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Bush vs. Textbooks

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Bush vs. Textbooks

During the final segment of his 1977 interview with Richard Nixon, British TV host David Frost pressed the disgraced 37th president one last time on the issue of his “mistakes.” Nixon’s face appeared twisted and labored as he answered, in part: “I let down my friends. I let down the country. I let down our system of government and the dreams of all those young people that ought to get into government but think that it’s all too corrupt.” The interview, dramatized in Peter Morgan’s 2006 stage play Frost/Nixon and in Ron Howard’s new film adaptation of the same name, shows a man beaten and on the cusp of admitting defeat, if not absolute guilt. Another recent Hollywood film, Oliver Stone’s W., depicts the current president’s answer to a similar question, albeit in a less historically accurate context, when, during a 2004 press conference, Time’s John Dickerson asked George W. Bush what his biggest mistake was following 9/11 and what lessons he had learned from it. Bush couldn’t think of one.

It took the world three years to coax a pseudo-confession from the lips of Tricky Dick, and while it’s unclear what kind of hindsight Bush might be granted in that amount of time, what is apparent is that the level of self-awareness and pathetic self-deprecation portrayed in Frank Langella’s Nixon is absent in Bush and those who have surrounded him during the last eight years. One need look no further than the administration’s Legacy Tour, which sounds more like some geriatric rock act’s nostalgic traveling stage show than an attempt at an overhaul of his political image. The administration has consistently defaulted to as-yet-unborn high school textbook writers to determine whether or not any of their actions were good or bad, but that hasn’t stopped Bush and his cronies from going on a whirlwind publicity tour in an attempt to shape that historical determination.

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In order to fully comprehend the extent to which the administration fails to comprehend—or the extent to which it willfully obscures—its mistakes, it’s necessary to recognize just how early in Bush’s presidency those mistakes began. I remember being glued to the television in a friend’s dorm room on election night in 2000. It was the first time I had participated in our democracy, and a small group of us stayed up into the wee hours of the morning as, one by one, the networks—led by Fox News, whose Election Analysis Division’s John Ellis called the statistically too-close-to-call Florida, and thus the election, for his cousin George—declared that our new president would not be Al Gore after all. It would be weeks before all the recounts were completed (or not completed, as was the case) and the Supreme Court handed the presidency to the man who, even sans a proper tally, lost the popular vote by over half a million votes.

The electoral college, a system designed over two hundred years ago by founding fathers who believed the office should seek the man and not the other way around, men who still feared British political influence and who aimed to protect the Union from the encroaching powers of the biggest of its then-13 states, was designed at a time when not everyone could see a candidate up close and personal or quickly gain access to copious amounts of information about the men running for public office at the click of a button. Times have changed, though, and the failure of that system eight years ago had consequences far greater than even the biggest cynic could have imagined.

Legitimate or not, Bush’s election was the first profoundly and thoroughly squandered opportunity of his administration. Any other presidential candidate might have been humbled or even embarrassed by the lengths and depths to which he or she had to fight for the office; a more lucid politician might have recognized that a nation divided was not one on which a partisan agenda should be thrust. He or she might have made concessions to the left and reached out in compromise. Instead, Bush defined bipartisanship as the willingness of the opposition to support legislation that bolstered his neoconservative policies.

Bush’s biggest missed opportunity, however, came just a few short months later, when, after ignoring warnings that Islamic extremists were intent on using commercial airliners to attack the United States within its own borders and then they did just that, newspapers across the globe declared, “We Are All Americans!” Out of great tragedy came great opportunity, and for a moment in time, even Democrats rallied around the president. But Bush abused the goodwill he was given and, with the aide of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and the other chief architects of the Iraq invasion, he exploited the events of 9/11 in order to execute a plan that had been in the works for years: removing Saddam Hussein in the quest of creating a larger footprint in the region. The opportunities that the administration saw in the tragedy of the terrorist attacks was not unification or peace but the acquisition of power via the steady and deliberate dismantling of the country’s very founding principles.

