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March 15, 2013 | By Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times
AUSTIN, Texas - The South by Southwest music festival and conference, now in its 27th year, was once a meeting ground for industry debates and indie artist showcases. Today the festival is a vehicle for promotion for the likes of Justin Timberlake, Prince and Green Day, and afternoon chats with artists are less about realities and more about compromises. Which brand are you willing to partner with and will the association with, say, Taco Bell take something away from your music? But the artists are arguably not even the stars, as a stroll around the 100-plus stages that pepper Austin's 6th Street attests.
January 14, 2013 | By Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times Theater Critic
"The Mother… With the Hat" is not the actual title of the exhilarating Stephen Adly Guirgis play now at South Coast Repertory, but it's the best I can do without bringing down the strong arm of the censor. Hard as it might be for casual cursers to believe, naughty words still have the power to offend. Guirgis knows this on a deeper level than most. His characters throw the profanity equivalent of Molotov cocktails at one another. They're foulmouthed artists, spinning obscenely colorful invective to inflict as much damage as possible on their targets.
January 12, 2013 | By Susan King, Los Angeles Times
When mobster Mickey Cohen ruled Los Angeles in the late 1940s, his favorite hangout was the legendary Slapsy Maxie's nightclub on Wilshire Boulevard. It's long gone now of course, so to re-create it for the new film "Gangster Squad" the filmmakers had to be creative. Production designer Maher Ahmad found the right spot for Slapsy Maxie's almost by accident, while driving around with the film's first location manager. They had been looking for a vintage house in a suburban neighborhood when they passed an Art Deco-inspired block of empty businesses in Bellflower.
January 7, 2013 | By Gale Holland, Los Angeles Times
At 9 a.m. sharp, the man in the blue blazer swung a brass bell over his head, a rite that dates back to the Grand Central Market's opening day in 1917. A minute later, nearly every swivel chair at the China Cafe counter was filled, mostly by older men hunched over bowls of wonton soup. "It's not a fancy place," said Concepcion Orellano, 57. "People come here because they are poor. " Owner Rinco Cheung, an experienced restaurateur and Hong Kong native, confided he didn't know what chop suey was until he took over China Cafe from his wife's cousin last year.
December 6, 2012 | By Steven Zeitchik, Los Angeles Times
In 2008, the screenwriter Mark Boal sought an appointment with a retired special-forces operator. Boal was researching a movie about the fruitless search for Osama bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora six years before, and he wanted insight into how U.S. forces gathered intelligence. The agent agreed to meet, but under strict conditions. Boal would be kept in the dark about where the encounter would take place until just before, when he'd be given directions, via GPS, to what turned out to be a gas station.
October 18, 2012 | By Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
"Simon and the Oaks" is a two-hour theatrical feature that has the kind of emotional and storytelling reach regularly found these days only in cable TV miniseries. It's a warmly done family and personal drama that seems to cover familiar territory, but only up to a point and very much in its own way. Given that "Simon" follows the fortunes of two interlinked Swedish families from 1939 to 1952, it's not surprising that the source material is a bestselling novel, in this case one by Marianne Fredricksson that has been translated into 25 languages and sold more than 4 million copies worldwide.
October 11, 2012 | By Robert Abele
"Now, Forager" from directors Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin, takes place in the world of itinerant food workers. The married couple we meet at the beginning, rooting for wild mushrooms in New Jersey's woodlands are beginning to feel the instability of a pick-and-sell, slow-food lifestyle that doesn't fully pay the bills. Lucien (Cortlund, who also wrote) proposes doubling down on their nomadic existence, while Regina (Tiffany Esteb) - to her husband's snobbish dismay - turns to employment in the kitchen of a chic restaurant.
October 11, 2012 | By Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times
In "Sinister," Ethan Hawke plays a down-on-his-luck true crime writer desperate for a hit, who moves his family into a house in which the previous occupants died under ominous circumstances. That turns out to be a big mistake. He soon discovers a box of old home movies, actual filmstrip movies with the necessary projector even, in the attic that seem to be a series of snuff films, families murdered over decades with only fleeting glimpses of a mysterious, ghoulish figure pointing to who is behind it all. Pursuing the story of those films and whether he has put his own family in the path of whoever made them drive Hawke's writer relentlessly to the brink of madness.
October 7, 2012 | By Jay Jones
It's often said that good writers have to find their voice. If that's so, Samuel Clemens found his in Virginia City, Nev. While working for its local paper in the 1860s, he assumed the name by which he's best known: Mark Twain. Were he alive, Twain would still recognize this town 25 miles southeast of Reno; it hasn't changed much in the last 150 years. The bed Immerse yourself in local lore at the B Street Bed & Breakfast (58 N. B St.; [775] 847-7231) Innkeeper Carolyn Eichin, a former professor of Nevada history, is a walking textbook of information on all things Virginia City and beyond.
September 26, 2012 | By David Ng
A museum in Wales said it has authenticated three paintings by the English landscape painter J.M.W. Turner that had been considered fakes. The works are being featured in a new display at the National Museum Cardiff that opened to the public this week.  The works in question were bequeathed to the museum starting in 1951 by the collectors Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. The sisters donated the paintings as part of a group of seven works, all of which were believed to be authentic at the time.
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