Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One – the big screen adaptation of Ernest Cline’s 2011 debut novel – got a full trailer late on Sunday, which gives us a better idea of what the film will be about beyond being a giant collection of references and Easter eggs for every other franchise out there.
The sci-fi story, set in 2045, follows a youngster named Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) who gets away from his humdrum real life to live and enjoy an advanced virtual reality game called OASIS, much like everyone else around him. Upon the death of its founder James Halliday (Mark Rylance), his will reveals that there’s an Easter egg inside OASIS (we know it’s meta), and that the first person to find it would inherit his wealth and the system itself.
The new two-minute Ready Player One trailer does a good job of setting up that premise, including the poverty-stricken nature of Watts’ real world, and the endless (virtual) possibilities of OASIS. “It’s the only place where I feel like I mean anything,” Watts says at one point. An advanced body suit even allows players to feel the touch of others, and the in-game currency has become the only stable currency that means anything.
Owing to that, control of the OASIS is coveted by nearly everyone, including major corporations who stand to benefit massively. That pits Watts – who goes by the moniker Parzival – and his new friend, Samantha Cook / Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) against their might, which unfolds both inside and outside the OASIS. Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One) plays the big bad Nolan Sorrento, head of a big company that’s interested in monetising OASIS.
Ready Player One – which marks Spielberg’s return to sci-fi as director after 13 years – also stars T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley) as bounty hunter i-R0k, Simon Pegg (Star Trek) as Ogden Morrow, Letitia Wright (Black Panther) as Reb, Lena Waithe (Master of None) as Aech, and Hannah John-Kamen (Black Mirror) as F’Nale Zandor among others. It’s going to be one of the biggest movies in 2018, with a reported budget of $185 million (about Rs. 1,190 crore).
Ready Player One will release March 30, 2018 worldwide.
After a long wait, Star Wars came back with a bang with the 2015 release of The Force Awakens. Made by Star Trek reboot director J J Abrams, The Force Awakens had its share of flaws, but the movie represented a strong return to form for the franchise, after the disaster that was the prequel series. Two years later, we’re about to get the second entry into the sequel trilogy, with The Last Jedi releasing this Friday. We’ll have our review of the film later this week so you’ll know what expect, but for now, our expectations are tempered with just a little bit of concern that the film is going to follow on the notes of Empire Strikes Back.
Now, that’s not a bad thing in and of itself – Empire is a definite high point of the Star Wars series. Granted, it doesn’t quite have the same sense of wonder and unfolding possibility of A New Hope, but it builds on the first film in a powerful way and delivers some great emotional notes. The problem is that the Star Wars reboots have already taken that path with Force Awakens, and it’ll be disappointing if the next film in the series also stays too close to the originals, instead of giving us something new and interesting.
Part of the appeal of The Force Awakens lay in its familiarity. “Here, fans, is a film that touches the same kind of emotional beats, and uses similar visual identifiers, as the original films that you loved so much,” the film seems to say. After the prequels, we needed something like this to restore our trust in the series. But despite having enjoyed The Force Awakens enough to rewatch it multiple times, there’s no denying that the criticisms of its similarities to A New Hope are justified.
Photo Credit: www.starwars.com
(PLEASE NOTE: SPOILERS FOR PREVIOUS STAR WARS MOVIES FOLLOW AFTER THIS POINT)
It starts off early with the scenes of Rey (Daisy Ridley) walking off into the sunset in Jakku. If that didn’t make you think of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and R2-D2 on Tantooine, you probably haven’t watched Star Wars. The desert planet where people survive intense hardship while dreaming of a bigger world, before getting a call to adventure in the form of a droid from space who holds a military secret is a little too familiar.
Speaking of familiar, Kylo Ren shares a lot with Darth Vader, as a menacing presence in a dark suit with a cape and a red lightsaber, who has no problems getting his own people killed if that helps him achieve his goals. He’s powerful and threatening, yet mysterious and the film really drives this home by showing how he aspires to be like his grandfather – Vader.
On the other side, the main trio is a little different but has its own parallels as well. Finn (John Boyega) isn’t exactly analogous to Princess Leia, but he does take the initiative and manages to rescue himself from a few tight spots. Poe (Oscar Isaac) is a smirking and cocky pilot who’s got some similarities with Han Solo, though again, there are some differences as well. Meanwhile, Rey lines up well with Luke – she’s desperate to get to space, and to find a connection to her missing family. Like Luke, it turns out that she’s a gifted pilot (she flies the Millennium Falcon, which Luke didn’t get to do), and learns to use the Force quite rapidly, just like he did.
Photo Credit: www.starwars.com
There’s also the grizzled old mentor – a veteran of former wars who wants to be left alone, but gets pulled in due to his personal connections to the people at the centre of the ongoing conflict. Without fully giving away the big twist from the last movie, let’s say that there are a lot of parallels to be found here as well. Finally, things come to a head when space fighters have to make a run through some trenches to blow up a giant sphere with a single well-placed attack against a super-sized weapon of mass destruction. About the only thing missing was to end with a ceremony handing out medals.
