Aquarela Review: A Mesmerizing Water Documentary


Aquarela‘s singular focus is the unrelenting power of water. Filmed at a mesmerizing 96 frames per second, Aquarela spans the globe showing the effects of climate change to life’s primary element. Russian director Victor Kossakovsky takes you on a stark and visceral journey. His documentary has zero narration, mere crumbs of dialogue, and no cohesive plot structure. It can be hypnotic and terrifying at times, but also noisy and overly abstract in long stretches. Aquarela is certainly a unique cinema experience.

The film begins with striking imagery of glaciers crumbling into the sea. The high frame rate allows for ultra crisp slow motion shots. Sheets of ice smash into each other and the water with thundering booms. The visuals are accompanied by exquisitely detailed sound. Suddenly the scene changes to the ice road along Lake Baikal. Emergency personnel struggle to pull a car out of the water. They scream at another driver who has foolishly ignored warnings of the thin ice. A heavy price is paid for this folly.

Aquarela then shifts its viewpoint to massive ocean waves. The gargantuan tides rock to a ferocious heavy metal soundtrack. The pounding surf and rapid fire kick drum pummels your senses. It’s chaos and cacophony as the screen convulsives. The onslaught ends with a calm respite on the other side of the world. Aquarela transports you to the Angel Falls in Venezuela. The towering mists billow into a faint rainbow. The sway between idyllic and violent continues. From a street ride through Hurricane Irma to the shimmering shadows of light passing through ice flows, Aquarela‘s only character makes its presence constantly felt.

Victor Kossakovsky’s camera work, cinematography, and sound mixing deserve recognition. Aquarela‘s immersive filmmaking techniques succeed in making the audience a part of the action. You feel the glaciers groan, shudder, and then crack into mini tsunamis. My stomach roiled as a desperate deckhand struggles to steer her lurching ship through savage waves. If only the film had spread the wealth evenly.

Aquarela is too disjointed in its approach. The scenes that grip are bunched together. Excitement builds, rewards, and then wanes considerably over significant periods. Kossakovsky loses interest in these quiet lulls. Four audience members walked out of the film halfway through. Aquarela isn’t long, just ninety-minutes; but drags when you’re staring at water flow. Kossakovsky would have benefited from the ten pages and a bang method. Take the spicy bits and sprinkle at weak points during the runtime. A background narrative could have built around the car accidents on Lake Baikal. The ice thawing earlier each year reinforces the climate change theme, and adds needed structure to the film.

Aquarela will be shown at 48 frames per second in high-end movie theaters. The film must be seen in a state of the art theater to truly appreciate the experience. The sound and visuals are stunning, worth the price of admission over narrative issues. Aquarela may be uncomfortable to some audiences, but film is meant to test boundaries and challenge conceptions. Aquarela is in limited release now, and will be rolled out to new markets over several weeks. Aquarela is produced by Participant Media and distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Movieweb.

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The iPhone and Apple’s Services Strategy – Stratechery by Ben Thompson


Editor’s Note: Stratechery was referenced in yesterday’s keynote. I had no knowledge of or awareness of this reference, and have no relationship with Apple, up-to-and-including not owning their stock individually, as explained in my ethics policy.

It is the normal course for Apple events to come and go and people to complain about how boring it all was, particularly when the company announces said event like this:

Apple Event Invitation:

Apple reporter extraordinaire Mark Gurman was not impressed:

Gurman isn’t necessarily wrong about the highly iterative nature of the hardware announcements (although I think that an always-on Apple Watch is a big deal), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is right about the innovation question. To figure that out we need to first define what exactly innovation is.

