Academy’s Full Monty, A Hit

Theatre and Meadville team up for bare-all comedy The first weekend of the Academy Theatre’s...

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LONDON (Reuters) - A restored World War Two Spitfire which was shot down over northern France in 1940 is expected to raise about $3 million for charity when it goes up for auction in London next week.

LONDON (Reuters) - Andy Warhol's "One Dollar", the first in his dollar bill series, fetched 20.9 million pounds ($32.4 million) at Sotheby's on Wednesday, the top-seller in what the auction house said was its highest ever total sales for an auction of contemporary art in London.

MADRID (Reuters) - French post-Impressionist Paul Gauguin's "Nafea faa ipoipo" (When Will You Marry?) painting, reportedly the most expensive painting ever sold, went on display at Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum on Friday.

LONDON (Reuters) - Harry Potter, the world's most famous boy wizard, is set to make his debut on the London stage next year in a new play called the Cursed Child which has been created in collaboration with author J.K. Rowling.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Aerialists descend in a giant chandelier and lift a guest back up with them, a showgirl leads an audience member back in time to a 1920s Parisian nightclub and actors single out guests for a mysterious experience yet to come.

Sports News

UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters) - Rush hour has a distinctive soundtrack in Utrecht.

UTRECHT, Netherlands (Reuters) - Dutchman Lars Boom will start Saturday's first stage of the Tour de France despite showing low levels of cortisol in a test on the eve of the race, his Astana team manager said.

(Reuters) - Suspended FIFA vice-president and CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb, already facing charges in soccer's global bribery scandal, has now been charged in a healthcare fraud case in his native Cayman Islands, local media reported on Friday.

(Reuters) - The United States tuned up for the Gold Cup with a 4-0 thumping of Guatemala in a friendly in Nashville on Friday.

VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The United States arrive at the Women's World Cup final battle-hardened and seeking revenge, while Japan enter Sunday's match determined to retain the trophy they denied the Americans four years ago.

Science News

(Reuters) - A Swiss man attempting to circumnavigate the globe with an aircraft powered only by the sun's energy landed in Hawaii on Friday, after a record-breaking five-day nonstop solo flight across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.

(Reuters) - A Swiss man attempting to circumnavigate the globe with an aircraft powered only by the sun's energy landed in Hawaii on Friday, after a record-breaking five-day nonstop solo flight across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off on Friday to deliver a cargo ship loaded with food, water and equipment to the International Space Station, breaking a string of launch failures, a NASA TV broadcast showed.

HONOLULU (Reuters) - A Swiss man attempting to circumnavigate the globe with an aircraft powered only by the sun's energy has broken a world record for the longest non-stop solo flight, the project team said on Thursday.

HONOLULU (Reuters) - A Swiss man attempting to circumnavigate the globe with an aircraft powered only by the sun's energy has broken a world record for the longest non-stop solo flight, the project team said on Thursday.

Movie Reviews

As districts are devastated above ground, other struggles rage underground. We’re not just talking Woody Harrelson’s straggly Games vet Haymitch Abernathy’s problems with “prohibition”, either. With her role beefed up from Suzanne Collins’ third and final Hunger Games novel, how can Elizabeth Banks’s future fashion grotesque Effie Trinket hope to look ab fab in a rebel hold-out with serious wardrobe issues?

Given Effie’s egregious situation, it’s a wonder she looks as presentable as she does. For Effie, read Mockingjay - Part 1. Even with the odds against him, returning director Francis Lawrence joins sturdy-handed writers Peter Craig (The Town) and Danny Strong (The Butler) to mount a rich, punchy, well-paced treatment of a tricky novel: an unlikely victory comparable to felling hoverplanes with arrows.

After all, the outcome was never certain. If Gary Ross’s first Hunger Games flick benefitted from lunging fast into the arena, Catching Fire repeated the trick and proved it stood repeating. Now that Katniss Everdeen’s revolt at Fire’s climax has pushed the future districts into a climate of unrest, countered by state oppression, there are no games to play but political ones. This time, it’s war? Yes, but for unwary viewers expecting the fun stuff of bonkers baboons terrorising teenagers it could just be a bore.

