Update September 30, 2016
Film Review: ‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ is a charming return to form
shows Sally Phillips (left) and Renee Zellweger in a scene from “Bridget
(Giles Keyte/Universal Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - Renee
Zellweger is charming as ever in “Bridget Jones’s Baby ,” a lively return to
form for the unlikely trilogy about an ordinary woman and her professional
and romantic woes. It turns out a little break is just what this series
needed to find its footing after the manic missteps of “Bridget Jones: The
Edge of Reason,” which fell into some of the all too common traps of sequels
looking to up the stakes (hello, Thailand prison sequence).
That’s likely due to the fact that
Sharon Maguire, who directed the practically perfect “Bridget Jones’s
Diary,” is back (Beeban Kidron directed the second), working from a script
from author Helen Fielding, Emma Thompson (very funny as an unamused doctor)
and Dan Mazer.
Let’s get over the silly fact that this
movie essentially had to press reboot on the happy ending of the second,
when Bridget said at the end how even at 33 she was able to find love and
happiness with one Mark Darcy (Colin Firth). Cut to 12 years later (between
movies), Bridget is in her 40s and Mark Darcy has gone off and married
But this is an evolved Bridget.
Sure, she might be eating dessert alone
in that same old London flat on that same old couch listening to the same
old Celine Dion song, but it’s not tragic. It just is. Her friends all
flaked on her and so she has a night by herself. The sense is “whatever”
not “woe is me.”
Indeed, her life looks pretty good.
She’s now a high-profile TV news producer who seems happy at work — gone are
the fireman’s pole humiliations of on-camera life. She’s also fitter (and
quite happy about it) and has gotten a fancier wardrobe befitting of her
When her younger friend and co-worker
Miranda (a terrific Sarah Solemani) invites her to a weekend getaway,
Bridget arrives at the airport looking like a Nancy Meyers leading lady in
cream and white. Of course, she doesn’t realize they’re going to an outdoor
music festival. So, she falls in some mud, but she also gets the attention
of Jack (Patrick Dempsey). He’s a single, not sleazy relationship guru who
is immediately smitten with Bridget.
She has a good time with Jack and goes
on her way. A few weeks later, she finds herself having an unexpectedly
romantic night with a now-separated Darcy. She walks away from that, too,
and continues on with life until she gets the news that she’s pregnant. It
could be either Darcy’s or Jack’s.
Both men hop to the challenge, trying
to out-partner one another at every turn. Is this a fantasy, or is this
just men being kind to the woman who is possibly carrying their child? Does
it really matter?
Much of the original cast is back and
wonderful (Jim Broadbent, Gemma Jones, Sally Phillips and Shirley
Henderson), save for a sorely missed Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant). You’ll
find out what happened to him.
There is still a madcap, slapstick
jitteriness to dear Bridget, but calmness has emerged, too — that of a woman
who has finally grown into her own skin. She is messy in that way that
women in other rom coms “say” they are but never actually are. And she is
certainly not the other single gal of her time, Carrie Bradshaw, who seemed
to become less and less relatable as the years went by.
Though the premise of “Bridget Jones’s
Baby” makes it all seem like it’s all about the guy again, it’s never felt
so much like Bridget’s story. The man is just gravy. This movie, for all
its comedic ridiculousness and wild circumstance of the paternity crisis, is
a jubilant celebration of women.
If we’re lucky, we’ll get to check in
with her again in another few years.
“Bridget Jones’s Baby,” a Universal
Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America
for “language, sex references and some nudity.” Running time: 122 minutes.
Three stars out of four.
Jolie and Pitt’s romance, divorce bookended by films
Jolie and Brad Pitt are shown together in this Jan. 27, 2008 file photo. (AP
Los Angeles (AP) — For Angelina
Jolie Pitt and Brad Pitt, it started with tequila and dancing in the rain in
Bogota and ended on the French seaside with white wine, pills and tears.
Hollywood’s most storied modern couple
only appeared together twice in the movies. The first time, in 2005’s “Mr.
& Mrs. Smith,” they fell in love. A decade later, “By the Sea” would come
just a year before their relationship would come to an end with Jolie Pitt
filing for divorce. Both times they played a childless husband and wife
whose passion had turned to resentment.
Their real life together was full of
public declarations and displays of love, children, philanthropy,
humanitarian work and glamour. In the movies, though, their surface beauty
was only a mask for the rot and boredom underneath. Still, even through
tears and gunfire, they always smoldered.
“You can absolutely madly love the same
person you want to kill,” Jolie Pitt said in 2015, seated on a silk-sheeted
bed next to Pitt on the set of “By the Sea,” filmed on their technical
honeymoon, but it could have easily been about either. In “Mr. & Mrs.
Smith,” they are actually trying to kill each other after all.
It was a strange story to fall in love
to, but not uncommon in the entertainment business, even if Pitt was married
at the time to Jennifer Aniston. Jolie had already been married twice, to
Billy Bob Thornton and Jonny Lee Miller.
“We just became kind of a pair. And it
took until, really, the end of the shoot for us, I think, to realize that it
might mean something more than we’d earlier allowed ourselves to believe,”
Jolie Pitt told Vogue in 2006.
Last week’s divorce filing comes after
12 years together and two in marriage. The couple wed in August 2014,
privately at their French chateau in the Provence hamlet of Correns with
their children serving as ring bearers and throwing flower petals.
An attorney for Jolie Pitt, Robert
Offer, said that her decision was made “for the health of the family.” She
is petitioning for physical custody of 15-year-old Maddox, 12-year-old Pax,
11-year-old Zahara, 10-year-old Shiloh, and 8-year-old twins Knox and
Vivienne, with visitation rights for Pitt, who said in a statement to
People how “saddened” he is.
“What matters most now is the wellbeing
of our kids,” Pitt said, requesting space for the children.
The gossipy, tabloid origins would
always at least partially define “Brangelina.” But after the media
upheaval, Jolie Pitt and Pitt eventually settled into their own unique kind
of globe-trotting domesticity. They were seldom-seen Hollywood royalty,
their image predicated more on parenting than partying.
The pair adopted children from
Cambodia, Vietnam and Ethiopia. In 2006, they formed the Jolie-Pitt
Foundation, to which they funneled many of the millions they made selling
personal pictures to celebrity magazines.
Jolie Pitt, who became special envoy
for the United Nations in 2012, was an outspoken voice for refugees, as well
as for breast cancer treatment after undergoing a double mastectomy
herself. Pitt built homes in New Orleans for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Both expanded creatively, too, but
mostly separately, Jolie Pitt as a burgeoning and ambitious director of both
war epics like “Unbroken,” and languid melodramas like “By the Sea,” and
Pitt as a producer of socially relevant films through his Plan B production
company, including the Academy Award-winning “12 Years a Slave,” last year’s
“The Big Short” and the recently debuted festival hit “Moonlight.”
“By the Sea,” which Jolie Pitt wrote
while grieving for her mother, who died in 2007, was sold nonetheless as the
big on screen reunion of the couple who changed tabloid culture and our
expectations of what exactly is possible on a movie set just 10 years
earlier. But it fizzled with critics and audiences, making a mere $538,000
at the box office domestically. The “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” spark that enveloped
its own stars and titillated audiences to the tune of $186.3 million
domestically had given way to something infinitely more real.
“When we first worked together it was
very different because we didn’t really know each other and we were young
and, it was really a fun film, so we thought, maybe ‘By the Sea’ was going
to be that kind of fun, but realized very quickly that it wasn’t,” Jolie
Pitt told The Telegraph in 2015. “Then we joked that this is what
happens after 10 years of marriage.”
3 years after ’12 Years,’ Nyong’o’s face
is back on screen
Lupita Nyong’o poses for a portrait at The Omni King Edward Hotel in
(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Toronto (AP) — The filmmaker
Mira Nair was familiar with the regal grace of Lupita Nyong’o long before
The Indian-born, New York-based Nair
has been close friends with Nyong’o’s family for years. One of Nyong’o’s
first jobs in the movies was interning in New York for Nair’s production
company. She also later worked for Nair’s Uganda-centered film school,
Maisha Film Labs.
What does Nair recall of Nyong’o as a
“Like she is: immensely thoughtful and
stylish,” Nair says with a laugh. “She wouldn’t speak unless she had
something to say. And full of fun, which sometime you guys don’t see. But
there’s a real appetite for life there.”
In the African chess prodigy tale
“Queen of Katwe,” a now much more established Nyong’o has reunited with Nair
for a film that reflects much of the actress’s past, as well as her future.
It is, surprisingly, the first time moviegoers have gotten to see Nyong’o’s
face on screen since her breakout, Oscar-winning performance in 2013’s “12
Years a Slave.”
In the three years since, she’s
appeared in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in a motion-capture performance,
lent her voice to “The Jungle Book” and starred on Broadway in Danai
Guirira’s Liberian drama “Eclipsed,” earning a Tony nomination. But “Queen
of Katwe,” she says, epitomizes the kind of film she wants to be in.
“The success of ’12 Years of Slave’ has
put me in a position where I can choose,” Nyong’o said in a recent
interview. “I want to honor the opportunity that I’ve been given. So I’ve
worked very hard to choose things that I’m passionate about because I think
I’m most useful when I feel conviction. I want to continue to do work that
moves me and develops cultural conversations.
“It takes one film at a time, one story
at a time, to actually shift the norm,” she adds.
“Queen of Katwe” is itself an anomaly.
It’s a family-friendly film made in Africa with an entirely black cast — a
first for Disney. The film tells of Phiona Mutesi’s (newcomer Madina
Nalwanga) rise from the Katwe slums in Kampala, Uganda, to elite levels of
chess. Nair shot it in South Africa and Uganda. Nyong’o plays Phiona’s
The local flavor, as well as the real
people the story is based on (who appear briefly but movingly at the end),
gives “Queen of Katwe” an infectious spirit. During one celebratory scene
in Katwe, extras mixed with nearby onlookers, eager to join in the
“Because this doesn’t happen very
often, we were all filled with such gratitude to be able to tell this
story,” says Nyong’o.
Even if Nyong’o wasn’t sitting in a
high-back chair at a Toronto hotel shortly after the film’s screening at the
Toronto International Film Festival, the 33-year-old would appear
queen-like, herself, given her calm poise and precision with words.
Although Nyong’o now seems remarkably
at home on any red carpet, she spent years hesitating to commit to acting.
As an undergrad at Hampshire College, she initially explored other roles on
“I was just trying to figure out where
in this industry, if not in the front of the camera, I would fit in,” she
says. “I had always been discouraged that it was possible. I was from
Kenya and I didn’t know any Kenyan actors in America. It just didn’t seem
like a possible career path.”
