April 14, 2018 - April 20, 2018
Film Review: Earnest ‘Peter Rabbit’ sure to delight young fans
shows Rose Byrne with characters (from left) Mopsy, voiced by Elizabeth
Debicki, Flopsy, voiced by Margot Robbie, Benjamin Bunny, voiced by Colin
Moody, Peter Rabbit, voiced by James Corden and Cottontail, voiced by Daisy
Ridley in a scene from “Peter Rabbit.” (Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - With warm
nostalgia for Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s tale, “Peter Rabbit”
director, producer and co-writer Will Gluck channels the author’s
earnestness into a sweet film sure to delight young fans.
Adults may find the plot predictable
and the pacing a bit wanting, but the dynamic animation and beloved
characters help compensate, as does the film’s cheeky self-awareness.
As in the book published in 1902, the
story begins with Peter Rabbit (James Corden) disobeying his parents’ rules
and sneaking into Old Mr. McGregor’s vegetable garden for a snack.
Old Mr. McGregor gives chase, but Peter
and his trusty sidekick, Benjamin Bunny (Colin Moody) elude capture. All
the running around gives the old man a heart attack, and Peter assumes all
their problems are solved — until McGregor’s great-nephew moves in.
Thomas McGregor (Domhnall Gleeson at
his most playful) is a tightly wound Londoner who resents relocating to the
countryside to care for the property. He’s still apoplectic about being
passed over for a promotion at Harrods, and that irritation is compounded
when he discovers his great-uncle’s house and garden are overrun with
cotton-tailed cuties he calls vermin.
The rabbits’ savior — and maybe
Thomas’, too — is Bea (Rose Byrne), a kind-hearted animal lover who lives
next door. She moved to the country to paint, and her best pieces recall
Potter’s original “Peter Rabbit” illustrations.
Those illustrations come to life at
various points during the film. The simple, hand-drawn animation contrasts
beautifully with the slick digital work that comprises most of the movie,
inserting realistic-looking talking rabbits into live-action scenes with
Byrne and Gleeson.
Peter recruits his younger sisters into
the battle for McGregor’s garden. Margot Robbie, Elizabeth Debicki and
Daisy Ridley respectively voice Flopsy, Mopsy and Cotton-Tail, and while
these T-shirt-wearing bunnies are undoubtedly adorable, the top-level talent
behind them is underused (with the exception of Robbie, who also narrates
As the conflict over the garden
escalates, it becomes clear that Peter and Thomas aren’t just fighting over
vegetables, but for Bea’s affections. It’s a modern romantic take on the
classic rabbit tale.
Gluck further modernizes the story with
a pop-packed soundtrack featuring music from Vampire Weekend, Basement Jaxx
and Fitz and the Tantrums.
The main characters’ trajectory is easy
to anticipate, and the movie knows it. At one point, the narrator describes
“a half-thought-out plan that’s dangerous, gutsy and convoluted, and in a
story like this, pretty much guaranteed to succeed.”
But there are many amusements to be
found among the ancillary characters, like a quartet of harmonizing birds
who are frequently and unceremoniously interrupted (perhaps a swipe at
Disney sweetness?) and a buck who can only repeat “headlights” when he sees
a car. Particularly hilarious is a loudmouthed, uncensored rooster who’s
shocked each morning that a new day has dawned.
There’s enough entertainment for
parents here, and plenty of good-natured humor for kids. Stay past the
credits for an extra dose of laughs.
“Peter Rabbit,” a Columbia Pictures
release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “for
some rude humor and action.” Running time: 100 minutes. Two and a half
stars out of four.
Italy museum aims to show
Casanova as more than just a lover
taken Tuesday, March 27, 2018, shows the Palazzo Pesaro Papafava in Venice,
Italy, which hosts the first ever Casanova Museum on the 18th century
Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Venice, Italy (AP) - A museum is
opening in the Venetian hometown of Giacomo Casanova, the 18th-century
adventurer and bon vivant, in hopes of educating visitors about more than
just his notorious womanizing.
