WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Disinformation has long been a feature of American politics. Mudslinging, smear campaigns, dirty tricks. Yet wading through the muck ahead of this year’s midterm elections in one fiercely contested state, Pennsylvania, shows just how thoroughly it now warps the American democratic process.
In July, a tweet made the rounds spreading a falsehood about voting. “BREAKING: Pennsylvania will not be accepting mail-in ballots,” declared someone using an account called the Donald J. Trump Tracker.
In September, mysterious letters began arriving in mailboxes in Chester County, on the old Main Line west of Philadelphia, falsely telling people that their votes might not have been counted in the last election.
No, the Democratic candidate for United States Senate, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, does not have tattoos of the Crips, the notorious street gang from Los Angeles, as Newt Gingrich said on Fox.
contentious primaries, Pennsylvanians have experienced a deluge of false or misleading posts, photographs and videos on social media, as well as increasingly partisan, bitter and at times unhinged claims on television, radio and live streams to a degree that no one recalled seeing before.
“I’m not saying the politics was ever, you know, perfect,” Michael Nutter, the mayor of Philadelphia from 2008 to 2016, said in an interview, lamenting the seemingly bottomless depth of the problem.
“I think what’s changed is you go back 100 years and you’d have had to put a whole lot more effort into spreading lies,” he said. “Now, you can just push a button.”
A lot of attention has focused on a stroke that Mr. Fetterman suffered in May, just as he clinched the Democratic nomination. The stroke left him with an auditory processing disorder, a condition that affects the brain’s ability to filter and interpret sounds, which Republicans have said makes him unfit for office. His speech has also become more halting, and he stumbles over his words, as he did multiple times in the debate last week against his Republican opponent, Mehmet Oz, the television personality known as Dr. Oz.
Opponents used his verbal gaffes in misleading ways. A video montage by a Republican campaign operative, Greg Price, exaggerated the effects of the stroke, while a Twitter account impersonating BuzzFeed falsely claimed that Mr. Fetterman had apologized for urinating on a campaign staffer. Mr. Price did not respond to requests for comment.
Other false claims have, again, questioned the machines that count votes, while a recent flurry of posts on Telegram, the app created in Russia, have incorrectly accused the state’s top election official of not complying with legal rulings about mail-in ballots. ActiveFence, a cybersecurity company, said that these claims have spread across platforms, garnering tens of thousands of impressions.
Jill Greene, the state representative for Common Cause, the national good-government organization, said that the many unfounded and untruthful claims posed a challenge for voters.
pledged to remove or marginalize false posts ahead of the midterms.
A doctored post on Facebook, to cite one of scores of examples, showed Mr. Oz kneeling to kiss the star of Donald J. Trump along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (In the original, he was kissing his own star.)
being repeatedly told that the American election process is deeply corrupted.
In fact, Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy has from its inception been propelled by his role in disputing the 2020 presidential election lost by Mr. Trump.
county by county, but election experts say they do not reflect factors as benign as changes in addresses.
“They’re in search of solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Kyle Miller, a Navy veteran and state representative for Protect Democracy, a national advocacy organization, said in an interview in Harrisburg. “They are basing this on faulty data and internet rumors.”
Some Republican lawmakers have leaned on false claims to call for changes to rules about mail-in ballots and other measures intended to make it easier for people to vote. Several counties have already reversed some of the decisions, including the number and location of drop boxes for ballots.
Mr. Miller, among others, warned that the flurry of false claims about balloting could be a trial run for challenging the results of the presidential election in 2024, in which Pennsylvania could again be a crucial swing state.
In Chester County, a largely white region that borders Delaware and Maryland that is roughly split between Republicans and Democrats, the effort to sow confusion came the old-fashioned way: in the mail.
Letters dated Sept. 12 began arriving in mailboxes across the county, warning people that their votes in the 2020 presidential election might not have counted. “Because you have a track record of consistently voting, we find it unusual that your record indicates that you did not vote,” the letter, which was unsigned, said.
The sender called itself “Data Insights,” based in the county seat of West Chester, though no known record of such a company exists, according to county officials. The letters did include copies of the recipients’ voting records. The letters urged recipients to write to the county commissioners or attend the commission’s meetings in the county seat of West Chester, in September and October. Dozens of recipients did.
The county administrator, Robert J. Kagel, tried to assure them that their votes were actually counted. He urged anyone concerned to contact the county’s voter services department.
