Kate Bush has won rave reviews for her comeback concert, with critics hailing the singer's first show in 35 years as "spellbinding", "magical" and "wonderous". The reclusive singer made a return to the stage at London's Hammersmith Apollo on Tuesday night (26Aug14), more than three decades after her last gig there in 1979 which effectively marked her retirement from live performance.
Bush's show, the first of 22 dates at the venue, has pulled in a slew of five-star reviews, with critics praising her innovative use of video montages, theatrical dance sequences, operatic performance art and even a mini-play featuring her 16-year-old son Bertie, who also sang with a choir on stage.
She thrilled the crowd with renditions of hits including Running Up That Hill, Hounds of Love, and King of the Mountain, as well as her epic The Ninth Wave.
Critics also revealed Bush's distinctive voice has not been dulled by her years away from the music scene, with Bernadette McNulty of Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper writing, "Her voice was an undiminished roar, surprisingly rich and powerful after such a long break," adding, "There was something thrilling about seeing the often bonkers but still delightful imagination of Bush run free after all this time, apparently untouched by the frenetic pace of the digital world... Still childishly wondrous."
The Daily Mail's Jan Moir describes the show as "magical", adding, "Age has not withered our Kate, but the dancing acrobatics and histrionics of an earlier age were gone... Her voice still sounds terrific - although she no longer includes Wuthering Heights, her first and biggest hit, on her set list... Her music is still audacious and weird, but sometimes it is spellbindingly beautiful, too."
The Guardian's Alexis Petridis, who gives the show five stars out of five, writes, "Over the course of nearly three hours, Kate Bush's first gig for 35 years variously features dancers in lifejackets attacking the stage with axes and chainsaws; a giant machine that hovers above the auditorium... giant paper aeroplanes; a surprisingly lengthy rumination on sausages, vast billowing sheets manipulated to represent waves... and the singer herself being borne through the audience by dancers clad in costumes based on fish skeletons... Her voice too is in remarkable condition: she's note-perfect throughout."
Andy Gill of The Independent concludes, "It's quite stunning, undoubtedly the most ambitious, and genuinely moving, piece of theatrical pop ever seen on a British stage."
A number of celebrity fans were in the audience for Bush's first show, including Bjork, actress Gemma Arterton, and Pink Floyd's Dave Gilmour, who is credited with discovering the singer and helping her land her first record deal. Pop star Lily Allen was also at the gig and broke Bush's camera ban by snapping a picture of the stage and uploading it to her Twitter.com page.
Prior to the first show, Bush released a statement urging fans to leave their digital devices at home so they could "share in the experience together".
For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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More than 100 artists including Garth Brooks, Dierks Bentley, Kid Rock, Megadeth and Brad Paisley took to the stage in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday night (22Nov13) to honour late country legend George Jones. The date at the city's Bridgestone Arena had originally been booked by Jones to host his final show before retirement, but the gig was transformed into a memorial concert following his death in April (13) at the age of 81.
The cream of country music turned out to honour Jones at the event, billed as Playin' Possum: The Final No Show, which was opened by Big & Rich, who sang 1965 hit Love Bug while riding lawn mowers on stage. The duo's act was a reference to the late singer's infamous drunken ride to a liquor store on a lawn mower after his wife took away his car keys.
The sold-out show featured 112 artists over four hours, including George Strait, Martina McBride, Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Atkins, Montgomery Gentry, Thompson Square, Vince Gill and duets by married stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, and Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
Jamey Johnson also paired with heavy metal band Megadeth to play 1998 single Wild Irish Rose, with Dave Mustaine saying of the band's inclusion in the line-up, "Heavy metal is all about rebellion, and George was definitely a rebel."
The show was closed by Alan Jackson, who performed Jones' hit He Stopped Loving Her Today and branded him "the greatest country singer that ever was".
Country veteran Reba McEntire had been due to take part in the event, but had to withdraw due to illness, and she posted an apology to Jones' widow, Nancy, on her Twitter.com page, writing, "Lost my voice tonight at the George Jones tribute. So sorry Nancy. Sure wanted to be a part of country music history."
Singer Kacey Musgraves will lead the way at the 2013 Country Music Association (CMA) Awards after landing five nominations. The star has received nods for Female Vocalist, New Artist, and Album of the Year for Same Trailer Different Park, and her track Merry Go 'Round is on the shortlist for Song of the Year and Single of the Year.
Taylor Swift is in with a chance of winning Entertainer of the Year after she was announced as a contender alongside Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, George Strait and Blake Shelton.
She will also compete for the Female Vocalist award with Musgraves, Kelly Clarkson, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood, and for Album of the Year for Red, alongside Blake Shelton (Based on a True Story), Carrie Underwood (Blown Away), Musgraves (Same Trailer Different Park), and Little Big Town (Tornado).
Shelton leads the Male Vocalist category with Aldean and Bryan, as well as Eric Church and Keith Urban.