Out of great tragedy also comes great responsibility. Bush’s cabinet appointments alone, from Alberto Gonzales (who presided over the most corrupt, ineffective, politicized, and discriminatory Department of Justice in U.S. history) all the way down to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Edwin G. Foulke Jr. (who is, according to R. Jeffrey Smith at The Washington Post, a lawyer and former Bush fundraiser who used to defend companies cited by OSHA for safety and health violations), would tarnish even the most noble of American presidents’ legacies, to say nothing of the appointments he attempted, but failed, to make. But it was Michael Brown, who was appointed as director of FEMA despite having little to no experience, who shouldered much of the blame for the administration’s biggest domestic blunder: the federal response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A scapegoat for the administration’s failures, Brown would later claim that he warned Bush of the imminent dangers of a levee breach but that those warnings were dismissed and that the decision about whether or not to federalize the region was viewed as a political opportunity by those close to the president.

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This history, of course, has been so well documented and accepted by the American people, finally, that repeating it here serves merely as context for what is, perhaps, the Bush administration’s most audacious enterprise to date: the rewriting of that history as orchestrated by Karl Rove via a series “exit interviews.” “I think I was unprepared for war,” Bush said when asked last month by ABC News’s Charlie Gibson what he was most unprepared for during his tenure in the White House. It’s a stunning, Nixon-sized admission coming from the man who once proclaimed, “I am a war president. I make decisions here in the Oval Office in foreign policy matters with war on my mind.” When asked if he would have gone to war with Iraq had the intelligence showed that Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, he said he was unsure.

Rove himself launched his Bush Legacy Project by telling a New York audience that the U.S. would not have invaded Iraq if they knew there was no WMD. But he, like Condoleezza Rice, still stubbornly defends the decision to enter into the elective war, even if the reasons continue to be as disparate as the religious, political, and ethnic factions that comprise Iraq’s population. Rice thinks it was good for America: “[Hussein] was an implacable enemy of the United States,” she reasoned in a recent interview with Tavis Smiley. What’s good for America, then, is evidently good for the world, right? In 2005, at the height of the violence in Iraq, Pentagon advisor Richard Perle told The Pittsburgh Tribune Review that the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war was intended to promote democracy throughout the world: “This doesn’t mean imposing democracy by force. We can’t do that, and we know we can’t do that. But sometimes the obstacles to democracy can only be removed by force.” To quote Michael Knight from his piece “Empire America – Spreading Freedom, Democracy, Terrorism”: “Darling, I would never rape you. I am just tearing your clothes off so we can make love.”

This myopic view of the world is manifest in everyone in and surrounding the administration—no surprise considering that its namesake is seemingly incapable of looking inward or backward. Dick Cheney is, maybe, the only one not involved in some daft attempt at political revisionism, proudly telling ABC’s Jonathan Karl in early December that he did indeed authorize the use of torture, though he refused to use the word, and generously expressed astonishment on behalf of all of us who witnessed the attacks of 9/11 that there hasn’t been another one yet. The implication is, naturally, that the administration is due credit for subsequently preventing an attack like the one it failed to prevent in 2001.

“There can be no debate about the results in keeping America safe,” Bush told the U.S. Army War College, ostensibly the only audience he could find that would be unlikely to call him out on his rhetorical challenge. “We’ll never know how many lives have been saved,” he continued, citing failed attempts to bomb fuel tanks at JFK Airport, a plot to blow up international jets, and a plan to attack a Chicago-area shopping mall—effectively giving himself a hypothetical pat on the back for the hypothetical prevention of attacks that were essentially hypothetical (that is, merely aspirational and not operational). It’s like Osama bin Laden expressing a desire to bomb Smurf Village, realizing he’s not an animated cartoon character, and then Papa Smurf taking credit for preventing the attack.

For an even flimsier logic than Bush’s, look no further than a recent piece by Peggy Noonan (the title of which, “At Least Bush Kept Us Safe,” speaks volumes in and of itself): “It is unknown, and perhaps can’t be known, whether [the lack of another domestic terrorist attack] was fully due to the government’s efforts, or the luck of the draw, or a combination of luck and effort. And it not only can’t be fully known by the public, it can hardly be fully known by the players at all levels of government. They can’t know, for instance, of a potential terrorist cell that didn’t come together because of their efforts.” (The Wall Street Journal apparently now pays writers to talk in circles.)