Even so, at county meetings in September and October, speaker after speaker lined up to question the letter and the ballot process generally — and to air an array of grievances and conspiracy theories.
They included the discredited claims of the film “2000 Mules” that operatives have been stuffing boxes for mail-in ballots. One attendee warned that votes were being tabulated by the Communist Party of China or the World Economic Forum.
“I don’t know where my vote is,” another resident, Barbara Ellis of Berwyn, told the commissioners in October. “I don’t know if it was manipulated in the machines, in another country.”
As of Oct. 20, 59 people in Chester County had contacted officials with concerns raised in the letter, but in each case, it was determined that the voters’ ballots had been cast and counted, said Rebecca Brain, a county spokesman.
Who exactly sent the letters remains a mystery, which only fuels more conspiracy theories.
“It seems very official,” Charlotte Valyo, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the county, said of the letter. She described it as part of “an ongoing, constant campaign to undermine the confidence in our voting system.” The county’s Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.
Disinformation may not be the only cause of the deepening partisan chasm in the state — or the nation — but it has undoubtedly worsened it. The danger, Ms. Valyo warned, was discouraging voting by sowing distrust in the ability of election officials to tally the votes.
“People might think, ‘Why bother, if they’re that messed up?’”
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis meticulously curated the memory of her husband after he was assassinated, reimagining President John F. Kennedy as a fallen King Arthur in a modern-day Camelot.
Now some historians wonder if Laurene Powell Jobs is also trying to frame the legacy of her late husband, Steve Jobs, a complicated and transformational figure who was shadowed by his flaws as a father and belligerence as a boss.
Last month, Ms. Powell Jobs introduced the Steve Jobs Archive. It aspires to reinvent the personal archive much as Mr. Jobs, in his years running Apple, remade music with the iPod and communication with the iPhone.
Rather than offering up a repository of personal correspondence, notes and items for public research and inquiry, as other influential figures have done, Ms. Powell Jobs, who did not respond to requests for comments, said at a conference last month that the Steve Jobs Archive would be devoted to “ideas.” Those ideas are primarily Mr. Jobs’s philosophies about life and work.
Harvard Business School’s 25 greatest business leaders of the 20th century left behind personal archives that are open to the public in libraries or museums, including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Asa Candler, who built Coca-Cola.
Other iconic business founders such as Walt Disney, Sam Walton and Ray Kroc entrusted their papers to the companies they built, allowing those collections to become the cornerstone of corporate archives.
Walt Disney Company, make personal correspondence, notes, speeches and other items available to authors for research.
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“We don’t censor,” said Becky Cline, director of the Walt Disney archives. “We just vet.”
The new Jobs archive debuted with a minimalist website containing eight pieces of video, audio and writing that express what the archive calls Mr. Jobs’s “driving motivations in his own words.” The items, three-quarters of which were already public, can be accessed by clicking through maxims made famous by Mr. Jobs, including “make something wonderful and put it out there” and “pursue different paths.”
The next steps for the archive are shrouded in the kind of mystery associated with the way Mr. Jobs ran Apple. About all that’s been publicly disclosed is that Ms. Powell Jobs hired a documentary filmmaker to gather hundreds of oral histories about Mr. Jobs from former colleagues. Where that material will be stored and who will have access to it has not been revealed.
She married Mr. Jobs in 1991, two years after meeting him as a graduate student at Stanford. Since his death, she has used her estimated $16 billion fortune to fund the Emerson Collective, a philanthropic and commercial operation that owns The Atlantic magazine and funds an organization trying to reduce gun violence in Chicago.
During his life, Mr. Jobs admired and encouraged historians to preserve the history of his Silicon Valley predecessors such as Robert Noyce, who co-founded the chip maker Intel. But he put little value on his own history, and Apple has seldom commemorated product anniversaries, saying it focuses on the future, not the past.
Stanford spent years cataloging items such as photos of a barefoot Mr. Jobs at work, advertising campaigns and an Apple II computer. That material can be reviewed by students and researchers interested in learning more about the company.
Silicon Valley leaders have a tradition of leaving their material with Stanford, which has collections of letters, slides and notes from William Hewlett, who founded Hewlett-Packard, and Andy Grove, the former chief executive of Intel.
Mr. Lowood said that he uses the Silicon Valley archives to teach students about the value of discovery. “Unlike a book, which is the gospel and all true, a mix of materials in a box introduces uncertainty,” he said.
