‘Cold Pursuit’ Director Defends Liam Neeson Once Again at Berlin Festival Press Conference

In Berlin to promote his latest film, Norwegian director Hans Petter Moland insisted that Liam Neeson is “not a racist” in response to the recent row around comments made by the star of his Lionsgate thriller “Cold Pursuit.” “He is a very honest, he is a very decent, grounded man,” Moland said at a press […]

Variety

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Comcast Hunts for Additional Cash in Pursuit of 21st Century Fox Assets

Comcast is exploring tie-ups with other companies or private-equity investors that could provide additional cash as the cable giant pursues a costly acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets.
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Chinese Investors Continue Hot Pursuit of European Brands

CHINA CLUB: The march of the big-ticket Chinese investor continues. Having just announced plans to buy Bally for an undisclosed price, Shandong Ruyi may have another European acquisition it its sights: Arcadia Group.
The Chinese textile giant that controls SMCP and Hong Kong’s Trinity Group is said to be eyeing Arcadia, parent of Topshop and Topman, according to a report in The Sunday Times of London, which a Shandong spokesperson later denied. “This is not the case and needs to be clarified,” the spokesperson told WWD on Monday.
The report said Shandong could buy all or part of Arcadia, which also owns high-street retailers such as Burton, Miss Selfridge and Evans. The sale of the Topshop and Topman properties could prove trickier as Leonard Green & Partners holds a 25 percent stake in those businesses. LGP purchased the stake in 2012 in a deal that valued the retailers at 2 billion pounds.
An Arcadia spokesman could not be reached for comment on Sunday, and industry sources have dismissed the report, which appeared in the paper’s business section. It would not be unusual for the aggressive Shandong to be looking at any number of Western companies, given its recent buying spree.
Earlier this month, it

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Chris Paul and the pursuit of passing perfection

Passing isn’t just an art and a science to Chris Paul. It’s an obsession that has helped create one of the greatest floor generals in NBA history.
www.espn.com – NBA

Anthem Ends Cigna Pursuit, Plans to Seek Damages

Anthem Inc. said it would finally give up on its ill-starred deal for Cigna Corp., setting the stage for a rancorous court battle between the companies over billions in potential damages.
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PIKE ON THE FLY: IN PURSUIT OF THE WATER WOLF

PIKE ON THE FLY: IN PURSUIT OF THE WATER WOLF


PIKE ON THE FLY: IN PURSUIT OF THE WATER WOLFBarry Reynolds, Nov 2007DVD ISBN: 0-BR-15Reynolds ups the entertainment factor with some of the most exciting pike fly fishing action ever caught on film. Filming took place over the past 3 summers at some of the worlds most prolific pike waters in Alaska & Canada. During filming Barry took eight pike of over 50″ including his new personal best of 54″! separate bonus added footage section at the end on fly’s, leaders, & other tackle for those who want more than just the entertainment value.60 min
List Price: $ 29.95
Price: $ 29.95

Pearl Izumi Select Pursuit Triathlon Suit – Men’s Size M Color Black

Pearl Izumi Select Pursuit Triathlon Suit – Men’s Size M Color Black


The SELECT Pursuit Tri Suit features SELECT Transfer Dry fabric and delivers value, fit and durability for all levels of triathletes. The SELECT Pursuit Tri Suit is equally at home for both short and long course events. SELECT Transfer Dry Fabric – sets the benchmark for compression and moisture transfer New TRI quick-dry chamois Flatlock seams provide superior abrasion resistance 10″ zipper for venting Plush elastic silicone leg gripper One easy access envelope pocket Reflective elements for low-light visibility Inseam: 8″ (size medium) Fabric : Main Body: 88% nylon 12% LYCRA elastane/ UPF 50+ Size M Color Black
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Pearl Izumi Select Pursuit Triathlon Short – Men’s Size XS Color Black

