Erie Theater Company Presents Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill by Lanie Robertson

Angela Watson Modeste Stars in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill on June 4, 2015, 7:30 PM at...

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ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Dubrovnik Summer Festival will go ahead and stage a play by French author Michel Houellebecq, reversing a decision to cancel it after police voiced concerns for security because he has stirred controversy over his critical views of Islam.

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Spanish researchers investigating the early '70s death of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda to determine if he was poisoned, have found no conclusive evidence of foul play, according to an initial report handed to the investigating judge.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two-time Oscar winner Jessica Lange will return to Broadway next year in a revival of American playwright Eugene O'Neill's masterpiece "Long Day's Journey Into Night," the Roundabout Theatre Company said on Tuesday.

CANNES, France (Reuters) - A huge sculpture called "Coloring Book" by American artist Jeff Koons sold for 12 million euros ($13.2 million) at a star-studded charity auction near Cannes that raised more than 33 million euros for AIDS research.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Broadway enjoyed its highest-grossing season in history with $1.36 billion in 2014-2015 and audience attendance topping 13.1 million, the Broadway League said on Tuesday.

Sports News

PARIS (Reuters) - For Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur it was the day he had dreamed of while for Roger Federer it was just another day at the office.

ZURICH (Reuters) - World soccer boss Sepp Blatter was expected to be re-elected on Friday, defying growing calls for him to step down in the face of corruption scandals engulfing the sport's governing body.

PARIS (Reuters) - Alize Cornet reached the fourth round at Roland Garros for the first time on Friday, hoping to lead a wave of Les Blues into the last 16 at their home tournament.

(Reuters) - Italian Fabio Aru attacked in the final climb to win the 19th stage of the Giro d'Italia to reclaim second spot overall form his Astana team mate Mikel Landa on Friday.

(Reuters) - Former NFL player Darren Sharper, accused of drugging and raping women in four states, pleaded guilty on Friday to related federal charges in New Orleans, according to the Times-Picayune newspaper.

Science News

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Dinosaurs, those bygone masters of the planet, were warm-blooded just like today's mammals, according to a scientist who judged their metabolism using body mass and growth rates deduced from fossils of species including Tyrannosaurus rex.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Amid evidence of fraud in a high-profile study on how canvassers can convince people to back same-sex marriage, the journal Science, which published the study, retracted it on Thursday.

Pittsburgh, Pensylvania - Researchers have taken their serpentine machines, developed over decades at Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, and connected them to a central hub to create one of the most robust robots ever developed. Its creators have named it the Snake Monster. 

CHRUDIM, Czech Republic (Reuters) - Scientists battling a bee-killing disease are about to start testing a new weapon -- a sun-heated hive designed by a Czech high school teacher.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jaw and teeth fossils found on the silty clay surface of Ethiopia's Afar region represent a previously unknown member of humankind's family tree that lived 3.3 to 3.5 million years ago alongside the famous human ancestor "Lucy," scientists say.

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

- Lanre Bakare

The surprise sort-of follow-up to Acid Rap is an emotional, complex and boundary-pushing enterprise with a starry hip-hop cast

Releasing a rap album in 2015 isn’t as straightforward as it should be. From Lil Wayne’s perpetually delayed final Carter album to early releases/leaks forcing Earl Sweatshirt and Kendrick Lamar’s hands, often things are mothballed or shunted forward by forces well outside of an artist’s or label’s control. Chance the Rapper has taken a different approach entirely in releasing Surf, a sort-of follow up to 2013’s mixtape hit Acid Rap, with Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment (the latter being the live band he tours and records with). It’s a sort-of follow-up because he’s not simply moonlighting as Donnie Trumpet. That’s the alias of 21-year-old trumpeter Nico Segal who is joined by other members Nate Fox, Peter Wilkins and drummer Greg “Stix” Landfair Jr, while Chancelor Bennett is billed just as another part of the group. A self-effacing, limelight-sharing side man.

