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Barbie will soon be 60 — and is still going strong

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Barbie will soon be 60 -- and is still going strong

EL SEGUNDO: She is turning 60 this year and still doesn’t have a single wrinkle.

Blonde or brunette, slender or curvy, black or white, princess or president, Barbie is a forever favorite for young girls, even if she has caused controversy over the years.

The iconic doll has evolved to keep up with the times — check out her Twitter feed.

And despite fierce competition in the toy industry, 58 million Barbies are sold each year in more than 150 countries.

“In an industry where success today is three to five years, 60 years is a huge deal!” said Nathan Baynard, director of global brand marketing for Barbie.

Around the world, Barbie is as universally known as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, Baynard said during a recent visit to Mattel’s design studio in El Segundo, a suburb of Los Angeles.

In all, more than one billion Barbie dolls have been sold since she made her debut at the American Toy Fair in New York on March 9, 1959.

She was invented by Ruth Handler, the co-founder of Mattel, who was inspired by her own children to create the doll.

“Her daughter Barbara was limited in the choices of her toys — the only ones were baby dolls,” Baynard recounted.

“The only role she could imagine through that play was caregiver, mother,” whereas Handler’s son “could imagine being an astronaut, cowboy, pilot, surgeon.”

Barbie is, of course, a shortened version of Barbara.

The doll was supposed to teach girls “that they had choices, that they could be anything. In 1959, it was a radical idea!” Baynard said.

Barbie was an instant success. In the first year, 300,000 dolls were sold, he added.

 

 

 

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Cannes race wide open as jury tries to pick winning film

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CANNES: The Cannes film festival ends Saturday with the race for the Palme d’Or wide open and a cracking crop of movies vying for the top prize.

With the jury now deliberating in secret in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean, four films have emerged as the favourites from a field The Guardian described as “outstanding”.

The Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar has made the running almost from the start of the 12-day marathon with his most personal film yet, “Pain & Glory”, in which Antonio Banderas plays an ageing gay director not unlike the maker of “All About My Mother”.

Almodovar, 69, has yet to win the Palme d’Or in six attempts, but has brought up the big emotional guns this time, with Penelope Cruz playing his mother.

Whether a jury led by the Oscar-winning Mexican tyro Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu of “Birdman” and “The Revenant” fame will be swayed by such an array of Latin talent remains to be seen.

Nor is there much arguing with the star power of Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”, which brings Tinseltown’s two most dashing leading men, Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio, together on screen for the first time.

– Is it Tarantino’s year? –

Many critics loved the rollicking odyssey through the Los Angeles of 1969 in the period leading up to the Manson family murders, particularly Pitt’s performance as a hoary stuntman.

But there were haters too, and the French actress Emmanuelle Seigner fired a shot across Tarantino’s bows by complaining that he did not consult her husband, director Roman Polanski, whose murdered wife Sharon Tate is at the film’s heart.

Tellingly, Tarantino — who won the Palme d’Or 25 years ago for “Pulp Fiction” — has stayed behind in Cannes, prompting speculation that he is set for a big prize.

He collected the Palm Dog prize Friday for Cannes’ best canine performance at the festival, joking, “At least I do not go home empty-handed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Russian Pianists Mesmerize Karachiites (VIDEO AND TEXT)

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KARACHI: Music aficionados from all over the Metropolis converged at the patio of Alliance Française de Karachi (AFK) – French Cultural Centre – here on Monday (29th April). The occasion was a piano concert by Russian twin sisters Anastasia & Polina Churbanova. 

KARACHI: Humane Urduphone Consul General of the Russian Federation Dr. Aleksandr G. Khozin announced that the first piece of the evening had been dedicated to Ahmed Mir (late official of the Qatar Airways) who had sponsored the duo’s transportation – Mir died in an accident in the USA.

