It was solely a matter of time earlier than a politician awkwardly quoted Taylor Swift at Tuesday morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee listening to on Ticketmaster, Reside Nation and the U.S. ticketing market.
“Might I counsel respectfully that Ticketmaster should look within the mirror and say, ‘I’m the issue. It’s me’” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) instructed Reside Nation Leisure’s President and Chief Monetary Officer Joe Berchtold, referencing the refrain to Swift’s No. 1 music, “Anti-Hero.” “The reason being, fairly merely, that you’re those finally liable for the astronomically rising costs, the exorbitant hidden charges, the sold-out reveals and the bots and scalpers.”
In November, Ticketmaster bungled the on-sale for Swift’s upcoming stadium tour, prompting outcry from demoralized followers who have been left ticket-less and, quickly thereafter, criticism from a spread of politicians and a class-action lawsuit from disgruntled Swifties. Tuesday’s listening to, led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), confirmed bipartisan skepticism in direction of the Reside Nation/Ticketmaster conglomerate, which dominates the reside music market.
Critics contend that Reside Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, exerts undue energy over the live performance trade. Reside Nation is the nation’s largest live performance promoter, whereas Ticketmaster controls an estimated 80% of the ticketing market. The businesses have been allowed to merge underneath a Division of Justice consent decree that pressured Ticketmaster to license its software program and prohibited retaliatory conduct towards rivals.
Tuesday’s listening to, which featured testimony from ticketing executives, impartial promoters, antitrust specialists and artists, scrutinized the corporate’s alleged anticompetitive practices, excessive service charges and incapability to weed out automated scalpers from the ticket-buying course of. The aggressive line of questioning from each Democratic and Republican senators made clear that there’s a actual regulatory and legislative menace to Reside Nation and Ticketmaster’s enterprise mannequin — and maybe its future as a single firm.
“Innovation in reside occasion ticketing has been stunted as a result of Reside Nation Leisure Inc. controls the most well-liked entertainers on the earth, the ticketing techniques, and even lots of the venues,” mentioned Jack Groetzinger, co-founder and chief govt officer of SeatGeek, a direct competitor to Ticketmaster. “This energy over the complete reside leisure trade permits Reside Nation to keep up its monopolistic affect over the first ticketing market. So long as Reside Nation stays each the dominant live performance promoter and ticketer of main venues in the US, our trade will proceed to wrestle with the challenges that face it at this time.”
Clyde Lawrence, singer for the New York soul-pop band Lawrence, mentioned that “ever since we began touring, we seen what felt like lopsided deal mechanics in sure elements of the reside music trade.”
Reside Nation’s “horizontal and vertical attain makes it onerous to create competitors,” he continued. “Corporations within the ticketing area would possibly carry main improvements that permit for decrease charges, higher transparency … and developments in dealing with the problematic secondary ticketing market … Nevertheless it doesn’t matter how modern these different ticketing corporations are; if each Reside Nation present must be ticketed completely by means of Ticketmaster, there’s no probability for them to interrupt by means of.”
Kathleen Bradish, of the American Antitrust Institute, went even additional.
“Reside Nation / Ticketmaster is a monopoly,” she mentioned, “and can act as a result of it has an enormous incentive to exclude competitors.”
“Ticketmaster comes underneath a variety of criticism,” Berchtold acknowledged in his opening remarks. “However I can say with nice confidence that technologically Ticketmaster is a significantly better ticketing system at this time than it was in 2010. Its efficiency in massive on-sales is the perfect within the trade, it has the perfect advertising and marketing capabilities of any ticketing system and it’s far and away the chief in stopping fraud and getting tickets into the arms of actual followers.”
Over three hours of testimony and questioning, practically each senator attending had no less than some angle to criticize the agency.
“Again in 2018, 1000’s of individuals in Hawaii tried and didn’t get Bruno Mars tickets,” mentioned Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
. “I’ve heard Mr. Berchtold say that after the merger, they spent $1 billion to enhance the Ticketmaster system. So I’m simply questioning what sort of enhancements to the Ticketmaster system are literally being adopted?