Nyong’o, born in Mexico and raised in
Kenya, had a very different upbringing than the impoverished ones of “Queen
of Katwe.” But, as Nair says, “Like Phiona, she’s harnessed her potential
and thankfully the world has rewarded her for it.”
“I spent a lot of time denying the fact
that I wanted to be an actor, and I felt I could bring this to the film,”
Nyong’o says. “It’s about having the courage to pursue your dream and it
takes courage because sometimes your dreams are unconventional and
surprising and uncomfortable for those around you to understand.”
But shortly after graduating from the
Yale School of Drama, Nyong’o landed the role of Patsey in Steve McQueen’s
“12 Years of Slave,” immediately catapulting her to stardom.
“It definitely was a lot all at once,”
she says. “One of the things I focused on as everything was happening was
saying yes — making my bowl bigger. Often times, people teach you to
prepare for failure, but they don’t necessarily teach you to prepare for
One of Nyong’o’s early film experiences
was as a production assistant on “The Constant Gardner,” the John le Carre
adaptation about a British diplomat in Kenya whose wife is murdered.
Nyong’o, though, would like to see more stories like “Queen of Katwe” make
it to movie screens.
“Because I grew up on the African
continent, I understand we’re about more than war and famine and wildlife,”
she says. “My childhood opened me up to the rest of the world. I had a
very multicultural upbringing. So I know that we have a lot to offer. We
have a lot to offer in the world of cinema.”
Madame Tussauds separates wax figures of Pitt, Jolie
resembling actors Angelina Jolie Pitt and Brad Pitt are shown on display at
the Madame Tussauds wax museum in London. A spokeswoman for Tussauds said
the figures have now been moved apart to mirror their real life separation.
(Madame Tussauds via AP)
New York (AP) - Angelina Jolie
and Brad Pitt’s split is a literal one at several Madame Tussauds wax
Nimali Weerasinghe, a spokeswoman for
the wax museum in London, said they wanted to mirror Jolie and Pitt’s
separation, which came to light last week. She said the wax figures “are
now featured at a respectful distance from each other.”
Jolie’s figure has been placed near one
of Nicole Kidman. Pitt’s is hanging out with the figure of his co-star in
several films, Morgan Freeman.
The couple will also be split up at
Madame Tussauds’ museums in the U.S.
Madame Tussauds says figures of Jolie
and Pitt are on display at 15 of its 20 locations across the globe.
Jared Leto set to star
as Andy Warhol in biopic
(AP Photo/Joel Ryan)
Los Angeles (AP) — Jared Leto is
set to star as eccentric pop art icon Andy Warhol in an upcoming biopic.
Leto’s representative has confirmed a
Hollywood Reporter story on the project.
Terence Winter is set to write the
screenplay. Winter is a former writer for HBO’s “The Sopranos” and was
nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s, “The Wolf
of Wall Street.”
Leto has a history of taking on
challenging roles. He won an Academy Award in 2014 for his portrayal of a
transgender woman with AIDS in “Dallas Buyers Club.” He also played John
Lennon’s assassin, Mark David Chapman, in 2007’s “Chapter 27” and appeared
as the Joker in “Suicide Squad” this summer
Warhol died in 1987 at the age of 58.
Music Review: Quireboys release new album ‘Twisted Love’
It was a bit of a surprise to find that
The Quireboys were releasing a new album this year, seeing as they’ve
recorded one every year since 2013, but here we have it, in the form of “Twisted
I’ve been a fan of the self-styled
gypsy rockers since their conception in the 80’s, and despite the
myriad of personnel changes the band have endured over the years, I’ve
always stayed pretty faithful to them.
They hit the Rock Music scene in a
massive way with their highly acclaimed album “A Bit of what you Fancy”,
spawning several hit singles such as “There She Goes Again”, “Hey You”, “I
Don’t Love You Anymore” and “7 o’clock”. Like so many bands of that era,
they would always struggle to top their debut album, and unfortunately
appeared to fall out of favour during the following years. A couple of
their more recent releases have lacked a little substance, albeit the fairly
consistent formula. I guess though, this formula must work, as they do lay
claim to a very loyal fan base.
Unfortunately “Twisted Love” appears to
lack direction a little, and the band hasn’t quite managed to emanate the
superb chemistry that dominated their earlier releases. On a positive note
though, the current line-up, which has been in place since 2013, sees the
members coming together well as an outfit, strengthening them and allowing
the band to churn out some of their best songs since “Beautiful Curse”.
Songs like “Stroll On” and “Shotgun Way” sound like they could have come
from their early 90s releases.
Meanwhile, tracks such as “Ghost Train”
and “Breaking Rocks” are more akin to their more lacklustre albums of recent
times. Still, this new album does have the traditional Quireboys sound
rooted deep within its DNA. The duelling guitar sound of Guy Griffin and
Paul Guerin is undoubtedly well established, and along with their quality
backing vocals, tie in neatly with Keith Weir’s superb keyboard melodies.
Title track “Twisted Love” also features blues powerhouse Lynne Jackaman on
backing vocals, complementing Spike’s gravely tones perfectly, the
sultriness lingering in the background yet notably obvious.
Then there’s “Gracie B”, originally
from the previous acoustic-driven album “St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul”.
It was given a full electric outing on their recent live outings, and it
sounded really impressive. Re-worked for this album, it’s been transformed
into a new beast of a tune.
Frontman Spike’s voice has noticeably
weathered with age but it could be argued it sounds better for it in some
ways. His renowned signature rasp sees him attack his vocals with the
renewed energy of a vocalist half his age! Meanwhile the engine room of
Dave McCluskey on drums coupled with Nick Mailing’s bass has helped propel
the band to a new level of quality; the years of playing and recording
together is obvious, something you can only get with a regular line-up.
Dave’s drums feature more prominently on this album, maybe due to the harder
edge Spike had promised this time around.
As before, the band have produced the
album with Martin Ekelund of Bonafide and once again, he’s managed to get
the best out of them. Promising “no ballads” this time around seemed like a
weird prospect for a band like The Quireboys, especially when some of their
best songs fall into that category, but at no point do you wish they’d drop
a gear and include a sequel to “I Don’t Love You Anymore”. Their raucous
sing-along anthems will always come to the forefront, and it’s easy to pick
out which will be the live favourites.
There’s no band more deserving of their
renaissance than The Quireboys. Churning out 4 albums in as many years,
coupled with relentless touring schedules, this is a band you can never
accuse of being lazy or turning in a bad performance. You’ll be hard-pushed
to find a harder working band at this time, and long may they continue.
Torn and Frayed
Gracie B, Pt. 2
Life’s a Bitch
Meat Loaf talks stage collapse, new album and musical
Meat Loaf is shown on stage in this June 12, 2007, file photo. (AP
London (AP) – Meat Loaf made
headlines when he collapsed on tour, something which surprised him more than
the actual fall.
That was June and the international
interest still astounds him.
“What floored me was the fact that it
literally went around the world,” he says.
“I did an interview with a woman from
Japan and that was her first question. Then I did an interview with someone
from Thailand and that was their first question. I finally said, ‘There’s a
lot more to report about in the world than me falling down on the stage in
The reason for the fall, he says, was
“We don’t have the kind of show where
we play a song, the singer goes back and gets a drink of water or whatever.
The music never stops and so I have very little chance to get back.”
His new album “Braver Than We Are” is
out this month and features old and new songs written by Jim Steinman. It’s
the latest collaboration from the partnership which started over 40 years
ago and includes 1977’s “Bat Out Of Hell” and “Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into
In an interview with The Associated
Press, Meat Loaf talked about the legacy of the “Bat” albums and the
ON THE COLLAPSE
“It was dehydration. That’s all it
was. ... I don’t remember being scared. ... I kind of woke up on stage, but
I don’t remember what was going on.”
ON WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF HE DIED ON
“I have a plan if I die. The band
plays, ‘When the Saints Go Marching In,’ and then they all get off their
instruments and they lead the audience in a song, ‘Take Me Out To The Ball
Game.’ And if it was too morbid to leave me on the stage, take me off the
stage and still do the same thing.”
ON THE “BAT OUT OF HELL” MUSICAL
“That has been Jim Steinman’s dream,
before he met me. And that’s what ‘Who Needs The Young’ (opening album
track) was written for. Every song that Jim Steinman has ever written has
been for this musical. I won’t give anything away but I’m just happy that
my friend and someone who I love dearly and have worked with for over 40
years is finally seeing his dream come true.
ON THE NEW ALBUM
“Every album I’ve ever done; get a
song, record it, done — down the line. But with this one, we wanted it to
be cohesive. I tried to never finalize a song so that it flowed right to
the next one so it’s a very hypnotic record. It also fits in the same
category as ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ — nothing like ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ — but there
is nothing else out there in the world musically like this piece of music.
ON HIS SENSE OF HUMOR (AND WHETHER
PEOPLE GET IT)
“They don’t because, take a song like
‘Bat Out of Hell’ — it’s really silly. That I’m dying in the bottom of a
pit in the blazing sun, torn and twisted. It’s funny. If you’re doing a
comedy, you have to play that character real and the minute you go for
comedy, it’s never funny. So on songs like ‘Bat,’ you have to be honest and
you have to be truthful and you have to be in that moment so it works.”
“We will get this (pinched nerve in his
back) taken care of and then we will sort out the tour dates.
(On tour), I’m really disciplined.
After a show I try not to talk. Days off I don’t talk. I never leave my
room. I stay by myself most of the time. Frances (his assistant) - her
ritual is at 4 o’clock in the afternoon she comes in and checks on me, on a
day off, like a nurse in an old folk’s home.” (He laughs)
AC/DC’s Cliff Williams quits;
group’s 4th exit since 2014
bassist Cliff Williams (left) and guitarist Angus Young pose for a portrait
in this Nov. 13, 2014 file photo. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Invision/AP)
Philadelphia (AP) — AC/DC is
losing another member.
Bassist Cliff Williams announced his
departure from the group in a video posted on the band’s YouTube channel
last week, the same day the group wrapped up its “Rock or Bust” tour in
Williams says he’s “just ready to get
off the road” and needs more time for family and to “chill out.”
Williams is the second AC/DC member to
depart the band this year and the fourth since 2014. Lead singer Brian
Johnson stopped touring in March amid concern about hearing loss. Guitarist
Malcolm Young retired due to health reasons in 2014 and drummer Phil Rudd
left the band that same year amid drug charges.
Williams says the departures didn’t
play a part in his decision to leave the group.