KARACHI: Conspicuous among others there were  Consul Generals of Russia & France, Commissioner Karachi, Bina Shah (President AFK), Behram & Goshpi Avari (who had sponsored the twin’s stay here), and family members of the late official of Qatar Airways Ahmed Mir.The soirée commenced with two sisters playing German Composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s Minuet & Badinerie  (from Orchestral Suite No.2 in B minor). The next piece was French composer & pianist Francis Poulenc’s Sonate Zu vier Händen. Alexander Scriabin’s composition (Sonata No.3 in F-sharp minor op.23) Andante was performed by Polina whereas, her sister’s solo was Ludwig van Beethoven’s Sonata No. 27 in E Minor op.90. The last scheduled composition played by the twin sisters was Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Barcarolle, Scherzo, Russian Theme, Romance, Waltz and Slava (6 pieces, op.11 for piano four hands). After three curtain calls the twins excused as they were too exhausted to perform.  KARACHI: Talking exclusively to this scribe Anastasia & Polina Churbanova told that they were from St. Petersburg and were playing Piano since they were six. After taking lessons for a year they took part in a globally acclaimed contest named after Lubov Brook. Later in 2003, they won first prize in the famous international competition named after celebrated Russian pianist/composer A. Rubinstein. The twins told this was their second visit to the Port City, a Metropolis where they would love to perform again in future. They give piano concerts in Russia regularly and – besides  Pakistan – had performed in five foreign countries (including Austria, Germany, Holland, & Ukraine). 

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PS: It is pertinent to mention here that this performance was part of an international concert series termed as Classical Music Without Borders.

 

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Films in the running for Cannes’ top prize

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CANNES: From a zombie flick starring Iggy Pop to a tale of Chinese gangsters who decide to take over a city, these are the films vying for the top prize at the Cannes film festival:

– Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood –
Quentin Tarantino apparently slaved for four months straight in the editing room to get his odyssey in as a late entry for Cannes. And it was worth every minute, if the rapturous reviews so far are anything to go by.
This panorama of 1969 has Brad Pitt as the stunt double to Western star Leonardo Di Caprio and takes in everything from Bruce Lee to the sinister tale of cult leader Charles Manson. Margot Robbie plays actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered by Manson’s followers.

– The Dead Don’t Die –
The poster for Jim Jarmusch’s zombie comedy claims to have a “cast to wake the dead” — and they are not kidding. Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Selena Gomez, Tilda Swinton, Steve Buscemi, Danny Glover and Chloe Sevigny starred in the opening film alongside musicians Iggy Pop, Tom Waits and RZA.
US indie icon Jarmusch uses the zombie format for a dark indictment of Donald Trump’s America and its many addictions, from opioids to consumerism and social media.

– Sorry We Missed You –
Having won the Palme d’Or two years ago with “I, Daniel Blake”, which showed the devastation caused by austerity in Britain, veteran director Ken Loach is back with an indictment of the gig economy.
Written by his long-time collaborator Paul Laverty, it is the powerful story of our times, with another Newcastle family battling to keep their heads above water on zero-hour contracts or slaving as a self-employed delivery driver.

– A Hidden Life –
Two decades after “The Thin Red Line”, American master Terrence Malick returns to World War II with a haunting story of an Austrian conscientious objector guillotined by the Nazis in 1943.
As well as the goose pimples guaranteed by the final screen performances of late actors Michael Nyqvist and Bruno Ganz, August Diehl delivers a star turn as the man who would rather die than swear loyalty to Hitler.
It is the first time the reclusive Malick has premiered a film at Cannes since he won the Palme d’Or with “The Tree of Life” in 2011.

– Parasite –
Korean master Bong Joon-ho of “Okja” and “Snowpiercer” fame is another Cannes regular, famous for his dark, gripping, genre-bending creations. This time he tells a tragi-comic tale of a poor family’s obsession with a rich one after their son gets a job as a tutor to the daughter of a wealthy industrialist.
The tale has echoes of another South Korean movie, “Burning”, which became an arthouse hit last year after showing at Cannes.
With Bong regular Song Kang-ho (“The Host” and “Snowpiecer”) in the lead, it also stars Choi Woo-shik of the cult horror hit “Train to Busan”.

– Matthias & Maxime –
French Canadian wunderkind Xavier Dolan wrote, directed and plays the lead in his latest drama about a group of late twenty-somethings in his native Quebec.
Of late, the prolific young auteur — who made a big splash with “Mommy” and “I Killed My Mother” — has divided critical opinion. Cannes will be hoping this is a return to form.