It made for great nostalgia, and we’re actually okay with coming back to the franchise that way, but we’re a little more worried the next film. There’s a tendency for trilogies to match these same beats, where the first film introduces the world, the second provides setbacks and hardships, allowing the third film to be about a triumphant turnaround. And although that’s fine as a general idea, Force Awakens clearly followed A New Hope extremely closely, and we hope The Last Jedi doesn’t mirror Empire Strikes Back in that sense.
And it seems we are not the only ones thinking along these lines. In an interview with Rolling Stone, The Last Jedi director Johnson talked about the challenge of following up Force Awakens while avoiding turning into Empire Strikes Back. “You don’t want to let yourself be guided by those deep-set grooves in your brain, but you also don’t want to make creative decisions just to spite those,” he said.
Photo Credit: www.starwars.com
At another point in the interview, he also talked about Rey’s parents, and there, brought up Darth Vader’s famous “I am your father” dialogue from Empire Strikes Back. He also mentioned that the film would focus more on the past of the leads – such as Luke’s parentage, and Han’s smuggler connections, both themes that were explored in Empire Strikes Back.
These aren’t red flags in any sense, and we’ve got quite high hopes from the The Last Jedi. After Force Awakens and Rogue One, Disney has certainly earned the fans’ trust and we hope Johnson is able to live up to that, while also making something that stands out as a completely original entry to the series.
The ‘Rolling Stone’ staff named its Top 50 songs of 2017. Among the artists that received top honors from the music magazine include Cardi B, Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, Lana Del Rey, and Lorde. Photo Credit Scott Barbour | Getty Images
Seven members of the Rolling Stone staff have compiled 50 of the most significant songs that played an essential part of 2017.
Sign Of The Millennials
Millennial recording artists who were front and center were heavily featured in the Top Ten. Former One Direction member Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” took the top spot on the magazine’s Top 50 songs. New Zealand’s favorite singer-songwriter, Lorde’s “Homemade Dynamite,” took second place. Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” and Cardi B’s breakout hit: “Bodak Yellow” each took home third and fourth place respectively. Other millennial artists that made it to the Top Ten included Migos and Lil Uzi Vert’s “Bad and Boujee” (number six), Portugal. The Man’s “Feel It Still” (number eight), Lana Del Rey and The Weeknd’s “Lust for Life” (number nine), and Future’s “Mask” (number ten).
Long Live The Music Legends
Four music legends made the countdown. U2’s “Lights Of Home” was the only song by a veteran recording artist or group that made the Rolling Stone’s Top Ten. Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie’s “In My World” was named the 37th best song of 2017. Outlaw country music icon Willie Nelson’s “Delete and Fast Forward” peaked at number 47 on the countdown.
Top 40 and Music Video Favorites
Many Top 40 favorites found themselves in the middle of Rolling Stone’s Top 50 list. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s hit collaboration with Justin Bieber “Despacito” broke all of YouTube’s records and was placed at number seven on the list. Bieber’s on again-off again girlfriend Selena Gomez’s “Bad Liar” made it to number 11 on the countdown. The music video of number 12’s occupant, Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” had over 2.8 billion views on YouTube. Taylor Swift’s “Call It What You Want,” which she co-penned with Jack Antonoff, rounded out the Top 20. Thanks to Nicki Minaj’s assistance, Fergie’s “You Already Know,” received number 40 on the Rolling Stone’s list. Meanwhile, The Voice coach Miley Cyrus’s acoustic torch song “Malibu” placed in the lower end of the countdown. Carly Rae Jepsen’s comeback song “Cut to the Feeling” placed number 44 on the list.
Rising Artists Steal The Spotlight
For the first time in years, the music magazine has named dozens of rising musical acts to the list. J. Balvin and Willy William’s peppy track “Mi Gente,” made it to number 29. Rapper Lil Yachty’s team up with music producer extraordinaire Diplo, “Forever Young,” placed at number 33 on the countdown. Breakout songbird Dua Lipa’s fiery collaboration with Miguel, “Lost in Your Light” found itself at number 34 and Canadian alternative R&B duo DVSN’s “Mood” placed at number 36.
It’s safe to say Tiffany Haddish has been through more in her life than the average person. She didn’t hold back when explaining it all in her new book. Photo Credit Getty Images
Comedienne Tiffany Haddish might have the ability to make fans cry laughing now, but based on her highly anticipated memoir, she experienced tears of her own throughout her life. And the details are shocking.
Tiffany Haddish Bares All
E! News dished on aspects of her book, The Last Black Unicorn, that reveals pivotal life moments that many fans might not have ever guessed actually happened. While she’s been open about being a product of foster care, she explained other drastic moments in her life with the publication.
From not knowing how to read until high school, being sexually abused in foster care to suffering a miscarriage after being abused by her now ex, the comedienne has been through the unthinkable.
She opened up about a nearly fatal car accident that left her mother in a different mental state, that was later diagnosed as schizophrenia when Haddish was a child. Her mother started to physically abuse Haddish when she was 9. Her biological father abandoned Haddish when she was 3.
Haddish and her siblings were transferred to foster care, where Haddish was sexually abused. She was 13 when an incident that involved a man telling her that him sucking her breasts would cause them to grow larger. He had seen her putting toilet paper in her bra. She was also mentally and verbally abused and slapped and bullied countless times. She didn’t realize until a friend told her at 19 that she was taken advantage of brutally.
