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What Would Barry Do?

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What Would Barry Do?

To be perfectly honest, I had turned off last week’s election broadcasts by 9:30pm. My prediction that it would be decided by nine o’clock was only premature by half an hour. Instead of watching John McCain, my choice for president, get defeated by Barack Obama, I decided that the movie 300 would be a more entertaining lost cause to see played out. Based on what little of the coverage I did catch, including that high-tech news anchor hologram on CNN and those inane electronic touch screens that are more suited for weather reports, I think I made the right decision.

The combination of an incumbent GOP president with ever-declining approval ratings, Obama’s near perfect campaign, an economic meltdown, and their own mixed messages, made the McCain/Palin ticket seem as over-matched as Greek King Leonidas’ thin Spartan army against the Persian onslaught. Unfortunately for him, McCain didn’t have his own campaign equivalent of the narrow pass at Thermopylae to funnel the odds in his favor.

While I’m still waiting to have my first “obamasm,” I resented the notion suggested by my unabashedly liberal cousin that the electoral results had left me holed up in a bunker. I pointed out (perhaps a bit too defensively) that most of the blatant displays of emotional outbursts I witnessed after the Obama victory were exhibited by her side. I’ll be fair and refrain from criticizing verklempt supporters who were savoring an historic moment as long as no one castigates me for remaining dry-eyed. In the same way that a lion tamer should never get too relaxed while in the cage, a real conservative probably shouldn’t get choked up over ANY politician. There’s something to be said for the dispassionate objectivity garnered when taking a healthy arms-length posture toward elected officials.

As they enter the political wilderness for an indeterminable period of exile, many in the GOP brain trust are thrashing about seeking to pin the blame for the loss on someone or something other than themselves. The most common conclusion held in Republican circles seems to be that McCain just wasn’t “conservative” enough. Michael Medved takes issue with that stance in his column that asks the question: “Was the Maverick Too Moderate to Win?

“In fact, the results from Tuesday show that McCain did better than his conservative running mates—and in some cases, much better. In New Mexico, for instance, the Presidential nominee ran three points ahead of the hard-line, anti-immigration candidate Steve Pearce, who ran for an open Senate seat. McCain also drew three points more than incumbent Senator Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, six percentage points more than Senator Elizabeth Dole in North Carolina, five points more than re-elected Senate leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, two points more than Senator Roger Wicker in Mississippi.

“For instance, Senator Susan Collins of Maine beat back a well-financed Democratic challenge and drew an amazing 61% in her state—where McCain got only 40%. Likewise, Gordon Smith in Oregon (who may still retain his seat after the long tabulation process concludes) advertised his willingness to work with Democrats (including Barack Obama) and ran four points ahead of McCain.”

On the other hand, the American University’s Center for the study of the American Electorate reported that Republican turnout at the polls was down by 1.3 percent. So, the numbers Medved cites are probably skewed in favor of “moderates” because of the GOP dogs that chose not to bark and instead stayed home on November 4th.

Right now the Republican party finds itself in a large hanger like a team of FAA investigators arranging pieces from the wreckage of an airline disaster trying to determine exactly what went wrong. Certainly, crosstalk between Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld can be heard prominently over the black box. But that probably obscures a more serious rudder problem for the GOP.

I don’t think it’s as simple as suggesting that we’re a more moderate nation now. The passing of Proposition 8, a ban on gay marriage in California, for instance, would seem to belie that notion. This ballot proposal passed in a state that voted for Obama by a twenty-four percent margin. Obama did enunciate “gay rights” as part of his agenda. But, I’m being charitable when I characterize his stance on the gay marriage issue itself as very nuanced.

So, where to begin? I find the suggestion of a battle waging between the moderate and conservative wings of the Republican Party an intriguing, if not flawed, concept. Flawed because I’m not sure I always agree with the current definitions of what a “moderate” or a “conservative” is.

