Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
Directors: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman
Voice Cast: Shameik Moore, Hailee Steinfeld,Mahershala Ali, Jake Johnson, Liev Schreiber, Brian Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez, Lily Tomlin
Spider-Man, the nerdy teenager given the proportional strength of a spider, has had many incarnations over the decades in the comic books — whether it’s the nerdy Steve Ditko original, the hunky Romita senior version, or the porcine Spider-Ham.
In the mid-‘80s, Marvel, looking to compete with the likes of He-Man in the minds of kids, launched an event called “Secret Wars,” resulting in Spidey ditching the red and blue tights in favor of a sleek black costume made of a sentient alien goo known as the Symbiote. But when the honeymoon period was over, the alien suit made its way to journalist Eddie Brock, who became Venom, the toothsome villain/sometimes anti-hero.
In the recent eponymously named live action film, the alien symbiote merged with journalist Brock (Tom Hardy) which granted him him super strength but also inextricably bound him to the alien slime. Peter Parker, however, is nowhere to be seen in this film, which is loosely based on the Venom created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, and the story went off in its own strange directions, harkening back to an era of super-films that were more concerned with the here-and-now than the mega-franchises down the road.
In the case of the Spider-verse, other Marvel madmen came up with the idea of a multiverse with endless Spider-man variants, pulled together over the decades. The digitally animated “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” — was based on the idea that an African American teenager, Miles Morales (who originally appeared in Marvel’s Ultimate line of comics, and that set much of the tone and look of the current Avengers films), got bitten by a radioactive spider, suddenly developed mysterious powers (which transforming him into an Alternate Earth Spider-Man), and then, as the hero, saved the many universes. In the place of the original Peter Parker, Miles is another nerdy teen who battles the hulking madman crime boss Kingpin — who has gone from extortion and drug trafficking, to opening portals to other dimensions. The Webhead’s colossal foe now threatens not only this Earth’s Spidey, but also has the power to destroy a bunch of other Spideys, such as a Japanese girl with a giant spider-robot, and an alternate version of Parker’s deceased gal-pal Gwen Stacy(who is now not dead but is masked).
Since Sony Pictures’ executives retained the rights to Spider-Man, these two films represent their effort to be a part of that Marvel Universe, but are doing their part to stand out from it as well. In order to do so, they have rounded up their share of A-list actors such as Tom Hardy to play Venom, and a seasoned team of animators to create an entertaining version of Spider-Man and these multi-verse variants.
The directing trio of Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, and Rodney Rothman coalesced in 2017, and they all decided to make a unique film with a style which combined Sony Pictures Imageworks’ in-house computer animation with traditional hand-drawn comic book techniques inspired by Sara Pichelli, Miles Morales’s co-creator. Up to 140 animators — the largest crew ever used by Sony — made the critically acclaimed “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Snarky though it be, it also prompts much thought on what other multi-verse Spideys are possible. Some of weird ones already imagined include Spider-Man Noir (Nic Cage) and Spider-Ham (John Mulaney) — a talking cartoon pig in a Spider-Man outfit.
A sense of humor also pervaded “Venom” but it didn’t get much critical acceptance, though fans online have likened the film to be a metaphor for queer relationships. But despite it getting mostly bad reviews, it had great audience numbers. With that success on hand, coupled with the critical enthusiasm for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” sequels and several spin-offs are already in development. And, since comic-book superhero mega features have become conceptually tired, these two relatively stimulating re-thinks are worth seeing on the big screen.
The Glorious Corner
SLY REVIVED — (via Rolling Stone) Sly Stone, the enigmatic R&B/funk icon, will share his story in a new memoir, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), arriving Oct. 17 via Questlove’s new publishing imprint, AUWA Books.
Stone co-wrote the new book with Ben Greeman, who’s written memoirs with George Clinton, Brian Wilson, and Questlove (he helped the Roots drummer with his three other books, too). Questlove — who’s directing a documentary about Stone — will also pen a foreword for Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin).
In a statement, Stone said, “For as long as I can remember folks have been asking me to tell my story. I wasn’t ready. I had to be in a new frame of mind to become Sylvester Stewart again to tell the true story of Sly Stone. It’s been a wild ride and hopefully my fans enjoy it too.”
Born Sylvester Stewart, Stone’s music career began when he was a child, singing in a gospel quartet with his siblings. In the Sixties, he worked as a radio DJ in the Bay Area, forming various soul groups, including the extremely successful Sly and the Family Stone. The group’s debut,A Whole new Thing, arrived in 1967, and that same year they released their first major hit, “Dance to the Music,” which anchored the band’s second album. Between 1967 and and 1982, Sly and the Family Stone released 10 albums, including classics like Stand! and There’s a Riot Goin; On.
But after the dissolution of the Family Stone, Stone struggled to find success as a solo artist while simultaneously battling drug addiction. Though he got sober, he receded from public life, making only sporadic appearances, like the band’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a performance at the 2006 Grammys. In 2011, Stone released a new solo album, I’m Back! Family and Friends; in 2016, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Grammys.