Comedienne Takes Action Against Abuse
Unfortunately, the abuse continued after Haddish tied the knot with the same man two times. She recalled a time in which he went into a jealous rage after her husband spotted her speaking with funny guy Tom Green during a comedy festival. She said a crowd didn’t stop him from snatching her up and ordering her to go to their hotel room. Once there, things got worse.
She admitted in the memoir that at one point in their relationship, she stopped by the police station and told them to arrest her because she was ready to end her husband’s life. Officers noticed her bruised body and took her then-husband into custody the following day. She suffered a miscarriage that same day, not knowing she was with child.
She also described a moment in which she danced after having an abortion after she found out she was pregnant with the child of a man she had been dating at that time.
She also confessed that she once got revenge on an ex as she acted like she wanted to reunite, only to show up with a pair of Air Jordans that she had pooped in. The man had cheated on her and filmed a sex tape with the other woman. Haddish took it upon herself to send the tape to his family members with snippets of Charlie’s Angels that she had added.
The Boxing Day sales are a great opportunity to grab a bargain deal before the year’s out. This might be for something you’ve been waiting for a stunning price on for months, or maybe something you’d been keeping your fingers crossed you’d be getting for Christmas.
And hey, just because you didn’t find the right price on Black Friday, doesn’t mean you won’t have better luck this time. As for the ‘January sales’, we’re seeing fewer ace deals in those each year nowadays as retailers focus on November and December for their best deals. So, if you see a bargain that looks right for you, it might be time to treat yourself while you still have a chance.
When do the Boxing Day sales start?
Not a silly question at all. We actually see loads of retailers push the button (probably with gravy on their fingers) at some point on Christmas Day. We’ll be watching all of the usual suspects like a hawk throughout the Christmas break and will bring you the deals when they go live, even if they go live sooner than expected.
We’re expecting retailers to really get going with the deals by early evening on Christmas Day. So you might want to delay that post-dinner snooze until you’ve taken a peek. We’re even hearing whispers that some super eager online stores will even unleash a few deals on Christmas Eve. We’ll let you know as soon as they do. Not that we’re trying to put Santa out of a job.
Who’s having a Boxing Day sale?
If last year was anything to go by, all the big stores will be getting stuck in. With so many keen shoppers going online over the Christmas period in recent years, it’s just too good a chance for them to finish 2017 off with some extra money in the bank. Let’s take a look at the big hitters below and at what to expect.
The Amazon Boxing Day sale is a great place to start. Amazon will be discounting a huge range of items and we usually get a sneak peek before they go live, so we’ll be able to prepare a curated list of the best ones. Because you shouldn’t have to make your way through the chaff when you’re supposed to be on a break. At the very least we expect some potential discounts on key Amazon devices like Kindles or Fire TV Sticks.View Deal
Currys and PC World are one and the same now. We’ll just call them Currys though to keep things simple. Expect Currys to go big on discounted TVs, laptops, gaming consoles, Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners, Fitbits, Dashcams, cameras, kitchen electricals and more.View Deal
Very.co.uk has been on the rise for a while now and we saw a fantastic selection of deals from the pink loving online store on Black Friday. Super PS4 deals and Xbox One X bundles took center stage for us, but there were some great laptop and TV deals too. Very will be a prime candidate for discounts on clothing and health & beauty products too.View Deal
AO is another store on the up and it’s been a regular visitor on our selection of cheap TV deals all year round. While we also expect them to have a few laptops on offer, AO really specialise in home electrics. So if you’re after a new fridge, freezer, washing machine, kettle, microwave and the like AO.com will have something for you.View Deal
John Lewis doesn’t really like sales, but it does like to nab customers from other retailers by offering a price match service. Why bother with the faff? Because John Lewis offers a two year guarantee on a huge selection of items at no extra charge, which is great for peace of mind when buying electrical items. Despite its disdain for sales, we saw JL unleash some sweet TV and gaming deals on Black Friday and we’re expecting them to get involved again. Note: John Lewis high street stores will actually be closed on Boxing Day itself if you were thinking of heading down in person. You dinosaur.View Deal
Tesco has a few Boxing Day and Black Friday sales under its belt now and actually competes throughout the year on loads of our favourite tech items. Expect deals on laptops, TVs, consoles and so on. If Amazon start to discount any of its Kindles or Echo devices, you can guarantee that Tesco won’t be far behind with a pricematch, which is great if you’re collecting Clubcard points.View Deal
Argos is one of those retailers who always seem to be having a sale on, so expect it to make a bit of a song and dance come December 26th. Annoyingly, much of its stock is region-based, but you can check stock by entering your postcode to check before going through the checkout process. Discounted prices on laptops, TVs, toys and console bundles are usually strong and well worth a look.View Deal
Game.co.uk is very hit and miss, but it had some excellent offers around Black Friday for console and PlayStation VR bundles. So if you missed out earlier this year, this could be a great chance to get a new PS4 or Xbox with a few games. We’ll highlight any ace software deals we find too and frankly ignore the waves of shoddy discounts that’ll be around too. Wolfenstein 2 for £19.99 was one of the better deals we saw on Black Friday – we’ll take Assassin’s Creed: Origins for that price on Boxing Day thank you very much, Game. Yeah?View Deal
CDKeys.com is one of the cheapest places on the net for PC games all year round and offer fantastic prices followed by instant delivery of the code, with major platforms like Steam, uPlay, Origins and Battlenet supported. It’s not all about the PC crowd though as CDKeys have some of the best deals going on PS Plus and Xbox Live Gold memberships too. Expect discounts on the lot come boxing Day.View Deal
The Zavvi Boxing Day sales are usually worth a look, especially for film and TV fans. Zavvi has a huge range of exclusive steelbook editions of movies old and new too. Console bundles are a bit hit and miss, but they had a couple of decent ones on Black Friday. Pop culture merchandise is a big seller there too.View Deal
Mobiles.co.uk is taking advantage of the growing trend to buy and upgrade phone contracts online rather than on the highstreet. This site offered the very best mobile phone deals back on Black Friday so you can expect more of the same from this trusted mobile phone seller. We’ll pick out what we think are the best offers and post them on this page so you can see what’s worth buying and what’s not.View Deal
Carphone Warehouse is an established highstreet retailer and is also one of the best online retailers now. We’ll pick out the best mobile phone deals, whether they’re standalone smartphones, contract phones, voucher codes or whatever else looks like a great mobile deal to us. View Deal
What Boxing Day deals were there last year?
