AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su joins NVIDIA Chief Scientist Dr. William Dally, Microsoft Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Eric Horvitz, & Google Cloud Chief Information Security Officer Phil Venables to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to help advise the president "on policy matters where the understanding of science, technology, and innovation is key."
Drawing from the nation’s most talented and accomplished individuals, President Biden’s PCAST includes 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, five MacArthur “Genius” Fellows, two former Cabinet secretaries, and two Nobel laureates. Its members include experts in astrophysics and agriculture, biochemistry and computer engineering, ecology and entrepreneurship, immunology and nanotechnology, neuroscience and national security, social science and cybersecurity, and more.
The members represent the most diverse PCAST in U.S. history. PCAST is traditionally co-chaired by the President’s Science Advisor and 1-2 external co-chairs; since its inception in 1957, no women have ever served as co-chairs. President Biden’s PCAST has two women co-chairs. And, this PCAST reflects the President’s commitment to build an Administration that truly looks like America: for the first time ever, women make up half of PCAST, and people of color and immigrants make up more than one-third of PCAST. Its diversity will help the council bring to bear a wide range of perspectives to address the nation’s most pressing opportunities and challenges, so that science, technology, and engineering benefits all Americans.
Honored to be named to the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) to work with an amazing group of people on important issues impacting our nation. https://t.co/6qZEIRcVuB
— Lisa Su (@LisaSu) September 22, 2021
The President's Council on Advisors of Science and Technology is lead by California Institute of Technology's Dr. Frances Arnold, MIT's Dr. Maria Zuber, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Dr. Eric Lander. Dr. Lisa Su, along with 30 other members from various organizations, companies, and leading universities in relation to the fields of science and technology, will help to advise the President of the United States to help with key scientific discussions, such as
- What can we learn from the pandemic about what is possible—or what ought to be possible— to address the widest range of needs related to our public health?
- How can breakthroughs in science and technology create powerful new solutions to address climate change—propelling market-driven change, jump-starting economic growth, improving health, and growing jobs, especially in communities that have been left behind?
- How can the United States ensure that it is the world leader in the technologies and industries of the future that will be critical to our economic prosperity and national security, especially in competition with China?
- How can we guarantee that the fruits of science and technology are fully shared across America and among all Americans?
- How can we ensure the long-term health of science and technology in our nation?
Today, @POTUS announced his President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (#PCAST). It’s an amazing group, consisting of 30 of the nation’s top scientists & technologists, charged with advising the President and @WhiteHouse on S&T. (1/7) pic.twitter.com/MJaqA6LzSq
— Eric Lander (@EricLander46) September 22, 2021
The PCAST announcement also states that the council members are appointees of the President, and will be "reimbursed only for travel, meals, and accommodations in accordance with government regulations," meaning that no council member will be able to profit off of the designated position that they are held. However, one could speculate that the allowance to help influence the shape of policies and regulations when it comes to the fields of science and technology could pose to be very valuable, especially the executives from the leading tech companies.
As of the end of this month, President Biden has had several challenges during his first term, such as the global pandemic, continued chip shortages affecting all industries, cryptocurrency rules and regulations, and continued latent hostility with China.
Source: White House
The post President Biden Appoints AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su To Council of Advisors on Science & Technology by Jason R. Wilson appeared first on Wccftech.
Cavers descend into unexplored, possibly-genie-filled "Well of Hell" because what else could possibly go wrong in the 2020s? [Interesting]
The road leading to Windows 11’s October 5 release date is one paved with promise and frustration. Every advancement the OS offers over its predecessor, such as support for Android apps and its implementation of Xbox’s excellent ‘auto-HDR’, is marred with perplexing system requirements and even more bewildering messaging from Microsoft. However, following an investigation made by The Verge, it appears that unsupported CPUs may be able to run Windows 11 but with a hefty catch.
TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0 is the core culprit of the confusion surrounding Windows 11’s system requirements. In an effort to make the OS more secure, Microsoft has withheld the ability to install Windows 11 on any system with a CPU that doesn’t support the security standard.
Yet, when installing the latest Windows 11 beta on unsupported hardware, a new step in the installation process appears. This prompts users to accept that installation of the OS is 'not recommended' and that their PC will ‘no longer be supported and won’t be entitled to receive updates.’Best SSD for gaming, How to build a gaming PC, Best gaming CPU
The Netflix Marvel shows are long gone, but their legacy lives on. Not all of those shows were great, and indeed, many of them got pretty darn bad as they went along. But they had their positive elements. One such element was Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, AKA the Kingpin, on "Daredevil." D'Onofrio made the Kingpin a memorable, complicated, and often scary villain, and lots of people would like to see the actor reprise the role again – including the actor himself. Now all D'Onofrio needs is someone at Marvel Studios to pick up the phone and ask him to play the character one more time.
I Just Need To Be Asked
There was a lot I didn't like about the various Marvel Netflix shows, but I was a big fan of Vincent D'Onofrio's scary, layered performance as crime boss Wilson Fisk, AKA the Kingpin. D'Onofrio's Kingpin is a fan favorite, and folks have been clamoring for him to play the character again. The actor has said multiple times in the past that he'd like to reprise the role, and he's still beating that drum. In an interview with ScreenRant, D'Onofrio commented that he's continually flattered that people want him to play the Kingpin again, and that he's basically just waiting for Marvel to pick up the dang phone and ask him:
"I do take it as a compliment. I so badly want to play that character again. I love that character. I just have to wait for Marvel to ask me. I think it's very clear that I would, and the fans know that I would jump at the chance to play again. I just need to be asked."
The question now is: will Marvel ever ask him?
Will We See The Kingpin Again?
So ... just what are the odds that Marvel will ask Vincent D'Onofrio to play the Kingpin again? That's hard to say. I know fans continue to hold onto the hope that the Netflix Marvel actors will return in some capacity. There are already plenty of theories that state Charlie Cox's Matt Murdock/Daredevil is going to appear in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." But that's still just a rumor, with no real confirmation. And the fact of the matter is that Marvel Studios would be happy to forget all about the Netflix shows, which were made without the complete control of the Disney machine. I'm not saying it will never, ever happen, but at the moment, bringing D'Onofrio back seems unlikely. But keep your fingers crossed.
The post Yes, Vincent D'Onofrio Would Love to Play Kingpin Again: 'I Just Need to Be Asked' appeared first on /Film.
Back To The Future Stars Lea Thompson And Christopher Lloyd Will Time Travel Again In A... Hallmark Christmas Movie
We bring some good news today, dear readers -- albeit with a huge caveat. The good news? "Back to the Future" stars Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson are reuniting. And not just at a fan convention, but in an actual movie! The not-so-great news? It's in a Hallmark Christmas movie called "Next Stop, Christmas."
As reported by Entertainment Weekly, Lloyd and Thompson will both star in the made-for-TV Christmas flick, which is set to debut on Hallmark Channel in November. A couple of first-look photos were revealed as well, and shared by the film's composer on Twitter. Check them out below:
For those wondering what the movie is about, here is the synopsis for "Next Stop, Christmas:"
Angie wonders what her life would be like if she had married a former boyfriend who became a famous sportscaster. She takes the train home to spend Christmas with her family and inexplicably finds herself 10 years in the past. With the advice of the train's enigmatic conductor, Angie has the chance to revisit that Christmas and learn what — and who — is truly important to her.
The Nostalgia Train Stops Here
"Back to the Future" is one of the most beloved movies ever made. Period. Critics. Audiences. Everyone is in agreement. So the fact that two of the biggest stars from the trilogy are going to be in any movie together is sure to get the nostalgia hooks in deep. "Back to the Future 4" is probably never happening (even though Lloyd has ideas for the plot). And, heaven help us, it is unlikely that Hollywood is going to be foolish enough to attempt a reboot any time soon.
That being the case, even if it is one of the many holiday flicks that Hallmark pumps out annually, this reunion is to be treasured. And look, the idea of Christopher Lloyd starring as the conductor of some magical Christmas train sounds kind of charming, at least on paper. Throw Thompson into the mix and it becomes something probably worth tuning in for. Probably. It is still a Hallmark Christmas movie we're talking about here.
For those wondering, this year's other Hallmark offerings include titles such as "Sister Swap: A Hometown Holiday" and "The Nine Kittens of Christmas" starring Brandon Routh. Okay, so maybe that one is worth watching as well. But still, this "Back to the Future" reunion is likely the best of the bunch.
The cast also includes Lyndsy Fonseca ("Agent Carter") and Chandler Massey ("Days of Our Lives).
"Next Stop, Christmas" premieres Saturday, November 6 on Hallmark Channel.
Christopher Nolan's "Tenet" was big, ambitious, and also kind of confusing. It didn't help that the sound was mixed in such a way that it was difficult to understand what the heck everyone was saying. If you were perplexed by Nolan's time-bending action pic, don't fret – you're in good company. During a recent podcast appearance, Quentin Tarantino revealed that the film confused him and that he would probably be better served by checking it out again. Just call him Quentenet Tenetino! Or don't! Whatever!
We Live In A Twilight World (Where Quentin Tarantino Doesn't Understand Tenet)
Oh, "Tenet," you beautiful tropical fish. Christopher Nolan's most recent movie had a lot of attention because there was a hope that the flick might "save movie theaters" during the pandemic. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, although the film was by no means a flop. But the reaction to "Tenet" was a bit mixed when it arrived, with many criticizing the film's deliberately obtuse plotting and muddy sound mix. I'm a Nolan fan, but I was a little underwhelmed when I first saw the film. However, I've since revisited it at home, with subtitles on, and I've come around to loving it, in a weird way. I don't think it's one of Nolan's best films, but I genuinely enjoy the atmosphere of the thing, and there are several set pieces that are pretty damn great. However, I will still admit that the film is a touch confusing, probably by design.
During an appearance on the ReelBlend podcast, Quentin Tarantino – who previously named Nolan's "Dunkirk" as his second-favorite film of the 2010s – revealed that he, too, was befuddled by Nolan's creation. "I think I need to see it again," Tarantino said, laughing. Sadly, Tarantino didn't offer much more insight into his thoughts on "Tenet," but it's clear that the film didn't thrill him the same way as Nolan's "Dunkirk."
When it comes to "Dunkirk," Tarantino previously said:
"I liked the movie, but the spectacle almost numbed me to the experience. I don't think I felt anything emotional. I was awed by it. But I didn't know what I was awed by ... it wasn't until the third time that I could see past the spectacle and into the people the story is about. I finally could see through the trees a little bit."
It sounds like multiple views of "Dunkirk" made Tarantino truly appreciate that film, and perhaps the same will be the same for "Tenet." Or not.
Is Tenet Really That Confusing?
So is "Tenet" really so damn confusing? I honestly think a second viewing would clear a lot of things up for people – it certainly helped me. To be fair, the movie is big, loud, and full of a twisting, bending narrative that involves time travel (or inversion, as everyone calls it in the movie). That sort of set-up is bound to throw folks for a loop, and when you add in the frequently inaudible dialogue, things just get murkier.
Nolan, to his credit, clearly understood that. So much so that he made sure to have a character in the film say, "Don't try to understand it. Feel it." That may sound like a bit of a cop-out, and perhaps it is. But I also think that philosophy holds true for the film itself. "Tenet" is a movie that doesn't need to be fully comprehended; you just need to sit back and enjoy the spectacle-filled ride Nolan wants to take you on. If that's not your cup of tea, that's perfectly fine. But I do think time will be kind to "Tenet."
The post Don't Worry, Quentin Tarantino Didn't Understand Tenet Either appeared first on /Film.
Daniel Craig has brought a bit of James Bond to his real life. The actor, who has been playing 007 since 2006's "Casino Royale" and is gearing up to grace the screen in "No Time to Die" next month, was recently made an Honorary Commander in the British Royal Navy. A photo of Craig in his Commander's uniform has also been revealed. Have a gander.
While Craig doesn't exactly look enthused, one has to imagine he does consider this a true honor deep down. The actor has been a supporter of the armed forces and this appointment will, per a press release, offer him a "distinct way to strengthen the navy's ties with the communities it serves."
Here's what Craig had to say about it:
"I am truly privileged and honoured to be appointed the rank of Honorary Commander in the senior service."
