Dozens of powerful men and women have abruptly lost public favor in the past twelve months, from the numerous men toppled by #MeToo movement to comedians who have been shunned for an inappropriate Twitter joke. And that’s only in the last year. Here’s a list of most shocking falls from grace in movie and TV history, from director Roman Polanski to comedian Roseanne Barr to disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein.
After becoming one of the most successful stars of the silent film era, Roscoe Conkling “Fatty” Arbuckle abruptly fell from grace when he was put on trial for the rape and murder of actress Virginia Rappe in 1921. Arbuckle was eventually acquitted, but the scandal overshadowed his legacy as a pioneering comedian and actor in Old Hollywood.
The French-Polish director has been a fugitive from the U.S. criminal justice system since 1978, when he fled America for Poland after being charged with drugging and raping a 13-year old girl. He continued making films in Europe, and in 2003, he earned an Academy Award for Best Director for his World War II drama “The Pianist.” In May, Polanski was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the wake of the #MeToo movement.
Once the star of the NFL, Simpson fell from grace when he was arrested and charged with the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. He was acquitted after one of the most highly publicized trials in American history — 100 million people tuned in to watch the verdict. In 2007, Simpson was arrested and charged with armed robbery and kidnapping, and was sentenced to 33 years in jail. HE was granted parole and released on October 1, 2017.
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www.thewrap.com | 8/8/18
Serena Williams’ is raising her 11-month-old daughter Olympia to be bilingual.
The 36-year-old tennis star shared a video of herself speaking French to her baby girl on Instagram Wednesday.
In the clip, Williams can be heard saying “wash your hands,” to Olympia who hilariously is doing so in the dog’s water bowl.
The tennis ace continues in French, telling the little girl not to use the dog water and jokingly exclaiming, “Oh là là!”
“Now I have to give her a bath,” Williams wrote over the story.
This isn’t the first time little Olympia got a taste of a European culture. Last month, Williams, her husband Alexis Ohanian, 35, and Olympia jetted off to Venezia, Italy all because Williams was hungry.
“She wanted Italian for dinner, so…” Ohanian captioned an Instagram of himself with Williams, whose sipping on a glass of wine.
Ohanian, who in addition to being Williams’ husband and Olympia’s dad is the co-founder of Reddit, also shared a shot from a gondola ride he and Williams took while in Italy and photo of Williams exploring the city at night.
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Their trip to Italy came just a few weeks after Williams’ return to Wimbledon.
Although she lost the ladies’ singles final to Angelique Kerber, Williams’ post-match interview proved she’ll always be a winner.
RELATED ARTICLE: Serena Williams Has Not Spent a Single Day Apart From Daughter Olympia Since Her Birth
“It was such an amazing tournament for me. I was really hoping to get this far,” Williams told reporters. “It’s obviously disappointing, but I can’t be disappointed. I have so much to look forward to. I’m literally just getting started.”
“To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today and I tried,” Williams added.
people.com | 8/2/18
National Geographic Partners will lose three of its top executives in a restructuring, CEO Gary Knell wrote in an internal memo on Tuesday.
Rachel Webber, executive vice president of digital; Rosa Zeegers, executive vice president of consumer products and experiences; and Laura Nichols, senior vice president and chief communications officer, are all set to depart the company by the end of the month.
Webber will transition into an advisory role in which she will “identify growth opportunities,” including exploring VR experiences and developing an OTT strategy.
The reorganization comes under the leadership of Knell — who was appointed CEO of Nat Geo Partners in February — in an attempt to streamline the company’s editorial operations, combining print and digital efforts.
Susan Goldberg, currently editor-in-chief of the print magazine, will serve as serve as editorial director for the new combined-print-and-digitial division, NG Media. David Miller, currently general manager of digital, will expand his duties to become general manager for NG Media.
“As in any newly constructed enterprise, it takes concerted effort to pull pieces together and create clear goals through which we can identify success,” Knell wrote. “We must decide at times what to ‘double down’ on and what to minimize. These are often hard choices and not crystal clear. But decisions need to be made and history, of course, will judge their success.”
“As in nearly all reorganizations, we face the unhappy reality of parting with outstanding colleagues who have contributed greatly to Nat Geo’s success,” he continued. “Please join me in thanking Rosa Zeegers and Laura Nichols for their work in setting up a new foundation for NGP. We wish them nothing but the best in all future endeavors.”
A joint venture between National Geographic Society and 21st Century Fox, National Geographic Partners combines the brand’s television channels with its media and consumer-oriented assets, including the magazines, National Geographic studios, books and related digital and social media platforms.
Read Knell’s full memo below.
When National Geographic Partners was formed in 2015, the objective was simple: transform one of the world’s most iconic media brands into a streamlined global business, aligned in every way with the Society’s historic excellence in science, adventure and exploration.
As in any newly constructed enterprise, it takes concerted effort to pull pieces together and create clear goals through which we can identify success. We must decide at times what to “double down” on and what to minimize. These are often hard choices and not crystal clear. But decisions need to be made and history, of course, will judge their success.
In order to best realize our potential and at the same time recognize the competitive world in which we operate, we are announcing today some important changes to our structure and operating model.
First, understanding how vital our global television platforms remain, we cannot emphasize enough how critical the Nat Geo Channel 2.0 strategy is to support. It makes Nat Geo relevant by creating outstanding world-class programming, it creates a great buzz with audiences, it pays off with important cable and satellite affiliates, and it brings in vital sponsors to support our work. Over three-fourths of our revenues come from these platforms.
Courteney Monroe will continue her outstanding work as CEO of Nat Geo Global Networks, overseeing a team of producers, schedulers and promoters, and coordinating with our international teams in Europe, Latin America and Asia. We have an incredibly exciting program agenda this next season with such major platforms as “Mars,” “Cosmos,” “Valley of the Boom” and others. These will build off a year in which our ratings are up and we have received a record 18 Emmy nominations. In order to centralize relationships with producers and talent, Courteney will also oversee a reenergized National Geographic Studios, which will combine our video formats – long-form and branded – that will allow us to drive creative excellence across NGP video platforms.
We need to look at our editorial hub as “one newsroom” and work to eliminate artificial divisions between print or digital-only staff. Our editorial staff will thus be aligned across all platforms and in collaboration with Courteney’s team on tentpole series. Susan Goldberg will serve as Editorial Director of the newly founded NG Media unit. There, all short-form content, photography, storytelling across platforms, cartography and graphics will be centrally organized under Susan’s leadership. The content verticals around animals, science, travel, culture and environment will be overseen by editors. And each platform, from the magazine to Facebook to Instagram, will have teams focused on what best performs there. We need to work across all platforms, in keeping with many other major media companies, mirroring the way our audiences access content. Susan will, of course, remain Editor in Chief of National Geographic Magazine.
I’ve asked David Miller, currently General Manager of Digital, to expand his duties to become General Manager of NG Media – co-leading this new unit together with Susan. David will be charged with driving subscriptions and membership for print (magazines and books) and digital platforms, as well as coordinating on sponsorships and ad-driven content. We will work to roll out a more directed agenda around membership focusing on print renewals first. David will also oversee our Photography Business and NG Creative teams, as well as our Maps group in Colorado.
As we continue to face ever-changing consumer behavior, we need to keep thinking ahead and prepare for the next big opportunity. In that context, Rachel Webber will transition into a strategic advisor role and help us identify growth opportunities in areas like AR, VR, live experiences and gaming, as well as an OTT strategy.
Our Strategic Partnerships team, led by Brendan Ripp, will continue to develop innovative sponsorships across television, digital and print platforms, working with our colleagues at 21CF. The Strategic Partnerships team will add product licensing into their portfolio so that brand extensions in non-media iterations, such as kids products, apparel and other consumer goods consistent with Nat Geo’s high standards, will be managed there to better reflect our desire to engage with world-class organizations.
Nancy Schumacher will continue to lead our successful Travel group. It’s impressive what these folks have achieved and how they continue to grow. With the integration of our private jet business, we are well prepared for running this high-profit engine that brings our brand to life in a unique way.
We will create a combined Marketing, Communications, Research, Data and Insights team under Jill Cress. It will be a “one-stop shop” to help drive a consumer-inspired approach to support our growth and revenue priorities. Key areas of focus include creating premium marketing to drive engagement and revenue around our priorities – including the Channel, magazine and membership. In this context, we need to better design performance metrics to measure how our investments are delivering results with our audiences in financial and brand-building terms. We need to simplify the direct-to-consumer marketing of our shows and platforms to better promote our great content and build affection with our audiences.
As part of that effort, the Global Communications team will now move into Jill’s group, with Chris Albert and Courtney Rowe reporting directly to Jill. Chris will continue to lead communications around all Channel priorities as well as continue to strengthen our talent relations efforts and lead the events team. Courtney Rowe will lead our internal and external corporate communications including the work she has been doing with the partnerships team. There will be more clarity on specific roles related to the defined priorities, which Jill, Chris and Courtney will review and share in the near future.
In recognition of her outstanding work before and during the transition, I’ve asked Marcela Martin to add to her important role as CFO by taking on a Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) function to coordinate our operations, facilities, and technology platforms. Marcela will also be chairing our new Operations Council that will coordinate the corporate support functions – Legal, HR and IT. As part of this change, Marcus East will now report to Marcela as Chief Technology Officer. Craig Mutch and Jeff Schneider – who have done outstanding work through this transition – will continue to report into their respective 21CF HR and Legal structures. They will also partner with Marcela on the Operations Council so that we have a more cohesive, responsive and efficient corporate structure to serve the content-driven agenda for NGP.
And as you recently heard, I’m delighted that Timo Gorner has become our Chief of Staff. He will help me push things faster through the enterprise and should be a resource to improve decision making and drive our priorities across the board.
As in nearly all reorganizations, we face the unhappy reality of parting with outstanding colleagues who have contributed greatly to Nat Geo’s success. Please join me in thanking Rosa Zeegers and Laura Nichols for their work in setting up a new foundation for NGP. We wish them nothing but the best in all future endeavors.
Finally, we will ask our newly appointed leadership team to come back with detailed operational plans in the next couple months. There is no shortcut to aligning all the pieces and we will work diligently over the summer to create the best, most common-sense approach to our work.
It is my sincere hope for us to focus on what we do best: create great content which will continue to inspire wonder and inform the world of the many challenges facing our planet. We are all in this together, and recognize our brand’s singular power and role as leaders and keepers of history. We will provide resources through subscriptions and advertising to support that content. That was true 130 years ago….and is still true today. Different skill sets, but the basic business hasn’t changed.
To hear more about these organizational changes, I encourage you to join me for an All-Hands Meeting at 10 a.m. ET in Grosvenor or via livestream (details will be sent shortly).
Thank you for what you do every day and we look forward to engaging with each of you on what you can do to help us all succeed together.
Variety first reported the news.
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www.thewrap.com | 7/31/18
On Thursday, July 26, many Russians could see the phantom of the good old iron curtain falling between Russia and the West. The news came from the press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina. Last week, United Russia MPs proposed amending the federal law about the procedure to leave and enter the territory of the Russian Federation. In accordance with these amendments, the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs should hold mandatory accreditation of all companies rendering intermediary visa registration services to Russian citizens. In order to obtain accreditation, a visa issuance company is supposed to have representative offices in at least 20 regions of the Russian Federation, whereas the share of foreign participation in the authorized capital of the company should not exceed 20 percent. In addition, applicants should have certified technical means to process confidential information (including biometric personal data). The amendments also require at least three years of experience in collecting and processing documents for obtaining visas on behalf of diplomatic missions and consular missions.According to the press secretary of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Irina Tyurina, none of existing operators can meet the criteria proposed in the draft law. For example, it is unclear how they should comply with the requirement of foreign participation. Presently, there are six companies that run visa service centers in Russia: VFS Global, GVCW - Greece, VMS - Italy, BLS - Spain, India, TLS - Great Britain, Switzerland, Belgium and Pony Express. The information on each of these companies is available to the public in the state register of legal entities.It is unlikely that these companies can be replaced with Russian ones: even if they meet all other requirements, Russian companies will not have three years of experience in rendering visa services. Needless to say that the adoption of amendments will trigger a mirror response from other countries. In this case, big plans to attract foreign tourists to Russia, especially after the World Cup, may not materialize.To make matters worse, residents of Russians regions will have to come to Moscow to get a visa to a foreign country. They will also have to spend many hours standing in long lines to visa departments of foreign embassies, as it was practiced during the 2000s. In a nutshell, all this is nothing but bad news that, if it becomes real, will complicate the lives of all Russian travelers. The news triggered countless "iron curtain" discussions in social media in Russia. The "iron curtain" has many holes in it as Russia has visa-free regime with many countries. Yet, the curtain would be very strong when it comes to a trip to Europe or to the States. Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee for Physical Culture, Sport, Tourism and Youth Affairs, Sergei Krivonosov, (United Russia) said that the Russian authorities, on the contrary, seek to minimize visa restrictions."At the initiative of the president, we are currently preparing proposals to simplify visa procedures. There are a number of countries that have already simplified the procedure to issue visas for Russian citizens. I haven't heard of the initiative that you're talking about. The State Duma's Subcommittee on Tourism (Sergei Krivonosov heads it - ed.) works to simplify visa procedures," the MP told Pravda.Ru. "We do want to make the procedure simpler, because we've had problems with bankruptcies of tour operators. We believe that an electronic visa can help. I am sure that there is no iron curtain of any type involved," Sergei Krivonosov added. Oleg ArtyukovPravda.Ru Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
www.pravdareport.com | 7/26/18
It’s been 40 years since the release of “National Lampoon’s Animal House.” That means “Animal House” is older now than the events of “Animal House” were when “Animal House” came out. It’s part of our history now, along with “National Lampoon’s Vacation” and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” Each of these films are considered comedy classics, or at least extremely influential, because of their eagerness and skill at capturing an idea of America — both the country and its culture — that we think is real, but never existed, and possibly never should have.
But these are just the best-known “National Lampoon” movies. The brand has been used on many motion picture comedies over the years, including many theatrical releases and more straight-to-video schlock than most people realize. With the 40th anniversary of “Animal House” on the horizon, and the 35th anniversary of “Vacation” the same week, we’re counting down the best of the major “National Lampoon” movies (including a few sequels that didn’t technically wear the “National Lampoon” name tag) from worst to best.
13. “Movie Madness” (1982)
The second National Lampoon movie might not be their most immature, the most offensive or even the most amateurish, but that doesn’t make it funny. “Movie Madness” is a triptych of short films, satirizing baby-boomer dramas, hardboiled cop films and sexy prime-time soap operas (which, yes, invalidates the whole title). The story of a guy who can’t stop having powerful revelations, and a “good” cop who keeps falling on his face, and a world in which everyone you meet is a millionaire rushing into marriage are mildly amusing, but the film never takes them further than the premise, repeating the same obvious jokes over and over again.