Sting appears at Utah production of his Broadway musical
Salt Lake City (AP) - Sting got
to see his defunct Broadway musical “The Last Ship” set sail once more in
The Grammy-winning singer and
songwriter popped up last week at a Salt Lake City theater which began
staging the show earlier this month.
The Deseret News reported that
Sting spoke during the curtain call, thanking the director, choreographer
Running through Oct. 1, the Utah
staging is the first since “The Last Ship” closed on Broadway in January
2015 after only a few months.
Sting wrote the songs for the musical,
a semiautobiographical story about a prodigal son who returns to his
northern England shipbuilding town and finds the workers are now unemployed.
The musician even joined the Broadway
cast for the last two months of production.
Update September 24, 2016
Film Review: ‘Don’t Breathe’ is a well-plotted, thrilling trap
is shown in a scene from “Don’t Breathe.”
(Gordon Timpen/Sony/Screen Gems via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - To all you
Detroit-area robbery crews, we should probably warn you right away: It’s
just not a good idea to pick 1837 Buena Vista Street for your big — and
final — score. Take our word for it, walk away.
Sure, it sounds like an easy hit. The
address is a home in a run-down section of the city, so there’s nobody
around. The house is kind of moldering, too. And, yes, the owner is an old
blind man living alone who apparently has a fortune stashed somewhere. But,
listen, let this one go.
You won’t? Fine. Then beware, you are
walking into the well-plotted trap of Fede Alvarez, who made his Hollywood
debut with the reboot of the horror classic “Evil Dead,” and returns here
with “Don’t Breathe.” It pits a team of inept burglars against a homeowner
who fights back. In that sense, it’s kind of like a twisted “Home Alone”
This isn’t a gore-fest or a flick that
relies on the supernatural. It’s more a thriller wedded to a horror film.
Our trio of would-be predators quickly becomes hunted by the surprisingly
spry old man, who happens to be a military veteran and comfortable with all
sorts of weapons. Oh, did we mention his rather nasty dog?
Written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues,
“Don’t Breathe” is almost a throw-back to older horror films. It’s
meticulously planned and thrillingly satisfying with a camera always a step
ahead — if you see an array of sharp tools near the beginning, bet on them
being used at some point. Roque Ba๑os’
discordant soundtrack manages to capture dread beautifully.
The set-up stars three young Detroiters
— a brutish Daniel Zovatto, his lovely girlfriend Jane Levy and their smart
friend Dylan Minnette. They have bought into that cliche that somehow makes
robbers less villainous — one last job and they’re out.
“If we do it right, we never have to do
it again,” the young woman promises. That turns out to be correct, but not
in the way she means.
In their way is Stephen Lang, playing
the blind guy. He harbors a dirty little secret that the trio soon uncovers
and most of the film is spent with everyone rushing about in his
claustrophobic home, filled with creaky floorboards and more locks than a
Lowe’s. Everyone seems to die multiple times, even the dog.
The plot gets sort of ludicrous by the
end — right around the time Lang gets to start talking — but there were
moments at a recent preview where a pin could drop and make more noise than
one of the poor burglars trying to do what the movie title demands. You try
standing perfectly still while an annoyed vet aims a pistol in your general
So again, robbery crews are strongly
advised to avoid 1837 Buena Vista, but movie-goers hoping for a thrill might
like to visit. But don’t linger.
“Don’t Breathe,” Sony Pictures, Stage 6
and Ghost House release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “terror, violence, disturbing content and language including
sexual references.” Running time: 88 minutes. Three stars out of four.
Rick Parfitt exits Quo tour after major health scare
(right) of the band Status Quo has pulled out of this year’s summer tour
after suffering a heart attack.
Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt has
quit the band’s upcoming tour after narrowly surviving a heart attack this
The 67-year-old rocker suffered his
third heart attack back on 14th June following Quo’s gig at Expo 2016 in
Antalya, Turkey and immediately pulled out of the band’s summer touring
commitments while he recuperated.
Now, doctors have advised Rick to take
the remainder of the year off, meaning he will sit out the band’s Last Night
of the Electrics tour which begins in Vienna this October and hits the UK in
The band’s manager Simon Porter said
that Rick had technically died for three-and-a-half minutes in Turkey while
doctors fought to save him.
“Although Rick is recovering well and
is now able to lead a relatively normal day to day life, he is far from
being fit enough to undertake the rigours of Quo’s touring schedule,” Porter
“Perhaps now is the time to reveal that
Rick actually ‘died’ for several minutes directly following his heart attack
which resulted in mild cognitive impairments for which he continues to
receive neuropsychological support.
“His medical team continue to be
confident of a full recovery, but Rick’s absolute priorities for the
foreseeable future are for his health and well-being and to be able to see
his eight-year-old twin children Tommy and Lily grow up.
“To this end, Rick may well have
performed his last show with Quo, but no final decision will be made until
next year. Regardless, it is his wish that the band continue to tour as
planned and he will always be a part of Quo’s numerous other off stage
Status Quo’s tour will continue with
guest musicians standing in for Rick until the end of the year.
Speaking to Sky News, Rick said: “I did
actually die. I died for about three-and-a-half minutes apparently and they
had to resuscitate me, pump me for half an hour or so.
“And when I did eventually come round,
my body was literally black and blue.”
Speaking of the dangers of performing
live, Rick added: “I’m just aware of the nervousness I get before I go on
stage. It does pump your heart slightly when you start to pace up and down
the room, and you’re about to go in front of thousands of people. Obviously
it’s going to have some effect on you.
“I do not want to tax myself in any
way. I’ve been told medically not to. So whether it’s a full gig or a
cameo, I’d still get fairly nervous and I do not want to get out on stage
and drop dead in front of the fans. I do not want to do that.”
Despite his ill health, Rick has vowed
to use his recovery period to write songs for a new solo album, which he is
planning to record in early 2017.
‘Hands of Stone’, an intimate portrait of a boxer
professional boxer Roberto Duran (left) and actor Edgar Ramirez, who plays
Duran in the film, pose together at the U.S. premiere of “Hands of Stone” at
the SVA Theatre on Aug. 22, in New York. (Photo by Evan
New York (AP) - From a building in
Manhattan’s midtown, Roberto Duran and Edgar Ramirez can see Madison Square
“The Garden, many good memories,” says
the Panamanian about the New York arena where he won two world titles: the
first of his successful career in 1972 and his third in 1983.
At 65, Duran’s energetic personality
remains intact, telling anecdotes and making jokes just as he used to do at
the height of his career as a bruising, head-on boxer.
Ramirez, 39, is impressed by the
physique of the man he portrays in “Hands of Stone,” a film that bears the
nickname of the athlete who fought 119 bouts in five decades.
“Roberto, you’re lean, you’re in
shape,” says the Venezuelan actor. Duran is happy with a regime that has
helped him stay fit and new fitness equipment he just acquired.
Filmed in Panama and New York, the
movie by Venezuelan writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz tells the story of a
boxer that emerges from extreme poverty to reach fame and fortune. It shows
the rivalry between Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard, portrayed by Usher,
including their two bouts for the welter title in 1980.
Thirty five years after starring as
Jake LaMotta in Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” Robert De Niro plays Ray
Arcel, Duran’s septuagenarian trainer. And Panamanian actor and salsa star
Ruben Blades plays Carlos Eleta, Duran’s manager.
For “Hands of Stone,” Duran served as a
mentor to Ramirez, a boxing novice when he was offered the part. The star
of “Carlos” and the newer “Point Break” wanted to learn how to fight.
“I had never boxed before, I knew
nothing about this. I moved to Panama to start the process and Roberto and
his children looked after me, they were my first trainers,” Ramirez said in
a recent interview. “It is a very intimate, warm movie. In the end, we all
became good friends and we still are. To me, it was very important to learn
how to fight, to understand boxing from my own point of view, before going
into Roberto’s skin.”
For Duran and Ramirez, this is not just
another boxing movie.
“Boxing is always in fashion, you can
always talk about boxing,” says the champion.
And although “Hands of Stone” sticks to
the conventions of this kind of movie — a boxer goes rags-to-riches, reaches
stardom, falls and finally redeems himself — Ramirez and Duran believe that
the story engages the viewer by showing the psychological aspects of the
“We are not only talking about boxing.
We are talking about this person’s life,” Duran said in the interview.
“It’s about how you got to the top. The hunger you suffered, the sacrifices
that you made. The thefts, ... The friends that I call ‘the bloodsuckers,’
those that exploit you and rob you.”
There is a moving scene when Arcel,
working Duran’s corner, wipes the hair from the boxer’s face in a fatherly
gesture. The reason, Duran said, was that his long hair prevented him from
seeing his opponent’s punches, but at the same time it served as a ruse.
“It had to do with the strategy,”
Ramirez said. “Every time, when he returned to fighting after each round.
And if his hair was combed this obviously gave the opponent a sense of
“When we think about boxing movies,
many people classify them as sports movies, but this is a drama. It is a
film that talks about how you win and how you lose in your head,” the actor
The film is being promoted as the
“biggest” Latin American production. Except for the fights choreographer
and the costumes designer, the rest of the crew is Latin American.
This is the third real life character
Ramirez has portrayed, after terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez “El Chacal” in
Olivier Assayas’ “Carlos” and Simon Bolivar in “The Liberator.”
“I’ve had the fortune of coming across
wonderful characters like Roberto Duran,” Ramirez said. “What caught my
attention is that he’s more than an athlete. Beyond his victories and his
titles, it’s what he represents in terms of identity to Panama and to Latin
America and how Roberto has been accompanied in his greatest and most
important moments, unifying, consolidating, binding together the identity of
a country. Those themes are also present in this movie.”
“Every time Roberto climbed into the
ring, he was not fighting alone against an opponent; he had a whole country
backing him, supporting him.”
Justin Timberlake up
for working with
ex Britney Spears
Timberlake and Britney Spears are shown together in this Feb. 10, 2002, file
photo. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)
Toronto (AP) - A musical reunion
between Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears could be in the works after the
singer said he’s up for collaborating with his ex-girlfriend.
Spears said “Justin Timberlake is very
good” last month while discussing whom she would like to work with one day.
Timberlake, 35, said in an interview with The Associated Press that he would
“be open to talking about” working on a song with Spears.
“It seems like a crazy idea, so I don’t
know. I have a 17-month-old,” he said, laughing. “I don’t know anything.
But yeah, that’s very flattering and could be something fun.”
Spears, 34, and Timberlake were
castmates on Disney’s early 1990s version of the “Mickey Mouse Club.” They
dated for three years before breaking up in 2002.