If you want an idea of what potential discounts might be waiting just around the corner we can always take a look at some of the more popular offers we saw last Boxing Day. So let’s hop into the Deals Time Machine and see…
iPhone 7 | Vodafone | 5GB data | Unlimited calls/texts | £34 per month (+half price for 6 months)
This was the strongest iPhone 7 deal out there for Boxing Day last year. The upfront fee was just £65 and it was only £17 per month for the first 6 months, then £34 for the remaining 18. Expect similar prices, if not lower, on the new iPhone 8. The total cost over 24 months was £779 was at Mobiles.co.uk. If you’d like to take a look at the latest prices, and there are some great ones today, we’ve rounded up the latest iPhone 8 deals and iPhone X deals. You can certainly make an even bigger saving by taking a look at the older iPhone 7 deals too, as the phone is very similar to the iPhone 8 if we’re honest.
Samsung Galaxy S7 | Vodafone | 3GB data | Unlimited calls/texts | £28 per month (+half price for 6 months)
The upfront cost was only £15 and then just £14 per month for the first six months of your deal before the price reverted to the usual £28 for the rest of the contract. That was the best Samsung Galaxy S7 deal out there and even matched last year’s best Black Friday deal on the phone. This previous deal was only £603 over 24 months at Mobiles.co.uk. This year, we’re expecting some super cheap offers on newer models. Actually, prices are pretty good right now. Take a look at our up-to-date guides for the best Samsung Galaxy S8 deals and Note 8 deals.
4K TV: This 43-inch LG 4K TV with 4K and HDR Pro screen was originally £599 and it went down to £399 at Amazon.You could also get the 55-inch version for just £550 too. 4K prices have really come down across the board this year, so you’ll be able to go bigger and better for less than this!
Coffee machine: The De’Longhi Dedica coffee machine with 15 bar espresso pump went down from £199 to just £147.99 at Amazon.
Smartwatch: You could get the Huawei W1 stainless steel smartwatch at a discounted £199 at Amazon. If you’re itching for an offer today, check out our selection of the best smartwatch deals.
Surface Pro 4: The Microsoft Surface Pro 4 tablet/laptop replacement with the keyboard attachment, 128GB storage and 4GB RAM was down to £699 at Argos. There’s a new version out now. Be sure to take a look at the latest Surface Pro deals.
Acer Aspire ES: This 15.6-inch Windows 10 laptop with 1TB HDD and 4GB RAM – was one of Argos’ headline deals and it’s down to £199.99.
Lenovo Yoga 510: The super versatile Yoga with Core i3 CPU, 128GB SSD, Windows 10 and 4GB RAM was a big hit too for just £349 at Currys.
Mobile phones: Save £10 on the upfront cost of any phone with the voucher code 10OFFat Mobiles.co.uk. Amazingly, this deal is still going and can be used right now on any mobile phone with the one exception of the iPhone X.
GoPro: The GoPro Hero+, which can record 1080p video at up to 60fps and stay waterproof down to 131 feet was going for a mere for £99.97 at Currys. Looking for a discount now though? We’ve listed all the latest GoPro deals in our guide.
Journalist Matt Lauer at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics on Feb. 6, 2014 Photo Credit Scott Halleran | Getty Images
More bad news continues to follow former NBC anchorman Matt Lauer. It is now being reported that the journalist could be facing an impending divorce and someone replacing him on The Today Show.
Lauer’s shocking termination from the show happened just one week ago. While his former co-hosts and colleagues were devastated by his firing, the network could be filling in his spot sooner than we think. It has been reported that Craig Melvin is being eyed as a replacement for Lauer. Melvin is currently on MSNBCLive and also co-hosts Today on Saturdays.
“This would give the network the opportunity to make Melvin into a star at NBC. This would be clean slate,” a source told Entertainment Online.
The ratings for The Today Show have spike through the roof since Lauer’s departure, with audiences responding well to anchors Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford. Another alleged potential for the show could be Willie Geist, who serves as a fill-in anchor for the show.