12. “Christmas Vacation 2: Cousin Eddie’s Island Adventure” (2003)
The straight-to-video “Vacation” spinoff features Randy Quaid as the Griswold’s boorish and oafish Cousin Eddie, who loses his job testing nuclear radiation for side effects, but gets bitten by a monkey, so he’s compensated with a free tropical getaway. Naturally, Eddie and his family get shipwrecked. There may be a laugh in “Christmas Vacation 2,” somewhere, but good luck finding them beneath the cheap production values and tedious, uninspired gags.
11. “Class Reunion” (1982)
The slasher genre was still young when “Class Reunion” tried to lampoon the phenomenon, which is probably why the film has no meaningful observations and instead relies on a bunch of outlandish caricatures to steal whatever laughs it can get. It’s the story of a high school prank gone wrong, and then a class reunion a decade later, where characters — including a slimeball, a snob, a vampire and woman possessed a la “The Exorcist”) — are trapped in their old high school with a murderer. Gross humor abounds, but most of it falls completely flat. At least it’s fast-paced and bizarre.
10. “Senior Trip” (1995)
Jeremy Renner made his feature-film debut in “Senior Trip” as Dags, the cool stoner teen locked in a never-ending war with his principal, played by Matt Frewer. When the class’s letter to the president gets national attention, everyone winds up on a bus (driven by Tommy Chong) to Washington, D.C., where of course they party really hard and stick it to the man. The young cast brings some vibrancy to the otherwise flimsy and familiar tale, and Frewer is eager to humiliate himself as the stuck-up authority figure who suffers indignity after indignity. It’s not “good” per se, but compared to some of the other Lampoon films, it almost looks that way.
9. “European Vacation” (1985)
The worst theatrically-released film in the “Vacation” series is a tedious rehash of the original, in which the Griswolds win a European vacation and wreck the whole continent. Most of the set pieces are uncomfortably unfunny, and unlike the original, which had a perspective on America which was observant and satirical, “European Vacation” does little more than take cheap shots at other cultures, which in turn paints the Griswolds in a very ugly light, and makes us like them less than ever.
8. “Vacation” (2015)
The Griswolds’ oldest son Rusty, now played by Ed Helms, decides to take his own family on a cross-country vacation, and naturally it all goes horribly wrong in one outlandish comic set piece after another. The original “Vacation” was founded on false memories of idyllic American life, and telling the story from Rusty’s perspective, now warped by nostalgia, is clever, but the cleverness ends there. Instead of whimsical subversions of our expectations we get thudding sewage jokes aplenty. Still, the remake/reboot of “Vacation” has a few comic highlights, including the jurisdictional crisis at the Four Corners Monument, the ill-fated rafting expedition, and the wacky cameo by Chris Hemsworth.
7. “Van Wilder” (2002)
Ryan Reynolds stars in a cross between “PCU” and “Ferris Bueller,” as a college senior who’s been at the university for nearly a decade and now practically runs the place. Kal Penn plays his horny personal assistant and Tara Reid is the school reporter trying to get the inside scoop on a campus legend, and naturally she falls in love with him. The likable cast manages to overcome (most of) the film’s laziest jokes, but even so it’s a juvenile flick with a flimsy narrative throughline that barely drives the story forward, and it doesn’t earn any of its big emotional climaxes.
6. “Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj” (2006)
The sequel to “Van Wilder” brings back Kal Penn and Van Wilder’s dog, but trades everything else in for a mostly enjoyable but very familiar “Animal House” riff, set in a fictional university in England. Taj becomes the advisor to a fraternity full of outsiders, and together they combat a snobbish culture in a series of competitions. Taj also woos future “Walking Dead” star Lauren Cohan, whose obvious charisma shines through her underwritten character. It’s amazing what a difference even a simple storytelling structure makes, so even though “The Rise of Taj” isn’t as expensive or as star-studded as the original “Van Wilder,” it plays slightly better just by staying focused.
5. “Animal House” (1978)
“Animal House” is a frustrating paradox. On one hand it’s an incredibly influential comedy which spawned a whole genre of “Snobs vs. Slobs” movies and rocketed many great actors to stardom. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to root for the so-called “heroes” of this movie. Not that the snobs are good people, by any stretch, but the allegedly heroic slobs are cruel, judgmental, sexist a-holes who commit crimes which would be unforgivable by modern standards (and don’t seem any better in historical context). It’s hard to deny the pioneering style or “Animal House,” or its talented cast and historical impact, but it’s not actually very funny anymore.
4. “Vegas Vacation” (1997)
Mostly overlooked but surprisingly amusing, “Vegas Vacation,” finds the Griswolds taking a trip to Las Vegas and getting snookered into a world of decadence, gambling, addiction, and celebrity. The in-jokes about Las Vegas are generally spot-on, and keeping the family in one place gives them an opportunity to interact with each other and to grow as characters, instead of just getting carted off to one funny locale after another. It may not be a comedy masterpiece, but there are a lot of laughs, and the story works.
3. “Loaded Weapon 1” (1993)
National Lampoon returned to the spoof genre with this consistently hilarious parody of macho action films, starring Emilio Estevez as the renegade cop and Samuel L. Jackson as the by-the-books officer, as well as a cavalcade of unexpected cameos in nearly every other role. The non-stop sight gags and puns are unusually clever and usually laugh-out-loud ridiculous. Of the many films to try to emulate the hyperactive laughs-per-minute ratio of “Airplane!,” this is one of the best.
2. “Christmas Vacation” (1989)
All Clark Griswold wants is to have the perfect family Christmas. That’s what makes “Christmas Vacation” so effective. Like the original “Vacation,” the third film in the series is about modest cultural expectations getting stymied at every turn by harsh realities and dumb, stupid luck. It’s hard not to sympathize with Clark’s plight, but he’s so danged unflappable that you can’t help but laugh every time something does go horribly wrong. And you’ll almost certainly howl when he finally loses it completely, in a yuletide outburst for the ages.
1. “Vacation” (1983)
The original “Vacation” is the best National Lampoon movie. It’s also one of the best comedies of the 1980s, featuring a cast at the top of their game, an insightful (albeit sporadically problematic) script by John Hughes, and spot-on, razor sharp direction by Harold Ramis. Clark Griswold just wants to take his family on a cross-country road trip to Wally World. America has other plans. The universally familiar frustrations of being stuck with people who love, but don’t always like, each other makes “Vacation” connect on a personal level. The cruel reversals of fortune they face at every turn, and Clark’s stalwart dedication to staying positive, are wickedly mischievous. And the subversive attitude towards nostalgia is just as insightful as ever. Chevy Chase has never been better, and Beverly D’Angelo matches him at every turn. It’s the perfect vacation movie, and an expertly crafted lampoon of the nation.
www.thewrap.com | 7/23/18
For someone so smart, how can Mark Zuckerberg be so very, very dumb?
Maybe it’s a lack of what we used to call a “liberal arts” education — a foundation in basic philosophy, history, ethics — although they used to teach that stuff at Harvard. Maybe it’s the moral confusion we sometimes see in very leftie liberals who are afraid to offend anyone at any time.
Zuckerberg clearly does not understand that free speech is the bedrock of a democratic society, but that it has its limits. This confusion is very concerning in someone who controls as large a platform as Facebook.
For example: Holocaust denial, which is banned in both Germany and France because of the evident danger to free society posed by spreading poisonous lies. Denying the Holocaust is not an academic point of view or the result of random confusion — it is a deliberate tactic used to sustain and justify anti-Semitism. Those kinds of lies once led to the near-extinction of Zuckerberg’s own ancestral group, European Jews.
But bizarrely, Zuckerberg this week used Holocaust denial as the example of free speech that he would not want to suppress on Facebook.
In an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher (one of the only journalists whom he seems to grant interviews), Zuckerberg said when asked about regulating speech on Facebook:
Here Swisher correctly interjects that this is probably not the case.
Zuckerberg plows on:
That was a lot of words, and none of them very eloquent. Did Zuckerberg just compare Holocaust deniers to himself when he misspeaks in public?
For the record, Holocaust denial is usually the textbook example of why you sometimes need to regulate speech. (Yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is another one.) Instead, Zuckerberg is using it as an example of why Facebook prefers to let everyone hash it out in public.
After thoughtful people criticized him on Wednesday, Zuckerberg followed up with a note to Swisher saying he was misunderstood — “I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.” But that explanation still did not reflect an understanding that this is not a subject of debate among people of good will or that Facebook should have a position on this.
Yesterday, Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Abraham Cooper said that Facebook officials told the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 2009 that Holocaust denial content would be removed from the platform.
“Holocaust denial is the quintessential ‘fake news,'” Cooper said in a statement. “The Nazi Holocaust is the most documented atrocity in history, allowing the canard of Holocaust denial to be posted on Facebook, or any other social media platform cannot be justified in the name of ‘free exchange of ideas’ when the idea itself is based on a falsehood.”
Get it, Mark? People who control mass communication platforms have a responsibility to think about the intent of the people using the platform. Uncomfortable as it may be, Facebook morally and ethically must make judgement calls about the content being posted. Those of us in news organizations do it every day.
The same goes for denying that the Sandy Hook massacre ever happened. It is immoral for Facebook to exercise no judgement around this content, aimed at spreading misinformation.
And yes, it’s complicated and sticky and a lot harder than coding Xs and Os.
The reality is that Zuckerbeg is winging it when it comes to making value judgements about the vast array of content on his platform. He doesn’t want to have to make decisions, dammit, that’s not why he started the thing.
Zuckerberg has demonstrated before his extreme discomfort with monitoring content, and his unwillingness to step in and make judgement calls. This moral abdication — this doing nothing — dovetails with Facebook’s profitable but questionable practice of mining the data of his users and then selling it to third parties even when he said he wasn’t doing so.
So now we can add Holocaust Denial to the list of things that the man who controls a communications platform with 2 billion-plus users does not understand.
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www.thewrap.com | 7/19/18
Harvey Weinstein’s lawyer Ben Brafman was in full damage-control mode on Friday, disputing a report by columnist Taki Theodoracopulos in the British magazine Spectator that the disgraced mogul said he had offered women acting jobs in exchange for sex.
Brafman, who was present for the conversation, which he described as “not an interview, but a social meeting between old friends,” disputed Taki’s published account. “Mr. Weinstein never said anything about trading movie roles for sexual favors,” Brafman said. “Harvey and Taki did not discuss the case, nor would I allow him to. They talked about old Hollywood and the contrast to European culture, and I think Taki sees Harvey in that older light.”
In a statement from Brafman’s office attributed to Taki Theodoracopulos, the veteran columnist said, “After 41 years as a Spectator columnist without a single retraction, I believe that I may have misrepresented Harvey Weinstein’s conversation with me in New York last month. It was my mistake.”
Theodoracopulos and reps for the Spectator did not respond to direct requests for comment; at press time, the original story, titled “Harvey Weinstein: ‘I offered acting jobs in exchange for sex, but so does everyone – they still do,‘” was still on the Spectator website.
Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than 80 women, faces possible life in prison for multiple felony charges in New York City, including rape and predatory sexual assault. He has pleaded not guilty.
He is also under criminal investigation in Los Angeles and London for additional accusations of misconduct. In addition, he faces several lawsuits, including a class-action RICO suit filed by several of his accusers, and a separate one filed by actress Ashley Judd, who accused him of sabotaging her career.
In the now-disputed Spectator interview, which took place at Weinstein’s small rented office near Grand Central Station in New York City, Weinstein is also quoted as saying, “I never, ever forced myself on a single woman.”
In the Spectator interview, Taki said Weinstein made unsubstantiated claims about two actresses who have accused him of sexual assault — Rose McGowan and Asia Argento — and shared what Taki called a “twisted story” about Argento’s relationship with late chef Anthony Bourdain, who died by suicide in June.
Even Taki, a writer long sympathetic to Weinstein, wasn’t buying the Hollywood producer’s claims: “He was, to use a terrible cliché, clutching for straws.”
Argento, one of the first women to speak out against Weinstein, has been a frequent target of criticism both before and after Bourdain’s death.
McGowan dismissed Weinstein’s latest interview in the Spectator, saying on Twitter, “rapist are liars.”
In addition to McGowan, dozens of people who spoke out during the #MeToo movement have come to Argento’s defense, signing a statement of solidarity in support of the actress, calling out “internet trolls” who have targeted her since the suicide of Bourdain.
“Asia has now found herself on the receiving end of vicious cyberbullying and repulsive slander at the hands of internet trolls who hold her responsible for Anthony’s death,” the statement reads. “She has been accused of everything from causing her boyfriend’s suicide to trying to use her “survivor status” and the #MeToo movement to advance her career.”
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www.thewrap.com | 7/13/18
Unless you’re Jerry Seinfeld, the number of stand-up comedians today who thrive and achieve stardom solely fro their on-stage comedy is dwindling. There’s a long history of people who got their start in stand-up comedy only to find another gear and level of artistry once they turned to filmmaking, including Mike Nichols, Woody Allen, Albert Brooks, Elaine May and more. But today, in the post “Louie” era of TV, many comics have tried to brand themselves as more, developing highly personal TV shows, films and pet projects that they often write, direct, produce and star in themselves. The latest such is example is Bo Burnham, whose debut film “Eighth Grade” opens this weekend after winning acclaim at Sundance. Here are some other comedians who have followed his same path.
Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” isn’t entirely autobiographical, but it’s wholly an expression of his love of food, culture, European cinema and the finer things in life. His real-life parents even star on the show.
He’s most well known for his “WTF” podcast, but Marc Maron also had a show called “Maron” that ran for four seasons on IFC that hemmed closely to his experience as a stand-up comedian and explored his neuroses in ways he’s come to be known for on-stage and in his monologues opening “WTF.”
Still just 27 but a comedian for over a decade, Burnham directed and wrote the pre-teen coming-of-age story “Eighth Grade.” But he has a knack for doing it all, as he’s also a songwriter, an actor most notably in “The Big Sick” and a poet.
After first having Louis C.K.’s name all over the first season of “Better Things,” Pamela Adlon has made the excellent “Better Things” entirely her own, going to surprising places in her stories about being a working, single parent of three girls.
Woody Allen has been a prolific filmmaker for so long that it’s almost easy to forget that he gained fame as a stand-up as far back as the mid 1960s.
It’s possible Donald Glover would’ve never been able to make the video for “This is America” as Childish Gambino if it weren’t for exploring his style, his roots, and the stranger side of his personality as the creator of his groundbreaking series “Atlanta.”
Jordan Peele’s today one of the hottest directors in Hollywood after his debut feature “Get Out.” He’s currently working on his follow-up “Us” starring Elisabeth Moss and Lupita Nyong’o.
www.thewrap.com | 7/13/18
President Donald Trump pressed ahead Friday with his complaints that European immigration policies are changing the "fabric of Europe" and destroying European culture.
www.foxnews.com | 7/13/18
Comcast has increased its offer for British pay-TV company Sky PLC to $34 billion (£25.9 billion), roughly $2 billion higher than Fox’s most recent offer.