After Mr. Jobs’ death in 2011, Mr. Isaacson, the author, published a biography of Mr. Jobs. Some at Apple complained that the book, a best seller, misrepresented Mr. Jobs and commercialized his death.
Mr. Isaacson declined to comment about those complaints.
Four years later, the book became the basis for a film. The 2015 movie, written by Aaron Sorkin and starring Michael Fassbender, focused on Mr. Jobs being ousted from Apple and denying paternity of his eldest daughter.
according to emails made public after a hack of Sony Pictures, which held rights to the film. She and others who were close to Mr. Jobs thought any movie based on the book would be inaccurate.
“I was outraged, and he was my friend,” said Mike Slade, a marketing executive who worked as an adviser to Mr. Jobs from 1998 to 2004. “I can’t imagine how outraged Laurene was.”
In November 2015, a month after the movie’s release, Ms. Powell Jobs had representatives register the Steve Jobs Archive as a limited liability company in Delaware and California. She later hired the documentary filmmaker, Davis Guggenheim, to gather oral histories about Mr. Jobs from former colleagues and friends. She also hired Ms. Berlin, who was Stanford’s project historian for its Apple archives, to be the Jobs Archive’s executive director.
Mr. Guggenheim gathered material about Mr. Jobs while also working on a Netflix documentary about Bill Gates, “Inside Bill’s Brain.” Mr. Slade, who worked for both Mr. Jobs and Mr. Gates, said he sat for an interview about one executive, stopped to change shirts and returned to discuss the other one.
Ms. Berlin assisted Ms. Powell Jobs in gathering material. They collected items such as audio of interviews done by reporters and early company records, including a 1976 document that Mr. Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Apple’s co-founder, called their declaration of independence. It outlined what the company would stand for, said Regis McKenna, who unearthed the document in his personal collection gathered during his decades as a pioneer of Silicon Valley marketing and adviser to Mr. Jobs.
Ms. Powell Jobs also assembled a group of advisers to inform what the archive would be, including Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive; Jony Ive, Apple’s former chief design officer; and Bob Iger, the former chief executive of Walt Disney and a former Apple board member.
Mr. Cook, Mr. Ive and Mr. Iger declined to comment.
Apple, which has its own corporate archive and archivist, is a contributor to the Jobs effort, said Ms. Berlin, who declined to say how she works with the company to gain access to material left by Mr. Jobs.
The archive’s resulting website opens with an email that Mr. Jobs sent himself at Apple. It reads like a journal entry, outlining all the things that he depends on others to provide, from the food he eats to the music he enjoys.
“I love and admire my species, living and dead, and am totally dependent on them for my life and well being,” he wrote.
The email is followed by a previously undisclosed audio clip from a 1984 interview that Mr. Jobs did with Michael Moritz, the journalist turned venture capitalist at Sequoia. During it, Mr. Jobs says that refinement comes from mistakes, a platitude that captures how Apple used trial and error to develop devices.
“It was just lying in the drawer gathering dust,” Mr. Moritz said of the recording.
It’s clear to those who have contributed material that the archive is about safeguarding Mr. Jobs’s legacy. It’s a goal that many of them support.
“There’s so much distortion about who Steve was,” Mr. McKenna said. “There needed to be something more factual.”
DUBLIN–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The “Global Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market By Component (Anti-Reflective Coating, Silicon wafers, Passivation layer, Capping Layer, Others), By Type (Monocrystalline, Polycrystalline, Thin Film), By Application, By Region, Competition, Forecast and Opportunities , 2017-2027” report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com’s offering.
The global passivated emitter rear cell market is projected to register a significant CAGR during the forecast years, 2023-2027. Increasing demand for better and more efficient energy storage solutions to meet the growing energy requirement worldwide is the primary driver for the global passivated emitter rear cell market.
Solar panels with passivated emitter rear cells (PERCs) contain an extra layer covering the typical solar cells’ backs, increasing the efficiency and output of electrical energy from solar radiation. The safety of the solar panels can be enhanced by using PERC (passivated emitter rear cell) modules.
These modules are able to reduce back recombination and prevent longer-wavelength solar light from turning into heat energy, both of which are detrimental to the device and its performance. Market players are continuously making high-end investments in research and development activities to find new innovative solutions and upgrade the existing infrastructure.
Further improvements to the device are being made to lower installation and maintenance costs in addition to improving its efficiency. Modern PERC panels make better use of available space and operate more efficiently even when fewer panels are put in, which reduces installation time and expense.