The British Armed Forces' Relationship With Bond
This is more than just a nice little PR stunt. Director Cari Joji Fukunaga and the rest of the crew reportedly worked closely with the Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence while filming "No Time to Die." To that end, the Warship HMS Dragon will appear in the film. Additionally, the Royal Air Force granted access to assets and personnel to the production. RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire was used as a backdrop, standing in for a NATO airbase in Norway.
First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Tony Radakin added:
"I am delighted to welcome honorary Commander Daniel Craig to the Royal Navy. Our honorary officers act as ambassadors and advocates for the Service, sharing their time and expertise to spread the message about what our global, modern, and ready Royal Navy is doing around the world."Daniel Craig is well known for being Commander Bond for the last 15 years – a Naval officer who keeps Britain safe through missions across the globe. That's what the real Royal Navy does every day, using technology and skill the same way as Bond himself. I look forward to him getting to see more of our sailors and marines over the coming months and years."
Bond, Commander Bond
The appointment is a fitting one. Fans of James Bond may well note that Craig's new honorary rank matches that of Bond's in the movies, which is why we get to see the likes of Sean Connery and Roger Moore looking dapper in their military uniforms on screen from time to time. It serves as a nice send-off for Craig, who is leaving the role behind following the release of his fifth turn as the iconic MI6 spy.
You can catch Commander Craig in "No Time to Die" in theaters on October 8.
Read this next: No Time To Die: Release Date, Cast And More
The post The Name's Bond, Commander Bond: Daniel Craig Gets Honorary Royal Navy Title appeared first on /Film.
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I'll freely admit that I got swept up in the "Tiger King" craze. The Netflix docuseries was well-made in the sense that it did a good job dropping strange, explosive twists to keep us hooked from episode to episode. That said, the minute the original docuseries ended, I was content to move on. I really didn't want to spend any more time with Joe Exotic, a twisted character who was so sure he was going to get a pardon from former President Trump that his lawyer had a limo waiting outside the prison on Trump's last night in office (spoiler: the pardon never came and Joe Exotic is still incarcerated). But it looks like the story of Joe Exotic and the wack pack that surrounds him will continue, as Netflix has confirmed "Tiger King 2" is on the way. The announcement comes coupled with announcements for several other true crime adjacent documentaries headed to the streaming service in the not too distant future.
Tiger King 2: But Why?
Look, I get it. "Tiger King" was a buzz-worthy hit for Netflix, so of course they want to keep that story going. But there's a part of me that really would be happy to forget all about Joe Exotic and the people around him. But Netflix doesn't care what I think, of course, and why should they? I'm sure the majority of their subscribers will be curious about this. And who am I kidding? I'll probably end up watching it, too, like a complete chump.
In the first season of "Tiger King":
Among the eccentrics and cult personalities in the stranger-than-fiction world of big cat owners, few stand out more than Joe Exotic, a mulleted, gun-toting polygamist and country western singer who presides over an Oklahoma roadside zoo. Charismatic but misguided, Joe and an unbelievable cast of characters including drug kingpins, conmen, and cult leaders all share a passion for big cats, and the status and attention their dangerous menageries garner. But things take a dark turn when Carole Baskin, an animal activist and owner of a big cat sanctuary, threatens to put them out of business, stoking a rivalry that eventually leads to Joe's arrest for a murder-for-hire plot, and reveals a twisted tale where the only thing more dangerous than a big cat is its owner.
The docuseries was full of twists, turns, and shocking reveals. It also took some questionable paths – there's an entire episode suggesting that Joe Exotic's mortal enemy, Carole Baskin, is a murderer, which just seems a little unsightly. And now here comes "Tiger King 2." Details are very vague at the moment, with Netflix only providing this mini logline:
The global hit Tiger King, which attracted 64 million households in the first four weeks after its March 2020 premiere, will return to Netflix for more madness and mayhem.
"Tiger King 2" comes from directors Eric Goode and Rebecca Chaiklin. There's no word yet on a specific premiere date, but Netflix says it should arrive this year.
More Netflix Docs
In addition to the "Tiger King 2" news, Netflix also revealed several other upcoming documentaries that will deal with "crimes, cons, and scams." Let's take a look!
The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman – Series Premieres in January 2022
From the acclaimed filmmakers behind The Imposter, this three-part series tells the jaw-dropping story of one of the world's most audacious conmen who was convicted in 2005 for stealing fortunes and destroying multiple lives. But now, in an incredible twist, the story reaches into the present day, with a desperate family who fear for their mother's safety.
The Tinder Swindler – Film Premieres in February 2022
The Tinder Swindler tells the jaw-dropping story of a prolific conman who posed as a billionaire playboy on Tinder, and the women who set out to bring him down.
Trust No One: The Hunt for the Crypto King – Film Premieres in 2022
Follow a group of investors turned sleuths as they try to unlock the suspicious death of cryptocurrency multimillionaire Gerry Cotten and the missing $250 million they believe he stole from them.
Bad Vegan – Series Premieres in 2022
Celebrity restaurateur Sarma Melngailis becomes the "Vegan Fugitive" when she's conned out of millions by a man who convinces her that he can expand her food empire and make her beloved pit bull immortal -- as long as she never questions his increasingly bizarre requests.
Out of all of these titles, "Bad Vegan" sounds like the most interesting, just because it seems a lot different from the standard true crime docs we get these days. We'll update you with more info on these titles, and more, when it becomes available.
Read this next: Who Should Star In The Inevitable 'Tiger King' Movie?
The post Tiger King 2 Coming to Netflix This Year With 'More Madness And Mayhem' appeared first on /Film.
John Cena's Peacemaker was easily one of the biggest pleasant surprises in "The Suicide Squad," at least for those of us who knew nothing about the character previously. The team of villains and antiheroes looking for redemption needed to be balanced out with at least one genuine bad guy, which was a role that Peacemaker went above and beyond to fill.
It was always a fascinating choice on director James Gunn's part to pick this specific character to lead his own spin-off series on HBO Max -- long before the rest of the world had even seen Peacemaker in action! -- but in this case, hindsight has certainly provided validation. With "The Suicide Squad" behind us and the "Peacemaker" series ahead, Gunn is divulging more tidbits and teases for fans eager to see more of the paradoxically peace-loving, uber-violent antihero after his close brush with death at the end of the film.
Room For Growth
You may have heard that we enjoy John Cena 'round these parts, so we're definitely hanging on every word James Gunn has to say about his currently in-production "Peacemaker" series. While making the rounds at the Television Critics Association, THR reports that Gunn dug a little deeper into just how much room for growth a character like Peacemaker has that the show can further explore:
"At the end of The Suicide Squad, [Idris Elba's] Bloodsport learns a lot. He's a better person than he was at the beginning. A lot of the characters are much better than they were at the beginning, and Peacemaker has a lot to learn. It's that ability to learn that for me makes him a little bit more likable. His blind spots in some places are pretty terrible, and in some places are him being ignorant. I think that's an important distinction to make as well. He is open at the same time, sometimes."
If there's one thing Gunn has proven adept at during his recent streak of superhero movies, it's his ability to give flawed, broken, and even unlikable characters well-rounded arcs in their own right. This can manifest as something poignant, such as Elba's Bloodsport finally making his daughter proud of him or Daniela Melchior's scene-stealing Ratcatcher 2 coming to terms with her father ... or it can be Cena's Peacemaker descending deeper into outright villainy.
For a character who spends a surprising amount of time in "The Suicide Squad" in his underwear, the otherwise dark layers that Gunn makes sure to include are impressive! In fact, Cena references that hilarious moment from the film when answering what he's learned about Gunn while filming "Peacemaker." As the actor puts it, "One: He's obsessed with my tighty-whities, and two: He likes to see me dancing around."
John Cena and his tighty-whities will return in "Peacemaker," debuting on HBO Max in January 2022.
The post James Gunn Explains How The Suicide Squad Spin-Off Can Redeem Peacemaker appeared first on /Film.
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Experience first-hand the frontlines of the 4th Succession War with 14 new campaign missions featuring unique mechanics, authored missions, and custom dialogue and cinematics. MechWarrior 5 Mercenaries - Legend of the Kestrel Lancers is now available on GOG.COM!
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After exhaustive investigation, police find the criminal mastermind who "hid" a car full of bodies in a cornfield. It helped that the suspect left his driver's license behind [Followup]
Guillermo del Toro will gladly tell anyone who will listen that his movies are meant to be love letters to monsters. The Academy Award-winning director is happy to honor the rubber suited critters that light the fires of his imagination; he even turned his home, the Bleak House, into a cabinet of curiosities honoring them. But the idea of monstrosity that del Toro is obsessed with inverts H.P. Lovecraft's racist notion of "the Other." Del Toro's creatures may look or act horrific, but the director is deeply aware of the humanity and beauty they inspire.
Del Toro's antagonists are often human, or, like Prince Nuada in "Hellboy II," beautiful to look at. It's how he illuminates the evil lurking inside them and, by extension, humanity itself. By contrast, del Toro's protagonists often reflect his childhood wonder, built from his memories of going to the theater and collecting rubber Godzilla toys. They thrive in the worlds del Toro builds for them, which are uniquely built to find the beauty in horror. These characters show the best of what's inside del Toro's heart.
Written by "Man of Steel" scribe David S. Goyer, "Blade II" doesn't live up to the legacy set up by the original film. However, the parts that do work are pure Guillermo. Showing off glimpses of the luscious side of vampire life, "Blade II" hints at secret societies and close-knit gangs. The Bloodpack, led by Ron Perlman at his growling best, is a test run for del Toro's future Jaeger teams.
The Bloodpack is a band of vampire fighters, their interpersonal connections hinted at through their behavior. Originally gathered to hunt Blade, the Bloodpack is instead forced to work with him. Their unhappiness is expressed by Ron Perlman's gruff Reinhardt, but Snowman, played by martial arts master Donnie Yen in one of his first Western roles, balances the mood. The rest of the Pack are equally unique. Priest is a mild, hippie-like vampire. Chupa is the laconic heavy. Lighthammer's self-centered pride foreshadows his downfall, and Verlaine, his lover, is as passionate as the French Decadent poet she's named for.
The vampire clans' melancholy threatens to bog the film down, but the Bloodpack's earthier, comic book-style liveliness keeps the second act of "Blade II" moving at a breezy pace. Reinhardt is a believable, more aggressive secondary antagonist, and without him as a mirror for Blade, the Gothic tragedy of clan Damaskinos and their mutated son wouldn't have hit the mark at all. The Bloodpack's existence elevates an iffy sequel into a proper del Toro film, reminding viewers of the humanity inside even the ugliest of people.
"Pacific Rim" doesn't have a subtle plot. Big robots punch big monsters, repeat until the apocalypse is cancelled. For those of us that grew up on Saturday creature features, that's all we need. Del Toro gives us joyful nonsense in spades, but his use of color and the actors' body language adds plenty of story to his characters. Stacker Pentecost uses all of that, then offers more.
It's cheating to say Idris Elba is the cast's standout; he's Stringer Bell, for goodness' sake. Putting Elba in a movie is amplifies its coolness exponentially. He exudes ruthless efficiency when necessary, but can also be as comfortable as an LL Bean sweater. Stacker Pentecost's story is told by his crisp blue uniform, stained by his radiation-induced nosebleeds, but Elba adds another layer whenever he speaks, making it clear that Pentecost is a man barely restraining his emotions.
Stacker's control over Mako Mori at the Jaeger base isn't abusive. It's the same protection he gave her as a child, and he's afraid to stop. His fury with Beckett when touched is defensive; he's tried to keep himself at arm's reach. When Pentecost can no longer maintain that distance and returns to the front lines, he allows himself to become warm again, embracing his mortality. It's the sort of performance that a kaiju flick never needs, but the movie world is made better for it.
Classic fairy tales rely on a princess's pure heart, and "Pan's Labyrinth" has little Ofelia at the center of its terrifying fable. Ofelia's innocence outshines the grim reality around her, a necessary tool if her spirit is to survive. The Spanish Civil War rages just beyond her reach, yet its violence also lives inside her home, personified by her monstrous stepfather, Captain Vidal.