Earlier on Wednesday, Fox raised its own offer for the media giant to $32.5 billion (£24.5 billion). Comcast said that its increased offer has been recommended by the Sky Independent Committee of Directors.
Comcast’s new all-cash offer translates to £14.75 a share, which is roughly five percent higher than Fox’s £14 a share bid.
“Comcast has long admired Sky and believes it is an outstanding company and a great fit with Comcast,” the company said in its release about the new offer. “Today’s announcement further underscores Comcast’s belief and its commitment to owning Sky.”
The move by Comcast is the latest volley between CEO Brian Roberts and Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch over who gets the keys to Sky, which counts nearly 23 million customers in key parts of Europe, including Germany, Italy and Austria, along with the U.K. and Ireland.
In the U.S., Comcast is still battling with Disney to buy the film and TV assets from Fox. Fox’s stake in Sky is part of its proposed merger with Disney, though the deal was not contingent on that. Fox has set a July 27 shareholder meeting to formally vote on the Disney sale, which has already received approval from the Department of Justice.
Sky’s businesses would grow Comcast’s international revenue from 9 percent of its overall revenue to 25 percent. For Fox, Sky is a bit of a passion project for Rupert Murdoch, who founded the satellite broadcaster in 1990, and already owns 39 percent of the company and has had his eye on gaining full control for years.
The UK government had already approved Comcast earlier offer in June, with Matt Hancock, then-secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, who said at the time that “the proposed merger does not raise public interest concerns.”
However, Fox was given the go-ahead to continue efforts to purchase Sky as well, on the condition that Fox sells off Sky’s 24-hour news channel to Disney in the planned sale of certain Fox film and television assets to the Mouse House. Disney has pledged a 15-year, $2 billion commitment to fund Sky News if it acquires the channel in the Fox deal.
Hancock, meanwhile, resigned amid a British cabinet shakeup this week and has been replaced in his role by Jeremy Wright.
According to Bloomberg, the British government has already signaled willingness to approve Fox’s offer, with its final decision due Thursday.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 7/11/18
By Mahboob A Khawaja, PhD.Global politics is fraught with man-made catastrophic tragedies. The human beings are supposed to be the most intelligent social animal on the planet. Yet, our proactive plans and actions continue to dehumanize the fellow human beings and engineer conflicts and wars that destroy the existence of mankind. The driving impulse is war economies, individualistic interest and militarization. We come to realize that politics is a game of pretension and always remains problematic. Politicians need problems to get public attention and to argue being the deliverers. Often, they are not except being treacherous, cynical and deceitful to their ideas and ideals and to the public interests they claim to serve.Amongst all the creations on Planet Earth, humans are the only one to claim morality as an attribute of life and value. This reality emphasizes and differentiates us from the other creations of God. If we propel uncertainty in our thoughts and behavior, nothing can stop us from surpassing the limit of immorality and insanity. With knowledge-based 21st century human communications improving global collaboration, we are not moving in the right direction that human logic and truth spell out for our conduct in peaceful relationships. The impulse and actions for cruelty and sadistic behavior are increasingly sending alarming trends for the present and future generations to be informed of our implicit wickedness and resulting failure in global affairs. As humans, we are not thinking or moving for the unity of mankind to be at peace and harmony being the chief creation of God. Unless, we are overwhelmed philosophically to imagine that we are something else than humans populating the Earth by chance. Global Institutions are a Menace to Human Change and Progress The global warlords are waging wars in the name of peace and harmony. Humanity is being crushed and its compound interest undermined by the few for economic greed and militarization. The UNO originated from the belief and commitment to avert futuristic wars by men of new ideas pursuing peaceful means, diplomacy and accountability to the global mankind. How sad and cynical it looks to view the succeeding generations entrapped again into the same mindset of warmongering and power politics as were the sadistic leaders before the Two WW. Like the past, once again few egoistic nations and leaders have manipulated the time and opportunities to dictate and undermine the interests of the mankind. The global humanity is the net object of their planned cruelty but without any meaningful role to challenge the few global warlords. America, Russia and few Europeans find freehand to go anywhere and bomb the humanity at will. This is what exactly happening in the broader Arab Middle East war theatre managed by global warlords. The UNO and its Secretary General need to free themselves from captivity and enlarge their role and initiatives for conflict management and peace-making outside the New York established box. Words and Charter's core thoughts are repeated but actions are missing. The UN Security Council could finally visit the Rohinga refugee camps but failed to demand equal treatment from the Myanmar Government. Strange, why the same UN Security Council cannot travel to defuse tensions and bring much needed humanitarian peace between Palestine and Israel. Could it shrink its inherent responsibility for the mismanagement of the Middle East conflict? Humanity in Search of Proactive Leaders The 21st century global politics have not produced any new leaders of vision and moral integrity to imagine the universal phenomenon of peaceful change and futuristic developments. There are no global organizations managed by people of moral and intellectual vision and courage to serve the interests of the global community. Man is a moral and intellectual being articulating happiness and progress horizontally in peace-time, but when fear of the unknown, hatred and animosity attempt to govern the human consciousness, degeneration replaces human progress. America and some Europeans used to be the leaders of change and new strategies to envisage global friendship, co-existence and harmony of the mankind. If political greed and egoistic interest are the supreme force, how could they serve the interest and priorities of the global mankind for peace and harmony? At best, many world leaders could best be defined as "hangmen" of the 21st century. It is a frightening trend for the present and future generations to imagine our time and role in human history. The Middle East - the Ancient Hub of Humanity - the Land of Abrahim, Moses, Jesus and Mohammad is being ScorchedThe continuing wars in the Middle East are fabricated and gone out of proportion challenging the human conscience and civilized values that once highlighted the human behavior in conflicts. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Palestine and Libya are destroyed by political design. Do you remember the paradoxes of history? Do you recall what Sultan Salahudeen Ayoubi did to free Jerusalem and drive out the Crusaders from the ancient lands? Do you remember how Sultan Salahudeen treated his enemies - King Richard and others even in the battlefield? Do you know that for ages the European feared Salahudeen - the Conqueror of Jerusalem? The contemporary Arab world is devoid of moral and intellectual leadership of any kind. They operate on a dead-ended scale without any role in global affairs. Jerusalem was not US property to be transferred top Israel; it belongs equally to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Under the UNO Plan, Jerusalem is an international city to be shared by all the believers. Yet, the puppet Arab leaders showed no moral courage to question President Trump for moving the Embassy to Jerusalem. One wonders why the Saudi King signed 250 billion worth of military contracts and gave 100 million to Ivanka Kushner when Trump visited the region last August. It could well be witnessed by the raging sectarian wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. There is no coming of Salahudeen to rescue the entrenched Palestinians. After 70 years of Nakba, they still have No thinking plan, no leadership, no movement for change and freedom except reactionary emotional outbursts. When Jews lived with the Arabs in Spain (Al-Andulsia) for centuries, they were part of the Arab culture and advancements for the best of humanity. European mistreated Jews but Muslims gave them the best for their protection and participation in Islamic civilization. Look, what is happening now between Palestine and Israel. Gideon Levy ("60 Killed In Gaza And The End Of Israeli Conscience", Haaretz and Information Clearing house: 5/21/2018), spells out the present reality for Israelis to think critically:On the night of the Palestinians' slaughter, Zion exulted an embassy and a Eurovision. It's difficult to think of a more atrocious moral eclipse....The truth is that Israel is well prepared to massacre hundreds and thousands, and to expel tens of thousands. Nothing will stop it. This is the end of conscience, the show of morality is over. The last few days' events have proved it decisively. The tracks have been laid, the infrastructure for the horror has been cast. Dozens of years of brainwashing, demonization and dehumanization have borne fruit. The alliance between the politicians and the media to suppress reality and deny it has succeeded. Israel is set to commit horrors. Nobody will stand in its way any longer. Not from within or from without....If 60 stray dogs were shot to death in one day by IDF soldiers, the whole country would raise an outcry. The dog slaughterers would be put on trial, the nation of Israel would have devoted prayers to the victims, a Yizkor service would be said for the dogs slaughtered by Israel....The Israeli brain has been washed irrevocably, the heart sealed for good. The life of a Palestinian is no longer deemed to be worth anything.Towards Thinking of Future-MakingWe live in one Planet Earth. What happens across the globe or in the remote jungles of Botswana and or in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan or the bloody streets of Kabul, Damascus and Baghdad, it is vital to global interests and cannot be ignored because European or American television networks do not portray it. According to the Divine revelations, the Earth keeps record of all the human activities. The Earth is a living entity, not dead. There were many powerful and unchallenging empires and nations in history. What happened to their self-perpetuated glory and triumphs except being part of the archeological record? To all concerned, their artifacts and deadly remains do tell the real story. Most were destroyed by natural causes but the Earth remains in-tact, not by the legislative power of any States of the UN membership but certainly by the Will of God. It operates and maintains balanced life for all regardless of ethnicity, color, creed, religions and nationalism. Should we not care how we live, utilize and draw lifelong gains from the Earth? We the humans urgently need rethinking to reflect on our plans and behaviors how do we relate to Earth? It is an indivisible comprehensive relationship. The answer should help us to balance our life. When could this historic change come into being? If we realize to be One Humanity living on One Planet Earth, its imagination could affect and balance our thoughts and behavior. We must respect equal human rights and dignity of all on Earth. Do the Super Powers (powerful nations) have a sense of indifference and biased toward the colored and economically less advanced nations? In its 2014 Global Thinkers statistics, Foreign Policy ("A World Disrupted: The global Thinkers of 2014") pinpoints that "something big requires a team rather than an individual...." To enhance global peace and to undo the continuing bogus war on terrorism, there is an urgent need for teamwork by all concerned across the globe. The teamwork if undertaken with unbiased mind and without pre-conceived notions could usher sustainable change and a new beginning between those who claim to be at peace and somewhat superior than the ordinary folks and those who are fighting reactionary wars of freedom against insanity and catastrophic devastation of the human habitats. Under 'Advocates', the Foreign Policy notes:"The global thinkers herald causes often wrongly considered inconsequential or verboten. They support forgotten victims of sexual violence, protect civilian targeted in internecine violence, count casualties in the fog of war, and demand legal protection for world's most vulnerable migrants. Often these men and women, scholars, activists and religious leader among them- do this work on their own peril and pay the price landing in court or in prison in some of the world's most repressive countries. For all of them, however, the risk is worth the possible rewards."
www.pravdareport.com | 7/10/18
As classical Hollywood cinema scholars David Bordwell and Kristen Johnson pointed out, the traditional American film plot is driven by a “goal-oriented protagonist.” That’s not necessarily the case with European art cinema, which may explain why U.S. audiences have such a hard time connecting to movies where it’s not clear what the hero wants. They […]
variety.com | 7/9/18
At Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival this week a new initiative was launched in collaboration with Midpoint titled Works in Development – Feature Launch, where nine in-development projects were pitched at the Central European event. Midpoint is a Czech training and networking platform under the auspices of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague aimed […]
variety.com | 7/7/18
The existence of the 2001 Cybercrime Convention is generally well known. The treaty has now been ratified/acceded to by 60 countries worldwide, including the United States. Less well known is the existence of the Additional Protocol to the Convention ”concerning the criminalization of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature committed through computer systems." The Additional Protocol has 30 ratifications/accessions — although not including the United States — which asserts that the First Amendment to its Constitution would preclude adherence to the provisions.
Next week, Cybercrime signatories and legal experts will gather for an annual ensemble of meetings and workshop in Strasbourg to review the state of the instrument and its implementation. One significant contemporary development that deserves substantive treatment at the meeting is the failure to apply the Additional Protocol to the incessant, pervasive racist and xenophobic Trump tweets and the significant resulting global harm occurring. Trump is the ultimate virtual elephant trampling in the meeting room.
The Additional Protocol
Although the national and international law needed to provide adequate legal responses to propaganda of a racist and xenophobic nature had its origins following World War II, the concern over use of computer systems did not occur until the 1990s. The emergence of heavily promoted, globally interconnected and unregulated DARPA internets in the mid-90s coupled with the marketplace demise of more regulated and secure OSI internets, resulted in a rapidly scaling array of cybersecurity challenges. One of those challenges was the ability for highly motivated groups promoting racism and xenophobia to organize and propagate their material via DARPA internets.
Developments began unfolding in 1997. In June of that year, the EU Council of Ministers established the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia. In October 1997, the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe on the occasion of their Second Summit met to seek common responses to the developments of "new information technologies."
A few weeks later in November 1997, the UNHCR held a seminal workshop in Geneva on the "Seminar on the role of Internet with regard to the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination." Especially chilling was an NGO presentation by the Paris-based Centre Simon Wiesenthal of statistics on the exponentially increasing hate sites and groups organizing via DARPA internet technology.
By 2001, the problems were significantly worse, and those meeting to produce the Cybercrime Convention found that "the emergence of international communication networks like the Internet provide certain persons with modern and powerful means to support racism and xenophobia and enables them to disseminate easily and widely expressions containing such ideas." This concern resulted in an explicit Additional Protocol to the Cybercrime Convention that defined racist and xenophobic material, the dissemination proscribed, measures to be taken at the national level, and apply a number of the Cybercrime Convention provisions.
The associated Explanatory Report provides further history and amplification on the provisions.
Rather little, however, was done for more than a decade. A cursory informal survey of the Council of Europe site finds a significantly rising concern over the manifestation of racism and xenophobia beginning around 2016 and becoming exponentially worse over the past two years. Plainly, the chief executive of one of the Convention's more prominent signatories who began leading a rather expansive resurgence of racism and xenophobia globally presented a challenge that was unanticipated and included an unprecedented affront to legal systems and norms of behavior. Now, the ultimate question for those assembling in Strasbourg in 2018 is whether they can simply ignore what has been occurring over the past eighteen months.
Trump's Promotion of Racism and Xenophobia
It is relatively well-established that Donald Trump on a massive scale has been manifesting actions contravened by Art. 3 of the Additional Protocol that are aided and abetted through social media. There are hundreds of articles on his actions that unfold every day in highly respected publications.
Some investigators have even compiled extensive lists of evidence. See, e.g., New York Times, "Donald Trump's Racism: The Definitive List."
It is not apparent, however, that any responsive actions have actually been taken by the Additional Protocol signatories pursuant to Arts. 4 and 7, notwithstanding the ease with which the Trump's offensive traffic can be blocked. Although the European Commission has sought to apply its own recommendations to control proscribed online content, it has not apparent it has ever addressed Trump's racist and xenophobic tweets, much less sought to proscribe them.
Perhaps more concerning is that the social media service most extensively employed by Trump asserts an affirmative defense that "world leaders" are allegedly exempt from the Convention's Additional Protocol provisions. See Twitter, Inc, "World Leaders on Twitter."