Beyond the iPhone, Revisited

Another Apple keynote that was greeted with a similar collective yawn was in 2016, when the company announced the iPhone 7 and Series 2 Apple Watch. Farhood Manjoo wrote at the time in the New York Times:

Apple has squandered its once-commanding lead in hardware and software design. Though the new iPhones include several new features, including water resistance and upgraded cameras, they look pretty much the same as the old ones. The new Apple Watch does too. And as competitors have borrowed and even begun to surpass Apple’s best designs, what was iconic about the company’s phones, computers, tablets and other products has come to seem generic…

I quoted Manjoo’s piece at the time and went on to explain why I thought that year’s keynote was more meaningful than it seemed, particularly because of the AirPods introduction:

What is most intriguing, though, is that “truly wireless future” Ive talked about. What happens if we presume that the same sort of advancement that led from Touch ID to Apple Pay will apply to the AirPods? Remember, one of the devices that pairs with AirPods is the Apple Watch, which received its own update, including GPS. The GPS addition was part of a heavy focus on health-and-fitness, but it is also another step down the road towards a Watch that has its own cellular connection, and when that future arrives the iPhone will quite suddenly shift from indispensable to optional. Simply strap on your Watch, put in your AirPods, and, thanks to Siri, you have everything you need.

That future is here, although the edges are still rough (particularly Siri, which was a major focus of that article); Apple’s financial results have certainly benefited. Over the last three years the company’s “Wearables, Home and Accessories” category, which is dominated by the Apple Watch and AirPods, has nearly doubled from $11.8 billion on a trailing twelve-month (TTM) basis to $22.2 billion over the last twelve months. In other words, according to the metric that all businesses are ultimately measured on, that 2016 keynote and the future it pointed to was very innovative indeed.

Apple’s Services Narrative

Wearables have not been Apple’s only growth area: over the same three-year span Services revenue has increased by almost the exact same rate — 89% versus 88% — from $23.1 billion TTM to $43.8 billion TTM. At the same time, it feels a bit icky to call that innovation, particularly given the anticompetitive nature of the App Store.

That’s not totally fair of course: the App Store was one of the most innovative things that Apple ever created from a product perspective; that the company has positioned itself to profit from that innovation indefinitely is innovative in its own right, at least if you go back to measuring via revenue and profits.

Still, the idea of Apple being a Services company is one that has long been hard to grok. When the company first started pushing the “Services Narrative” I declared that Apple is not a Services Company:

Services (horizontal) and hardware (vertical) companies have very different strategic priorities: the former ought to maximize their addressable market (by, say, making a cheaper iPhone), while the latter ought to maximize their differentiation. And, Cook’s answer made clear what Apple’s focus remains.

That answer was about continuing Apple’s pricing approach, which at that time was $649+ for new iPhones, with old iPhones discounted by $100 for every year they were on the market, and Cook’s specific words were “I don’t see us deviating from that approach.”

In fact, Apple did deviate, but in the opposite direction: in 2017 the company launched the $999+ iPhone X at the high end and bumped the price of the now mid-tier iPhone 8 to $699+. I wrote at the time:

The iPhone X sells to two of the markets I identified above:

  • Customers who want the best possible phone
  • Customers who want the prestige of owning the highest-status phone on the market

Note that both of these markets are relatively price-insensitive; to that end, $999 (or, more realistically, $1149 for the 256 GB model), isn’t really an obstacle. For the latter market, it’s arguably a positive.

What this strategy was absolutely not about was expanding the addressable market for Services. Apple was definitely not a Services company when it came to their strategic direction (even if, as I conceded in 2017, it was increasingly fair to evaluate the financial results in that way).

The iPhone’s Price Cut

This leads to what is in my mind the biggest news from yesterday’s event: Apple cut prices.

It was easy to miss, given that the iPhone 11 Pro, the successor to the iPhone X and then Xs, hasn’t changed in price: it still starts at $999 ($1,099 for the larger model), and tops out at $1,449); if you want the best you are going to pay for it.

Perhaps the most interesting aside in the keynote, though, is that for the first time a majority of Apple’s customers weren’t willing to pay for the best. Tim Cook said:

Last year we launched three incredible iPhones. The iPhone XR became the most popular iPhone and the most popular smartphone in the world. We also launched the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, the most advanced iPhones we have ever created.

