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Bread and Circuses: Ruminations from Ground Zero of the Auto Bailout

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Bread and Circuses: Ruminations from Ground Zero of the Auto Bailout

This week I did something that I rarely ever do: I took the bus into work.

The mass transit infrastructure for the Detroit area is relatively lean compared to that available in other large U.S. municipalities. One reason for this is because the population has spread away from the city in an organic, rather than linear pattern, designing a logical system is all but impossible. The other more obvious reason is that Detroit is, after all, the “Motor City.” The idea of personal car ownership is baked into our DNA. Per usual, my bus carried no more than fifteen other passengers.

Outside, knocked over by high winds from the day before, holiday decorations adorning the front of people’s homes were left tossed about. Given the hard knocks Michigan has endured in the last few years that shows no signs of letting up as 2008 closes, there was something particularly apropos about the sight of dozens of Santas laying face down in the snow. One could call the regional dread that has resulted from the uncertain fate of the U.S. automotive industry palpable. But, at this point, a more apt description of it would be ubiquitous.

The Jefferson leg of my commute took me past the headquarters of the United Auto Workers, then, a few minutes later, that of General Motors. The exteriors of the respective buildings hide what I assume to be an inferno of frantic activity taking place within. The two camps, which usually find themselves at odds, seem to have formed a definite, if uneasy, alliance in the face of a dire financial outlook.

I’d find the political and economic wrangling that has gone on over this issue entertaining if it didn’t hit so close to home. My emotions have ranged from irritation to outrage over the hypocrisy displayed by just about everyone with an opinion on this. At times, I have to grudgingly include myself on that list as I vacillate between opposing and supporting the bridge loans, often out of pure self interest.

After Senate Republicans effectively blocked a vote on the proposed fourteen billion dollar bridge loan (I refuse to say “bailout”) for General Motors and Chrysler, President Bush indicated that he’d tap into existing monies set aside to save the banking industry. A few days later, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, still sporting a black eye she got in the melee following an Iraqi reporter’s assault on Bush with a shoe, the original transportation device, indicated that the president hadn’t ruled out letting the Big Three go into an “orderly bankruptcy.”

I was disappointed by this in spite of myself. My viscerally conservative reaction to the idea of using government funds to prop up ANY business is decidedly negative and summed up by an unambiguous entry in Andrew Sullivan’s blog titled “Let The Big Three Die”:

“The point of capitalism is that actions have consequences. Once that market discipline is removed for a few of the worst, ill-managed, union-crippled companies in America, the stage is set for endless mediocrity, government-run industry (i.e. even more endless mediocrity), and a free-for-all at the government trough. A clear majority of Americans agree, in the new WaPo poll. If this intensifies the recession, so be it. Recessions are sometimes necessary for long-term economic health. And the bigger and sharper it is now, the more time Obama has to recover from it. Let them die.”

Or, as Clemenza said in The Godfather, you have to “go to the mattresses” every ten or fifteen years “to weed out the bad blood.”

Contrasting that view is Catch 22’s Lieutenant Milo Minderbinder, an Army Air Corp mess officer, who profits in the service from various schemes under the banner of his “M&M Enterprises.” When Milo’s plan to corner the market on Egyptian cotton proves to be a failure, he endeavors to unload his surplus on the government because, as he rationalizes, “the business of government is ’business’.”

From a state built on cotton production, Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama was the point man in the charge against the automotive bridge loans, decrying them as counter to the aforementioned free market principles. Spencer Bachus, a House Republican also from Alabama, chided Big Three auto executives when they appeared on Capital Hill.

“The vast majority of my constituents,” Bachus said, “are not making anywhere near what GM, Ford and Chrysler are paying their employees. My constituents do not understand why their taxpayer dollars should go to support less-efficient business.”

The irony in all of this was the apparent silence of Shelby and Bachus when Alabama offered a $253 million incentive package to lure German car company Mercedes-Benz to locate there. That netted out in the range of about $150,000 to $200,000 per new job created. It’s almost as if Southern legislators are still fighting the Civil War with non-union autoworkers cast as the new contraband. Because of Shelby and those who loudly applaud him, I don’t expect the GOP to perform very well in Michigan for a while. There’s even a group on Facebook called “Michiganders Against Alabama Tourism.”

