Film Review: In ‘The Dark Tower,’ franchise visions fall flat
image shows Idris Elba in the Columbia Pictures film, “The Dark Tower.”
(Ilze Kitshoff/Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) - Ah,
August. It’s that time of year when you can head to your local
multiplex to see Matthew McConaughey as an interplanetary David
Copperfield who’s trying to use his “magics” to destroy a looming tower
that protects the universe from ready-to-invade hordes of demons that
linger just outside the universe. So, I guess, pretty far out there in
To be fair, this August boasts some
of the more intriguing films of the summer, like Steven Soderbergh’s
triumphant return (“Logan Lucky”) and Kathryn Bigelow’s furious
race-riots docudrama (“Detroit”). “The Dark Tower,’ though, is the more
traditional late-summer offering: a long-in-development,
not-ready-for-prime-time studio dump.
A litany of directors, including
J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard, has tried to crack Stephen King’s magnum
opus, a series of seven novels he wrote over more than two decades. But
after much shuffling, “The Dark Tower” has finally arrived via director
Nikolaj Arcel, who penned the 2009 Swedish adaptation of “The Girl With
the Dragon Tattoo” and helmed the 18th century Danish period drama “A
The special effects-heavy fantasy
is a leap in production size that outstrips Arcel. The film, at a lean
95 minutes, has the unmistakable air of a mitigated disaster. Its scope
and running time have seemingly been reined in to keep “The Dark Tower”
from completely toppling. What’s left is an elaborate and grand scheme
told briskly but emptily — like if someone tried to explain the HBO
series “Westworld” in 30 seconds or less.
“Westworld” surely took some of its
inspiration from “The Dark Tower,” a soupy mix of sci-fi, horror,
Western and Arthurian legend. The elaborate concoction of genres — it’s
King to the max — would likely humble most any filmmaker. We have, as a
civilization, found a way to marry Taco Bells with Pizza Huts, but the
combo of wizards and cowboys remains a vexing one.
After a brief hint of what’s to
come, the movie opens in modern New York City with a young teenager:
Jake Chambers (newcomer Tom Taylor). His dreams are plagued by visions
of an alternate world, Mid-World, where he sees a gunslinger named
Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) battling the Man in Black (McConaughey),
who’s hell-bent, for reasons unknown, on ending the universe.
Jake furiously sketches his
visions, prompting his sensitive but uncertain mother (Abby Lee, the
best and most natural thing in this mess) and comic-book-cruel
stepfather to agree to send him to a psychiatric retreat upstate. But
when two arrive to retrieve him, Jake observes a feature in their faces
from his dreams: the stitches of false skin. He flees and improvises
his way to a building from his visions that turns out to be a portal to
Mid-World. “This is good,” he says. “It’s all real.” He tosses in a
shoe as a test and soon thereafter plummets in.
There he quickly runs into Roland,
the stone-faced, duster-wearing gunslinger with a six-shooter in a land
with minimal guns or bullets. The name comes from King’s inspiration,
the Robert Browning poem “Child Rolande to the Dark Tower Came,” and
King’s Roland has a grim quest of his own: to avenge the Man in Black
for murdering his father. Jake, we learn, will play a pivotal role in
the battle that will decide the fate of both worlds — Mid-World and, as
Roland calls it, Keystone Earth. His “shine,” we are often told, is
strong and pure.
Elba is, as usual, a powerful force
on the screen who deserves better. McConaughey’s character, though, is
more outlandish. Thanks to his team of henchmen, the Man in Black zips
between worlds like no one else. His dark powers are such that he can
catch bullets between his fingers and, to nearly all but Roland, give
flip commands like “Stop breathing” and the victim will promptly keel
over. If only he could stride past the movie, itself, and order
But “The Dark Tower” is never quite
a punchline. Such actors as Elba and McConaughey are too good, the
youngster Taylor acquits himself well and the tale is on fairly stable
ground while on Keystone Earth. Mid-World and its necessary special
effects, however, not so much.
Reaching half-heartedly for the
epic only makes “The Dark Tower” appear all the smaller, especially as
it jumps back and forth between alternate worlds. You begin to hope
that midway to Mid-World, McConaughey and Elba will just call time out
and start acting out a new season of “True Detective” together.
“Dark Tower,” a Columbia Pictures,
is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for
“thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.”
