“Hear the People Sing,” Again at the Erie Playhouse In the Encore Production of Les Misérables

Les Misérables has been wowing audiences world-wide for years. Now it makes a much-anticipated...

News Feed

City Scape

Arts & Culture News

MALAGA, Spain (Reuters) - France's Pompidou Center on Saturday brought dozens of its 20th and 21st century artwork to one of Spain's most popular coastlines, opening in the Andalusian port of Malaga the first of several international outposts.

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - - William Shakespeare's Globe theaters is taking on a new role as a financial trail-blazer by seeking to tap into a form of funding dominated to date by social enterprises and charities.

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police have recovered a painting by Spanish master Pablo Picasso that a retired frame maker in Rome said he had been given nearly 40 years ago.

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, a winner of the Nobel prize for literature, has died of a stroke at the age of 83, members of the Swedish Academy that confers the award said on Friday.

CHICAGO (Reuters) - One hundred years after the mass killing of Armenians, a Chicago artist has created a monumental painting to honor the victims and celebrate a culture that nearly vanished.

Sports News

(Reuters) - Brazil's former World Player of the Year Kaka inspired Orlando City to fight back from a two goal deficit and earn a 2-2 draw at Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer on Saturday.

(Reuters) - Nine-times PGA Tour winner Stuart Appleby has undergone back surgery for a herniated disc and will be out of action indefinitely.

MIAMI (Reuters) - Serena Williams put aside her knee injury to begin her bid for an eighth Miami Open title with a 6-3 6-1 win over Romania's Monica Niculescu at Key Biscayne on Saturday but sixth seed Eugenie Bouchard was upset by German qualifier Tatjana Maria. Williams withdrew from her semi-final at Indian Wells last week with the injury and said upon arriving in Miami that this tournament would involve "managing pain".

(Reuters) - American Jimmy Walker shot a three-under-par 69 to open up a four-shot lead as winds returned to vex players at the Texas Open in San Antonio on Saturday.

(Reuters) - American Jimmy Walker held firm, shooting a three-under-par 69 to open up a four-shot lead, as winds returned to vex players at the Texas Open in San Antonio on Saturday.

Science News

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, sending a U.S.-Russia crew to the International Space Station for a year-long flight, a NASA Television broadcast showed.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A fossil site in the Canadian Rockies that provides a wondrous peek into life on Earth more than half a billion years ago has offered up the remains of an intriguing sea creature, a four-eyed arthropod predator that wielded a pair of spiky claws.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - A Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Friday, sending a U.S. astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts on their way to the International Space Station, a NASA Television broadcast showed.

PARIS (Reuters) - French auto parts maker Valeo plans to draw on drone software and other military technologies from partner Safran to offer self-driving vehicle platforms to carmakers by the end of the decade.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force overstepped its bounds as it worked to certify privately held SpaceX to launch military satellites, undermining the benefit of working with a commercial provider, an independent review showed 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

- Robin Denselow

Islington Assembly Hall, LondonThese Nashville-schooled Hampshire twins have bags of confidence, but need to embrace the American country capital’s more experimental side

Catherine and Lizzy Ward Thomas are 20-year-old twin sisters from Hampshire, who are among the UK’s most successful new country musicians, and already attracting an American following. They started recording in Nashville three years ago, spend much of their time in the US’s country-music capital, and have all the makings of major pop-country crossovers. This confident set was a demonstration of both their easy-going vocal and songwriting skills, and possible problems they have to face.

The sisters came on dressed in black, showing off their impressive harmony-singing with a brief, foot-stomping treatment of the Loretta Lynn song Take My Man. Backed by an efficient, if restrained guitar and keyboard band, later joined by a fiddler, they then concentrated on their own compositions with a slick set that ranged from acoustic guitar-backed ballads to more stomping country-rock.

Continue reading...

- Erica Jeal

Queen Elizabeth Hall, LondonFilling in for Midori, Christian Tezlaff brought a searching, ephemeral quality to his rendition of pieces by Bach and Bartók

This was less a replacement, more of an upgrade: violinist Midori pulled out of her all-Bach solo concert due to illness, so the Southbank grabbed Christian Tetzlaff. He kept the programme mainly Bach, but added Bartók’s inspired Sonata for Solo Violin, which pays homage to the Chaconne from Bach’s Partita No 2 and therefore fitted in seamlessly.