Three weeks ago, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino released a statement in response to a New York Times article which placed the blame for the financial meltdown of 2008 squarely on Bush’s soldiers: “The Times’ ’reporting’ in this story amounted to finding selected quotes to support a story the reporters fully intended to write from the onset, while disregarding anything that didn’t fit their point of view,” she said. Ignoring for a moment both the veracity of the Times piece and the thanklessness of Perino’s job, one can’t help but notice the blatant hypocrisy with which the White House statement smacks. It’s reminiscent of Bush’s own countless missives, like his second inaugural speech, which was littered with hypocrisies about the “ideologies that feed hatred,” the “pretensions of tyrants,” and the “force of human freedom,” historical inaccuracies about the founding of the republic, and propaganda that summoned all of the most ignoble parts of our nation’s history. He was the tyrant of which he spoke.

And, at least starting in 2004, he became a demagogue, obtaining power by appealing to the fears of the people and then claiming it was absolute, first by dubbing himself “the decider” and then by laying claim to a “mandate” after winning reelection. “Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation’s security, and the calling of our time,” Bush said during that second inaugural, apparently unaware that his oath of office requires him to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” not the American people—the pretense under which the administration has waged its wars on sovereign nations and its own citizens’ civil liberties.

Addressing an audience at a Holocaust Museum last month without, miraculously, strapping himself to a board and pouring water down his own throat afterward, Attorney General and latest Bush lapdog Michael Mukasey said: “[L]aw without conscience is no guarantee of freedom; that even the seemingly most advanced of nations can be led down the path of evil.” Agents of the outgoing administration—both major and minor, direct and tangential—appear utterly oblivious to the self-damning hypocrisies that are falling from their mouths in their attempts at salvaging their legacy. In a recent DOJ court filing in which the U.S. is charging the son of former Liberian president Charles Taylor to 147 years in prison for torturing people in his own country, Assistant U.S. Attorney Caroline Heck Miller wrote that torture “undermines respect for and trust in authority, government and a rule of law,” exposing the tragic comedy behind a U.S. court prosecuting torture in other countries while the administration continues to retroactively redefine the word to mask its own crimes. It is the very definition of hubris, the product of a nation whose government has unequivocally become morally, ethically, and intellectually bankrupt on every level and in every branch. There isn’t a textbook big enough to record—nor a cynical political advisor savvy enough to conceal—a legacy as damning as that.

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Kesha Gets Her Swagger Back in Raucous “Raising Hell” Single and Video

The song reprises the driving dance beats and irreverent, IDGAF swagger of the singer’s early hits.

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Kesha
Photo: Dana Trippe

Clocking in at under three minutes and featuring lyrics like “I’m still here, still bringin’ it to ya,” Kesha’s new song, “Raising Hell,” feels more like an album intro than a proper lead single. But it’s a fitting re-introduction, reprising the driving dance beats and irreverent, IDGAF swagger of the singer’s early hits: “I’m all fucked up in my Sunday best/No walk of shame ‘cause I love this dress/Hungover, heart of gold, holy mess/Doin’ my best, bitch, I’m blessed.”

Though it’s not quite a return to form, “Raising Hell” is a gospel-tinged rave-up featuring Big Freedia that provides a bridge between Kesha’s breakout sound and 2017’s more introspective, roots-inspired Rainbow. Her forthcoming album, High Road, reportedly boasts a wide breadth of styles, from dance-rap bangers to dream-pop ballads, and guests Brian Wilson, Sturgill Simpson, and, yes, even a meta-appearance from “Ke$ha” on the track “Kinky.”

In the video for “Raising Hell,” Kesha plays a very-Aqua Netted televangelist who murders her abusive husband and goes on the lam. The clip, directed by Luke Gilford, sets up a narrative thread that, based on the album’s trailer, will ostensibly run through the entire project.

Watch below:

High Road is set to be released on January 10 on Kemosabe/RCA Records.

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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 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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