New film shows how
The Beatles helped fight segregation
Paul McCartney (right) and Ringo Starr pose for photographers upon arrival
at the World premiere of the Beatles movie, Ron Howard’s ‘Eight days a
week-the touring years’ in London, Thursday, Sept. 15. (AP Photo/Kirsty
London (AP) — Music aside, the true
power of The Beatles wasn’t the volume of their fans or the popularity of
their hairstyles — it was the pull of their politics.
The band’s refusal to play to
segregated American audiences in 1964 is one striking example explored in a
new documentary about the band’s tireless years on the road in the 1960s
before Beatlemania forced them to stop performing live.
Director Ron Howard mined archival
footage to reveal the Fab Four’s shock at being asked to perform for a
separated crowd for the film “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week — The Touring
Years .” The movie is now out in theaters in the United States and the U.K.
“We were kind of quite intelligent
guys, looking at the political scene and, coming from Liverpool, we played
with black bands and black people in the audience. It didn’t matter to us,”
“We played Jacksonville (Florida) and
we heard that the whites and the blacks were going to be segregated and we
just went, ‘Whoa, no. No way,’” he said. “And we actually forced them then,
which is very early on in the 60’s, to integrate. We actually even put (it)
in the contract.”
McCartney and Ringo Starr reflected on
their impact and the band’s overwhelming success during an interview last
week in Studio Two at Abbey Road Studio, where The Beatles recorded their
“When we first of all came in that
door, as young kids ... we weren’t even allowed up in the control room,”
McCartney said. “That was for the grown-ups. So we grew up here.”
“We all thought, ‘Wow, we can make a
record,’” Starr said. “That was the biggest deal in life at the time. And
we kept coming back and we made some really great music.”
The movie focuses on the years The
Beatles played live from June 1962 until August 1966, which saw them
performing 815 times in 15 countries.
Eventually the uncontrollable,
hysterical crowds of Beatlemania made touring impossible.
“It’s funny to say how it felt because
it was so crazy,” McCartney said. “We wanted to be famous. We wanted to do
well. We were doing what we really wanted to achieve and it was getting
better and better.”
“But it got out of hand and the story
is that, in the end, it kind of forced us off the road so we had to come
back to this studio and make ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,’” he
Those who saw The Beatles live probably
didn’t hear them as sound systems at the time couldn’t outplay screaming
The movie features re-mastered music so
audiences can actually hear the performances. A companion album, “The
Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl,” has also been released.
Now, the guys on stage can finally
listen to what they were playing.
Update September 17, 2016
Film Review: Eastwood’s ‘Sully’ stubbornly refuses to soar
shows Tom Hanks in a scene from “Sully.”
(Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - In “Sully,”
Clint Eastwood’s haunted and sterile docudrama of Capt. Chesley
Sullenberger’s 2009 landing of Flight 1549 on the Hudson, Eastwood has
drained away all the superficial, rah-rah heroism of Sullenberger’s great
feat, but he has also sucked the life out of it.
“Sully” is every bit an Eastwood
picture. Instead of the rush of euphoria that the “Miracle on the Hudson”
swept through a New York accustomed to only tragedy from the air, we get a
weary parable that, as Eastwood has often done, pulls the curtain away from
a celebrated public figure and reveals the inner trauma and sense of
responsibility that lies inside a regular man thrust into an unwanted
Sullenberger, played with typical
dignity and sensitivity by Tom Hanks, is not celebrated here with a parade
of a movie. He is beset by demons and anxieties, and the almost comically
harsh scrutiny of an aviation safety panel, which, relying on automated
flight simulations, believes Sullenberger could have safely returned to
LaGuardia or made it over the New Jersey shoreline to Teterboro.
Their snide, judgmental presence is
there throughout “Sully,” as they try to second guess his decision-making.
It’s an exaggeration. The film’s climactic grilling of Sullenberger at a
public hearing was referred to in news reports as “gentle, respectful and at
times downright congenial.”
But Eastwood and screenwriter Todd
Komarnicki working off of Sullenberger’s book “Highest Duty: My Search for
What Really Matters,” had to find drama somewhere. The entire flight lasted
less than six minutes. It was just 208 seconds from bird strike to the
How do you make a film out of mere
moments, handled with preternatural calm? Eastwood lingers in its
aftermath, as Sully remains holed in a Manhattan he has little love for.
The narrative is fractured, flashing backward and forward, into the pilot’s
past and occasionally into his nightmares. Hanks, white haired and subdued,
finds Sullenberger’s essence not in the miraculous but in the mundane: A man
just doing his job, not so unlike his “Captain Phillips.”
And though the film bears his name,
“Sully” is really a two-hander. With Sullenberger throughout is his
co-pilot Jeff Skiles (a top-notch Aaron Eckhart), his partner in flight and
on the ground. They huddle together in midnight runs and in testimony,
leaning on each other through the surreal media storm.
Eastwood moves slowly to the landing
but gives it its full due. Filmed on IMAX, his big, clear images
nevertheless remain somber — as does Eastwood’s own quiet score — in the
big, awaited moment. Nowhere is much of a sense of New York or the
cathartic relief that lifted the city.
Instead, “Sully” remains, stubbornly, a
refraction of Sullenberger’s interior, as filtered through Eastwood’s
elegiac lens. “I eyeballed it,” is how the pilot explains his intuitive
response, built up over 42 years of flying. It’s not hard to feel
Eastwood’s own identification with the man. He, too, is an old hand who
works quickly: workmanlike and instinctually, “eyeballing” it. You can
imagine Eastwood, too, up there on the stand responding to what computers
say he should have done differently.
“Life’s easier in the air,” Skiles and
Sullenberger agree. Eastwood, of course, does too. Only being aloft for
him is to be in the director’s chair, far from other concerns. His focus in
“Sully” is both its greatest attribute (this is, after all, a serious and
thoughtful film that sees a universally known event through a fresh
perspective) and the reason for its disappointing emptiness.
In testimony, Sullenberger criticizes
the simulators for “taking all the humanity of the cockpit.” Eastwood has
put it back in. But the story of Flight 1549 was bigger than that.
“Sully,” a Warner Bros. release, is
rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “some peril and
brief strong language.” Running time: 96 minutes. Two and a half stars out
Africa hosts Henri Matisse
exhibit for 1st time: ‘Perfect’
from the New Model School pose for a photo in front of a work by artist
Henri Matisse in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP Photo/Denis Farrell)
Johannesburg (AP) - The South
African schoolgirl leaned close to the Matisse painting.
“I like the blue and yellow of the
dress the woman is wearing. And then there is the bright red background,”
she said. “And the drawing of her face is simple but strong.”
For the first time, Africa is hosting
an exhibit devoted to Henri Matisse. The show in Johannesburg features more
than 80 works, including a painting that points to how the continent
inspired Matisse and his contemporary, Pablo Picasso.
The exhibit of bold line drawings and
vibrantly colored stencils also includes one of Matisse’s first drawings as
a student and one of his final paintings, the portrait described by the
student, completed shortly before his death in 1954.
“He collected many African art objects,
particularly masks and figurines from Central and West Africa,” said
Federico Freschi, dean of art at the University of Johannesburg and
co-curator of the show.
“Matisse also collected a number of
African textiles. He had a particular interest in textiles. So he
collected many Kuba cloths, for example, and also various North African
fabrics, particularly the sort of cotton appliqué
work that is well-known in Africa. And those things find their way into his
work in various ways,” Freschi said.
Because this is the first Matisse
exhibit in Africa, the show is broad in scope to allow space for learning
and engagement, Freschi said. Most of the works were loaned by the Matisse
Museum in Le Cateau-Cambresis , the town where the artist grew up. Others
came from the Johannesburg Art Gallery, the Matisse Museum in Nice , the
Matisse family and private collections.
One painting features a small African
sculpture, a carved wooden figurine that Matisse bought at a curio shop in
Paris in 1906. He brought the sculpture to a lunch at Gertrude Stein’s and
showed it to Picasso, who was fascinated by it, Stein later recounted.
Picasso soon collected African sculptures and masks, and many critics say
his interest in African art led to his development of Cubism.
Young artists at the Johannesburg
exhibit gathered excitedly around the plates from Matisse’s famed Jazz
“I like many of his paintings ... they
are so perfect,” said Shaunti Hlongwane, 15, who came with other students
from his art class at New Model School. “The colors, I love all of the
colors that he used, so he gave me many ideas when I want to paint.”
Students are meant to interact with
Matisse’s works, said Sibusiso Ngwenya, art facilitator at New Model
School. “We want to encourage the students to think about what they feel in
response to the art and then in response to create their own artworks and
their own performances.”
Ngwenya said he was especially pleased
to expose his students to Matisse. “His use of color, the line work. The
students look at it and they see simplicity and purity and it inspires
them. They think, ‘This is something I can do!’”
DiCaprio unveils climate change film ‘Before the Flood’
Leonardo DiCaprio arrives on the red carpet to promote the film “Before The
Flood” during the Toronto International Film Festival on Friday, Sept. 9.
(Michelle Siu/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto (AP) - Leonardo DiCaprio
has unveiled his climate change documentary “Before the Flood” at the
Toronto International Film Festival, saying the film is intended to “give
the scientific community a voice.”
The film was directed by Fisher
Stevens. It chronicles DiCaprio’s exploits around the globe to raise
awareness about climate change.
DiCaprio is a United Nations Ambassador
of Peace. He was greeted by fans outside the film’s premiere last week.
The Academy Award-winning actor says,
“We are truly at a turning point in history.” He says this issue “depends on
the education of the public and the evolution of our species to combat what
is the largest crisis we’ve ever faced.”
Stevens says the film’s release is
intentionally timed to the U.S. presidential election.
The film will air Oct. 31 on National
Goat polo, stick-wrestling,
bone-throwing at nomad Olympics
hold golden eagles for an eagle hunt during the second World Nomad Games at
Issyk Kul lake in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan, Sept. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Vladimir
Moscow (AP) — Olympic Games,
stand aside: the Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan recently hosted the
World Nomad Games, a competition where polo players ditched their mallets
and tried to catch a dead goat instead.
The Games, which opened on a
picturesque mountain plain in eastern Kyrgyzstan, brought together athletes
from 40 countries including Russia and the United States where nomadic
traditions are strong.
The World Nomad Games features such
unorthodox sports disciplines as eagle-hunting and bone-throwing. Arguably
the highlight of the most recent games was the horse-riding competition,
called Kok-boru, which dates back to when men used to hunt wolves that
preyed on their livestock. Fierce competition also took place in “stick
wrestling,” an event in which two competitors try to gain control of a small
Among the spectators was American
action-movie actor Steven Seagal, who claims part-Mongol ancestry.