Running time: 111 minutes. Two stars out of four.
Cruise ankle break halts ‘Mission: Impossible 6’ production
Impossible star Tom Cruise. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Los Angeles (AP) -
Production has shut down on “Mission: Impossible 6” due to star Tom
Cruise’s broken ankle. Paramount Pictures said that production will go
on hiatus while Cruise makes a full recovery.
Cruise broke his ankle while performing a stunt for
the film during its London-based shoot.
TMZ posted a video that showed a tethered Cruise
leaping to a building, hitting its side and then crawling over the top
and running away. After he finished the take, Cruise is seen limping,
though he was able to rappel back to the building he jumped from.
The 55-year-old actor is known for performing many
of his own stunts.
The studio says that the film remains on schedule
to open on July 27, 2018.
Film Review: ‘T2 Trainspotting’ a nostalgic trip toward adulthood
shows Ewan McGregor (left) and Ewen Bremner in a scene from “T2:
Trainspotting.” (Graeme Hunter/Sony - TriStar Pictures via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
Nostalgia can be tricky, casting a rose-colored glow on memories that may
not deserve it. Do we look back fondly on our youth because it was so
magical, or simply because it was our youth, with so many mistakes yet to be
That question is
central in “T2 Trainspotting,” which is all about the hazy warmth of
nostalgia, both for its characters and its audience.
Twenty-one years after
“Trainspotting” shocked moviegoers with depictions of drug use and
directionless Gen-Xers, “T2” reunites the original writer, director and cast
for another timely look at modern life. These characters that wiled away
their 20s with heroin and petty crime in a cult film that captured the
frustrated voice of a generation are now middle-aged, with all the
perspective and regret the passage of time can bring.
Of course, director
Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and stars Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee
Miller, Ewen Bremner and Robert Carlyle have experienced that same passage
of time, making “T2” even more poignant than an ordinary movie about male
friendships. Here, the fictional characters and real filmmakers are facing
the same challenges of aging and adulthood; of returning to a formative
place after two decades and reflecting on what’s happened since.
Mark Renton (McGregor),
who kicked drugs and ripped off his friends in the original “Trainspotting,”
comes back to Edinburgh as his life is falling apart. He pursued exactly
the kind of mainstream lifestyle he railed against in the film’s famous
“choose life” monologue. Despite having a wife, a house, a corporate job
and a gym membership, Renton is miserable.
He finds Sick Boy
(Miller), now known as Simon, still living on the fringe. Rocking the same
bleached-blond hair he did in his 20s, Simon supports his cocaine habit by
secretly filming and blackmailing men who sleep with his prostitute
Spud (Bremner) is still
struggling with heroin addiction, and has seen his personal relationships
crumble. Begbie (Carlyle) is still in jail.
All hold varying
grudges against Renton, who has come to make amends.
There’s a maturity and
a seriousness to “T2” that was absent from the original. If “Trainspotting”
was an irreverent kid who considered heroin a playful pastime and thievery
an essential life component, “T2” is its wizened older brother who
understands consequences. (Note to viewers: While “T2” offers enough
explication to stand alone, those who’ve seen the original will get more
from the sequel.)
There’s still a lot of
fun to be had in “T2.” Boyle plays with some of the cinematic tricks that
were so eye-popping in the original, though they look less groundbreaking
here. There’s also a thrilling heist, a punchy soundtrack and an excellent
update of Renton’s “choose life” speech.
And Spud emerges as the
heart of the story.
romanticizing their drug-fueled youth, “T2” is about accepting that reality
and finding value in it. These guys aren’t thumbing their nose at society
like they did 20 years ago. They recognize they’re part of society, whether
they like it or not, and their lives — no matter how messed up — are theirs
It’s a story of
redemption, as each of the characters make peace with their pasts. For
these four guys, what matters at midlife isn’t rebellion, but friendship,
family and seeing things as they are.
“T2 Trainspotting,” a
Sony Pictures release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “drug use, language throughout, strong sexual content, graphic
nudity and some violence.” Running time: 118 minutes. Three stars out of
Glen Campbell said goodbye
to his life, career through music
Musician Glen Campbell is shown in this July 27,
2011 file photo. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Los Angeles (AP) — Glen Campbell
was a rare entertainer who got to say goodbye to his life and career in
every way he knew how.