Pearl Izumi Select Pursuit Triathlon Short – Men’s Size XS Color Black


The legendary Pearl Izumi Select Triathlon Short for men delivers comfort, durability and a great fit. The Select Tri Short is ideal for both training and racing for all levels of triathletes. SELECT transfer fabric sets the benchmark for compression and moisture transfer Flatlock seams Plush elastic silicone leg gripper One easy access envelope pocket Tri quick-dry fleece chamois Reflective elements for low-light visibility 8″ inseam (size medium) Fit – Form Fit Fabric – Body: 88% nylon 12% elastane/ UPF 50+ Size XS Color Black
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The Corps Tactical Pursuit Action Figure Play Set with Plane

The Corps Tactical Pursuit Action Figure Play Set with Plane


The Corps Tactical Pursuit Action Figure Play Set comes with a detailed action figure, an airplane, a quad bike and assorted weapons and accessories. The para-military action figure is fully posable with 15 points of articulation for realistic action. Designed with a flip-open cockpit area, the jet plane can be piloted by the action figure for rescue or combat missions. The quad bike not only features attached weapons but also has sturdy wheels, so it can handle rough terrain. Both the jet plane and the quad-wheel ATV can be easily hidden on missions due to their camo paint accents. A number of different weapons are included in this action figure set so important missions can be successfully completed. The weapons are made so the action figure can hold or wear them, as needed. This Corps action figure set with plane will provide hours of imaginative fun.

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Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Triathlon Short – Men’s Size XS Color Black

Pearl Izumi Elite Pursuit Triathlon Short – Men’s Size XS Color Black


The go-to training and racing short, the ELITE Pursuit Tri Short is constructed with ELITE Transfer In-R-Cool fabric. Superior cooling and sun protection combined with an anti-odor chamois offers exceptional performance. ELITE Transfer In-R-Cool Fabric Powered by Coldblack – provides superior cooling and reflective sun protection ELITE Transfer In-R-Cool Fabric -features LYCRA Sport that helps garments maintain original compression levels Technology – Coldblack TRI quick-dry chamois Merrow stitch construction for superior next-to-skin comfort Plush elastic silicone leg gripper Stretch draw cord for superior comfort and fit One back easy access envelope pocket Inseam: 8″ (size medium) Fabric : Body: 80% nylon 12% LYCRA spandex 8% polyester/ UPF 50+, Side panel: 80% polyester 20% elastane/ UPF 50+ Size XS Color Black
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Dunhill Pursuit Edt Spray 2.5 Oz By Alfred Dunhill

Dunhill Pursuit Edt Spray 2.5 Oz By Alfred Dunhill


What is the difference between Pure Perfume, Eau de Parfumes, Eau de Toilette, and Eau de Cologne? The differences are simply a matter of the amount or concentration of oils in the fragrance. The highest concentration is in pure perfume (or Parfumes). Next would be Eau de Parfumes, then Eau de Toilette, and finally Eau de Cologne. Some manufacturers make a solid perfume, solid perfume is as strong as a pure perfume however it is in a gel-like consistency. Eau De Toilette and Eau De Cologne are generally interchangeable, especially in Men’s fragrances. After Shave has the least amount of oils. The higher the concentration the longer your fragrance will last, and the less you need to apply.This photo is a representation of the brand only. Actual product container/packaging may vary.

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End E3 2015: Full “Sam Pursuit” Gameplay

gt_massive-thumb_uncharted4_e3-fulldemo

Naughty Dog graces us with the highly acclaimed second half of the E3 2015 demo, which was acclaimed for good reason.
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Video Games Set in California: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Formula One: Built to Win, Police Quest, Top Gear, Police Quest II: The Vengeance, Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel, California Games

Video Games Set in California: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Formula One: Built to Win, Police Quest, Top Gear, Police Quest II: The Vengeance, Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel, California Games


New – Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. Pages: 24. Chapters: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Midnight Club: Los Angeles, Formula One: Built to Win, Police Quest, Top Gear, Police Quest II: The Vengeance, Police Quest: In Pursuit of the Death Angel, California Games, Top Gear 2, The Witness, Super Back to the Future II, California Games 2, Coach K College Basketball, True Golf Classics: Pebble Beach Golf

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‘Avengers: Age Of Ultron’ Tops Charts, Crushes ‘Hot Pursuit’

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The “Age of Ultron” is not over. The Avengers sequel topped the domestic box office for the second weekend in a row with an estimated $ 77.2 million according to Rentrak estimates Sunday.