The Giacomo Casanova Museum and
Experience doesn’t hide Casanova’s libidinous side. In fact, the six-room
museum includes a bedroom where a shadow installation makes it seem as if
Casanova is seducing a woman right in front of visitors.
But curators are seeking to shed light
on other aspects of the Venetian scholar and writer whose memoir, “History
of My Life,” provides one of the best chronicles of European high society of
the late 18th century.
“We want this character, this person,
to be known in his entirety,” said museum director Andrea Cosentino. “Here
we give the basis of what he was, not only as a lover but also as a man,
philosopher and scholar.”
Using a variety of virtual reality
technology, visitors can read, hear and watch digital presentations on
Casanova’s youth — he was born in 1795 in the Venetian Republic — and his
subsequent serial seductions.
In between, visitors can learn about
his travels across Europe, his relationship with the lagoon city, his
arrests and escapes, his personality and scholarly accomplishments, as well
as his portrayal in film over the years.
The museum is located in the Palazzo
Pesaro Papafava in Venice.
‘Chappaquiddick’ puts focus
on aftermath of Kennedy accident
shows Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy (left) and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne
in a scene from “Chappaquiddick.” (Claire Folger/Entertainment Studios via
Los Angeles (AP) —
Jason Clarke plunged into frigid waters, repeatedly, for his role as the
late Sen. Ted Kennedy in “Chappaquiddick.”
The Australian actor
said his research about the accident that thwarted Kennedy’s presidential
chances included jumping into Poucha Pond, the same waters the Massachusetts
Democrat’s car crashed into in July 1969, killing Mary Jo Kopechne.
Clarke said the indie
film, which is in limited release, doesn’t try to sensationalize the
accident, which Kennedy failed to report for 10 hours.
He said the film sticks
“to the facts as much as we could and to play it out without scandalizing,
without going to the tabloid of it.”
“This man committed
this act and he worked his way out of it with help and with his own moral
journey to the other side, where he then became one of the longest-serving
senators in history. I don’t think — partisanship aside — you can’t take
away from what he did.”
Kennedy went to
Martha’s Vineyard to race in the Edgartown Regatta and on the evening of
July 18, 1969, attended a party at a rented house on Chappaquiddick Island.
Guests included Kennedy friends and several women, including Kopechne, who
had worked on the presidential campaign of his brother Robert F. Kennedy,
assassinated a year earlier.
Kennedy and Kopechne,
28, left the party together and a short time later their car plunged into
Poucha Pond. Kennedy escaped from the submerged vehicle and said he made
several futile attempts to rescue Kopechne, who was trapped inside.
Kennedy, who died in
2009, later described his failure to report the incident to police for 10
hours as “indefensible.”
Clarke visited the
bridge and pond as part of his research for the film, even jumping in.
“It’s pretty much
unchanged apart from the bridge itself has got guard rails and wider.
There’s no other buildings. The Dike House is still there, the same place.
It’s dark. There’s no lights on the road,” he said. “The water is dark and
the current is strong.”
“I think I held my
breath for five seconds to see where I came up. And I came up a big
distance away,” Clarke said.
escape was recreated in the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Mexico. Clarke
said the scene was hard to shoot not only because of the ocean’s cold water,
but also because he had to get out of the car while upside down.
The film, an
Entertainment Studios release, spends more time on the aftermath of the
accident. Clarke said viewers should leave theaters with a greater
understanding of Kennedy.
“You can be with Ted a
bit. You cannot just externalize it and say bad, horrible, disgusting man.
You might want to at the end, but you can be there for it: on the phone
afterwards, the walk back, the swim, the lies, the made-up story — or
perhaps it’s actually really what did happen. But you can actually stay
there with Ted. Not enough to be a Kennedy, but enough to almost touch
him,” he said.
Jim Gaffigan, who plays
attorney Paul Markham, one of the co-hosts of the party that Kennedy and
Kopechne left together, agreed.
“We all have earlier
versions of ourselves that we’re not crazy about. At least I do,” he said.
“So there is something very interesting about the journey that Ted goes
through, and being exposed to his relationship with his father,” he said.
“Look, it’s not a documentary, but there is an attempt to be objective and
ask objective questions.”
