• From the outside, the Titan II missile doesn't look like much — just a small building housing the gift shop, a few dopplers outside, and a dust-colored steel mound covering the missile underneath.

    the Titan II missile control room and the hidden silo itself, which reaches 147 feet underground.

    When the silo was operational, personnel on duty descended into the control room through the access portal and into the entrapment area, where they had to confirm their clearance to access the site using a code spoken through a telephone like the one below.

    Four crew members were on duty at all times in the silo. Each crew member served a 24-hour shift, and no crew member could be left alone during the shift because of the classified activity at the site.

    The 24-hour clock in the control room was set to Zulu, or Greenwich Mean Time, and had to be rewound manually every eight days.

    The control room, where crew members awaited a phone call from the National Command Authority telling them to launch the Titan II missile, looks exactly as it did when the site was commissioned in 1963.

    The facility, one of 18 in the Tucson area and 54 total in the US, became operational in 1963, and was deactivated in 1982 during then-President Ronald Reagan's effort to upgrade the US's nuclear weapons. The other facilities were in the areas surrounding Little Rock, Arkansas, and McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.

    The control room is separated from the outer wall of the facility by 11 inches of highly engineered shock absorbers so that in the event of a nuclear blast or some other type of explosion, the crew members in the control room wouldn't even spill their coffee.

    The missile itself was launched from the control room by two crew members simultaneously turning their launch keys at their control stations. Fifty-eight seconds after the keys were turned, the missile would launch, "and no human could stop it".

    At the Sahuarita facility, the missile's destination was Target 2 — and none of the crew members knew where that was. The information is still classified to this day.

    The Titan II would reach its target destination 30 to 35 minutes after it was launched. Powered by 43,000 pounds of thrust, the missile had a yield of nine megatons — about 250 times the yield of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

    This drawer held the launch keys for the missile, and the locks on either side of the drawer were considered classified equipment.

    Target 2 was designated as a ground burst, meaning the Titan II at Sahuarita was intended to destroy a facility underground by concentrating its explosive force downward. Its hypergolic propellants — nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine — ignited only when they combined, creating a fast and reliable detonation.

    Several scenes from Star Trek: First Contact were filmed here at the museum. It's one of only two such museums in the US — the other being the Minuteman Missile Silo in South Dakota.

    The crew on duty inspected the missile silo facilities top to bottom each day — a process that could take three to four hours.

  • Meanwhile taking the backup of emails and other important data on a regular basis is a very good practice. Therefore, on the Internet, there is no guarantee of your data to get stolen or hacked. So that’s why backing up the data is like a security task to your important email items. In this blog, we will learn how to backup Gmail emails to Outlook.

    How to Backup Gmail Emails to Outlook?
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            Fashion house Kenzo begins first Chinese partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall


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            • Disaster does not spare anyone whether natural or man-made. And not even the essential and most successful applications for several companies. SQL Server might be a victim of disasters anytime. So, a DBA must have a database backup and disaster recovery procedures. So To save the database files from any sort of damage in case of the before-mentioned circumstances. It is necessary to have a restoration plan before to make the organization to be pressure-free or jolt-free during the time it confronts any failure.

              SQL Server 2016 Disaster Recovery Options – Recover SQL Database
            • Hiring the right person to handle your legal case is a daunting task. The personal injury lawyer Las Vegas are various to choose from.

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                Amazon mulls to take over Pinnacle Logistics’ operations at Rockford, Baltimore


                Amazon is planning to take over the ground handling operations of Pinnacle Logistics at Chicago Rockford International Airport, Illinois, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Maryland airports.

                • Entertainer
                  Entertainer published a blog post The Wave


                  The Wave” feels like an anachronism. In the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, there were waves of movies about obnoxious, well-off white dudes learning a lesson about their false priorities and weak moral centers. “American Beauty” is one of the most notable given its Oscar success, but this was a crowded subgenre that mercifully went the way of the dinosaur. Watching people who arguably weren’t worth a second thought in terms of character suddenly realize they’ve been jerks most of their lives? What else ya got? At least, director Gille Klabin tries to amp up “The Wave” with aggressive visual style, but it’s still a movie that’s rotten at its core because it suffers from the same problem of all those “American Beauty” clones in that it never satisfactorily answers the question “Who cares?”

                  Frank (Justin Long) is an insurance lawyer who’s thrilled that he’s figured out a horrible way to bilk a grieving woman out of the money owed her after her husband’s death. Yeah, he’s a winner. From the beginning, Frank is a tough guy to root for, and, yes, of course, you’re supposed to think Frank is a jerk, but “The Wave” doesn’t lean hard enough into that concept. If he was a true anti-hero, there could be a bit of cathartic thrill in watching what he goes through in this hallucinogenic variation on “A Christmas Carol” but writer Carl W. Lucas isn’t willing to go there. Frank is really a good guy deep down, maaan, and it’s just the circumstance of his profession, his materialistic wife (Sarah Minnich), and his enabling friend Jeff (Donald Faison) that have sent him down the wrong road. The way "The Wave" is constructed, we're supposed to feel sympathy for Frank, and I simply never could. Not once. 