Following Ofelia in her quest to succeed at Princess Moanna's trials plays up the child's inherent goodness. Played by Ivanna Baquero, Ofelia refuses to give into the cynicism that an adult might feel when reading classic fairy tales. She still believes, even at risk to her own life, and even in the face of an adult's denial. Her resoluteness feels mature despite requiring a leap of faith, and the final turn of Ofelia's destiny -- when she refuses to harm her newborn brother -- ensures her own ascendancy.
Ofelia is the most optimistic character in del Toro's filmography, and as a reward del Toro gives her the ending millions of little girls dream of. It's a bittersweet victory; Ofelia sheds the blood of her mortal life, but the clues say that, for Ofelia, dreams are true. She will live on in the magical, golden realm. Ofelia is only the eighth-best del Toro character, but she's still immortal.
Abe Sapien's is Hellboy's Taoist counterweight, a literate amphibian with a warm heart inside his cold-blooded body. Del Toro's version of Mike Mignola's character streamlines his backstory and changes his abilities, giving him more to do to in the story. But it's Doug Jones' physical performance that makes Abe something special. Abe is inhuman, yet delicate and genteel, incapable of causing fright. David Hyde Pierce voices Abe during his first outing, but refused credit and declined to return for the sequel because he felt that Jones should get all the honor for his stellar performance.
Yes, "Hellboy II" is, in spirit, a trial run for "The Shape of Water." But Abe's bashful, romantic heart, seen as he gazes at Princess Nuala from afar, is special in its own right. The changes that give Abe new psychic powers may infuriate comic book fans, but it makes this iteration of Abe feel even more empathetic and pure.
When Abe breaks character and plunges into sappy love songs and warbling duets with his big red friend, it not only resonates with the audience. It becomes the focal point of the film: two gormless romantics, doing their best, failing, and trying again, all because they fell in love. In a world that thrives on movie machismo, Abe's human nature is refreshingly sweet.
2015's "Crimson Peak" is the perfect example of how poor marketing can ruin something beautiful. Del Toro's Gothic romance seems to play everything straight, but every twist is predicated on a subversion of those tropes. Tom Hiddleston's Thomas Sharpe embodies some of the biggest swerves on the genre's old formulas, playing a victimized, lonely waif who, until love forces him to stand up for himself, is little more than a tool. It makes him one of del Toro's best characters, and a favorite for many.
A lifetime of abuse keeps Sharpe childlike, and twisted emotional bondage puts him in thrall to his sister, Lucille. It's not accurate to say Thomas is blameless in the events that lure women to the Sharpe's ruined manor, but it's also clear that he never feels like he had a choice. Hiddleston is a master at adding emotional depth to every role he takes; Sharpe's entire life story can be read in his sad eyes.
Sharpe is technically a villain, but he also plays the role of a tragic anti-hero -- a Hiddleston specialty -- exhibited as the child who Thomas once was jumps to the fore to save Edith. It earns Sharpe a del Toro-style redemption: sanctified eternity, at the cost of his life.
The Amphibian Man
The Asset, or the Amphibian Man, is the strangest leading man Guillermo del Toro has ever created. He can't speak like humans do, his morals are noble but alien, and his motivations are inscrutable. But one detail shines like the moon: He can love. Unlike Michael Shannon's Colonel Strickland, who serves as a furious indictment of masculine toxicity, the Amphibian Man is capable of rational thought.
Of course "The Shape of Water" upends our memories of "The Creature from the Black Lagoon." Of course the movie is del Toro's tribute to the genres that made him the man he is today. But the Amphibian Man is more than that. With Doug Jones again providing an elegant, physical performance that makes him intelligible without uttering a single human word, he's romance incarnate. We impress our fantasies onto the Asset, as Elisa does, and he somehow molds himself to those expectations without changing who he really is.
When the Amphibian Man eats the neighbor's cat, it's unexpected and upsetting, but we quickly forgive him. The story makes no excuses for him, beyond the most rational. He's not human and we love him, but we must also accept and understand him. It's a complete subversion of the poisonous fantasy that we can change our troubled lovers. Accept this lonely prince of the sea as he is, or not at all.
The Pale Man
Del Toro's monsters are often inspired by the things he loved growing up, or the things that haunt him. In "Pan's Labyrinth," Doug Jones embodies a horror that once lived only in del Toro's mind. While many of del Toro's creatures stand out, it's the Pale Man that sticks in the mind the way none of his other monsters can, making him our number four pick.
The faun warns about threat of the Pale Man before he appears on screen, although Ofelia, hungry, doesn't heed it. She sees the creature sitting at the head of a table heaped with food, paralleling Captain Vidal in an earlier scene. Both hold immutable control over their domain, and Ofelia doesn't understand the risks that either figure represents.
The Pale Man is a child-eater, and the display of sumptuous food is his trap. While del Toro originally intended the Pale Man to serve as a critique of the failures of the Catholic Church, today this monster has extra significance. Del Toro has expanded his view of the Pale Man to include all institutional evils, many of which have pale men sitting the heads of their own overfull tables. The pale men thrive, del Toro says, and the innocent continue to pay the cost.
Elisa Esposito is Ofelia all grown up. Mute but never silent, she's one half of Guillermo del Toro's most heart-felt ode to the things that shaped him. She's mature and lonely, but still in love with dreams. One of the most beautiful moments in "The Shape of Water" is a private fantasy: Ofelia dances and sings and gets to be a star, beloved by the audience of her mind's eye.
It's haunting to realize that Ofelia is one of the most singular female leads in all of movie history. Her disability becomes part of her strength, allowing her to see the amphibious man for who he is. That same disability might be part of her own fairy tale ending. But she's also a purely ordinary woman. She's an adult, working a soulless job for scraps but still clinging to her dreams.
"Jupiter Ascending" is a film that deserves another look for how it cherishes the secret, over-the-top fantasies of women, but there's a reality to Elisa's portrayal that tween and twenty-something protagonists can't touch. There's room for both; it's not an either-or proposition. However, it's still depressingly rare to see an adult woman with a fantastical love story in mainstream media. Elisa is precious and special, even more than the man she drifts into the sea with.
Jesús Gris, our number two pick, is an even more rare type than Elisa. The number of seniors allowed to portray heroes in horror is vanishingly small, yet Guillermo del Toro's first feature film, "Cronos," doesn't just have an elder hero. It does so with grace. Gris is allowed all the moral complexities of a freshly-turned vampire. As an aging antiques dealer, Gris can't help but be tempted by the vivacity a mysterious mechanical scarab grants him.
"Cronos" wouldn't be the only time that del Toro explored his own Catholic faith on screen. Gris wants to be a good man in service to his family and his God, but the scarab is something as dangerous as the demons that tempted Christ. To those who believe in a blessed afterlife, a seductive physical existence that never needs to end is almost like profanity. And yet, all that the scarab requires is a bloody sacrifice -- just a small taste.
Gris struggles with men that want the scarab for themselves, but that's not the primary conflict. The real struggle is the war within Gris himself. For all his human flaws, Gris eventually comes out the winner. He turns down immortality and rejoins his family thanks to his faith and his love of his granddaughter. Like later del Toro films, the final scene of "Cronos" leaves the character's fate in doubt. And yet, faith suggests a clear outcome: Gris is forgiven.
An easy number one pick, Ron Perlman is one of the best character actors in the business. As del Toro's frequent collaborator, Perlman was also the director's ambassador to mainstream audiences in 2004's "Hellboy." With his take on comic book artist Mike Mignola's best-known leading man, Perlman got to return to the romantic underworld that put him on the map back in the '80s.
Hellboy's adoration of the pyrokinetic Liz is another "Beauty and the Beast" riff for Perlman, with makeup that makes sure the titular hero is never mistaken for human. The new look also grants Perlman a huggable roundness that veers from Mignola's sharp drawings. Compared to the comics, Hellboy's quirks are heightened to further soften him; he loves cats, pancakes, and the old human man who raised the demon as his own son.
Hellboy thrives in opposition to regular action heroes like John McClane. He exudes a blue-collar exhaustion with his BPRD job, yet Hellboy is still driven to do his best, not only because it makes his friends and family proud, but because it's his way of spitting on destiny. Hellboy is a good person because he fights to be one. In that way, he's one of del Toro's film theses incarnated: Faith and destiny are only tools that guide us. Who we are isn't determined by our shape, and those who we often dismiss as "other" can be loving and lovable.
Of all the fictional genres, sci-fi is the one most interested in exploring man's relationship to science and technology, delving into both the possibilities and the consequences of humanity's technological advancements, envisioning futuristic and faraway worlds, and questioning our place in a universe full of unknown wonders.
Over the past 50 years, technology has changed our world in previously unimagined ways, and science fiction has adjusted accordingly. While there have been a host of incredible science fiction films made over these years, some have left a more indelible cultural mark than others. From stories of faraway galaxies and alternate dimensions, wormholes and time-loops, and dystopian versions of our own fragile planet, the directors at the helm of these films have helped shape our vision of the future, and opened up our imaginations to worlds both wondrous and terrifying. There's little doubt that they're the most important sci-fi directors of their time.
Alex Garland first made his mark on in the late '90s, penning the novel and the Leonardo DiCaprio-starring adaptation of "The Beach" before writing screenplays for other bangers like the post-apocalyptic virus-centric horror film "28 Days Later." Garland's more recent work as a director, though, has earned him place as one of the important sci-fi directors of his generation.
Garland's directorial debut, "Ex Machina," is not only a deftly-made, cool-as-heck sci-fi psychological thriller, but it brilliantly highlights the terrifying potential implications of artificial intelligence. The sleek, single-location film follows a computer programmer, Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson), as he visits his wealthy boss Nathan's (Oscar Isaac) isolated high-tech compound, only to fall in love with an AI named Ava (Alicia Vikander). But who's really in charge?
Garland went on to direct "Annihilation," the critically-lauded adaptation of the first book in Jeff VanderMeer's "Southern Reach" trilogy. Starring Natalie Portman as part of a troop of women sent by the government to explore a phenomenon known as "The Shimmer," the film gave us some of the most memorable visuals and stunningly terrifying scenes in recent memory, including a mutant DNA-warped bear-monster and Portman dancing eerily with her humanoid doppelgänger.
French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve was a festival circuit darling for years before reaching prominence with higher budget films such as "Prisoners" and "Sicario." But his eighth film, "Arrival," marked the beginning of his sci-fi directorial dominance. Starring Amy Adams as a linguist who must learn to decipher alien language in order to save the human race, "Arrival" drew much praise, earning eight Academy Award nominations and high box office returns.
Villeneuve was then tapped to direct "Blade Runner 2049," the sequel to Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece. Bringing Harrison Ford back as his iconic character Richard Deckard and pairing him with Ryan Gosling as Officer K, "Blade Runner 2049" was an impressive follow-up to the original that continued to tease audiences with the question of whether Deckard is a replicant.
Though "Blade Runner 2049" was something of a box office disappointment, fans and critics alike praised the film, which helped set up Villeneuve to direct the forthcoming "Dune" for Warner Bros. Starring the likes of Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya, Villenueve's "Dune" is the latest attempt at adapting Frank Herbert's 1965 novel about interstellar nobles fighting over ownership of a life-expanding drug called "spice," following an unsuccessful attempt by Alexander Jodorowoski and a critically panned 1984 box-office bomb helmed by David Lynch. The latest "Dune" has an epic $165 million budget and is intended to be the first of a two-film series. Let's hope Villeneuve knocks it out of the universe.
Alfonso Cuarón is a Mexican director who cut his teeth on movies like "A Little Princess" and "Great Expectations" before gaining international recognition in 2002 with his provocative and sexy road trip film "Y Tu Mama Tambien." He then went on to direct what is generally considered the best film in the Harry Potter series, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban."
But Cuarón's sci-fi films are his most notable and critically-acclaimed work. 2006's "Children of Men," based on P.D. James' dystopian novel about a futuristic world in which humanity has faced 18 years of infertility, is widely considered one of the best films of the 21st century, and earned Cuarón his first Academy award nominations.
Cuarón followed this up in 2013 with the Academy Award-winning, George Clooney and Sandra Bullock-starring space thriller, "Gravity." Widely praised for its stunning visuals, "Gravity" tracks two stranded astronauts as they attempt to return home after their shuttle is destroyed. "Gravity" was a mega-hit, becoming both Clooney and Bullock's highest-grossing film to date, winning seven Academy Awards, and helping to secure Cuarón's place in the annals of sci-fi film history.
