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Update March 2018

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Arts - Entertainment - Film Review World

Update Saturday, March 17, 2018 - March 23, 2018

Film Review: Plummer rescues ‘All the Money’ from the dustbin


This image shows Christopher Plummer in a scene from “All the Money in the World.” (Giles Keyte/Sony Pictures via AP)

Jake Coyle

New York (AP) — Should Ridley Scott’s “All the Money in the World” be measured by the usual critical apparatus or with a stopwatch?

If the latter, Scott’s movie wins the race, hands down. “All the Money in the World”, with remarkably few signs of haste, accomplished its unenviable task of recasting Kevin Spacey’s role with Christopher Plummer. Plummer parachuted in at short notice to shoot his nine days of work, and Scott toiled around the clock to recut and remake his own movie.  Like a bank thief covering tracks and wiping fingerprints, Scott erased all trace of Spacey.

That alone makes “All the Money in the World” a fascinating footnote in the larger ongoing drama of the “Me Too” reckoning.  And considering the way things are going, Plummer should keep his bags packed.  We may need his services again.

But was it worth the trouble?  “All the Money in the World,” about the 1973 kidnapping of the grandson of billionaire oil tycoon John Paul Getty (Plummer), is, for better and worse, every bit a Scott production: a solidly built, no-nonsense drama, largely without surprise.  But its saving grace isn’t Plummer.  It’s Michelle Williams.

She plays Gail Harris, the distraught mother of the kidnapped 16-year-old “little Paul” (Charlie Plummer, no relation).  When Getty refuses to pay the kidnappers’ demands of $17 million, she’s left virtually alone in seeking his release, aside from the inattentive help of Getty’s overconfident, former-CIA fixer, Fletcher Case (Mark Wahlberg).  As a woman locked inside an oppressively male world, Williams’ performance — gripping and glamorous — slides in comfortably with Scott’s best female protagonists (Ripley, Thelma, Louise).

Based on John Pearson’s 1995 book, “Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortune and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty,” David Scarpa’s script doesn’t attempt to show the larger soap opera of the younger Getty generations, many of whom suffered through drugs, depression and worse because of their father’s hostility and inattention.  Getty married five times and young Paul was one of 14 grandchildren.  When he was taken, Getty, then one of the richest men in the world, told reporters: “If I pay one penny now, I’ll have 14 kidnapped children.”

“All the Money in the World” ought to have aimed more ambitiously for the complete tragedy of the Gettys, or stuck more resolutely to Gail’s perspective.  Instead, it bounces erratically between its main players and loses steam every time Williams leaves the screen.  At times it’s preoccupied with studying the astonishing greed of its penny-pinching Scrooge, at others with trailing the thrilling plot of Gail’s pursuit of Paul.  It doesn’t necessarily follow any one character.  It follows the money.

Opening with a black-and-white sequence of the kidnapping in Rome, Scott’s movie continuously cuts to Paul’s travails as the prisoner of Calabrian bandits.  Expecting a quick payday, they settle in the mountains of Southern Italy for months, growing increasingly impatient.

Seesawing between the mafia-controlled hills of Italy and the mammoth English estate of the Getty’s, “All the Money in the World” seeks for a larger portrait of people prioritizing money over basic human decency — of putting the art of the deal above all else, you might say.  When first told of the kidnapping, Getty doesn’t even look up from the stock ticker.

It’s hard not to spend some of the film’s running time wondering what Spacey might have brought to the movie.  I suspect his performance would have been icier, and perhaps smacked of stunt. (Spacey donned copious makeup and prosthetics to age him into the role.)  Plummer, on the other hand, quite naturally feasts on the part, fully embodying Getty’s privilege and power.

At 88, Plummer has spent much of his superlative late period playing King Lears presiding over the ends of their empires.  Give him a mansion and a backstory, and he’ll go to town (just as he did in the World War II thriller “The Exception”).  But the miserly Getty of “All the Money in the World,” so totally focused on his fortune, makes the Grinch look like a philanthropist.

Aside from the audaciousness of its last-minute face-lift, “All the Money in the World” is fairly routine.  If Scott was replacing stars, he might as well have yanked Wahlberg while he was at it.  The story doesn’t suit the action star’s considerable gifts, and he’s out of place from the start.

Still, the extreme measures taken by Scott are fitting.  The restless director is driven by an obsession for work not so different than Getty’s.  Only when a crisis took his movie hostage, Scott immediately intervened at an estimated cost of $8 million.  The lesson holds: Just pay the ransom.