The issue of division is equally sticky. Tackling an already divisive novel with the divisive decision (see The Hobbit, Deathly Hallows) to divide it into two movies, the third and fourth Games films raise a question: how many divisions can a story take without collapsing?

But Part 1 holds up, mostly, with Jennifer Lawrence doing some proper heavy lifting. On the page Katniss initially lacks her old spark, a point flagged on screen by District 13 President turned rebel Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) when she tells rebel-leader Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), “This is not the girl that you describe.” As Plutarch and Coin slowly coerce Katniss into becoming a symbol for revolt against the venomous President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) decadent Capitol, the plot rests less on scraps than strategy; less on action than debates about how to start the action; and less on Katniss than the absence of the girl on fire. With heavy doses of recap and semi-meta stuff about making propaganda movies stacked on top, the focus shift threatens to distance viewers.

But J-Law tugs us in to Katniss’ fraught humanity, invoking memories of Aliens’ harrowed Ripley as she wakes from troubled sleep in District 13’s rebel base. (And yes, the ginger cat is here.) These layers of trepidation firm up Katniss’ position as a reluctant hero we can engage with, not a superhero: qualities rare enough in some A fiction, let alone YA fiction.

Francis Lawrence pushes YA boundaries further as Katniss visits districts decimated by Snow’s army, where streets spill with skulls. When Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a rag-tag propaganda film crew explore the devastated District 8, a makeshift hospital oozes with what censors like to call “injury detail”. If the reverence for Katniss among the wounded verges on cheesy, the rubble-strewn war-zone images and ear-bashing hoverplane attacks imbue Katniss’ subsequent big speech with a sense of high-stakes potency. As she “becomes” Katniss again here, Lawrence steers her fear and rage into air-punching “Get away from her, you bitch!” terrain.

If one particular District 8 atrocity seems torn from today’s headlines, the rebel debates about how to use the media as a weapon are equally, achingly of the now. But Mockingjay isn’t a course in Advanced Media Know-how: the two-part split provides the elbow room needed to flesh out a boosted character count. In his last bow, Hoffman invests Plutarch with weathered heft. Judiciously expanding the novel beyond Katniss’ perspective, added Coin-age benefits from Julianne Moore’s authoritative delivery. Good, no-nonsense ground-level support comes from Natalie Dormer’s Cressida, sort of Kate Adie with face tats.

Less successful is the decision to boost Effie’s role: like Derek Zoolander gate-crashing Fury to pimp a tank, she lightens the tone but draws sniggers. The vote’s still out (and probably out for good) on the narrative value of Gale’s charisma vacuum, though less is more for Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta. Seen largely through ambiguous TV broadcasts, his arc ranges smartly from turn-coat interviews with Stanley Tucci’s Capitol creep Caesar to well-administered shocks.

Even with the pace-dampening burden of time spent on Katniss visiting old haunts, Francis Lawrence makes up for the arena’s absence with punch-packing action jolts. The rebel assault on a dam is Lord Of The Rings-sized. Later, a tense night-time raid on the Capitol successfully splices sprawling effects work with grounding war-movie grit.

These beefed-up action beats are well integrated with Katniss’ viewpoint, especially when the Capitol incursion runs parallel to a tense vid-screen stand-off between two key verbal combatants. That poised weighting holds until the climactic cliffhanger, a better-paced send-off than the sudden drop that closed The Desolation Of Smaug.

Francis Lawrence faces more trials tackling Collins’ rushed finale in Part 2, but the two-film split could give him vital air, assuming he doesn’t go all Return Of The King on us. “I’m optimistic,” shrugs Plutarch at one point, facing a new dread. On the strength of this gutsy, considered rewrite of the Games’ rules, there’s reason to be.