“I was lucky to visit friends, who gave
me, as a special guest, the head of a ram to try, and then I was able to try
horse that was cooked for me. It’s fantastic,” Seagal was quoted as saying
by the state news agency Kabar. “This is what I eat and what I like.”
Barbara Ornelas, of the Native American
Navajo tribe, said she sees a connection between nomadic peoples.
“There is only one difference between
the people of Kyrgyzstan and my people — it is the language,” she said,
according to Kabar.
Jamaican ska pioneer
Prince Buster dead at 78
Prince Buster is shown performing in 2008. (Photo/Wikipedia Commons)
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP) — Ska
pioneer and Jamaican music legend Prince Buster died last week at age 78,
several years after suffering a stroke.
Born Cecil Bustamante Campbell in
Kingston, Jamaica in 1938, he became one of the island’s most revered
musicians as Prince Buster, performing and producing popular ska bands in
the 1960s including “The Vikings” and the “Folkes Brothers.”
Music was “his passion, his life,” his
wife said in a phone interview. “He built a studio in the home. Every
night he started music at about 3 or 4 o’ clock in the afternoon and about 3
or 4 at night is when he turned that off.”
A prolific musician, he recorded
thousands of records, including such hits as “Al Capone,” and “Judge
Dread.” He helped ignite the ska movement in England and later helped carry
it into the rocksteady era in the mid-1960s. During a ska revival in the
late 1970s, a group of British musicians named their band Madness after one
of his hit songs.
Prince Buster traveled extensively
while performing, and he loved to garden, bringing seeds back home from all
over the world. And he was a devoted husband at home, she said. They had
three children during their 47 year marriage, and he also fathered kids on
the outside, she said, adding that she didn’t know exactly how many.
Prince Buster couldn’t walk after a
massive stroke in 2009, but he could still communicate and travel. Ali said
he died at a Miami hospital on Thursday, Sept. 8 after suffering heart
Newly crowned Miss Japan proud of Indian roots
crowned Miss World Japan, Priyanka Yoshikawa, smiles as she speaks during an
interview in Tokyo, Wednesday, Sept. 7. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)
Tokyo (AP) - The newly crowned
Miss World Japan is hardly a typical Japanese woman. Being half-Indian is
only part of it.
Yoshikawa (left) rides an elephant in the Mekong River in Luang Prabang,
Laos. (Prianka Yoshikawa via AP)
Priyanka Yoshikawa, crowned last week
after outshining more than 6,900 other applicants, has a certificate in
elephant training, teaches English to children, enjoys kickboxing and
volunteers as a translator at medical meetings.
The 22-year-old is preparing for the
worldwide pageant in Washington, D.C., in November.
Being fitted for a couture gown for the
event is part of the program, but fashion plays a small role in Yoshikawa’s
And she doesn’t want to fit into any
She told The Associated Press that
being in a beauty contest is a way to achieve her ambitions: Go to
Bollywood, while pursuing her goal of building a children’s home in India.
A national debate was sparked in
largely homogeneous Japan last year when Ariana Miyamoto, a half-American of
African descent, was chosen Miss Universe Japan, another international
beauty contest. Miyamoto faced criticism that she doesn’t look Japanese
enough, even though she mostly grew up in Japan and speaks the language
So far, Yoshikawa has faced less
criticism. She says her victory is perhaps a sign that Japan is becoming
more tolerant of diversity.
“I think (being mixed race) is getting
more acceptable,” she said, citing her victory as the second in a row. It’s
a matter of “who can represent your country (best) and I think that’s the
answer,” she said after a fitting at a Tokyo dressmaker’s office and
discussing the design of her gown for the November event.
She did think about her identity at
length, but being called “hafu,” or half, a term in Japanese for people of
mixed-race, doesn’t bother her, though it sometimes has negative
connotations. Her roots have expanded her cultural experiences and
perspective, she said.
While traveling in Asia, she is often
mistaken as a local, while in Japan she is constantly scrutinized, Yoshikawa
said. Japanese people seem to have stereotypes of how Japanese, Asians, or
Americans should look. “I just let it go ... you can be anything now. We
are all the same human beings.”
Japanese with foreign roots or cultural
backgrounds have faced discrimination, though less so as global exchanges
prompt more international marriages. Mixed-race Japanese Olympians earned
medals for Japan at the Rio Games.
Yoshikawa, who has an Indian father and
a Japanese mother, grew up mostly in Japan but spent one year in India and
three years in America. She says living overseas gave her a broader
perspective, but that she still calls Japan home.
What struck her the most was a year in
Kolkata. As a 9-year-old girl, she saw her peers living in poverty, up
“That totally changed my life. If I
didn’t live in India, or India was not inside me or part of me, I don’t
think I would have been here talking as Miss World Japan,” she said.
“Living in India has changed everything, how I see the world, how I want to
live, my vision.”
After returning to Japan with her
family, cleanliness and safety here struck her again. She says the stark
difference inspired her to work for a change - to improve the lives of
children in India.
To help send her message out, Yoshikawa
hopes the elephant training license on her resume will catch attention
because, she says, there will be more mixed-race people in Japan and that
will no longer be a way to stand out.
The license, which she obtained in
Laos, is not just a decoration. She loves elephants, in part because of her
Indian roots, and can ride an elephant with a passenger on the back and can
bathe them. “That’s me, I can do that.”
Beyond Miss World, she wants to achieve
her ambitions in India - in Bollywood’s film industry and Kolkata.
“I would like to go into that
industry. I need to learn dancing and Hindi but yes, of course I love to
try anything,” she said.
named after Freddie Mercury on birthday
Mercury of the rock group Queen is shown in this 1985 file photo. (AP
London (AP) - Queen guitarist
Brian May says an asteroid in Jupiter’s orbit has been named after the
band’s late frontman Freddie Mercury on what would have been his 70th
May says the International Astronomical
Union’s Minor Planet Centre has designated an asteroid discovered in 1991,
the year of Mercury’s death, as “Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury.”
May, who has a doctorate in
astrophysics from Imperial College, London, says the newly named asteroid is
“just a dot of light, but it’s a very special dot of light” and recognizes
Mercury’s musical and performing talents.
Mercury, born Sept. 5, 1946, wrote and
performed hits including “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “We Are The Champions” with
Queen, releasing over a dozen studio albums between 1973 and 1991.
James Cameron talks ‘Avatar’ sequels, Cirque du Soleil show
director James Cameron speaks at a news conference announcing a new show by
Cirque du Soleil based on his movie “Avatar” in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The
Canadian Press via AP)
New York (AP) - The first
“Avatar” sequel is still years away from hitting movie theaters, but fans of
the blue-hued Na’vi can get their fix at a touring Cirque du Soleil show
that James Cameron helped create — without his having to reveal too much of
what’s up his cinematic sleeve.
Cameron, who plans four sequels
starting in 2018, served as a consultant on “Toruk — The First Flight,” a
stadium show that opened in Montreal in November last year and has since
toured North America.
The writer and director suggested to
the Cirque team things that the Na’vi might do or how they might think about
certain things, but said he largely let writer-directors Michel Lemieux and
Victor Pilon create freely.
“I was just a cheerleader on the side
with some pom-poms,” Cameron said this month when the show stopped in
Brooklyn. “Interestingly, left to their own devices, the Cirque guys
creatively wound up resonating very, very closely to the overall arc of the
The original 2009 film centered on the
conflict between humans and the blue-skinned alien race Na’vi of Pandora.
“Toruk” is named after the massive, dragonlike creatures from the film and
tells the story of two Na’vi warriors finding a series of sacred objects.
The action takes place on the planet
before humans make contact, thereby sidestepping the problem of how to
depict the 10-foot Na’vi. Now Cirque gymnasts, no matter how tall, can
shine. “If you want to see that explosive celebration of human movement,
they’re not going to be tall people,” said Cameron.
Cameron, always on the cutting edge of
tech, will shoot his sequels partially using a high 48 frame rate format and
said he appreciated the Cirque show employing 40 digital projectors to show
everything from lava to water.
He said that after seeing the stage
show, he might swipe some of the hairstyles and costumes for his films. He
also said the Cirque team never asked what was coming up in the sequels,
afraid of leaks.
The filmmaker has a history with Cirque
that includes being an executive producer and camera operator for the 2012
fantasy film “Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away.” He said he admires the way
the company promotes talent and keeps creative lines open.
“They empower and celebrate creativity
and empower the artist. It’s the exact opposite of Hollywood,” he said.
“It’s like the anti-Hollywood. If Hollywood were just more like that, I
think movies would be a whole lot better.”
Cameron said he hopes the first film
sequel can open at Christmas 2018 and then he’ll roll out each successive
movie every year after that. But Cameron said he would tweak the timetable
to ensure each film is released as closely as possible so there are no
lengthy delays. “Once you’re on that ride, you don’t want to get off,” he
The original 3-D “Avatar” film has
netted over $2.7 billion and Cameron pointed to its beauty and its overall
theme of protecting nature as reasons for its success. He noted that more
than half of all humans now live in cities and that we’re paving over all
“We’re all struggling with our own
nature-deficit disorder,” he said. “The angels of our better nature know
that what we’re doing is wrong, and I think ‘Avatar’ is just a way to
process that in a way.”
Update September 10, 2016
Film Review: Pet lovers will delight in ‘Secret Life of Pets’
image released by Universal Pictures, from left, characters Max, voiced by
Louis C.K., Duke, voiced by Eric Stonestreet, and Katie, voiced by Ellie
Kemper, appear in a scene from, “The Secret Lives of Pets.” (Illumination
Entertainment and Universal Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - Any pet owner
who’s imbued their furry or feathered friends with deep thoughts and
mysterious intentions will relate to the imagination behind “The Secret Life
It may not have the emotional resonance
of a Pixar movie, but with its playful premise, endearing performances and
outstanding score by Alexandre Desplat, “Pets” is fun, family (and
People’s favorite non-speaking
companions are brought to life here by Illumination Entertainment (the
studio behind “Despicable Me”) and given voice by an all-star cast that
includes Louis C.K., Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate and Albert Brooks.
Plot-wise, “Pets” follows the path
Pixar set with talking toys 20 years ago in “Toy Story”: Two would-be rivals
fighting for the love of their owner are forced to unite for a common cause.
Little terrier Max (C.K.) is the top
dog in the life of his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper), and a leader among the
other house pets in their New York City apartment building, including
neighbor Pomeranian Gidget (Slate), and the fat cat next door, Chloe (Lake
Bell). But his exalted position is threatened when Katie brings home a
giant, fluffy mutt named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Like Woody and Buzz, Max
and Duke are instantly at odds.