In a vacuum there is nothing surprising about this. The iPhone XR was an extremely capable phone, with the same industrial design, the same FaceID, and the same processor as the iPhone XS; the primary differences were an in-between size, one less camera, and an LCD screen instead of OLED. That doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice for a savings of $250.

And yet, even while I said Apple’s strategy “bordered on over-confidence”, I still fully expected the iPhone XS to be the best-selling phone like the iPhone X before it; that is how committed Apple’s customers have been to buying the flagship iPhone. Even Apple, though, can’t escape the gravitational pull of “good enough” — which is why the price cuts, which happened further down the line — were so important.

There are two ways to see Apple’s price cuts. First, by iPhone model:

Launch 1 year old 2 years old
iPhone 7 $649 $549 $449
iPhone 8 $699 $599 $449
iPhone XR $749 $599
iPhone 11 $699

Secondly by year:

Flagship Mid-tier 1 year old 2 years old
2016 $649 $549 $449
2017 $999 $699 $549 $449
2018 $999 $749 $599 $449
2019 $999 $699 $599 $449

In the second chart you can see how Apple in 2017 not only raised prices dramatically on its flagship models, but also on the mid-tier model relative to previous flagships. This was important because it was these mid-tier models that replaced previous flagships in Apple’s usual “sell the old flagship for a $100 less per year” approach. That meant that 2017’s price hike filtered through to 2018’s 1-year old model, which increased from $549 to $599.

That means that this year actually saw three price cuts:

  • First, the iPhone 11 — this year’s mid-tier model — costs $50 less than the iPhone XR it is replacing.
  • Second, the iPhone XR’s price is being cut by $150 a year after launch, not $100 as Apple has previously done.
  • Third, the iPhone 8’s price is also being cut by $150 two years after launch, not $100 as Apple has previously done.

To be fair, this doesn’t necessarily mean the line looks much different today than it did yesterday: the only price point that is different is the iPhone 11 relative to the XR. That, though, is because it will take time for those previous price hikes to work their way out of the system, presuming Apple wants to stay on this path in the future.

They should. The success of the iPhone XR strongly suggests that there is more elasticity in the iPhone market than ever before. Apple also cut prices in China earlier this year with great success; I wrote after Apple’s FY2019 Q2 earnings:

The available evidence strongly suggests that iPhone demand in China is very elastic: if the iPhone is cheaper, Apple sells more; if it is more expensive, Apple sells less. This is, of course, unsurprising, at least for a commodity, and right there is Apple’s issue in China: the iPhone is simply less differentiated in China than it is elsewhere, leaving it more sensitive to factors like new designs and price than it is elsewhere.

As I note in that excerpt, China is unique, but the commodity argument is a variant of the “good-enough” argument I made above: while Apple doesn’t necessarily need to worry about iPhone customers outside of China switching to Android, they are very much competing with the iPhones people already have, and, as the XR demonstrated, their own new, cheaper phones.

That’s ok, though, and the final step in Apple truly becoming a Services company, not just in its financial results but also in its strategic thinking. More phones sold, no matter their price point, means more Services revenue in the long run (and Wearables revenue too).

Apple’s Services Announcement

Apple’s two service-related announcements are also good reasons to pursue this strategy. Perhaps the most compelling from a financial perspective is Apple Arcade. For $4.99/month a family gets access to a collection of games featured on their own tab in the App Store:

What makes this compelling from Apple’s perspective is that the company is paying a fixed amount for those games overall, which means that once the company covers the costs of those games, every incremental subscription is pure profit. Contrast this to something like Apple Music, where costs scale inline with revenue; no wonder the service is getting such prime real estate — and no wonder Apple suddenly seems interested in selling more iPhones, even if they earn less revenue up-front.