The film has earned a staggering $ 312.9 million in just 10 days in theaters, tying with “The Dark Knight” to become the second-fastest film to do so. While a wild success by any measure, the film is still lagging behind the record-setting precedent of 2012’s “The Avengers,” which made $ 103.1 million in its second weekend in theatres and had a domestic total of $ 373 million at the same point in the cycle.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron” also added $ 68.3 million internationally, bringing its worldwide total to $ 875.3 million. The Disney and Marvel sequel opens in China on May 12 with midnight screenings. The midnight sellouts have even prompted Chinese IMAX screens to add 3 a.m. showings to their schedule.

“Hot Pursuit,” meanwhile, failed to make a significant mark in its debut weekend, earning a less-than-impressive $ 13.3 million. The Reese Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara buddy comedy, which cost a reported $ 35 million to produce, was projected to earn at least $ 18 million out of the gates.

“Critics were very tough on ‘Hot Pursuit,’ ” said Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Considering the power of female audiences at the box office, and the frequency of female-driven films to over-perform, the lagging enthusiasm around “Hot Pursuit” is puzzling.

“It was a formula for whatever reason didn’t resonate with the critics, and I think that had an impact on its box office,” Dergarabedian said.

Warner Bros. EVP of Distribution Jeff Goldstein noted that the film attracted an older and primarily female audience, which is one that doesn’t necessarily rush out on opening weekend to check out a film. Audiences were 62 percent female and 82 percent over the age of 25.

The Mother’s Day holiday might help catapult the “Hot Pursuit” to a stronger Sunday, Goldstein said.

The weekend between “Ultron’s” opening and next week’s debut of “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” on paper seemed like the ideal spot to place a mid-budget comedy. But it’s also possible that other titles further into their runs might have divided attentions, including the third-place film, “The Age of Adaline,” and “Ex Machina,” which snagged the sixth spot as it continues to expand.

“It’s a very competitive marketplace out there,” Dergarabedian said. “There are a lot of cool options out there right now for entertainment in theaters.”

Still, “Hot Pursuit” could surprise yet, especially when it reaches the small screen.

“Furious 7” and “Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2” rounded out the top five with $ 5.3 million and $ 5.2 million, respectively.

Ultimately, it’s still an “Avengers” world, at least until “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Pitch Perfect 2” open next weekend.

“‘Ultron’ is just so big. It’s such a behemoth. It’s hard for a newcomer to get attention,” Dergarabedian said.

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Rentrak. Where available, the latest international numbers for Friday through Sunday are also included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

1.”Avengers: Age of Ultron,” $ 77.2 million ($ 68.3 million international).

2.”Hot Pursuit,” $ 13.3 million ($ 1.4 million international).

3.”The Age of Adaline,” $ 5.6 million ($ 2.6 million international).

4.”Furious 7,” $ 5.3 million ($ 19.6 million international).

5.”Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2,” $ 5.2 million ($ 3 million international).

6.”Ex Machina,” $ 3.5 million.

7.”Home,” $ 3 million ($ 6 million international).

8.”Woman In Gold,” $ 1.7 million.

9.”Cinderella,” $ 1.6 million ($ 4 million international).

10.”Unfriended,” $ 1.4 million ($ 3.2 million international).

___

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to Rentrak:

1. “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” $ 68.3 million.

2. “Furious 7,” $ 19.6 million.

3. “Chappie,” $ 9.8 million.

4. “Pitch Perfect 2,” $ 8.8 million.

5. “Home,” $ 6 million.

6. “Silent Separation,” $ 5.5 million.

7. “Helios,” $ 4.8 million.

8. “The Left Ear,” $ 4.3 million.

9. “Cinderella,” $ 4 million.

10. “Unfriended,” $ 3.2 million.