Before his mind evaporated into
Alzheimer’s disease, Campbell was able to go out on one last big tour, star
in a documentary and record an album of his favorite songs, fittingly called
“Adios.” Three of his children sing on the album, which was released
earlier this summer.
The country superstar died last week in
Nashville, Tennessee. He was 81.
A guitarist since age 4, Campbell’s
musical talent, boyish looks and friendly charm brought him decades of
success. He won five Grammys, sold more than 45 million records, had 12
gold albums and 75 chart hits, including No. 1 songs with “Rhinestone
Cowboy” and “Southern Nights.”
His performance of the title song from
the 1969 film “True Grit,” in which he played a Texas Ranger alongside Oscar
winner John Wayne, received an Academy Award nomination. Campbell was
nominated again for an Oscar in 2015 for “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” a song
from the documentary “Glen Campbell... I’ll Be Me.”
The 2014 film about Campbell’s farewell
tour in 2011 and 2012 offers a poignant look at his decline from Alzheimer’s
while showcasing his virtuoso guitar chops that somehow continued to shine
as his mind unraveled.
His wife, Kim Campbell, announced
earlier this year that her husband could no longer play guitar.
Campbell’s musical career dated back to
the early years of rock ‘n roll. He toured with the Champs of “Tequila”
fame. He was part of the house band for the ABC TV show “Shindig!” and a
member of Phil Spector’s “Wrecking Crew” studio band that played on hits by
the Ronettes, the Righteous Brothers and the Crystals. Campbell also played
guitar on Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers In the Night,” The Monkees’ “I’m a
Believer” and Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas.”
“We’d get the rock ‘n’ roll guys and
play all that, then we’d get Sinatra and Dean Martin,” Campbell told The
Associated Press in 2011. “That was a kick. I really enjoyed that. I
didn’t want to go nowhere. I was making more money than I ever made just
doing studio work.”
One of 12 children, Campbell left his
native Arkansas and a life of farm work as a teenager in pursuit of music.
He moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to join his uncle’s band and appear on
his uncle’s radio show. By his early 20s, Campbell had formed his own
group, the Western Wranglers, and moved to Los Angeles. He opened for The
Doors and sang and played bass with The Beach Boys as a replacement for
Brian Wilson, who in the mid-’60s had retired from touring to concentrate on
studio work. In 1966, Campbell played on The Beach Boys’ classic “Pet
“I didn’t go to Nashville because
Nashville at that time seemed one-dimensional to me,” he told the AP. “I’m
a jazzer. I just love to get the guitar and play the hell out of it if I
By the late ’60s, he was a performer on
his own, and an appearance on Joey Bishop’s show led to his TV
breakthrough. Tommy Smothers of the Smothers Brothers saw the program and
asked Campbell if he’d like to host a summertime series, “The Summer
Brothers Smothers Show.”
“The whole lid just blew off,” Campbell
told the AP. “I had never had anything like that happen to me. I got more
phone calls. It was awesome. For the first couple of days I was like how
do they know me? I didn’t realize the power of television.”
His guests included country acts, but
also The Monkees, Lucille Ball, Cream, Neil Diamond and Ella Fitzgerald.
Like his crossover contemporaries
Johnny Cash, Roy Clark and Kenny Rogers, Campbell also enjoyed success on
TV. He had a weekly audience of some 50 million people for the “Glen
Campbell Goodtime Hour” on CBS.
He released more than 70 of his own
albums, and in the 1990s recorded a series of gospel CDs. A 2011 album,
“Ghost On the Canvas,” included contributions from Jacob Dylan, Rick Nielsen
of Cheap Trick and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. “Adios” features
collaborations with Willie Nelson and Vince Gill.
Besides wife Kim and daughter Ashley,
Campbell is survived by children Cal, Shannon, Debby, Kelli, Travis, Kane
and Dillon, and 10 grandchildren.
Ou-yang Nana swings from Jackie Chan role to Disney album
actress/musician Ou-yang Nana.
(AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Taipei, Taiwan (AP)
- Ou-yang Nana may be the new ‘it girl,’ with a
starring role in the next Jackie Chan movie, but she’s returning to her
roots and first love: cello.
The 17-year-old actress
just released her second cello album, “Cello Loves Disney,” where she plays
all the classic hits from her favorite fairy tales. Ou-yang said that it
was a dream come true to record the songs she loves and knows by heart,
including “Tale as Old as Time” from “Beauty and the Beast.”
