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Illustrated love letter by Little Prince author is auctioned

The Free Press WV

An illustration by Antoine de Saint-Exupery showing a likeness of his renowned little prince atop a globe, adorning an anguished love letter, has sold at auction for 240,500 euros ($289,460).

Auction house Artcurial said the offering topped the sale Saturday of 49 autographed works by Saint-Exupery.

The watercolor, done around 1942, shows the likeness of the beloved character the author created for the 1943 book “The Little Prince” sitting at a desk with a long scroll of writing tumbling down the globe — representing an 11-page letter to a woman.

Artcurial says it was likely that it was Saint-Exupery’s last correspondence before his plane disappeared in 1944 on a mission in World War II.

“The Little Prince” is one of the most translated books in history, according to the Paris-based Saint-Exupery Foundation.

Movie Review: ‘Incredibles 2’

“The Incredibles” writer/director Brad Bird has said that his characters’ powers are all born of stereotypes. Dad is strong, mom is stretched in a million directions, teenage girls put up shields, little boys are full of boundless energy and babies are unpredictable. It’s why he decided that for the sequel, “Incredibles 2 ,“ a buoyant and quick-witted romp, he’d pick up right where we left off, in that parking lot after Dash’s track meet where a new threat emerges from underground. No matter that in reality, 14 years had actually passed. Animation is not bound by time or aging actors.

For the rest of us, however, 14 years is still 14 years. And in the past 14 years, the business of Hollywood has become the business of superhero movies.


It’s hard to remember a time when there weren’t a dozen a year. But when “The Incredibles” came out in 2004, they were still a bit of an anomaly at the multiplex — its cheeky, mockumentary realism, its jokes about capes, secret identities, “monologue-ing” and the dangers of toxic, obsessive fandom was the perfect introduction (and indoctrination) to superheroes for those who couldn’t care less. Pixar magic made superhero believers out of the skeptics. And by 2008, we all thought, sure, let’s see about this Tony Stark fellow and someone called Iron Man.

In “Incredibles 2,“ it seems like Bird himself is wrestling with a culture he helped facilitate — not totally dissimilar to what Steven Spielberg did earlier this year in “Ready Player One.“ But instead of nostalgia on trial, it’s superheroes and screens.

The villain here is called Screenslaver, who uses screens to hypnotize anyone watching. It’s both the most retro plan of all (keeping with Bird’s love of the 60s aesthetic) and still somehow utterly modern. Annoyed by how blindly and wholly consumerist everyone has become at the mercy of screens and simulated experiences in lieu of real ones, from movies to video games, Screenslaver has set out to end that, and squash Municiberg’s dependence on and obsession with superheroes. As with the first, there are a million ideas at play here (not a flaw, by the way), including evolving family dynamics.

Most of the original voice cast has returned, including Craig T. Nelson as Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible, Holly Hunter as Helen Parr/Elastigirl, Bird as Edna Mode, Sarah Vowell as Violet Parr and Samuel L. Jackson as Lucius Best/Frozone (the only slight change in the main players is that Dash Parr is now voiced by Huck Milner). And once again, superheroes are still on shaky ground in Municiberg and are put on ice after the Parr family accidentally damages some public property while trying to take down a criminal.

But a wealthy heir and superhero appreciator Winston Deavor (Bob Odenkirk) and his tech savvy sister Evelyn (Catherine Keener) have a plan to rehabilitate their image. Right now, the public only sees the destruction. The Deavors propose outfitting superheroes with body cams to get exciting footage of their feats.

“Incredibles 2” provides a bit of a corrective on a micro level to the first film’s gender politics by sending mom off to work and making dad stay home (although wasn’t that a little antiquated 35 years ago?). The animation is also a heck of a lot better. “The Incredibles” looks downright primitive and even a tad ugly in retrospect.

Although it gets off to a slow start, ultimately it’s also quite a bit of fun, from the absurd (Jack Jack’s burgeoning powers) to the grounded (Dad helping Dash with his math homework or trying to make up for getting in the way of Violet’s date and embarrassing her even further in the process).

Like “Ready Player One,“ however, “Incredibles 2,“ kind of loses the thread by the end. A villain is a villain no matter how salient their point, and Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and their offspring are our heroes and thus we must root for them even while thinking that Screenslaver might be on to something.

It’s still fun to watch smart storytellers like Bird working within the system and using his platform to self-evaluate or comment on what’s going on, even if the conclusion is a little flimsy. Bird could have easily just brought back his lovable characters, leaned on Jack Jack’s antics and cashed in the check. It makes the effort and care here seem even more incredible.

“Incredibles 2,“ a Walt Disney Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “action sequences and some brief mild language.“ Running time: 118 minutes. Three stars out of four.

———

MPAA Definition of PG: Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

New ‘Fallout’ video game based in West Virginia

The Free Press WV

Bethesda Game Studios has announced that the next installment in its post-apocalyptic “Fallout” video game series will be a prequel based in the Mountain State.

Director and Executive Producer Todd Howard announced “Fallout 76” Sunday at the Xbox Microsoft E3 2018.

The most recent game in the series generated more than $750 million within the first 24 hours of its retail launch in 2015.

“Fallout 76” is being touted as the largest world created in the universe.

Howard says it’s set 25 years after the nuclear strike that creates the post-apocalyptic landscape of the Fallout universe.

It launches on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on November 14.

Though Bethesda is known for its single-player games, “Fallout 76” will be entirely online.

Study finds that film critics are almost 80 percent male

The Free Press WV

Nearly 80 percent of film critics are male, according to a new study that analyzed the movie reviews to last year’s top box-office hits.

The research was conducted by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which released its findings Monday. Researchers studied the reviews of the 100 top-grossing films of 2017 that were posted on the aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.

Of the 19,559 reviews studied, 77.8 were by male critics and 22.2 were by female critics. Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Inclusion Initiative, said film critics are “overwhelmingly white and male.”

The lack of diverse critical perspectives, researchers said, contributes to the larger gender and ethnic biases in the film industry. The study counted 36 female-driven movies and 24 minority-led movies among the top 100 films of 2017, but found they were largely reviewed by white males.

Previous studies have charted the low numbers of female directors helming Hollywood’s most popular productions. USC has found that 4 percent of all directors from the 1,100 top films from 2007 to 2017 were female. Researchers at San Diego State University found that women directed 11 percent of 2017′s top 250 films, up from 7 percent the last year but the same percentage as in 2000.

“The very individuals who are attuned to the under- and misrepresentation of females on screen and behind the camera are often left out of the conversation and critiques,” Smith said.

Female critics from minority groups accounted for just 4.1 percent of reviews studied.

Smith urged “the publicity, marketing and distribution teams in moviemaking” to increase access and opportunity to women of color critics.

Marc Choueiti, the study’s lead author, also urged Rotten Tomatoes to re-examine its definition of a “top critic” (a designation given to some film critics) “or simply (cast) a wider net” to diversify voices.

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