Lauer’s Martial Woes
It has also been revealed that Lauer and his wife, Annette Roque, have been living in a separate homes before the allegations against Lauer came out. Roque was spotted dropping off her three children with Lauer at school and reportedly was not wearing her wedding ring.
Roque, who is Lauer’s second wife, has not given any statements regarding the accusations against her husband. However, her father is reportedly stating that she will be divorcing Lauer soon.
“I have no words for her husband. What he has done is bad. Everybody feels betrayed. She is not going to stay with him and work it out. They are not together trying to work it out,” her father, Henri, stated. This contradicts Lauer’s reports that he and Roque were currently taking it “day by day.” Roque did file for divorce from Lauer back in 2006, but it was later called off after the couple seemed to work out their differences.
Lauer was accused by a female staff worker of sexual misconduct, which led to NBC firing the journalist on Nov. 29. The alleged incident was stated to have taken place during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Since then, more accusations of sexual harassment against the journalist have come out. Lauer issued an apology, stating he was ashamed and embarrassed but some of the stories weren’t true.
“Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul searching, and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full time job.”
Kim Kardashian West will be releasing a new beauty competition show on Lifetime and Laverne Cox will host it. The two also serve as producers for the show. Watch the gorgeous trailer!
Photo Credit KKW I Instagram
Kim Kardashian West receives much flack for how she initially earned her success (i.e. the 2003 sex tape she made with Ray J that was released in 2007). Also, she (and her sisters) often make the mistake of not understanding cultural appropriation and how they use for their financial gain. Though one thing is for certain, the Armenian- American celebrity knows how to keep adding coins to her pocketbook.
The New Show
After debuting highlighters, lip glosses and a contour kit in her self-named KKW cosmetic line, this year, Kardashian West will showcase her executive production skills by premiering Glam Masters on Lifetime next. Slated to commence in February 2018, it appears Glam Masters will focus on makeup artists competing with one another to create stunning looks on models based on different themes due to the colorful trailer that advertised the show. The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star announced on Snapchat that she’s “so excited” about the show. The show will feature Orange Is The New Black’s Laverne Cox (as the host), Kardashian West’s makeup artists Mario Dedivanovic, Kandee Johnson and Zanna Roberts Rassi.
“I am so excited to announce that I am serving as host and co-executive producer of #GlamMasters and also one of its judges along with @makeupbymario @kandeejohnson and @zannarassi executive produced by @kimkardashian,” Cox wrote happily on Instagram about the news. “@Glammasters is a beauty competition series we really had a blast shooting. I hope you’ll tune in and enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it. It premieres February 28 only on @lifetimetv.”
This news comes a day after Taylor Swift fans began to taunt Kardashian West with rat emojis because they believed the 37-year-old mother was being shady towards the “Look What You Made Me Do” singer.
Feud With Swift
After Swift revealed the cover photo of her Britsh Vogue feature, Kardashian West posted a photo from her husband, Kanye West’s “Famous” video shoot. The picture shows a wax figure of Swift in bed with West. Lyrics from the “Famous” song go as follows: “I feel like me [sic] and Taylor might still have sex.” When the song released, Swift told the public she warned West about releasing a song with such a “strong misogynistic message.” However, Kardashian West refuted her claims and posted a Snapchat video of Swift speaking to West on the phone saying she approved of the song lyrics and was excited for the single to be released. Since then, their fans have behaved crudely to one another and the celebrities involved.
Watch a clip of the pop culture influencer’s new show:
All the best episodes of Black Mirror – the anthology sci-fi series from Charlie Brooker that focuses on the unanticipated pitfalls of near-future technologies – introduce a new concept and the likely social, ethical, and physical ramifications of it, before driving up the horror in an insidious fashion which either culminates in a smart late twist that magnifies it, or effectively call backs to an earlier moment.
That’s true of the Jon Hamm-starrer “White Christmas” episode, or last year’s biting social media commentary in “Nosedive”. (The Emmy-winning “San Junipero”, which focused on an inter-racial couple living in a digital afterlife, remains a lone exception to this rule.) But there are times when this approach fails to deliver, because the build-up is too slow and unconvincing, the late twist defies belief, or the episode fails to properly identify its themes.
Black Mirror’s season four – which is out Friday, December 29 – is a mixture of both, with some episodes coming up short, while others execute their nightmarish visions in bloody, spine-chilling ways. Unfortunately, there are no happy stories in this new crop of six episodes, though there are some laughs scattered across, including a scene where someone grabs a teddy bear by the neck and threatens it.
The official trailer for Black Mirror season 4 episode “USS Callister”
The most awaited of the lot has been the Star Trek-inspired “USS Callister” – the only episode in season four to have been co-written by Brooker with William Bridges, with every other episode having Brooker as the sole credit – which stars Jesse Plemons (Fargo season 2), Cristin Milioti (The Wolf of Wall Street), Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), and Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum) among others. Owing to Netflix’s stringent spoiler guidelines, we can’t say anything about the plot except that much of it is set in space.
Because of that, “USS Callister” is easily the most expensive episode this year, with the level of production and costume design required for authenticity, along with the cost of CGI for delivering spaceship scenes, Trek-style beam technology, and alien creatures. The episode also directly references the presence of the original Trek series – the opening sequence is even shot in 4:3 aspect ratio, and edited to match the 60s film stock – but skips any legal hassles by calling the show and its crew ‘Spacefleet’ instead of Starfleet.