                  After discovering the loophole that could lead to his promotion, Jeff encourages his pal to go celebrate. They end up at a bar, where they meet two women named Natalie (Katia Winter) and Theresa (Sheila Vand), who catches Frank’s eye. When Theresa suggests they go to a house party after the bar, Frank relents, ending up in a back room with a mysterious man named Aeolus (Tommy Flanagan). Drugs are taken, and Frank wakes up in the house the next morning. Everyone is gone. His wallet too. Frank finds his way home, and then things start getting weird. Time jumps and Frank starts to wonder if he’s not still feeling the effects of whatever he took last night. Is any of this really happening? And what does it all mean?

                  A riff on Dickens with a modern Scrooge learning a lesson through the help of hallucinogenic drugs isn’t the worst idea, but “The Wave” suffers from execution problems on every single level. Before the long journey of Frank’s soul, the dialogue is unbearably shallow. Just listening to Frank and Jeff talk dude-bro in his office made me want to take something myself, and then seeing them flirt with people at a bar reminded me why I don’t go to bars anymore. It’s just a deeply unlikable movie mostly because it can’t figure out what it thinks of its protagonist. Justin Long plays Frank as more of a goofy opportunist, which makes the film feel like an awkward physical comedy of errors instead of the philosophical adventure that its writer and director probably thought they were making. And the cast never gels. Vand walks on from a more complex character study, Long thinks this is an “American Pie” sequel, and Faison clearly just doesn’t want to be there at all. “The Wave” is full of scenes that don’t click, probably because the filmmakers were just waiting for the next visual flourish or psychedelic moment to push us to the next harried plot point. It's exhausting. 

                  In the end, “The Wave” isn’t even satisfying as a morality tale. As so many unfocused films do, it comes to a twist ending that simply makes what came before it even more hollow. None of this makes sense. None of this is supposed to make sense. It’s a movie designed to replicate the confusion of its protagonist, but ultimately reflects the confusion of everyone who made it.

                  By: Brian Tallerico
                  Posted: January 17, 2020, 12:53 pm

                  • Entertainer
                    Entertainer published a blog post Troop Zero


                    If Wes Anderson were to mesh “Bad News Bears” with a live-action “Monsters University,” the result would look and feel something like “Troop Zero,” a whimsical, if not generic kiddie adventure more suited for young ones than grown-ups. Led by Mckenna Grace—the remarkable young actor of “I, Tonya” and “Gifted” and directed by a female duo named Bert & Bertie, it’s a syrupy escapade of misfits set in a quaint Georgia town in 1977. Pleasant enough but never quite as emotionally gripping as a coming-of-age story about acceptance can be, “Troop Zero” scores a handful of memorable moments when it lets its freak flag fly; exactly the kind of attitude it encourages in its central children (or among young audience members) who struggle to fit in.

                    Chief of those kids here is the fancifully named, disarmingly sweet nine-year-old Christmas Flint (Grace), a starry-eyed, messy-haired girl obsessed with the outer space and bullied by cooler packs that cruelly call her a bed-wetter. An avid reader of astronomy books she borrows from the local library, Christmas clutches on to her flashlight (her most valuable possession she’s inherited from her deceased mother) nightly and signals to the sky, hoping to communicate with extraterrestrial life some day. (Sure, “the recluse kid vs. aliens she’d like to befriend” is a touch “E.T.,” or a touch on-the-nose as a metaphor, but go along with it.) With her neighbor and closest (or perhaps, only) friend Joseph (Charlie Shotwell), another outcast frequently picked on by the meanies who ridicule his showy mannerisms, Christmas spends her days looking up to her down-on-his-luck lawyer dad’s work associate Rayleen (Viola Davis, infusing the film with a level of maturity) almost as a motherly figure, dreaming of a future where she’ll get to connect with creatures from afar.

                    Opportunity comes knocking one day with NASA’s Voyager Golden Records initiative, phonographs launched into the space in ’77 with sound and imagery contributions from a diverse group of regular earth-bound folk. With a spring in her step, Christmas decides to enter a contest to become one of the voices on it. The only trouble is: she is not a part of the Birdie Scouts, where the space program would hand-pick candidates from. So she does what every determined person her age would do and starts her own scouting crew. The members she manages to gather around prove to be very much like her and Joseph; outsiders who unite around a common purpose, with Rayleen unwittingly piloting the tribe to earn the necessary merit badges and claim legitimacy.

                    Beasts of the Southern Wild” writer Lucy Alibar’s script moves along rather predictably, with seasoned scouts on the other side of the aisle putting our little dreamers through hell and each group engaging in vibrant tasks, facing one another off through a series of lively montages. (One nod to “Reservoir Dogs” especially earns our giggles despite being overused in cinema.) Meanwhile Rayleen seems to have her own bone to pick with the opponent team’s haughty leader Miss Massey (Allison Janney)—it’s an entertaining rivalry that begs to be further developed.

                    In the end though, this is the kids' show and they do put one on, however exceedingly quirky it might be. And you can’t help but root for them, even when you well know the lessons they’ll be taught by the end (e.g. what counts is team spirit and friendship, not winning) and the tidy bow that will eventually be tied around this cutesy (and elaborately-costumed) film. But don’t be surprised if the “Little Miss Sunshine”-esque finale of “Troop Zero” gets you unexpectedly choked up with the most appropriate David Bowie needle-drop imaginable (take a wild guess), as the kids accidentally form a sense of solidarity in real time, their earthly oddities be damned.