“All the Money in the World,” a Sony Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “language, some violence, disturbing images and brief drug content.” Running time: 132 minutes.  Two and a half stars out of four.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, turning 70, looks back and forward

Andrew Lloyd Webber is shown in this Jan. 28, 2018 file photo. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Mark Kennedy

New York (AP) — Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 70th birthday is coming up on March 22 and it turns out there is something the composer really wants on his special day.  More work.

The man behind such blockbuster shows as “Cats,” ‘’The Phantom of the Opera” and “Evita” has shows in London’s West End, Broadway and on tour, but he’d like to be composing another one.

“The biggest birthday present to me would be to know that I’ve found another subject.  Genuinely, that’s what I would most want for my 70th birthday: To know I’m writing,” he said.

Lloyd Webber may actually be close to another musical subject but doesn’t want to jinx it by revealing details.  “Knowing me, I’ll find some speed bump along the line,” he said.

It’s typical of this restless, self-described perfectionist that he’s looking forward as his past is being celebrated in words, performances and music.

His autobiography, “Unmasked,” is being released this month, along with a massive, four-CD collection of his songs, performed by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Lana Del Rey and Madonna.

The book, which he jokingly refers to as a “medium sized doorstop,” covers the years from his birth to the birth of “The Phantom of the Opera.”  It’s honest and very funny.

“I just hope it shows a little more about me to people who perhaps don’t know me,” he said in his apartment overlooking Central Park.  “I just hope I’ve told some of the funniest stores and they’re not too boring for people.”

One of the book’s most fascinating sections involves the troubled creation of “Cats,” which became a global phenomenon.  Lloyd Webber had to put his own money into the show and watched its progression nervously.

“We were asking people to believe that human beings were cats.  It appeared to have no story-line,” Lloyd Webber said.  “There was not one ingredient that anybody could see was anything other than a recipe for the worst disaster that had ever happened in the history of musical theater.”

Lloyd Webber is positive he’d be unable to get backing for a show like that on Broadway today, though he cheers the imagination of current hits like “Hamilton,” ‘’Dear Evan Hansen,” ‘’Come From Away” and “The Band’s Visit.”  None seem safe bets: “Every single one of those four would be considered to be written by somebody who is terminally insane,” he said, laughing.

His 480-page autobiography ends in 1986 with “Phantom”: “I resembled a jelly about to enter a pizza oven.”  But he doubts he’ll write a second volume.  By the end of the first, several key relationships have frayed and betrayal is felt.

“On the way down sometimes is when you see peoples’ true colors.  I don’t want to write about that.  I never want to write about the bad side of people or things,” he said.

The CD collection of 71 songs proves Lloyd Webber’s range, including a song he wrote for Elvis Presley, orchestral suites, and tunes performed by everyone from Donny Osmond to Beyonce.  Lana Del Rey performs “You Must Love Me” and Nicole Scherzinger does “Memory.”

“I’m rather unfashionable now because I’m not sure that melody is as fashionable as it was,” he says.  “But what I do is melody and I still believe there’s a place for that.”

Universal launches plans for third ‘Jurassic World’ film

This image shows a scene from the upcoming “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”. (Universal Pictures via AP)

New York (AP) - Four months before “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” hits theaters, Universal Pictures has announced plans for a third installment in the rebooted dinosaur franchise.

Universal says “Jurassic World 3” will land in June 2021.  The film is to be written by Emily Carmichael and Colin Trevorrow, the director of 2015’s “Jurassic World.”  Carmichael co-wrote the upcoming sci-fi adventure “Pacific Rim Uprising.”

“Jurassic World” ranks among the biggest box-office hits.  It launched with a $208.8 million opening weekend and finished with $1.7 billion worldwide in ticket sales.

Trevorrow and Steven Spielberg are executive producing each new “Jurassic World” film.

Directed by J.A. Bayona, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” starring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, opens June 22.

Update Saturday, March 10, 2018 - March 16, 2018

Ed Sheeran is world’s best-selling recording artist of 2017


Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is shown arriving at the 68th edition of the International Film Festival Berlin, Berlinale, in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Feb. 23. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

London (AP) — If you think there’s no escape from the songs of Ed Sheeran, you may be right.

A global music industry group says the British singer-songwriter is officially the best-selling recording artist of 2017.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry says Sheeran had the world’s top-selling album last year with “Divide,” as well as the best-selling single, “Shape of You.”

The group’s chief executive, Frances Moore, said that Sheeran’s success “is astonishing and testament to his ability to write and perform songs that connect with a truly global fan base.”

The IFPI’s Global Recording Artist of the Year Award measures sales in both digital and physical music formats.

