BatmanBatmobileFirstLookYou’ve probably seen this one by now, surely, but I’m struck by how calculated Zack Snyder and Warner Brothers are being about the promotion of this movie, which doesn’t come out until next summer and is currently shooting. Doesn’t this reveal seem a bit … early?

They surely feel confident about the look of Ben Affleck’s Batman suit, and it is a nice homage to the Frank Miller short cowl. If I had to guess: producers will eventually reveal this to be the grey/navy blue incarnation of the suit — a first given Batman has always had a black suit in the movies.

Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ is less good in hindsight. Not even Affleck incredibly looking the part of Batman can make me feel anything other than cautious optimism for this one. I wasn’t worried when Affleck was cast as Batman and I’m certainly not worried about him not. What does concern me is Snyder and Warner Brothers. I want this movie to not suck so hard.

This is pretty crazy: “An international team of scientists has developed a process that allows them to pinpoint a person’s geographical origin going back 1,000 years. Known as the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool, the method is accurate enough to locate the village from which the subject’s ancestors came, and has significant implications for personalized medical treatment. The new tool was created by Dr. Eran Elhaik from the University of Sheffield and Dr. Tatiana Tararinova from the University of Southern California. Whereas previous methods have only been able to trace the origin of a person’s DNA to within some 700 km (435 miles), the new method can track worldwide populations back to the islands or villages they descend from, with a 98 percent success rate.”

“What follows is an incomplete list of ‘The End of’ stories from The Atlantic. I compiled them while procrastinating a copy-writing project, AKA The End of Productivity,” writes Joe Donatelli. In all, the influential magazine has published more than 75 stories with that subject headline since 2010, however, Donatelli had to stop there.

The sad thing is, aside from Dick Cheney’s kill squad, most of the things the Atlantic claims “the end of” are doing just fine, like men, women, cats, candy, property, and the iPhone. It’s almost as obnoxious a linkbait tactic as the common listicle or quiz.

The NBA has thrown down the hammer on Clipper’s owner Donald Sterling by suspending him for life over his racist comments. But, Abdul-Jabbar has weighed in with a decidedly more intelligent and nuanced reaction:

Make no mistake: Donald Sterling is the villain of this story. But he’s just a handmaiden to the bigger evil. In our quest for social justice, we shouldn’t lose sight that racism is the true enemy. He’s just another jerk with more money than brains.

So, if we’re all going to be outraged, let’s be outraged that we weren’t more outraged when his racism was first evident. Let’s be outraged that private conversations between people in an intimate relationship are recorded and publicly played. Let’s be outraged that whoever did the betraying will probably get a book deal, a sitcom, trade recipes with Hoda and Kathie Lee, and soon appear on Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars.

The big question is “What should be done next?” I hope Sterling loses his franchise. I hope whoever made this illegal tape is sent to prison. I hope the Clippers continue to be unconditionally supported by their fans. I hope the Clippers realize that the ramblings of an 80-year-old man jealous of his young girlfriend don’t define who they are as individual players or as a team. They aren’t playing for Sterling—they’re playing for themselves, for the fans, for showing the world that neither basketball, nor our American ideals, are defined by a few pathetic men or women.

Let’s use this tawdry incident to remind ourselves of the old saying: “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.” Instead of being content to punish Sterling and go back to sleep, we need to be inspired to vigilantly seek out, expose, and eliminate racism at its first signs.

As my friend Brian Lindenmuth said: “Kareem Abdul Jabbar writes a column, I read it. That simple whether he’s writing about Girls or Donald Sterling. Love this guy.”

Here here.

Abdul-Jabbar is the only person asking why this particular moment has galvanized the smoking gun toward Sterling, who has always been reprehensible, but only now are people faking outrage over Sterling’s actions.

“If you were to cross paths with one of your farming ancestors (circa 7,500 to 2,000 B.C.), he’d shove you to the ground, kick sand in your face, and jog off into the sunset with your mate slung over his shoulder. And even with somebody else’s partner slung over his other shoulder, you’d probably never catch up to him. Such has been our musculoskeletal decline in only a handful of millennia.”

Life_In_The_Age_Of_Casual_Magic_article_story_largeDrew McWeeeny wonders if special effects have lost their specialness:

I believe that I have maintained an active sense of wonder as I’ve gotten older, and part of that is a choice I made long ago as a film fan. Every time I walk into the theater, I am rooting for the filmmaker. I want to start from the position of loving movies, not from a soured stance of demanding that each and every film dazzle me all over again. What gets me to turn on a movie is when I see someone who is given every resource they would ever need and then some, and they make something that doesn’t even try. That is infuriating. When I see studios play it safe, that is infuriating. When I see filmmakers who seem to have just given up and taken the path of least resistance, that is infuriating.