“Never did I imagine
that when I’m 17, I could play it and release the album. When I was little,
I’d sit on sofa and watch the movie. I’d think, ‘Oh, Belle is so beautiful
when she’s dancing with Beast.’
“This was also the
first song that I recorded for the album. There was a lot to adjust, to get
used to, but I still need to sound sweet and full of love.”
Ou-yang was born into a
family of entertainers. Her aunt, Ou-yang Fei Fei, was a famous singer in
Taiwan in the 1970s. Both her parents acted in television in Taiwan.
Ou-yang Nana was trained to become a classic cellist, but dropped out of
school to pursue acting full time.
Her role in the 2014
film “Beijing Love Story” jump-started her acting career. At 15, she was a
guest of Chanel at its Paris Fashion show, taking selfies with Karl
Lagerfeld backstage. She just released ‘Secret Fruit,’ a coming-of-age love
story, in China.
Next, Ou-yang will be
playing Jackie Chan’s daughter in his new action sci-fi film “Bleeding
Steel,” scheduled for release in December. She said the action star has
shared with her words of wisdom that she has taken to heart.
“You will never see
(Jackie Chan) tired. I’ve never heard him say he’s tired, or wants to sleep
or take a break. ... When I see him like that, I feel so inadequate. He
also tells me that I should work harder when I’m young, so that I don’t have
any regrets when I’m old.”
Ou-yang said she is not
ruling out going back to school one day, but doesn’t wish to be a normal
“I choose this life. I
want to be an actress, I want to be a cellist,” she said. “So I have to
learn to accept all the things like paparazzi, and the reporters ... or
cyberbullies. These things I have to learn.”
Scientists name prehistoric croc
after Lemmy from Motorhead
frontman Lemmy Kilmister is shown in this June 26, 2015 file photo.. (Photo
by Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
London (AP) — Scientists have
named a prehistoric crocodile described as “one of the nastiest sea
creatures to have ever inhabited the earth” after late Motorhead frontman
and British heavy metal icon Lemmy Kilmister.
London’s Natural History Museum says the fossil of
what’s now known as Lemmysuchus obtusidens was dug up in England in the
early 20th century but was incorrectly categorized with other sea crocodiles
found in the area.
Researchers recently took another look at the specimen
and gave it a new classification and a scientific name of its own.
The fossil is housed at the museum. Curator Lorna Steel
suggested it be named after Kilmister, who died in 2015. She said in a
statement that “we’d like to think that he would have raised a glass to
Film Review: ‘Cars 3’ steers a welcome if imperfect gender shift
shows Lightning McQueen, voiced by Owen Wilson (right) and Cruz Ramirez,
voiced by Cristela Alonzo in a scene from “Cars 3.” (Disney-Pixar via AP)
New York (AP) - Three films in,
it’s time to ask some hard questions about the world of “Cars.”
What are their interiors like? Brains
and a heart or plush leather seating and cup holders? Do they pay life or
car insurance? And where, good God, have all the people gone? Are they, as
I fear, hidden away in the trunks?
While the cycle of life and death is
movingly detailed in most every Pixar movie, particularly in the “Toy Story”
series, the aluminum-thin world of “Cars” has always been the exception.
The movies and their windshield-eyed cars have none of the existential soul
of “Inside Out” or “Finding Nemo.” They’re fun enough — and still
dazzlingly animated — but they’re Pixar on cruise control.
Yet kids — boys especially — love them,
and so Pixar keeps making them, even while reproduction, itself, remains a
foggy issue in “Cars”-land. Thankfully, after the wayward European trip of
the scattershot “Cars 2,” there’s more under the hood of “Cars 3.” But
despite all the colorful shine, this is still the used-car lot of Pixar’s
high-octane fleet. Lacking the magic of Pixar’s more tender touchstones,
“Cars 3” mostly makes you pine for the halcyon summers of “Ratatouille” or
“WALL-E,” an era that unfortunately continues to recede in the rearview.