British show’s take
on rendang curry riles Southeast Asians
national dish, Nasi Lemak and chicken rendang, are shown at a restaurant in
Subang Jaya, Malaysia, Tuesday, April 3. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)
Jakarta, Indonesia (AP) — Judges
on a popular British cooking show are being ridiculed for ignorance of Asian
food after insisting a Malaysian contestant’s chicken rendang curry should
have been crispy.
Foodies in Malaysia, Singapore and
Indonesia took to social media to vent at the critique of the Malaysian-born
cook’s traditional and standard method for preparing chicken rendang.
“The skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be
eaten but all the sauce is on the skin I can’t eat,” one of the MasterChef
UK judges complained in a recent episode of the show.
Online, Southeast Asians pointed out
that the chicken is cooked in curry sauce, not fried, and is never crispy.
Some accused the judges of neo-colonial attitudes and racism.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak
also chipped in, posting a photo of chicken rendang on Twitter and
light-heartedly asking whether anyone has ever eaten a crispy chicken
curry. Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said the judges were guilty
The contestant, Zaleha Kadir Olpin, was
eliminated from the competition but took to Instagram to vow she’d never
stop cooking the traditional way.
Her offending rendang was presented as
part of Malaysia’s national dish, Nasi Lemak, or rice cooked in coconut milk
that comes with sides such as peanuts, spicy prawns and rendang.
The judges lavished praise on most of
the ingredients but dismissed the non-crispy chicken rendang as a “mistake.”
One of the judges, John Torode, later
stirred more controversy online by trying to fuel the ages-old war of words
between Malaysians and Indonesians over which country invented rendang.
However the absurdity of the crispy curry saga has provided the neighboring
countries with a rare point of agreement.
The curry, which originates from West
Sumatra in Indonesia, is popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei
and southern Thailand.
April 7, 2018 - April 13, 2018
Film Review: ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ is cheer-at-the-screen fun
This image shows a scene from “Pacific Rim Uprising.”
(Legendary Pictures/Universal Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - At the end of
the monsters-versus-robots flick “Pacific Rim,” a breach at the bottom of
the Pacific Ocean is closed, plugging a hole that allowed hellish creatures
to emerge and terrorize the globe. But after the movie earned $400 million
worldwide, was that portal really going to stay closed?
No, of course not. And, with sincere
apologies to the front-line cities on the Pacific Rim facing a mauling, we
say thank goodness, because the new sequel “Pacific Rim Uprising” is a
visually-stunning, expertly crafted dose of cheer-at-the-screen fun. It’s
the definition of what a blockbuster sequel should be.
“Pacific Rim Uprising “ uses a lighter
palette and is geared toward a younger audience than its 2013 predecessor,
but it keeps all the key elements, upping the special effects and finding
honest moments and humor in the midst of world-destroying carnage. It
satisfies on every front.
Success wasn’t foreordained for the
sequel. Original writer Travis Beacham and director-writer Guillermo del
Toro haven’t returned (though del Toro is still a producer), nor have its
original stars, Charlie Hunnam and Idris Elba. (Elba had a very good reason
for not showing up: He blew himself up in the final moments of the original
to keep the Pacific portal closed).
Steven S. DeKnight, who created and ran
the TV series “Spartacus” on Starz, was tapped to direct while del Toro
focused on the smaller monster movie “Shape of Water.” DeKnight also teamed
up with Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder and T.S. Nowlin to craft the new
story, which champions outsiders and misfits as well as celebrates makeshift
families and teamwork. Plus, some stuff gets pummeled.
First, a step back for anyone not
familiar with this horrific near-future: Aliens have sent giant monsters
called Kaiju to soften us humans up ahead of world domination. But we’ve
created 270-foot tall robots called Jaegers to fight back. They’re so big
they need to be manned by pairs of operators who build a neural bridge
between their minds so they can work together.