– The Traitor –
A biopic of Tommaso Buscetta, the first high-ranking member of Cosa Nostra to break the Sicilian Mafia’s oath of silence, it stars Brazilian actress and model Maria Fernanda Candido as his third wife, who convinces him to spill the beans to US prosecutors.
Veteran Italian auteur Marco Bellocchio shot the film in Sicily, Rome, London and Rio de Janeiro.

– Young Ahmed –
Twice Palme d’Or winner Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne return to the scene of their greatest triumphs with “Young Ahmed”, a tight and tense tale of a teenager who embraces Islamic extremism.
It is set like the Belgian brothers’ previous gritty slices of working-class life in their native French-speaking Wallonia, an area that served as the base for the terrorist cell which carried out the deadly November 2015 Paris attacks.

– Pain & Glory –
Cannes usually only shows world premieres, but the festival has made an exception for Pedro Almodovar’s most personal film.
Released in Spain and Mexico in March to almost universal acclaim, it is a psychodrama about the past catching up with a film director. With a bearded Antonio Banderas playing the auteur, and Penelope Cruz his mother, it’s no wonder this is the biggest Spanish film of the year so far.

– Nighthawk –
Having wowed Cannes in 2016 with “Aquarius”, in which the amazing Sonia Braga shone, Brazilian director Kleber Mendonca Filho is back with a hard-hitting story of a human safari in the Amazonian interior.

– Mektoub, My Love: Intermezzo –
The second instalment of “Blue is the Warmest Colour”, director Abdellatif Kechiche’s trilogy in homage to Sete, his hometown on the French Mediterranean. Critics were divided on whether the first part was a sensual feast or just leery. At four hours, they will have plenty of time to mull their verdict on this one.
– Portrait of a Young Lady on Fire –
Celine Sciamma, who won rave reviews for “Girlhood”, her 2014 tale of young black girls growing up in the gritty French suburbs, has critics in raptures again for her 18th-century lesbian love story about a painter commissioned to do the portrait of a young woman. The film stars Adele Haenel, one of France’s most sought-after young actresses.

– The Wild Goose Lake –
Diao Yinan, who won the top prize at the Berlin film festival in 2014 for another crime story — “Black Coal, Thin Ice” — is the sole Chinese contender with this noir thriller. A pair of young lovers end up being chased by both the police and a group of gangsters who have taken control of a city.

– Oh Mercy! –
Arnaud Desplechin, the whimsical French director of the 2004 film “Kings & Queens”, is back exploring his northern home town of Roubaix in his latest feature starring Roschdy Zem, Lea Seydoux and Sara Forestier.

– Little Joe –
Austrian-born director Jessica Hausner’s sci-fi chiller from the near future is a twisted genetic modification fairytale featuring rising British star Ben Whishaw and Emily Beecham.

– Les Miserables –
French actor-director Ladj Ly, who grew up filming his high-rise Paris suburb and has previously worked with street art megastar JR, makes a striking Cannes debut with this moving story set in the deprived neighbourhood where the 2005 Paris riots began.

– It Must Be Heaven –
Palestinian director Elia Suleiman, who was nominated for the Palme d’Or in 2002 with “Divine Intervention” about a love affair across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, travels to Paris, New York and other cities for this rumination on a life lived in exile.

– Frankie –
US director Ira Sachs casts Isabelle Huppert, Brendan Gleeson and Marisa Tomei in a film about three generations of a recomposed family coming to terms with the impending death of its matriarch during a final holiday in Portugal.

– The Whistlers –
Romanian new wave director Corneliu Porumboiu has a detective fly from Bucharest to La Gomera in the Canary Islands to help a criminal escape from prison.

– Atlantics –
The debut feature of Mati Diop — the first black African woman director to compete for the Palme d’Or — is a ghost story set on a Senegalese building site where the workers decide to take to the seas in search of a better life.

– Sibyl –
French director Justine Triet depicts a burnt-out psychotherapist who becomes inspired by working with a distressed young actress played by Adele Exarchopoulos, star of the Cannes-winning 2013 lesbian drama “Blue is the Warmest Colour”.

 

 

 

 

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