The global passivated emitter rear cell market segmentation is based on component, type, application, regional distribution, and competitive landscape. Based on type, the market is divided into monocrystalline, polycrystalline, and thin film. The monocrystalline segment is expected to hold the largest market share during the forecast period, 2023-2027.
Monocrystalline passivated emitter rear cell is a combination of single-crystal cell, passivated emitter cell, and back cell. The solar panel provides high flexibility and has various placements viability & tilt options without compromising efficiency. Monocrystalline passivated emitter rear cells are also efficient in case of low lighting; thus, regions such as Europe can effectively use these for power generation.
Years considered for this report:
Historical Years: 2017-2020
Base Year: 2021
Estimated Year: 2022
Forecast Period: 2023-2027
Objective of the Study:
To analyze the historical growth in the market size of the global passivated emitter rear cell market from 2017 to 2021.
To estimate and forecast the market size of global passivated emitter rear cell market from 2022 to 2027 and growth rate until 2027.
To classify and forecast the global passivated emitter rear cell market based on component, type, application, region, and company.
To identify the dominant region or segment in the global passivated emitter rear cell market.
To identify drivers and challenges for the global passivated emitter rear cell market.
To examine competitive developments such as expansions, new product launches, mergers & acquisitions, etc., in the global passivated emitter rear cell market.
To identify and analyze the profiles of leading players operating in the global passivated emitter rear cell market.
To identify key sustainable strategies adopted by market players in global passivated emitter rear cell market.
In this report, global passivated emitter rear cell market has been segmented into the following categories, in addition to the industry trends which have also been detailed below:
Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Component:
Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Type:
Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Application:
Commercial & Industrial
Passivated Emitter Rear Cell Market, By Region:
Middle East & Africa
For more information about this report visit https://www.researchandmarkets.com/r/n6onw8
LAGOS, Portugal — The Bam Bam Beach Bitcoin bar, on an uncrowded beach in southwestern Portugal, is the meeting place.
To get there, you drive past a boat harbor, oceanside hotels and apartment buildings, then park near a sleepy seafood restaurant and walk down a wooden path that cuts through a sand dune. Yellow Bitcoin flags blow in the wind. The conversations about cryptocurrencies and a decentralized future flow.
“People always doubt when to buy, when to sell,” said Didi Taihuttu, a Dutch investor who moved to town this summer and is one of Bam Bam’s owners. “We solve that by being all in.”
melted down, and crypto companies like the experimental bank Celsius Network declared bankruptcy as fears over the global economy yanked down values of the risky assets. Thousands of investors were hurt by the crash. The price of Bitcoin, which peaked at more than $68,000 last year, remains off by more than 70 percent.
But in this Portuguese seaside idyll, confidence in cryptocurrencies is undimmed. Every Friday, 20 or so visitors from Europe and beyond gather at Bam Bam to share their unwavering faith in digital currencies. Their buoyancy and cheer endure across Portugal and in other crypto hubs around the world, such as Puerto Rico and Cyprus.
In beach towns like Ericeira and Lagos, shops and restaurants show their acceptance of digital currencies by taking Bitcoin as payment. Lisbon, the capital, has become a hub for crypto-related start-ups such as Utrust, a cryptocurrency payment platform, and Immunefi, a company that identifies security vulnerabilities in decentralized networks.
“Portugal should be the Silicon Valley of Bitcoin,” Mr. Taihuttu said. “It has all the ingredients.”
news outlets covered his family’s story, Mr. Taihuttu’s social media following swelled, turning him into an influencer and a source of investment advice. A documentary film crew has followed him on and off for the past 18 months. This summer, he settled in Portugal and quickly became something of an ambassador for its crypto scene.
He has goals to turn Meia Praia, the beach where Bam Bam is located, into “Bitcoin Beach.” He is shopping for property to create a community nearby for fellow believers.
“You prove that it is possible to run some part of the world, even if it’s just one,” said Mr. Taihuttu, with a Jack Daniel’s and Coke in hand. He has shoulder-length black hair and wore a tank top that showcased his tan and tattoos (including one on his forearm of the Bitcoin symbol).
Ms. Bestandig was among those who Mr. Taihuttu drew to Portugal.
collapse of Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based virtual currency exchange that declared bankruptcy in 2014 after huge, unexplained losses of Bitcoin.
If cryptocurrency prices do not recover, “a lot of them will have to go back to work again,” Clinton Donnelly, an American tax lawyer specializing in cryptocurrencies, said of some of those gathered at Bam Bam.