The matter has, however, risen to such prominence that it was addressed in a Washington Post editorial several months ago with respect to domestic law. See The Washington Post, "The 3 loopholes that keep Trump's tweets on Twitter."
Resulting Harm by Inaction
Trump's flouting of the Cybercrime Convention's Additional Protocol provisions on racism and xenophobia is plainly reprehensible. The damage of the global rule of law and sense of acceptable conduct by a national leader is profound and long-lasting. The harm to society globally is equally grave — giving rise to destabilizing hate groups and terrorism in countries throughout the world. See "Palgrave Hate Studies Cyber Racism and Community Resilience." See also Simon Wiesenthal Center's "2017 Digital Terrorism & Hate Report Card: Social Media Giants Fail to Curb Online Extremism."
The inaction has even spurred the emergence of an entirely new market for racist and xenophobic products.
One of the additional disconcerting developments and serious consequences, however, is the Cybercrime Convention signatories and Octopus community largely ignoring a profound problem posed when one of their own signatories goes rogue with a chief executive who is the de facto leader of a global racist and xenophobic movement through Twitter. When even the most prominent public figures in the United States are profoundly embarrassed by Trump's racist and xenophobic behaviour — which is presently uncontrollable domestically — there is a continuing hope that international forums might step up, speak out in defence of their own treaty provisions, and call for responsive action by signatories. Will they?
Written by Anthony Rutkowski, Principal, Netmagic Associates LLC
www.circleid.com | 7/3/18
Personal and national identity reverberate through “Crystal Swan,” a tough but irresistible debut from Belarusian director Darya Zhuk.
Set in the director’s native Eastern European nation in the mid-1990s, Zhuk co-wrote the story of an aspiring DJ hustling big time to flee her country for a life spinning house music in Chicago. Co-produced by Vice Films, “Swan” premiered at the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival on Saturday.
Featuring a breakout performance from star Alina Nasibullina and boasting a rare female cinematographer in Carolina Costa, the drama marks a progressive re-entry into the awards race for Belarus, as the country will submit “Swan” for the Best Foreign Language Oscar after a 22-year dry spell.
Nasibullina plays Velya, a club kid and serious DJ desperate to escape the squalor of her “liberated” homeland — which won its independence from the Soviet Union in 1994 only to elect an autocratic president who still rules to this day — for the promise of America.
Donning a blue wig and stomping around in Doc Martens, Velya flies in the face of a country mid-identity crisis. She has a law degree, but spends her days asleep and her nights raging in dank nightclubs. Her Walkman (shout out to cassette tapes) is the only company she cares to keep, as she manipulates her loved ones in the singular pursuit of her dream.
Velya steals from her mom, sells her clothes and hits up her tweaker boyfriend (a brief, amazing turn from Russian actor Yuriy Borisov) to scrape together the cash for a tourist visa and her ticket out. She forges employment by falsifying a letter from a crystal factory outside her capital city of Minsk, but it blows up in her face when the American embassy says they’ll call the phone number she gave to verify her gig.
She then travels to the remote crystal factory town in attempts to sway the owner of the phone number on the forged letter to lie for her and seal the deal on her visa. What she finds on arrival is a gruff and tight-knit family preparing for the wedding of their son, horrified by her request to sit beside their phone for a call that will implicate them in a lie.
But they don’t resist. Velya is swept into the bustle of wedding day prep, while the eldest son of the house (also the groom) teases her for her American ambitions and bristles at her criticism of their antiquated, controlled culture.
It’s here that Zhuk’s film takes a hard left, as Veyla is raped by the groom the night before his wedding. It’s a crushing and vile defeat that comes as a direct response to her laser focus on getting what she wants, a cruel reminder that women are rarely supported or rewarded when a man feels threatened by their power.
It’s a very serious incident that the film moves on from quickly (and Nasibullina shines in her character’s one vulnerable moment, warning her rapist’s younger brother that when he has sex in the future it must be consensual). Some may see it as a brash hit-and-run narrative device, but it’s supported by the context of a character who won’t be deterred no matter the circumstances.
Zhuk and Nasibullina create a character that harkens back to the enterprising, unapologetic heroines of ’80s films like “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Working Girl” and Madonna’s underrated “Who’s That Girl?”
But Nasibullina’s Veyla is something new. You can dance to her beat or get the f— out of the way.
“Crystal Swan” was co-written with noted Russian poet and filmmaker Helga Landauer. It was supported by grants from the New York State Council, Hessen Film Fund and the Tribeca Film Institutive. Loco Films is handling domestic sales.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 7/1/18
Tim Robbins used an American movie classic to criticize President Trump as a “child abuser” and a petulant bully in a blazing acceptance speech on Friday.
Accepting a top prize from Central and Eastern Europe’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Robbins said a failed audition earlier in is career for “Back to the Future” helped him frame the current state of discourse in his native country.
“This guy named Robert Zemeckis was directing a movie called ‘Back to the Future’ and I auditioned for the role of Biff. The arrogant, childish bully. The petulant, overgrown child monster. I got close, but I didn’t get the part. I could have been Biff. So why was I thinking about this movie?” Robbins said, accepting the festival’s Crystal Globe award for impact on world cinema.
“It occurred to me the other day that we are living through a Marty McFly moment. [The film] was set in the 1980s and, thanks to advances in technology, a DeLorean car could travel through time and brought our lead character Marty McFly back to the 1950s. What he found … wasn’t a romantic, nostalgic time but an Oedipal nightmare. A time of bullying, a time of intolerance and ignorance,” he continued.
The comments come on the heels of a few chaotic weeks in Trump’s White House where uproar over family separation at America’s borders, the midterm elections, the shocking resignation of a Supreme Court justice and on-going corruption and election tampering investigations are not in short supply.
“Despite our freedom and liberation from intolerance we somehow, through the cynical use and manipulation of advancement in technology and not a DeLorean car but a device we can hold in our hand, have traveled back in time. We have not gone back to the future, we have gone back to the 1950s,” Robbins said.
“Are we puppets of propaganda that appeals to our spiritual weakness and our jealousy of others? Bullies have no power without fear, so at this Marty McFly moment, we artists … have to figure out how to get back to the future. Fix this broken DeLorean car and get back to the world of progress,” the Oscar winner said.
Robbins concluded that significant change won’t happen “on your TV or cell phones … those that have taken us back the the ’50s have already controlled the programming and algorithm that delivered us to the child abuser in the White House and [to] gigantic tax breaks for the wealthy. This new revolution has to come from our hearts.”
While Robbins never got to play Biff, the festival did celebrate some his notable roles like “Bull Durham,” “The Shawshank Redemption” and his Best Support Actor Oscar turn in “Mystic River,” in addition to his directorial efforts like “Dead Man Walking” and “Bob Roberts.”
Robbins will be the festival’s guest all week, and even jam with his band in the spa town outside of Prague on July 4.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 6/30/18
‘The Looming Tower’ Star Tahar Rahim on Playing a Muslim FBI Agent Instead of a Terrorist (as Usual)
A version of this story about Tahar Rahim first appeared in the Miniseries/Movies issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
When Tahar Rahim first met Ali Soufan, the real-life former FBI agent he plays in Hulu’s gripping limited series “The Looming Tower,” Soufan hit him with a pointed parting shot.
“He said, ‘And if you don’t accept this role, you will never again have the right to complain that you only get offers to play terrorists,'” Rahim said, laughing.
In fact, Rahim had complained about exactly that in the past. Although the French actor with Algerian ancestry had made a name for himself in such notable European films as Jacques Audiard’s “A Prophet” and Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past,” he had spent fruitless years trying to land acceptable English-language projects.
“I always like to work with foreign directors, and I don’t want to be an actor of just one country,” he said. “My vision of cinema is that we can do this all over the world. And as long as you can speak another language, you should try.
“So I came to America and spent two years trying to get work. Maybe 50 percent of the parts I was offered were terrorists, and the others were stereotypical people. So I said to myself, ‘I’m done with this — maybe I’ll go to Asia and see if I can make movies there.'”
But then he landed the part of Judas Iscariot in Garth Davis’ “Mary Magdalene,” followed by the role in “The Looming Tower” as one of the few FBI agents who spoke Arabic in the years leading up to the 9/11 attack.
The limited series, executive produced by Dan Futterman and Alex Gibney, is full of powerhouse acting performances — Jeff Daniels, Bill Camp, Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg are among the stars — but Rahim is in many ways its heart as a Muslim agent who is sick at the way his religion has been perverted.
He’s one of the few men who might have been able to prevent 9/11 if the government around him hadn’t been so inept.
With only a third of the miniseries’ scripts finished when he was offered the part, Rahim wouldn’t accept the role until he’d had a chance to speak to Soufan and hear what happened from the man who lived it. “After he told me the rest of his story, I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to do this,'” he said.
His preparation, he added, was simple. “When I met Ali, I was full of questions, like a good student who did his homework,” he said. “But when I started to talk to him, I felt stupid asking questions. I understood that the right thing to do was to just talk to the guy, to try to know him. What is his spirit, his soul? That’s more important than what he has for breakfast or what kind of soda he drinks. I wanted to spend my energy in knowing him rather than imitating him.”
In the aftermath of “The Looming Tower,” Rahim said he feels a change in his opportunities in the U.S. film industry. “”I started acting in 2008 and didn’t work in America until 2017, but I think it’s changing,” he said. “I played Judas, and then Ali Soufan, and I just finished a movie with Lone Scherfig where I play someone named Mark who runs a restaurant.
“I don’t want to stop working in France or Europe, but you have more cinema history in America. You’ve got types of movies and characters that we don’t have. I want to play a cowboy one day, I want to be in a Western. And if I want to be in a Western, I have to be in America.”
Read more of TheWrap’s Miniseries/Movies Emmy issue here.
Related stories from TheWrap:
www.thewrap.com | 6/19/18
The Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the leading movie event in Central and Eastern Europe, will honor Tim Robbins with its award for outstanding contribution to world cinema, the fest announced Tuesday, and the actor will screen two pics he directed and wrote, the acerbic polemic “Bob Roberts” and the tribute to pre-WWII music and politics […]
variety.com | 6/19/18
A tour of European civilization from Greek antiquity to the end of the Renaissance, though not quite in the manner of Kenneth Clark. James Romm reviews “Know Thyself” by Ingrid Rossellini.
www.wsj.com | 6/10/18
The computer industry is full of noble failures. Big ones. Little ones. Ideas that were 10 years too early. Ideas that were 15 years too early. Ideas that were 30 years too early. And concepts that, while fundamental to the way that our computing culture works today, hadn't yet reached their full potential. Though certainly successful in its early years, the ARM processor very much fits in the latter category. Today, variants of these processors are in just about everything, from tiny computers, to smartphones, to video game consoles, to television sets, and even some servers. But the company that initially forged the processor is almost forgotten at this point, seemingly lost to history (especially outside of Europe) despite being an early icon of British computing. Tonight's Tedium ponders the story of Acorn Computers, the long-departed company whose best idea is probably in the device you're using to read this.
This introduction is basically clickbait specifically designed for OSNews readers. Well done.
osnews.com | 6/8/18
[New Era] Windhoek -Namibian rappers KP Illest and Lioness were chosen to perform at the first ever European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) Cluster, in Namibia Music Festival to be hosted at the Warehouse Theatre on Saturday.
allafrica.com | 5/21/18
Terry Gilliam has tried to make his film “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” for two decades, and it finally screened on the closing night of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
It’s the quintessential production from hell, complete with on-set injuries, lost funding, natural disasters and outsize ambitions worthy of the hero of Cervantes’ classic novel. Even after it wrapped, a lawsuit threatened to derail the film from screening at Cannes, and Amazon Studios pulled out of a deal to distribute the film in the U.S.
So the irony isn’t lost on anyone that Gilliam’s quest to make a movie about Don Quixote has been nothing if not quixotic. Here’s a not-so-brief timeline of every step on the road to Gilliam getting his film made.
Gilliam started thinking about an adaptation of Cervantes’ 1615 novel “Don Quixote” in the early ’90s, and in a 1997 interview with Neon Magazine, he revealed “Don Quixote” as one of the “10 movies they wouldn’t let me make.”
“The years I wasted on this one,” he lamented, hardly realizing how quaint that now sounds. He originally asked for $20 million in funding from Europe and found that still wasn’t enough for his vision.
Gilliam also revealed that the studio wanted Sean Connery for the title role, but the actor left the project to make “The Defective Detective” (another movie that never came to pass). The director was replaced by Fred Schepesi, with John Cleese and Robin Williams in the lead roles, though that version never panned out either. “That really hurts, that I let a project I’m convinced I’m the best director on the planet to do, slip by,” Gilliam said.
After the U.K. premiere of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” in 1998, Gilliam said that “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” would be his next film. He had secured a $32 million budget and planned to begin production in Spain in September 2000.
In this version, Quixote would be played by French actor Jean Rochefort, who had learned English for the role, with the director’s “Fear and Loathing” star Johnny Depp as the Sancho Panza figure.
The script he wrote with Tony Grisoni was about a 21st-century ad executive (Depp) who travels back in time to the 17th century and gets mistaken for Sancho Panza. The story also drew inspiration from Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” another of the 10 movies Gilliam said he hoped to adapt for the screen in that Neon interview.
The production appeared cursed from day one. As documented in the 2002 documentary “Lost in La Mancha,” production began north of Madrid near a Spanish military base and fighter planes flying overhead drowned out the sound recording.
On the second day of shooting, a flood washed through the area, causing the crew to lose equipment and for the landscape to be changed so drastically that it affected continuity. And after feeling pain from riding a horse, Rochefort was then sent to a doctor in Paris and was found to have a back issue.
He would not return, and production was canceled altogether in November. Nicola Pecorini, the film’s director of photography, said in the documentary, “Never in 22 years of being in this business have I seen such a sum of bad luck.”
Gilliam’s interest in “Don Quixote” perked up again in 2005, when “Tideland” producer Jeremy Thomas came on board the project and Gilliam hinted that he wanted Gerard Depardieu to play the lead role.
Johnny Depp breathed new life into the project when he told Ain’t It Cool News that he loved Gilliam and was still on board — though he hedged about whether he would be available given his commitment to the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
“I’d hate to put him in a position — or ask to be in a position — where he’d have to wait for me. That would be wrong,” Depp said. “But also… I feel like we went there and tried something, and, whatever it was — the elements and all the things that got up underneath us – -were there and happened and were documented well in that film ‘Lost in La Mancha.’ So I don’t know if it’s right for me to go back there. I don’t know if it’s right for Terry to, but if he wants to…”
Collider reported that Gilliam wanted Robert Duvall for the lead role of Don Quixote, but only “if they get the money,” Duvall said.
With Depp tied up, Gilliam turned to Ewan McGregor to play the Sancho Panza role opposite Duvall. He also said that he slashed the budget to a mere $20 million.
