Concert to Benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to be Held at the Erie Playhouse

A Broadway-style concert to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society will be held at the Erie...

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - A stone's throw from dramatic street protests shaking central Beirut, art lovers gathered to celebrate the reopening of a museum of modern art which they hailed as a symbol of the Lebanese capital's resilience through conflict and turmoil.

LONDON (Reuters) - Gagosian, one of the world's leading art dealerships, is opening a new gallery in London's smart Mayfair district, its third outpost in the British capital and its 15th worldwide.

STOCKHOLM/MINSK (Reuters) - Belarussian author Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday for her portrayal of the harshness of life in the Soviet Union and in her first public response denounced Russia's intervention in Ukraine as an "invasion".

LONDON (Reuters) - Medea always gets her revenge for being jilted by Jason, but in an updated version of the ancient Greek play she is recast as a writer who does it by exposing her actor husband as a two-timing lout in a television sitcom that becomes a hit.

LONDON (Reuters) - Spanish artist Francisco Goya, best known now for depicting the horrors of war, was celebrated in his own time as a great portrait painter for royalty and aristocrats, generals and despots, politicians and friends.

Sports News

ZURICH (Reuters) - A FIFA advisory panel is pressing ahead to draft reforms of the scandal-shaken world soccer body despite the suspension of President Sepp Blatter and other senior officials amid corruption investigations, the panel's head said.

(Reuters) - San Marino rider Alex de Angelis was airlifted to hospital after a heavy crash during final practice at the Japanese MotoGP on Saturday before a dramatic qualifying session saw Jorge Lorenzo grab pole from title rival Valentino Rossi.

BEIJING (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal moved within reach of his first hardcourt title in almost two years by extracting a modicum of revenge on new Italian foe Fabio Fognini with a 7-5 6-3 win in their China Open semi-final on Saturday.

BEIJING (Reuters) - Rafa Nadal moved within reach of his first hardcourt title in almost two years by extracting a modicum of revenge on new Italian foe Fabio Fognini with a 7-5 6-3 win in their China Open semi-final on Saturday.

TOKYO (Reuters) - Unseeded Frenchman Benoit Paire will take on Stan Wawrinka in the Japan Open final after storming back from a set down to upset home favorite Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Science News

ZURICH (Reuters) - Nestle's health science division is investing $70 million in a product technology center that will become the unit's new U.S. headquarters and research hub, the division said on Friday.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, has slammed a bid by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing Co, to get a waiver from a U.S. ban on Russian rocket engines for military use.

(Reuters) - U.S. researchers on Thursday said they had found a way to predict male sexual orientation based on molecular markers that control DNA function, but genetics experts warned that the research has important limitations and will not provide definitive answers to a potential biological basis for sexual preference.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - DNA extracted from the skull of a man buried 4,500 years ago in an Ethiopian cave is providing new clarity on the ancestry of modern Africans as well as shedding light on an influx of people from the ancient Middle East into the Horn of Africa.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - (This October 6, 2015 story was refiled to clarify the number of engines affected by the ban in the seventh paragraph to 9 not 24)

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

- Leslie Felperin

Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood joins other westerners in a musical odyssey through the north Indian state for a documentary recalling Buena Vista Social Club

Prominently advertised on the London underground by online video subscription service Mubi, who have the exclusive rights to it in the UK, Junun is an hour-long documentary directed by Paul Thomas Anderson about an east-west meeting of musical minds that took place this year in Rajasthan.

Western tunesters Jonny Greenwood and Nigel Godrich (lead guitarist and producer of Radiohead, respectively) and Israeli composer-singer Shye Ben Tzur are shown sitting democratically on the floor of a splendidly appointed chamber at the 15th-century Mehrangarh fort as they jam with some of India’s finest artists, including trumpeter Aamir Bhiyani, nagara players Nathu and Narsi Lal Solanki, vocals and harmonium-playing duo Zaki and Zarkir Ali Qawwal, and a dozen or so other to produce some divine, swirling tunes.

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- Andrew Clements

Barbican, LondonNever one to shy away from the strange and surreal, Volkov offset this Richard Ayres premiere with something completely different

It must be tricky to come up with the right mix for a programme that includes a new work by Richard Ayres. The world that Ayres’s music inhabits is so quirky and unpredictable, so various in its associations and references, that almost anything else can seem uneventful by comparison. But Ilan Volkov never shies away from the surreal and the strange, and in this BBC Symphony Orchestra concert he opted for something completely different to offset Ayres’s piece, surrounding the premiere with works based on Goethe’s poetry, and a classical symphony.

There were Mendelssohn and Beethoven’s responses to the poem Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, the first a freewheeling overture (something of a rarity, which Elgar quotes in the Enigma Variations), the second a late, rather austere choral setting with the BBC Singers. They also delivered Schubert’s very beautiful version of Gesang der Geister über den Wassern for male voices with an equally low-pitched accompaniment of violas, cellos and double basses. Volkov’s tidy, if slightly subfusc performance of one of the most striking of Haydn’s Sturm und Drang symphonies, No 52 in C minor, came last.

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- Ian Gittins

St John at Hackney, LondonThe Californian avant-noise trio treat Angelo Badalmenti’s celebrated David Lynch score to a dose of atonality and violence

It’s difficult to overstate the cultural impact of Twin Peaks 25 years ago. Transferring his art-house cinema ethic to the small screen, David Lynch’s cerebral, surrealist murder mystery series towered like a desert skyscraper over the wastelands of mainstream US TV drama.

A large part of the series’ appeal lay in the hypnotic, spectral soundtrack that won a Grammy for its composer, Angelo Badalamenti. Invited earlier this year to reinterpret that music for a Lynch retrospective at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, Californian avant-noise trio Xiu Xiu are now taking their work on a world tour.

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- Rian Evans

Wales Millennium Centre, CardiffThe production’s opera singers and conductor shine in WNO’s somewhat uneven take on Sondheim’s musical of deranged vengeance

Putting musicals on the operatic stage is still, for some, the beginning of a slippery slope akin to Sweeney Todd’s murderous chute. Yet Stephen Sondheim’s musical was taken up by opera houses five years after its Broadway premiere, and anyone tut-tutting about Welsh National Opera’s new production might note that it features in San Francisco Opera’s current programme, too. The tale of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street is part of WNO’s Madness season: Todd, returning to London to seek vengeance for a miscarriage of justice, purports also to seek salvation, but it’s all the starting point for his deranged descent into barbarous killing.

James Brining’s take on the piece isn’t penny-dreadful or more unsavoury than Mrs Lovett’s gruesome pies, but is a bit of a mish-mash. Set just before Thatcher’s care in the community programme was rolled out, the prologue takes place in Mr Fogg’s asylum, to which Todd’s daughter Johanna will later be consigned by the grotesque paedophile Judge Turpin (Steven Page), and where the WNO chorus play unsettling misfits. But Colin Richmond’s design boxes the action in containers, bloodied corpses sometimes making messy, random exits.

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- Issy Sampson

Honne | The Parrots | David Guetta & Showtek ft Magic! | Weyes Blood | Jamie Lawson


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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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The Melting Pot


Rock on the Range 2015



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