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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.

MADRID (Reuters) - Historians searching for the tomb of Spain's greatest writer, Miguel de Cervantes, said on Monday they had found fragments of a coffin with his initials on it, under a convent where he may have been buried.

Sports News

DUBAI, Jan 29 (Reuters) - A dynamic sequence of five birdies in a row lifted Austrian Bernd Wiesberger to the top of the leaderboard on eight-under 64 after the Dubai Desert Classic first round on Thursday.

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Top seed Novak Djokovic and defending champion Stan Wawrinka will brace for another epic clash at the Australian Open on Friday as they bid for a place in the final with Andy Murray.

PHOENIX (Reuters) - The New England Patriots got a rude awakening days ahead of their Super Bowl clash with the Seattle Seahawks as a false fire alarm went off during the early morning hours on Thursday at the team's hotel.

TORONTO (Reuters) - Millions of Canadian viewers of the U.S. Super Bowl football game will soon be able to enjoy all the high-priced advertising fed to their southern neighbors, the country's broadcast regulator said on Thursday.

FALL RIVER, Mass. (Reuters) - Opening statements were delayed on Thursday in the first murder trial facing former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez this year, when a judge began questioning new potential jurors after a current juror passed her a note.

Science News

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.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A partial skull retrieved from a cave in northern Israel is shedding light on a pivotal juncture in early human history when our species was trekking out of Africa to populate other parts of the world and encountered our close cousins the Neanderthals.

Orange County, Ca (Reuters) - Welcome to the utility industry's future - or at least that's what Southern California Edison is hoping.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (Reuters) - The mountain-sized asteroid that made a close pass by Earth on Monday has a small moon in tow, radar images released by NASA show.

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

- Andrew Clements

Plane/Gould/Cooper/Dickinson/Adams/Neary/Rahman(CPO)

Joseph Holbrooke (1878-1958) became known as “the cockney Wagner” after the success of his operatic trilogy The Cauldron of Annwn, based on stories from the Mabinogion. But as this collection of his chamber works with clarinet – immaculately performed by Robert Plane and colleagues – shows, the main influence on his fundamentally late-romantic style was Brahms rather than Wagner. In Clarinet Quintet Op 27, which seems to be an amalgam of several earlier chamber works and Holbrooke revised several times, Brahms’s own quintet is repeatedly evoked, though in the 1903 Variations, which originally formed part of the quintet and are recorded for the first time here, there are also hints of the Edwardian salon music that Holbrooke composed so fluently. A couple of pieces for clarinet and piano touch on English impressionism, while perhaps the most intriguing piece here is a nocturne, Fairyland, for clarinet, viola and piano, based on a poem by Edgar Allan Poe and conjuring up a strangely disjointed, discomfiting world.

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- Andrew Clements

Grigory Sokolov(Deutsche Grammophon)

It’s more than seven years since Grigory Sokolov gave a recital in Britain. The UK’s stringent visa demands on visitors from Russia have discouraged him from coming here, and so, since that 2007 Wigmore Hall appearance, British audiences have been deprived of hearing one of the world’s greatest living pianists. Sokolov’s new recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon means that at least some of his performances will reach us – though whether the company will succeed in luring him into a recording studio remains to be seen. This recording of a recital he gave at the Salzburg festival in 2008 provides a sample of what we have been missing. Some of the playing is breathtaking in its clarity, articulation and colour. The first half of the recital was devoted to two of Mozart’s F major piano sonatas; the second to Chopin’s complete Preludes. It was followed by six encores. The Mozart playing may seem old-fashioned, but it overflows with vitality, each movement conceived as a single, sweeping entity, while each of the Chopin Preludes manages to conjure up a complete expressive world in a miniature frame. There’s more Chopin among the encores (two of the late mazurkas) along with Rameau, Bach, and Scriabin’s Two Poèmes, Op 69. It’s all to treasure.

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- Robin Denselow

(Wreckord)

In which two English folk heroes collaborate on an exhilarating and unexpected new project. Jim Moray first shook up the folk scene in 2003 with his experimental album Sweet England, while Sam Carter is best known as a thoughtful singer-songwriter with a fascination for American shape-note hymns. Now they are co-leaders of a bravely original folk-rock band. False Lights play mostly traditional songs, now transformed with full-tilt electric guitar work from both Moray and Carter – with Moray also adding bass and keyboards – and they succeed because they are also both fine, no-nonsense singers who concentrate on the narrative of their songs. There’s impressive variety here, from the stomping Skewball to the pained and pounding gospel plea Oh Death. Best of all is the exuberant final track, on which Tennyson’s Crossing the Bar is re-worked with an organ backing, furious drums, bass, violin, melodeon and Latin-flavoured percussion.

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- Brian Moylan

Three teens obsessed with 90s hip-hop find an unexpected stash of drugs courtesy of A$AP Rocky – Rick Famuyiwa nails it in this fast and funny flick

Every generation has a teen comedy that speaks perfectly to the time it was made, whether it’s Sixteen Candles, Clueless, or Mean Girls. Dope, written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa (Our Family Wedding) is yet another update of the familiar formula, where a bunch of nerds have their revenge and eventually come into their own, defeat the jocks, rule the school, and get the girls who would be way too pretty for them in real life. Dope could very well end up in the ranks of this canon, endlessly played on repeat on cable and quoted in meme after meme on Tumblr. The funny thing is, in doing so, it would become the most subversive of them all.

And it’s not because the movie features teens dealing “molly” for bitcoin on the internet or because it takes place in the Bottoms, one of the worst neighbourhoods in Inglewood, California. Malcolm (Shameik Moore) and his two best friends, Jib (The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), are nerds obsessed with 90s hip-hop culture and what their classmates dub “white-people stuff”. After a chance encounter with a drug dealer (A$AP Rocky), Malcolm ends up with a backpack full of drugs that he doesn’t know what to do with. Eventually unloading the MDMA might get him into Harvard, but it will take a few wacky adventures before he gets there.

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- Andrew Clements

Royal Festival Hall, LondonA new vocal work from Magnus Lindberg - based on historical records of three interrogations – didn’t exploit Barbara Hannigan’s dramatic gifts

Vocal works of any kind are scarce in Magnus Lindberg’s 30-year output, and those involving a solo voice are rarer still. So Accused, for soprano and orchestra, whose premiere launched Lindberg’s residency with the London Philharmonic, is very much a new departure. Composed as a star vehicle for the phenomenal Barbara Hannigan, it carries the subtitle “Three Interrogations”, which certainly signals what Accused is not – a straightforward orchestral song cycle – but doesn’t explain what Lindberg really intends his half-hour score to be, though it was hard to be sure he really knows himself what he has written.

The texts – records of interrogations taken from three very different historical epochs, in French, German and English – certainly have dramatic potential. The first is an extract from the questioning of a woman imprisoned during the French revolution, the second a Stasi interview from East Germany in the 1970s of someone (gender unknown) found reading a copy of the West German magazine Der Spiegel, while the third comes from the apparently inconsequential cross-examination of one of the witnesses in the trial of Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning in 2013.

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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

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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...

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

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

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Find Out Where Your Favorite Band Is Playing

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