The new film opens in 2035, 10 years
after the last Kaiju was defeated and the breach closed. It’s the calm
before the storm. Our heroes now are Jake (John Boyega), the rebellious son
of Elba’s character, and the teen orphan Amara (Cailee Spaeny), who builds
her own Jaeger out of spare parts. They join together to help the military
fight a new opponent — a rogue Jaeger that comes out of the sea and stomps
around menacingly. It is soon clear there’s a conspiracy afoot.
Boyega, fresh off his “Star Wars” gig,
is great here and plays a dashing rogue who struggles under his father’s
shadow but soon earns the respect of his peers. “We are a family now and we
are Earth’s last defense,” he says. He and Spaeny have an easy rapport and
some moments between them seem genuinely charming and goofy.
Charlie Day and Burn Gorman reprise
their roles as squabbling scientists, and Rinko Kikuchi is back as the
adopted daughter of Elba’s character. The rest of the cast is multiethnic,
competent and very sweaty. The robots now have hologram interiors and the
monsters seem less homages to past movie Kaijus and more designed to
permanently upset our dreams.
If the first movie’s fight sequences
were often set in the rainy dark, “Pacific Rim Uprising” embraces the
light. Cities are flattened during the day as monsters and robots slug it
out. Skyscrapers get punched, debris cascades down and cars get swiped
around. The connection between special effects and human actors is seamless
and astonishing. The level of detail — from complex cityscapes like
Shanghai and Tokyo to the icescapes of Siberia — is brilliant.
Part of the success of the “Pacific
Rim” films is that they have cobbled together enough elements of other films
to make them familiar yet newish. They owe “Blade Runner,” ‘’Independence
Day,” ‘’Minority Report,” ‘’Star Wars” and, of course, “Transformers” — not
to mention every Godzilla movie ever made — some residuals. But they also
have defined and introduced their own world and language.
It may not be nuanced, but it taps into
something mythical — ferocious monsters rising from nowhere to be battled by
21st century swordfighters. And it’s exhilarating, like when one triumphant
Jaeger gazes down at a downed opponent after a climactic fight and
insouciantly lifts its middle fingers. “Pacific Rim Uprising” is so
confident in itself that it basically promises a third film as the end
credits roll. We can’t wait.
“Pacific Rim Uprising,” a Universal
release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for
“sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and some language.” Running time:
111 minutes. Three and a half stars out of four.
Prince family lawyers to view data for
Chaska, Minn. (AP) — Prosecutors
in the Minnesota county where pop artist Prince died have agreed to share
investigative files with attorneys for the musician’s family under strict
Carver County Attorney Mark Metz says Prince’s death
investigation remains active, so the data is confidential. But family
attorneys may view it to determine whether to file a lawsuit in Illinois
before a two-year statute of limitations expires.
Prince’s plane stopped in Moline, Illinois, when he
became ill from a suspected drug overdose days before his death. He died
April 21, 2016.
A judge’s order says attorneys must view the data at
the sheriff’s office only. It must not be copied, shared or openly
Investigative data becomes public in Minnesota after a
case is resolved, or if no charges are filed. Metz said he plans to make a
charging decision in the near future.
Grammy winner to serve sentence
in Hawaii for Guam drug case
Yvonne Elliman poses in Los Angeles in this
March 20, 1978 file photo. (AP Photo)
Hagatna, Guam (AP) — A Grammy Award-winning
singer who gained fame for hits from “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Saturday
Night Fever” and pleaded guilty to drug possession charges in Guam can serve
her sentence in Hawaii, her lawyer said.
Yvonne Marianne Elliman-Alexander, 66,
who performs under her maiden name Yvonne Elliman, and her husband, Allen
Bernard Alexander, were sentenced last week in the U.S. territory, where
they had gone to perform at a benefit concert.
Their attorney, Mike Phillips, told The
Associated Press they received a 14-day sentence that they will be able to
serve by observing courtroom proceedings of a drug offender probation
program in Honolulu. They will likely have to do that for 13 days because
they will receive credit for one day of incarcerated time served, Phillips
said. They both pleaded guilty to felony drug possession charges in August.
After a court appearance in Guam,
Elliman-Alexander said she and her husband had performed about 120 hours of
community service in Hawaii, where they live.
