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The First Presidential Debate: The Components of Attitude

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The First Presidential Debate: The Components of Attitude

Just as a hurricane threatened to halt the RNC a month ago, the drama surrounding the U.S. financial crisis, precipitated by the failure of AIG and Merrill Lynch, looked like it was going to prevent the first presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama from occurring Friday night.

In The Candidate (1972), Bill McKay (Robert Redford), a left-wing lawyer, agrees to run a hopeless Senate campaign in California against strong Republican incumbent Crocker Jarmon (Don Porter). Early on in the contest, both candidates race to the scene of a wildfire to capitalize on the PR value of consoling property damage victims on camera. However, Jarmon’s take-charge persona totally overshadows McKay and relegates him to weak, second-banana status.

I think that’s what McCain tried to do with his gimmicky pledge to freeze all campaign operations until a bailout bill was passed. The elder senator would race to Washington and spearhead some sort of solution to the current financial crisis, leaving Obama the Hobson’s choice of impotently tagging along or staying in Mississippi to debate with himself.

It’s clear to me why the McCain team did it. A perception that McCain ads dishonestly sling mud, Sarah Palin’s poor performance during the Katie Couric interview, and the senator’s contradictory statements about the “fundamental soundness” of the economy while calling for the head of SEC chairman Christopher Cox had all taken their toll on his campaign. When you’re in a hole, quit digging. So this “time-out,” in my opinion, was designed to stop the bleeding and change the subject.

Not to be outdone in playing politics, after what was reportedly a heated debate at the White House, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barney Frank claimed that instead of helping the process, McCain actually derailed an already agreed upon bailout package.

I’d counter that the zeal of President Bush and Congress to hurriedly pass the $700 billion package is eerily similar to the haste with which now-defaulting mortgage holders signed on for seemingly attractive sub-prime loans before reading the fine print. Also, if the supposed bailout package is so great, then the Democrat-controlled Congress and an equally supportive president should be able to pass whatever they want without ONE Republican vote.

I’d submit that the real reason nothing happened on Friday is because lawmakers sensed that voters aren’t fully onboard the bailout bandwagon. As reported by David Goldman in CNNMoney, “Americans think the cost of the $700 billion plan being debated in Congress is too high. Though 55% said they favor the proposed bailout, 65% said it would probably treat taxpayers unfairly.”

With no deal in sight and his bluff called, McCain changed course one more time and decided to show up at Ole Miss. It was like that Seinfeld episode where Costanza angrily announces that he’s quitting his job only to report for work the next day pretending that it was all a joke (heh, heh).

Stating that he was opposed to Friday’s debate before he was for it (or is that the other way around?) made McCain seem a bit erratic. Dare I say, ahem, crazy?

Yet in a weird, counter-intuitive, “New Coke” kind of way, McCain’s goofy last minute decision might have actually helped rather then hurt him on Friday. Since this was the “foreign policy” debate—McCain’s wheelhouse—expectations for him to mop the floor with his opponent were high. Anything short of a bloodbath could have been perceived as a “win” for Obama. So McCain’s behavior before the event may have effectively lowered the bar for HIM.

Let me say, first off: as political theater, I really enjoyed the debate. Many talking heads are lamenting the fact that it lacked any “catch phrases” or “memorable moments.” I’m frankly tired of hearing about Reagan’s “there he goes again” or Bentsen’s “you’re no Jack Kennedy” lines. Political debates have become glorified press conferences where the participants have a very narrow window of opportunity to score some sound bite points and get out. These small moments may appeal to our Thunderdome mentality, but I’m not so sure are very instructive. Though neither McCain nor Obama gave a perfect performance, it was one of the most interesting presidential debates I’ve seen in years. Who won? That’s a tough one. I’m inclined to give it to McCain. But that’s probably because, as a supporter, I’m philosophically more in line with him.

When judging these sorts of events, the marketing major in me constantly thinks back to the “Components of Attitudes” model, which describes how an “attitude” actually consists of three basic elements: cognitive, affective, and behavioral. A cognitive element is a fact or piece of information that one knows or believes to be true about a given subject. The affective component is how an individual viscerally responds to that subject. And the behavioral piece is what someone actually does about it. If all three of these elements are not in harmony, an internal discomfort, referred to as “cognitive dissonance,” occurs. Individuals, knowingly or not, seek to avoid dissonance and attain harmony. Thus, for example, if someone reads statistics that purportedly show the death penalty being unfairly applied, then that person will most likely feel bad AND vote against proposals to expand the practice.

Of course, emotions can attach to a topic before any facts are known. I HATE Michael Moore. Therefore, I’d be inclined to disbelieve him if he claimed the sun rose in the east and set in the west. And behavior may be the driving factor. People who have voted Democrat or Republican their entire life generally end up liking the candidate their party nominates. If that candidate holds a position on an issue they disagree with (say illegal immigration, NAFTA, or abortion), it’s mentally discounted for the sake of internal harmony.

As a result, I usually take most of the post-debate polls with a grain of salt. They nearly always fall along party lines that, while perhaps accurately reflecting people’s honestly held opinions, still have to be considered in light of the CoA model. With this in mind, here’s a quick summary of my reaction to different aspects of the debate.