The rival pups are trying to sabotage
each other when they become separated from their dog walker and captured by
animal control. This sends them on an adventure into the animal underworld:
literally the underground headquarters of a bitter bunny named Snowball
(Hart) and his team of Flushed Pets. Abandoned by their former owners, their
motto is “liberated forever, domesticated never.”
Max and Duke try to fit in, but
Snowball soon observes, “You’ve got the scent of domestication all over
you,” and sends his army of rogue animals after them. At one point, the
little rabbit steals a bus.
Meanwhile, the other pets from Max and
Duke’s apartment building notice the two are missing and set out to find
them. Gidget, who has a not-so-secret crush on Max, leads a menagerie that
includes Chloe the cat, Mel the pug, Buddy the dachshund and a guinea pig
They enlist the help of Tiberius the
hawk (Brooks) and Pops (Dana Carvey), the wheelchair-bound basset hound who
knows every animal in New York.
Desplat’s jazzy, energetic score
amplifies the urgency and excitement as the chase continues through the
city, and clever animation highlights the quirkiness of animal behavior.
Though the characters in “Pets” are entirely anthropomorphized — they speak
English and can operate electronics — they retain some recognizable
animalism. When Pops wants to shut down one of his famous parties, for
example, he turns on the vacuum cleaner. Dogs in hot pursuit of their
friends are suddenly distracted by butterflies. And Buddy’s movements are
especially amusing, as he navigates his elongated dachshund body around
corners and down stairs.
It’s fun to imagine what pets get into
when no one is home, and “Pets” does a great job of taking that idea to an
extreme. And you thought Fluffy and Fido just spent the day napping.
“The Secret Life of Pets,” a Universal
Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America
for “action and some rude humor.” Running time: 91 minutes. Three stars
out of four.
MPAA Definition of PG: Parental
guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
J.K. Rowling’s Potter world roars back to life
Rowling is shown in this July 30, 2016 file photo. (Photo by Joel
New York (AP) - The pop culture
juggernaut of J.K. Rowling’s Potter-mania appeared to be breathing its last
gasp when the eighth film in the series, part two of “Harry Potter and the
Deathly Hallows,” made its premiere amid teeming throngs of bittersweet
Potter fans in London’s Leicester Square in 2011.
Wands went into their cases. Hogwarts
scarves were hung up.
“When ‘Potter’ finished, I thought that
was it,” says producer David Heyman, who oversaw the movie adaptations from
the start and has since produced “Gravity,” ‘’Paddington” and other films.
Director David Yates, who helmed the final four Potter movies, staggered
away for a much-needed holiday.
“I wouldn’t have imagined that I’d come
back so quickly,” says Yates. “But it was the script that pulled me back
The script was “Fantastic Beasts and
Where to Find Them,” and it, unlike all the Potter films, was penned by
Rowling herself. Based on Rowling’s 2001 book, which was framed as Harry’s
Hogwarts textbook, “Fantastic Beasts” is set in Rowling’s familiar, magical
world, but takes place 60 years earlier, in a more adult 1926 New York where
wizards and Muggles (called “No-Majs,” as in “no magic,” in America) live in
This fall, Rowling’s US$7.8 billion
film franchise will roar back into life, resurrecting one of the most potent
and lucrative big-screen sensations. It’s a two-pronged attack. While
“Fantastic Beasts” is reaching back into the past of Rowling’s Potter world,
the two-part West End play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (only
co-written by Rowling) is going into the future. It moves the tale 19 years
ahead of where the books left off.
Authorship, timelines and casts may be
extending in new directions, but the old obsession is still goblet-of-fire
hot. The script of “Cursed Child” sold two million copies in two days.
Big expectations naturally also
surround “Fantastic Beasts” (Nov. 18). For Warner Bros., which has endured
sometimes rocky times in the intervening non-Potter years, it’s a happy
reunion. In today’s constantly rebooting, ever-sequalizing Hollywood, did
you really think Rowling’s world was finished?
“This isn’t Harry Potter. There aren’t
Harry Potter characters in this,” says Heyman. “But there is connective
tissue. To (Rowling), it’s part of one big story.”
That connective tissue, like a prequel,
will grow more pronounced in coming “Fantastic Beasts” installments,
eventually leading close to Harry, himself. A trilogy is planned, with the
next chapter going into production next July. Less diehard fans should
prepare for some very hardcore nerding-out by Potter fans as they trace
illuminating hints in the tale’s history.
Eddie Redmayne stars as the bumbling
magizoologist Newt Scamander, the future author of the Hogwarts textbook.
Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler and Colin Farrell are among the many
supporting roles. The story about escaped magical beasts loose in a city
with anti-magic elements, the filmmakers claim, bears contemporary
“We in a time of great bigotry in
America, the UK and around the world,” says Heyman. “This context of the
story, while not political with a capital ‘P,’ is relevant in this time.
It’s an entertainment but it’s not a hollow entertainment.”
Along with the new cast and the hop
across the Atlantic, the biggest change is Rowling’s deeper involvement as
screenwriter. She’s also writing the next “Fantastic Beats” film.
“There were lots of things that
inevitably got left behind,” says Yates of forming the ‘Potter’ films. “In
this case, we’re working directly with (Rowling) and the material is pouring
out of her.”
“She’s a great writer and a quick
study,” says Heyman. “She approached it with incredible humility but at the
same time with the confidence of someone with boundless imagination. She
wanted to be as good as she possibly could at it.”
Rowling has written four adult novels
since the end of “Harry Potter,” but she has fully plunged back into her
most famous creation. While sometimes angering fans by the endless
tweaking, she has continued to mold her wizard world (announcing that
Dumbledore is gay, for example) and this month she released three short
“Harry Potter” eBooks, written partly from her online community Pottermore.
With a few twists, Potter-mania is again shifting into high gear.
“It’s a great universe to inhabit,”
says Heyman. “It seems like there’s an infinite amount you can do within
Black Eyed Peas reunite for new ‘Where Is
The Love?’ version
Los Angeles (AP) — Black Eyed
Peas are reuniting after a five-year hiatus for a new rendition of their
song “Where Is The Love?” aimed at ending gun violence.
“Where Is The Love?” was originally released in 2003
and reached No. 8 on the Billboard singles chart.
Black Eyed Peas members will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo and
Fergie are joined by such performers as Jamie Foxx, Ty Dolla $ign, Mary J.
Blige, Justin Timberlake and Jaden Smith for the song.
A statement says the song and accompanying video “calls
for calm, asking citizens of the world to stop the hate and violence that
has resulted in many lives lost.”
The proceeds for “#WHERESTHELOVE” will go to the
foundation of will.i.am’s i.am.angel.
The charity funds educational programs and college
Dubai opens massive Marvel-branded indoor theme park
shout as they experience the Powerpuff Girls - Mojo Jojo’s Robot Rampage
ride at the IMG Worlds of Adventure amusement park in Dubai, United Arab
Emirates, Wednesday, Aug. 31. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Dubai, UAE (AP) - As summer
temperatures soared outside, the world’s largest indoor theme park,
featuring popular Marvel and Cartoon Network-branded rides, opened its doors
to the public last week in the Middle East’s tourist hub of Dubai — the
latest in a myriad of new attractions here.
The first visitors at the 1.5 million
square-foot (140,000 square meters) park reflected the diverse crowds that
visit and live in Dubai, home to the world’s tallest skyscraper, the Middle
East’s largest mall and a man-made island in the shape of a palm tree that
is dotted with luxury hotels.
Saudi women dressed in abayas, the
traditional loose black robes, and full face-veils, rode alongside tank-top
wearing British tourists and Indian families on the park’s roller coasters
Several families with young children
complained that some of the rides stalled. Others said they were thrilled
by the adventure park’s indoor boulevard, which leads visitors through
Marvel and Cartoon Network zones, a “Haunted Hotel” and a Lost Valley
Ali al-Subai, a visitor from Saudi
Arabia, said he was happy the Gulf region has a place like this to visit
during the summer. The 26-year-old said he visits Dubai at least four times
a year and hopes his country too can one day open similar theme parks.
“It’s very, very nice. Better than I
imagined,” he said. “We wish for this in Saudi Arabia — the rides, the
The adventure park is one of two major
theme parks opening this year in Dubai, part of an effort to attract 20
million tourists annually by 2020, when the emirate is to host the World
Teens Abdullah Jameel and Sultan
al-Suweidi, both from Dubai, said they enjoyed the park more than Universal
Studios in Singapore. They said the IMG Worlds of Adventure park wins
because of shorter lines and more exciting rides.
They beamed after riding the
Velociraptor roller coaster, which swoops through the indoor park, then juts
out into the Dubai desert before going back inside. Another main attraction
is the Predator roller coaster, with its sharp, vertical drop.
The park aims to attract up to 30,000
visitors on peak days. Along with its 22 rides and attractions, the park
offers visitors 25 retail outlets and 28 food and beverage outlets that are
expected to contribute to nearly a quarter of the park’s overall revenue.
Despite thrills at every turn, British
tourist Tariq Collins said the entry ticket cost of 300 dirhams ($82) for
adults and 250 dirhams ($68) for children was “a bit pricey.” He said there
were not as many attractions for his five-year-old daughter as he’d hoped
there would be.
“Apart from that, great. Very nicely
done,” he said, before adding that some of the rides were not working.
The park’s Chief Executive Officer
Lennard Otto said this is not uncommon in the theme park industry.
“No theme park today, whether it’s
Disney or Universal, has 100 percent upkeep time on their rides,” he said.
“Rides will break (down). They’re the same as any other technology. The
key for us is to try and manage the experience after that.”
Otto said the park plans to add five
more attractions in the coming five years. It’s “definitely a new feather in
Dubai’s cap,” and helps fill a gap in the Gulf market for quality
entertainment destinations, he said.
Film Review: ‘Pete’s Dragon’ (pleasantly) stays earthbound
released by Disney shows Oona Laurence as Natalie (left) and Oakes Fegley as
Pete (right) with Elliot the dragon, in a scene from “Pete’s Dragon.”
(Disney via AP)
New York (AP) — After an
exhausting summer buffet of set pieces, superheroes and whatever s-word you
might use for “Suicide Squad,” the gentle “Pete’s Dragon” is a welcome
palate cleanser. Where other summer movies are chest-thumping, it’s quiet;
where others are brashly cynical, it’s sweetly sincere; where others are
lacking in giant cuddly dragons, “Pete’s Dragon” has one.