                    By: Tomris Laffly
                    Posted: January 17, 2020, 12:53 pm

                    • Entertainer
                      Entertainer published a blog post Dolittle


                      It's hard to know what, exactly, went wrong here. The concept is fine, even the adaptation is fine: eccentric doctor who can talk to animals goes on a series of madcap adventures! Sure! Nothing wrong with that! Hugh Lofting's popular children's book series, published in regular intervals during the 1920s and '30s (with a couple of books of previously uncollected stories appearing posthumously), has been adapted many times before, for film, for television, animated, live action, etc. The "property" has been its own little franchise for a century now. But "Dolittle," with Robert Downey Jr. in the eponymous role, is a wild whirlwind of a mess, without any coherence, without even a guiding principle. Maybe the problem is that director Stephen Gaghan is known mostly for "Syriana," as well as writing the screenplay for "Traffic," and so he would not be the most obvious choice to helm a light-hearted mischievous romp—like "Dolittle" is so clearly meant to be.

                      At the start, Dolittle is holed up in his mansion, unable to recover from the death of his wife, lost at sea during one of her expeditions to the remote corners of the world. (This is shown via animated prologue, with voiceover by Emma Thompson, who plays Polynesia the parrot.) Now a hermit, with long straggly beard, Dolittle spends his days hiding from the world, chattering away with his animal friends, a duck, a polar bear, a gorilla, an ostrich, etc. (voiced by Kumail Nanjiani, Rami Malek, Selena Gomez, Octavia Spencer, Craig Robinson). His exile is interrupted by two visitors who show up on the same day (in a sloppily handled coincidence): Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) bears a wounded squirrel to Dolittle's door, and Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) summons Dolittle to the Palace to help save the ailing Queen Victoria. If Dolittle doesn't help the Queen, then the land on which his manor sits will be taken away from him, and his menagerie dispersed right in the middle of hunting season. After examining the Queen (Jessie Buckley), Dolittle suspects she is being poisoned by her sinister ministers (Jim Broadbent, Michael Sheen). The only antidote is in the blossoms off the Eden Tree, found on only one island, so he and his merry band of mammals sail off into the ocean to retrieve it, hopefully in time to save the Queen. The ship stops off at an island known to be inhabited by bandits, led by Antonio Banderas, who also has a vendetta against Dolittle. The plot thickens. And thickens again.

                      Certain scenes are so confusingly shot, and put together so haphazardly, that watching it is, at times, like floating in a sensory-deprivation chamber, where up is down, or down is over there, and voices come at you in disorienting surround-sound. "Dolittle" feels like someone tossed a bunch of random scenes into the air, let them fall onto the ground, and then tried to connect up the fragments through weirdly looped dialogue that seems to be emanating from a recording studio halfway across town. It's not clear which animal is speaking when, and it's also not clear where any given voice is coming from. Every voice, including Downey Jr.'s, has this strange disembodied quality, like there's a small space around it, each voice in a little separate pod. Since the majority of the film is group scenes, with a lot of chattering dialogue coming from many different sources, this results in a feeling of almost total dissociation. The animals are mostly computer-generated, too, which adds to the feeling of unreality.

                      The 1967 musical version, starring Rex Harrison, was a legendary flop, so much so it's now seen as one of the death knells of the long overdue collapse of Hollywood's bloated studio system. Watching it now is a surreal experience. All you can see is all that money just pouring down the drain. In 1998 and 2001, respectively, Eddie Murphy starred in two versions, and they were goofy and sometimes gross and kind of sweet, too. Just what the doctor ordered. "Dolittle" doesn't manage to hit any of those easily-hittable marks, although it tries. Michael Sheen is legitimately funny in his impotent blustering villainy, and the squirrel with the soul of a paranoid SEAL commando is also funny. A "bit" with an observant squid had potential.

                      "Dolittle"'s post-production was troubled and turbulent, with other directors brought in to do last-minute surgery (if you believe the reports), and three weeks' worth of re-shoots. That speaks to pretty severe problems. The release date was pushed back for months (usually an ominous sign). None of this would matter, though, if the confusion didn't show so clearly on the screen.

                      By: Sheila O'Malley
                      Posted: January 17, 2020, 12:54 pm

                      • Entertainer
                        Entertainer published a blog post Weathering with You


                        I can see why some animation fans revere writer/director Makoto Shinkai (“5 Centimeters Per Second,” “Garden of Words”) as the next big thing in Japanese animation. Shinkai’s 2016 body-swap fantasy “Your Name” was understandably his big international breakthrough: a cheery, engrossing, and, best of all, representative work that shows his knack for drawing viewers into the emotional life of his teenage protagonists. “Weathering With You,” Shinkai’s latest animated romantic-fantasy to be released in America, has the same spark of ingenuity and consistency of vision as his earlier work. Which is especially impressive, given that “Weathering With You” feels much bigger conceptually—two poor, but optimistic runaways fall in love while trying to stop a monsoon-like rainstorm in Tokyo using her supernatural, cloud-dispelling “sun girl” energy—than it does on a narrative level.