As with my anomalous bus ride, I found myself in the rare position of mostly agreeing with a hyperbolic statement by Michael Moore posted after the defeat of the loan bill.

”…the Senate said, we’ll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That’s right. After giving BILLIONS to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers—billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever—the Senate decided it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.”

Moore, the self anointed voice of the working man, made his bones in 1989 by slamming GM’s then CEO Roger Smith with the documentary Roger and Me, after the automaker closed a factory in Moore’s “home town” of Flint, Michigan. I put “home town” in quotes because Moore actually grew up in Davidson, Michigan. A more affluent suburb, Davidson doesn’t convey nearly the same level of blue-collar street cred as Flint. Think of “Papa Doc,” Eminem’s rival in 8 Mile, whose real name was Clarence and studied music at Cranbrook, an exclusive private school.

But Moore is right. Those citing $73 an hour UAW wages as the reason for Detroit’s lack of competitiveness when compared with the $45 an hour earned by their non-union counterparts are being deceptive. All but lost during this debate is last year’s landmark new contract negotiated between the Big Three and the UAW in which the latter did indeed make a lot of concessions. As David Leonhardt points out in a New York Times piece, the $73/hour figure, which would amount to about $150,000 a year (or the low-end cost of an automotive job in the state of Alabama) is inflated to include benefits paid to retirees. Factoring that out does bring the union wage down to a more competitive $55 an hour.

However, I do part company with Moore and those who engage in the predictable demonization of domestic auto company executives.

It started when their first appearance before Congress was overshadowed by the fact that they each flew to D.C. in separate private jets. Sure, they probably should have thought that through. That they didn’t, indicates a certain level of tone deafness on their part to the choices “normal” people have at their disposal. Anecdotally, most of the blue-collar types I spoke with questioned the jet rides, but thought that the amount of attention it received was a bit overblown. In response, the Big Three honchos decided to travel to their next Congressional hearing by a convoy of domestic cars. Proving that you can’t win for losing, the executives at that session were questioned as to whether it was a wise decision for such high powered management to waste their valuable time in an eighteen hour (round trip) car pool between Detroit and Washington.

Their poor public relations choices not withstanding, other, more substantive criticisms of the Big Three seemed to focus on the idea that they aren’t making the “cars that people wanted.” Such as:

1. “Green” cars that will reduce global warming

2. More fuel efficient cars that lessen our dependence on foreign oil

3. Better quality cars

I separate the first two because “green cars” and cars that use less petroleum products are not synonymous. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m one of those “climate change” agnostics who thinks that the jabbering about “saving the planet” overstates the capacity of humans to be the primary cause of any global dynamic either positive or negative. Talk of “solving” the problem, complete with a disaster countdown clock, reminds me of a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Geordi figures out in the last act how to adjust the polarity of the deflector array to fix whatever malady threatens that week’s planet. Of course, I realize that for many this tags me as one of those flat earther, creationist, home schooling types (I’m NOT).

That said, a hybrid or even a completely electric car wouldn’t necessarily produce a significantly smaller carbon footprint from the perspective of averting climate change. The juice to power the vehicles has to be generated somehow. And unless more nuclear plants go up, that means burning coal. Clean coal technology sounds a little like cold fusion to me. Meaning it doesn’t really exist yet. Furthermore, practical and affordable hydrogen powered vehicles are still decades away. So, like it or not, the old fashioned internal combustion engine is still the best game in town (for a while, anyway). But, as the Journey song says, “Don’t Stop Believing.” Of course, most of the Detroiters I know chuckle a bit over that number because there’s no such place for that “city boy” to have been “born and raised in” called “South Detroit.” That’s actually Windsor, Ontario. Yes, Canada is technically south of Detroit.

Which, since Canada is our number one source of imported oil, makes for a nice segue to the second item: the need for the U.S. to lessen it’s reliance on foreign petroleum (notice how I resisted the temptation to make a bad pun out of “Segway,” the two-wheeled, energy efficient scooter). I find this is an important goal that is a bit more feasible. However, there are still a number of challenges involved in producing a commercially viable vehicle that burns less gasoline (or none at all). Not the least of which is getting people to buy them.