Previous “Cars” director and Pixar
chief John Lasseter cedes the directing to veteran Pixar storyboard artist
Brian Fee for “Cars 3,” which finds an aging Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson)
getting outraced by a new pack of metrics-optimized young racers like the
arrogant Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer). With retirement suddenly looming
after a bad crash, McQueen endeavors to train his way back to the top, ala
This is, at first, a fairly unpleasant
ride. The movie is almost as loud as a NASCAR race; Wilson’s McQueen — a
confident winner, not a humble underdog — remains the most uninteresting of
Pixar protagonists; and the whole thing, like previous installments, is
nauseatingly male, without a female racecar in sight. (The first “Cars”
film, while full of charming Route 66 nostalgia, sunk low enough to have
twin girl cars “flash” McQueen with their high-beams.)
But redemption is belatedly,
imperfectly at hand. After McQueen’s old sponsor, Rust-eze is bought by a
tasteful billionaire named Sterling (Nathan Fillion), he’s assigned a
trainer, Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo), who works him out like a
motivation-shouting spin-class instructor.
This, at first, begs an eye roll from
wiper to wiper. Cruz is blandly yellow, over-eager and named like a
celebrity baby. But as “Cars 3” chugs along, her story fuses with McQueen’s
and eventually speeds away. Her latent, untapped racing dreams emerge just
as McQueen is making peace with getting older.
Pixar, a high-tech digital animator
predicated on old-school storytelling, has long made calibrating progress
with tradition its grand mission. Think of WALL-E and the newer,
iPhone-like model, Eve; the threat of Buzz Lightyear to a rootin’-tootin’
cowboy; or the fear Riley experiences moving from rural Minnesota to San
Now it’s Lightning McQueen’s turn to
face a new chapter in life. “Cars 3” is at its best, narratively and
visually, when the story brings McQueen to a long forgotten dirt track in
what appears to be the Smokey Mountains. There, he encounters a handful of
old veteran racing legends (Chris Cooper, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Junior
Johnson, Margo Martindale) who school McQueen not just on racing but on the
joys of mentorship. They are old friends of Doc Hudson (Paul Newman), whose
posthumous Obi-wan-like presence still steers McQueen.
“Cars” (2006) was Newman’s last movie,
and one of the best things about this sequel is hearing the actor’s
majestically gravelly voice again. His words from the original are called
back numerous times, and they lend a gravity these movies otherwise lack.
Still, I’m not sold on Cruz’s story
line, which ultimately depends less on her own drive than the permission of
the males around her. And even while rooting for her, I wished she was a
more dynamic character, defined by more than her insecurity.
Yet the left-hand, gender-flipping turn
that “Cars 3” takes is the most welcome and surprising twist yet in the
“Cars” movies. Pixar, as ever, has some moves left and fuel in the tank.
“Cars 3,” a Walt Disney Co. release, is
rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America. Running time: 109
minutes. Two stars out of four.
Vanity Fair stands by Angelina Jolie cover story
Jolie. (AP Photo)
Los Angeles (AP) — Vanity
Fair is standing by its description of the casting
process used for Angelina Jolie’s forthcoming Netflix film, “First They
Killed My Father.”
The magazine wrote in a statement that
it has reviewed transcripts and audio recordings from interviews with Jolie
that were used to produce its September cover story about the actress.
The article described a “game” used to
find the child star of Jolie’s film about the Khmer Rouge regime in
Cambodia. It said casting directors presented money to impoverished
children only to take it away from them as an acting exercise.
Jolie said last week that the
suggestion that real money was taken from children during the auditions is
“false and upsetting.” She also said parents and guardians were present
throughout the audition process.
“First They Killed My Father” is set to
premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Jolie
co-wrote and directed the adaptation of Loung Ung’s 2000 memoir about
growing up under the brutal reign of Pol Pot.
Robert Hardy, Cornelius Fudge
in ‘Harry Potter’, dies at 91
Hardy, star of All Creatures Great and Small and the Harry Potter films is
shown in this Oct. 29, 2015 file photo. (Nick Ansell/PA File via AP)
London (AP) — Robert Hardy, a
veteran British stage and screen actor who played Minister for Magic
Cornelius Fudge in the “Harry Potter” movies, died last week. He was 91.
His family said Hardy died August 3
after “a tremendous life: a giant career in theater, television and film
spanning more than 70 years.”
Born in 1925, Hardy served in the Royal
Air Force during World War II and studied at Oxford University, where he
became friends with another aspiring actor, Richard Burton.