___

Universal and Focus are owned by NBC Universal, a unit of Comcast Corp.; Sony, Columbia, Sony Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Classics are units of Sony Corp.; Paramount is owned by Viacom Inc.; Disney, Pixar and Marvel are owned by The Walt Disney Co.; Miramax is owned by Filmyard Holdings LLC; 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight are owned by 21st Century Fox; Warner Bros. and New Line are units of Time Warner Inc.; MGM is owned by a group of former creditors including Highland Capital, Anchorage Advisors and Carl Icahn; Lionsgate is owned by Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.; IFC is owned by AMC Networks Inc.; Rogue is owned by Relativity Media LLC.

___

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/ldbahr

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Hot Pursuit and More Picks to Watch, Read, Stream, and Listen to This Weekend

This weekend is Mother's Day, which means 1. You still have two days to get a killer gift and 2. You have to plan brunch around these can't-miss entertainment offerings. Or, just have your mom/grandma/MIL/etc….




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Hot Pursuit Official Trailer #2 – Exclusive Intro (2015) – Sofia Vergara, Reese Witherspoon Movie HD

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Hot Pursuit Official Trailer #2 – Exclusive Intro (2015) – Sofia Vergara, Reese Witherspoon Movie HD

An uptight and by-the-book cop (Reese Witherspoon) tries to protect the sexy and outgoing widow (Sofia Vergara) of a drug boss as they race through Texas pursued by crooked cops and murderous gunmen.

The Movieclips Trailers channel is your destination for the hottest new trailers the second they drop. Whether it’s the latest studio release, an indie horror flick, an evocative documentary, or that new RomCom you’ve been waiting for, the Movieclips team is here day and night to make sure all the best new movie trailers are here for you the moment they’re released.

In addition to being the #1 Movie Trailers Channel on YouTube, we deliver amazing and engaging original videos each week. Watch our exclusive Ultimate Trailers, Showdowns, Instant Trailer Reviews, Monthly MashUps, Movie News, and so much more to keep you in the know.

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Shoes For Crews – Pursuit – Black / Men’s Slip Resistant Athletic Shoes

Shoes For Crews – Pursuit – Black / Men’s Slip Resistant Athletic Shoes


Lightweight athletic style with the support of a premium work shoe. Designed for the fast-paced worker; Pursuit is comfortably lightweight with a defined heel and extended arch. The water-resistant; breathable mesh upper has genuine leather overlays for additional durability and support. The patented SFC Mighty Grip(R) outsole provides superior slip resistance.
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Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything Notepad and Pen Set

Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything Notepad and Pen Set


Packaged in a clear pouch with snap closure and carrying string. This spiral notepad and pen, featuring artwork by Maira Kalman from her new book, Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything, makes a wonderful gift. Perfect for sketching. Pages inside the notepad are blank. Ball point pen included.
List Price: $ 6.95
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The Great Pursuit

The Great Pursuit


Frensic and Futtle is a small and successful literary agency. But following a successful court case by a woman who claimed to have been libeled by one of their authors, the agency rapidly loses business. One day, a manuscript for a book called Pause O Men for the Virgin arrives at the agency, together with a note from the author’s solicitor, saying that the author wishes to remain anonymous and that the agency has carte blanche on how it deals with the book. The book turns out to deal with the love affair between an 80-year old woman and a 17-year old youth. The populist American publisher Hutchmeyer agrees to sign a deal to publish the book in the United States for million, providing the author carries out a promotional tour of the country. Sonia and Frensic decide to use aspiring but unpublished author Peter Piper to stand in for the anonymous author. But when Piper receives a proof copy of Pause from the publisher by mistake, it takes a certain amount of persuasion and arm-twisting from Sonia Futtle to convince Piper to travel to America.

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Thomas Jefferson: Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything

Thomas Jefferson: Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything


Renowned artist Maira Kalman sheds light on the fascinating life and interests of the Renaissance man who was our third president.

Thomas Jefferson is perhaps best known for writing the Declaration of Independence-but there’s so much more to discover. This energetic man was interested in everything. He played violin, spoke seven languages and was a scientist, naturalist, botanist, mathematician and architect. He designed his magnificent home, Monticello, which is full of objects he collected from around the world. Our first foodie, he grew over fifteen kinds of peas and advocated a mostly vegetarian diet. And oh yes, as our third president, he doubled the size of the United States and sent Lewis and Clark to explore it. He also started the Library of Congress and said, “I cannot live without books.” But monumental figures can have monumental flaws, and Jefferson was no exception. Although he called slavery an “abomination,” he owned about 150 slaves.

