Everybody say,
‘We honor you, and we love you.’”
Coldplay were also a crowd favorite,
performing well-known songs like “Viva La Vida” and “Fix You.”
Grande performed throughout the show,
singing her hits from “Side to Side” to “Break Free.” She even collaborated
with others onstage: She sang Fergie’s verse on the Black Eyed Peas hit,
“Where Is the Love?” along with the group; she performed a duet with Cyrus;
and she sang her debut song, “The Way,” with rapper Mac Miller.
Cyrus said she was “so honored to be at
this incredible event” and performed “Happy” alongside Pharrell, who also
sang “Get Lucky.”
“I don’t feel or smell or hear or see
any fear in this building. All we feel here tonight is love, resilience,
positivity,” Williams said.
Take That, who are from Manchester,
followed with fun energy that the crowd danced to.
“Our thoughts are with everyone who has
been affected by this,” singer Gary Barlow said. “We want everyone to stand
Robbie Williams also performed,
changing some of his lyrics of “Strong” to honor the Manchester victims.
“Manchester we’re strong ... we’re
still singing our song,” he sang with the audience of 50,000.
The Manchester concert came the day
after attackers targeted the heart of London, killing seven people.
Authorities have said the attack started with a van plowing into pedestrians
and then involved three men using large knives to attack people in bars and
restaurants at a nearby market.
The One Love Manchester concert aired
across the globe. Other performers included Little Mix, Niall Horan, Imogen
Heap and Victoria Monet.
For Shakira, music takes
backseat to motherhood
Colombian singer Shakira.
(Photo by Victoria WIll/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) - Shakira may be a
Grammy-winning, multiplatinum singer, but these days she’s calling music a
Singing has taken a back seat to
motherhood for the 40-year-old Colombian sensation, who has two sons, ages 4
“For years I spent my life pressing
pause on those things that are now my priority, like having a family. I
pressed pause on that. Now, I hit play,” Shakira said with a laugh. “I
formed a family, and it’s the most wonderful thing, the most important thing
to me. And before, I used to be the center of my whole world and the
beginning and the end, the alpha and omega of my whole world, and now my
kids and my family are that one priority.”
Shakira said it was difficult to
approach making new music after spending so much time with her family. When
she started working in the recording studio, she said she dealt with
writer’s block and didn’t want to be away from her children.
“I was in front of this white canvas
and sort of panicking, and I was, at the same time, conflicted because I
didn’t want to stop spending time with my kids, but I also wanted to attend
to my own needs as a creator, as an artist, as a producer,” she said.
She decided to release music in her own
way and at her own pace. Instead of putting out a full album, she released
songs when she wanted without announcing when an album would finally come.
“It completely changed my game and it
incentivized me to make more music and not take this whole project as a
whole body of work, but just concentrate all of my energy on each song and
take and do all of the efforts but one song at a time ... instead of looking
at this project like a big Everest mountain that I had to climb,” she said.
“I began to see it as a ... fun road trip.”
“It was more fun than any of my
previous albums because before I had many demands (and) requests by others,”
Before she released her 11th album, “El
Dorado,” last month, Shakira dropped four singles, including “La Bicicleta”
with Carlos Vives — which won song and record of the year at last year’s
Latin Grammys — and “Chantaje,” a No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot Latin songs
chart with fellow Colombian singer Maluma.
Another single, “Me Enamore,” features
her partner, soccer player Gerard Pique, in the music video. The album,
mainly in Spanish with some English songs, includes pop, reggaeton, bachata,
vallenato and funk sounds. Shakira co-wrote all of the tracks and said they
are very personal.
“When I played ‘Me Enamore’ for
(Gerard), he really liked it. ... He looks at me with those eyes like, ‘Oh,’
like really appreciating the fact that I almost paid a homage to that moment
in our lives when we met each other and the turning point in our lives when
everything changed for both of us,” recalled Shakira, who also said new
songs like “Amarillo” and “Coconut Tree” are about her and her lover.
They have been together since 2011 and
live in Barcelona, Spain.
“These songs are very personal songs,
but you know, I have no other way to make music. It’s the only way I know.
It’s (a) catharsis for me ... otherwise I would have to pay too many shrinks
and they’re expensive,” she said with a laugh.
Southern rocker Gregg Allman laid to rest
near Highway 41
Macon, Ga. (AP) — Southern
rocker Gregg Allman was laid to rest last Saturday near his older brother
Duane in the same cemetery where they used to write songs among the
tombstones, not far from US Highway 41.
Thousands of fans lined the streets of
Macon to honor Allman, who was carried into Rose Hill Cemetery as a bagpiper
played a somber tune. Family and friends, including musicians who played in
The Allman Brothers Band over the years, gathered next to his grave and on a
nearby hillside shaded by huge oak trees. Towards the end, a freight train
rolled in and stopped alongside the cemetery, reminding some mourners of
Allman’s lyrics to “Melissa.”
Along the funeral route, many shared
memories of concerts, and some blared the band’s songs from their cars and
trucks. One carried a sign saying “You made our soul shine. We’ll miss you
The funeral service was private, with
room for only about 100 people inside the small chapel. Allman’s ex-wife
Cher and his band mates, including the drummer Jaimoe and guitarist Dickey
Betts, who wrote and sang “Ramblin Man,” also attended.
Allman, who blazed a trail for many southern rock
groups, died May 27 at the age of 69 of suspected liver cancer.
Film Review: Fifth ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ flick fights bloat
portrays Jack Sparrow in a scene from “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men
Tell No Tales.” (Peter Mountain/Disney via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
The opening scene of the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” is a fitting
metaphor for where we stand in this long franchise: A creaky old galleon is
unceremoniously yanked up from the ocean depths and the only things aboard
are cranky old ghosts.