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) is one of several books on the initial slate for Questlove’s new AUWA Books venture. (The Farrar, Straus and Giroux imprint takes its name, by the way, from the bird-call noise Prince used on songs like “Baby I’m a Star” and “Eye No.”) Also on the docket: Questlove’s new book, Hip-Hop Is History, and a book from TikTok star Drew Afualo (both out in 2024).
This is major news for sure. If you’re of a certain age, Sly Stone’s music was the best. The true of story of what actually happened should be cataclysmic. The stories I’ve heard over the years encompass almost everything good and bad about the music industry. I hope the curtain is finally pulled back in this instance.
TICKET TO YOUNG — (Via Ultimate Classic Rock) Count Neil Young among those musicians who blame escalating ticket prices for ruining the concert industry. “It’s over. The old days are gone,” Young declared in a message posted to his Neil Young Archives website. “I get letters blaming me for $3,000.00 tickets for a benefit I am doing. That money does not go to me or the benefit. Artists have to worry about ripped off fans blaming them for Ticketmaster add-ons and scalpers.”
The acclaimed rocker’s message was accompanied by a story about the Cure and their recent battle with Ticketmaster. The ticketing giant earned the scorn of the goth rock band and their fans by adding several fees to ticket prices for the Cure’s upcoming North American tour. In some cases, these “unduly high” fees, as Robert Smith called them, resulted in the actual price of tickets nearly doubling from their face value. Ticketmaster eventually agreed to refund some of the cost.
“Concert tours are no longer fun,” Young opined, pointing to ticket fees and scalpers as the culprit. “Concert tours not what they were.”
Young’s thoughts about ticket prices are the latest in his ongoing list of gripes regarding modern touring. In December, the rocker reiterated his refusal to play at concert venues that use factory farms.
SHORT TAKES — Could Big Blue be coming back? Blockbuster for decades was the go-to spot for DVDs and video-tapes. Stay tuned …I love Keanu Reeves, but I must admit I’ve not seen any of the John Wick movies. Chapter 4 opened this past weekend with a $74 million+ score. Rather amazing in this post-covid period.
I pulled up the trailer and was terrifically impressed by the lush visuals; beautiful music and Reeves and Lance Reddick just sensational. I am thinking of a John Wick-weekend where I’ll watch all 4 … Writer/producer Terry Jastrow arrives in NY this week with his wife actress Anne Archer … Whatever happened to the Madonna biopic? You ask three different people and you get three different answers,. Check this one out from IndieWire: https://www.indiewire.com/2023/03/julia-garner-madonna-biopic-fingers-crossed-1234819696/ …
Personally, I don’t think Garner should do it. Mired in controversy already, could it really be any good? … GUESS WHO DON”T SUE: What up-and-coming metal band is using the name of a high-profile manager to score some Manhattan-gigs? They were going to work with the manager until it blew up. Simply shady if you ask me … btw: whatever happened to Wendy Stuart Kaplan? …
Friday was the last episode (for their inaugural season) of Apple TV+’s Shrinking which has just been so excellent in this its debut season. Jason Segal and Brett Goldstein have come up with the best show on streaming yet. Infectiously good and the acting turns from Segal and Harrison Ford are off the charts. The show culminated in a wedding for best-friend Brian (Michael Urie) and ended with a call-back to the show’s very first scene. Remember it? Truly a one-of-a-kind show. We loved it … I’ve heard at least 4 stories on the news this weekend about composting. Is this a hot topic now? Trending is it? … RIP Nicholas Lloyd Webber
NAMES IN THE NEWS –— Alex Salzman; Rob Petrie; Anthony Pomes; Terry Jastrow; Tyrone Biljan; Jacqueline Boyd; Bill McCuddy; Brad LeBeau; Nile Rodgers; Nancy Hunt; Steve Leeds; Terri Epstein; Brenda K. Starr; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; William Schill; Robert Funaro; Vinny Pastore; Maureen Van Zandt; Tricia Daniels; and ZIGGY!
The Glorious Corner
TODD’S AWATS — (from World Cafe) Fifty years ago, Todd Rundgren released his album A Wizard, a True Star, and it sounded like nothing else. World Cafe correspondent John Morrison says Rundgren was pushing boundaries, both in the technical creation of the music but also on a higher level. “Really, the entire approach to sound in this record is exploration of the mind, the spirit, the nature of sound itself,” Morrison says. “Like, the whole album is a trip.” In this session, Morrison takes us on a journey through Rundgren’s A Wizard, a True Star, exploring what the album meant when it came out and how its influence continues to reverberate.
Currently he’s touring with Daryl Hall and there’s a bunch of sessions with Hall that are on Daryl’s House. The way their two voices blend is simply amazing. One of my all-time favorite albums is War Babies, from Hall & Oates in 1974. Just amazing songs and the production, courtesy of Todd, is equally compelling. Stunning!