But that cameo role isn’t obvious on Surf. Opening track Miracle sees him take centre stage while he spits staggering, complex and meandering lyrics (that defy the GZA’s recent assertion that lyricism in modern rap is a lost art) over backing that could be provided by Steve Winwood’s psych rockers Traffic. But he’s far from the only attraction: Slip Slide alone features a cornucopia of rappers and singers including an in-form Busta Rhymes, BoB, BJ the Chicago Kid and Janelle Monaé.

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- Malcolm Jack

King Tut’s, GlasgowWith their bluesy riffs and hurtling drums these Essex boys get you moving, but don’t go looking for hidden depths or variety

Essex boys the Bohicas make an early thirtysomething feel old. They recycle the indie rock’n’roll retroisms of a tide of bands that, only a decade ago, were washed up in the wake of the White Stripes, the Strokes and the Libertine. Beanpole frontman Dominic McGuinness is even prone to the odd Johnny Borrellesque obnoxious soundbite for added period authenticity. “A van full of rock stars on a dual carriageway has me wet with desire,” he recently told one interviewer, tongue hopefully somewhere near cheek.

You’d have to be entirely immune to the timeless pleasure of an arse-shaking bluesy guitar riff and a hurtling drum beat not to enjoy Where You At, its loquacious lyric spilling from McGuinness’s lips like lukewarm lager after an overenthusiastic swig. During most of the Bohicas’ songs, it’s guitarist Dominic John whom you can’t take your eyes off. Wearing leather trews and broad-rimmed black hat, shirt unbuttoned almost to his navel, he seems to be invoking the image of Clarence Clemons on the sleeve of Born to Run.

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- Rian Evans

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, CardiffThe pianist has the rare ability to shed new light on familiar music, and discovered new relationships between the sonatas of Op 31 and Op 101

Llŷr Williams is a natural Beethovenian. It’s three years since he won a South Bank Sky award for his sonata cycle at the Edinburgh festival, but the present series, running concurrently at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and at the Wigmore Hall, suggests that an already astonishing interpretation continues to evolve and deepen.

Williams has that precious ability to shed new light on the most familiar music, and a nonchalant technical mastery and singing tone that transform the simplest of melodies into something exceptional. His adoption of a partly chronological sequence – here the three sonatas of Op 31 were balanced by the late sonata in A major, Op 101 – offers different perspectives and connections, notably in the matter of tonal relationships. In particular, the bright sunshine of the F major march, Op 101, seemed to tug the ear back to its relative, D minor, Op 31 No 2 – an emotional landscape clouded in mist.

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- Harriet Gibsone

Lianne La Havas | Pink Film | Charles Hamilton Feat Rita Ora | KStewart | O-Town

PICK OF THE WEEK

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- Everett True

One ridiculously cuddly melody follows another in the Melbourne band’s sixth album, which sits at the neon intersection of DIY psych and 1960s beach pop

My nine-year-old played a magic trick on me this morning. He asked me to think of a four-digit number and tell it to him. He then wrote down a number on a sealed piece of paper and asked me to tell him three more. He then (without doing any calculations) wrote down another number and asked me to open the sealed paper. On it was the number he’d written down.

Two days ago, my five-year-old told me a great visual joke. “Here’s Froggy [lays hand flat]. Froggy can swim [moves hand down] Froggy can fly [moves hand up] Froggy can walk [moves hand along]. Give a hand of applause to Froggy [claps hands together] ... Oh! Froggy dead!”

Related: Tame Impala kickstart the Australian psychedelic explosion

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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

Funny Pictures

The Melting Pot

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Rock on the Range 2015

ROCK ON THE RANGE: ADDITIONAL BANDS, COMEDY TENT LINEUP AND ERNIE BALL PRESENTS THE ROCK ON THE RANGE BATTLE OF THE BANDS ANNOUNCED FOR...

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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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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...

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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,...

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Radio Contest Offers ‘Free Ride’ at MNE

Would you live in a bus if it meant free college tuition? Eight or more hopefuls from the Erie area will get that chance this summer as...

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This Weekend’s Hot Spot

Old School at Sherlock’s By Terry Pentelli This Saturday night, May 30th at 10pm, the hard rocking, hard driving, powerhouse Metal...