“I’m towards dumb, and the best way firm dealt with the on-sale for Ms. Swift was a debacle,” mentioned John Kennedy (R-La.). “Whoever was accountable for that ought to be fired.”
Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) raised considerations that the corporate wasn’t doing sufficient to battle bots or automated scalping. “You’ve got blamed bot assaults on inflicting the the crash throughout the Taylor Swift ticket gross sales. Ticket distributors appear to view bot assaults as regular to their operations,” Blackburn mentioned. “That is an unacceptable scenario.”
A number of audio system introduced up the current changeover at Brooklyn’s Barclays Middle, which reverted again to Ticketmaster after ending a contract with SeatGeek one 12 months right into a seven-year deal. Some on the panel suspected Reside Nation had retaliated to Barclays’ SeatGeek deal by shifting its concert events elsewhere.
“The Barclays Middle noticed a marked lower within the variety of concert events from Reside Nation that have been despatched to that venue versus historic averages,” Groetzinger mentioned. “Administration got here to us and mentioned we wish to have the ability to use Ticketmaster to ticket concert events, and we seemed into it and couldn’t get the economics to work.”
“The DOJ pointed to a pervasive atmosphere of concern of retaliation,” Bradish agreed. “And because of this, it reveals that when an organization has incentives to behave in a specific method, a consent decree isn’t essentially going to cease them from doing that.”
The Division of Justice has an ongoing investigation into Reside Nation’s practices.
“To the people who find themselves fed up, I might say, proceed your criticism in case you’re offended and annoyed,” Blumenthal mentioned. “You bought the facility to demand motion, and we should always act with new laws. If the Division of Justice established a violation of the consent decree, unwinding the merger should be on the desk.
“If the Division of Justice establishes information that contain monopolistic and predatory abuses, there should be structural cures,” he continued. “Reminiscent of breaking apart the corporate.”
Cold Film Review: Chilly Thrills in Icelandic Horror
Erlingur Thoroddsen’s Cold (Kuldi) is an effectively tense, spooky and stylish multi-generational horror-thriller about guilt, trauma and mental illness.
A ‘shadow’ is an incredibly effective way of describing a secret, something dark and scary and looming just out of reach. It’s a motif that Erlingur Thoroddsen’s Cold (Kuldi) uses to explore generational guilt, trauma and mental illness to varying degrees of effectiveness. It’s a horror film that doesn’t rely too heavily on scares, instead much more content to build and sustain a creeping sense of dread and tension, but things do inevitably feel a little rushed when the careful building needs to come tumbling down.
Óðinn (Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson) suddenly finds himself caring for his teenage daughter as they deal with the fallout of her mother Lára’s (Álfrún Örnólfsdóttir) suicide. Óðinn, a recovering alcoholic, struggles to connect with the withdrawn, quiet and angry Rún (Ólöf Halla Jóhannesdóttir), especially while his work has him investigating two historic deaths at a now-defunct juvenile detention centre. But as Óðinn delves deeper into the case and its connection to a young woman, Aldís (Elín Hall), he finds past and present are much more intertwined than he could have ever imagined.
Cold is almost two tales in one, switching to and from Óðinn life in the present to the detention centre in 1984, just before the incident occurs. It weaves the two timelines pretty seamlessly, with the past flowing into the present – at times literally, with some very clever camera work from cinematographer Brecht Goyvaerts – to allow the connections between the two form organically in the minds of the audience. Things feel balanced, not muddled, and it’s an effective way of keeping the tension.