Funding falls apart again for Gilliam’s film, despite having Robert Duvall and Ewan McGregor attached. “I shouldn’t be here. The plan was to be shooting ‘Quixote’ right now,” Gilliam told Variety.
Shortly after releasing his sci-fi “The Zero Theorem,” Gilliam confirmed to ComingSoon.net that he had begun preproduction on a seventh version of on “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.”
“Lucky seven, maybe,” he said. “We’ll see if it happens. This is kind of my default position, going back to that. I actually just want to make it and get rid of it. Get it out of my life.”
Gilliam told TheWrap that he secured funding for “Don Quixote” and planned to shoot it in early 2015 — with the film now set in the present day and revolving around a movie being made about Quixote. “I keep incorporating my own life into it and shifting it,” Gilliam said. “I’ve done it so many times — or not done it so many times — I’ll believe it when I see it.”
After another casting “hiccup” that Gilliam described to Rolling Stone as a “Sisyphean rock,” John Hurt was confirmed to play the role of Don Quixote, with Jack O’Connell as Sancho Panza. He even sparked a renewed excitement by releasing concept art for the film on his Facebook page.
Another major setback suspended production when star Hurt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He eventually passed away in 2017, a sad reality Gilliam knew all too well after Heath Ledger passed away during production of “The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus.”
Teaming with Portuguese producer Paulo Branco, Gilliam got “Don Quixote” back on track yet again with a new cast that this time includes Gilliam’s “Monty Python” co-hort Michael Palin, Adam Driver and Olga Kurylenko as the female lead.
Branco failed to get together funds that he promised, stalling its planned production date in October. Branco clashed with Gilliam, demanded creative control over the film, slashed the budget, dramatically reduced the fee for Palin and even threatened legal action over the film.
“I was moving with caution,” Branco said in Le Monde. “In most of Gilliam’s films, budgets had exploded. But I quickly realized that he had a deep hatred towards producers. I started to have doubts even though I had a lot of funding.”
But Gilliam persevered, telling BBC Radio 2, “We are still marching forward. It is not dead. I will be dead before the film is.”
Production finally wrapped on “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” — this time with Jonathan Pryce as Quixote and Driver as Toby, a modern ad executive mistaken for Sancho Panza. The cast also included Stellan Skarsgard, Kurylenko, Joana Ribeiro, Jordi Molla, Sergi Lopez and Rossy de Palma.
At long last, a trailer is released for “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.” The film tells the story of a 21st-century marketing executive named Toby (Driver) who time jumps between modern times and 17th-century Spain, where Don Quixote (Pryce) mistakes him for his trusted squire, Sancho Panza.
Then the film landed the closing-night slot at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, with a gala screening on May 19.
Within days, though, former producer Branco filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction to prevent Cannes from screening the film and claiming that Gilliam needs Branco’s permission to screen the film. Cannes organizers stood by Gilliam and defends the right to screen it, even taking a swipe at Branco.
A Paris court dismissed Branco’s lawsuit, allowing the film to screen at Cannes’ closing night as planned.
But the troubles didn’t end. Gilliam suffered a minor stroke just days before the court ruling and Amazon Studios pulled out of its deal to release “Don Quixote” in North America, telling TheWrap they pulled out because producers failed to deliver it.
The film finally did screen and won affectionate reviews from critics, including TheWrap’s Ben Croll, who called it “an awful lot of fun”: “The director hasn’t lost an inch of his Monty Python irreverence, gleefully poking holes in the narrative by breaking the fourth wall and calling attention to all the artifice.”
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www.thewrap.com | 5/20/18
After shocking the crowd in France, Gasper Noe has come away with the top prize at the Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes, as his LSD-fueled odyssey “Climax” was awarded the Art Cinema Award by the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE).
Sold and co-produced by Wild Bunch, with A24 picking up the North American distribution rights earlier this week, “Climax” follows a dance troupe led by Sofia Boutella as they go through a physically demanding rehearsal, only to suffer the worst trip imaginable after unknowingly drinking sangria laced with LSD. Orgies, self-mutiliation and elaborate choreography to Daft Punk is included.
“The acid hits, the bottom falls out, and we’re off to the races, never looking back,” Ben Croll wrote in his review of the film for TheWrap. “The film’s style matches the various phases of the trip, with director of photography Benoit Debie’s fluid camera moving in lockstep with the legion of feral performers, tracking their bodies in unceasing motion as they dance through paranoia, ecstasy and delirium.”
Directors’ Fortnight is a sidebar run independently of the Cannes Film Festival and is officially a noncompetitive section. But several sponsors of the program hand out their own awards to films in the Fortnight.
Also winning was Gianni Zanasi’s “Lucia’s Grace,” which received the Europa Cinemas Label for the best European film at the Fortnight. Pierre Salvatore’s romantic comedy “The Trouble With You” won the SACD Prize for best French-language film. Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan’s short film “Skip Day” won the Illy Award.
“Lucia’s Grace” stars Alba Rohrwacher as a weary single-mother who is struggling with both personal and professional relationships. But her life is completely changed when she starts getting visions of a surly Virgin Mary who asks her to build a church where they first met.
“The Trouble With You” stars Adele Haenel as a detective on the French Riviera that gets entangled in an investigation as she discovers that her late husband, a supposedly heroic police officer, was actually a crooked cop deep in corruption.
“Skip Day” follows a group of high-school seniors in an industrial section of the Florida Everglades.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/17/18
[Observer] The Head of European Union (EU) Delegation to Liberia, Ambassador Héléne Cavé, has said the organization is initiating another project that will emphasize the significance of cultural heritage.
allafrica.com | 5/16/18
Some of the best creativity in Hollywood is to be found in its animation. The same may be said of Europe. Anja Kofmel, an alum of Lucerne’s School of Design and Art and Paris’ Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs, adds to the growing cannon of Swiss animation with her feature film debut, “Chris the Swiss.” […]
variety.com | 5/14/18
If you’re looking to sum up the 2018 Cannes Film Festival so far, you might want to turn to an instructive scene near the end of Eva Husson’s competition entry “Girls of the Sun.” In the scene, Mathilde, a war correspondent played by Emmanuelle Bercot, is speaking to Bahar, a female squad leader played by Golshifteh Farahani.
“Be warned,” Mathilde says of the story she’s going home to write about Bahar’s exploits on the battlefield. “You’re going to be a heroine.”
“We’re all heroines,” says Bahar.
Is this the “we’re all heroines” edition of the Cannes Film Festival? Well, consider this:
The lack of women is often news at Cannes, but this year their absence and their presence is the biggest story of the first six days of the festival. The currents that hit Hollywood in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelations and led to Frances McDormand’s impassioned Oscar-night speech have definitely washed up onto the Croisette, and this year’s Cannes, the first in memory without Weinstein’s oversized presence, is at least slightly more inclusive than usual.
We won’t know for at least a year how effective this year’s campaign has been; Fremaux has repeatedly said that he’s in favor of affirmative-action-style provisions to increase the number of women behind the scenes at Cannes, but he’s steadfastly insisted that gender should never be a factor in programming decisions.
And we won’t know if this is the year that only the second woman ever takes home the festival’s top prize, the Palme d’Or. On the heels of Saturday’s “Girls of the Sun” screenings, some observers went so far as to brand Husson the odds-on favorite to follow Jane Campion (“The Piano”) as the only women to win — but that’s certainly a premature statement with 12 of the 21 main-competition films yet to screen as of midday Sunday.
Still to come: Two more films from female directors, Alice Rohrwacher’s “Lazzaro Felice” and Nadine Labaki’s “Capharnaum,” plus new work from esteemed auteurs Hizokazu Kore-eda (“Shoplifters”), Lee Chang-dong (“Burning”), Matteo Garrone (“Dogman”) and the only past Palme winner in the group, Nuri Bilge Ceylan (“The Wild Pear Tree”).
Also in the wings are the two American directors in competition: Spike Lee with “BlacKkKlansman” and David Robert Mitchell with “Under the Silver Lake.”
That’s a lot left to see – and in addition, it’s entirely possible that “Girls of the Sun,” for all its effectiveness as a piece of cinema, might be too slick and even manipulative for the Cannes jury, however much they might want to honor a female director.
(I’d say it probably has a better chance of winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film than the Palme d’Or.)
So by the end of the festival, Cannes 2018 could belong to a different film – maybe a film from a different woman, more likely one from a male director.
Of the competition films that have screened since the festival opened on Tuesday with Asghar Farhadi’s “Everybody Knows,” the one to receive the most acclaim is probably “Ida” director Pawel Pawlikowski’s austere love story “Cold War,” though Kirill Serebrennikov’s Russian punk(ish) musical “Leto,” Jafar Panahi’s modestly subversive “Three Faces,” Christophe Honore’s AIDS saga “Sorry Angel” and Jean-Luc Godard’s assaultive “The Image Book” all have strong partisans.
So far, though, the biggest discoveries of Cannes ’18 have been in the margins, with films like Lukas Dhont’s affecting transgender teen drama “Girl,” while the biggest buzz has been around transgressive treats like Gaspar Noe’s predictably extreme “Climax” and Ali Abbasi’s troll-sex romp “Borders.”
Still, none of those have had anywhere near enough heat to steal the spotlight from those 82 women standing on the steps of Grand Theatre Lumiere on Saturday. For now, that’s the story of the 71st Cannes Film Festival: All the heroines.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/13/18
Most people who see Ramin Bahrani’s “Fahrenheit 451,” which had a midnight screening at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday and comes to HBO on May 19, will probably think of it as a new adaptation of the classic science-fiction novel by Ray Bradbury, who posited a future in which books were outlawed and the job of a fireman was to burn them.
But in Cannes, there’s another strong association, because an earlier film based on Bradbury’s book was directed by legendary French director Francois Truffaut, whose only English-language film was a 1966 version starring Oskar Werner and Julie Christie.
So Bahrani, the director of “99 Homes” and “Chop Shop,” comes to the Croisette having to measure up to two formidable artists — a task he approaches by doing his best to ignore Truffaut and give glancing service to Bradbury.
Bahrani’s “Fahrenheit 451” is more high-tech than Truffaut’s, of course, and far more violent. It jettisons big portions of Bradbury’s story to zero in on one relationship, and adds a shoot-‘em-out finale miles away in tone from the novelist’s more contemplative coda. (To be fair, that coda followed the nuking of a city, so the author hardly eschewed violence.)
It works, to a degree, though largely as a showcase for a battle between Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. The former plays Guy Montag, a gung-ho fireman primed for a promotion and seemingly eager to be the brash hero of every book-burning for the mindless masses who watch his exploits on 24-hour-a-day reality TV (or is it fake news?) projected on the side of the skyscrapers in the unnamed future metropolis.
Shannon is Captain Beatty, Montag’s boss, whose quintessential Shannonesque villainy is slightly undercut by the fact that he seems to have read a lot of the books he burns, and can eloquently explain that they contradict each other and would just confuse regular people.
Those people are kept in a state of perpetual vacuity by state news and by “The 9,” this film’s version of the internet, albeit an internet designed to dumb down everybody who uses it — which is to say, everybody.
In Bradbury’s book and Truffaut’s film, the misguided masses were epitomized by Montag’s wife, Millie, who’s been so techno-lobotomized that she can’t even remember her suicide attempt the morning after. Bahrani filmed Millie’s scenes, with actress Laura Harrier in the role, but they wound up on the cutting-room floor; in this “Fahrenheit 451,” the mindless masses are barely seen and Montag is a bachelor, all the better to hasten his showdown with Captain Beatty.
That showdown comes when Montag, spurred by a few conversations with a mysterious young woman who informs for Beatty but also has ties to the resistance, and shaken by an old woman who incinerates herself rather than watch her illicit library burn, begins to think that books just might be better for, you know, reading instead of burning.
He swipes a copy of Dostoyevsky’s “Notes From the Underground” (in Bradbury’s telling, it was the Bible) and starts having the kind of doubts we knew were inevitable from the moment Jordan strutted and grinned like the world’s most enthusiastic fireman in his early scenes.
Bahrani’s “Fahrenheit” has its topical touches, with clear nods to today’s anti-immigrant crusades in the way people are separated into “natives” and “eels” — i.e., good citizens who do what the government tells them and outsiders who don’t. But despite the timeliness, and the spectacle of all those gleaming high-rise towers serving as giant TV screens, the film sometimes seems as besotted with the shiny images as Montag initially is with the flames he unleashes.
Bradbury and Truffaut both had more humane, more human takes on the material, and maybe more love for the power of the words that Montag ends up trying to save rather than burn.
This version of the story turns into a chase of sorts, and places the real key to humanity’s future not in the memories of a colony of people who’ve memorized entire books, but the DNA of a bird who’s been programmed with all human knowledge. (The book people are here, but they’re expendable; it’s the bird who’s got to be saved at all costs.)
Jordan and Shannon, though, make suitably fierce competitors. And in an era where inconvenient truths are branded as fake, any take on Bradbury’s cautionary tale can’t help but be resonant, and worth seeing.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/13/18
Rehashes of the Vietnam War have become a genre onto themselves in American film — the province of prestige pictures, shoot-em-ups and even the odd romance. But France has been comparatively quieter in terms of depicting its own troubled history in Southeast Asia on the big screen.
With “To the Ends of the World,” which is showing in the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar to the Cannes Film Festival, French director Guillaume Nicloux offers that slight a brutal corrective, dredging up his country’s colonialist past while offering its national cinema the widescreen, 35mm ‘nam pic it so richly deserves.
Gaspard Ulliel (of Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World”) plays Robert, a French soldier in what was then called Indochina and the sole survivor of a massacre that claimed the lives of 700 of his fellow countrymen, including his brother and pregnant sister-in-law. Given an improbable second chance at life, Robert chooses to immediately reenlist in order to track down and take vengeance on the elusive — and perhaps mythic — Viet Minh leader who ordered the attack.
On a purely visceral level, the film fits well into its long line of forbears. From the menacing green jungles to the brothels wafting with opium smoke to the tropical mists and beads of sweat that dampen every face, this is a familiar cinematic landscape. But it would be a mistake to hear La Marseillaise instead of the Star Spangled Banner and think you’re just getting “Platoon” à la Française.
For one thing, there’s the question of period. Set in 1945, the action unfurls while the embers of World War II still burn, and Nicloux uses that historical confluence to great effect. He subtly interrogates the Gallic hypocrisy of fighting to maintain colonial holdings while celebrating their own very recent liberation from German rule.
Indeed, the project’s very Frenchness (for lack of a better word) is what makes it so damned interesting. While “To the Ends of the World” may look and feel like your standard war pic, it speaks like a European art film, focusing on the ennui, indecision and violent stillness felt by Robert and his not-so-merry band of cohorts.
Stuck in that recognizable military morass, Robert turns his focus inward, obsessing over his unrequited love for prostitute Maï (Lang-Khê Tran), butting heads in games of machismo with fellow soldier Cavagna (Guillaume Gouix) and contemplating the provocations of expat author Saintong (Gérard Depardieu, of course), who responds to the brutality around him with the weariness a man many times singed by the fires of nationalism.