Because if we do live in an age of casual magic, then we should recognize this as a gift, not a curse. Instead of lamenting about how much has been done and retreating into endless imitation and repetition, how about we take this as a challenge to expand what we can imagine?

We don’t need to see anyone else tell us a Campbell-style hero’s journey story, and we don’t need more origin stories and we don’t need a prequel to every other film already in existence. We don’t. What we need are people who look at the tools available to them who say, “There are things we have never tried that we can finally try, and I want to be first.” We need filmmakers who take these tools and push them so far, who try such unexpected new things with them that they end up having to create new tools just to get there.

What he’s scratching at is that visual effects work is so easy to add to a movie that it has almost overwhelmed them — especially when it comes to summer blockbusters. The story serves the explosions not the other way around. To me, that’s why ‘Gravity’ and the recent ‘Captain American’ resonated so, because everything served the story.

Anyway, McWeeny really scratches at something that’s front of mind for a lot of movie goers these days — especially genre fans.

fqyabcinapjwbpbgzzvfAnnounced on the official Star Wars site this is the first ever cast list for the new Star Wars movie.

The Star Wars team is thrilled to announce the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII.

Actors John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, and Max von Sydow will join the original stars of the saga, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, and Kenny Baker in the new film.

Director J.J. Abrams says, “We are so excited to finally share the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII. It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud.”

Star Wars: Episode VII is being directed by J.J. Abrams from a screenplay by Lawrence Kasdan and Abrams. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams, and Bryan Burk are producing, and John Williams returns as the composer. The movie opens worldwide on December 18, 2015.

First thing to note is how sensational this cast is, if completely unexpected. Also, the first cast was excited for Episode I and remember how that turned out. For those wondering who the above kids are, io9 as a quick rundown:

1. John Boyega, bad ass lead in Attack the Block. He killed all the alien baddies, and acted the hell out of the movie. Really excited to get him.
2. Daisy Ridley. Fairly new face here. First real gripe of the casting list too. ONLY ONE FEMALE?
3. Adam Driver, you may know him as Lena Dunham’s on screen boyfriend from Girls. Driver has long been rumored to be in this film, as the villain.
4. Oscar Isaac, Inside Llewyn Davis. Wonderful, maybe he will sing?
5. Andy Serkis. Playing Andy Serkis or using his skills at performance capture as some sort of Star Wars creature. Win, win either way.
6. Domhnall Gleeson, lead in About Time. Also seen in True Gritt, Dredd, Harry Potter he’s great. This actor has a wide range of acting abilities.
7. Max von Sydow, you know who Max von Sydow is.
8. And, of course, the original trio.

The biggest question seems to be whether Serkis will be playing a mocap character or playing himself. Obviously, you don’t get Serkis unless you need him to crush a mocap character playing a pivotal role in the film. Also, I can easily see the younger characters being the kids of the original trilogy cast.

Boyega, Driver, Isaac, and Gleeson are all really interesting casting choices that will hopefully pay off with strong material.

Banksy1The piece hasn’t been confirmed as a new Banksy, but all signs point to this being the famous street artist’s latest work on the side of a building in the town that is home to the English Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). [via stupiddope]

From The Verge:

According to urban legend, a massive stockpile of Atari gear — including truckloads of the notoriously awful game E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial — has laid buried in a New Mexico landfill for over thirty years. Today, that story is no longer a myth. Construction crews have uncovered copies of the Atari 2600 game at a landfill deep in the New Mexico desert, near the city of Alamogordo.

Back during the so-called video game crash of 1983, a struggling Atari was stuck with truckloads of the game and other unsold hardware. With little recourse and a crashing interest in video games in North America, the company decided to dump its excess merchandise into a landfill, according to reports at the time. The story was never confirmed, however, and it’s carried on as a legendary tale from a time when video games were near worthless. It reportedly cost Atari millions to get the rights to produce a video game tie-in to the incredibly successful Steven Spielberg film, but the resulting E.T. game was a massive flop and it’s considered one of the worst titles of all time.

“If you’re looking for a delicious treat — and a few extra calories — try pan-fried toast. To impress your friends, pull out the blowtorch. And when you’re stuck in a motel room and get a hankering for toast, the coffee maker should do the trick. Or just wait for a toastery to open up in your neighborhood.”

Or, just go fuck yourself. It’s toast. You put bread in a toaster oven and then smoother it with either butter, peanut butter, or jam. Pick one, or two, but never all three at once and never anything other than those three options. No toaster oven equals no toast.

I in awe of Pacific Standard Magazine’s profile of Giulietta Carrelli, founder of San Francisco’s Trouble Coffee & Coconut Club and probably responsible for the artisanal toast craze, as much as the next hipster, journalist, blogger, gadfly person sitting in front of their computer, but let’s not over-think this shit, shall we NPR?