He began his career after the war in
Shakespearean roles onstage in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Between 1978 and 1990, Hardy played the
eccentric veterinarian Siegfried Farnon in “All Creatures Great and Small,”
a popular TV series based on James Herriot’s books about rural life in the
Hardy played British Prime Minister
Winston Churchill in at least half a dozen films and TV series, including
the miniseries “Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years” and “War and
Remembrance.” He also played U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt,
Churchill’s wartime ally, in both British and French TV series.
In a statement, Hardy’s family said he
was also “a meticulous linguist, a fine artist, a lover of music and a
champion of literature, as well a highly respected historian, and a leading
specialist on the longbow.”
They said he was part of the team that
raised the Tudor warship the Mary Rose, which sank off England’s south coast
“Gruff, elegant, twinkly and always
dignified, he is celebrated by all who knew him and loved him, and everyone
who enjoyed his work,” the family said.
Jenna Coleman: Casting a female ‘Doctor Who’ is ‘genius’
Jenna Coleman. (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP)
Beverly Hills, Calif. (AP) —
Jenna Coleman, a former “Doctor Who” companion, says casting a female as the
lead of the long-running sci-fi series is “genius.”
“Oh, I love it,” the actress said during a recent
Television Critics Association panel about her Masterpiece series,
Last month, Jodie Whittaker was announced as the 13th
official incarnation of the galaxy-hopping Time Lord who travels in a time
machine shaped like an old-fashioned British police telephone booth.
Coleman added that she thinks Whittaker is “brilliant
and lovely” and she “can’t wait to hear” Whittaker’s voice as the character.
“It’s very exciting times,” she said.
On the BBC’s “Doctor Who,” the main character can
regenerate into new bodies, allowing for endless recasting possibilities.
Coleman played a “Doctor Who” companion from 2012 to
Film Review: In ‘Atomic Blonde,’ Theron heats up the Cold War
shows Charlize Theron in a scene from “Atomic Blonde.” (Jonathan Prime/Focus
Features via AP)
Los Angeles (AP) -
People don’t usually move very fast in Cold War thrillers. Mostly, the only
time anyone runs is right before they get shot in the back. Most of the
“action” happens in a film cabinet, down a back alley or with a silencer.
The classic Cold War tale — which is to say a John le Carre one — is
characterized by a deathly stillness: grave faces meeting under gray clouds.
This is not quite so in
“Atomic Blonde,” a post-war thriller set in the final moments of the Cold
War (1989 Berlin) starring Charlize Theron as the MI6 spy Lorraine
Broughton. She’s not your traditional European operator. Let’s just say
that if Theron’s Broughton turned up in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” the old
boys would’ve soiled their trench coats.
Broughton is black and
blue at the opening of David Leitch’s “Atomic Blonde,” and the first thought
is that Theron must be licking her wounds from playing Furiosa in “Mad Max:
Fury Road.” If that film didn’t prove that Theron is today’s most badass
action star, “Atomic Blonde” — while not anywhere near the kinetic explosion
of “Fury Road” — will certainly make it official.
The bruises turn out to
be from the story she soon relates. Broughton spends the movie in a testy
interrogation with her MI6 boss (Toby Jones) and a CIA chief (John
Goodman). The mission she recounts is her dispatching to West Berlin to
assist the station chief there, David Percival (a zany James McAvoy), in
recovering a missing list with the names of every British asset — something
the Russians are rather keen to obtain.
So far, that might
sound somewhat le Carre-like. But it’s not minutes after being picked up
from the airport that Lorraine finds herself jabbing an assailant with her
heel, pushing him out of a moving car, and forcing the driver into flipping
the car over.
Leitch is a veteran
stuntman who co-directed the action hit “John Wick,” in which Keanu Reeves
wrecks endless vengeance on those who killed his dog. The backdrop is more
lavish in “Atomic Blonde,” but the hand-to-hand combat is no less primary.
Whereas another spy thriller might gradually go deeper into its complex
networks of allegiances, “Atomic Blonde,” based on Antony Johnston’s graphic
novel “The Coldest City,” stays on the surface, keeps the body count
increasing and the ’80s score blaring.
And, man, does it
blare. The soundtrack, especially early in the film, is bludgeoningly
prominent. The combination of violence with ’80s pop hits is, to Leitch, an
inexhaustible cleverness. So if you want to see someone fatally beaten with
a skateboard to the tune of Nena’s “99 Luftballons” or a stabbing set to
‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry,” you have finally found your film.