Confronted by some latest act of savagery committed on the Western settlers, Saintong simply replies, “Beheading is a French tradition.”
The film is rather like “Platoon,” however, in its morbid fascination with war’s effect on the human body. Robert’s own weariness is woven into his sunken cheeks and his broken spirit amplified by an unchanging wardrobe that grows baggier as the story goes on.
Curiously, Nicloux shies away from depicting any real on-screen violence, instead focusing on the mangled remains that rot on the ground and fester in the mind long after the perpetrators have fled.
In a way, this is a much more devious strategy. We’ve all seen firefights before, but once you stagger out of this one, with its necklace of human tongues and leech infections in the worst place a man could ever fear, you’ll have seen things you can only wish to forget. Talk about taking the war home with you.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/12/18
Fifty years ago, Jean-Luc Godard was a cinematic revolutionary. Now, the reclusive 87-year-old legend is on another plane entirely, with his magisterially opaque and maddeningly elusive films as much criticisms and dismantlings of cinema as they are examples of it.
Then again, words like opaque and elusive sell Godard short, because they imply that he’s interested in things like plot and character.
He’s not, except in the vaguest and most poetic sense. “The Image Book,” which premiered in competition in Cannes on Friday, is an essay in sound and image, a poem that uses some of the tools of cinema, maybe even an assault on the idea of a movie (and, at times, on the viewer).
It’s a trip to Planet Godard, which at this point in time is a planet capable of sustaining and even inspiring human life, but only if they’re the right kind of humans.
You want an idea of what the maddening maestro – who, of course, didn’t show up for his Cannes premiere on Friday afternoon – is up to with this one? Well, you could look at the poem he submitted in lieu of a director’s statement: ” … Like a bad dream written on a stormy night / Under western skies / The lost paradises / War is here.”
Or the note by Bernard Eisenschitz in the press notes: “In the constant interruptions, being split between what is represented and the machine of the cinematograph, with its unspooling, its perforations, its decomposition. Rediscovering continuity by digital means … Waves, flames, bombardments, armies, history and the world as a thundering spectacle a la Dovzhenko, or Vidor.”
Or better yet, you could just experience the damn thing, which should be possible for industrious American viewers at some point, because it is after all Godard.
But beware: Even though it clocks in at less than 90 minutes, “The Image Book” requires stamina, or more accurately surrender. (A section of the Grand Theatre Lumiere balcony devoted to press had at least a dozen walkouts during the film.)
Godard uses a barrage of images from movies as disparate as “King Lear,” “Johnny Guitar,” “Dr. Mabuse,” “Anna Karenina,” “Orphee” and “Jaws,” along with news footage and still photos, along with an equally assaultive sound collage, to immerse the viewer in a violent jumble of Western art and Western inhumanity.
Make no mistake: This is an angry movie, both in form and in content.
The footage is all fragmentary and the cuts are all abrupt; music and dialogue often as not cut out before the clip is finished, and what we see often has the colors so saturated or the contrast so cranked that it’s almost unrecognizable. Sometimes the words spoken onscreen are translated in English subtitles, other times they’re not, and at certain points the subtitles serve as commentary rather than translation.
Travel, particularly train travel, is a running motif for the first half of “The Image Book,” but this is travel on the road to chaos and brutality. (Among the final shots of trains are Nazi and Japanese trains from World War II.)
And when Godard uncharacteristically begins to unspool an actual narrative in the final stretch of the film, it is a completely fictional one, with news footage masquerading as the story of Sheikh Ben Kadem of the gulf state of Dofu. That section does, though, have a catchy moral: “Do you think men in power today in the world are anything other than bloody morons?”
Godard’s last film, 2014’s “Goodbye to Language,” was nearly as bold and fragmentary, but it also showcased Godard’s daring use of 3D in a new way. “The Image Book” is a tougher sit than that film, which won the jury prize at that year’s festival, but it is an unforgettably strange test for hardy cinephiles.
At the jury press conference before Cannes began on Tuesday, jury president Cate Blanchett was asked if her jury would be able to judge the competition directors’ new films independently of their past work, and if the legendary status of Godard’s career would make it possible to judge him against other directors.
Blanchett gave a noncommittal declaration of nonpartisanship, but there’s another reason it might be impossible to weigh Godard against the others: At this point in his career, he’s playing a different game from the rest of them.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/11/18
The enclave in Düsseldorf, Germany, known as “Little Tokyo on the Rhine” — one of Europe’s largest Japanese communities — offers visitors a deep dive into Japanese culture with its growing food scene.
www.nytimes.com | 5/11/18
Four years after his film “Ida” won the foreign-language Oscar, Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski has returned to the look of that film and to the unsettled arena of Europe in the decades after World War II. “Cold War,” which had its world premiere on Thursday night at the Cannes Film Festival’s Grand Theatre Lumiere, shares some strengths with its predecessor, but this is a movie of the flesh, not the spirit.
In the director’s last film, a young woman on the verge of becoming a nun travels through a sparse countryside still haunted by the ghosts of World War II. “Ida” is an austere film, but one that plumbed the depths of postwar guilt and tragedy and made its characters fight for their faith.
This time around, his characters move in a landscape that was formed by the war: a divided Europe, with Poland under the sway of Stalin’s Soviet Union and suspicious of Western influences. And this time, his lead characters, Zula and Wiktor, are fighting for love, meeting in different cities at different times to reclaim a bond that began when Zula was a young music student and Wiktor was her instructor.
Europe in the 1940s and ’50s has been a fertile setting for doomed love since “Casablanca,” and “Cold War” gives us another of those. But Pawlikowski is a lyrical, mysterious filmmaker with a ravishing visual sense; if we’ve seen lovers pulled together and torn apart in Paris and Berlin before, we haven’t seen them look and feel like this.
In “Ida,” Pawlikowski shot in lustrous black and white and used an almost square 4:3 aspect ratio, which almost feels square to the viewer; it disconcerted his original cinematographer, and often made his characters feel isolated with a large amount of space above their heads.
He does the same thing on “Cold War,” often to similar effect, but he also finds other astonishing shots: a gorgeous sequence where Zula floats down a river on her back with all but her face and hands submerged, and a final scene where the couple stages their own ceremony in a derelict, haunted church.
But then, all of “Cold War” is haunted – partly by the conflict that tore a continent apart and put it back together with a fault line down the middle, and partly by matters of the heart. But its characters only glancingly face their ghosts; most of the time, they sing and play their songs (Polish folk tunes, then anthems to Stalin, then ’50s jazz and pop), fall in and out of other relationships and try to pretend that they can each live without their soulmate.
They can’t, of course, but they can’t really live with their soulmates, either. Joanna Kulig makes Zula impetuous and daring, Tomasz Kot gives Wiktor deep reserves of longing and sorrow, and together they make their way through a landscape that would be inhospitable even to less tortured and less complicated lovers.
If it doesn’t feel as fresh and bracing as “Ida” did, that film may have been the perfect combination of form and content. “Cold War,” which is Pawlikowski’s first entry in Cannes main competition, is in some ways more familiar, but the spin he puts on it is distinctly and beautifully his own creation.
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www.thewrap.com | 5/11/18
A Detailed Timeline of Everything Kanye West Has Been Up to in 2018 Ahead of This Week's Twitter Spiral
After lying low on social media for months, Kanye West has returned to Twitter and caused quite a stir online.
The rapper, 40, has generally stayed out of the spotlight as of late but has had a busy year nonetheless, between working on new music and expanding his family with wife Kim Kardashian, 37. (Already parents to daughter North, 4, and son Saint, 2, the pair welcomed daughter Chicago in January.)
Below, a look at what the rapper has been up to in recent months.January
West rang in 2018 with family and friends, sharing a sweet smooch with Kardashian as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Shortly after NYE, Yeezy got back to work, as he was photographed at his Calabasas, California, recording studio January 4 – 7.
On Jan. 8, the rapper popped up in Washington, D.C., where he was spotted touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture with his dad Ray and daughter North.
Upon his Jan. 10 return to L.A., West got back in the recording studio. Then on the 12th, he and and Kardashian enjoyed a date night at West Hollywood hotspot Craig’s, where they celebrated a pal’s birthday.Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
West and Kardashian’s surrogate went into labor then delivered their daughter Chicago early on Jan. 15, as the couple announced later that day.
Just one day after Chicago’s birth, West returned to the Calabasas studio and was photographed there Jan. 16 – 20, enjoyed a movie night with Kardashian the 20th, then was spotted at the studio again the 22 and 23.
On Jan. 24, he was spotted out and about in New York City before he crossed the pond for a Euro trip to spend time in Berlin, Belgium and Paris. The rapper was spotted enjoying a group dinner with A$AP Rocky and Dave Chappelle in Berlin, as well as visiting Axel Vervoordt’s gallery in Belgium and attended private party at Soho House Berlin with Rocky and designer Virgil Abloh.
At the time a source told PEOPLE: “Kanye is working and being creative. He feels that he needs to do his thing right now. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to Kim that he is in Europe. Kim has her family help with the kids.”February
On Feb. 1, West returned to Berlin for Chappelle’s comedy show, eventually flew to Paris, then was spotted out and about at Nobu in Malibu with a friend on Feb. 3.
Upon his return from Europe, West spent more time in the recording studio. Then on Feb. 11, he stepped out at The Lot Studios in West Hollywood with Kardashian and mother-in-law Kris Jenner for pal Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded birthday party.
On Feb. 14, the rapper was spotted in his studio once again — then broken his initial social media hiatus to wish Kardashian a happy Valentine’s Day via 50 Instagram posts over the course of nine hours. And that night, West and his wife joined her family — including sisters Kourtney and Khloé and brother Rob — for a Valentine’s dinner at mom Kris’s house.
West made a surprise appearance at the Adidas Creates 747 Warehouse St. event in L.A. on Feb. 17. And then Feb. 22, he and sister-in-law Kourtney caught a screening of Black Panther in Calabasas.March
While Kardashian and her sisters jetted off for a Japanese girls trip, West balanced socializing with parenting — he shared childcare duties with Kris while his wife was gone — and was all smiles when he stepped out for an event at the Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills March 2.
The rapper kept a low profile for much of March and wasn’t spotted out and about much until the 20th, when he and Kardashian stepped out for a preview of his upcoming Yeezy Season 7 collection; and the same day, he and his dad Ray grabbed a bite at Nobu in Malibu.
On March 24, West, Kardashian and their daughter North attended the Washington, D.C. March for Our Lives protest, which was organized by the student survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre.
“I’m so happy I got to share this moment with these two,” Kardashian wrote alongside an image of her husband and her daughter.“I hope North remembers this forever.”
The day after the protest, West was back in L.A. And on March 29, Kardashian shared an adorable collection of family photos from a visit to the San Diego Zoo.April
On April 1, West met with producer Rick Rubin at his Calabasas studio. Then, he celebrated Easter with the family in Bel Air at sister-in-law Kylie Jenner’s house.
Save for a few visits to the studio, rapper spent much of April out of the spotlight.
Then, on April 15, West returned to Twitter and began what since has seemed like an endless barrage of tweets. The star has weighed in on myriad topics, from coyly addressing the Tristan Thompson cheating scandal and announcing new music and a philosophy book, to revealing he fired his lawyers and management team and expressing his “love” for his “brother,” President Donald Trump.
West’s controversial tweets have caused buzz online, and a friend of the rapper told PEOPLE Tuesday: “The truth is that people are right to be worried. He’s not acting well, and he seems to be on the edge. I hope and pray he can get it together.”
On Wednesday, Kardashian spoke out online to defend her husband from people whom she said want to “demonize” him.
“He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed in America?” she wrote. “Because some of his ideas differ from yours you have to throw in the mental health card? That’s just not fair. He’s actually out of the sunken place when he’s being himself which is very expressive.”
people.com | 4/26/18
Sir Ringo Starr has a birthday coming up, and to celebrate he wants us all to spread a little Peace and Love.
Everyone’s favorite knight of the realm will observe turning 78 on July 7 by inviting the world to come together in a moment of peace, love and unity. Starr himself will be in Nice, France at the Hard Rock Cafe — a fitting location considering he started the tradition 10 years ago at the Chicago branch of the franchise. But don’t worry if you can’t make the trip. All he asks is for everyone — everywhere — to think, say, or post “#PeaceandLove” at noon their local time, thus creating a wave of positivity that will travel across the globe.
The annual celebration began in 2008, when an interviewer casually asked Starr what he wanted for his birthday. The answer, of course, was “Peace and Love.” Since then, the idea has flourished into an international event, earning sponsors including Hard Rock and The David Lynch Foundation, an organization that teaches meditation to at risk individuals.
“I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday, or a better gift I could ask for, than Peace and Love,” he says in a statement. “I was blown away last year with how far this idea keeps spreading — we started in New Zealand, had people sending Peace and Love from Antarctica, Japan, Costa Rica, India, Russia, Brazil, Europe, London, Liverpool and Hawaii. It was so far out. So here we are 10 years later and it keeps growing.”
Kicking off the festive mood, Starr has released a new music video for “Give More Love,” the title track to his 2017 album.
“There are a lot of people hurting out there, and if we give nothing else we have to give love,” he told PEOPLE of the song’s message in September. “I try and do that to the best of my ability. We have to remember we are not saints—sometimes there’s the other attitude, the reactive. I try not to get too much of that. But we’re doing the best we can.”Want to keep up with the latest from PEOPLE? Sign up for our daily newsletter to get our best stories of the day delivered straight to your inbox.
This fall, the rock legend will spread Peace and Love in person as he heads out on the road with his All-Starr Band. Check out tour dates below.
Sept 1: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Tulsa, OK
people.com | 4/21/18
Facebook is updating its privacy controls, asking users whether they are OK with the social network using their profile information to hit them with targeted ads, ahead of new European regulations going into effect next month.
In a blog post late Tuesday, the company said it will ask users to agree to its new terms, including whether Facebook can share their browsing history and app usage with its ad partners. All of Facebook’s 2.15 billion users will be prompted to review their settings in the weeks ahead, but the changes will be seen first by European users. Facebook will give European and Canadian users an opportunity to opt-in to its facial-recognition software, best known for being used to tag pictures, after the tech has been banned due to regulations. Users will also be asked to review certain personal information shared on their profiles, like relationship status and their religious affiliation.
The changes go into effect ahead of the European Union rolling out its new new data privacy rules, dubbed the General Data Protection Regulation, next month.
“We not only want to comply with the law, but also go beyond our obligations to build new and improved privacy experiences for everyone on Facebook,” Facebook said in its blog post.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you can just opt-out of being hit with ads on Facebook. The only way to do that is to ditch the social network altogether. And as TechCrunch pointed out, Facebook’s use of blue buttons will prompt users to leave their settings alone when they go through their review. But the update gives users an opportunity to review the info advertisers leverage to hit them with ads.