From my bunker the following night, I continued my election recovery therapy by watching Mr. Conservative, HBO’s documentary on Barry Goldwater. In 1964, he was arguably the very first “conservative” candidate for president and author of the ground-breaking The Conscience of a Conservative. Goldwater famously said at his nominating convention that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice” and (bold added) “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

There’s that word, “moderate,” again. This time it’s used as a pejorative to chastise those who refuse to take a definitive stance on issues and instead try to split the difference. Love him or hate him, I don’t think Goldwater could ever have been accused of that.

No one’s asked me and I sincerely doubt it will happen, but I can’t help but wonder (or hope) that this downtime could be used to retool the GOP more into the image of Goldwater than the confusing quilt of contradictions it is now. Again, the definitive post-mortem on 2008 hasn’t really been written, but my gut tells me that this would be step in the right direction (no pun intended).

It’s important to point out that were he starting his career as a conservative politician today, Goldwater, would probably not pass muster with many of the current crop. For one thing, he was pro-choice. And, when confronted with the question late in his career, Goldwater supported gay rights as well. From a truly CONSERVATIVE viewpoint, he correctly saw these as matters of personal choice that a properly limited government simply had no business injecting itself into. Goldwater wasn’t trying to be provocative or appease the other side. He was just being consistent.

However, one of the reasons for the ultimate success of conservatism as a movement in the late 70s and 80s was its alliance with the “Religious Right” who carried their very vocal stance on social issues into the center of the Republican tent. This has proven to be a two-edged sword as their agenda has often been at odds with the original premise of “conservative” governance.

Here’s the thing. I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian. Which is sort of like being a Roman Catholic without all the laughs. As such, I certainly understand church dogma on the aforementioned social issues and, truth be told, agree with most of it. However, when push comes to shove, I’m most comfortable following what I see as the founder of my religion’s stance against the mixing of church and state inherent in his admonition to “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

As described in the New Testament, Jesus made that statement while being duplicitously questioned by a group of men over the apparent conflict between church teachings and Roman tax law (it’s always about taxes, isn’t it?). The questioners were attempting to trick Jesus into committing a seditious act by getting the rabbi to preach against Roman taxation. Cleverly (he was GOD, after all), Jesus assessed their motives and effectively sidestepped the issue. Requesting to see a Roman coin, which one of the men produced, he asked them to describe it for him. The coin had a likeness of Caesar, a divinity in Roman culture, engraved on it. As their religious doctrine did forbid the possession of such a graven image, that alone probably caused Christ’s questioners no small level of embarrassment. So, it was probably with a sort of shrug that Jesus uttered his often quoted answer.

To be sure, because it was a tactical, almost political, answer, many find it too ambiguous to be instructive. However, I agree with the interpretation of the incident as a caution to the faithful that the mixing of theology and politics is, at best, a tricky undertaking and should be avoided. Goldwater was a bit less ambiguous and said straight out that religious groups had NO business in the making of governmental policy. So, while I hold pretty strong negative feelings about abortion personally, I hesitate a bit when confronting how to legislate it. I’d hasten to point out that I find any argument against capital punishment that quotes the Pope is equally problematic for that same reason.

Of course, from the Left’s perspective, it often seems that any conservative who takes a pro-choice stance is magically transformed into a thoughtful and reasonable person. I remember one particular Goldwater appearance on the Tonight Show where he was on a roll lambasting the Religious Right. The segment was intercut with shots of another guest that night, Rosanne Barr, who was shown beaming at the senator admiringly. The frequency of the cuts to the comedienne left me with the impression that the television director in the booth felt that Barr’s approval somehow added epistemological weight to Goldwater’s position.

I often wonder if those who now would label Goldwater as a moderate, or even a liberal, truly understand his classically conservative views on other issues such as gun control. Goldwater certainly didn’t interpret the Second Amendment as moot because it strictly applied to state “militias” (whatever those are). Of course, based on a Brian Williams interview of Barack Obama that I recently saw, the President-elect interprets the Second Amendment as an “individual right” too. Or perhaps that was another nuanced position.