Style and Aesthetics

In terms of style, I have to give it to Obama. Despite starting off a bit stiffly, his mannerisms were relaxed and he seemed more polished. McCain never looks comfortable in his own skin. Between questions, he fidgeted with his notes, blinked constantly, and wore curiously random expressions. Temperamentally, Obama was the “friendlier” of the two. McCain adopted a more confrontational demeanor and often questioned Obama’s credentials (just as Biden and Clinton had during the primary debates).

Visually, Obama’s solid red tie, white shirt, and dark suit worked better than the striped red tie and light blue shirt that McCain’s people had curiously outfitted him in.

Financial Recovery, National Security, and Free Form

Lehrer started things off by square pegging an economic question into the round foreign policy template of the debate based on President Eisenhower’s observation that “the foundation of military strength is economic strength.” Surprisingly, Obama didn’t take McCain to task for impeding the progress of the financial recovery plan as the Democratic leaders had done earlier that day. True or not, this would have served to remind people about McCain’s vacillating behavior. Also, Obama is sometimes a little too intellectual for his own good with unintentional laugh lines like “uh, seven hundred billion dollars is, uh, potentially a lot of money” (that’s a direct quote).

The debate format allocated “free form” time where the participants could spontaneously engage each other. However, both men seemed reluctant to do so. Lehrer implored Obama and McCain to address each other directly as if they were two shy boys standing in the corner at a junior high school dance.

Whose Facts?

The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said during a heated argument that “You’re entitled to your own opinions—but you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

Here’s where one has to ask whose facts are right. Numbers were tossed back and forth freely. The U.S. has a business tax of thirty-five percent, while Ireland’s is only eleven percent. But wait, don’t U.S. businesses have all kinds of loopholes. Is $250,000 a year rich if you’re a private business owner? Did Henry Kissinger really say that an American president should meet with Ahmadinejad without preconditions? McCain and Obama both presented nuanced versions of their own respective truths.

Right, But What Would You Cut?

Both men were asked to list what they would give up to accommodate the cost of the impending 700 billion dollar bailout package. I got a chuckle out of the fact that, even though Lehrer gave him a few tries, Obama presented a spending wish list instead of outlining what he would cut. Ever the Republican, McCain was able to actually list things he’d cut, and carefully pointed out a number of times that he’d protect veterans. McCain meandered off topic to talk about nuclear reactors. To which Obama responded by drifting into the equally radioactive topic of health care reform.

The Lessons of Iraq

This was where I thought McCain was really at his strongest. I know, Obama was always against the decision to launch military operations in Iraq. And once Bush made that decision, his administration botched its implementation. Trust me, MOST of the Republicans I talk to are just as disgusted with that fact as anyone else. However, harping about how wrongly it was handled in 2003 doesn’t change the realities of 2008. In Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, Blanche gripes to her sister that she wouldn’t be able to treat her so awfully if she wasn’t confined to a wheelchair. To which Jane replies, “But you ARE, Blanche! You ARE in that chair!”

While Obama’s gotten a lot of traction (and arguably the nomination) out of always being opposed to the war, for me he’s never clearly delineated a vision for Iraq that’s much different from McCain’s. Or, to put it another way, Obama has never substantively answered the question that Redford’s McKay, after winning an upset victory over Jarmon, posed at the end of The Candidate: “What do we do now?”

Matt Maul is author of the blog Maul of America.

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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:

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Sonic the Hedgehog, Starring Jim Carrey, Gets Weird, Teeth-Forward Trailer

Sonic the Hedgehog and Slant’s nine-year relationship has seen its ups and downs.

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Sonic the Hedgehog
Photo: Paramount Pictures

Sonic the Hedgehog and Slant’s nine-year relationship has seen its ups and downs. Outside of a rare rave we extended to Sonic Colors way back in 2010, most of our writers have been mixed about the Sega flagship mascot’s output over the last decade, even as they acknowledge the wily speed demon’s nostalgic appeal. Per our own Jaime N. Christley: “A free agent with no history, no employment, Sonic has no agenda, except one: run like hell.” Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog, though, would appear to want to change that—not by slowing him down but by giving him more of a purpose than just saving a bunch of captive animals at the end of every level and acting all smug about it.

Today, the studio released the trailer for the Jeff Fowler-directed film, a live-action comedy adventure that sees Sonic (voiced by Ben Schwartz) navigating, um, “the complexities of life on Earth” alongside his best human friend, Tom Wachowski (played by James Marsden). That unmistakable ring sound that litters the trailer will surely bring a smile to the faces of Sonic fans young and old, but Sonic the Hedgehog feels like it’s going to be a hard sell, given its positioning of Sonic—so full of a sass, not to mention a mouthful of teeth—as a pubescent nuisance. Good luck picking your jaw up from the floor once Sonic takes on Jim Carrey’s villainous Dr. Robotnik to the sounds of “Gangsta’s Paradise.”

For better and worse—okay, just worse—the film looks like it’s straight from 1991, the year that the first Sonic the Hedgehog game was released. See the trailer below and cringe for yourself as the blue speed freak gets his Coolio on:

Paramount Pictures will release Sonic the Hedgehog on November 8.

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