                        I didn’t care much about how plucky high school dropout Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo) and his mysterious love interest Hina (Nana Mori) ultimately get together, but I enjoyed following them while they figured things out for themselves. You might also want to follow Shinkai and his animators given how vivid their conception of Hodaka and Hina’s lonely, but romantic world is. Shinkai’s brand of peppy magical realism is attractive, and “Weathering With You” is a perfect entry point for animation fans who are still looking for the next big Pixar or Hayao Miyazaki.

                        Hodaka and Hina’s richly detailed environment is also probably the thing you’ll remember most about “Weathering With You,” a compelling fantasy with a generic conclusion. Most of movie’s story is told from Hodaka’s point-of-view, which gives Shinkai’s latest a familiar trajectory: boy flees from home without a plan, quickly runs out of money, looks for shelter, makes new friends, evades the cops (and child protection services), and falls in love. Still, it’s refreshing to see Hodaka’s world isn’t just a reflection of his mood: the overcast sky and constant rain that overwhelm Shinkai’s Tokyo also reflects a world over-run by blank-faced adults who mark time before they’re allowed to go home and avoid the outside world.

                        Hodaka has to do some work on himself and his self-image in order to overcome the city’s general indifference. Falling in love and supporting Hina is part of that journey, though it’s not the most important part until midway through the film. Before then: Hodaka’s relationships are defined by how little money and therefore status he has. Even Keisuke Suga (Shun Oguri), a penny-pinching clickbait journalist and the first friend that Hodaka makes in Tokyo, immediately exploits Hodaka’s kindness: Keisuke shamelessly accepts a full meal from Hodaka after he saves Hodaka from falling overboard (they’re both traveling to Tokyo on a ferry). Hodaka also makes far less pay than he deserves after he goes to work for Keisuke’s tabloid-style website, though Keisuke at least offers him food and shelter.

                        Hodaka has to sell out a little at this early stage in his adult life, but he doesn’t have to like it. He mostly does, though, and it’s to Shinkai’s credit that we can see why. Hodaka’s constant fears—of being arrested for vagrancy or too broke to support himself—are gently (but constantly) undercut by the re-assuring sounds of subway trains softly passing over elevated tracks, commuters splashing through slow-rippling puddles, and even a paper coffee cup as it’s gently set down on a McDonald's counter. This is Hodaka’s new home, and it’s generally more reassuring than it is alienating.

                        Hodaka’s love for Tokyo predictably only grows once he finds Hina, though it’s a little annoying to see them meet-cute outside of an unsavory nightclub that he naturally tries to save her from working at. Hina soon shows Hodaka that she can take care of herself and then some. It’s also annoying to see her primarily used as a mirror to reflect his anxieties and hopes for the future. Hina has the supernatural ability to temporarily stop a Biblical rain from sinking Tokyo, if only for a couple of hours. But somehow, she’s his foil? That aspect of “Weathering With You” is disappointing; Shinkai also doesn’t seem to care that Hodaka is basically using Hina’s powers for financial gain in the same way that Keisuke takes advantage of his eagerness to please.

                        But again, Shinkai and his collaborators’ ability to accentuate the positive is what makes “Weathering With You” mostly satisfying. His characteristically graceful use of computer-generated graphics to give already beautiful images more contouring and depth of field is one of many ways that he draws viewers into Hodaka’s world. It’s to Shinkai’s great credit that Hodaka’s story seems real enough while you’re experiencing it with him. “Weathering With You” may not surpass “Your Name,” but it is an exciting confirmation of Shinkai’s storytelling gifts. 

                        By: Simon Abrams
                        Posted: January 17, 2020, 12:53 pm

                        • Entertainer
                          Entertainer published a blog post Bad Boys for Life


                          You would have to be a darn fool to believe that Sony thought it had a good movie in “Bad Boys For Life.” It’s being released smack dab in the middle of the cinematic wasteland that is January, the month where bad movies go to die with little fanfare, never to be heard from again. Hell, even that Fresh Pigeon of Bel-Air cartoon, “Spies in Disguise,” got released during Oscar season. Certainly you’d expect a little more release-date love for the third entry of a hit franchise that stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence as reckless cops armed with comedic banter and oodles of collateral damage. After all, its predecessors were released in April and July, respectively, and were both directed by Michael Bay. Bay’s conspicuous absence added to my suspicions that there was little studio faith in this feature.

                          Surprisingly, “Bad Boys For Life” is nowhere near as bad as its opening day schedule would indicate. It is the best of the three films, offering in some odd ways a corrective to the prior installments. Unlike the original, this one finds some depth in its female characters; unlike the second, it’s not an exceptionally vile mishmash of “Freebie and the Bean” and “Scarface” whose running time felt approximately 600 hours long. This time, Detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowery (Will Smith) are more mindful of how much collateral damage they do, even if the latter must be constantly reminded to temper his carnage. I didn’t buy this “kinder, gentler Bad Boys” shtick for one minute, but that doesn’t mean I was bored. When the climax starts laying telenovela-level melodrama atop the explosions and gunplay while openly cannibalizing ideas from “Gemini Man,” I had to admire the audacity of those choices.