As she did in Looking at Lincoln, Maira Kalman shares a president’s remarkable, complicated life with young readers, making history come alive with her captivating text and stunning illustrations.

Hardcover, 40 pages. Ages 5 to 8.
List Price: $ 17.99
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Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time

Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me: The Pursuit of Happiness, One Celebrity at a Time


For fans of “The Happiness Project” and “The Year of Living Biblically” comes a pointed look at our fascination with celebrities, as one woman strives to remake herself in the image of her favorite stars. What woman hasn’t seen pictures of Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, or Beyonce and wished she had their clothes, their abs, their seemingly flawless lives? For Rachel Bertsche, these celebrities are the epitome of perfection–self-assured and effortlessly cool. Yet lately, between juggling her career, her marriage, and her dream of becoming a mother, Bertsche feels anything but put together. In “Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me, ” Bertsche embarks on a quest to emulate her Hollywood role models–while sticking to a budget–to see if they really hold the keys to happiness. While trying to unlock the stars’ secrets, from Sarah Jessica Parker’s wardrobe to Julia Roberts’s sense of calm to–maybe one day–Jessica Alba’s chic pregnancy, Bertsche learns valuable lessons. A toned body doesn’t come easy or cheap, avoiding social media can do wonders for your peace of mind, and confidence is the key accessory for pulling off any outfit. But can she immerse herself in the A-list lifestyle and still stay true to herself? And will her pursuit of perfection really lead to happiness? Praise for Rachel Bertsche’s “MWF Seeking BFF” “Written with verve, insight, and humor . . . Bertsche writes cleverly, but not glibly, about the challenges young women face today.”–“Chicago Tribune” ” A] charming, funny chronicle.”–“People”

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In Pursuit of Magnificent Obsessions

The winding path from curiosity to passion and onward to embracing a full-blown fetish is a very strange one. Sometimes a person’s enthusiasm for a certain type of object is sparked by a gift, a novel idea, or a gateway experience. Before long, what began as a passing interest starts to gain momentum until it takes the shape of a full-blown obsession. Consider the following examples:

Two new productions deal with a form of rapture — not the kind that sends obedient Christians floating through the skies, but the kind in which a fierce infatuation grips a person’s imagination and holds on tight. One is a fictional tale that plays out over several decades as China transitions from Maoism to modernism. The other focuses on a long-forgotten historical figure who, though her life was cut short by ovarian cancer, paved the way toward a scientific future measured in light years.

* * * * * * * * * *

One of the more curious entries screened during the 2014 SFIndie Fest was The Love Songs of Tiedan. Much of Hao Jie’s film follows the misplaced love of Tiedan (Feng Si) who, as a six-year-old boy (Shi Weicheng), was naively infatuated with his beautiful (but older) neighbor, Sister Mei (Sabrina Yap). Sister Mei and Tiedan’s father (Feng Yun) used to delight in singing Er ren tai melodies, often bellowing from the top of a cliff to an open valley.

The movie begins in the 1950s, when Sister Mei’s husband returns to Tiedan’s village and takes her back to the West Side of Mongolia, leaving the naive little boy brokenhearted.

2014-02-03-Tiedanatsix.jpg

Shi Weicheng as the six-year-old Tiedan

By the mid 1960s, Tiedan’s father has gone blind and traditional forms of singing have been banned as part of China’s Cultural Revolution. As he matures and becomes a man, Tiedan falls in love with each of Sister Mei’s three daughters. Unfortunately, his dream of marrying the eldest (Sabrina Yap) is crushed when the young woman is forced into an arranged marriage with an older man from another village who takes her back to his home in Mongolia.

Beside himself with grief, the impassioned Tiedan follows his beloved and tries to interfere with the wedding. After a witch is consulted (who advises Sister Mei to offer Tiedan her mute second daughter as a wife/consolation prize), a loveless marriage is consummated. Boredom quickly sets in.