Stills of Tom Hardy pursing his lips at a puppy might have made Twitter melt, but The Drop did well to change its title from Animal Rescue. This is no cutesy romcom or inspirational adventure but rather a downbeat, character-driven crime drama set in a squalid neighbourhood of Brooklyn. Facial stubble and handguns are de rigueur, for this, as the opening voiceover goes, “is where all the things happen that you’re not allowed to see.” Running bar for his Uncle Marv (James Gandolfini in his final big-screen role), Bob Saginowski’s (Hardy) life turns upside down when he’s robbed at gunpoint. The money belongs to the Chechen mob – they were using Marv’s bar as the drop point for their bookmaking business – and Bob and Marv need to get their hands on $5K fast. Enter Twitter’s favourite pup, found by Bob in a trashcan on his way home. The bin belongs to Nadia (Noomi Rapace), and the dog, it transpires, was stuffed there by her headcase ex Eric (Matthias Schoenaerts). Bob takes it home and begins a tentative friendship with Nadia, his actions inevitably met by sinister visits from Eric and an escalating tension that promises violence. The US debut of Belgian filmmaker Michaël R. Roskam (2011’s Bullhead), The Drop, based on Dennis Lehane’s short story, melds European sensibilities with the tropes of an American crime picture. The dilapidated setting and its hardscrabble inhabitants are observed with an outsider’s eye and an insider’s knowledge, while the narrative simmers rather than bubbles over like so many Hollywood thrillers. Gandolfini, in Nike tracksuit and leather jacket, is as tough and tender as ever, and a hesitant, slouching, mumbling Hardy evokes Stallone’s Rocky and Brando’s Terry Malloy – perhaps a little too consciously. Over-familiarity clings to The Drop, but it’s a crafted, admirable picture with a halo of hope around its melancholic heart – a melancholy deepened, of course, by Gandolfini’s passing.

With a title like The Imitation Game, you’d be forgiven for expecting a contemporary CIA thriller – rather than a carefully constructed character study of one of WW2’s largely unsung heroes. It’s centred on Alan Turing, the man responsible for cracking the Nazis’ Enigma cipher, thus helping end the war. Enemy dispatches, however, are not the only guarded secrets. Bletchley Park’s efforts to outthink the Germans’ most cunning device has been covered before in Michael Apted’s Enigma (2001), where Dougray Scott played a vague approximation of Turing. But this digs far deeper. Adapted by first-time screenwriter Graham Moore from the book Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, the story begins in 1952, several years after Turing’s moment of triumph, when the police (led by Rory Kinnear) investigate a suspicious break-in at his house. Benedict Cumberbatch swiftly and compellingly differentiates Turing from his other ‘genius’ roles – Stephen Hawking, Sherlock – though the latter flashes through when the narrative winds back to 1939, as Turing enters Bletchley for the first time. Arrogant and assured, he’s also uncompromising and unpopular, divorced from the Matthew Goode-led codebreaking team. When Turing demands to be put in charge, even petitioning PM Winston Churchill, it seems never in doubt that he’ll solve the riddle of the Enigma machine, a device that changes its settings every 24 hours to make detecting coding patterns nigh-on impossible. But this achievement, aided by Keira Knightley’s crossword-fanatic Joan Clarke and under the watchful eye of Mark Strong’s MI6 operative, is only part of The Imitation Game, which takes a darker turn with revelations that Turing is gay. The result is less a portrait of WW2 innovation than it is of a man drowning in secrets at a time when homosexuality was illegal. He even asks for Joan’s hand in marriage – but theirs was always more friendship than frisson. Given the frequent shots of Turing in training (he was also a marathon enthusiast), you’re left to wonder if he’s running from himself – or public censure. Director Morten Tyldum (Headhunters), essays the same attention to detail that fellow Scandinavian Tomas Alfredson brought to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. If The Imitation Game doesn’t emulate that film’s dazzling direction, it equally captures the texture of past British life and features a similarly exemplary Cumberbatch-inclusive ensemble. Only this time, he leads from the front, pouring body and soul into Turing. Cracking, you might say.