It’s not a direct space story per se; this is Black Mirror after all, and the episode uses its setting to talk about topics such as power fantasy, social exclusion, virtual consciousness, and privacy. Though Plemons is the captain of the Callister, he’s the kind of overbearing authority that Hollywood has slowly begun kicking out of its stable in the wake of widespread sexual harassment allegations. Brooker’s work has never been decidedly political, and “USS Callister” is only tangentially about female empowerment, with its focus being how technology enables creeps.
Rosemarie Dewitt as Marie, and Aniya Hodge as Sara in a still from Black Mirror season 4 episode “Arkangel” Photo Credit: Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix
The disappearance of privacy is also central to the Jodie Foster-directed “Arkangel”, which takes the concept of helicopter parenting to its logical extreme. After her daughter Sara goes missing at a local park, as in shown in the trailer, the physiotherapist mother Marie (Rosemarie DeWitt) opts to have an implant installed in the child’s head, which allows her to keep a track on her always. It’s like the iPhone’s ‘Find My Friends’ app, except there’s no turning off and it never runs out of battery.
“Arkangel” takes place over several years, following the daughter as she grows up with having a tracker inside her head, and the consequences of Marie’s impulse decision to protect her child. Her father, the daughter’s grandfather, even voices his protestations and says that children grew up fine without any kind of monitoring. As Sara becomes older, Marie consents to not use the tracking abilities, but Sara’s teenage rebellion phase results in a series of escalating situations that lead her mother to snoop on Sara’s actions.
Even as the episode tackles important privacy vs security topics, it falters on multiple levels, be it the few leaps of logic required to make its central technology work, the restrictive nature of tracking and lack of any parental controls, and a big moment towards the end that feels entirely unconvincing, and feels shoed in to drive the plot. Plus, the events in “Arkangel” could easily have been told in a short film, making the almost hour-length unnecessary.
Georgina Campbell, and Joe Cole in a still from Black Mirror season 4 episode “Hang the DJ” Photo Credit: Jonathan Prime/Netflix
That’s also the case with season four’s take on near-future dating apps in “Hang the DJ”, which focuses on two primary characters played by Georgina Campbell (Broadchurch), and Joe Cole (Peaky Blinders). The two are matched by an advanced dating system that collates and studies every interaction you’ve and then uses that to find the perfect match for you after a series of relationships. It also decides how long you’ll have with every person, before being forced apart.
When Campbell and Cole’s unnamed characters first meet, they realise they only have 12 hours together. Despite their initial awkwardness, the two end up enjoying each other’s company, but are compelled to move on to the next relationship the new day. Though they see each other at social events (it’s a very small remote town), they don’t see much of each other until years later.
Directed by Tim Van Patten (The Sopranos, Game of Thrones), “Hang the DJ” resides on a singular big twist to amaze you that has to do with machine learning, but when it does arrive 50 minutes in, it feels as if the episode could easily have been shortened. It’s still enjoyable in parts – it has the most laughs and sex of any Black Mirror season 4 instalment, and hence the most light-hearted of the six – but there just isn’t enough here to carry you across.
Kiran Sonia Sawar as Shazia Akhand in a still from Black Mirror season 4 episode “Crocodile” Photo Credit: Arnaldur Halidorsson/Netflix
Thankfully, the remaining episodes are much better, though they may not suitable to everyone’s taste given the level of violence, blood, and gore in all three. The season opener “Crocodile” – shot in Iceland, though there’s no mention of its people or their language – follows a successful woman called Mia (Birdman’s Andrea Riseborough). After a terrible secret comes back to haunt her many years later, she unravels in the most unexpected way.
The technology at the centre of “Crocodile” is a device that allows authorities to access your memories, or rather the impression of how you remember things. It sounds a bit like the device in “The Entire History of You”, though here it’s merely a recollection and not a recording, which means the police can’t rely on it as evidence, given memories can be totally subjective. The technology has been put into law in Black Mirror’s near-future, which brings up many thorny concerns.
Kiran Sonia Sawar (Murdered by My Father) plays Shazia, an insurance agent who uses it to build her case by talking to witnesses and corroborating a version that makes sense, and in turn help process claims in the case of an incident. An accident involving a driverless pizza carrier and a pedestrian eventually leads Shazia to Mia’s doorstep, with the episode unfolding in parallel subplots.
“Crocodile” is an exact fit for Black Mirror’s oft-used setup we talked about at the beginning, and the episode smartly delivers an ending that relies on a throwaway moment. Directed by John Hillcoat (Triple Nine, Lawless), it also benefits from Riseborough’s taut acting, which requires her to deliver a stern character who’s slowly spiralling out of control on the inside, leading to one crazed action after another.
The official trailer for Black Mirror season 4 episode “Black Museum”
The season finale, “Black Museum”, is a different kind of thriller, though it’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. It takes place at a crime museum located in the middle-of-nowhere USA, where the proprietor Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge) gives a tour and regales a young British woman played by Letitia Wright (Ready Player One), who’s waiting for her electric car to be charged outside. Partly based on a story called Pain Addict by Penn Jillette, the magician, comedian and author part of Penn & Teller, “Black Museum” operates in a similar fashion to “White Christmas” in that it has three stories in one.