Tetzlaff has recorded Bach’s unaccompanied violin works twice already, but his performances here still seemed like works in progress, in the best sense. Yes, there were passages that he rushed through headlong, as if he were so focused on the destination that he had forgotten the audience needs also to hear the journey. Generally, though, there was a searching, ephemeral quality to his playing, characterised by lightness; the times when he chose to bring out his fullest, most muscular tone really made an impact. There were plenty of those moments in the Bartók, which he played masterfully, the gleeful virtuosity of the faster movements throwing the elegiac melody of the Adagio into relief.

Continue reading...

- Rhik Samadder

In the Guide single reviews, no one is safe, especially that ‘dreadlocked Cabbage Patch doll’ Luke Friend

PICK OF THE WEEK

Continue reading...

- Caroline Sullivan

O2 Arena, LondonThe R&B veteran shrugged off his declining chart fortunes with a stage tour de force that showcased his supreme dancing skills

As Usher himself knows, when the chips are down, the best course is to accentuate the positive. With his last album underperforming, the new one delayed and a track given away in a cross-promotion with Honey Nut Cheerios, the R&B A-lister perhaps has cause to take stock – but tonight he plays it like a winner. The final show of his URX (Usher Raymond Experience) tour finds his self-esteem in excellent shape. A moment during the single Climax, voted the second-best track of 2012 by Guardian critics, says it all: rising on a hydraulic platform, he flings his arms upward as a back-screen shifts from storm clouds to born-again blue sky. Cheerios? What Cheerios?

As he reminds us, he’s been doing this for 23 years – that’s two decades of body-popping, moonwalking, and adapting contemporary styles, like Yeah!’s smouldering mix of crunk and R&B, to fit his warm-bath croon. Arenas are his natural habitat: his 20 musicians and dancers need the stage room, but so does he, given his propensity for big gestures. Usher baits-and-switches, getting fans to bawl along to the much-loved Pop Ya Collar, only to cut it off as they reach a high-pitched crescendo and slip in a medley of other people’s less worthy hits that he’s featured on, including Diddy’s I Need a Girl and Chris Brown’s New Flame. Nobody minds; he’s on form, a masterful all-rounder who surrounds himself with talent on stage.

Continue reading...

- Everett True

The Brisbane duo’s second album, recorded in a home studio, is drenched in reverb and bound by a sense of intimacy and mystery

According to self-taught musician Sandra Selig, one half of Primitive Motion, the band’s second album began with a walk through the forest. Specifically, Bunyaville forest in Brisbane. “I was recording the bellbirds,” Selig says in an email interview.

“They are the most rhythmic of all birds, I think. They don’t sing so much as strike the air with a short sharp pitch, which is answered continually by their buddies. It’s the original surround sound.

Continue reading...

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

Funny Pictures

apocolypsereality

Apocalypse Reality

The Melting Pot

Awesome-8-Ball-Pool

Dates Announced for 2015 PA State 8-Ball Championship

Local Pool Leagues Forming Now in Anticipation of Tournament The Erie Sports Commission is pleased to announce that the Pennsylvania State...

books

Shortest Books Ever Written

1. HOW I SERVED MY COUNTRY by Jane Fonda 2. MY BEAUTY SECRETS by Janet Reno 3. HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN AIRPLANE by John Denver 4. MY SUPER...

nousavons

Internationally Acclaimed Book of the True Story of Two Holocaust Survivors is Now Available in French

Author and Holocaust survivor Leon Malmed kept a secret for more than 60 years – a secret he has unveiled in his moving book,...

sendinstead

‘Send This Instead’ App Gives Kids an Alternative to Sexting

Members of the Ontario Provincial Police, Child Sexual Exploitation Unit in Ontario, Canada launch a sexting alternative app for teens...

Local Scene

frogtoad

The Year With Frog and Toad

Hop on over to the Academy Theatre The Academy’s youth performers are beyond excited to be given the chance to perform in a full scale...

Backstage Pass

erijams2014

Find Out Where Your Favorite Band Is Playing

                Want To Know Where The Best Bands Are Playing And Where The Hottest Shows Are In...