From a business standpoint for Facebook, it puts the company within the guidelines of the GDPR, which looks to give users a better handle on how their information is used online. CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the updated EU rules a “very positive step” last week in his testimony to Congress, while addressing the Cambridge Analytica data leak, where up to 87 million users had their info compromised. The changes might be enough to keep American lawmakers from coming down on Facebook — although that was already unlikely.
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www.thewrap.com | 4/18/18
Ava DuVernay, Kristen Stewart, Denis Villeneuve, Chang Chen, Robert Guédiguian, Khadja Nin, Léa Seydoux and Andrey Zvyagintsev have been named members of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival Jury.
They will join Cate Blanchett, who was previously named president of the jury at the 71st Cannes Film Festival.
During the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp, the jury is made up of five women and four men, only the third time that women have made up a majority of the jury. All three times have come in the last 10 years.
The jurors are of seven nationalities and from five continents.
Blanchett marks the first female jury president since Jane Campion served in 2014. Other women to take on the role this century include Oscar nominee Isabelle Huppert and Liv Ullmann. It is the 12th time in festival history a woman has headed the jury. Director, screenwriter and actress Jeanne Moreau served twice, with all others putting in one year each.
The Cannes Film Festival will take over the south of France from May 8-19.
See the full bios for the jury members courtesy of the festival organizers below.
Chang Chen – Chinese actor
Ava DuVernay – American writer, director, producer
Robert Guédiguian – French director, writer, producer
His film credits include “Marie-Jo et ses deux amours” (2002) “Le Promeneur du Champ de Mars” (2004) “Le Voyage en Arménie” (2007) “Lady Jane” (2008) “L’armée du crime” (2009) “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (2011). His latest film in date, “The House by the Sea” (2017), received enthusiastic response from critics and audience.
Khadja Nin – Burundian songwriter, composer, singer
Léa Seydoux – French actress
Kristen Stewart – American actress
Denis Villeneuve – Canadian director, writer
Andreï Zvyagintsev – Russian director, writer
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www.thewrap.com | 4/18/18
European cinema’s ultimate enfant terrible Lars von Trier looks set to return to the Croisette following comments from Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux today. During an interview with French radio station Europe 1, Frémaux said Cannes President Pierre Lesucure “has really worked over the past few days to remove this persona non grata status which he [Lars] received seven years ago, thinking that it’s maybe time to give him a spot again as a filmmaker.” When the…
deadline.com | 4/17/18
Final echoes of the US Senate committee's questions of Facebook this week will only fade in the UN Security Council where, in a few years, Member States will adopt a treaty on regulation of the Internet Economy. By opening wide the door to questions on privacy, revenue, security and purpose, Congress showed its well-placed concern and signaled that others can too. Companies must either prepare themselves for the consequences, which follows the predictable arc of most revolutions, or collaborate to try to change the almost inevitable.
The Congressional line of questioning will now be repeated — earnestly, tragically, and sometimes farcically — by governments around the world. That has already begun, and portends a patchwork of individual national solutions: a prohibition on fake news in Malaysia, a proposed transaction tax in Europe, a tax on social media use in Uganda. These will confront the Internet Economy with the risk of wildly balkanized rules and regulations that will limit access, curtail content and commerce, and disconnect millions of daily users.
Rule of the Moderates
Internet companies will react and take the fight to the front lines — many already have. They will (rightly) play for time launching inquiries, listening tours, and testing models of self-regulation. Sheryl Sandberg will wear out two Gulfstream 550s as she makes the case for her firm from Brussels to Bujumbura where, with cohorts of economists, content creators and local stakeholders, she will ably prove again the economic worth and multiplier effect that Internet companies enable. Along the way, she will re-confirm the conviction of many politicians in the local wealth that companies such as hers create. In this way, and for a while, governments will be cowed or convinced that the greatest tool of economic growth yet developed is something not to be handled too roughly. Some will be branded bad actors (as some will be most certainly be), others proclaimed outliers or — a banal moniker that can nonetheless tease the very food from little mouths — unwelcoming investment destinations. For a time, Internet companies will be able to demonstrate that the net cost of regulating them is great, but that the benefits of under-regulation are greater.
Reign of Terror
Then, as surely as Josh Bolton will unfriend Mike Pompeo, governments that were told they were mistaken in their views will box Internet companies into a checkmate. These questions are too big for Uganda to answer on its own? Regulatory balkanization is a risk to your business model? Then let us reach for an international standard. This is achieved within the UN General Assembly and associated bodies where some tough questions will get answered: how much regulation is too little, how shall I protect my culture, when do I limit citizen access to these addictive tools, and what revenue-transfer model is too lax? And so, after years of waiting to be asked to dance, the General Assembly will launch itself on a wide and graceful reel that will come to a breathy end at the treaty table.
Reign of Virtue
There, in the multilateral environment, where malign actors will let the International Community take the lead in creating standards for regulation of the Internet and cloud, and (why not, while we're at it?) artificial intelligence, Internet companies will be obliged to negotiate the most favourable terms under which to operate worldwide because that choice will look better than 200 different national codes. Also in that room, defensive now, and showing signs of exasperation, the United States will once again speak eloquently in defence of the Internet companies — their hapless teen years long behind them — after which the delegate from Uganda will click on a forbidden 2018 YouTube link of Senator Chuck Grassley, now in peaceful retirement in Des Moines, and remind the United States who showed them the way.
Written by Gregory Francis, Managing Director at Access Partnership
www.circleid.com | 4/13/18
There are moments when Bill Murray seems to be America’s greatest cultural icon. (See: “Lost in Translation,” “Rushmore” and, well, “Groundhog Day.”) But stepping back to gain a little objectivity, certainly Mark Twain, Leonard Bernstein and James Thurber loom a little larger.
However, if you combine Murray with these older icons, add in world-renowned cellist Jan Vogler and a few legendary European classical composers, you have — well, what do you have?
feedproxy.google.com | 4/10/18
The verdict is in about the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia after four days of top -evel dinners, lunches, meetings and audiences in Hollywood: He’s smart, he’s charismatic, he’s charming — and we just hope nothing bad happens to him since he lives in a dangerous neighborhood.
On that thought, apparently the 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman is surrounded by more security than any leader on the planet. A mogul I spoke to this week said: “I’ve met presidents and heads of state for decades, I’ve never seen this kind of security — you couldn’t get near him.”
Those who got to visit the potentate (monarch, dictator, benevolence) at his mansion up on Coldwater Canyon were non-plussed at the phalanxes of bodyguards, armed security, machines and body searches to which esteemed visitors were subjected.
Still, many were impressed at MbS’ vision for a more open and modern Saudi Arabia. “He’s a big believer in the spread of culture around the world,” said one power player who spoke to him for more than an hour. “He talked a lot about culture being brought to Saudi Arabia — with cinemas being opened, and women driving. Some people would define these as small steps, others would define them as bold steps. I would say some of the steps are pretty bold.”
Personally, I have to suppress every urge I have to ask: What took you guys so long? As a country, Saudi Arabia has wasted decades of precious time, billions of dollars and countless human resources in the service of super-luxury consumerism and rigid traditionalism (which most citizens were more than happy to cast off as soon as they were outside the borders of the kingdom).
And also this big plan to spend $80 billion to build entertainment infrastructure is no panacea. Driving change at lightning speed has its hazards. Trying to buy your country culture is not as easy as writing a check.
Real, authentic culture comes at a cost. Sure, money and bandwidth and determination helps. But by its nature, creating culture takes time. Roots have to be put down. They need to be watered and tended.
Authentic culture requires an ability to tolerate opposing opinions, differing perspectives and sometimes uncomfortable points of view. Saudi Arabia does not currently have that in its plans.
Sure, you can build cineplexes and show “Black Panther.” What other movies will Saudi Arabia be prepared to exhibit? And what movies will Saudi Arabia be prepared to make? One skeptical mogul who met MbS told me: “He wants to make ‘Lawrence of Arabia.'”
Great. But his young people will probably want to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
I’ve seen this movie before. A decade ago, Dubai and Abu Dhabi and Qatar were racing one another to build massive cultural and entertainment infrastructure. I visited the emirates a few months before launching TheWrap to see for myself: a branch of the Louvre, a Guggenheim, theme parks, universities, artificial islands (one of which was given to then-power couple Brad and Angelina).
When I landed at the Dubai airport and was handed a map, about half of the emirate was listed as “U/C”: under construction.
Then the economic downturn hit in 2008, and many of those planned projects never happened. Dubai and Abu Dhabi have pulled through the worst of the economic downturn, but they are not the cultural crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa that they intended to be.
And let’s not even talk about the women issue. I’ve never visited Saudi Arabia, though I’ve spent time in nearly every other country in the Middle East. Why would I want to visit a country that advertises its disdain for women? For what it’s worth, I didn’t see a single Saudi woman at Wednesday’s Hollywood presentation at the Four Seasons, either on stage or in the working entourage.
Dear Crown Prince: Hollywood and the rest of the world is working toward 50/50 gender equity. Maybe you need to invite Lady Gaga to a big concert.
For me, I can’t ignore the deep cognitive dissonance between the big plans being dreamed by the Saudi crown prince, and what it takes to create a society amenable to change, embracing culture at all levels and with arms open to the world (including half its population).
www.thewrap.com | 4/6/18
AMC Theaters has won the bid for the first license to build a movie theater in Saudi Arabia, the China-owned theater chain announced Wednesday. The cinema will open on April 18 in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District.
The announcement comes four months after the country’s leader, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, declared that the country’s 35-year-long ban on movie theaters would end. This has triggered a rush by exhibitors worldwide to stake their claim on the new market, including European chain Vue and premium arthouse distributor iPic.
AMC said it is planning to open 40 theaters in Saudi Arabia within the next five years, with the aim to expand to 100 locations by 2030. AMC, which was bought by China’s Dalian Wanda group six years ago, has pushed hard to claim a majority share of Saudi Arabia’s movie industry, announcing they had reached a deal to explore building locations the same day that the ban’s lift was announced on Dec. 11 of last year.
This announcement also comes as Bin Salman is in the midst of an extensive U.S. tour to expand and solidify his country’s business interests. This week, the Crown Prince arrived in Hollywood, buying out the entire Beverly Hills Four Seasons along with 40 rooms at the nearby L’Ermitage, TheWrap previously reported. During his visit, MBS has met with major figures in the industry, including Disney CEO Bob Iger, Oprah Winfrey and Rupert Murdoch.
But the centerpiece of Bin Salman’s visit was his meeting at WME, which is planning to sell a five-to-10 percent minority stake to KSA’s government. Bin Salman’s visit was met by protests from the activist group Code Pink, which decried Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed intervention in Yemen that has led to the deaths of millions and a humanitarian crisis.
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www.thewrap.com | 4/4/18
Facebook has deleted 70 user accounts and 138 pages, as well as 65 Instagram accounts it says were controlled by a Kremlin-funded network specializing in fake news, the company announced Tuesday.
The pages were linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm known for pushing ads aimed at American voters with divisive messages about social and political issues during the 2016 election cycle.
However, according to Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamo, the latest batch of IRA-created accounts and pages were intended for a more home-grown audience. The vast majority of the deleted pages — 95 percent — were in Russian and intended to for Russian-speaking users around the world, Stamos explained in a blog post.
“We removed this latest set of Pages and accounts solely because they were controlled by the IRA — not based on the content,” Stamos wrote. “This included commentary on domestic and international political issues, the promotion of Russian culture and tourism as well as debate on more everyday issues.” Stamos.
Around 1.08 million unique users followed at least one of the deleted Facebook accounts, while 493K unique users followed at least one of the Instagram accounts.
“Most of our actions against the IRA to date have been to prevent them from interfering in foreign elections. This update is about taking down their pages targeting people living in Russia,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a separate post. “This Russian agency has repeatedly acted deceptively and tried to manipulate people in the US, Europe, and Russia — and we don’t want them on Facebook anywhere in the world.”
Facebook has been heavily criticized for its slow response to the IRA’s activities before and after the 2016 election. Notably, Zuckerberg was initially dismissive of the claim that the company’s ads played a role in the election. However, he eventually changed his tune, saying last fall he was “dead serious” about the issue.
The company has since added thousands of content moderators and beefed up tools to weed out troll content in the aftermath and according to Zuckerberg, will release a tool within the “next few weeks” that allows users to check if they’ve followed IRA-linked pages.
The company had initially planned on releasing that tool by the end of 2017.
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www.thewrap.com | 4/4/18
By Will Hart Brien Foerster is an independent American historian, who now helps run the Paracas Museum, in the coastal Peruvian city of Paracas. He has been the lead investigator heading up the study of the now famous elongated skulls. We are currently co-authoring a book on the subject. We have gone through a very large collection of data on the skulls. The data was derived from many different kinds of studies, including forensic, physical examination by experts, and DNA lab results. In our considered opinion, the skulls probably originated in the Altai region of southern Siberia. We have reached this conclusion based on the following facts: 1) Some of the skulls have red hair. That is a very rare genetic trait in the global population, less than 2%. The Paracas culture buried their dead in pit graves. 2. Unlike the Peruvian natives, they wore Turbans. 3) The mtDNA results are similar to those of the pit grave Yamna, Corded Ware, Andronova and Afanevo tribes of Easteern Europe, Ukraine and Russia. Furthermore, we have determined that these ares human and not alien skulls , as the sensational media headlines have often suggested. Moreover, the elongated skulls of Paracas are of natural origins and not the product of artificial head-binding.The skulls have a cranial volume that is from 25% to 50% larger than average modern skulls. Head-binding cannot enlarge the volume it only changes the shape. Moreover, the eye sockets are larger and the position of the foramen magnum is back towards the rear of the skull. A normal foramen magnum would be closer to the jaw line.These findings normalize the Paracas skulls, to a degree, yet our conclusions are still controversial. As far as anthropoligists are concerned all of the elongated skulls ever found are the product of artificial deformation. We would agree that most are, however, not all of them are the outcome of head-binding. We would ask these experts to explain the features noted above.There are other controversial issues that the Paracas skulls have raised. Without a doubt the individuals that had these skulls were not members of any native tribe. No Peruvian groups have red hair. We have also analyzed the results of ABO blood group studies and found they have blood groups A and B.The Inca and other tribes were 100% type O+ positive, a fact that has long been known by anthropologists. They simple do not the prevailing theory and so have been dismissed for decades as genetic anomalies. However, they exist and their presence in Peru thousands of years ago raises many questions. Of course, the first is where did these people originally come from? As noted above, the evidence points to the pit grave Turkic peoples of southern Siberia and the steppes. Is it a coincidence that this is where the Huns came from? That tribe is known to have spread the practice of cranial deformation into eastern Europe. But that practice raises another question. How did it start and why would mother's decide that it was a good thing to change the natural shape of their baby's head?Then there are the elongated skulls that have recently been unearthed at Arkaim and in Ukraine. Others have been found near Omsk and the Caspian and Black Sea region. We plan on visiting Russia and hopefully be given the opportunity to examine them first hand. Let us keep in mind that the Denisovian's were discovered in the Altai. Before that discovery, no one knew of their existence. Now they are a proven fact. We are convinced that the very ancient land of Siberia holds many more secrets related to mankind's ancient past. But the region is so vast that she keeps those secrets well-concealed. We would hope that Russian researchers in this field would cooperate with us on this important topic. Over the years, Brien has received assistance from mainstream scholars and independent investigators., as well. This is still the case today. Will Hart
www.pravdareport.com | 4/2/18
Actress Asia Argento struck back at Catherine Breillat after the French director called her a “mercenary and a traitor,” and attacked the #MeToo movement. In a series of tweets, Argento said Breillat abused her during filming of the 2007 film “The Last Mistress,” and said she was “a sadistic and downright evil director.”