And Thoroddsen does keep that creeping sense of dread running throughout the whole film. Each timeline has its own colour palette, and there’s a different mood to each that coalesces effectively by the film’s slightly mad finale, so that it doesn’t ever feel disjointed. 1984 is warm toned but claustrophobic, amplifying the feeling that there’s something lurking in every dark corner, whereas the present is much cooler, with more emphasis on the idea that Lára is haunting Óðinn and Rún, desperately trying to reveal the secrets of her death. It makes for an effective horror film for the most part, eschewing some of the more obvious jump scares in favour of that uneasiness.
The film doesn’t ever shy away from exploring its central themes of guilt and trauma, particularly in regards to generational mental illness. They are constantly at the forefront, fuelling characters’ decisions and behaviours in a way that feels authentic. Issues are discussed and visualised, effectively avoiding the pitfalls of becoming a horror genre gimmick, even if the packed narrative doesn’t really allow for any deep development. Cold is slick, intricate and intriguingly plotted, but does hurtle towards the finish line in what feels like the blink of an eye.
And that, unfortunately, that’s when the issues appear. Although riddled with tension for the most part, it’s when it comes time to resolve the mysteries of the two timelines – and how they intersect – that the film stumbles a little. Both past and present get a resolution, but only one feels satisfying. The second feels a bit too sudden in the moment – hindsight might offer a less subtle view, but at the time it’s a little jarring – and so the ending is a little abrupt to be truly satisfying. The rug pull is swift, but after such drawn out and atmospheric storytelling, it isn’t as smooth as it could have been.
For the most part though, Cold is successful in what it’s trying to do. It’s spooky when it needs to be, clever, stylistically interesting and the performances across the board are really impressive too. Thoroddsen is obviously very confident in crafting a dark, chilly horror-thriller, and Cold is certainly that. It’s very enjoyable and really good at creating tension, it’s just the tumble of that final ‘shock’ that puts a damper on things.
The film Cold (Kuldi) will be screened at the Glasgow Film Festival on 5-6 March, 2024. Read our Glasgow Film Festival reviews and our list of films to watch at the 2024 Glasgow Film Festival!
Kate Middleton spotted after rampant speculation about her post-op whereabouts
Catherine has been spotted for the first time since December, months after her January hospitalization, which spawned rampant conspiracy theories, and viral suppositions about her alleged “disappearance.”
The Princess of Wales, formerly Kate Middleton, was photographed Monday by Backgrid, a photo-hosting agency, near Windsor Castle in the U.K. sitting in the passenger seat of an Audi driven by her mother, Carole Middleton, according to TMZ.
The Daily Mail reported that Monday’s princess sighting came via paparazzi pictures that were not authorized by the palace.
The casual outing — featuring the princess in sunglasses and without security — is the first time that the 42-year-old has been seen in public since she celebrated Christmas at Sandringham estate in eastern England with husband Prince William, their three children and rest of the royal family, People reported.
The senior royal was admitted to the London Clinic on Jan. 16, Kensington Palace said, for a planned abdominal surgery and successfully underwent the procedure. The palace added, however, that the princess was expected to be hospitalized for 10 to 14 days after the mystery surgery and “before returning home to continue her recovery.” She would return to her public duties after Easter — March 31 — based on current medical advice, the palace said.
“The Princess of Wales appreciates the interest this statement will generate,” Kensington Palace said. “She hopes that the public will understand her desire to maintain as much normality for her children as possible; and her wish that her personal medical information remains private.”
Despite her desires, the announcement — coupled with father-in-law King Charles III’s simultaneous health issues — ignited even more interest in her condition and plenty of wild speculation given her absence from the public eye, as well as that of her children and parents. Amid theories about an organ donation to Charles, a Brazilian butt lift, mommy makeover or the possibility that she was in a coma, the topic (hashtag #whereiskatemiddleton) has been a talking point ever since.
As many a Redditor and casual social media user wondered, “What is going on with Kate Middleton?” the BBC analyzed the “royal dilemma” over Kate’s health, the New York Times touched on the rumors swirling around her, Vogue tracked “The Curious Case of the ‘Disappearing’ Princess,” and this newspaper tried to figure out what the frenzy over her alleged “‘disappearance’ says about the royals — and us.”