All three stories connect back to Haynes, a former researcher who pioneered the use of beta technologies, such as a device that allows a doctor to feel a patient’s pain and help diagnose them faster, the ability to transfer someone’s consciousness if they were dying, and creating a living hologram of someone that could be made to do anything. Each of these technologies have their own gigantic problems, and “Black Museum” does well to explore addiction, social control, agency, digital rights, and even white supremacy.
That leaves “Metalhead”, the first-ever Black Mirror episode fully in black and white, which follows a woman (Maxine Peake) being chased by a killer robot dog. Imagine a more compact, evil version of Boston Dynamics’ four-legged bot. Directed by David Slade (Hannibal, American Gods), it takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of the Scottish Highlands, though the nature of humanity’s collapse and the birth of these menacing dogs is never explained properly.
“Metalhead” is unlike the rest of season four in both visuals and treatment, as Peake is the only major character throughout the episode. Everyone else who appears on screen is already dead, dies in two minutes, or isn’t human. Given the robot has no face, the episode lives and dies with Peake’s performance as the protagonist, as well as smart direction from Slade. And unlike “Hang the DJ”, “Metalhead” is edited to be 40 minutes, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome.
Maxine Peake in a still from Black Mirror season 4 episode “Metalhead” Photo Credit: Jonathan Prime/Netflix
Despite the show’s rise in popularity since its arrival on Netflix last year, there’s a lack of star power in Black Mirror’s latest season. Part of the reason for the overwhelming reception and success of “San Junipero” were the performance chops of Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis, just as Bryce Dallas-Howard was important for “Nosedive”, and Kelly Macdonald was stellar in “Hated in the Nation”. Season 4 is much lighter in that regard, with the biggest acting name – Jodie Foster – behind the camera.
Brooker also continues to push the notion that all his episodes exist in the same universe, with mentions, acknowledging nods, and visual gags for other season 4 episodes and even past seasons itself. These don’t affect the plot in any way, which is good since anyone who hasn’t seen previous seasons or wishes to watch the new season in their own randomised order won’t be affected, but they do add fun bits for Black Mirror devotees.
The fourth season of Brooker’s show – which adds six more stories to the existing canon of thirteen – revisits some familiar themes in a new approach, while expanding the topics it tackles in frightening new ways. Though some hour-long episodes feel longer than necessary, others that even cross the 60-minute mark have enough material for their runtime. And when everything clicks in place, Black Mirror is still one of the smartest shows around, giving us a prescient look at our inevitable future if we act before we think.
All six episodes of Black Mirror season 4 will release December 29 on Netflix worldwide.
Hip Hop collective, A$AP Mob stars in Calvin Klein’s #MYCALVIN’s campaign ad. The seven members can be seen sporting the newest denim tops from Calvin Klein’s Fall and Winter 2017 Collection. Photo Credit A$AP Mob | Instagram
Hip Hop Collective, A$AP Mob are the latest celebrities to star in Calvin Klein’s #MYCALVINS campaign ad. In the ad, the rap group is wearing the newest clothing and accessories from American Fashion House.
A$AP Mob joins a long list of A-list celebrities who have also represented Calvin Klein this year such as, Kendrick Lamar, Fetty Wap, Joey Bada$ and Young Thug.
The new ad will feature seven members of the group, A$AP Rocky, A$AP Ferg, A$AP Nast, A$AP Twelvvy, $ASAP Ant, A$AP J Scott and A$AP Lou.
A$AP Mob formed in Harlem, New York in 2006 and was founded by members, A$AP Yams, A$AP Bari and A$AP IIIz.
MOB MAKES MOVES
In Aug 2012, the group released their first mixtape together, Lords Never Worry. The mixtape led them to release their debut single Trillmatic in Dec 2013.
The collective consists of rappers, producers, music video directors and fashion designers.
In Jan 2015, A$AP Yams, one of the three co-founding members and executive producers of the group died due to an overdose of mixed drug intoxication. Though, members of the group say Yams died due to sleep apnea.
Yams was the executive producer of many of the members’ albums such as A$AP Ferg’s 2013, Trap Lord and A$AP Rocky’s 2015, AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.
Fans of the group are probably most familiar with A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ferg. Both have signed solo record deals with Polo Grounds Music.
A$AP Ferg, 29, is best known for his hit singles Work and New Level. In 2013, he received the Rookie of the Year award at BET’s Hip-Hop Awards. Ferg is also the director behind, Future’s Thought It Was a Drought video.
In 2005, the triple threat also launched his clothing line, Devoni Clothing. The brand featured high-end belts, which have been worn by celebrities such as, Chris Brown, Diggy Simmons, and Swizz Beatz.
A$AP Rocky, 29, also known as, Lord Flacko is an actor, record producer, and fashion designer. Rocky’s, Long.Live.A$AP and At.Long.Last.A$AP has both debuts at a number on the Billboard 200.