The 2016 winner, Drake, came second in 2017.  Rounding out the top five were Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem.

Pitt, DiCaprio set to star in Tarantino’s Manson film

Los Angeles (AP) — Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio are set to star in Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

Sony Pictures says that the film has been dated for a theatrical release on Aug. 9, 2019.

Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the project has become widely known as Tarantino’s Charles Manson film.

Neither DiCaprio nor Pitt will be playing Manson however. Tarantino says they will play a pair of struggling actors. DiCaprio will appear as a former Western TV series star and Pitt as his stunt double. Their characters live next door to Sharon Tate.

A longtime resident of Los Angeles, Tarantino has been working on the script for five years. It will mark his ninth feature.

Update Saturday, February 3, 2018 - February 9, 2018

Film Review: ‘Phantom Thread’ spins a rich showcase for Day-Lewis


In this image Vicky Krieps (left) and Daniel Day-Lewis appear in a scene from “Phantom Thread.” (Laurie Sparham/Focus Features via AP)

Lindsey Bahr

Los Angeles (AP) - With echoes of “Rebecca” and lavish Max Ophuls productions, writer and director Paul Thomas Anderson spins the tale of an obsessive fashion designer and his muse into a suspenseful and often funny parlor drama with all the trimmings in “Phantom Thread.”

Anderson is revered for his grand stage meditations on the American man (“Boogie Nights,” 3There Will Be Blood,” 3The Master”). But here, and perhaps to the dismay of some of his fans, he both narrows and redirects his gaze elsewhere to a single couture house in 1950s London and the very particular man behind the designs, Reynolds Woodcock.

The great Daniel Day-Lewis, in what may be his final film performance, plays Reynolds as a soft-spoken dandy whose precise rules and polished look thinly veil his volatile artist’s temperament. We’ve certainly seen this kind of thing before — a celebrated artist who literally cannot stomach anything outside of his routine from ugliness to general unpleasantries and everything in between — but it is something special and distinct in the hands of Day-Lewis, who is perhaps the only working actor perfect and exacting enough to play someone so perfect and exacting.

Reynolds’ nature is just one of the reasons why he’s sailed past middle age and has not only never married but also will proudly tell a woman on a first date that he is a “confirmed” and “incurable” bachelor. The audience sees Reynolds and his sister Cyril (Lesley Manville), who runs the business side of the House of Woodcock, dispose of a pretty woman early on for the crime of wanting his attention (and disrupting breakfast by offering him an unwanted pastry).

Thus we’re not expecting anything very different when he takes a shine to Alma (Vicky Krieps), a waitress at a restaurant in the country whom he teases and flirts with by ordering an excessively large breakfast spread for just himself and grinning widely at his next prey. Alma, who seems shy and awkward in her lanky body, bumping into chairs and blushing at the sight of Reynolds, smiles and plays along and gladly accepts his dinner invitation, and, soon one to come back to London to model for him.

But this is not “Funny Face” or “My Fair Lady” or “Pretty Woman” or any number of “ugly” duckling turns to swan with the help of a hairbrush/expensive clothes/great man stories. It’s not even really about fashion (although Mark Bridges costumes are indeed sumptuous). It’s a story of relationships and power.

Alma, we come to discover, is not like the other girls even if she fits the mold (Cyril tells her plainly that she has the perfect shape — “he likes them with a little belly”). She has a bite and will push back on some things and concede on others. “He’s too fussy,” she says defiantly after a disastrous breakfast where Reynolds storms off because she’s buttering her toast too loudly, only later to succumb to the library silence he prefers in the morning. Ultimately, it seems, Alma is testing the waters in hopes of carving out her own unique relationship with Reynolds.

Why Alma loves this petulant genius is something the film doesn’t really make any effort to explain. It’s just a fact, and an occasionally infuriating one. This takes a somewhat surreal twist halfway through, but it’s intriguing enough to carry you to the end of the film.

Even in the unusually confined setting, Anderson gives moments and characters room to breathe in this silky smooth film that lulls you in before taking you on the unexpected ride of the third act. Giving one of the most beautifully subtle performances of the year, Krieps more than holds her own against Day-Lewis, and in some cases even goes so far as to outshine him — a fitting parallel to her character. Manville, too, is superb as Cyril — a Mrs. Danvers-type, without the sinister angle.

Like all of Anderson’s efforts, “Phantom Thread” is beautiful and intriguing, but it’s also a film that is not unlike its central character: easy to respect and admire, and nearly impossible to fully love.