                          The film opens with that speeding Porsche sequence from the trailer, with Mike and Marcus employing their usual disregard for innocents while engaging in what looks like the pursuit of the latest Miami criminal. Turns out all the stunts are in service to getting Marcus to the hospital for the birth of his granddaughter. Now a grandfather—or a “Pop-Pop” as he calls himself—Marcus re-evaluates his law enforcement career. Unlike his hothead partner, he has a wife and family and wants to spend more time with them rather than the hundreds of criminals he’s been shooting. In the words of a far better buddy cop picture, Marcus realizes he’s “getting too old for this shit.” Mike tries to change his mind.

                          Meanwhile, something is brewing in Mexico, and I literally mean “brewing.” A self-proclaimed bruja named Isabel Aretas (Kate del Castillo) executes a gruesome, “Silence of the Lambs”-style prison breakout, reuniting with her son Armando (Jacob Scipio). It’s all part of a plan to murder the people who put Isabel in prison and her husband in the grave. One of those unlucky folks is Det. Lowery, whom Isabel commands her son to kill last “so he can suffer.” Castillo plays her role with maximum toughness, so much so that I wish she’d just gone after her enemies herself, but that whole witch character trait had me worried that “Bad Boys for Life” was going to embarrassingly do for brujería what Steven Seagal’s “Marked for Death” did for voodoo.

                          Armando executes his mother’s wishes and enemies while clad in motorcycle gear straight out of “Gemini Man.” He violates her order of operations, however, going after Mike first. The sequences following this attack attempt to imbue the film with some real emotional stakes, and credit must be given to Lawrence for reminding us that he can convincingly navigate dramatic scenes. Screenwriters Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan use this plot development to sneakily insert a reason for the aforementioned minimization of collateral damage in the action scenes, though rest assured, there’s still enough violence for a rather hard-R rating.

                          Followers of the series will find a few Easter eggs hidden throughout. My audience laughed heartily at one that, unfortunately, reminded me of one of the worst scenes in “Bad Boys II.” Despite the 25-year span between this film and the original, several cast members also return. In addition to Smith and Lawrence, the always-welcome Joe Pantoliano is back as Captain Howard, the screaming police chief whose agita is exacerbated by the recklessness of his best cops. He’s very funny, as is Lawrence, who finds some fresh notes in the screen persona he’s been playing since he debuted in “House Party.”

                          Lest I forget that, like so many other recent action movies featuring older stars, this movie gives us a crew of new-fangled youths whose knowledge of computers bumps heads with the more hands-on approach of their elders. Here, it’s AMMO, a new unit run by Mike’s old flame Rita (Paola Nuñez) and featuring Vanessa Hudgens from “High School Musical” and “Spring Breakers.” Their use of drones and hacking is mocked by the old school police officers, so it’s only a matter of time before AMMO is forced to use actual ammo to get their jobs done. While AMMO prepares for battle, Rita and Mike generate some believable rom-com sparks.

                          Perhaps the only surprise in “Bad Boys For Life” is its desire to embroil us in an emotional stake for Mike and Marcus. Not in the superficial, buddy-buddy, bromantic way you’d expect, but in a sincerely earnest way that is kind of off-putting when you remember how Bay’s films avoided any semblance of warmth. Dare I say that directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah steal a page from the “old man’s lament” playbook that buoyed "Pain and Glory" and “The Irishman,” and that Smith and Lawrence do their best to try and pull it off. I had a “too much, too little, too late” reaction to these attempts to fully humanize Mike and Marcus, but your mileage may vary here. If nothing else, I appreciated the attempt.

                          What I didn’t appreciate was the ridiculous, Marvel-style post-credits sequence that sets up a potential “Bad Boys 4: The Return of Thanos” or something like that. What about all that talk of “one last time” between Mike and Marcus? We didn’t need this time, let alone the next. But I digress. While I’m marginally not recommending this one, I’ll let you in on a little secret: If this were on cable at 3am, I’d watch the hell out of it.

                          By: Odie Henderson
                          Posted: January 17, 2020, 12:55 pm

                        • image

                          It only makes sense that FOX’s hit “9-1-1” would produce a spin-off. After all, a world in which three shows that start with the word “Chicago” (“Fire,” “Med,” “P.D.”) can become one of the most high-rated blocks of TV, why not try to repeat the success of an incredibly easy-to-replicate formula? If you’re unfamiliar, “9-1-1” is an old-fashioned medical/cop drama structure with a modern sheen thanks to the producing team of Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear, the hardest working guys in TV. Crazy calls to the emergency number that you learn in elementary school are intercut with soapy details about the personal lives of the men and women who answer those calls. Sometimes the calls result in tragedy and anchor an episode, but they’re often just connective tissue between what is more of a soap opera than other shows like this. The Murphy/Falchuk brand is one of high emotion, and that fits with the backdrop stories of people in enough danger to call for help. So why not spin it off?


                          Welcome to “9-1-1: Lone Star,” a show with basically the same exact structure but new characters and a new location. The almost disturbingly youthful Rob Lowe stars as Owen Strand, a New York firefighter who rebuilt his firehouse after the tragedy of 9/11. In the premiere, we learn that Strand has cancer, likely because of what he experienced on that horrible day. Yes, before the first commercial break, the team behind “9-1-1: Lone Star” have plucked the chords of 9/11 and cancer. There’s something almost impressively brazen about the way these shows use melodrama, embracing it like old-fashioned soap opera writers. This isn't just a drama, this is high melodrama. And did I mention that Strand has a son (Ronen Rubinstein) who tries to kill himself after his boyfriend not only rejects his marriage proposal but reveals he’s been cheating on him?