Sure, laws could be passed to force automakers to accelerate their plans to get such a product to market. But one need only look back at how a major legacy of the 1970’s CAFE standards was the death of the station wagon and the birth of the SUV. American consumers didn’t want smaller cars. Families like mine, with more than three kids (which I realize tags me to many as one of those flat earther, creationist, home schooling types), just couldn’t fit into a five passenger vehicle AND comply with seat belt laws. Enter the minivan. It didn’t fall into the same vehicle category under CAFE regulations as station wagons and allowed automakers to comply with the laws of both the land AND supply and demand.

One of the first lectures I give to my Intro-Marketing students outlines how the bromide “build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” is wrong. Just because an offering is somehow considered “superior,” doesn’t ensure market success. If it did, Betamax videotapes would have handily beaten VHS as the format of choice in the 1980s. For a simpler example, glance down at your computer’s keyboard. More than likely you’re looking at a QWERTY design, named for the characters appearing in the first row of letters and introduced in the 1870s. It had ergonomic shortcomings DELIBERATELY built into it so that users wouldn’t break the early, more fragile typewriters. This factor lost its significance once electric typewriters came on the market. However, “better” designs such as Dr. August Dvorak’s more efficient keyboard never caught on because the original design was so well entrenched.

In The Hustler, Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) describes success in their chosen profession to “Fast” Eddie Felson (Paul Newman) using words that could easily be applied to mass marketing:

“This game isn’t like football. Nobody pays you for yardage. When you hustle, you keep score real simple. At the end of the game, you count up your money. That’s how you find out who’s best. It’s the only way.”

That aspect of the free market is a two-edged sword and brings me to the third criticism of American automakers: the quality gap.

Regardless of a number of studies that show an ever-increasing level of quality for domestically produced automobiles, the “country of origin effect” on the average consumer still strongly favors foreign offerings. As the saying goes, “perception is reality” and, outside of Michigan, the patriotic appeal to “Buy American” only resonates so much.

Of course, as Ashley Fantz points out in “What makes a car American?,” determining the exact country of origin for an automobile is more complicated than it seems:

Fewer than half of the parts on some Big Three vehicles are made in the U.S.

Looking at a Ford Fusion? It is assembled in Mexico. The Chrysler 300C is assembled in Canada, but its transmission is from Indiana; the brand’s V-8 engine is made in Mexico. Engines in the Chevrolet Equinox sport utility vehicle are from China.

On the other hand, Toyota’s Camry is comprised 80 percent of parts made in the United States, and 56 percent of Toyota’s vehicles sold in the U.S. also are made here, according to Toyota spokeswoman Sona Iliffe-Moon.

The Toyota Sienna and Tundra also have 80 percent of their parts manufactured in the U.S.”

Nonetheless, while there haven’t been any reports in Michigan of auto plant supervisors, mad about Japanese imports, beating Asian Americans death, as Ronald Ebens did to Vincent Chin in 1982, “keying” foreign cars in saloon parking lots seems to be making a comeback.

Speaking of comebacks, many here in Michigan (both white and blue collar alike), are somewhat amused by the rising star of Governor Jennifer Granholm. By all accounts, she made a strong impression nationwide while stumping on various Sunday morning news shows for the auto loan.

However, those who watched the seemingly endless parade of companies pack up and leave Michigan under her watch realize that she was being unintentionally prophetic when, in her 2006 State of the State, she said that we’d be “blown away by the strength and diversity of Michigan’s transformed economy.” She won reelection handily against Republican Dick DeVos. Son of the founder of AmWay, DeVos was a horrible candidate who could apparently talk people into signing up for a questionable pyramid scheme, but was unable to convince the state electorate that he could talk businesses into moving to Michigan.

The only new industry Granholm has been able to attract to the state is filmmaking. She offered forty percent tax breaks for movie companies who decide to shoot in Michigan. So, ironically, we have the likes of Clint Eastwood filming the story of a disgruntled autoworker in Gran Torino ten minutes from my house, but no real autoworkers because Toyota, who didn’t get such a sweet deal, decided to locate their new plant in another state.