In 2013, Rocky released his very own A$AP clothing brand and has collaborated with close friend and fashion designer, Raf Simmons. In 2016, Rocky released a collaboration with the American clothing brand and retailer, Guess. The collaboration was entitled, GUE$$, which was inspired by Rocky’s admiration for the brand’s vintage clothing. This isn’t Rocky’s first fashion campaign. Rocky has also worked with designers, DKNY and Dior Homme.
Rocky has also starred in 2015 comedy-drama, Dope. His castmates include actress Zoe Kravitz and model Chanel Iman.
In a series of photos, the A$AP crew is sporting the new denim tops and bottoms from Calvin Klein’s Fall and Winter 2017 collection.
In addition to the photos, the group can be seen dancing and speaking on the impact of the Calvin Klein brand.
To watch the A$AP Mob’s #MYCALVINS campaign ad check out the video below.
With the recent proliferation of video streaming services in India, it’s sometimes hard to remember that the space is still very nascent. Not too long ago, consumers didn’t have a lot to choose from, and the few options that did exist were either too expensive, or had really small catalogues. So when Hooq launched in India nearly three years ago promising to bring the best of Hollywood to your home at just Rs. 199 per month, it was offering something new and different. A lot has changed since then, with the likes of Hotstar and Amazon Prime Video having established themselves in the same space, while Netflix has slotted into the premium end of the market.
Hotstar benefits from exclusive Disney and HBO content, while Amazon Prime and Netflix both have their own range of must-watch originals. To find its place in the market, Hooq has worked on its pricing, with a Rs 89 three-month subscription plan effectively making it the most affordable subscription option with a large Hollywood catalogue. Hooq has also bolstered its library with popular shows like The Big Bang Theory that aren’t available on the other platforms. But more than this, Hooq is betting on dubbed content, says Salil Kapoor, who heads the company’s India operations.
“The overall OTT space in India, about a year, year and a half ago, got pretty crowded, with 25-plus players,” says Kapoor. “When we had announced our plans to come in, after that we had Hotstar acquiring cricket rights, two global biggies coming in, and the local telcos also getting into the space.” That’s right, apart from the aforementioned trio, and a host of local players ranging from Eros Now to Hungama and Spuul on the one hand, telcos with their own offerings like Airtel Movies and Jio Cinema on the other.
To do well in such a market, getting the right content is critical, and according to Kapoor, in India, the right content strategy needs to stand on four basic pillars. “You need Hollywood, Bollywood, local regional, and sports,” says Kapoor. “Someone who has to play here has to have very good content in all four, and that was looking to become very expensive.”
“And most of the Indian market is still on the AVOD [ad-supported video on demand] side of things,” he adds. “So we needed to look at which vertical to focus on. We identified Hollywood, because we have strength in Hollywood, and it would narrow the competitive landscape.”
The problem with focussing on Hollywood is that you’re competing with the biggest global players, and you’re all fighting over the relatively small audience in India that seeks entertainment in English. Hooq sidestepped this problem with a focus on dubbed content.
“We decided that while we focus on Hollywood, we need to build up local scale, and that’s why we started to focus on the dubbed part, while being able to focus on Hollywood,” says Kapoor, adding, “Hollywood content in local languages gives you an edge over others.”
Although this means that the shows and movies that are a part of your Hooq subscription are also available in Hindi (and other Indian languages), the big seller, according to Kapoor is pay-per-view. “We have this feature called Transactional VoD, where you can watch any latest movie for Rs. 59, even if you’re not a subscriber,” explains Kapoor, “and that includes movies like Wonder Woman, Dunkirk, and so on.” The app also allows you to download movies and watch them later if you want.
This means that if you’re someone in a small town where Dunkirk may not have been released at all, you can now watch the film in a language of your choice for a fairly reasonable price. However, since Hooq itself doesn’t do the dubbing in most cases, you are restricted to movies that saw a theatrical release in India in that language. This means your choice for most popular Hollywood movies you can choose between the likes of Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu.
According to Kapoor, Hooq sees most demand for Hindi, followed by Tamil and Telugu. “We also do subtitling on our own, but our experience tells us that dubs are more popular in India as compared to subs, which are more popular in other South East Asian countries,” he says. “Some of those countries prefer subtitles in English, some in their local language, but in India, dubbing is most relevant.”
In case a film wasn’t released with Hindi audio, Hooq is willing to do the dubbing itself, but it has to be done with approval from the studio, he adds, because it’s an IP issue. “The content is the only product that they have and they want to be very, very sure that the quality is maintained for the brand,” says Kapoor.
However, on the different streaming services, much of the content already comes with a language switch so you can listen to it with the subs and dubs of your choice – or so we thought. Actually looking through the catalogues of the providers reveals that it’s mixed bag. For example, Batman v Superman on Prime Video has no Hindi dub, although Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them does. The Prime Video exclusives don’t even have subtitles in Hindi. On the other hand, while Netflix’s Originals are largely available with Hindi audio, third-party content is almost entirely missing Hindi dubs.
So it’s clear that there is a niche left and it’s a space Hooq wants to claim. For now though, pay-per-view remains much more active on the English side of things, Kapoor says. “There is a huge English speaking audience around the country but not enough screens, so the pay-per-view is quite popular,” says Kapoor. “Dubbed is growing now, and be believe it will become even bigger. And unlike other options like Google Play, we also support all payment options, like Paytm, so it’s very easy for anyone to use.”