                          T.K. and Owen end up taking their impressive baggage to Austin when a horrible tragedy kills the majority of a firehouse there. Given what Strand accomplished after 9/11, he knows how to rebuild a community reeling from grief. It also allows T.K. and Owen to be the fish out of water in Texas, the northerners who bring their fancy coffee machines and hair care routines to a land of simple men who drink coffee black and wear cowboy hats (although the writers choose Austin, allowing for some progressive and “hipster” scenery that makes the potential city-vs-country dynamic softer). They’re not the only ones pushing the boundaries in a historically conservative state. Natacha Karam plays a Muslim risk-taker who comes from Miami to the Lone Star State; Brian Michael Smith plays a trans firefighter who is quickly accepted by Strand in a move that feels pretty progressive for a show like this one. Finally, Jim Parrack offers at least a bit of Texan flavor as the surviving member of the original house while Liv Tyler plays the most interesting character so far, a local EMS worker who is obsessed with finding her missing sister.

                          Missing sisters, hidden cancer diagnoses, PTSD, a suicide attempt—if this sounds like a lot for a two-night premiere, that’s kind of the point. The “9-1-1” shows almost pummel you into enjoying them. They rarely slow down, throwing a baby into a tree and nearly killing a man with a ghost pepper in between all of this character melodrama. Is it great TV? Maybe not, but it’s sure easy to watch, a quick hour to distract you from your problems mostly through sheer adrenaline. It’s hard to believe anyone who likes the original iteration won’t take to this one. Lowe and Tyler are more than charming enough and the supporting cast is strong too, but they’re really just cogs in the grand machine of escapist television. It’s kind of ironic that the show starts with an arc about people replacing other emergency workers because everything here feels so disposable in terms of character. Just plug in a few familiar faces and hit execute on the formula. It’s hard to believe “9-1-1: Lone Star” will be the end of this franchise. I’m already prepping for “9-1-1: Windy City.”

                          Two episodes screened for review.

                          By: Brian Tallerico
                          Posted: January 17, 2020, 12:54 pm

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                          At a time when examples of inclusivity are still few and far between during awards season, the African American Film Critics Association's ("AAFCA") annual awards gala is more crucial than ever. Its 11th installment will be held on Wednesday, January 22nd, and I had the privilege of interviewing AAFCA president Gil Robertson via e-mail prior to the festivities. I spoke to him about his esteemed career spanning over 20 years in entertainment journalism, the origins of his awards ceremony and the creation of AAFCA's Roger Ebert Award, which has previously been presented to writers Justin Chang, Susan King, Manohla Dargis, Wesley Morris, Michael Phillips and Claudia Puig, and will be awarded this year to Richard Roeper.

                          Which year did you co-found AAFCA and what was the motivation for starting the organization? 

                          The impetus for starting the African American Film Critics Association stemmed from the Founding members recognizing the need to build an organization that would amplify the enormous value that Black entertainment journalists contribute to success in the industry. AAFCA’s mission is two-prong in that we create pathways that support journalists seeking to grow their careers and for filmmakers as they seek to find an audience. 

                          How has the organization grown since the beginning, and do you find that there is still a need for it?

                          When we first started out, AAFCA primarily focused on producing our tentpole program, the AAFCA Awards, which celebrates the best performances and films each year. Our purpose has evolved over the years and we now operate a year-round calendar producing programming nationwide that promotes a greater understanding of film and television’s impact to society. 

                          imageGil Robertson with filmmaker Martin McDonagh and actress Frances McDormand. Courtesy of Gil Robertson.

                          What is your professional background? 

                          I have spent my entire adult life working in media. My work as an entertainment journalist spans nearly 30 years, during which I’ve written over 50 national magazine covers and for newspapers like the Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, USA Today and others. I am also the editor of 3 successful anthologies that examine critical issues impacting the African American community. As an author I’ve written a children’s book and a self-help guide for aspiring journalists. I also owned a public relations company for over a decade that executed media campaigns for films, TV shows and several high-profile entertainers, athletes and creative and business executives. 

                          When were the AAFCA Awards started, and tell me what you are the most excited about with the 11th edition approaching January 22nd?

                          Our first show was in December of 2009 at the Ebony Repertory Theater in LA. We’ve come a very long way since then. LOL! This year’s show is going to be great. I think AAFCA members made some smart decisions with the winners in our Performance and Top 10 categories. I am also excited about the number of Asian-themed films that we’re recognizing this year. South Korean director/screenwriter Bong Joon-ho won AAFCA’s Best Foreign Film for "Parasite" and Best Screenplay. Our Best Animated Film honors is going to “Abominable,” which is the first animated film featuring an Asian family released by a major Hollywood studio. I think it’s a very notable development to witness the continued emergence of Asian filmmakers and storylines in mainstream American cinema.  