When, after hemming and hawing for a few days, President Bush finally did announce his decision to provide the loans, it was somewhat anticlimactic. I’m not sure which of the spirits of Christmas past, present or future finally convinced him. But, based on the raspy, beaten down tenor in Bush’s voice during his Saturday radio speech, he wasn’t nearly as happy as EbenezerScrooge was the morning after the rehabilitated miser had his epiphany.

Of course, the auto bridge loan doesn’t promise success. Hopefully, the financial institutions that received government bailouts in the hundreds of billions (without anything approaching the same level of scrutiny) will actually LEND out some of that money so consumers can buy things like, maybe, cars. We’ll see.

In the meantime, the holiday lawn decorations in my neighborhood are standing once again. For a while anyway as the weather report doesn’t sound too promising.

God bless us, everyone.

Matt Maul is author of the blog Maul of America.

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Watch the First Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman

Today, Netflix has given us our first look at the film, which stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

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The Irishman
Photo: Netflix

On Monday, it was announced that The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of Charles Brandt’s nonfiction book I Heard You Paint Houses, will open this year’s New York Film Festival. And today, Netflix, which will release the film in select theaters and on its streaming service at some point later in the year, has given us our first look at the production, which stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.

According to Netflix’s official description, The Irishman is “an epic saga of organized crime in post-war America told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran, a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th century. Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of legendary union boss Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime.”

In a statement from Film at Lincoln Center, New York Film Festival director Kent Jones, a frequent collaborator of Scorsese’s, said that The Irishman is “the work of masters, made with a command of the art of cinema that I’ve seen very rarely in my lifetime, and it plays out at a level of subtlety and human intimacy that truly stunned me.”

See the kinetic trailer, which provides us with our first look of the film’s sure-to-be-controversial “de-aging” VFX techniques, below:

The Irishman will premiere at the New York Film Festival on September 27.

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Disney’s Mulan Live-Action Remake, Starring Yifei Liu, Gets Teaser Trailer

The film follows a young Chinese woman who disguises herself as a warrior in order to spare her ailing father from war.

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Mulan
Photo: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Today, during the Women’s World Cup final between America and the Netherlands, Disney premiered the first trailer for its live-action remake of the 1998 animated move of the same name. The film follows a young Chinese woman (Yifei Liu) who, after the Emperor of China (Jet Li) issues a decree that one man per family must serve in the Imperial army, disguises herself as a warrior in order to spare the life of her ailing father (Tzi Ma). According to Disney’s official description of the film: “Masquerading as a man, Hua Jun, she is tested every step of the way and must harness her inner strength and embrace her true potential. It is an epic journey that will transform her into an honored warrior and earn her the respect of a grateful nation…and a proud father.”

Mulan features a celebrated international cast that also includes Donnie Yen as Commander Tung, Jason Scott Lee as Böri Khan, Yoson An as Cheng Honghui, and Gong Li as Xianniang. The film is directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Elizabeth Martin, and Lauren Hynek based on the narrative poem “The Ballad of Mulan.”

See the action-packed teaser trailer below:

Disney will release Mulan in March 2020.

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Taylor Swift Drops Star-Studded, Pride-Themed “You Need to Calm Down” Video

The video takes the notion of visibility as a means of acceptance to the extreme.

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Taylor Swift
Photo: YouTube

After years of political agnosticism, Taylor Swift endorsed two Tennessee Democrats during the 2018 midterm elections, prompting a backlash from white supremacists and their dear leader, Donald Trump. In the span of less than a year, the singer went from being the Aryan goddess of the alt-right to being called out as an agent of sodomy in a sermon by a homophobic pastor and sheriff’s deputy in her home state.

Swift’s path to wokeness has been a long one, and while the launch of her new single, “You Need to Calm Down,” during LGBT Pride Month might feel like the equivalent of Google slapping a rainbow flag on their logo, her activism—which included a recent $113,000 donation to a Tennessee LGBT organization—seems like more than just a branding opportunity. “To be an ally is to understand the difference between advocating and baiting,” Swift posted on Tumblr after rumors circulated that she kisses former rival Katy Perry in the video for “You Need to Calm Down,” the second single from Swift’s seventh album, Lover.