SHORT TAKES — Joe Pantoliano (Joey Pants) is essaying Morris Levy in the forthcoming play Rock & Roll Man about Alan Freed. Freed is played by Constantine Maroulis. Also coming is the movie Spinning Gold; the story of record exec-Neil Bogart. Both should be something to see … Am reading and reading nothing but rave reviews of Sunday’s Succession on HBO; the first of ten episodes which will wrap up the story. In all the reviews, the writing emerges the star. Jesse Armstrong, a genius for sure. Can’t wait. Check out Roger Friedman’s take from his Showbiz 411: https://www.showbiz411.com/2023/03/22/succession-returns-for-finale-season-sit-down-have-a-drink-or-two-its-intense-as-ever … 79 year old Top Gun: Maverick producer Jerry Bruckheimer: “Don Simpson (Bruckheimer’s late-producing partner) used to say we’re in the transportation business: we transport you from one place to another” …
Terrific Accused episode this week, starring Jason Ritter in Jack’s Story. Jason, John Ritter’s son was just excellent; the show was just renewed by Fox … Steve Miller, out on the road, has some interesting openers for his upcoming tour: Dave Mason and Joe Bonamassa. Mason’s book (Only You Know and I Know) is out in May … Dennis Scott hosted a special invitation-only Happy Birthday, Mister Rogers event in Nashville for media, TV, radio and music industry professionals, with support from ASCAP, this past Monday.
The event featured special musical performances given by country singer-songwriter Teea Goans, singer-songwriter & guitar virtuoso Parker Hastings, who put a Chet Atkins-like spin on the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” and studio vocalist Gary Janney. Here’s the cake prepared for the event … Happy Bday William Shatner ; Chaka Khan; Reese Witherspoon; and Anthony Pomes!
Cabaret, Talks and Concerts For April
Spring, makes us gather as much sun as possible, but it also brings rain and it’s time to hop inside and catch your favorite performer. Here are our picks for April.
92 Street Y: 1395 Lexington Ave. 4/11: Apple TV+’s The Last Thing He Told Me: Jennifer Garner and Laura Dave; 4/19: Al Pacino in Conversation with David Rubenstein (In-Person); 4/30: Celebrating Balanchine: A Screening, Book Reading, Conversation and Performance with Director Connie Hochman, Heather Watts, Jennifer Homans, Tiler Peck, Unity Phelan, and Calvin Royal III Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of George Balanchine’s Death (In-Person)
Birdland Jazz: 315 West 44 St. Every Monday at 9:30pm Jim Caruso’s Cast Party; Every Tuesday at 8:30pm The Lineup with Susie Mosher; Every Saturday at 7pm Eric Comstock with Sean Smith (Bass) & special guest Barbara Fasano (Voice); 4/1: Eliane Elias; 4/3: Susie Mosher & John Boswell in CASHINO; 4/17: Anita Gillette & Penny Fuller: “Sin Twisters: The Next Frontier”; 4/17: Sean McDermott & Cassidy Place; 4/21 – 22: Tony DeSare; 4/24: Karen Akers and 4/25 – 29: John Pizzarelli Album Release
Cafe Carlyle: 35 E 76th St. 4/1: John Lloyd Young; 4/3: Seth Rudetsky; 4/5 -15; Alan Cumming and Ari Shapiro; 18- 19 Christine Andreas; 4/20-21; John Brancy and Peter Dugan; 4/22; Richard Tognetti, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra and 4/25-29 Candace Bushnell.
Carnegie Hall: 881 7th Ave at 57th St.
Chelsea Table + Stage: Hilton Fashion District Hotel, 152 W 26th St. 4/14: Marieann Meringolo and 4/17: The Skivvies.
Don’t Tell Mama: 343 W. 46 St. 4/ 21: Tanya Moberly and 4/28: Ricky Ritzel’s Broadway!
Dizzys Club Coca Cola: Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th Street. 4/21 -22: Monterey Jazz Festival On Tour
The DJango: 2 Avenue of the Americas. 4/9: Gabrielle Stravelli
54 Below: 254 West 54 St. 4/1: Jennifer Simard: Can I Get Your Number?; 4/1: Bianca Marroquín; 4/4: LIVESTREAM | The Tom Kitt Band; 4/7, 11, 15: Linda Eder; 4/12-14: Kate Baldwin & Aaron Lazar: All For You; 4/21-22: LIVESTREAM | Seth Sikes & Nicolas King with Billy Stritch and 4/29: Darius de Haas: Maisel and More!
The Green Room 42: 570 10th Ave. 4/2: Melissa Errico; 4/13, 15: Sharon McKnight and 4/23: Reeve Carney
Sony Hall: 235 W. 46th St. 1/15:
The Town Hall: 123 West 43rd Street. 4/23: Mariza
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