The Guardian once called Christopher Nolan "The Man Who Rebooted the Blockbuster," in part for his work on "The Dark Knight" trilogy. Though he's directed smaller thrillers like "Insomnia" and "Memento," as well as the war film "Dunkirk" and the magician-centric "The Prestige," the British director has made a lasting mark with his big budget sci-fi mind-benders like "Inception" and "Interstellar."
In "Inception," which stars Leo DiCaprio as a dream-thief, Nolan plays heavily on the "dream within a dream" concept, and utilizes the best computer-generated effects of the era to create world-bending (literally) head-trip of a film. "Inception" was indeed a blockbuster, becoming one of the highest grossing films of the 2010s, and earning multiple Academy Awards while adding a new slang suffix to the English language: "-ception," used when describing things having a nesting effect.
Nolan's other sci-fi epic, the more emotional "Interstellar," explored the possibilities of wormholes, with Matthew McConaughey playing a widowed NASA pilot searching for a new world for humanity to live on. Even before "Tenet" premiered in 2020, these films cinched Nolan's spot as one of the most important sci-fi directors of his time.
David Cronenberg is a director best known for his propensity for body horror, blood, and gore, having earned him such affectionate nicknames as "The King of Venereal Horror" and "The Baron of Blood." But Cronenberg's fascination with the melding of the psychological and the technological has earned him a place as one of the most important sci-fi directors to date, too. From the head-exploding "Scanners" to the video-centric nightmare of "Videodrome," Cronenberg's uniquely visceral brand of sci-fi horror offers much to think about, and even more to be terrified of. His adaptation of Stephen King's "The Dead Zone" ranks among the best adaptations of King's works.
But Cronenberg's adaptation of "The Fly" is his most widely acclaimed and well-known work. A loose remake of the 1958 film of the same name, Cronenberg's version stars Jeff Goldblum as the eccentric scientist Seth Brundle, who begins to transform into a fly after one inadvertently lands inside his self-built teleportation machine. The film won an Academy Award for makeup for the horrifying "Brundlefly," but it's the film's emotional core, including Brundle's relationship to journalist Ronnie (Geena Davis) and his own thoughts as his body betrays him, that helps elevate "The Fly." It's terrifying, but it's also a thoughtful, tragic tale that highlights the folly of man and the limits of our control over science.
The man who directed "Showgirls" might not seem like an obvious choice for one of the most important sci-fi directors of the past half-century, but Dutch director Paul Verhoeven is not a man to be tied to any one particular genre, or any pre-conceived expectations. With a long list of films that includes everything from erotic thrillers to historical dramas, some of Verhoeven's most notable work is his big-budget sci-fi action films: "Robocop" (1987), "Total Recall" (1990), and "Starship Troopers" (1997).
Each one of these films has left its mark on the world of sci-fi in its own way, thanks to Verhoeven's use of social commentary and knack for special effects-heavy action, but it's perhaps "Robocop" that left the deepest imprint. The smart, violent sci-fi action classic stars Peter Weller as a Detroit police officer who is critically injured in the line of duty, only to be brought back to life as a cyborg by Omni Consumer Products, an evil corporation seeking to privatize the police force. Delving into questions of identity and what makes us human while satirizing Reagan era-policies and corporate greed, "Robocop" holds up extremely well and remains as relevant today as ever.
Former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam's films often fall into the realm of fantasy, but of his varied filmography, certain works stand out as sci-fi classics. One is "Twelve Monkeys" (1995), in which a prisoner from the future (Bruce Willis) is sent back in time to uncover the cause of a plague set to destroy humanity. Violent, insane, and heady, the film initially went over critics' and audiences' heads, but has since become a cult classic, one more relevant now than ever.
Gilliam's most notable film, though, is "Brazil" (1985), a dystopian, satirical sci-fi-fantasy that takes aim at the crushing gears of corporatism and bureaucracy via the misadventures of a low-level office worker, Sam (Jonathan Pryce). When a fly jammed in a printer leads to a misspelling on a government form, it sets off a chain of events leading the hapless, daydream-prone Sam to try to save the girl of his fantasies while attempting to steer clear of the all-seeing totalitarian body, the "Ministry of Information."
Inspired in part by George Orwell's "1984," (Gilliam toyed with the idea of calling the film "1984 1/2"), and described by Gilliam as "a post-Orwellian view of a pre-Orwellian world," one could say Brazil was "1984" by way of 1985, but its cultural relevance and impact is no less strong today. "Brazil" is often cited as an inspiration for other filmmakers, including the Coen brothers' "The Hudsucker Proxy" and Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's "Delicatessen."
Great Scott! We'd be remiss to create an "important sci-fi directors" list and not include Robert Zemeckis. 1985's time-travel sci-fi comedy, "Back to the Future," is widely considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, and remains enduringly popular worldwide, with an outsized cultural influence. The film introduced the world to Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a typical teenager who travels via a time machine fashioned out of a Delorean back to 1955. There, he meets his future mom and dad (Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover) who are still in high school, but when his mom falls in love with him, he has to turn things around or risk a bleak future in which he hasn't been born at all.
"Back to the Future" was the biggest box office hit of 1985, spawning a franchise with two Zemeckis-directed sequels, some spinoffs, and even a ride at Universal Studios theme parks. What could be more important than that?
Wake up, Neo.
One does not simply make a list of important sci-fi directors and leave out Lana and Lilli Wachowski, writer-directors of "The Matrix" trilogy. Drawing on influences from Japanese anime as well as Hong Kong action films, "The Matrix" took 1999 by storm on its release, with audiences and critics alike blown away by its impressive action sequences and groundbreaking visual effects. Wrapping mind-bending philosophical and spiritual themes in a sleek cyberpunk aesthetic, "The Matrix" basically asks the question, "What if we're all just living in a simulation, man?" The results are incredibly entertaining. With "The Matrix," the Wachowskis pushed sci-fi to new and exciting places, helping coin the concept of taking the "red pill" and delivering quotable wisdom such as "there is no spoon."
While The Wachowskis continued their sci-fi streak with films like "Cloud Atlas" and "Jupiter Ascending," their names remain synonymous with the "The Matrix." Luckily for us there's a fourth film in "The Matrix" series on the way from Lana Wachowski, albeit without Lilli's involvement.
John Carpenter is known as the "Master of Horror" thanks to classic scarers like "Halloween" (1978), but some of his films are also works of sci-fi mastery, including his sci-fi horror masterpiece, "The Thing" (1982). An adaptation of John Campbell Jr.'s novella "Who Goes There?" and its 1951 film adaptation, "The Thing from Another World," Carpenter's "The Thing" follows a group of scientific researchers in Antarctica who encounter a parasitic alien life form able to convincingly mimic other organisms, and which threatens to destroy mankind.
Starring Kurt Russell as helicopter pilot J.R. MacReady, "The Thing" effectively and chillingly portrays the paranoia and dread that consumes the isolated group as they lose the ability to trust one another, unable to distinguish who may be human and who may be a "thing." Initially panned, "The Thing" has been reappraised over the years and is now considered one of the best horror and sci-fi films of all time.
Carpenter's other notable sci-fi works include "They Live," "Escape from New York," and "Starman." In 2019, Carpenter was honored with a Golden Coach award at the Cannes festival for his lifetime achievements in cinema, joining directors such as Martin Scorsese, Werner Herzog, and Agnes Varda.
James Cameron's name is synonymous with action-packed sci-fi of the huge budget, high box-office variety, and we are certainly thankful for it. Cameron currently holds the number one slot for highest-grossing movie of all time with his epic sci-fi fantasy, "Avatar." In fact, "Avatar" has generated so much revenue that it even has its own themed land at Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park.
Before Cameron's worldwide box office domination, he cut his teeth on the 1984 sci-fi action classic "The Terminator." Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a cyborg killer sent back in time to kill Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) before she births the son who is destined to save humanity, "The Terminator" was a hit that spawned a billion-dollar franchise; its sequel, "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" broke global box office records and earned critical praise as one of the better sequels ever made.
In between Terminators, Cameron found time to write and direct yet another sci-fi action classic, "Aliens" (1986), which is also considered by many to be one of the best science fiction and action films ever made.
Steven Spielberg is one of the most notable directors of all time. His contributions to cinema and pop culture are immeasurable, including those of his many sci-fi films, which include "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," "Minority Report," and "War of the Worlds."
"ET: The Extra Terrestrial" (1982), about a boy named Elliott who befriends a wayward alien left behind by his extra-terrestrial companions, was the highest-grossing film of all time for years after its release, and remains one of the director's most-beloved movies. It's one of many Spielberg films to be added to the National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The logo for Spielberg's production company, Amblin Entertainment, features an image from the film of Elliott and E.T. riding a bicycle across the moon, proving that "E.T." holds as special a place in the director's heart -- as it does in all of ours.
"A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away..."
You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone not familiar with the epic phrase from the opening crawl of George Lucas' "Star Wars" (1977). The main films in Lucas' epic space opera and the franchise it spawned still dominate the pop culture landscape today. Retroactively titled "Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope," "Star Wars" began the heroic saga of Luke Skywalker, which ultimately spanned nine films across three trilogies, and became a global phenomenon thanks to its iconic characters and compelling world-building.
Although "A New Hope" was made more than 40 years ago, Lucas remains one of the most important sci-fi directors of our time thanks to the enduring legacy of the Star Wars franchise, including the prequel trilogy he helmed between 1999 and 2005. Spawning tv series, comics, video games, theme park lands and tons of merch, Star Wars remains ever-popular. George Lucas, may the Force be with you, always.
Sir Ridley Scott has directed many excellent films, but he tops our list of important sci-fi directors for directing two of the best sci-fi films of all time: "Alien" (1979) and "Blade Runner" (1982). The franchise-spawning sci-fi horror film "Alien" stars Sigourney Weaver as Ellen Ripley, a crew member of the ill-fated space tug Nostromo. After discovering a crop of egg-like objects on the moon LV-426, the crew inadvertently allows a chest-bursting alien on board. The rest is sci-fi movie history. Weaver's Ripley character in "Alien" was groundbreaking in the way it challenged traditional gender roles, resulting in one of the most significant female protagonists in cinema.
"Blade Runner" is another of Scott's masterpieces, and a stone-cold neo-noir sci-fi classic. Based on Phillip K. Dick's story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and set in a futuristic dystopian Los Angeles, the film follows ex-cop Richard Deckard (Harrison Ford), a "blade runner" tasked with hunting four "replicants" who have escaped from the colonies and returned to earth. With its futuristic industrial production design, a haunting synth-heavy soundtrack by Vangelis, and complex ruminations on what makes humans human, "Blade Runner" is an iconic, influential, and enduring work of sci-fi cinema.
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It's impossible to overstate the impact Alfred Hitchcock has made on film. His movies have influenced countless other directors, while the tropes he helped create have now entered the film lexicon and shaped the modern thriller. "MacGuffins" -- a word Hitchcock created to describe an item that drives the story, but isn't actually all that interesting in and of itself -- wrongly accused heroes, and meticulously constructed set-pieces that go off (and go wrong) with clockwork precision are all considered staples of the genre with which Hitchcock has name became synonymous.
No other filmmaker has ever been able to generate tension with such ease, so to celebrate the Master of Suspense, we've compiled a list of his most iconic scenes. Some are long, complicated set pieces and some only last a few seconds, but all make an impact on viewers, sending shivers down their collective spines, and helped redefine the language of cinema.
"Knife!" — Blackmail (1929)
Hitchcock was always an innovator, and nowhere is this more evident than in his first sound feature, "Blackmail." After suffering an assault and inadvertently stabbing her assailant to death, Alice (Annie Ondra) is in shock. The morning after, she sits at the breakfast table while people around her engage in a mundane conversation. Hitchcock holds on Ondra's increasingly traumatized face as the dialogue slowly fades out, until only the word "knife" is audible.
Hitchcock amplifies the word every time it sounds, and Alice winces with each repetition. The camera cuts closer to her face until she snaps, nearly cutting her father with a bread knife. In a lot of ways, "Blackmail" is a rudimentary film, essentially serving as a first draft for Hitchcock's subsequent, more polished thrillers. This moment still retains its power, though, demonstrating that Hitchcock could constantly adapt with the times, and would use any means at his disposal to tell the story as efficiently as possible.