The clip does, however, take the notion of visibility as a means of acceptance to the extreme, featuring cameos from RuPaul, Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Lambert, Adam Rippon, Laverne Cox, Billy Porter, Jesse Tyler Ferguson (whom she serenaded at a surprise performance at New York’s Stonewall Inn last week), and other queer celebrities, YouTube stars, and allies.

Directed by Swift and Drew Kirsch, the video opens with the pop singer waking up in a pastel-colored trailer home adorned with kitschy paintings and a framed Cher quote (“Mom, I am a rich man”). She makes herself a cotton-candy smoothie, takes a dip the cleanest above-ground pool you’ll ever see, and parades through the trailer park’s pride-themed festivities, which includes a “pop queen pageant” featuring drag versions of Swift, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Adele, Cardi B, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, and Katy Perry.

The real Katy pops up for a heartfelt reunion with Swift that makes “You Need to Calm Down”—which seems to strive for, but falls short of, the campy eye candy that Perry has honed in her own videos over the years—feel like a bachelorette party at a gay bar. But just in case you question Swift’s allegiance to the cause, the video ends with a message urging viewers to sign her petition for Senate support of the Equality Act.

Watch below:

Swift’s album, Lover, is due August 23 via Republic Records.

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Mykki Blanco Is a Trans Joan of Arc in Madonna’s “Dark Ballet” Video – Watch

The self-described transfeminine rapper stars in the video from the queen of pop’s upcoming album Madame X.

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Mykki Blanco
Photo: YouTube

While presenting Madonna with GLAAD’s Advocate for Change award last month, Mykki Blanco hinted that a collaboration with the queen of pop might be imminent. Sure enough, the self-described transfeminine rapper stars in the video for “Dark Ballet,” the final track to be released in the lead-up to Madonna’s new album, Madame X.

Directed by Dutch Ghanaian visual artist Emmanuel Adjei, “Dark Ballet” echoes the themes of Madonna’s infamous “Like a Prayer” video, awash with Catholic iconography and a storyline revolving around a persecuted black person. But that’s where the similarities end. The singer only briefly appears in the clip, behind a black veil, and the burning crosses of her 1989 video are traded for a ceremonial burning at the stake.

The video is frenetic and non-linear, opening with Blanco held captive in a stonewalled room, wrapped in a dirty white robe. Wrists bound with rope, he’s led by clergymen to be executed for an undisclosed crime. He’s then seen dancing, first in a cathedral—pleading with the men, who forsake him—and then in the church’s sanctuary, dressed in a gold corset reminiscent of the iconic one designed by Jean Paul Gaultier for Madonna’s Blond Ambition Tour. Madonna is, in effect, all over the video, but her casting of a queer person of color as the oppressed, rather than herself, spotlights the disproportionate impact of the patriarchy on minorities.

Produced by Madonna and longtime collaborator Mirwais, the song itself is an ambitious electro suite featuring a heavily Auto-Tuned denouncement of gender, lies, and fame, before the track breaks into Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Reed Pipes” from The Nutcracker accompanied by a robot Joan of Arc proclaiming her faith. (There’s a brief, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot from Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc near the beginning of the video.) The song is a reminder of the wacky magic Madonna and Mirwais are capable of cooking up together.

Watch below:

Madame X will be released on June 14 via Interscope Records.

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James Gray’s Ad Astra, Starring Brad Pitt, Gets Official Trailer

It has been a wild ride to the screen for the film, which Gray announced way back in 2016 at the Cannes Film Festival.

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Ad Astra
Photo: 20th Century Fox

It has been a wild ride to the screen for Ad Astra, which director James Gray announced way back in 2016 at the Cannes Film Festival. Originally it was set to come out in the doldrums of January, then on May 24, but as a trailer had yet to be announced in the leadup to that date, it was inevitable that the release would get bumped again. And it was probably for the best, as a film with the obvious ambition as this one wouldn’t get the attention it deserved from its studio—or is it studios?—had it opened in the midst of the confusing Disney-Fox Hollywood merger continuing to play out at that time.

Anyway, today we’ve been gifted with the official trailer for Ad Astra, and the official announcement that it will be coming out on September 20, which suggests that a world premiere at a fall festival is in order. The film tells the story of an astronaut, Roy McBride (Brad Pitt), who “travels to the outer edges of the solar system to find his missing father and unravel a mystery that threatens the survival of our planet.”