Few may remember the 1977 Disney
original, in which a young boy’s best friend was a bubbly dragon invisible
to others. As part of Disney’s continuing effort to remake its animated
classics in live-action, “Pete’s Dragon” has been confidently reborn as an
earnest tale of green-winged wonder.
David Lowery, a veteran of the
independent film world and the director of the lyrical crime drama “Ain’t
Them Bodies Saints,” inherits a far bigger film. But his “Pete’s Dragon”
still maintains the homespun feel of an American fable. Spielberg-light,
you might call it.
The film begins, in the “Bambi”
tradition, in parental tragedy. Pete’s family is driving through a remote
Pacific Northwest forest with Pete nestled in the backseat of the station
wagon, reading a children’s book about a dog named Elliot. A deer sprints
out and, in poetic slow-motion, the gravity of the car’s interior is
upended. The car flips off the road and Pete staggers from the crash.
Flashing forward six years, Pete (Oakes
Fegley) is a wild 10-year-old orphan living in the woods alone except for
his magical companion, the dragon Elliot. As far as CGI creatures go,
Elliot is an irresistible one. Furry as a fairway, he’s like an enormous
emerald-green puppy. Far from the “Game of Thrones” dragon variety, he’s
more adept at chasing his own tail than breathing fire.
He’s also the subject of local
folklore, mostly as told by Robert Redford’s wood-carving storyteller. But
it’s his forest ranger daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) that first
encounters Pete and ultimately leads to the dragon’s discovery.
Grace coaxes Pete back into society and
into the fold of her family. She has a daughter, Natalie (Oona Laurence)
and lumber mill-running husband Jack (Wes Bentley). It’s the push by a
logging company — where Jack’s brother, Gavin (Karl Urban) is a gun-totting
lumberjack — into the forest that simultaneously begins flushing out Pete
and Elliot from their home in the trees.
The lush forest (New Zealand, again,
subbing for North America) reigns over “Pete’s Dragon,” a tale scored with
soft bluegrass and exuding an environment-friendly love for the beautiful
and exotic splendors of nature. When competing interests come for Elliot,
they are really fighting for the soul of the forest.
There are Spielbergian gestures here of
magic and family and faith, perhaps better orchestrated than Spielberg’s own
recent try at a Disney film, “The BFG.” But it’s missing a spark, a sense
of danger and maybe a little humor.
The lean simplicity of “Pete’s Dragon”
is its greatest attribute and its weakness. It doesn’t quite achieve
liftoff until the film’s final moments. But it does at last catch flight,
finally soaring beyond its humble folksiness.
“Pete’s Dragon,” a Walt Disney Co.
release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for
“action, peril and brief language.” Running time: 103 minutes. Three stars
out of four.
Actor Gene Wilder dies at 83
Wilder is shown in this Dec. 27, 1977 file photo.
(AP Photo/Richard Drew)
New York (AP) - Gene Wilder, the
frizzy-haired actor who brought his deft comedic touch to such unforgettable
roles as the neurotic accountant in “The Producers” and the mad scientist of
“Young Frankenstein,” died last Sunday. He was 83.
Wilder’s nephew said that the actor and
writer died at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, of complications from
Alzheimer’s disease. Jordan Walker-Pearlman said that Wilder was diagnosed
with the disease three years ago, but kept the condition private so as not
to disappoint fans.
Wilder started his acting career on the
stage, but millions knew him from his work in the movies, especially his
collaborations with Mel Brooks on “The Producers,” ‘’Blazing Saddles” and
“Young Frankenstein.” The last film — with Wilder playing a California-born
descendant of the mad scientist, insisting that his name is pronounced
“Frahn-ken-SHTEEN” — was co-written by Brooks and Wilder and earned the pair
an Oscar nomination for adapted screenplay.
“Gene Wilder, one of the truly great
talents of our time, is gone,” Brooks wrote in a statement. “He blessed
every film we did together with his special magic and he blessed my life
with his friendship. He will be so missed.”
With his unkempt hair and big, buggy
eyes, Wilder was a master at playing panicked characters caught up in
schemes that only a madman such as Brooks could devise, whether reviving a
monster in “Young Frankenstein” or bilking Broadway in “The Producers.”
Brooks would call him “God’s perfect prey, the victim in all of us.”
But he also knew how to keep it cool as
the boozing gunslinger in “Blazing Saddles” or the charming candy man in the
children’s favorite “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” His craziest
role: the therapist having an affair with a sheep in Woody Allen’s
“Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex.”
Tweeted Jim Carrey: “Gene Wilder was
one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If
there’s a heaven he has a Golden Ticket.”
Wilder was close friends with Richard
Pryor and their contrasting personas — Wilder uptight, Pryor loose — were
ideal for comedy. They co-starred in four films: “Silver Streak,” ‘’Stir
Crazy,” ‘’See No Evil, Hear No Evil” and “Another You.” And they created
several memorable scenes, particularly when Pryor provided Wilder with
directions on how to “act black” as they tried to avoid police in “Silver
Wilder wrote several screenplays and
directed five features, including “The Woman in Red” and “Haunted
Honeymoon,” in which he co-starred with his third wife, Gilda Radner. The
two met while making the 1982 film “Hanky-Panky” and married in 1984.
After Radner died of ovarian cancer in
1989, Wilder spent much of his time after promoting cancer research and
opened a support facility for cancer patients. In 1991, he testified before
Congress about the need for increased testing for cancer.
That same year, he appeared in his
final film role: “Another You” with Pryor.
Wilder worked mostly in television in
recent years, including appearances on “Will & Grace” — one of which earned
him an Emmy Award for outstanding guest actor — and a starring role in the
short-lived sitcom “Something Wilder.” In 2015, he was among the voices in
the animated “The Yo Gabba Gabba! Movie 2.”
Wilder is survived by his wife, Karen,
whom he married in 1991, and his daughter from a previous marriage,
Katherine, from whom he was estranged.
Beyonce wins MTV VMAs with
knockout 16-minute performance
arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards at Madison Square Garden on Sunday,
Aug. 28, in New York. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) - Beyonce took home the
most Moon Men last Sunday night — and she totally owned the MTV Video Music
The superstar brought the audience to
its feet with a show-stopping selection of songs from “Lemonade.” She wore
a floor-length white fur to sing “Pray You Catch Me,” then shed the angelic
overcoat to reveal a black bodysuit with lace sleeves and her sculpted
“If y’all came to slay, sing along with
me,” she said.
It was pure Beyonce (and her dancers)
on fire for 16 minutes as she cheekily sang “Hold Up” and “Sorry.” She
threw a different white fur over her shoulders and a snarl on her lip to
perform “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” She closed with her anthem “Formation,” her
dancers shaping the symbol for woman.
Beyonce won best female video for “Hold
Up” and “Formation” took the night’s top prize, video of the year, along
with awards for choreography, cinematography, direction and editing.
“I’d like to thank my beautiful
daughter and incredible husband for all of their support,” she said as she
claimed the evening’s final award. She also thanked the team of directors,
choreographers and other pros who helped her make “Lemonade.”
She dedicated her award to “the people
of New Orleans.”
“God bless you guys,” she said. “Thank
Measuring the fallout from a summer full of box-office flops
portrays the Hatter in a scene from “Alice Through The Looking Glass.” The
film saw one of the steepest drops ever from its predecessor. It made a
staggering $740 million less than the 2010 original. (Disney via AP)
New York (AP) - Hollywood’s
blockbuster machine frequently stalled and sputtered this summer, leaving
behind a steady trail of misbegotten reboots, ill-conceived sequels and
None of the movies that did poorly this
summer were the spectacular species of bomb: an out-of-leftfield disaster
like “The Lone Ranger.” The failures of “Ben-Hur,” ‘’Independence Day:
Resurgence” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows” were, to
most people who have seen a movie in the last decade, not exactly shocking.
Instead, the running theme was of big
movies not living up to the hype, for either moviegoers, critics or both.
“Suicide Squad” is one of the biggest
grossers of the summer with $577.6 million globally, but it and the previous
Warner Bros.-DC Comics film, “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” may have
left hundreds of millions on the table by not being better and more
Still, Warner Bros. — while vowing to
keep improving its DC superhero films — could celebrate a 39 percent uptick
from summer 2015, with successes like the comedy “Central Intelligence” and
the low-budget thriller “Lights Out.”
“It’s all about content and making the
best movies you can. That’s true in any period of time,” says Jeff
Goldstein, distribution head for Warner Bros. “The baby boomers are clearly
going to the movies. But the audience that’s a little harder to attract is
millennials. You have to come up with something they want to see and have
it be cool and different.”
One of the priciest bombs came from
Hollywood’s most bankable director. Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG” seemed a
surefire combination of director and material, but the Disney release hasn’t
made much more than its $140 million production budget globally.
“Alice Through the Looking Glass,”
opening on the heels of domestic abuse allegations against its star, Johnny
Depp, saw one of the steepest drops ever, compared to a predecessor. It
made a staggering $740 million less than the 2010 original.
And yet the North American box office,
according to comScore, is nearly equal to last summer. The industry
projects somewhere around $4.4 billion in ticket sales, making it one of the
highest grossing seasons ever (in today’s dollars). On the year, the box
office is pacing ahead of last year, despite the potholes along the way.
“Even in the midst of mixed results
from just about every studio, we’re still seeing some record numbers being
put up,” said Dave Hollis, distribution head for Disney. “Lots of reasons
to be excited, but there certainly have been some pauses momentum-wise.”
The overall numbers, however, obscure
the losses for many movies and several studios. While business is booming
at Disney, thanks to the likes of “Finding Dory” and “Captain America: Civil
War,” it isn’t so much at Paramount or Sony. The top three films of the
summer — “Dory,” ‘’Civil War” and Universal’s “The Secret Life of Pets” —
account for more than 25 percent of the box office. Out of 14 sequels this
summer (four more than last year), only three have outperformed their
“More of the same is not working and
that’s a pretty glaring problem for the studios,” says Jeff Bock, senior
box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. “This was a crop of rushed, bad
It’s not easy to sift through the
wreckage of the summer’s numerous whiffs, particularly since the definition
“a flop” is often debated. Few films bombed in North America more than the
$160 million video game adaptation “Warcraft,” but that film made oodles of
money in China — perhaps a sign of shifting international priorities.
The much scrutinized, female-led
“Ghostbusters” was hailed by Sony Pictures as a hit, even while its
lackluster performance doomed hopes for more installments from the cast and
director Paul Feig. Before “Star Trek Beyond” made its tepid arrival in
theaters, Paramount announced its plans for a fourth “Star Trek” film.
Wishful thinking or smart marketing?