Similar dynamics apply to Apple TV+: once content costs are covered, incremental customers are pure profit. That noted, I’m not convinced that Apple TV+’s ultimate purpose is to be a profit driver by itself; I explained after Apple’s services event earlier this year:

To be very clear about my analysis of Apple TV+, I don’t think it is a Netflix competitor. I see it as a customer acquisition cost for the Apple TV app; it is Apple TV Channels that will make the real money, and this is not an unreasonable expectation. Roku’s entire business is predicated on the same model; the hardware is basically sold at cost, while the “platform” last year had $417 million in revenue and $296 million in profit, which equates to a tidy 71% gross margin.

Apple TV Channels is a means to buy subscriptions to other streaming services, which makes a lot of money for Roku and Amazon in particular; Apple TV+ content is a reason to make Apple TV the default interface for video leading to more subscriptions via Apple TV Channels. This view also explains why Apple is going to bundle a year of Apple TV+ with all new Apple device purchases (which is also very much in line with the idea of Apple giving up short-term revenue on its products — or incurring contra-revenue in this case — for long-term subscription revenue).

iPhone as a Service

It does feel like there is one more shoe yet to drop when it comes to Apple’s strategic shift. The fact that Apple is bundling a for-pay service (Apple TV+) with a product purchase is interesting, but what if Apple started included products with paid subscriptions?

That may be closer than it seems. It seemed strange yesterday’s keynote included an Apple Retail update at the very end of the keynote, but I think this slide explained why:

iPhone monthly pricing

Not only can you get a new iPhone for less if you trade in your old one, you can also pay for it on a monthly basis (this applies to phones without a trade-in as well). So, in the case of this slide, you can get an iPhone 11 and Apple TV+ for $17/month.

Apple also adjusted their AppleCare+ terms yesterday: now you can subscribe monthly and AppleCare+ will carry on until you cancel, just as other Apple services like Apple Music or Apple Arcade do. The company already has the iPhone Upgrade Program, that bundles a yearly iPhone and AppleCare+, but this shift for AppleCare+ purchased on its own is another step towards assuming that Apple’s relationship with its customers will be a subscription-based one.

To that end, how long until there is a variant of the iPhone Upgrade Program that is simply an all-up Apple subscription? Pay one monthly fee, and get everything Apple has to offer. Indeed, nothing would show that Apple is a Services company more than making the iPhone itself a service, at least as far as the customer relationship goes. You might even say it is innovative.


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How Much Damage Did Han Solo Do to the Millennium Falcon During the Kessel Run?


Solo: A Star Wars Story answered a lot of questions about Han Solo and his early days. One of the focal points of the spin-off is the Millennium Falcon and how Han was able to get it. After watching the movie, it’s clear that the young Han was more than a little reckless with his new friend’s ship, but he did what he had to do in order to survive. With that being said, a new video has broken down exactly how much damage was done to the iconic ship during the Kessel Run.

The Kessel Run is one of the most famous pieces of Star Wars mythology, so fans were excited to see it included in Solo. As Alden Ehrenreich’s young Han Solo tries to escape, he ends up causing quite a bit of damage to the Millennium Falcon. When seeing every ding or shot taken, everything adds up quick. In the end, it will cost 87,500 republic credits to get the ship back to normal, which is quite a bit of money.

Solo was not as successful as Disney and Lucasfilm were hoping it was going to be when it hit theaters last year. It came out less than six months after Rian Johnson’s divisive The Last Jedi and fans were not ready for a new take on one of the franchise’s best-known characters. While the timing may have been off, the movie was able to make a lot of Star Wars fans happy and in hindsight, the spin-off has been looked at in a more positive light.

Related: Some Star Wars Fans Really Want to See Solo 2 Happen

There are even Star Wars fans who are hoping that Lucasfilm and Disney will make a Solo sequel in the future. While that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen, it could turn into a new series for the Disney+ streaming service, which debuts later this year with the live-action Star Wars series The Mandalorian. There’s still a lot more of Han Solo’s past that can be investigated and the movie left things wide open for a sequel. We’ll just have to wait and see what Disney decides to do with the property.