“Get help, and when you’re feeling
stronger, help others,” Elliman-Alexander said. “I think that’s why we did
so well because we did help other people.”
Airport officers said they found
marijuana in Alexander’s belongings and crystal-like rocks and a glass pipe
in Elliman-Alexander’s belongings, the Pacific Daily News reported.
The couple were arrested in Guam, but
the concert they performed to benefit a Catholic school went forward even
though the archdiocese on the heavily Catholic island opposed it.
The court previously granted the
couple’s request to leave Guam and return to Hawaii to care for
Elliman-Alexander’s ailing mother after they pleaded guilty.
Elliman-Alexander had her first hit, “I
Don’t Know How to Love Him” from “Jesus Chris Superstar,” and she played
Mary Magdalene in the 1973 movie version of the Broadway hit. She also
performed “If I Can’t Have You” on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack,
which won a Grammy for album of the year in 1978.
Greek govt upset as spy show denied access to ancient temple
In this June
20, 2016 file photo, the full moon rises near the ancient marble Temple of
Poseidon at Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens. (AP Photo/Petros
Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos
Athens, Greece (AP) — A
highly-anticipated television series adapting spy novelist John le Carre’s
“The Little Drummer Girl” will not include scenes from an ancient site near
Athens after a panel of archaeologists turned down an access request by the
BBC and the U.S.-based cable network AMC.
Greece’s powerful Central
Archaeological Council denied the one-day access request to the 2,500-years
old Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, saying the site would be closed to
visitors for too many hours and the production team would be too large.
The decision triggered a furious
reaction from the Greece’s government, which launched a campaign three days
ago to attract film productions to Greece with a series of incentives. The
government says overseas productions could be a key growth area in the
country that is emerging from eight years of crippling financial crisis.
“We have declared that Greece is now
film-friendly. A few days later, another institution is contradicting this,
not us but the hopes and ambitions of artists, technicians and thousands of
professionals that are a part of this industry. It is an international
embarrassment,” Lefteris Kretsos, general secretary at the government’s
media and communication department, said.
The decision, he said, “once again
highlights the issues we have as a country.”
Filming at Greek archaeological sites,
whether for commercial productions or news reporting, requires a permit from
archaeologists that is often near impossible and very costly to obtain.
The six-part series is due for global
release next year and stars Swedish actor Alexander Skarsgard and Britain’s
Florence Pugh, while South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook will make his
television debut with the project.
In the 1983 novel, an Israeli spy chief
hunts a Palestinian bomber around Europe, recruiting a young English actress
to try and expose him.
Ten of Le Carre’s novels have been
adapted to movies. His work is also widely known from the BBC TV series
“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “Smiley’s People,” starring Alec
Guinness as Cold War intelligence officer George Smiley.
March 31, 2018 - April 6, 2018
Film Review: With Vikander leading, ‘Tomb Raider’ isn’t half bad
image released by Warner Bros. Pictures shows Alicia Vikander in a scene
from “Tomb Raider.” (Ilze Kitshoff/Warner Bros. Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - In “Tomb
Raider,” which has elements of “Indiana Jones,” ‘’Batman” and even
“Tron: Legacy,” but with an angsty young woman at the center instead of
an angsty young man, Alicia Vikander takes a lot of beatings. She is
punched in the face, and in the stomach, she is thrown against rocks and
sent careening through a forest, she is impaled, hit by a car, left in
an impossible one-handed dead hang at least four times, and she is
choked, really choked, by both men and women alike.
And she pulls it off! The movie
itself is another, more complicated, story, but this video game adaption
is better than most with set pieces that are both fun and ridiculous
(like a high-stakes escape room) that actually seem to approximate the
experience of playing a video game.
After two pretty lousy attempts,
and a lot of terrible video game adaptations on the way, Hollywood has
resurrected “Tomb Raider,” and plucked the most recent supporting
actress Oscar winner production could get their hands on. And like
Angelina Jolie before her, Vikander has, exactly two years after her
Academy Award win for an emotional drama, stepped into Lara Croft’s
combat boots and decided to raid some tombs.