Opportunity knocks with a chance visit by the Inner Mongolian Hong Teng Errentai Troupe, which is looking for a male singer. At first sight, Tiedan is unaware that the troupe’s female star, Hu Hu, is actually a man performing in drag. However, after Tiedan joins the traveling ensemble, his onstage partnership with Hu Hu also blossoms in bed.

2014-02-03-tiedandressingmirror.jpg

Sister Mei’s third daughter, Hao Yan (Sabrina Yap) is
obsessed with her bisexual brother-in-law, Tiedan (Feng Si)

On one of Tiedan’s visits to his home, his wife (GeXia) becomes pregnant. Meanwhile, Sister Mei asks Tiedan to help her third daughter, Hao Yan (Sabrina Yap), join his performing ensemble.

As the story moves into the 1980s, a new type of entertainment is sweeping through China that makes Er ren tai seem hopelessly out of date. With Hao Yan constantly demanding more attention than Hu Hu, Tiedan eventually decides to abandon his male lover and return home, where he finds a new role for himself as the father of a beautiful young daughter.

Shot in the Shanxi province of northern China (near the Mongolian border), the film captures the kind of rural poverty which leaves little room for fantasy. However, there is always music to feed the imagination.

Hao Jie’s film pays tribute to a vanishing art form from Inner Mongolia (Er ren tai), which is usually performed by a pair of singers accompanied on dizi (a transverse flute usually made from bamboo), sihu (a bowed instrument with four strings), and yangqin (a hammered dulcimer).

As an art form, Er ren tai has constantly adapted to developments and changes in Chinese society, politics, and the economy in order to survive. Because each performance contains a clown role and a female role, Er ren tai is sometimes translated as “two people on a stage.”

There are also regional differences in the way Er ren tai is performed. In the film, Sister Mei sings with the tones of the Shanxi Er ren tai. Tie Dan sings the Eastern Er ren tai and Hu Hu sings the Western Salaqi Er ren tai. As the filmmaker explains:

“The Chinese hammer dulcimer has been played with Er ren tai for generations. The forms of the Er ren tai are directly embedded in the northwestern heart. The melodies from folk songs and local plays are derived from the same source as the rhythms of local geography, dialects, and even ecologies. I could hear an indistinct song being sung in the distance, although I couldn’t hear the words. What I could hear was the sound of my grandmother calling me home for dinner.”

2014-02-03-chickenvaudeville.jpg

Sabrina Yap and Feng Si in The Love Songs of Tiedan

The Love Songs of Tiedan offers a stunning performance by Feng Si and strong work (in three roles) by Sabrina Yap. Add in some magnificent scenery, hilarious musical numbers, and there’s a lot to enjoy in this film. Here’s the trailer:

* * * * * * * * * *

In order to appreciate the strength and science of Lauren Gunderson’s poignant play, Silent Sky, let me suggest first spending 25 minutes with two giants of American culture: award-winning journalist Bill Moyers and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

TheatreWorks recently presented the regional premiere of Silent Sky down at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. Although the prolific Gunderson has had a half dozen plays produced in the Bay area in recent years (Exit, Pursued By A Bear and The Taming at Crowded Fire Theater Company; By and By at Shotgun Players; I and You and Rock Creek: Southern Gothic at the Marin Theatre Company; and Emilie: La Marquise Du Chatelet Defends Her Life Tonight at Symmetry Theatre), it’s hard to pigeonhole her strengths. Gunderson excels at:

  • Using her whip-smart sense of humor to give her characters plenty of sass and let them deliver acid-tinged zingers.
  • Developing subplots that lead to a deeper cultural understanding of feminism.
  • Building character-driven stories based on scientific fact that can rock an audience’s world.
  • Capturing the extreme vulnerability and identity crises of confused outcasts, troubled teens, and awkward intellectuals.
  • Wrapping up an evening’s storytelling with mind-bending dénouements.