Murder Is Not Easy — Torn Curtain (1966)
One of Hitchcock's later and, in truth, less successful films, "Torn Curtain" nonetheless features one incredible sequence. Paul Newman plays Michael Armstrong, a physicist moonlighting as a spy in East Berlin who's followed by Gromek (Wolfgang Kieling), a grim secret service agent. When Gromek proves more resourceful than he initially appears (having tailed Armstrong to his clandestine meeting at a farmhouse), Armstrong and his contact, an unnamed farmer's wife (Carolyn Conwell), are forced to kill him.
They find that murder is not easy. Hitchcock reportedly wanted to show just how difficult it is to kill someone and how long it can take. As they struggle, the farmer's wife stabs Gromek in the neck, but the knife snaps off, so she beats him with a shovel to no effect. Eventually, Armstrong and the woman drag Gromek to the oven, where they suffocate him. It's a torturous, protracted scene, and it takes Gromek an agonizing 40 seconds to expire.
The reason why this scene still endures today is the discomfort it provokes in the viewer. Kieling makes his villain all-too likeable, and it's unnerving to watch him being murdered in cold blood. At the same time, Hitchcock makes it increasingly clear to the audience that Gromek must die, removing every other option and making us feel like an accessory to his murder.
Which Finger? —The 39 Steps (1935)
The template for every "wrong man" story that followed, "The 39 Steps" remains Hitchcock's most successful early film thanks to a witty script, Robert Donat's winning performance, and some quintessentially Hitchcockian moments. The most unnerving of these comes when Richard Hannay (Donat) finally reaches the supposed contact of the spy who died in his apartment. Moments before her death, she tells Hannay about the agent chasing her and his one distinctive feature: the missing finger on his right hand.
When Hanay meets the professor, he tells the man this, only for the professor to lift his hand with the words, "Are you sure it isn't ... this one?" It's a sobering, impactful moment in what had been, up until this point, a relatively light film, and shows just how doomed Hannay is. It's a scene that only takes a few seconds, but you can feel time just stop; the audio drops out, and we see Donat's face frozen in fear. It allows the viewer to take in the significance of the reveal without hitting them over the head with it.
Judy Becomes Madeleine — Vertigo (1958)
Whatever qualms you may have about "Vertigo," it remains Hitchcock's most beautifully-made film. Though overwrought and convoluted, it succeeds as a metaphor for cinema itself. In this scene, Scotty (James Stewart) takes on the role of a film director, demanding that Judy (Kim Novak) change her appearance to resemble the now deceased Madeleine (also Novak). With Judy essentially cast as a Hollywood actress, she is compelled to fit the role that Scotty demands of her.
It's uncomfortable viewing, as Scotty's irritable disappointment that Judy's hair isn't exactly right changes to a look of nervous anticipation as he waits for her return, his expression veering from excitement to dread. When Judy finally emerges, she is bathed in green light, the woman of Scotty's dreams. They embrace in an incredible 360-degree shot; the music swells, and the background shifts to the location where Madeleine fell to her death. This confirms what the audience already knows: Scotty is deeply traumatized, and still obsessed with the woman he failed to protect. It's the most beautiful and technically impressive sequence in a film that often veers into melodrama.
The Murder Attempt — Dial M For Murder (1954)
Based on a play, "Dial M for Murder" should be a relatively stagey affair, but thanks to Hitchcock's direction and its perfectly judged performances, it still feels cinematic. The attempted murder of Margot (Grace Kelly) by the unwilling Swann (Anthony Dawson) is the centerpiece of the film, but what makes this scene interesting is that it really shouldn't be that suspenseful. Tony (Ray Milland) has already painstakingly laid out his plan for the audience; the beauty is in how Hitchcock puts us on the back foot immediately as things don't proceed like they should.
It's a deceptively complicated sequence, beautifully lit by candlelight as Swann appears behind Margot, slowly raising the stocking to strangle her. The anticipation is what makes this moment so effective. Swann momentarily hesitates -- he doesn't want to do this. Then, when he finally attacks, Hitchcock makes sure the scissors are very prominent. Margot desperately reaches for the scissors as she struggles, grabs them, and plunges them into Swann's back. He recoils and spasms before falling directly onto his back, pushing the scissors further in. The shot of Swann landing on the scissors is one of the nastiest and most enduring images of Hitchcock's films, and sears itself into your memory.
The Diner Scene — The Birds (1963)
A scene from "The Birds" that could easily have been adapted into an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," this moment initially serves as a brief respite from the film's oppressive tension. Despite numerous bird attacks, the townsfolk of Bodega Bay, or at least the microcosm of the town we encounter in the diner, still don't believe what is happening. These characters only appear in this one scene, but they all feel like real people.
The discussion surrounding the birds is lighthearted enough to lull the audience into a sense of security, and then a lone seagull attacks, indirectly causing an explosion at the gas station. In the middle of this chaos, Hitchcock cuts to a peaceful wide shot from high above, far away from the fire and screaming below, until slowly but surely the birds appear. By today's standards, the effects aren't great, but the way that Hitchcock frames this image is so unnerving that it hardly matters. This one shot of the birds looking down at their potential victims is chilling, and gives the animals agency without detracting from the ambiguity surrounding their attacks.
The Wine Cellar — Notorious (1946)
Francois Truffaut's favorite Hitchcock film, "Notorious" is a heady mix of romance, film noir, and espionage. It's one of his most successful early Hollywood films, mainly due to the simplicity of the plot, which is essentially a love triangle between Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and sympathetic villain Claude Rains.
It also provides an early example of the MacGuffin, a plot device that is incredibly important to the characters in the film, but of no interest to the audience. "Notorious" is interesting in that there are actually two MacGuffins (a bottle and a key to the wine cellar). This sequence begins with a virtuoso shot of a dinner party, beginning high above the gathering before gracefully panning down and zooming into an extreme close up of Bergman's hand, where we see her clutching the key. It's a stunning shot, and brilliantly conveys the sense of paranoia that pervades the film.
Once Grant and Bergman discover the plutonium-filled wine bottles in the cellar, they are almost immediately disturbed by Rains, and cover up their prying by passionately kissing, making him believe they are having an affair. Ironically, the two really are in love, but are hiding this from everyone, including each other. Rains' jealousy blinds him to the real reason they're in the cellar, and they manage to leave undetected -- for now. It's a supremely tense and deceptively simple scene that progresses the story and deepens the audience's understanding of the characters in one fell swoop.
Rusk Retrieves His Pin — Frenzy (1972)
A neglected film in Hitchcock's catalog, "Frenzy" proved to be his last great movie; nasty, suspenseful, and infused with a jet-black sense of humor, not to mention the best final line of any of his films. Often, Hitchcock would generate sympathy for his villains by getting the audience to somehow root for them. He does it in "Strangers on A Train" when Bruno loses the incriminating lighter, and in "Psycho" when Norman tries to sink Marion's car in a bog, but "Frenzy" contains perhaps the best example.
After murdering the hapless Babs (Anna Massey) off screen, genial serial killer Bob Rusk (Barry Foster) unceremoniously dumps her body in a vegetable truck. However, once he's back at his apartment, he realizes that she grabbed his tie pin during the struggle, so he sneaks back onto the truck to retrieve it from her body. In this moment, Hitchcock forces the audience to identify with Rusk as he rummages through the sacks of vegetables, a picture of sweaty desperation. We are so invested in whether or not Rusk will get the incriminating evidence back that we momentarily forget that he's the villain and end up hoping that he finds it, even if he has to break Babs' fingers horrifically to get it.
Uncle Charlie's Speech — Shadow Of A Doubt (1943)
Hitchcock's favorite of his own films, "Shadow of a Doubt" is one of his most compelling thrillers, a disturbing tale of evil in an idyllic little town. Joseph Cotten is terrifying as Charles Oakley, a serial killer who goes into hiding with his family in rural Santa Rosa to evade the police on his tail, only for his inquisitive niece (Theresa Wright), also called Charlie, to suspect her uncle's true nature.
Cotten's best moment in the movie is also the most unnerving, as he gives a measured, vitriolic speech on why he detests rich widows. The camera zooms slowly into an intense close-up as Oakley delivers this cruel monologue, almost completely uninterrupted, until his niece bursts out, "They're alive, they're human beings!" In an incredibly modern, fourth-wall breaking moment, Charlie looks directly into the camera, coldly answering, "Are they?" It's a challenge to both young Charlie and the audience, pointing out the flaws in his twisted logic and offering and a rare insight into the mind of a killer, brilliantly delivered by Cotten.
Crop Dusting — North By Northwest (1959)
Often described as a precursor to the Bond films, "North by Northwest" is Hitchcock's definitive "wrong man" film. In this scene, Thornhill (Cary Grant) has been sent to a rendezvous at a bus stop in the middle of a barren, empty landscape. Hitchcock plays with the audience, presenting a few misdirects, until a suspicious-looking man wanders towards him. He's another red herring, but before leaving he utters the iconic line, "That plane's dusting crops where there ain't no crops." It's only then we notice the plane flying in the distance. It builds speed as it approaches, eventually spraying bullets at Thornhill, forcing him to run for his life.
What's interesting here is the amount of time Hitchcock takes to build the tension. There are almost seven minutes of silence before the attack, and Hitchcock wrings every ounce of suspense out of the scene, forcing the audience to wonder where the threat will come from. Hitchcock reportedly wanted to make an attempted murder scene while avoiding the typical clichés (for example, a killer hiding in the shadows in an alleyway). Here, we're in a rural setting, it's the middle of the day, and there's nowhere for the hero to hide. Thornhill is completely out of his element, and this proves a key moment in his transformation from pampered executive to action hero.
Crows On The Playground — The Birds (1963)
Often parodied but never bettered, this is one of Hitchcock's most purely cinematic sequences. As the birds begin to attack, Melanie (Tippi Hedren) heads to the school to collect her fiancé's sister (Veronica Cartwright). Melanie nervously waits outside the school, but doesn't notice the crows quietly gathering on the playground behind her.
It's an incredibly ominous scene, made more so by the children singing in the background. "The Birds" doesn't have a score, with Hitchcock instead filling the soundtrack with bird noises, so this is one of the rare moments of music in the film, and it makes for an eerie contrast with the building threat. As Melanie lights a cigarette, she sees a single crow flying overhead and is immediately on edge. She watches it as it flies past her towards the playground, only to see that the playground is now completely covered in crows.
It's an excellent reveal, and a disquieting one as well: The birds don't attack Melanie, but just sit there, watching her. Wordlessly, Melanie backs away in horror, only to realize that the birds are waiting for the children. The ensuing attack is disturbing in its own right, but it's this masterful set up that makes it so terrifying.
Bruno Kills Miriam — Strangers On A Train (1951)
Based on the novel by Patricia Highsmith, "Strangers on a Train" has one of the slickest premises to ever grace a thriller. Two men, Guy (Farley Granger) and Bruno (Robert Walker), meet on a train, where Bruno proposes the perfect murder.
One of Hitchcock's most visually inventive films, there are several moments from "Strangers on a Train" that could appear on this list, but the standout scene is the murder of Guy's wife, Miriam. It's a beautifully constructed sequence, full of sinister imagery as Bruno pursues Miriam through the fairground, resembling both a prospective suitor and a predator. Miriam sees him but hopelessly misunderstands his intentions, casting seductive glances at him. The whole thing unfolds almost like a proto-slasher film, as Bruno disappears and reappears from sight, then follows Miriam through the Tunnel of Love, his shadow seemingly engulfing hers.
The build up to the killing is measured, but the murder itself is shockingly sudden. We hear the softly spoken question, "Is your name Miriam?" as Bruno flashes Guy's lighter in her face, the flame shining in her glasses. Then he strangles her, leading to one of Hitchcock's most beautiful shots: Miriam's glasses, dropped in the grass, reflecting their owner's murder.
Lisa Gets Caught — Rear Window (1954)
Voyeurism is a theme that pops up in a number of Hitchcock's films, but none as explicitly as "Rear Window," a film about a wheelchair-bound photographer named Jefferies (James Stewart) who suspects that his neighbor Thorwald (Raymond Burr) has committed murder. In a way, the whole film is about Jefferies losing his independence, and this scene serves as the culmination of his struggle. His fiancée, Lisa (Grace Kelly), breaks into Thorwald's apartment to find a piece of incriminating evidence, as Jefferies (and the audience) watch from a distance. What had been a vicarious thrill for Jefferies comes crashing back to reality when Thorwald returns and discovers Lisa in his room.