Star Wars fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming months. The Mandalorian debuts in November, while J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters at the end of December. We’re going to see the Skywalker saga come to a close on the big screen as Disney and Lucasfilm start to branch out and try new things with new characters. That doesn’t mean we won’t see continuations elsewhere though. Ewan McGregor is coming back for the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+ and there will more than likely be more shows coming up in the near future. Maybe a Solo series will be one of them. You can watch the Millennium Falcon take on damage below, thanks to the Star Wars YouTube channel.

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Christian Bale Is Dying to See Joker, Calls Joaquin Phoenix Brave


The excitement surrounding Joker is reaching a fever pitch as the film nears release after having recently won the best film award at the Venice Film Festival. The last time a Batman-related movie received this much critical acclaim was The Dark Knight featuring Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning Joker performance.

Ledger’s co-star in the film, Christian Bale, commented on Joaquin Phoenix reprising the role of the Clown Prince of Crime during promotions for his new film Ford v Ferrari.

“Joaquin is one of the best actors around, you know, and obviously I worked with Heath. You know, it’s a brave thing to follow up that performance and he always makes interesting choices.”

Bale then offered this.

“Dying to see it… I wish them the best with that.”

Encouraging words coming from the Batman who headed the most critically acclaimed films ever about the world of The Dark Knight. While Ledger’s performance in the film was praised as a game-changer, it was subsequently speculated that any other actor who would take on the role would be doomed to looking like a pale imitation of Ledger’s iconic take on the character.

Jared Leto, another Oscar-winning actor, tried hard to avoid the inevitable comparisons when he played the Joker in Suicide Squad. Unfortunately, the changes he brought to the character were deemed too extreme and far removed from the Joker of the comics, and fans almost universally rejected the new Joker.

Related: Joker on Track to Beat Venom Box Office Record Following Venice Debut

When it was announced that Todd Philips was rebooting the character with his gritty Joker origin movie, the question of who will be the new Joker was speculated endlessly. The news that Joaquin Pheonix was finalized for the role was met with surprise on a mostly positive note. Pheonix has lately become known for choosing indie, gritty, low-budget projects far removed from the world of big-budget superhero films. But he is also known for being a fascinating performer with a complete commitment to whatever role he takes on.

Finally, after months of endless rumors surrounding the state of the film, it was screened at the Venice Film Festival and immediately received a rapturous welcome, with Pheonix drawing special praise for his turn as the Joker. Every reviewer who has seen the film seems to agree that the actor has spared no effort in embodying the mind and body of Arthur Fleck, a struggling standup comic who is buffeted endlessly by cruelties that exist in society on all sides, prompting him on his journey into darkness to be reborn as the maniacal Joker.

Now it remains to be seen whether the cumulation of praise and good wishes from the industry will translate into a film that manages to do what The Dark Knight did: make a killing at the box office and cement its status in pop culture as not just a great comic book movie, but one of the greatest action-dramas of all time, with a performance that will be remembered for generations and inspire the next actor who dares to take on the role of the Joker. But no pressure! This news comes from

Neeraj Chand


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Creed II Director Really Upset Stallone by Cutting Rocky Vs. Drago Rematch


Rocky Balboa and Ivan Drago had a bit of a rematch in a deleted scene from Creed II, and Sylvester Stallone was pretty unhappy to see it hit the cutting room floor. Fans of the franchise will remember when Dolph Lundgren portrayed the brutal Russian boxer fighting the Italian Stallion in Rocky IV. The two characters duked it out briefly once again in the axed Creed II scene, and Lundgren recently brought it up again at FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention. Here’s what the actor had to say about the cut Rocky and Ivan fight.

