News Feed

City Scape

Arts & Culture News

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's biggest art fair opened in New Delhi this week with a focus on homegrown artists and exhibits inspired by contemporary themes such as the worst floods in the Kashmir region in more than a century.

LONDON (Reuters) - Works by the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy sold for double their estimate or more at an auction in London featuring his and work by other contemporary artists, Bonham's said on Thursday.

LONDON (Reuters) - One of Britain's most-loved museum exhibits, the skeleton-cast of Dippy the Diplodocus dinosaur at the Natural History Museum in London, is to be replaced, much to the distress of its many fans.

LONDON (Reuters) - Tom Stoppard, the grand old man of British theater, is back with his first new stage play in nine years, tackling typically big ideas: consciousness, science and God.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Buying art at Sotheby's will soon become more expensive as the top international auction house announced it is increasing its buyer's premium, the rates it charges a successful bidder.

Sports News

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Stunned golf fans at the Phoenix Open were left to ponder how the mighty have fallen after Tiger Woods plunged to new depths with the worst score of his professional career in Friday's second round.

(Reuters) - A bogey at the final hole left Scotland's Martin Laird with a two-stroke lead after the second round at a wet Phoenix Open on Friday.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Fans flocking to the Super Bowl in Arizona will see peculiar lights in the Friday night sky. No, it is not a UFO but part of Pepsi's invasion of host city Phoenix ahead of the big game.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Versatile young U.S. runner Mary Cain aims to show off her speed over 800 meters in a New York homecoming performance at the Armory Track Invitational on Saturday.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - The owners of the San Francisco 49ers football team have purchased a stake in Sacramento's minor league Republic soccer club, the second major team to do so this week in an effort to bolster the club's chances of winning major league status.

Science News

(Reuters) - An unmanned Delta 2 rocket is being prepared for launch on Saturday to put a NASA satellite into orbit that is expected to improve drought monitoring and flooding forecasts.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has proposed analyzing genetic information from more than 1 million American volunteers as part of a new initiative to understand human disease and develop medicines targeted to an individual's genetic make-up.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - American scientists and the general public hold vastly different views on key scientific issues including the role of people in causing climate change, the safety of genetically modified food, and evolution, a poll released on Thursday showed.

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Charles Townes, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser, a feat that revolutionized science, medicine, telecommunications and entertainment, has died at age 99, the University of California at Berkeley reported.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When patients with Parkinson's disease received an injection described as an effective drug costing $1,500 per dose, their motor function improved significantly more than when they got one supposedly costing $100, scientists reported on Wednesday.

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

- Sam Wollaston

Paul Morley made a startling claim in this music documentary celebrating the work of Germany’s industrial pioneers

Who’s your favourite member of Kraftwerk? It’s a question no one ever asked anyone, or should ask, or ever attempt to answer. The German pioneers of electronic music, who have been putting sound out of their Düsseldorf Kling Klang Studio for over 40 years, are like the very antithesis of 1D; assassins of the cult of personality, eternal limelight eschewers (though there is a place for neon in their world). They’re No Direction. Or – better – Every Direction, because – as the writer and professional talking-head Paul Morley says in Kraftwerk: Pop Art (BBC4) – you can hear their ghosts everywhere.

Yes, Friday is music-doc-on-BBC4 day. And this is both a tricky one and a special one. Tricky because, apart from a 1981 interview with Ralf Hütter, there’s no contribution from any member, past or present. They haven’t even put up any robots for interview.

Continue reading...

- Ian Gittins

Chats Palace, LondonThe rapper’s brittle, anxious interior monologues should see him cross over to a wider audience

There are many reasons why people make music. One of the most rare, and beyond question the most exciting, is when an artist does so as a means of working out exactly who they are, what they want and what they are all about.

Obaro Ejimiwe, aka Coventry MC and rapper Ghostpoet, says his imminent third album, Shedding Skin, is “a guitar record”. It’s certainly more indie-rock-inclined than its two glitchy predecessors, and tonight he previews it backed by a very conventional-looking lineup of guitar, bass, drums and a siren-voiced female vocalist cooing behind keyboards.

Continue reading...

- Issy Sampson

In the Guide single reviews, no one is safe, especially Kodaline

PICK OF THE WEEK

Continue reading...

- Rian Evans

Hoddinott Hall, CardiffConductor Franck Ollu brought intensity and briskness to an evening of the French composer’s works

When Paris’s Philharmonie opened a fortnight ago, Thierry Escaich’s new Concerto for Orchestra was programmed along with Dutilleux, Fauré and Ravel. Escaich is also a virtuoso organist, following Duruflé at St Étienne-du-Mont. In this Composer Portrait, given by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, these credentials proved to be implicit in the fabric of his music.

There is nothing minimal about the scores. On the contrary, there are vast torrents of notes – like César Franck or Fauré on speed – yet such is their energy and buoyancy that the listener is carried irresistibly in the flow. To counterbalance this apparently unstoppable force, Escaich concerns himself with structure and, in characteristically French fashion, also explores the colour and timbres of sound, with sometimes cataclysmic peaks.

Continue reading...

- Doug Wallen

The Brisbane four piece can be a bit of downer, but they’re careful to insert enough lightness to counteract their album’s more brooding turns

Where did Nite Fields come from? The dream-pop quartet hail from Brisbane, but in another sense, seem to have materialised out of nowhere with their recent uptick in profile and productivity far overshadowing their earlier career. This is a band that self-recorded their late-2012 single Vacation in a shed and released it on frontman Danny Venzin’s microlabel Lost Race, which has the contrarian tagline “unpopular music from Australia”.

Two years later, the band’s debut album is getting a worldwide release through rising Los Angeles label Felte, their singles are racking up serious online attention, and they are on the eve of embarking on a three-month international tour starting in Russia. They’re no longer unpopular, to say the least.

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

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

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...