“Phantom Thread,” a Focus Features release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “language.” Running time: 130 minutes. Three stars out of four.

Brit Awards give top honors to Dua Lipa, Stormzy

Singer Dua Lipa poses for photographers upon arrival at the Brit Awards 2018 in London, Wednesday, Feb. 21. (Photo by Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP)

Jill Lawless

London (AP) — Hometown London stars Dua Lipa and Stormzy were both double winners last week at the U.K. music industry’s Brit Awards, where many guests wore white roses to symbolize the fight against sexual harassment and assault.

Stormzy, who has helped propel the grime genre of rap into the commercial mainstream, was named best male British solo artist, and also won album of the year, for his debut “Gang Signs and Prayer.”

Taking the stage, he thanked God, his mother, his family his team and south London, where he grew up.

Stormzy said the album was “the hardest thing, I’ve never worked on something like this in my life.  I’ve never given my entire being, I didn’t have anything left after... we made something I feel that is undeniable, that I can stand by today,” he said.

Stormzy also energized a show that bordered on bland.  In an electric closing performance, he put Britain’s prime minister on the spot, singing “Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell” in reference to last year’s deadly London tower block blaze.

Lipa, whose self-titled debut was one of 2017’s breakout albums, was named British female solo artist and British breakthrough artist.

Lipa dedicated her solo artist trophy to all the female musicians who “have allowed us to dream this big.”

“Here’s to more women on these stages, more women winning awards and more women taking over the world,” said Lipa, who topped U.K. charts with her catchy breakup anthem “New Rules.”

Following up on gestures at the Golden Globes, Grammys and British film awards, guests at Britain’s biggest music awards show were given flowers or white rose pins to wear in solidarity with the Time’s Up movement.

Calls for change have swept through the entertainment industry since women began coming forward to accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein last year.

The white rose symbol made an appearance at the Grammys in January.  At the Globes and British Academy Film Awards women wore black to oppose sexual misconduct and bullying.

Performers at the show at London’s O2 Arena, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, included Justin Timberlake, Rita Ora, Sam Smith, Foo Fighters and Kendrick Lamar.

International winners included Foo Fighters in the group category, female solo artist Lorde and male solo artist Kendrick Lamar.

Soulful singer Rag’n’Bone Man took the trophy for best British single for “Human.”

Ubiquitous singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran won the global success award, which goes to the year’s best-selling British artist.  His album “Divide” has sold more than 12 million copies around the world.

In what felt like a symbolic handover between generations, Sheeran’s prize was introduced by a video message from Elton John. He was given his trophy by Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, who called Sheeran “a lovely young guy.”

Ariana Grande had been due to perform, but was forced to pull out because of illness, organizers said.  She had been due to make a surprise appearance in tribute to 22 people killed when a bomber blew himself up at a Grande concert in Manchester in May.

Manchester-born Liam Gallagher stepped in instead, performing the Oasis classic “Live Forever.”

Most winners at the Brits are chosen by a ballot of music-industry members, with several selected by public vote, including video of the year, decided by public ballot during the show.  For years that prize was invariably won by One Direction; this year it went to a member of that band, Harry Styles.

French customs officials find stolen Degas in luggage on bus

This photo provided by French Customs shows a stolen painting by French painter Edgar Degas. (Marc Bonodot/French Customs via AP)

Paris (AP) - French customs officers have found an impressionist painting by Edgar Degas stowed on a bus, more than eight years after it was reported stolen.

The French Culture Ministry said that customs agents in Marne-la-Vallee were surprised to find a work of art bearing the signature “Degas” inside a suitcase in the bus’ luggage compartment. The ministry says none of the passengers claimed the suitcase during the Feb. 16 search.

Experts verified the artwork as Degas’ “Les Choristes” (“The Chorus Singers”), which depicts a scene from Mozart’s opera “Don Giovanni.”

The painting was stolen from a Marseille museum in 2009 while on loan from Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.

French Culture Minister Francoise Nyssen said she was delighted by the recovery of a work “whose disappearance represented a heavy loss for the French impressionist heritage.”



Back to Main Page

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Plummer rescues ‘All the Money’ from the dustbin

Andrew Lloyd Webber, turning 70, looks back and forward

Universal launches plans for third ‘Jurassic World’ film

Ed Sheeran is world’s best-selling recording artist of 2017

Pitt, DiCaprio set to star in Tarantino’s Manson film

‘Phantom Thread’ spins a rich showcase for Day-Lewis

Brit Awards give top honors to Dua Lipa, Stormzy

French customs officials find stolen Degas in luggage on bus

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