What makes this scene intense is the fact that Jefferies is helpless, something we feel all-too keenly when Thorwald grabs Lisa. Still, Lisa manages to steal the missing wife's wedding ring, subtly gesturing behind her back so that Jefferies can see. Unfortunately, Thorwald sees this too, and his realization as he slowly glances up is chilling -- partly because of his murderous expression, but mostly because he looks directly into the camera. "Rear Window" might be the most reflexive of Hitchcock's films, with Jefferies serving as a stand-in for the audience, and the apartment block representing the cinema. It makes this moment truly transgressive, as if Thorwald is looking straight at the audience, catching us out as we spy on his private life.
The Shower Scene — Psycho (1960)
This was always going to be number one. Not only is this the most iconic scene of Hitchcock's career, but arguably the most impactful single scene in cinema history. While killing off the heroine (Janet Leigh) so early in the movie is shocking enough, the brutal manner of her murder is even more disturbing. We never see the knife actually penetrate Leigh, and we never see any gore, and yet the scene still feels incredibly violent, even by today's standards. The frantic, disorienting editing really adds to the feeling of a frenzied attack, with every little edit feeling like a knife slash.
Part of why this scene still feels so shocking is that the simple act of having a shower is such an intensely private moment -- at times you feel that heroine is covering herself up as much as she's defending herself from the knife. Adding to this is Bernard Herrmann's score, which again has the string instruments emulating the stabbing. Every element works together harmoniously -- as it does throughout "Psycho" -- to create a sequence that's still shocking today, even when viewed out of context.
Read this next: How Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' Influenced 'Star Wars'
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"Pulp Fiction" was one of the most influential films of the '90s. While Quentin Tarantino had announced himself two years prior with "Reservoir Dogs," his 1994 follow up generated buzz that was unprecedented for independent films. It was a critical moment for film distribution, in which indie films proved they could become mainstream smash hits, and broader audiences showed they were open to non-Hollywood stories.
"Pulp Fiction" can't be pinned to just one genre. Tarantino incorporated elements of black comedy, neo-noir, suspense, and romance into his star-studded crime epic. While some classics are so frequently referred to that they're hard to appreciate from a removed perspective, there's still joy in exposing new viewers to the shocks and surprises of "Pulp Fiction." In part, that's because Tarantino's nonlinear story structure makes "Pulp Fiction" distinct from other crime films. With events occurring out of sequence and key moments not explained until late in the story, "Pulp Fiction" is constantly engaging throughout its 154-minute runtime.
"Pulp Fiction" is a great starting point if you want to explore the history of cinema. Fans can watch the older films that Tarantino drew inspiration from, as well as movies that adopted similar elements after his success. If you loved "Pulp Fiction," these films are definitely worth adding to your watchlist.
Like Tarantino, Stanley Kubrick generated fervor and controversy throughout his career. Kubrick was unafraid to take bold risks that made viewers uncomfortable, and frequently experimented with unusual story structures. Unlike Tarantino, Kubrick struggled to find his cinematic voice during his early career, and his first two films "Fear and Desire" and "Killer's Kiss" were not major successes. However, his 1956 thriller "The Killing" was a breakthrough that influenced a generation of young filmmakers.
Among them was Tarantino. He cited "The Killing" as a major inspiration on his debut film, "Reservoir Dogs," which established the non-sequential framing he would also use in "Pulp Fiction." Both "The Killing" and "Reservoir Dogs" follow a gang of criminals who form an uneasy alliance in order to pull off a dangerous con. In both stories, the job goes south, and the team members begin double-crossing each other.
Veteran robber Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) recruits the corrupt cop Randy Kennan (Ted de Corsia), bartender Mike O'Reilly (Joe Sawyer) and teller George Peatty (Elisha Cook Jr.) to help him rob a money-counting room during a horse race. Clay intends for it to be his last job so he can afford to marry Fay (Coleen Gray). However, when George leaks information to his wife Sherry (Marie Windsor), she tries to steal the money for herself. Kubrick develops each character by letting them take over the narrative; instead of explaining their motivations through expositional dialogue, individual flashbacks showed their activities immediately before the big heist.
From Dusk Till Dawn
Tarantino has a longstanding friendship with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez. Both writer-directors share an affinity for western and pulp films, and together they co-directed the 2007 double-feature presentation "Grindhouse." Like Tarantino, Rodriguez often combines dark humor, historical cinematic references, and idiosyncratic dialogue to create memorable genre mashups. For Rodriquez' 1996 film "From Dusk till Dawn," Tarantino didn't just provide the script, but also joined the cast as a co-star. While he frequently appears as characters in his own films, including Jimmy in "Pulp Fiction," it's rare for Tarantino to act in another director's work.
Tarantino and George Clooney star as bank-robbing brothers Richie and Seth Gecko, who are forced to go on the run after killing a Texas Ranger during a convenience store heist. As they make their way to Mexico to avoid authorities, the Geckos kidnap the priest Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his teenage children Katherine (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu) to smuggle them over the border. When they stop at a strip club in order to lay low, the violent Richie starts a fight with the bar's employees. The brothers realize they're in over their heads; the club is actually run by vicious vampires preparing for a harvest.
The characters in "From Dusk till Dawn" are vile, the violence is excessive, and the story combines horror, suspense, black comedy, and western influences. Tarantino gives a surprisingly strong performance; Richie is a sociopath, and his constant killing sprees are infuriating for the level-headed Seth.
"Pulp Fiction" revitalized John Travolta's career. While Travolta gave early breakthrough performances in edgy projects like 1977's disco drama "Saturday Night Fever" and 1981's neo-noir thriller "Blow Out," his career declined in the late '80s thanks to a series of critical duds and box office failures. He frequently appeared in turgid romantic dramas and generic studio comedies, and Tarantino took a risk casting Travolta against type. "Pulp Fiction" showed that Travolta was willing to take risks on experimental projects again, and Vincent Vega became one of his definitive characters.
A year later, a re-energized Travolta starred in another crime comedy classic. "Get Shorty" casts Travolta as Miami loan shark Chili Palmer, who, like Vega, runs a slick operation after years of experience. A botched job in his youth forced Palmer to join the Mafia, and he's tasked with collecting overdue debts from clients, which leads him to struggling film producer Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman). Like Vega, Palmer finds love during his mission: He begins questioning scream queen actress Karen Flores (Rene Russo), and romance blooms as the two team up to con Flores' ex-husband Martin Weir (Danny DeVito).
Palmer explains his situation to Zimm under the guise of a movie pitch, and he's surprised to find that the producer loves the idea. "Get Shorty" satirizes the similarities between film production and Mafia dealings. The references to pop culture history and the humanization of ruthless characters make it a worthy companion piece to "Pulp Fiction."
Tarantino referenced pulp crime stories when crafting the narrative of "Pulp Fiction," reimagining the hard-boiled tales he adored growing up through a darkly comedic lens. "Pulp Fiction" fans may appreciate seeing a similarly twisted take on an established works of crime literature. Actor Clark Duke, best known for comedic roles in films like "Hot Tub Time Machine" and "Sex Drive," may seem like an unlikely descendant of Tarantino. However, Duke turned in a fascinatingly depraved directorial debut with "Arkansas," an adaptation of the seminal cult novel by John Brandon.
Like Tarantino, Duke uses a chaptered framing device in order to spotlight each of his characters. The film follows drug dealer Kyle Ribb (Liam Hemsworth), who works a mysterious job in Arkansas for a crime syndicate led by Frog (Vince Vaughn), a kingpin. Similar to Tarantino, Duke casts himself in a key comedic role as Ribb's new partner Swin Horn, a low-level member of Frog's operation who overestimates his own charisma. On their trip to Arkansas, a negotiation goes bad and Ribb and Horn accidentally kill a member of Frog's team. Frog begins adding trained killers to his network, heightening the suspense.
One of the joys of "Pulp Fiction" is seeing actors play against type. Vaughn is best known for studio comedies, but he's convincing as a ruthless career criminal. Hemsworth may often be compared to his older brother, but "Arkansas" is a distinctly darker and completely unique role.
The White Tiger
"Pulp Fiction" fleshed out the world of drug dealers, hitmen, and the Mafia by telling the story from multiple perspectives. Filmmaker Ramin Bahrani uses a slightly different tactic to explore the criminal underworld with his thriller "The White Tiger," adapted from the novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga. Although the approaches aren't the same, Bahrani employs many of Tarantino's hallmarks, including voiceovers, stylized violence, oddly specific media references, and a lot of perverse humor, to craft a unique deconstruction of corrupt Indian families.
"The White Tiger" follows impoverished teenager Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) as he grows up in the small town Laxmangarh. Although he's barely nourished and working grunt labor, Balram is ambitious and earns an academic scholarship to Dehli. After witnessing his father's death when he's unable to pay for medical visits, Balram promises himself that he'll never be poor again.
Balram's attempts to amass wealth lead him down a dark path. As a chauffeur for the vicious landlord Ashok Shah (Rajkummar Rao), Balram is tasked with covering up a hit-and-run the Shah family is involved with. Although he's sympathetic to the poor villagers the Shahs prey upon, Balram ruthlessly accepts nefarious tasks in order to move up in the family. "Pulp Fiction" and "The White Tiger" are both quite violent, but show the consequences that the perpetrators face -- Balram ultimately must reckon with his choices when he comes face-to-face with his victims.
Lock, Stock, And Two Smoking Barrels
"Pulp Fiction" was popular enough to inspire many copycats, most of which were unsuccessful, as their writers and directors failed to develop their own voices. However, filmmaker Guy Ritchie is the rare Tarantino offspring who developed a flair of his own. Ritchie brought the fast-paced dialogue, colorful characters, shocking barbarity, and energetic editing of "Pulp Fiction" to the London underground in his breakthrough directorial debut, "Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels."
Ritchie started by crafting memorable characters worthy of Tarantino's rogue's gallery. Lifelong friends Eddie (Nick Moran), Tom (Jason Flemyng), Soap (Dexter Fletcher), and Bacon (Jason Statham) are not masterminds, but minor robberies and illicit gambling frequently put them into conflict with the local police. Eddie is a genius-level card counter whose deceptive tactics earn the group notoriety. They begin selling supplies to more dangerous clients, including a smuggling operation run by local cannabis lord Dog (Frank Harper). Then, the incompetent Nick accidentally kills one of Dog's men, tying the novices to the volatile underworld of the British drug trade.
The film was a big deal for Statham in particular, whose cocky attitude led to an extensive career as an action star. Ritchie made unusual casting choices that paid off, including boxer Vinnie Jones as the imposing debt collector Big Chris. Ritchie's success wasn't a one off, either. He returned to London crime thrillers with "Snatch," "RocknRolla," "Revolver," "The Gentlemen," and "Wrath of Man."
"Pulp Fiction" was powerful because it forced viewers to question their affinity for the characters. Characters like Butch, Jules, and Vincent commit horrible acts, yet it's hard not to be sympathetic towards them given their endearing personalities and the sheer charisma of the performers who play them. The 1990 black crime comedy "Miami Blues" asks audiences similarly tough questions as they follow a deranged character who is caught in a brutal world of corruption and deceit.
Frederick J. Frenger Jr. (Alec Baldwin) is a sociopath who is released from a California prison. Adopting the nickname "Junior," he sets out to start a new life for himself in Miami. However, Junior can't help his wicked appetites, and upon landing kills a man before he even leaves the airport. He then immediately hires prostitute Susie Waggoner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to sleep with him.
An investigation into the respected elder Hare Krishna that Junior murdered places him under an investigation by Miami detective Sergeant Hoke Moseley (Fred Ward). Junior prepares to trick Moseley by inviting him over for a nice meal, and pretends Susie is his long-time spouse. However, the cunning cop still considers him a suspect, so Junior follows Moseley home and assaults him, stealing his gun and badge. Junior is now free to use Moseley's identity for whatever cruel purposes he sees fit. "Miami Blues" contains one of Baldwin's best performances. He shows no remorse for his actions, and the semblance of sentiment between him and Leigh is hilarious.