                          I see that Lil Rel is going to be the Master of Ceremonies. His career is really taking off and I am happy to see it because he has worked hard for it. He is from Chicago and I went to high school with his aunt, who was also naturally funny. His family members were solid pillars of the community whether involved in the church or in advocating for social justice issues. Why did you choose him to MC this year in particular?

                          I’ve been a fan of Lil Rel’s work for years and he’s been a great supporter of AAFCA. Lil Rel understands what AAFCA represents to the marketplace, particularly to Black people. He’s a rare breed of black celebrity who understands his power and takes action with it to endorse the things he believes in. AAFCA is massively proud that he is hosting the 11th edition of our show. 

                          AAFCA’s awards do seem more inclusive than the Oscars and the Golden Globes, any comment?

                          You’re right. When you look at the list of our winners from any year, one of the things that stands out is the inclusivity of our winners. I believe it’s a reflection of our member’s understanding of the universal value of cinema, as well as their unbiased commitment to recognize the Best films and performances regardless of race or background.   


                          Tell me about the Roger Ebert Award given by AAFCA.

                          It’s always surprised me that journalists are so seldom recognized for the value that we contribute to the industry on a multitude of levels. From delivering news and information to the masses that allows entertainment content to even exist, to introducing talented players whose careers we nurture and help grow--entertainment journalists are important. Mr. Ebert’s career provided a great example for what most entertainment journalists strive to achieve. He built a career grounded in integrity and excellence, as well as a deep commitment to shine light on emerging talent. We established the award because Mr. Ebert’s career is emblematic of the values that journalists strive for. 

                          I have attended several AAFCA events over the years, and even recently joined as a member. One observation I have made is your humility in that you seem to put the organization and its members well-being above your personal ambitions. What are some of the things you have planned for AAFCA members to become more prominent in the world of cinema and film criticism? 

                          It’s important to me that AAFCA provides opportunities that allow our members to gain the confidence and skill sets to grow their career. I’ve enjoyed a very solid and productive career as an entertainment journalist and so my goal for AAFCA has always been that it provides a gateway of opportunity for other journalists to do the same. Our annual calendar is filled with year-round programming that includes screening series in major markets across America, programming at major film festivals, plus opportunities to host TV segments on TCM, REVOLT and other networks. AAFCA also produces boot camps on college campuses throughout the year. We are committed to creating these opportunities because they create pathways that help our members in reaching their full potential.  

                          Anything else you want to add?

                          AAFCA’s goal is to keep creating a lane of opportunity for film journalists and filmmakers to grow. We also plan to continue to educate the larger public with a greater understanding of the power and magic of entertainment content. We invite Roger readers to follow us socially at AAFCA on Instagram and TheAAFCA on Twitter. 

                          For more information, visit the official sites of AAFCA and Gil Robertson.

                          Header photo caption: Previous AAFCA honorees Ava DuVernay and Jordan Peele. Courtesy of Gil Robertson.

                          By: Chaz Ebert
                          Posted: January 20, 2020, 1:19 pm

                          • Entertainer


                            An unfaithful wife is murdered -- or maybe not. A successful writer commits suicide -- or maybe not. Nothing is certain here, not even the central character's name. The narrator who opens the film just says, "Let's call him Henry." A mysterious manuscript may hold clues in the markings in pen on some of its pages. Perhaps the text itself has some clues the author did not realize. A man who hires a private detective to find a missing person is himself is followed by a stranger with a limp. A trial reveals a secret affair as a possible motive for murder. 

                            "Intrigo: Death of an Author" is the first of three twisty thrillers based on a collection of stories by Scandinavian mystery author Håkan Nesser, all directed by Daniel Alfredson (“The Girl Who Played with Fire,” “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest”). With stories of mysteries nesting inside each other, their parallels and connections only gradually revealed, and one big question never answered, it might suggest a noir-ish setting, inky, rain-soaked streets illuminated by dim, flickering street lights. But this story is brightly lit, with pristine, screen-saver-perfect scenes on a remote Greek Island and in the Swiss Alps. Even scenes in what could be a dank, musty library are warmly inviting and when the main character has a temporary assignment in a new city, his sublet is the stylish apartment of an architect. Instead of a film noir setting with exteriors giving us a visual depiction of dark secrets and betrayals, this one shows us that even the clearest sunlight may not reveal everything we want to know.  

                            After a brief opening image of what may be someone drowning, a heavy object chained to his leg, we see a man with a backpack (Benno Fürmann) walking along the rocky shore of a Greek island toward the only structure, a beautiful, airy home. An unseen female narrator describes the inherent human duality between civilization and the "parts of our brain that belong to our reptile ancestors. Although we convinced ourselves that hate, revenge, and nemesis belong to the past, our ancient ancestors' blood still runs in our veins whether we like it or not." 

                            He introduces himself as Henry to the occupant of the house, a successful novelist named Alex Henderson (Ben Kingsley), who genially says he likes being in a lighthouse where he can guide people but "if they get too close, I turn the light off." He agrees to let "Henry" read aloud from his draft novel about a married couple named David and Eva who are on vacation in the Alps when she tells him that she is leaving him for another man, and is pregnant with her lover's child. 