Other categories announced by Sheryl Crow and country duo Florida Georgia Line on Tuesday (10Sep13) included Vocal Duo of the Year, which will be a fight between Big & Rich, Love and Theft, Sugarland, The Civil Wars and Thompson Square. The announcers, Florida Georgia Line, will also compete in the category, while the New Artist prize will be a fight between Lee Brice, Brett Eldredge, Florida Georgia Line, Kip Moore and Musgraves.
The Country Music Association Awards will take place on 6 November (13).
The full list of nominations is as follows:
Entertainer of the Year:
Female Vocalist of the Year:
Male Vocalist of the Year:
Album of the Year:
Based on a True Story - Blake Shelton
Blown Away - Carrie Underwood
Red - Taylor Swift
Same Trailer Different Park - Kacey Musgraves
Tornado - Little Big Town
Song of the Year:
I Drive Your Truck - Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary
Mama's Broken Heart - Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally, and Kacey Musgraves
Merry Go 'Round - Kacey Musgraves, Josh Osborne, and Shane McAnally
Pontoon - Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, and Barry Dean
Wagon Wheel - Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor
Duo of the Year:
Big & Rich
Florida Georgia Line
Love & Theft
The Civil Wars
New Artist of the Year:
Florida Georgia Line
Vocal Group of the Year:
Eli Young Band
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band
Single of the Year:
Cruise - Florida Georgia Line
Highway Don't Care - Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
Mama's Broken Heart - Miranda Lambert
Merry Go 'Round - Kacey Musgraves
Wagon Wheel - Darius Rucker
Musician of the Year:
Sam Bush (Mandolin)
Paul Franklin (Steel Guitar)
Dann Huff (Guitar)
Brent Mason (Guitar)
Mac McAnally (Guitar)
Musical Event of the Year:
Boys 'Round Here - Blake Shelton (featuring Pistol Annies)
Cruise - Florida Georgia Line (with Nelly)
Don't Rush - Kelly Clarkson (featuring Vince Gill)
Highway Don't Care - Tim McGraw (with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban)
The Only Way I Know - Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church
Music Video of the Year:
Blown Away - Carrie Underwood
Boys 'Round Here - Blake Shelton featuring Pistol Annies
Downtown - Lady Antebellum
Highway Don't Care - Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban
Mama's Broken Heart - Miranda Lambert
Tornado - Little Big Town.
The world of country came together for one of several nights honoring their top talent for the 2013 Academy of Country Music Awards. Hosted by The Voice's Blake Shelton and the two-first-named Luke Bryan, the night belonged to Shelton's wife, Miranda Lambert, and group Little Big Town. Taking home trophies for Female Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Single Record of the Year, Lambert proved herself the toast of Nashville with her track "Only You."
Other big winners included Eric Church and Jason Aldean, and featured performances by an increasingly-varied roster of artists from across the spectrum — including John Mayer, Stevie Wonder, and Kelly Clarkson. Also came the announcement that the Artist of the Decade award would be renamed to honor the show's former producer, Dick Clark.
Check out the full list of nominees (with winners in bold), below!
RELATED: Kids' Choice Awards Winners
Entertainer of the YearJason AldeanLuke BryanMiranda LambertBlake SheltonTaylor Swift
Male Vocalist of the YearJason AldeanLuke BryanEric ChuchToby KeithBlake Shelton
Female Vocalist of the YearMiranda LambertMartina McBrideKacey MusgravesTaylor SwiftCarrie Underwood
Vocal Duo of the YearBig and RichFlorida Georgia LineLove and TheftSugarlandThompson Square
Vocal Group of the YearThe Band PerryEli Young BandLady AntebellumLittle Big TownZac Brown Band
New Artist of the YearJana KramerBrantley GilbertFlorida Georgia Line
Album of the YearCarrie Underwood, ‘Blown Away’Eric Church, ‘Chief’Taylor Swift, ‘Red’Luke Bryan, ‘Tailgates and Tanlines’Little Big Town, ‘Tornado’
Song of the YearLee Brice, ‘A Woman Like You’Eli Young Band, ‘Even if It Breaks Your Heart’Miranda Lambert, ‘Over You’Eric Church, ‘Springsteen’Hunter Hayes, ‘Wanted’
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Single Record of the YearEli Young Band, ‘Even if It Breaks Your Heart’Miranda Lambert, ‘Over You’Little Big Town, ‘Pontoon’Eric Church, ‘Springsteen’Hunter Hayes, ‘Wanted’
Video of the YearEric Church, ‘Creepin’Hunter Hayes, ‘Wanted’Little Big Town, ‘Tornado’Kacey Musgraves, ‘Merry go round’Taylor Swift, ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’Zac Brown Band, ‘ The Wind’
Vocal Event of a YearKelly Clarkson (Feat. Vince Gill), ‘Don’t Rush’Rascal Flatts (Feat. Natasha Bedingfield) ‘Easy’Kenny Chesney (Feat. Tim McGraw), ‘Feel Like a Rock Star’David Nail (Feat. Sarah Buxton), ‘Let It Rain’ buxtonJason Aldean (Feat. Luke Bryan and Eric Church) ‘The Only Way I Know’
Songwriter of the YearRodney ClawsonDallas DavidsonJosh KearLuke LairdShane McAnally
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Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.