To Die For
One of the reasons why "Pulp Fiction" felt so bold and modern was because it was full of savvy references to films, television shows, music, and novels. Instead of feeling like it took place in an isolated reality, "Pulp Fiction" connected with viewers through specific callbacks to the media they were already aware of. One year after the release of "Pulp Fiction," Gus Van Sant's dark crime comedy "To Die For" used similar techniques to relate to viewers while satirizing television personalities.
Narcissist Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) believes she's destined to be beloved by an audience. She is obsessed with becoming a world-famous journalist on network television, despite having little interest in actually covering the news with integrity. Still, she rises through the ranks of her local cable station. Stone decides she can reach even greater heights if she changes her entire personality, aiming to be the most appealing person she can to potential viewers at home. Realizing that she needs a husband to relate to family audiences, Stone marries local restaurant owner Larry Maretto (Matt Dillon). He's infatuated with her, but she sees him only as a means to an end. She plots to take money from Maretto's family business and then get rid of him.
Stone sees the truth as a barrier, and falsifies her educational special "Teens Speak Out" by manipulating local teenagers with her sexuality. The delinquent high schoolers Jimmy Emmett (Joaquin Phoenix) and Russell Hines (Casey Affleck) fall for her, and she convinces them to kill Maretto.
Acclaimed director Jonathan Demme isn't an obvious parallel to Tarantino. Demme was known for his empathetic earnestness, and created intimate perspectives through tight close-ups that placed characters in the center of the frame. However, Demme was a versatile filmmaker who didn't stick to just one genre. His filmography includes the horror masterpiece "The Silence of the Lambs," comedy classic "Married to the Mob," concert film "Stop Making Sense," social issue drama "Philadelphia," and political thriller "The Manchurian Candidate." Demme's 1986 screwball comedy "Something Wild" is a quirky take on the heist thriller that should appeal to "Pulp Fiction" devotees.
Charlie Driggs (Jeff Daniels) is a bumbling Wall Street trader who cuts expenses wherever he can. After leaving a New York diner without paying, he's flustered when the waitress Lulu (Melanie Griffith) confronts him afterwards. He quickly realizes she's a con artist falsifying both her employment and outrage, but he reluctantly agrees to drive her downtown when she persistently follows him. Along the way, Lulu robs a liquor store and kidnaps Charlie, and the unlikely pair are forced to go on the run.
Charlie slowly begins to open up to Lulu, and she reveals her true name is Audrey Hankel. She masks her identity to escape the pursuits of her psychotic ex-husband, Ray Sinclair (Ray Liotta), a dangerous convict only recently released from prison. Charlie and Audrey pretend to be romantically involved in order to evade authorities, but gradually their feelings for each other become sincere.
Although it takes place in a contemporary setting, "Pulp Fiction" recalls the '70s through Tarantino's eclectic soundtrack choices and references to '70s films. The '70s were a breakthrough period in American cinema when auteur filmmakers were given a shot by major studios, producing many classics. Tarantino isn't the only filmmaker indebted to this era; writer-director David O. Russell has also relied on '70s influences throughout his career. With his crime comedy "American Hustle," Russell took his love of the '70s to the next level with a meticulously accurate period piece.
"American Hustle" recounts the scandalous Abscam operation, and the intricate world of con artistry should appeal to those who loved the maze-like narrative of "Pulp Fiction. Like Tarantino, Russell uses a clever framing device, opening with a title card letting the audience know that "some of this actually happened," parodying biographical films that are completely inaccurate.
"American Hustle" follows con artists Irving Rosenfield (Christian Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams). Although their romance is strained due to Irving's unhealthy obesity, Sydney believes in his ambition. They are caught loan sharking by sensitive FBI Agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper), who recruits them for a sting operation in order to help him make other arrests. All the characters think they're conning each other, and the team is so successful that they're able to involve Mayor Carmine Polito (Jeremy Renner). Meanwhile, Richie falls in love with Sydney, while Irving's wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence) tries to get some of the cash.
Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind
"Pulp Fiction" demands that the viewers pay attention. As the events appear out of order, audiences have to consider how each scene fits in the timeline. George Clooney used a similar technique to drive engagement with his directorial debut "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind." The film is told through the perspective of its unreliable narrator, Chuck Barris (Sam Rockwell). Barris has the slick charisma of "Pulp Fiction's" Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel), and the brutality of Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames).
Barris feels unsuccessful when he's unable to find love or a permanent job in television. Determined to change the course of his life as he falls for the illustrious Penny Pacino (Julia Roberts), Barris pitches a game show to ABC. Supposedly, he's also approached by CIA recruiter Jim Byrd (Clooney) to work as an officially licensed government assassin. However, Barris is always lying, and it's unclear how much of his story actually happened and how much is a figment of his imagination.
The film satirizes the similarities between corruption in the television industry and the CIA's illicit dealings. At the same time that his game show gets a green light, Barris is tasked with taking out more high-profile targets. He heads to West Berlin to assassinate a Russian bureaucrat and is captured by the KGB. He murders a German agent (Rutger Hauer), then decides to propose to Pacino. Rockwell fleshes out Barris' idiosyncratic and deceitful nature with a hilarious, over-the-top performance.
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MIDNIGHT MASS is an original limited series ten years in the making from horror filmmaker, Mike Flanagan, and it is outstanding. The name will seem familiar to fans of his work, having been the title of the debut novel of Maddie in Flanagan’s Hush. It is also the book that Jessie flings at the dog in Gerald’s Game. What was once just an Easter Egg is now a living breathing, philosophically horrific wonder from the filmmaker. While a select handful may be turned off by the philosophical and religious thematic subject matter interwoven throughout the series, there is much to chew on that we must all partake in. It is an experience that none of us should miss.
MIDNIGHT MASS stars Zach Gilford, Hamish Linklater, Kate Siegel, Rahul Abburi, Crystal Balint, Matt Biedel, Alex Essoe, Annarah Cymone, Annabeth Gish, Rahul Kohli, Kristin Lehman, Robert Longstreet, Igby Rigney, Samantha Sloyan, Henry Thomas, and Michael Trucco.
To save from spoiling much of the plot (and there is a lot that could be spoiled), I’m going to refer to the synopsis provided by Netflix: “MIDNIGHT MASS tells the tale of a small, isolated island community whose existing divisions are amplified by the return of a disgraced young man (Zach Gilford) and the arrival of a charismatic priest (Hamish Linklater). When Father Paul’s appearance on Crockett Island coincides with unexplained and seemingly miraculous events, a renewed religious fervor takes hold of the community – but do these miracles come at a price?”
As I sit here contemplating how to tackle arranging my thoughts on MIDNIGHT MASS, I am left grasping at the air trying to find the right words. Yet, I find myself completely baffled as to what words would truly pin down all that this series is. I’ll give it my best try, though. Flanagan has always had a knack for exploring the depths within characters, providing a necessary well-roundedness that is any creative’s dream to bring to life. This series is no different. The same can be said for how enriching Flanagan’s exploration of themes is for the general viewer. We’ve seen this best depicted in recent years with The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor series, series that allowed Flanagan to learn and perfect everything in which viewers will experience in his latest piece. MIDNIGHT MASS has much to say about the human experience, especially in relation to morality, religion, personal accountability, and more. A thoughtful, intellectual series, no words can truly describe how with each episode we’ll be left with our thoughts long after the credits roll. These heavy topics touched upon in the series could have easily gone sideways, but there’s a personal care taken that grounds and supports what we are to take in. Hat’s off to Flanagan for that.
Touching further upon the writing, MIDNIGHT MASS possesses the kind of material actors dream of. With some of the conversations that take place onscreen, it appears delivered via monologues. These instances give this ensemble cast ample opportunity to give the audience a glimpse into the psychology of their character and room to showcase the handling of the material provided. There’s not a single poor performance given. With that said, there are notable standouts among the cast. Hamish Linklater’s Father Paul has a charisma and wisdom that both draws you in and terrifies. The kind of leader that you can easily see why anyone would willfully follow every word said. Linklater makes deft work of the material, munching the scenery and drawing all eyes to him. Zach Gilford’s Riley is heartbreaking. A man weighed heavily by guilt, the audience will be hard-pressed not to want to reach through the screen and give him a hug. Samantha Sloyan’s Bev is truly the one to hate. The true personification of religious hypocrisy, we all know the type of woman Bev is. A role that could have easily become a caricature in less capable hands, Sloyan will be the one many get pulled in by in this series.
Crockett Island is an entire character in itself. While the community is decaying inside and out, the Island’s serenity is captured by Michael Fimognari’s camerawork. Sweeping overshot views capture the inherent beauty that remains despite the repeated disasters that have afflicted its waters and inhabitants. Production Designer Steve Arnold has created a grounded, realistic feel for the isolated Island lifestyle that some may recognize from fishermen communities. Art Director Laurin Kelsey, Supervising Art Director Andrew Li, and the overall Art Department execute Arnold’s vision with care, creating a streamlined cohesiveness that captures the aesthetic required for the setting.
By series end, viewers will be left full and rendered speechless from this full course meal Flanagan has offered to us. Like large meals, there will be time needed to fully digest what has been witnessed. A meal so rich and layered in complexity needs time to be properly savored. Once we’ve sat with it, though, the true extent of the gift we’ve been given will be realized. This decade-long project in the making is a triumph. A culmination of everything Flanagan has gained and learned throughout his career, the time and care taken reverberates onscreen. MIDNIGHT MASS is the filmmaker at his most vulnerable and most introspective. A bleak, macabre, yet hopeful work wrapped up in a burning bright package, this is Flanagan’s masterpiece. Do not miss MIDNIGHT MASS.
All seven episodes of MIDNIGHT MASS will be available exclusively on Netflix on September 24, 2021. As a general disclaimer to those concerned about animal death and violence, the series does have that.
Sure, movie ghosts and masked-slashers are scary, but if you want real, uncut horror you have to go to the source: Real life. These 10 documentaries would be scary enough as fiction, but the fact that they’re real is terrifying.
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Microsoft Windows is one of the dominating operating systems of 2021 (and all-time). It has a market share of 72.98%, which is way above Mac, Linux, or any other PC OS. With time, Microsoft has released thousands of updates to make the OS better, and the most recent update is a bit different from the others.
As per the latest Windows update by Microsoft, the OS will have the ability to block unwanted programs from installing. The programs are known as PUAs (Potentially Unwanted Applications) or Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs). Such tools have very few benefits, and users might not even know how they ended up on their devices.
Hence, Microsoft added this feature to keep these apps from affecting your computer.
PUAs or PUPs are unwanted programs that are not malware. However, they can affect your computer in several other ways, such as:
Affect the speed. Most of the PUPs are responsible for decreasing the speed of your PC. How? They keep running in the background and consuming memory, which, in turn, affects the speed of the system overall.
Irritating Ads. Among the types of PUAs, some can be full of ads. They may target multiple ads to you, which can affect your browsing experience.
A medium for other software. A PUA as it is might not be a risk to your security or privacy. However, it can act as a perfect medium for other software to compromise your security. For example, it can give a route to spyware that may steal all of your passwords and track your daily online activities.
Types of PUPs
PUPs can be classified according to their behavior. One note is that PUPs are not malicious. However, their presence is not wanted, and users typically want to get rid of them.
Advertisement software. It is software that displays advertisements or promotions, often in a way so annoying you want to delete the app as soon as possible. It includes software that inserts ads on other websites and interrupts your browsing experience with pop-ups every few seconds.
Marketing software. You might not know it, but some apps spy on you. Marketers use this to gain insight into consumer habits and interests for their products to be more effective. These are classified as PUAs or PUPs by Microsoft.
Evasion software. It tries to evade security products by being different when they are present, but this trickery only lasts for a short time before detection occurs. The deception of the software is what makes it so dangerous.
Bundlers. A certain type of software, known as bundlers, offers to install other software that might not be developed by the same entity or is required for the original program to run properly. Detection and removal of bundlers can protect your system from installing PUA (Potentially Unwanted Applications).
Torrenting software. The torrent is a type of software that has revolutionized the way we share files. It enables us to download all sorts of content, including movies and music albums, from websites like BitTorrent or The Pirate Bay. Torrenting software is also classified as PUAs or PUPs.