                            As "Henry" reads, we see the story unfold, with Fürmann playing David as well. Alex quickly realizes that it is a true story and that "Henry" is in fact David. As the story continues, David decides to murder Eva (Tuva Novotny) by disabling her car's brakes. Alex gets interested, even excited, when David begins to suspect that Eva is not dead after all, and has found a new life somewhere else. "Did it fill you with angst or relief?" Alex asks. 

                            A new assignment gives David a chance to see if he can track Eva down. David is not a novelist but a translator. He has already translated two books by a popular Scandinavian author named Rein, who has recently committed suicide by drowning but whose body, like Eva's, has never been found. He left behind just one copy of a posthumous manuscript, and David agrees to translate it if the publisher will let him do it in Rein's home town, which is where he thinks he will find Eva. Some unusual markings in the manuscript appear to be clues Rein wanted someone to find. David thinks they may reveal secrets about Rein's death. He hires a detective to find Eva and pieces together the clues in the book to solve that mystery himself. The process of translation, which he does one chapter at a time, never reading ahead, is itself a kind of decoding. 

                            And yet the clear, strong light we see in nearly every scene is in sharp contrast to the curiously muted energy of the characters. A narrator describes feelings of anguish and obsession, but we see little of that reflected in their expressions or voices. David's publisher quotes a newspaper article about Rein: "What do we actually know about our next of kin and their deepest motives?" This film tells us that the gulf between what we want to know and what we can know may never be illuminated. 

                            By: Nell Minow
                            Posted: January 17, 2020, 3:22 pm

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                            In Theo Angelopoulos’ “Landscape in the Mist,” two kids run away from their Athens home in search for their father whom they were told lives in Germany. But beneath the surface, this film is about so much more. Their journey is an allegory for life itself, how we all travel through time in search of something that may not even be there.

                            Everything goes by so fast: the cities we visit, the strangers we meet, painful chapters and joyful occurrences. At one point, a traveler looks at the kids, smiles and utters words that ring so true for each and every one of us.

                            “You’re funny kids, you know that? It’s as if you don’t care about time passing, yet I know that you are in a hurry to leave. It’s as if you’re going nowhere, and yet you’re going somewhere … Me? I’m a snail slithering away into nothingness. I don’t know where I’m going. Once I thought I knew.”

                            We’re all aware of time passing, yet we pretend that we have all the time in the world. In a way, we’re all clueless kids traveling in a chaotic odyssey through time. We think we know where we’re going, but we really don’t. We’re all searching for different things, yet ultimately, we’re looking for the same things, closure, wholeness, a sense of fulfillment. Everything seems like it’s within reach yet completely unattainable.

                            Will we ultimately reach our destination? Or will everything we long for forever remain a landscape in the mist? “Landscape in the Mist” transcends the medium with poetic lyricism that is rarely matched by any work of art.

                            Angelopoulos sets up this quest for spiritual enlightenment with a delicate opening shot that is as poetic as any I’ve ever seen. The screen is completely dark. All we can hear is the gentle voice of Voula as she tells her five-year-old brother, Alexander, a tale she has told many times before. “In the beginning, there was chaos and then there was light. And the light was separated from the darkness and the earth from the sea, and the rivers, the lakes, and the mountains were made. And then, the flowers and the trees, the animals, the birds.” 

                            We then hear footsteps approaching, but we are still in complete darkness. The door opens slightly, and we see a beam of light creeping into the dark revealing the children pretending to be asleep in bed. It becomes clear to the viewer that Angelopoulos is illustrating Voula's fairytale with nothing but light and shadow. This is what cinema is all about, filmmakers bringing words to life by painting with light. Angelopoulos encapsulates the very essence of the entire medium of film within the first few moments of his masterpiece.

                            “Landscape in the Mist” is filled with many breathtaking episodes that work as standalone moments in time. But these anecdotes are also part of a beautiful whole. As with life, we are always entering one moment as we are about to leave another. And each moment is as aesthetically rich as the one before. I found myself pausing the film at several moments just to soak in all the beauty. It is so sad that everything that is beautiful eventually has to fade away to become a thing of the past. The reason we treasure moments of happiness is because we know they are not permanent, and they are in a kind of transition. 

                            This sentiment is captured in a wonderful scene that comes shortly after one of the film’s more painful chapters. After a moment of great suffering, we bump into the only truly kind character in the film, Orestis. We see the two children riding on his motorbike, and as they are speeding towards the beach, he asks: “Are you scared?” To which Voula replies, “No! I don’t want it to ever end.” After witnessing this poor child go through hell, this brief moment of joy becomes all that matters in the world. 

                            “Landscape in the Mist” is a work of art that comes from the feelings, dreams, sorrows, and flashes of life that we experience every day. And it is all stitched together by the haunting melancholic score composed by the great Eleni Karaindrou. This contemplative film is layered, complex, challenging and rewarding. I find myself thinking about these children time and time again as I go through my own journey in life. It is filled with immense wisdom and unforgettable imagery. The last shot in particular reaches a crescendo of beauty that is so operatic, once seen it will never be forgotten. 

                            By: Wael Khairy
                            Posted: January 20, 2020, 2:59 pm

                            • STAT Times
                              STAT Times shared a link

                              CharterSync establishes active cargo aircraft operator network


                              CharterSync has established its active airline operator-base having boarded over 100 cargo aircraft live onto its platform within the first six months of its trading.