“For some reason, they took it out. I haven’t seen it cut together – I think it’s on the DVD or something. But Stallone was really upset, he wanted it in there. But I guess it broke the flow of the picture somehow, so there you go. Maybe next time.”

The scene in question takes place after the first fight between Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) and Ivan’s son Viktor Drago (Florian Munteanu). Creed is hospitalized after the match, leading to the Dragos arriving at the hospital with a film crew hoping to generate publicity. Rocky urges them to leave, leading to a scuffle between the retired boxer and Ivan in the hospital lobby. Unfortunately, the scene in full is not actually included on any home video release of Creed II, but clips of Stallone and Lundgren rehearsing their mini-rematch can be seen in some of the behind-the-scenes footage from the movie.

Ivan Drago was a breakout role for Lundgren, who instantly became a star following the release of Rocky IV. In the movie, Drago first goes toe to toe with Rocky’s pal and former foe Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers) with Rocky in Apollo’s corner. The fierce Drago ultimately pummels Creed so badly, he leaves the fan favorite boxer laying dead in the middle of the ring. Rocky then gets vengeance by defeating Drago in his home country. Interestingly enough, Lundgren also recently met up with Weathers as well in another Rocky IV reunion, posting an image on Instagram of the two posing together. Rocky fans are now hoping Weathers will join Stallone and Lundgren in the next Expendables movie.

Given the success of the Creed movie, it’s inevitable we will see Creed III on the big screen before long. However, production on the sequel has yet to begin. Reportedly, Michael B. Jordan was offered the chance to direct in addition to starring in the movie at one point, but the follow-up has yet to be officially greenlit. Meanwhile, Stallone has also suggested he has another idea for a separate Rocky movie to continue the story of the Italian Stallion, but this has yet to come to fruition as well. In any case, it would appear that this franchise is still far from through with its run in theaters.

Related: Wreck-It Ralph 2 & Creed 2 Are Ready for Round 2 at the Box Office

Perhaps a Rocky Balboa vs. Ivan Drago rematch would have distracted from the feud between Adonis and Viktor in Creed II, but it certainly would be fun to watch. Let’s hope a full cut of the scene makes it way out there some day. Lundgren’s words were transcribed by


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iOS 13 To Release On September 19; macOS Catalina In October


Apple wrapped up yesterday’s event by launching iPhone 11 that features a triple camera setup, a brand new Apple Watch with Always On Display, and the much-awaited gaming subscription service called Apple Arcade.

Apple iOS 13 Release Date and Features

For Apple fans who left the keynote empty-handed or who didn’t get to attent the event, the tech giant has a surprise. Apple will be rolling out the stable version of iOS, i.e., iOS 13, on September 19.

According to the iPhone 11 press release, iOS 13 will be followed by iOS 13.1 which will be available on September 30. Users who hold an iPhone 6s or later will be able to download the latest iOS for free.

One of the biggest features that you will see in iOS 13 is a new system-wide dark mode, along with supported dark mode wallpapers.

Focusing on privacy, Apple is bringing the “Sign-in with Apple” feature. The new iOS 13 feature will allow users to sign-in to websites without revealing any personal information. Think of it like the “Sign in with Google” button you see on most apps and sites.

Apart from that, there are massive changes to nearly all the Apple apps such as the Reminder app, the Apple Maps app, the Photos app, and more.

Apple macOS Catalina Release Date and Features

Not everything is about iPhones this time; Apple will be releasing macOS Catalina in October, days after iOS 13, according to their updated website.

Just like iOS 13, macOS Catalina is packed with loads of interesting features; the biggest one would be the update to media apps.

The new macOS will feature separate apps for music and podcasts instead of everything bundled up in iTunes. Also, the Photos app will also receive a huge update that will feature a curation of the pictures by days, months and years.

Another big feature is SideCar — showcased at the WWDC 2019, a macOS Catalina feature that lets users use their iPad as a secondary display.