Kate left the hospital on Jan. 29 and returned to Adelaide Cottage in Windsor, where she was reunited with her kids. Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, temporarily stepped back from his royal duties to manage childcare but continued with other royal engagements in Wrexham and London.
Last week, the 41-year-old prince — who is also expected to take on more royal duties after his father’s cancer diagnosis — provided further fodder for the rumor mill when he cited a “personal matter” for his absence from the funeral of his godfather, King Constantine of Greece.
Nonetheless, a spokesman reiterated the palace’s stance that there would be no “running commentary” provided on Kate’s health despite Internet rumors.
That, according to the Telegraph, was testing the Firm’s policy of “never complain, never explain.”
“From our perspective, we were very clear from our statement at the start of this in January that the Princess of Wales planned to be out of public action until after Easter, and that hasn’t changed,” a spokesperson for the family told the Telegraph.
“We were always clear we wouldn’t be providing updates when there wasn’t anything new to share,” the spokesperson said. “The last thing anyone wants is a running commentary of the Princess of Wales’s recovery. Nothing has changed from that approach in January.”
Film review: Ru brings Kim Thúy's beloved novel to achingly beautiful life — Stir
AUTHOR KIM THÚY’S Governor General’s Award–winning novel Ru gives unique access to the refugee experience, following her family from Vietnam across the ocean to a new life in Canada. But what makes the book, and the extraordinary new movie based on it, so touching is the specific mix of that story with the French-Canadian culture that the family learns to call its own.
In his new screen adaptation, Canadian director Charles-Olivier Michaud finds the warmth and humour in everything from a stepdance welcome in a community gym to the healing magic of maple taffy made on fresh snow. Or ham decorated with canned pineapple chunks and maraschino cherries. Or a fridge full of donated shepherd pies.
The story is told nonchronologically, through the eyes of preteen Tinh (a remarkably unaffected Chloé Djandji) and following her family’s harrowing journey from upper-class comfort in Vietnam to the refugees once known as “boat people”, eventually starting over again in Canada. The culture shock is immediate: upon arrival in Quebec, the trip into Granby is by bus, through a blizzard, following a snowplow. In one of Michaud’s poetically surreal moments, a wide-eyed Tinh spots a new bride, crying and drinking champagne, still wearing her long white gown, on the hall floor of the motel the family calls home for many weeks.
The script (by Thuy working with Michaud and Jacques Davidts) uses restraint but never glosses over the trauma the parents and their children carry with them into their new lives. Via flashbacks, we see soldiers ransacking the family’s books and belongings, and witness the inhumanity of the dank boat hold. Through assured visual storytelling, Ru lets us in on the experience of forced migration—specifically, the trials, big and small, that “boat people” faced—whether it’s a parent sewing money into shirt hems or a camera slowly panning through a garment factory. In one scene, Tinh’s mother (a steely Chantal Thuy) stares from the ship hull, up a long ladder to the first daylight she’s seen in weeks. It’s a complex mix of despair about what’s behind her and fear of the unknown that awaits at the top of the hatch. Later, she refuses to speak to her daughter and two young sons in anything but French, and drives them to study harder. At the same time, the parents’ sacrifices are moving, the educated father (a quietly dignified Jean Bui) mopping cathedral floors and delivering Chinese food. What’s so poignant is that everyone’s too busy to pay too much attention to the growing pains and trauma that Tinh is quietly navigating herself—at a time when PTSD wasn’t a term yet, and everyone, even children, were expected to tough things out.
To his credit, director Michaud chooses not to tell this story through a lot of dialogue, but rather through imagery and often achingly beautiful visual details. A perfect symbol of all of the cultural upheaval comes with recurring shots of a second-hand toaster, which a kind Quebec sponsor assumes will be a necessity for the Vietnamese family’s breakfasts, but that becomes a chopstick holder abandoned in a corner.
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