The world’s most influential film critic, the late Roger Ebert knew the importance of good direction. That Ebert chose Steve James to direct this exceptional documentary, based on his own memoir, says much about its subject’s character. Ebert always believed in cinema as a machine for generating empathy, citing James’ Hoop Dreams as a classic example. With full access to Ebert during the final months of his life, James brings the same insight here. Critical peers debate his legacy here: did Ebert’s famously populist, “thumbs up” approach to cinema dumb things down, or help to pioneer the internet’s renaissance in grassroots criticism? Meanwhile, directors like Martin Scorsese recount the double-edged sword of Ebert’s patronage: every good review a boost, every bad notice a blow. A truly rounded, complex character emerges, especially in the central relationship with TV show co-host Gene Siskel, Ebert’s equal and opposite. Yet, as the title suggests, there was more to Ebert than watching movies. James reveals parallel lives: the student editor who spoke out for civil rights; the rambunctious reporter nearly destroyed by alcoholism; the mischievous screenwriter behind Russ Meyer’s manic Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls. James follows each facet thematically as much as chronologically; the mosaic resembles not only Ebert’s beloved Citizen Kane but also the treasured jigsaw puzzle that provides a stand-out moment. Latterly, of course, there was Ebert the cancer sufferer, robbed of his voice but reaching new readers via his blog. Ordered by Ebert to show “the full reality”, James achieves an unvarnished, desperately sad portrayal of this once towering figure reduced to frailty and discomfort. Ebert eventually becomes too ill even to reply to emails – yet the film’s power lies in its use of archive footage, voiceover and even Ebert’s computerised speech translator to keep the writer’s voice alive.

The feature debut of Irish director brothers Rob and Ronan Burke, Standby is a gentle, funny rom-com for which the term ‘heart-warming’ might have been coined. Alan (Brian Gleeson, son of Brendan) lives a dead-end life, manning the tourist-info desk at Dublin airport, when back into his life swims Alice (Mad Men’s Jessica Paré), with whom he shared a brief romance eight years ago in New York. Her NYC flight’s not till the next day, so he offers her a night on the town – strictly on a platonic basis, of course. Ok, you can guess how it’ll end – but getting there is a delight.

CD Reviews

- Rian Evans

Cheltenham music festivalMarc-André Hamelin brought extreme virtuousity and vibrant resonance to his morning recital; Meurig Bowen’s celebration of Satie neatly encapsulated the surreal life of the troubled eccentric

Canadian Marc-André Hamelin has effectively defined himself by espousing the repertory of pianist/composers such as Liszt and Alkan and making the extreme virtuosity they demand look simple. In this Cheltenham music festival morning recital, it was this ease of technique that made his playing of Debussy’s second book of Images so fluid, with tone colours graduated to create a vibrant resonance.

Yet it was with Mozart and Schubert that Hamelin framed his programme. The Sonata in D major, K576, had super-slick passage-work throughout, with the F sharp minor heart of its central Adagio standing out for intensity of expression. The four Schubert Impromptus, D935, were similarly polished in delivery and a reminder of the indebtedness of all who followed to this composer’s example. Hamelin’s affinity with the later giants was manifest in two of his own compositions. In the Pavane Variée, receiving its UK premiere here, the theme appears with chorale-like dignity before getting the keyboard-fireworks treatment, while the Variations on a Theme by Paganini was both glittering homage and a panoply of humorous references.

Related: Erik Satie: a life less ordinary

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- Andrew Clements

Barbican, London

Krystian Zimerman’s account of Brahms’s D minor Piano Concerto combined technical perfection with astonishing energy; Rattle and the orchestra brought off the Dvorak that followed with tremendous panache

The London Symphony Orchestra could not have come up with a much better indication of what the future might hold in the Simon Rattle era than securing Krystian Zimerman as the soloist for the music director’s first concert since his appointment. Any performance by Zimerman is a special occasion, and these occasions have become even more precious over recent years as his appearances in the UK seem to grow less frequent. But as this unforgettable account of Brahms’s Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor showed, he and Rattle have forged a very special musical partnership.