Moreover, watchOS 6 will is coming on September 19th. The new version features a dedicated app store, new watch faces, updated apps, new health features, and a lot more.

In other news, we have iPadOS 13 and tvOS 13, both releasing on September 30th.

Also Read: Does Apple’s App Store Tweak Put An End To Its Deemed Monopoly?


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Ad Astra review: Brad Pitt, Ruth Negga star in James Gray space drama


Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt leads Ad Astra (Picture; New Regency)

Brad Pitt brings empathy and an awards-worthy to a slow burn drama that asks us to care about another man and his daddy issues but ultimately leaves you feeling cold.

In Ad Astra (latin for ‘to the stars’ and shortened from the usual phrase Per aspera ad astra, or ‘through hardships to the stars’), Tommy Lee Jones’ Clifford McBride has been missing in space for decades after his exploratory project to find intelligent life – the Lima Project – goes offline.

His son Roy (Pitt) is now a celebrated Major in the US space force (his pulse has never gone above 80 bpm even when in danger) and has been asked to travel to Mas to send a message to his father – whom they now believe to still be alive – in the hopes he will respond.

Set in the near future, humanity has expanded to the moon and Mars, although our propensity for warfare, animal testing disputes over land continue even on new planets with a thrilling buggy chase between the US government and space pirates across the dark side of the moon one of the bright spots of this slow, quiet film.

Voiceovers by Pitt’s McBride give us a glimpse into his psyche and allow us to realise that despite his stoic persona, and ability to seemingly remain level-headed and tight-lipped at all times, there is a storm brewing inside as he battles with not only his father’s sins but his own.

Ad Astra
Ad Astra asks us to consider how we atone for these sins of our fathers (Picture: New Regency)

Ad Astra asks us to consider how we atone for these sins of our fathers; as McBride realises his own dad may not have been the hero he believed him to be, he is faced with his own reckoning and the choice to reconcile the man he thought he was with the man he wants to be.

References to God are beautifully littered throughout James Gray and Ethan Gross’ screenplay – from prayers sent to St Christopher to the belief by Clifford that he is ‘doing God’s work’ – but at the same time, the script is all so blindingly obvious you can’t help but roll your eyes; there is no intelligent life, man will play God no matter the year and ‘we are all we have’.

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Ad Astra is helped along by Hoyte Van Hoytema’s stunning cinematography and Max Richter’s score (Van Hoytema regularly works with Christopher Nolan which doesn’t help comparisons to work such as Interstellar) but although it’s all very pretty to look at and listen to, it doesn’t bring any joy or warmth to the experience.

Small supporting roles from Donald Sutherland, Liv Tyler, Natasha Lyonne and Ruth Negga help to expand McBride’s world and remind him – and us – through their small personal tragedies that there is more to life than the one he has chosen.

More: Film

But this is Pitt’s film.

You can’t take your eyes off him as he goes from Earth to the moon, to Mars and on to Neptune in the hopes of reconciliation with his father.

His performance brings a depth to the story and evokes an empathy that would be missing without him.

But although the adage of less is more works for Pitt, Ad Astra is left floating adrift.

Ad Astra is out in the UK on 18 September.

MORE: Newly single Brooklyn Beckham takes his mind off Hana Cross while partying with Yungblud and Kaia Gerber

MORE: Coronation Street star Sair Khan opens up about the death of her mum


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William Shatner & Jeri Ryan Open a Portal to Hell


Welcome to Hell! Today, we have a first look at the horror thriller Devil’s Revenge, which dusts off Star Trek icon William Shatner for a Halloween treat that will leave you howling. Shatner is teaming up with genre favorite and Star Trek alum Jeri Ryan along with Jason Brooks. The movie hits theaters in limited release later this fall just in time for the Halloween season.

From Cleopatra Entertainment, Devil’s Revenge is about a down-on-his-luck archaeologist on a routine cave expedition who is cursed by a relic that turns out to be a portal to Hell. He then discovers that he must destroy the relic in order to reverse the curse on his family.