2014-02-03-HenriettaMargaret.jpg

Henrietta Leavitt (Elena Wright) with her sister, Margaret
(Jennifer LeBlanc) in Silent Sky (Photo by: Mark Kitaoka)

The American astronomer, Henrietta Swan Leavitt (Elena Wright), was born on July 4, 1868 and graduated from Radcliffe College. In 1893, she went to work as a “female human computer” in astronomy Professor Edward Charles Pickering’s “harem” in the Harvard College Observatory where she was tasked with counting images on photographic plates. Not only did her discovery of the period-luminosity relation of Cepheid variables dramatically alter the ruling theories of astronomy, it became crucial to the work of Edwin Hubble (for whom the Hubble Space Telescope was named).

Leavitt discovered more than 2,400 variable stars during her career. But because she was a woman working in a man’s world (at that time women were not even allowed to operate telescopes), during her lifetime she received little recognition for her achievements. Today, asteroid 5383 Leavitt and lunar crater Leavitt are named in her honor. As Gunderson explains:

“I am continuously compelled by characters who struggle in the tidal pulls of the heart and the mind, love and truth, what we know versus what we feel. I write bold women and their friends. I write about legacy, what of us lingers after we are gone, what grander arcs we help to build with our lives. I find science and history a perfect source for examining our modern journeys and connecting to the stories before us. That amounts to a lot of stories that confront mortality, legacy, and ideas that exist beyond ourselves.”

2014-02-03-Leavitt_henrietta.jpg

Henrietta Swan Leavitt at work in the Harvard College Conservatory
(Photo by: Wikimedia Commons)

“I found Henrietta’s story by chance while perusing the stalls of used books in New York. There wasn’t that much known of her, but what is known is that, in 1912, this unassuming but meticulous and curious woman gave the flagging field of astronomy the ingredient it needed to leap into the future. Without her finding a pattern in Cepheid stars, great astronomers like Shapley and Hubble wouldn’t have shown us how huge and fast moving our universe is. Henrietta’s key discovery takes a musical form at some point and finding that synchronicity fell to our brilliant composer, Jenny Giering.”

2014-02-03-threefemaleastronomers.jpg

Henrietta Leavitt (Elena Wright), Annie Cannon
(Sarah Dacey Charles) and Williamina Fleming (Lynne Soffer)
in a scene from Silent Sky (Photo by: Tracy Martin)

With four exceptionally bright women and one handsome, entitled, but relatively thick-headed man, Gunderson does a splendid job of showing how the prevailing wisdom of the early 20th century was deaf, dumb, and blind to the potential contributions of intelligent women. Although Peter Shaw (Matt Citron) attempts to “mansplain” the rules of the game to the stubborn, smart woman with whom he is falling in love, Leavitt has bigger fish to fry — namely the kind of discoveries which routinely elude male scientists.

As directed by Meredith McDonough, the TheatreWorks production sits on a handsome unit set designed by Annie Smart with costumes by Fumiko Bielefeldt and some exquisite lighting effects by Paul Toben which help the audience grasp the genesis of Leavitt’s theory. The moment of breakthrough offers a stunning finale to Act I. There are times when the thrill of discovery in Gunderson’s script reminded me of Eric Overmyer’s 1987 play about a trio of time-traveling female explorers (On The Verge).

Jennifer LeBlanc gave an impassioned performance as Henrietta’s sister, Margaret, who stays at home to raise a family while Sarah Dacey Charles was appropriately standoffish as a research assistant determined not to ruffle the status quo who subsequently was transformed into an ardent Suffragette. Lynne Soffer scored plenty of laughs as the Scottish housekeeper turned “computer” whose lusty sense of humor and wealth of common sense completely baffle Mr. Shaw.

2014-02-03-HenriettaPeterShaw.jpg

Henrietta Leavitt (Elena Wright) with Peter Shaw
(Matt Citron) in Silent Sky (Photo by: Tracy Martin)

The glue which holds Gunderson’s play together is the intellectual passion of Henrietta Leavitt, the sacrifices she makes in pursuit of an idea that won’t allow her to rest, and the legacy she leaves to the world of science. Elena Wright did a splendid job of holding her own against Peter Shaw’s clueless sexism and romantic tendrils.

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