The greatest interpreters make you believe you are encountering even the most familiar work for the first time, and Zimerman offered exactly that kind of journey of discovery through the vast span of the Brahms concerto. But this was not just a reading of the score in which every detail was deeply considered and immaculately presented. That technical perfection was only the starting point for a performance of astonishing energy and sometime ferocious intensity, with the central Adagio refracted through myriad keyboard colours to provide cooling respite, and Rattle following Zimerman every step of the way. There was some real pianissimo playing from the LSO too, and that’s something they’ve never contemplated under their current principal conductor.

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- John Lewis

Ronnie Scott’s, London

20-year-old Collier gave a staggering, unique performance. Sharing the bill, pianist Justin Kauflin’s obvious talent also impressed

When His Holiness Quincy Jones comes to the sacred temple that is Ronnie Scott’s to introduce two artists that he’s been mentoring, you’d expect a kind of papal blessing. What followed was more like the arrival of jazz music’s new messiah.

North Londoner Jacob Collier has just turned 20. He looks like a shy boyband member, can sing like an angel, beatbox like a pro, and spends his 40-minute set leaping between synths, Steinway grand, bass guitar, drum kit, melodica and percussion. But that’s barely the start of it. What’s remarkable is how he creates a digital one-man band using contemporary technology: multitrack recording, looping pedals, and a strange Vocoder-like program that enables him to sing audacious harmonies through a Novation keyboard, like a one-man Swingle Singers.

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- Sam Richards

Slim Twig | Janet Jackson | Once A Tree | Ill Blu ft James Morrison | Avicii

PICK OF THE WEEK

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- Michael Billington

Palace Theatre, Manchester This bold and ambitious reimagining of Alice in Wonderland for the online age boasts a score from the Blur frontman – but ends up a little oversaturated

Alice in Wonderland is a very obliging work of art. It is now the inspiration for this new digital fantasy that opens the Manchester International festival, with music by former Blur frontman Damon Albarn, book and lyrics by Moira Buffini and a production by Rufus Norris. It’s a big, bold, ambitious undertaking which grows on you, but the sumptuous visuals dominate the story and score.

Related: Adventures kick off in Manchester with Damon Albarn's wonder.land

Related: Curiouser and curiouser: Damon Albarn's wonder.land – in pictures

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Book Reviews

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE CONFESSION, by John Grisham2. WORTH DYING FOR, by Lee Child3. AMERICAN ASSASSIN, by Vince Flynn4. THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, by Stieg Larsson5. SIDE JOBS, by Jim Butcher

Top 5 at a Glance1. LIFE, by Keith Richards with James Fox2. BROKE, by Glenn Beck and Kevin Balfe3. EARTH (THE BOOK), by Jon Stewart and others4. THE LAST BOY, by Jane Leavy5. AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MARK TWAIN, VOL. 1, by Mark Twain

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson2. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson3. THE FINKLER QUESTION, by Howard Jacobson4. LITTLE BEE, by Chris Cleave5. CUTTING FOR STONE, by Abraham Verghese

Top 5 at a Glance1. THE LOST SYMBOL, by Dan Brown2. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, by Stieg Larsson3. THE RECKLESS BRIDE, by Stephanie Laurens4. THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, by Stieg Larsson5. 61 HOURS, by Lee Child

Top 5 at a Glance1. EAT, PRAY, LOVE, by Elizabeth Gilbert2. INSIDE OF A DOG, by Alexandra Horowitz3. STONES INTO SCHOOLS, by Greg Mortenson4. THE GLASS CASTLE, by Jeannette Walls5. THREE CUPS OF TEA, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin

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4th of July Fireworks Display for 2015

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