Cleopatra Entertainment has set a release date for their production Devil’s Revenge, a new horror film directed by Jared Cohn that was executive produced by Brian Perera, Yvonne Perera, and co-produced by Tim Yasui and Cohn. Devil’s Revenge was originally written by William Shatner (Star Trek: The Original Series), and Maurice Hurley (Star Trek: The Next Generation) wrote the screenplay. Starring Shatner, Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Voyager), and Jason Brooks (2009’s Star Trek), Devil’s Revenge will premiere theatrically at the Grand Gerard Theater in Toronto on October 1st.

Devil’s Revenge will be released on VOD platforms on October 1st, followed by a DVD and Blu-ray release on October 22nd. Cleopatra Entertainment is a Los Angeles based multimedia company founded by Cleopatra Records head Brian Perera. Recent films in release include the action-adventure extravaganza China Salesman starring Mike Tyson and Steven Seagal, the Brit-Pop laced Modern Life is Rubbish, Egypt’s official entry to the 2018 Academy Awards foreign language category Sheikh Jackson, and the critically acclaimed England is Mine, directed by Oscar and BAFTA nominated director Mark Gill.

William Shatner is a true Hollywood legend, who is best known as Captain James T. Kirk on the original run of Star Trek, which has been spun off into a very successful film franchise and spawned numerous spin-offs. The actor is quite selective about the projects he takes on, having recently appeared in the final season of The Big Bang Theory as himself. Though renowned for his work in the world of sci-fi, the man is no stranger to horror movies. He has appeared in such spooky classics as The Devil’s Rain and Kingdom of The Spiders. This fits right in with those beloved cult favorites.

You can check out the poster along with the trailer direct from Cleopatra Entertainment. Devil’s Revenge will make your Halloween a scary one.

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Taylor Swift still can’t get over being paid to play a cat in Cats


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Taylor Swift still can’t get over the fact that she’s being paid to play a cat in the upcoming adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats.

The pop star turned actor is famously a big fans of cat – she is the mother to Olivia Benson, Meredith Grey and Benjamin Button – and stars as Bombalurina in Tom Hooper’s film.

In this new behind the scenes footage, Taylor can be seen working on her moves as one of the Jellice Cats as she tells the camera: ‘If you told me I was going to get be a cat for work… what?’

James Corden and Idris Elba also star with the Lover singer – and their new friendship saw them both appear on her new album – and British star James adds: ‘You’re gonna take a load of people, and they’re gonna pretend to be cats… if you just say it out loud it’s bonkers.

‘But that’s where the most fun happens really.’

Taylor Swift in Cats
Taylor Swift plays Bombalurina in Cats (Picture: Universal)

The movie features Lloyd Webber’s original 1981 musical score and is written by Billy Elliott screen-writer Lee Hall.

But, if you ask Idris to explain to you what the movie is actually about, you won’t have much luck.

When asked about the plot by Stephen Colbert, he tried to sum it up as best he could: ‘It’s a classic. It’s a big musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I guess it’s about a cat? How am I doing?’

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The plot is notoriously difficult to explain but is essentially about a tribe of cats called the Jellicles who reunite for the annual Jellicle Ball.

At the ball, the cats decide which one of them will ascend to Heaviside Layer and reborn into a new life.

Based on TS Eliot’s 1939 poetry book Old Possum’s Book Of Practical Cats, the musical doesn’t follow a straight narrative structure and instead mainly focuses on the individual cats and their own personal stories, using the poems and accompanying songs and dances.

The musical was considered risky by many but it became a commercial success and went on to win seven Tony awards.

Cats is out on 20 September.

MORE: Lord of The Rings slated by Game of Thrones’ George RR Martin ahead of $250 million Amazon Prime epic

MORE: Stranger Things season 4 fan theory sees Hopper’s return and Eleven’s revenge


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