The sharp exchange started when Breillat spoke openly about her thoughts on #MeToo during an appearance on the podcast “Murmur.” The episode has been taken down, but according to IndieWire, Breillat said that the downfall of Harvey Weinstein over sexual assault allegations was a “loss” for European cinema and that she didn’t believe Argento’s claims that Weinstein abused her.
“As a person, Asia Argento is quite servile,” Breillat said. “I never asked her to kiss my feet, but she’s that kind of person. I don’t believe Asia. If there’s anyone capable of defending herself, who’s not timid about sex, who does it a lot, and has lots and lots of desire for both men and women, it’s her.”
“For Asia, it was obviously, let’s say, motivated by self-interest — it was a kind of semi-prostitution,” Breillat went on to say, adding that she thinks Argento is a “mercenary and a traitor.”
“Asia may have been disappointed that she didn’t become a great Hollywood actress she might have been, but there were lots of other things: drugs, many other things,” Breillat continued. “She feels bitter. Because bitterness, too, can lead people to denounce if you wanted to obtain something and you didn’t obtain it, if you feel humiliated. Quite honestly, I don’t like Asia. I think she’s a mercenary and a traitor.”
Argento responded with a series of tweets lambasting Breillat and others who have attacked women that came out about their abuse. She also noted that Breillat has not commented on collaborating in 1977 with fashion photographer David Hamilton on the movie “Bilitis,” which follows a teenage girl’s sexual exploits after she becomes intrigued by a married couple. Hamilton was accused by six women of sexually abusing them when they were minors and committed suicide a week after the accusations were made public.
“I am both sad and angered by these old school self proclaimed ‘feminists’ and their lack of humanity in face of other women’s suffering,” Argento wrote. “The French ones have proved to be the worst.”
Argento outlined her memories of working with Breillat 11 years ago on “The Last Mistress,” accusing the director of repeatedly insulting her and pushing actors into doing scenes they were not comfortable doing. Breillat had suffered a stroke three years prior, and Argento says the cast and crew tried to avoid arguing with her to prevent triggering another one, something that she says Breillat knew and took advantage of.
“I never told these things because I always thought that what happens on a film set remains on a film set, but she really pressed the wrong buttons by reminding me what a monster she is,” Argento concluded.
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www.thewrap.com | 3/31/18
In Wes Anderson’s dazzlingly but also puzzlingly realized (more on that in a moment) “Isle of Dogs,” a dystopian fable pitting man’s best friends against its worst fiends in a futuristic Japan, the writer-director proves again that in his hands, a bedtime story is more likely to be an over-stimulant than a narcotic.
When humans first met canines, each fortuitously emboldened a change in the other, and the same could be said for Anderson regarding stop-motion animation: cinema’s premier dioramist could finally go as micro-controlling as needed and still turn out his freest, most lovable work (2009’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox”), while an art form overwhelmed by its digitized brethren showed it could attract hip filmmaking talent and produce eccentric, artisanal masterworks.
“Isle of Dogs” isn’t the sly, maturely immature gem “Mr. Fox” remains — even with that phonic pun of a title — but it’s a mostly enjoyably overstuffed model kit of adventure ingredients: talking dog heroes, an intrepid boy aviator, an outspoken girl reporter, garbage playgrounds, mechanical worlds, robot peril and mischievous humor. It’s even, for this director, tantalizingly political, venturing into dark territory about such utopia-bursting ills as bigotry and authoritarianism.
And yet it’s still nth-degree Anderson in its visuals, wit, and personality, a carefully unfolded pop-up universe of influences (dig that “Seven Samurai” music shoutout), itemizations, tangents, analog textures, communication quirks (English-speaking dogs, non-subtitled Japanese humans), cartographic flourishes, and deadpan comic charm. Its profundity can easily bring out your inner parent, the kind in thrall to an imaginative kid’s attention to storytelling detail, even if the thread occasionally gets lost.
The story, dreamed up by Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola and Konichi Nomura, takes place in the fictional Megasaki, years after a degree by corrupt Mayor Kobayashi (a reference to the frank-scarfing champion?) exiles all dogs to Trash Island over ginned-up fears of conditions called dog-flu, snout-fever, and “canine saturation.” (The mythical history of anti-dog sentiment is narrated in a dryly amusing prologue styled like ancient Japanese woodblock prints, and capped with, of course, a haiku.)
Trash Island — flat, monochromatic, and industrial — may be the bleakest setting in all of Anderson-dom, but it is exquisitely littered. When a bickering pack of roving ex-pets (voiced by Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Bob Balaban and Jeff Goldblum) and a battle-hardened stray named Chief (Bryan Cranston) investigate a downed plane on their waste-heap atoll, they discover 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin) — orphan ward to the Mayor (Nomura) — determined at all costs to find the loyal, beloved bodyguard companion named Spots (Liev Schreiber) who was stripped from his side years ago.
The appealingly motley island dogs, spurred by fond memories of their human-serving days, decide to help Atari in his quest, although their motivation rankles Chief, whose grizzled cynicism about obedience sparks the film’s funniest intra-canine banter. The boy’s disappearance back home, however, is just the crisis to push the Mayor (modeled like a composite of every venal Toshiro Mifune tough he ever played for Kurosawa) into an even nastier plan to eradicate all dogs. On his case, though, is an activist foreign exchange student (Greta Gerwig) who smells conspiracy.
To count the number of ways “Isle of Dogs” blares “Wes Anderson!” is pointless, but some of my favorite touches include the cotton-cloud chaos that signals a mutt melee, a breathtaking if graphic sushi-making digression, and the nicely pitched doggy-noir exchanges between Chief and a lushly-furred former show dog named Nutmeg (Scarlett Johansson). If he’s gaining at all as a filmmaker, it’s in his craftier layering of narrative, comedy, and painstaking design so that they keep the whole engine moving instead of lingering, waiting to be regarded.
But there’s always that nagging sense that Anderson’s fondness for cultural appropriation — the India of “The Darjeeling Limited,” the vanished Europe of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and now his Eastern Asia reverie — has more to do with décor-driven pleasures than a resonant inner identity.
It’s one thing to weave a fantasy about saving dogs, and set it in the Japanophilic backdrop of your movie-mad dreams, but there’s a careless insensitivity in evoking issues of internment and annihilation for what amounts to an expensive Japan-set flipbook, particularly if you aren’t even going to provide subtitles for the native characters, who are mostly archetypes anyway. (That aforementioned language gimmick starts out as a head-scratcher, and pretty much stays that.) Then there’s the movie’s A-list vocal talent, a curious case of white-voicing when it comes to its four-legged original characters, who are ostensibly Japanese dogs.
None of it’s done out of any meanness, but it eventually worms its way into your appreciation of Anderson’s otherwise meticulous, wry blend of puppetry, 2D expressionism and dollhouse technique. There is much to admire about how “Isle of Dogs” channels its filmmaker’s design-lab obsessions and neurotic humanity into often beautiful, smile-inducing images, even if you’re not quite ready to pat Anderson on the head after the trick is over and say, “Good boy.”
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www.thewrap.com | 3/22/18
"Did you ever think that Grace would be a movie star?" "Sure, baby." Kino Lorber has revealed a brand new, full-length official US trailer for the documentary Grace Jones: Bloodlight & Bami, from director Sophie Fiennes, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year and already opened in Europe last fall. Originally titled Grace Jones - The Musical of My Life, the film tells the life story of artist/dancer/actor Grace Jones, who some may recognize as May Day from A View to a Kill, though her career is much more diverse ranging from dance to art to music and much more. Described as an "electrifying journey through the public and private worlds of pop culture mega-icon Grace Jones contrasts musical sequences with intimate personal footage, all the while brimming with Jones’s bold aesthetic." The first two trailers didn't show much, but this one finally gives us a better look with more of the fun footage in this very personal ...
www.firstshowing.net | 3/22/18
This week Wes Anderson returns to stop motion animation with “Isle of Dogs,” his first animated film since 2009’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The movie is bursting with voice talent and Anderson’s irreverent sensibilities, but it’s still rare to see such a high profile filmmaker working in the medium. In honor of the film’s release, TheWrap looks back at the history of stop motion animation, charting a timeline that goes all the way back to the dawn of cinema.
“The Humpty Dumpty Circus” (1898)
The first ever stop-motion animated film was made by J. Stuart Blackton and Albert E. Smith between 1897 and 1898, “The Humpty Dumpty Circus.” Though the film is lost to history, the directors used their daughter’s dolls to imagine acrobats and animals in motion.
“The Enchanted Drawing” (1900) and “The Trip to the Moon” (1902)
Early cinema experimented with editing techniques to create illusions and special effects on screen in what would become traditional stop motion. Shorts like “The Enchanted Drawing” (1900) or “Fun in a Bakery Shop” (1902) found actors on screen manipulating drawings or piles of dough as if by magic. Most famously, magician turned filmmaker George Melies used the “stop trick” to dazzling effect in his films and for his sci-fi short “A Trip to the Moon.”
“The Lost World” (1925)
Willis O’Brien made several dozen model dinosaurs for the film “The Lost World,” based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s fantasy story, even experimenting with getting the models and the human actors into the same frame at once. “The Lost World” was the first stop motion feature to be produced in the U.S., and O’Brien’s techniques would later serve as a precursor to his work on “King Kong” in 1933.
“The Tale of the Fox” (1930)
Polish photographer Wladislaw Starewicz took the stop motion style to new heights with this fully animated fable “The Tale of the Fox.” The film’s expressive puppet figurines of foxes, rats, cats and insects made with wax and wire served as a direct inspiration on filmmakers like Terry Gilliam and Wes Anderson for his “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”
George Pal’s Puppetoons
Animator George Pal is credited with developing the technique “replacement animation.” Instead of requiring puppets to have a malleable head, Pal created numerous wooden heads each with slightly different facial expressions that could be replaced and used to convey any emotion or anything the puppet needed to say. In 1940, he started making short films for Paramount, and in 1944, Pal won an honorary Oscar for his technique.
Known as the “Walt Disney of Eastern Europe,” Czech animator Ji?í Trnka once said, “A puppet is not a miniature human. He has his own world.” Trnka’s films starting in 1947 were made primarily for adults, and the studio’s puppets had highly sophisticated designs and movements that made them more suitable for stop motion animation.
Gumby (1955) and “Davey and Goliath” (1961)
Art Clokey was a pioneer in clay animation, or claymation, creating the iconic character Gumby that debuted on “The Howdy Doody Show” in 1955 and later the show sponsored by the Lutheran Church “Davey and Goliath.” Being able to produce these shows quickly and cheaply greatly advanced stop motion animation as a genre and in the minds of the popular culture.
“Jason and the Argonauts” (1963)
One of the most influential animators who ever lived, Ray Harryhausen was a protege of Willis O’Brien and worked with him until finally getting the chance to lead a project in 1953 with the film “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.” Harryhausen developed the “Dynamation” technique that helped integrate the live-action with the models. Harryhausen made his masterwork with 1963’s “Jason and the Argonauts,” with the scope of the film’s skeleton battle and hydra creation being ambitious leap above his previous films.
In 1986, rocker Peter Gabriel would work with Nick Park and Aardman Animation, the studio that would eventually be behind “Wallace and Gromit” and “Chicken Run,” to make a music video for his song “Sledgehammer.” Gabriel sat under a sheet of glass for 16 hours as every frame was individually, painstakingly photographed. Before long, Michael Jackson and the MTV logo would incorporate stop motion into their music videos, and the “Sledgehammer” music video would go on to be the most awarded video from the VMAs ever.
“The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
By far the most ambitious stop motion animated film to that point, Henry Selick and Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” has 109,440 frames crafted by a team of 120 workers across 20 sound stages. It was made for $18 million and grossed $76.2 million, spawning a small wave of other stop motion films like “James and the Giant Peach” and “Gumby: The Movie” just as digital animation from Pixar was about to take off.
“Chicken Run” (2000)
Aardman Animation’s first feature film was the first of a massive, $250 million, four film partnership between Aardman and Dreamworks. While Aardman had already won a trio of Oscars for some of their short films, including the Wallace and Gromit shorts “The Wrong Trousers” and “A Close Shave,” “Chicken Run” was a blockbuster to the tune of $224 million worldwide. In 2005 however, Aardman suffered a serious fire in which all of their sets and memorabilia was lost.
You can likely count on one hand the number of films that made RealD 3-D look like the next big thing in film, and “Coraline” was one of them. But Henry Selick’s much anticipated follow-up to “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and the first for animation company LAIKA still looks great today because computers were used only to enhance the traditional animation process.
“Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)
Prior to 2009, Wes Anderson looked like a stop motion animator who always shot in live action. He was destined to make “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” the adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel. “I’ve always loved stop motion animation and I particularly wanted to do stop motion with puppets that have fur, for whatever reason that is. I’ve always liked that,” he said.
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The culture of Europe might better be described as a series of overlapping cultures. Whether it is a question of North as opposed to South; West as opposed to East; Christianity as opposed to Protestantism as opposed to Catholicism; many have claimed to identify cultural fault lines across the continent. There are many cultural innovations and movements, often at odds with each other, such as Christian proselytism or Humanism. Thus the question of "common culture" or "common values" is far more complex than it seems to be. The foundation of European culture was laid by the Greeks, strengthened by the Romans, stabilized by Christianity, reformed and modernized by the fifteenth-century Renaissance and Reformation and globalized by successive European empires between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. Thus the European Culture developed into a very complex phenomenon of wider range of philosophy, Christian and secular humanism, rational way of life and logical thinking developed through a long age of change and formation with the experiments of enlightenment, naturalism, romanticism, science, democracy, and socialism. Because of its global connection, the European culture grew with an all-inclusive urge to adopt, adapt and ultimately influence other trends of culture. As a matter of fact, therefore, from the middle of the nineteenth century with the expansion of European education and the spread of Christianity, European culture and way of life, to a great extent, turned to be "global culture," if anything has to be so named .