Directed by Norwegian filmmaker
Roar Uthaug (“The Wave”), Lara is introduced getting her butt kicked in
a boxing ring. The gym membership that gives her access to these
low-rent Rocky-esque facilities is one she can’t afford to pay. She is
scrappy and barely getting by on her bike courier service paycheck. She
also isn’t afraid to take on a challenge for a few hundred bucks, like,
say, biking through the streets of London with a foxtail attached to her
machine while two dozen guys try to catch her. But she’s also not past
seeing a random business man on the street, thinking that perhaps it is
her long-lost and presumed to be dead father (Dominic West) and going
into a hazy flashback dream that distracts her enough to lose focus in
the race and flip over a police car.
At the local police station, we
learn the truth of Lara: This isn’t some working class girl at all, this
is someone who grew up wealthier than most could imagine and whose
inheritance won’t kick in until she signs some papers acknowledging that
her father, who disappeared seven years ago, is dead. Just as she’s
about to concede to her father’s deputy (Kristin Scott Thomas), she
stumbles on a clue that sends her on a journey to find out what happened
to her father on that remote island off the coast of Japan. He was
looking for some ancient “death queen” named Himiko that we spend the
next half of the film talking about and searching for.
Lara swings by Hong Kong first and
gets the son of a man her father knew, Lu Ren (a compelling but
underused Daniel Wu) to join her on this adventure. One harrowing boat
ride later and they’ve smashed into the island and found themselves in
the possession of Vogel (Walton Goggins), a mercenary who is trying to
get the mummified Himiko off the island.
It’s here that the film’s set
pieces really start to click, and Lara, whose bulging back muscles are
shown off at every possible opportunity, is put through the ringer
trying to escape from Vogel. That the production put her in cargo pants
for the duration and not the Jolie short-shorts is perhaps a sign of
The film not-so-subtly borrows from
a half dozen better films, but even so, there are definitely ways the
story of “Tomb Raider” might have been improved. Lara is for all her
gumption, a pretty passive protagonist, for one.
As it stands, though, “Tomb Raider”
is an often fun and visually compelling action pic that is also
sometimes unintentionally silly, with a great actress leading the whole
“Tomb Raider,” a Warner Bros.
release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for
“sequences of violence and action, and for some language.” Running
time: 118 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.
South Korean K-Pop singers to perform in North Korea
Members of South Korean popular girl band
Red Velvet pose for photographers in this Jan. 10, 2018, photo. (Lim
Tae-hoon/Newsis via AP)
Korea (AP) — South Korea has said it will
send a 160-member artistic group to North Korea, including about 10
celebrated K-Pop singers, for rare concerts there.
The South Korean
musical artists will visit Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, from March
31 to April 3 and give two performances, according to a joint statement
issued after the two Koreas met at a border village last week.
comes during a thaw in the North Korean nuclear crisis. A North Korean
band performed in South Korea during the recently ended Pyeongchang
The South Korean
delegation will include some of the country’s pop legends, including Cho
Yong-pil, Lee Sunhee and Cho Jin Hee, who performed in Pyongyang during
a previous era of detente. Popular girl band Red Velvet is also among
the South Korean groups, the statement said.
South Korea last
sent a pop singer to North Korea in 2005, according to Seoul’s
During last week’s
talks, the two Koreas were unable to agree on which songs the South
Korean singers will sing in Pyongyang, a potentially sensitive issue in
a country where most citizens are blocked from accessing outside
information. But South Korean delegates said they are optimistic an
agreement can be reached, saying they will exchange letters via a
cross-border communication channel.
“When it comes to
the list of songs, I don’t think it will take a long time if we talk
about the songs they know,” said chief South Korean delegate Yoon Sang,
a popular singer and composer. “Some sensitivity remains regarding which
songs we’ll choose.”
The Koreas also
haven’t agreed on who else will be included in the South Korean artistic
delegation other than K-Pop singers. Past South Korean performances in
the North included a joint symphony concert, an opera and folk music.
Yoon’s North Korean
counterpart in the talks was Hyon Song Wol, leader of the North’s only
girl band. She also headed another North Korean band which performed in
the South during the Olympics.