Shot by Oscar-nominated cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk) and scored by post-minimalist composer Max Richter, Ad Astra has been likened by Gray to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and described as “the most realistic depiction of space travel that’s been put in a movie and to basically say, ‘Space is awfully hostile to us.’” In addition to Pitt, who’s also a producer on the film, Ad Astra stars Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga, Liv Tyler, Donald Sutherland, Jamie Kennedy, John Finn, Kimberly Elise, Bobby Nish, and LisaGay Hamilton.

Watch the official trailer below:

20th Century Fox will release Ad Astra on September 20.

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Terminator: Dark Fate Official Trailer: Going Back to the Well with Sarah Connor

Linda Hamilton at least makes a killer impression as Sarah visits fiery justice upon Gabriel Luna’s terminator.

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Terminator: Dark Fate
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Today, Paramount dropped the trailer for the sixth entry in the Terminator series, Terminator: Dark Fate, which promises to deliver…more of the same? With this film, Deadpool director Tim Miller aims to give the series a reboot: by pretending that none of the films that came after Terminator 2: Judgement Day ever existed (sorry, Rise of the Machines fans), maybe even Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. “Welcome to the day after judgment day,” reads the poster, promising the badass return of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. And on that front, the film looks to deliver, as Hamilton certainly makes a killer impression as Sarah visits fiery justice upon Gabriel Luna’s terminator.

But based on everything else that’s on display throughout the trailer, we’re worried that there’s not anything new that a film in this series stands to bring to the table besides running and gunning, with the occasional wink thrown in for good measure. Cast in point: Mackenzie Davis stars as Grace, an “enhanced human” who looks to fill the hanger-on role to Connor that Edward Furlong’s John Connor did to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800, now apparently living in woodsy retirement, and at the ready to give sage advice. In short, we’re not impressed, and that also holds true of that cover of Björk’s “Hunter” by some zombie man singer.

Watch the official trailer below:

Paramount Pictures will release Terminator Dark Fate on November 1.

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The Nightingale Trailer: Aisling Franciosi and Sam Claflin Star in Jennifer Kent’s Follow-Up to The Babadook

Today, IFC has released the first trailer for the film, which is set during the colonization of Australia in 1825.

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The Nightingale
Photo: Matt Nettheim

Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, the Aussie filmmaker’s much-anticipated follow-up to The Babadook, premiered way back in September at the Venice Film Festival, and to mostly positive notices. Today, ahead of its U.S. theatrical release in August, IFC has released the first trailer for the film, which is set during the colonization of Australia in 1825 and follows a young Irish convict settler, Clare (played by Aisling Franciosi), who, after finishing her seven-year sentence, struggles to be free of her abusive master, Lieutenant Hawkins (Sam Claflin). According to the studio’s official description of the film:

Clare’s husband Aidan (Michael Sheasby) retaliates and she becomes the victim of a harrowing crime at the hands of the lieutenant and his cronies. When British authorities fail to deliver justice, Clare decides to pursue Hawkins, who leaves his post suddenly to secure a captaincy up north. Unable to find compatriots for her journey, she is forced to enlist the help of a young Aboriginal tracker Billy (Baykali Ganambarr) who grudgingly takes her through the rugged wilderness to track down Hawkins. The terrain and the prevailing hostilities are frightening, as fighting between the original inhabitants of the land and its colonizers plays out in what is now known as “The Black War.” Clare and Billy are hostile towards each other from the outset, both suffering their own traumas and mutual distrust, but as their journey leads them deeper into the wilderness, they must learn to find empathy for one another, while weighing the true cost of revenge.

Watch the official trailer below:

IFC Films will release The Nightingale in NY and LA on August 2.

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Downton Abbey Trailer Sees the Crawley Clan Prepping for a Royal Arrival

Kippers for breakfast, Aunt Helga? Is it St. Swithin’s Day already? No, it ain’t, dear. ‘Tis Downtown Abbey Day.