“Atomic Blonde” is
largely a vacant, hyper-stylistic romp that trades on the thick Cold War
atmosphere of far better films (not to mention “The Americans”). It’s all
dagger, no cloak. But it has two things going for it.
One is Leitch’s
facility with an action scene. The film, technically speaking, gets off to
a rough start when a body is sent flying by a ramming car in the kind of
blatantly unrealistic CGI fling that ruins movies. But he later goes for a
much more bravura scene in a seemingly uncut sequence in which Broughton
takes on a number of assailants on a stairwell in a fight that eventually
spills out into the streets.
It’s easy to see that
Leitch is aiming for a more acrobatic version of the famous corridor scene
from Park Chan-wook’s “Oldboy.” And there’s no doubt it will have some fans
cheering for its audacious seamlessness. But the virtuosity on display is
spoiled by its own showoff-y self-awareness. The sequence, a hermetic burst
of filmmaking finesse, has nothing to do with the rest of film; it’s just a
calling card for a filmmakers’ highlight reel.
But the other asset of
“Atomic Blonde” is altogether more formidable. Theron doesn’t so much as
dominate “Atomic Blonde” as steadily subjugate every other soul in the film
— and those in the audience — into her complete command. Like her more
timid le Carre forebearers, there’s no pleasure in her victories. There’s
only ruthless survival in a grim game.
She is most definitely
atomic, but I’d try to do better than calling her a blonde.
“Atomic Blonde,” a
Focus Features release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of
America for “sequences of strong violence, language throughout and some
sexuality/nudity.” Running time: 114 minutes. Two stars out of four.
Dead heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio to tour as hologram
James Dio. (AP Photo)
New York (AP) -
Late heavy metal icon Ronnie James Dio is set to tour again in hologram
reports the “Dio Returns” world tour kicks off in Helsinki on Nov. 30.
Dio’s widow, Wendy, says the hologram “gives the fans that saw Ronnie
perform an opportunity to see him again and new fans that never got to
see him a chance to see him for the first time.”
Dio died of stomach cancer in 2010
at the age of 67.
In addition to his self-titled
band, Dio fronted Black Sabbath for a time.
Dio isn’t the first dead performer
to return to the stage as a hologram. Holograms of Michael Jackson,
Tupac Shakur and Eazy-E have been showcased in recent years.
Last duet: Kenny, Dolly announce final performance together
Kenny Rogers (left) and Dolly Parton are shown in
this combination photo. (Photos by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP)
Kristin M. Hall
(AP) - Two of country music’s biggest stars,
Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, whose onstage chemistry spawned hit duets
like “Islands in the Stream” and “Real Love,” will be making their final
performance together this year.
Rogers, who is
retiring from touring, says his final performance with Parton will be
part of an all-star farewell show to be held at Nashville’s Bridgestone
Arena on Oct. 25. The two have been performing together for more than
30 years since “Islands in the Stream,” written by the Bee Gees, became
a pop crossover platinum hit in 1983.
for the farewell show are Little Big Town, Flaming Lips, Idina Menzel,
Elle King, Jamey Johnson and Alison Krauss, with more names to be
Rogers, 78, said
it’s been more than a decade since he performed with Parton for a CMT
“I think we owe it
to her to let her go on with her career, but we owe it to me to do it
one more time, and we’re going to do that,” Rogers said after the press
In his 60-year
career, Rogers has had several successful duet partners, including
Dottie West, Kim Carnes, Sheena Easton and Linda Davis, but Parton’s
star power made their collaborations a tour de force.
“We can go three
years without talking to each other and when we get together, it’s like
we were together yesterday,” Rogers said. “We both feel that comfort.”
Kenny for the last time ever on October 25 is going to be emotional for
both of us, but it’s also going to be very special,” Parton said in a
statement. “Even though Kenny may be retiring, as he fades from the
stage, our love for each other will never fade away.”
The actor, singer
and photographer with hits like “The Gambler,” ‘’Lady” and “Lucille,”
announced in 2015 he would do a final farewell tour before retiring to
spend more time with his family.
Rogers said he and
Parton would definitely sing “Islands in the Stream,” but beyond that,
he wasn’t sure yet.
“Whether we do
something else, I don’t know,” Rogers said. “That would require a
rehearsal and I don’t know that Dolly or I, either one, are up for