All of the software mentioned above come under the category of PUAs or PUPs. As they can highly affect the performance of your machine, you need to take necessary security measures to counteract their effect.
Here are some of the best security tips for browsing safely online and keeping PUAs away.
Install an antivirus on your computer and make sure you have the most up-to-date virus definitions. Doing so will allow you to detect and delete any viruses that enter your system. It is also a good preventative step against phishing attacks.
However, antivirus might not always do the right job. You need to pick a tool that will detect PUPs as well. Only then can these persistent tools be deleted for good.
Some tools you want to install might offer additional programs. Such suggestions will typically appear during the installation process. However, please refuse software that could arrive alongside the tool you have selected.
A VPN protects your internet traffic from eavesdroppers and some of the questionable tracking practices. Additionally, tools like Atlas VPN take a step further to defend you. Their features include blocking potentially dangerous websites. In some cases, such sites are responsible for distributing PUPs. Thus, if a VPN blocks your access in time, you will not be tempted to download anything unnecessary.
Read EULA Documents
Read EULA documents before installing a particular tool. If software conditions mention additional programs, find out whether you can opt-out of having them. Additionally, look for other red flags that might discourage you from installing specific software.
Windows 10 Operating Systems is the most popular and widely used one. This is the reason Microsoft keeps on bringing something innovative to elevate the customer experience. The recent update rolled out in May brought the feature to block PUAs and PUPs, and many users worldwide are already using it. If you haven’t used it, check it out today!
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For many of us, the space underneath the bed holds nothing more than a stack of old photo albums, a few stray socks, and a layer dust you’ve been meaning to do something about for, oh, a few years now. However, the space under your bed is actually prime storage space—especially if you live in a small home—and one that…
These are the Best USB PD Fast Chargers for phones and laptops in September: Anker, Belkin, and more!
Fast chargers are very useful in certain situations. If you’re ready to leave the house but your smartphone or laptop battery is low, a compatible fast charger will be able to add a decent amount of charge in a short period of time. While some device makers bundle a compatible fast charger in the box, others either don’t pack any kind of fast charger or bundle a lower-powered charging brick. Also, it’s suddenly becoming a trend not to bundle any kind of charger in the box for the smartphones. You can safely blame Apple for that.
So whatever the reason, if you’re in the market for a fast charger that supports USB Power Delivery (USB PD), we can help. In this guide, we’ve selected some of the best USB PD Fast Chargers on the market. You can pick one that matches the supported wattage in your budget. But before we tell you about the best USB PD chargers, here’s a bit about the USB PD standard.
What is USB PD?
USB PD (Power Delivery) is a specification used by manufacturers to deliver increased power over USB to their devices. It works with USB Battery Charging implementations to provide a robust fast charging solution. USB PD was originally introduced back in 2012, and has since been revised multiple times. The latest revision — USB Power Delivery Specification Revision 3.1 — was announced in May 2021, and it supports delivering up to 240W of power over USB Type-C. While devices and chargers supporting USB PD Revision 3.1 will take some time to reach the market, the existing USB PD Revision 3.0 supports up to 100W power delivery.
In terms of cross-compatibility, Qualcomm’s QuickCharge 4.0, 4+, and 5 are compatible with the USB PD specification. Similarly, Huawei and Samsung’s fast charging standards also work with USB PD. So if you’ve have a device with QuickCharge 4 or Huawei SuperCharge support, it can be charged faster with USB PD chargers as well. Notably, some of Samsung’s devices use Programmable Power Supply (PPS), so unless your USB PD charger also supports PPS, you won’t get the top charging speed. Your device will still charge faster than normal though.
If you want to know more about various fast-charging standards and fast charging in general, make sure to read our detailed explainer on fast charging.
Best USB PD fast chargers with at least one USB Type-A port
Although USB PD doesn’t work with a Type-A port, the following chargers can be useful when you need to charge multiple devices and one of them doesn’t support USB PD.
The HPDCA32 PowerVolt USB PD charger from Scosche also includes two USB ports -- one Type-C and one Type-A. But unlike the Anker PowerPort PD 2, the Type-C port on this charger can offer up to 20W charging. It also includes foldable prongs, and is relatively compact.
The Anker PowerPort PD 2 charger comes with two USB ports -- one Type-C and one Type-A. While the Type-C port that supports USB PD can charge up to 18W, the Type-A port only supports 12W charging. It's great if you’re looking only to charge smartphones and tablets.
For international travelers
This Native Union Smart Charger is great if you travel a lot internationally as the company bundles adapters for the UK and EU in the box. The charger supports up to 18W charging via the Type-C port and up to 12W via the Type-A port.
Best USB PD fast chargers with just Type-C ports
With two Type-C ports
The Spigen ArcStation 40W is quite similar to the ArcStation Pro 20W but it includes two USB Type-C ports. Both ports are capable of delivering up to 30W charging when the other port is not being used. When both ports are being used, the two devices will get up to 20W charging. It also uses GaN tech.
Designed by Samsung
This 25W fast charger by Samsung not only works with the company’s devices, it can charge any USB PD device quickly. It has a single USB Type-C port, and can be bought in two different colors. The charger also comes with a Type-C to Type-C cable in the box.
Fast chargers with 45W support (on one port)
Dual port charger
The Baseus GaN Mini Quick Charger features two USB Type-C ports, both of which are capable of delivering up to 45W charging when just one port is being used. It also uses GaN tech, and includes foldable prongs. The charger is sold in two colors, and you can even buy a version with one Type-A and one Type-C port.
Designed by Motorola
Like Samsung, Motorola also sells USB PD fast chargers that can be used with its devices as well as other PD-compatible products. The Motorola TurboPower 45W USB-C Charger comes with a single Type-C port. Moreover, you get a compatible Type-C to Type-C cable in the box.
From the house of Samsung
Samsung’s 45W wall charger is similar to its 25W option. You get one Type-C port and two color options. The charger can deliver up to 45W power to any USB PD device, not just Samsung’s devices. Moreover, a Type-C to Type-C cable is bundled in the box.
Cooler and smaller
The Spigen 45W ArcStation Pro charger uses GaN technology to generate less heat than a similar Silicon-based charger, and it's compact. The charger features a single USB Type-C port that can deliver up to 45W charging to compatible devices using USB PD 3.0 and PPS support. In addition, it comes with a foldable plug and a Type-C to Type-C cable.
The Nekteck charger supports up to 45W charging using USB PD 3.0 and PPS standards. It has a permanently attached Type-C cable that's quite handy. In addition, the charger is USB IF certified and packs several safeguards against over-charging, over-current, and over-heating.
Bundled Type-C cable
This 45W fast charger from Elecjet is another good option. It comes with a foldable plug, making it very convenient for storage and traveling. In addition, the charger supports USB PD 3.0 PPS for fast charging up to 45W. It will work great with all your devices that use USD PD standard.
Fast chargers with 60W/ 65W support
Three in one
The Baseus 65W Three-Port Mini Quick Travel Charger not just supports USB PD protocol, it can also work with QuickCharge 3.0 and Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging. There are three USB ports onboard -- two Type-C and one Type-A. While the first Type-C port can deliver up to 65W charge, the second Type-C port and the Type-A port only supports up to 30W charge.
With GaN Tech
The Anker PowerPort Atom PD II charger comes with two USB Type-C ports that can deliver up to 60W power to any USB PD compatible device. However, the full 60W output will only be available when one port is in use. The charger uses GaN tech, and comes with a foldable plug.
The Ugreen fast charger packs four USB ports that you can use to charge multiple devices simultaneously. There are three Type-C ports and one Type-A, of which the top two Type-C ports can deliver up to 65W of power when only one port is being used. In addition, the charger supports USB PPS.
The NekTeck 60W charger uses Gallium Nitrate (GaN) instead of Silicon for a compact design and cooler performance. It's excellent for laptops that support USB PD. In addition, you get a single Type-C port that can provide up to 60W of power. NekTeck also bundles a 2 meter Type-C to Type-C cable with it.
Fast chargers with 100W support
With GaN tech
This is an affordable and powerful charger from Nekteck. It packs a single USB Type-C port and comes with a compatible Type-C to Type-C in the box. The charger can deliver up to 100W power using USB PD standard, as its name suggests. In addition, it uses GaN tech and is USB IF certified.
Charge both your laptop and phone
Satechi’s 100W USB PD charger comes with three ports -- two USB Type-C and one USB Type-A -- allowing to to charge up to three devices simultaneously. It uses GaN tech, resulting in a relatively compact body. While the USB Type-A port is capable of delivering up to 12W output, each of the Type-C port can offer 100W charging when only one port is being used.
Four in one
The Anker PowerPort Atom PD 4 charger packs as many as four ports -- two USB Type-C and two USB Type-A. The charger intelligently allocates power between devices when more than one device is connected. The Type-C ports can push up to 100W power, whereas Type-A is capable of sending 12W power.
These are the best USB PD fast chargers on the market. As you can see, there are a number of options with different wattages and port selections. You can choose one depending on your requirements. If you just need a charger for your phone, Anker PowerPort Nano PD and Samsung 25W charger are two good options. However, if you want a single charger for your MacBook or other USB PD laptop and smartphone, depending on wattage support, you can go for either the Anker PowerPort Atom PD II or the PowerPort Atom PD 4.
Which USB PD charger are you planning to get? Let us know in the comments section.
The post These are the Best USB PD Fast Chargers for phones and laptops in September: Anker, Belkin, and more! appeared first on xda-developers.
Scientists have discovered another clue to the origins of the virus that causes Covid-19, with bats living in caves in Laos found to be carrying a similar pathogen that experts suggest could potentially infect humans directly.
The virus has killed millions since it emerged in China in late 2019, and controversy continues to swirl around where it came from.
Some experts say it is animal-driven but others have pointed to the possibility the pathogen leaked from a lab.
Researchers from France’s Pasteur Institute and the National University of Laos said their findings showed that viruses genetically close to the SARS-CoV-2 virus “exist in nature” among bat species in the limestone caves of northern Laos, which neighbours China.
Of the viruses they identified among the hundreds of bats tested in Vientiane Province, three were found to closely resemble the virus that causes Covid-19, particularly in the mechanism for latching on to human cells.
“The idea was to try to identify the origin of this pandemic,” Marc Eloit, who leads the Pasteur Institute’s pathogen discovery laboratory, told AFP.
Eloit, whose team analysed the samples collected, said there were still key differences between the viruses found and SARS-CoV-2.
But he said the work was “a major step forward” in identifying the pandemic’s origin, confirming the theory that the coronavirus that has spread across the world could have started with living bats.
The authors of the study, which has been submitted to Nature for peer review, warned that their findings suggest the new viruses “seem to have the same potential for infecting humans as early strains of SARS-CoV-2”.
“People working in caves, such as guano collectors, or certain ascetic religious communities who spend time in or very close to caves, as well as tourists who visit the caves, are particularly at risk of being exposed,” the authors said.
International experts sent to China by the World Health Organization (WHO) in January concluded that it was most likely that the SARS-CoV-2 virus jumped from bats to humans via an intermediate animal.
A competing hypothesis that the virus leaked from a lab like the specialised virology laboratory in Wuhan was deemed “extremely unlikely”, although it has yet to be ruled out.
Martin Hibbert, Professor of Emerging Infectious Disease at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine — who was not involved in the Laos research — said the most closely related virus was found to be able to infect human cells “as easily” as SARS-CoV-2 and therefore might be capable of infecting humans.
But he stressed that the virus is “not an ancestor of the pandemic strain”.
“This work confirms the expected diverse nature of bat infecting coronaviruses and increases the evidence that natural spill-over events from bats to humans can occur,” said Hibbert.
The authors of the Laos study, which has been posted on the site Research Square, said their results suggest the pandemic coronavirus potentially evolved through mixing between different viruses and species of bats.
James Wood, Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine at University of Cambridge — who was also not involved in the research — said it suggests “recombination between different viruses was likely involved, rather than there being a simple evolution of a single lineage over a long period”.
In a comment to the Science Media Centre he said this not only underscores the likely role played by bats and perhaps other animals living closely together, but also shows the “risks inherent in living wildlife trade”, where markets can help drive cross-species zoonotic transmission.
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