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Downton Abbey
Photo: Focus Features

Kippers for breakfast, Aunt Helga? Is it St. Swithin’s Day already? No, it ain’t, dear. ‘Tis Downton Abbey Day—that is, the release of the official trailer for the Downton Abbey movie. It’s been some three years since we’ve gotten to sip tea with the Crawley clan and hang out downstairs with the servants making sure that the biscuits are placed just right on the proper fine bone china tea set. And from the looks of the two-and-a-half-minute trailer, it would appear that nothing has changed at Downton Abbey since the series’s finale.

In the tradition of Mad Men’s episode-ending “next week on AMC’s Mad Men” teasers, it’s just a series of snappy snippets that suggest we’re in for more of the same, from Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess of Grantham snarking up a storm to Robert James-Collier’s Thomas Barrow getting his gay on. And we are here for it. The cherry on top? The king and queen are coming to Downton! And as everything must be in tip-top shape for their arrival, the Crawleys must enlist the help of the one and only Charles Carson (Jim Carter), who is treated here with the reverence of a god, or a superhero from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Downton Abbey is directed by Michael Engler and written by Oscar- and Emmy-winning screenwriter Julian Fellowes. And in addition to the aforementioned actors, the film stars Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, David Haig, Geraldine James, Simon Jones, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Tuppence Middleton, Stephen Campbell Moore, Lesley Nicol, Kate Phillips, Imelda Staunton, and Penelope Wilton.

Watch the official trailer below:

Focus Features will release Downton Abbey on September 20.

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Watch the Teaser Trailer for Andy Muschietti’s It Chapter Two, Starring Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader

The teaser seems hell-bent on satisfying those who found the first film to be an over-directed succession of freakouts.

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It Chapter Two
Photo: Warner Bros.

Today, Warner Bros. revealed the teaser trailer for It Chapter Two, Andy Muschietti’s highly anticipated follow-up to his worldwide box-office smash It. The teaser is certainly promising, if only because it seems hell-bent on satisfying above all else those who might have found the first film to be an over-directed succession of freakouts. Indeed, while the trendy retroism of that film is certainly evident across this teaser’s three minutes, there’s something rather impressive about how it forces us to spend so much time stewing in the atmosphere of dread that slowly overcomes the adult Beverly (Jessica Chastain) inside an old woman’s house as she comes to realize that she and other grown-up members of the Losers Club may not have fully shaken off the horror that is Pennywise.

In addition to Chastain, It Chapter Two stars James McAvoy as Bill, Bill Hader as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, Jay Ryan as Ben, James Ransone as Eddie, and Andy Bean as Stanley. Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike, and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben. And, of course, there’s Bill Skarsgård, who reprises his role of Pennywise.

See the teaser trailer below:

Warner Bros. will release It Chapter Two on September 6.

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Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now Final Cut Coming to Theaters in August

The film remains as legendary for its artistry as it is for the difficulty of its making.

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Apocalypse Now Final Cut
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is as legendary for its artistry as it is for the difficulty of its making. Some have argued that Coppola became the victim of the film’s legend with the 2001 release of Apocalypse Now Redux, a significant re-edit of the original film put together by the director and editor Walter Murch. The two most famous additions made to the original had its naysayers for being flow-breaking: the second meeting with the Playboy playmates, and the meeting with a family of holdout French colonists on a remote rubber plantation. I recommend you read the responses to this tweet from critic Glenn Kenny to get a sense of what we have in store from the new, never-before-seen restored version of the film, entitled Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, coming our way in August.

According to Lionsgate, the film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, has been remastered from the original negative in 4K Ultra HD.

The Beacon Theatre will be outfitted for this exclusive occasion with Meyer VLFC (Very Low Frequency Control), a ground-breaking loudspeaker system engineered to output audio frequencies below the limits of human hearing, giving the audience a truly visceral experience. In addition, the film has been enhanced with Dolby Vision, delivering spectacular colors and highlights that are up to 40 times brighter and blacks that are 10 times darker, and Dolby Atmos, producing moving audio that flows all around you with breathtaking realism.

Audiences will be able to experience a special NAGRA myCinema theatrical release of Apocalypse Now Final Cut on the giant screen in select theaters nationwide on August 15. Then, on August 27, the film will be available to own on a 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack, which will include a 4K disc, plus three Blu-ray discs and a digital copy.

Watch the trailer for the film below:

We’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees—so if you like what we do, please consider becoming a SLANT patron:
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