As I write this, the top economic story today is the question of what to do with the troubled American auto industry. Specifically, should the Detroit based automakers be bailed out, as the banking and mortgage industries were a number of weeks ago? The sight of Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as part of Obama’s financial advisory team (which strikes many of us in this state as laughable) would seem to indicate Obama’s inclination toward such an action. Personally, this is a tough one for me. As a Michigander who drives past the GM building every day, it’s my ox that’s now being gored. But my free market inclination is just a bit queasy about using more taxpayer dollars (which haven’t been collected yet) to prop up yet another set of corporations.

Indeed, the repercussions of a failed domestic auto industry could affect up to three million other workers nationwide. Or, as Stella (Thelma Ritter) said about nervous car company executives in Rear Window, “When General Motors has to go to the bathroom ten times a day, the whole country’s ready to let go.”

I’m pretty sure that Goldwater would be against the proposed bailout. He didn’t hold back from his criticism of management OR labor when he opposed the passage of the government loan for Chrysler in the 1970’s:

“I think this is probably the biggest mistake that the Congress has ever made in its history. I think future historians will register this action as a beginning of the end of the free market system in America. The company was badly run.”

This week, Thomas Friedman called for what would amount to a dramatic government takeover of the American auto industry. He correctly assigns blame to management for it’s inability to make a profit on smaller, more fuel efficient cars, but mentions the culpability of labor and dealers in the domestic auto cost structure only in passing.

Friedman also fails to give the automakers any credit for their recent accomplishments, which, as pointed out by AP writer Tom Krisner, include “huge progress this decade in cutting costs, raising productivity, and building competitive cars while handling multiple government regulations and a powerful labor union.”

Krisner further writes:

“As Honda and Toyota took over the small and mid-size car markets, Ford, GM and Chrysler put most of their resources into trucks and SUVs, which brought in billions in profits that covered growing health care, pension and labor costs…

“…When times were good, the automakers did not take on the UAW, which the companies say drove up their labor costs to $30 per hour more than Japanese companies paid their workers. The figure includes pension and health care costs for hundreds of thousands of retirees.

“When GM pushed for changes in 1998, the union went on strike at two key Flint, Mich., parts plants, shutting down the company and costing it about $2 billion in profits…

“…when the SUV and truck market started to fade in the mid-2000s, executives realized their business model would no longer work and began globalizing their vehicles, streamlining manufacturing processes and developing new and better cars.

“The UAW, realizing that the companies were in trouble, agreed to a landmark new contract last year that nearly eliminated the labor cost difference between the Detroit Three and the Japanese, shifting retiree health care costs to a union-administered trust fund.

“But just as the cost cuts started to take hold and new products were rolling out, gas prices rose rapidly to around $4 per gallon and Wall Street collapsed, virtually eliminating credit which 60 percent of car buyers need.”

So, I’m reluctantly forced to choose between two options: a bailout, complete with all sorts of federally intrusive stings, that might make me feel good short-term, or to Darwinistically let free market forces work in the hopes that a stronger automotive organism will evolve. Taking my cue from Goldwater, I’m forced to choose the latter. I can’t honestly see federal appointees doing a better job at running the Big Three if Friedman’s vision were fully implemented. One needs only to look at the U.S. Postal Service, which currently is in the red, to understand my diffidence.

One of the best alternatives to a bailout I’m aware of is a proposal that would give the same sort of tax credits to people for buying American cars that were offered to those who installed more efficient home energy systems such as solar energy panels or up-to-date windows. At least then the cost of such a rescue could be tied more directly to some measure of success.

It’s going to be a tough call and one of first tests of the new Democrat-controlled Congress and White House. While I’ve tried to keep the focus here on the Republicans, I certainly have feelings (and misgivings) about what I see happening on the other side of the aisle. However, I’m honestly hoping that they do well. My family’s future hinges upon their success (or failure) as much as anyone’s.

As for the GOP, it looks like THEIR dream of “less government” has finally been fulfilled. Just not in the way they envisioned it.

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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