Other disappointments offer more
clarity. Last month’s dismal opening of the big-budget “Ben-Hur” may have
cost Paramount $100 million and could signal an end to the resurrection of
the Bible epic. The 20-year-old “Independence Day” franchise, too, will
likely surge no more.
“Hollywood needs to find a balance
between ‘What are people really interested in?’ versus ‘We just want to make
a sequel to this because that first one made money,’” says Bock.
The temptation for executives to
quickly greenlight sequels is easy to understand. They remain by far the
most lucrative releases. All but two of the top 13 movies this summer (“The
Secret Life of Pets,” ‘’Central Intelligence”) are based on previously
But if summer 2016 stands for anything,
it’s that there may be a kink in the franchise formula. Quality has emerged
as a vital ingredient for audiences facing ever-higher ticket prices and
expanding home entertainment options. It’s no coincidence that the summer’s
biggest hit, “Finding Dory,” comes from an animation studio, Pixar, with the
most respected record of good moviemaking.
“The biggest lesson from the summer is:
Try to maintain a level of quality and not take it for granted that just
because something’s branded, a sequel, a known quantity, that’s it’s
automatically going to be a hit,” says Paul Dergarabedian, senior media
analyst for comScore. “You can’t have audience members leaving feeling
underwhelmed after they’ve spent their hard-earned money.”
Jennifer Lawrence tops Forbes list of highest-paid actresses
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
New York (AP) — Jennifer
Lawrence is a girl on fire — at least monetarily speaking.
The actress topped Forbes
magazine’s list of the world’s highest-paid actress for the second straight
year, banking $46 million thanks to her paycheck for the final “Hunger
Lawrence out-earned second-ranked
Melissa McCarthy with $33 million and Scarlett Johansson at No. 3 with $25
Together, the world’s 10 highest-paid
actresses tallied a combined $205 million between June 1, 2015, and June 1,
2016, before fees and taxes.
Acting is fine, but singing might be
better. Earlier this summer, Forbes released its annual list of the
100 highest-paid celebrities and Taylor Swift was on top with $170 million
and One Direction was at No. 2 with $110 million.
Mark Hamill supports
terminally ill ‘Star Wars’ fan
(Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - “Star Wars”
actor Mark Hamill is among those lending his support to a terminally ill fan
who wants to see “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” before he dies.
Hamill backed a social media campaign launched last
week by hospice worker Amy Duncan asking for the “Star Wars” spin-off to be
screened for illustrator Neil Hanvey from Oldham, England.
Duncan says the 36-year-old cancer patient was informed
by doctors in April that he has six to eight months to live. “Rogue One” is
set for release Dec. 16.
The film stars Felicity Jones and is set between the
third and fourth “Star Wars” installments.
“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” was screened for
terminally ill fan Daniel Fleetwood on Nov. 5. He died days after seeing
Music Review: Barb Wire Dolls: Desperate
I only got to hear about the Barb Wire
Dolls fairly recently, but after listening to this album several times, and
having watched a few of their super-charged videos, I am now truly
Seems like this album has been a while
in the making, as the original album “Slit” came out in 2012. The
band are a five piece outfit comprising vocalist Isis Queen, Pyn Doll on
lead guitar, Iriel Blaque on bass, along with Remmington on rhythm, and last
but by no means least, Krash Doll on drums.
“Desperate” is hard to define as
it doesn’t really fit in to any particular genre. It’s a cross between
classic old school punk and rock/metal, and should easily appeal to both
First up is “Drown”, an angst ridden
track, with the band crunching through the up-tempo pace, with vocalist Isis
in fine form. This song sets the pace for the rest of the album.
Next we get “Surreal” with a full
throttle guitar lead, setting the tone before the ever powerful vocals of
Isis kick in. This takes me back to the early days of Seattle Grunge and
the classic sound of the early 90’s, with hints of Nirvana. The track runs
at a fair pace that will have you bouncing about good style.
Old school heavy rock guitar leads into
the next track, “Take Me Home”. There are so many familiar sound bites on
this song it’s hard to pin them down, but with the stunning production it
sounds so fresh and the quality shines through.
“Heart Attack” gives a bow to a very
evident Sex Pistols style, a solid dose of old school punk will guarantee
future audiences jumping for joy, literally! Evidently there are not many
bands out there playing this style anymore? At least if there are, they
aren’t getting the attention they deserve. Hopefully The Dolls will set the
standard for a new wave of heavy/punk rock.
The title track, punk/rock number
“Desperate” showcases Isis’s laid back vocals blending in perfectly with the
solid guitar work.
“Blind to your Misery” has a slightly
gentler acoustic opener, which is soon shattered as Isis kicks in with her
blinding vocals, complemented beautifully by Iriel on bass. This track
rocks at a great pace, and is probably one of the standout numbers on this
“I will Sail” features the more soulful
side of Isis whilst the rest of the band rock out behind her, as she sails
away. This track showcases the diversity of the band, rocking out one
minute and then bringing us back down with a more mellow sound that still
retains the power that we expect from the Barb Wire Dolls.
“Darby Crash” smashes in old school
style, and is reminiscent of Siouxsie and the Banshees in places.
“Problem of the Poet” has all the band
going for it as we enter this track, with Iriel in particular standing out.
Isis reckons she doesn’t give a damn here but I reckon she does. I do
believe someone will come and save her soul with a voice like that.
So to the last track on the new album,
“Rhythm Method”, which sees the band sounding like a moody homage to early
UK punk with Isis stating that she does not want to sell her love, a
stunning end to the album.
This is a collection of tracks where
they have combined the spirit from their earlier work with singer Isis Queen
achieving a more laid back sound at times, but what helps this album to
stand-out are the guitar riffs from lead guitarist Pyn Doll, and with new
rhythm guitarist Remmington the band have a much fuller, tighter guitar
sound. This is a band happy with who they are and where they are, no airs
or graces what you see is what you get. No wonder they signed with
Motorhead Music, with Lemmy having such a similar ethos.
Here’s hoping for a long and lustrous
career for this exciting new band.
3. Take Me Home
4. Heart Attack
6. Blind To Your Misery
7. I Will Sail
8. Darby Crash
9. Problem Of The Poet
10. Rhythm Method
Appeal seeks to
overturn ‘Blurred Lines’ copyright verdict
(Photo by Robb D. Cohen/Invision/AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - Attorneys
for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams last week asked an appellate
court to overturn a copyright infringement verdict against them over the
2013 hit song “Blurred Lines.”
An opening brief filed with the 9th
Circuit Court of Appeal contends the case should never have gone to
trial and the verdict should be overturned, or a new trial ordered.
The case centered on whether Thicke
and Williams copied the Marvin Gaye hit “Got to Give It Up” for their
hit song, although jurors were only supposed to consider whether
“Blurred Lines” improperly copied notes from Gaye’s sheet music.
“What happened instead was a
cascade of legal errors warranting this court’s reversal or vacatur for
new trial,” the opening brief states.
Thicke and Williams’ filing
contends the judge presiding over a weeklong copyright infringement
trial gave jurors several improper instructions.
The trial ended in March 2015 with
jurors awarding Gaye’s family more than $7 million. The verdict was
later trimmed to $5.3 million.
“We obviously believe the jury and
district judge who confirmed the jury’s findings were correct in finding
infringement,” the Gaye family’s attorney, Richard Busch, wrote in an
email. “Many of these same arguments now contained in their opening
brief were raised and rejected by the district judge, and our own
opening responsive brief will contain what we believe will be very
strong replies to each and every point they raise.”
In addition to winning a
multi-million dollar judgment against Williams and Thicke, the Gaye
family also received a 50 percent interest in ongoing royalties from
“Blurred Lines.” The song was the biggest hit of 2013.
Branching out: Stick sculptor
gains global following
Patrick Dougherty bends a sapling while constructing a sculptural
installation “The Wild Rumpus,” from branches and sticks on the grounds
of the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, in Boylston, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven
Tracee M. Herbaugh
Boylston, Mass. (AP) - The
towering, whimsical shapes Patrick Dougherty creates by twisting and
weaving sticks together have gained him an international following.
Now, the artist who lives in a log cabin near Chapel Hill, North
Carolina, is back in New England to build two more of his almost
cartoon-like stick sculptures.
Since the early 1980s, Dougherty
has constructed more than 270 installations around the globe, from
Chiba, Japan, and Melbourne, Australia, to Honolulu, Los Angeles and
“A good sculpture is something that
causes people to have personal associations,” Dougherty said in a recent
interview. “It sparks all kinds of feelings about things in your own
His fans agree. They often say his
installations — soaring as high as 30 feet — conjure images of the
Garden of Eden, a bird’s nest or a walk in the woods.
Last week, the artist’s newest
installation was unveiled at the 132-acre Tower Hill Botanic Garden in
Boylston, Massachusetts, where visitors can walk the bucolic grounds
that border the Wachusett Reservoir and view the sculpture.
A second installation was
commissioned by the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, where
Dougherty will be the artist in residence. Construction there is set to
begin Sept. 4.
“The subtleties and nuances of each
site take a while to understand,” Dougherty said, describing his
creative process. “You want to build a piece that seems sympathetic and
something that people feel really compelled by.”
Dubbed “The Wild Rumpus,” the
installation at Tower Hill was inspired by wind whipping through four
hilltop spires on the grounds. A “flying wall,” as Dougherty calls it,
will weave through the spires with varying levels of height and width,
reaching 12 feet toward the sky.
In many ways, Dougherty’s success
at stick weaving happened by chance.
He began working in the medium to
repurpose discarded saplings along highways and beneath power lines that
were left by maintenance crews. He said his work pays homage to the
role of sticks in human culture: a child’s affinity for play with
sticks, or a tribute to our hunter-gatherer past.
“Sticks have an honored tradition
in human development,” he said. “There are still so many cultures
around the world that use sticks for basket weaving, fishing and craft
Other New England locations that
have showcased similar stick sculpture art include the DeCordova Museum
and Sculpture Park, the Peabody Essex Museum and Wheaton College, all in
Massachusetts; and Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Each project takes three weeks to
complete and generally lasts between two and three years, depending on
weather degradation. At Tower Hill, Dougherty’s installation marks the
30th anniversary of the garden and the 175th anniversary of the
Worcester Horticultural Society, the organization that founded and
oversees Tower Hill.
As with all of Dougherty’s
projects, he uses volunteers and site staff to help collect the
indigenous materials and construct the sculptures.
Tower Hill volunteer Nancy Degon,
69, from Auburn, Massachusetts, finds the impermanence of Dougherty’s
art work the most intriguing.
“That his art is so temporary is
interesting to me,” Degon said. “It’s a reflection on how life is in
general. Not everything stays here forever.”