February 6, 2014 |
SOCHI, Russia - From the gently rolling Black Sea to the jagged Caucasus Mountains, from gleaming modern stadiums to colorfully ancient Matryoshka dolls, the Sochi Olympics open Friday with every conceivable natural wonder except one. There is a visible lack of joy. The strong-armed dream of Russian President Vladimir Putin has thus far succeeded not in embellishing the Olympic motto, but altering it, from "swifter, higher, stronger" to, "unfinished,...
February 6, 2014 |
Liam Neeson has proved of late how entertainingly potent the one-tough-middle-aged-SOB-against-impossible-odds movie can be. But there's not a lot to be - ahem - "Taken" by, however, in the lo-fi imitation thriller "The Outsider," which stars British slab Craig Fairbrass as Lex, a private security mercenary stationed in Afghanistan who hotfoots it to Los Angeles to investigate the supposed death of his estranged daughter. With all signs pointing to a weaselly, well-protected high-tech firm magnate (James Caan)
February 5, 2014 |
Danger Mouse had his heart set on a glimpse of Jupiter. On a recent evening, the sonic mastermind of L.A.'s Broken Bells was standing in line at the Griffith Observatory, waiting to peer through the giant Zeiss telescope there. As closing time approached, though, an attendant announced that anyone still outside the telescope dome wasn't likely to get the chance that night. Danger Mouse didn't budge. The vast expanse of outer space - specifically as viewed from the observatory - served as an important source of inspiration for the new Broken Bells album, "After the Disco.
February 1, 2014 |
The sign advertising his show still looms over the NBC parking lot, and for a few more days throngs of fans will crowd the studio gates in Burbank before tapings. But Jay Leno says he's ready to leave - and this time, he says he really means it. After more than 40 years, "The Tonight Show" is leaving Southern California and heading back to New York, with the 63-year-old Leno, who first became host in 1992, handing off the show to Jimmy Fallon, just 39. Four years have passed since NBC botched a similar passing of the torch to Conan O'Brien.
January 16, 2014 |
"The Rocket" winds through the mountains of northern Laos, the contemporary drama carrying a touch of fable and a powerful sense of place. Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe), the 10-year-old at the center of the movie, makes an appealing rooting interest, not only because he's sparky and resourceful but also because he challenges the superstitious antipathy of his grandmother, who believes he's cursed. Displaced from their village by a dam project - after viewing a heartlessly chipper corporate video on the wonders of relocation - Ahlo and his family find themselves in a barren field of tents.
December 24, 2013 |
In 2011, on his holiday album "Under the Mistletoe," Justin Bieber came on like Mariah Carey's kid nephew - a sort of pint-sized vocal prodigy - in a squeaky-clean duet with the singer on her "All I Want for Christmas Is You. " Not anymore. Two Christmases later, Bieber is nearing the end of a year in which he's done about as much as possible to shake off the childlike innocence that helped establish him as one of pop music's biggest (and most polarizing) acts. The incidents will be familiar even to casual followers of celebrity gossip: the heated run-in with a photographer in London, the unauthorized spray-painting of walls in South America and Australia, the urination into a mop bucket in a New York restaurant.
December 18, 2013 |
Chinese pianist Yuja Wang is widely admired for her astonishing technical skills at the keyboard and a charismatic stage presence. The 26-year-old also draws attention for her fashion statements and sometimes daring style choices on the concert stage. Her newest album, released in October, is a live concert recorded last spring of the challenging Rachmaninov's Third Piano Concerto and Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto. Wang played them in Caracas with Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.
December 15, 2013 |
Mark Trumbo was traded Tuesday. He went from being an Angel to a Diamondback. If we are talking personality only, the previous name suited him better. There is nothing venomous, nor ever will be, about Trumbo. He took the trade the way he takes everything else. "I'm pretty much all right with anything," he said during an interview a few days later. He was responding specifically to a question about playing various positions. But the answer can stand as an all-inclusive definition of the man. As a baseball player, Trumbo is an exceptional talent.
December 12, 2013 |
This post has been updated, as indicated below. A belated arrival on the streaming-music scene, Led Zeppelin quickly shot up the charts on Spotify this week despite not having released an album of new material in more than 30 years. The service made the band's first two albums (both from 1969) available Wednesday -- the first Led Zep releases to appear on any of the licensed music subscription services -- and within a day they were both in Spotify's Top 25. [ Updated, 12:15 p.m. Dec. 13: Spotify made two more of the band's releases available Thursday, and all four were in the Top 25 by noon Friday.]
December 12, 2013 |
This year's best dressed Hollywood newcomer is Lupita Nyong'o, the Yale School of Drama-educated actress garnering awards buzz for her role as the abused slave Patsey in "12 Years a Slave. " Nyong'o, who is styled by Micaela Erlanger, has been working the red carpet circuit since September and hasn't made a misstep yet. What's she doing right? She's got range, and each look has something special to say. Nyong'o is comfortable in everything from an indie cool Rodarte flame-colored brocade and leather dress (an inspired choice for a film festival in the Mardi Gras capital of the world, New Orleans)