A weary, battered fifth
chapter — “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” — lumbers into
theaters this summer high on CGI tricks but with a hopelessly muddled plot
and recurring characters basically running on fumes.
Johnny Depp is back as
Jack Sparrow, as is Geoffrey Rush as a well-bearded Barbossa, looking a lot
like the Cowardly Lion, and his faithful capuchin monkey. Newcomers include
Golshifteh Farahani as a pretty cool, punky witch, and Kaya Scodelario and
Brenton Thwaites, who play young star-crossed lovers with serious daddy
issues, adding vitality and maybe future franchise possibilities.
The bad guy this time
is Javier Bardem as a ghost ship captain and he proves to be an
extraordinary actor because he comes across as a very believable ghost ship
captain. His full-throttled, single-minded fury recalls Ricardo Montalban
in “The Wrath of Khan.”
The film also features
the returns of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley — but in tiny cameos only —
as the lovers Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. They missed the fourth
installment because they were smart.
Sandberg and Joachim Ronning have been given the keys to the kingdom and
they’ve thrown everything at it — a half-dozen big sea battles, a shotgun
wedding, a joint execution, underwater sword fights and even a Beatle. Look
carefully and you’ll find Sir Paul McCartney doing a cameo in a jail. (For
those of you keeping score at home, this movie now co-stars one monkey and
Fans of this Pirates
franchise have had to wait six long years for this offering, ever since
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” in 2011. That was the one
about the fountain of youth. It took over from the third, bloated edition,
“At World’s End,” which seemed to be about a global chase for a magical
navigation chart and some hot pirate-on-pirate fighting.
This fifth edition is
all about a hunt for the Trident of Poseidon, which can break curses. But
it’s also about Bardem and his ghost crew busting out of the Devil’s
Triangle to hunt pirates, as well as Barbossa protecting his pirate empire,
and the two young lovers fulfilling their destinies. Keep up: There’s a
test at the end. Just kidding.
At the center of all
this madness is Depp, whose Sparrow is now down-on-his-luck and abandoned by
his crew. He’s always drunk, apparently has stuffed cotton balls into his
mouth and is deeply unfunny. (He keeps muttering about being a bed wetter.)
Depp didn’t just phone this in; he snail-mailed in his performance.
The story writers —
Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio — have not only overstuffed the script,
they’ve dumbed everything down (they think “horology” is a hysterically
dirty word) and there’s hardly a quiet moment in the entire two-hour movie.
Plus, not to get too historical about a movie that deals with ghost pirates,
but are they certain seamen in the eighteenth century greeted each other
with “How’s it going?”
You can’t beat the
special effects, though, especially the way the ghosts are rendered, with
parts missing from their bodies. The ghost sharks and ghost birds — OK, stay
with us — are pretty awesome, too. And the ghost Depp is really spooky.
Wait, that’s just regular Depp, failing to make an impression. Our bad.
After this fifth
episode, you’ll wish Disney would just declare the franchise dead and tell
no more tales.
“Pirates of the
Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” a Walt Disney Pictures release, is rated
PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “some suggestive
content and adventure violence.” Running time: 128 minutes. One star out
Bangkok gears up for 15th
Asia Guitar Festival
finest assembly of international guitar players, makers and enthusiasts
will assemble from June 8-11 at The Sukosol hotel in Bangkok for the
fifteenth Asia International Guitar Festival & Competition, the only
event of its kind in the region.
This year’s agenda
includes master classes, guitar exhibits, competitions and concerts by
acclaimed musicians hailing from around the world. A varied program
sees four days of activities, each day culminating in a concert by one
or more celebrated guitar maestros. The event will also feature a
guitar competition open to all, with the winner receiving a free guitar,
case, string sets, certificate and performance rights at four
The full list of
internationally-acclaimed guests includes: Gérard Abiton (France),
Antoine Moriniere (France), Admir Doci (Albania), Takeo Sato (Germany),
Masahiro Masuda (Japan), Padet Netpakdee (Thailand), Thu Le (Vietnam),
Seoul Guitar Quartet (South Korea), Chinnawat Themkumkwun (Thailand),
Leon Koudelak (Czech Republic), Woratep Rattana-umpawan (Thailand),
Pongpat Pongpradit (Thailand), Worrapat Yansupap (Thailand), Pongpat
Pongpradit (Thailand), Mitsuo Yoshimoto (Japan), and Sung Ho Chang
luthiers attending include: Yuichi Imai (Japan), Kazuo Sato (Germany),
Young Seo (Korea), Hanief Palopo (Indonesia), Narongsak Visesnut
(Thailand), Wiroon Song-Bundit (Thailand)
All the concerts
will be performed in The Sukosol’s Kamolmart room. Evening concert
tickets are Bht 600 for adults and Bht 400 for students (with valid
I.D.), inclusive of coffee break. Afternoon concert tickets cost Bht
300 for all audience members, excluding coffee break. Observers of
master classes and competitions pay Bht 200.
For further details
including a full festival programme, visit
or call 02 247 0123, ext 1916-1918.
Rolling Stones heading back on the road, this time in Europe
Jagger will be leading the Rolling Stones on a European tour in 2017.
London (AP) -
The Rolling Stones are going back on the road, this time staying a bit
closer to home with a European tour.
The rock stalwarts
have announced they will play 13 gigs in nine countries starting in
sojourn will include stadium performances in France, Germany and Spain.
It’s been dubbed the Stones - No Filter tour.
It will kick off in
Hamburg September 9 and include a first ever major music gig in the
medieval Italian city of Lucca.
Singer Mick Jagger
said he was “so excited to be touring Europe this autumn and returning
to some familiar places and some we’ve never done before.”
The tour follows
last year’s jaunt through South America, which included a first-ever
performance in Cuba.