Even so, Mr. Donnelly and other bar regulars said their belief in crypto remained unshaken.
Thomas Roessler, wearing a black Bitcoin shirt and drinking a beer “inspired by” the currency, said he had come with his wife and two young children to decide whether to move to Portugal from Germany. He first invested in Bitcoin in 2014 and, more recently, sold a small rental apartment in Germany to invest even more.
Mr. Roessler was concerned about the drop in crypto values but said he was convinced the market would rebound. Moving to Portugal could lower his taxes and give his family the chance to buy affordable property in a warm climate, he said. They had come to the bar to learn from others who had made the move.
“We have not met a lot of people who live this way,” Mr. Roessler said. Then he bought another round of drinks and paid for them with Bitcoin.
Women in film are still struggling to find jobs in the film industry, specifically in animation.
Animated films like Domee Shi’s “Turning Red” or Nora Twomey’s Oscar-nominated “The Breadwinner” are putting women and young girls in the spotlight, but the animation industry as a whole is still struggling to hire and promote women behind the scenes.
Nicole Hendrix is the co-founder and executive director of the BRIC Foundation.
“These pathways into the industry are not equitable,” said Hendrix.
“It’s like, there’s all this great talent out there that you’re not utilizing,” said Margaret Dean, the president of Women in Animation. Of the top animated films released from 2007 to 2018, less than 3% were directed by women and industry leaders say it’s because of inequality in the talent pipelines.
“It’s just very much exclusion by familiarity within the industry. It’s a ‘you have to know someone’ in order to get hired or to get into a really good program that you’ll get hired from. Not to mention money, right? Not everybody can afford to be an unpaid intern,” said Hendrix.
“It was just the phrases of ‘it was an old boys club,’ and then people always hired people that they knew that they were friends with,” said Dean.
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A 2019 report from the University of Southern California found that women directors were more likely to be seen as a “risk” to studios, and less likely to be promoted to higher leadership roles.
Women overall hold around 30% of the creative jobs in animation. And as more people in Hollywood are becoming more aware of the gender-gap in entertainment, organizations like the BRIC foundation and Women in Animation are pushing for parity.
“There’s definitely waves that people ride and we just need to all come together to make sure that we hold people accountable,” said Alison Mann, the co-founder of the BRIC Foundation.
“Equally important work that we realized we needed to do was to start working with the women themselves, and to really launch talent development programs,” said Dean.
Women in animation, or “WIA,” has challenged the industry to achieve 50/50 parity by 2025. And its educational programs include mentorship opportunities for women, transgender and non-binary people.
“They became these little networks, almost like a seed of a little network,” said Dean.
The BRIC Foundation is working to create more opportunities for women as well through its own industry-wide summits, workshops and the development of a new apprenticeship program.
“Out of our third-year summit, the plan for an apprenticeship program came and it was an industry advisory across animation, visual effects in gaming, 60 major companies represented. And we really mapped out what are the entry level positions that people are wanting to hire for, what knowledge, software, skills, portfolio is needed to achieve those roles?” said Hendrix.
The program hopes to provide training opportunities for students in public high schools and community colleges and ultimately lessen the barriers to enter the animation industry.
“We have to remember to kind of rise above and continue pushing forward and figuring out new strategic ways to create opportunities for people that might not and, and I think everybody has a seat at the table to make change,” said Mann.
Video games and movies have many things in common, but efforts to adapt franchises from one medium to another have historically been met with failure.
This episode of Next Level explores the intersection between video games and film, what elements get in the way of a good adaptation, and how creatives from both industries are working to bridge the gap.
Mr. Smith is the star of “Emancipation,” a film set during the Civil War era that Apple envisioned as a surefire Oscar contender when it wrapped filming earlier this year. But that was before Mr. Smith strode onto the stage at the Academy Awards in March and slapped the comedian Chris Rock, who had made a joke about Mr. Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.
Mr. Smith, who also won best actor that night, has since surrendered his membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and has been banned from attending any Academy-related events, including the Oscar telecast, for the next decade.
Now Apple finds itself left with a $120 million unreleased awards-style movie featuring a star no longer welcome at the biggest award show of them all, and a big question: Can the film, even if it succeeds artistically, overcome the baggage that now accompanies Mr. Smith?
Variety reported in May, however, that the film’s release would be pushed into 2023.
rushed the stage and slapped Mr. Rock. Later in the show, Mr. Smith won the best actor award for his work in “King Richard.”
video on his YouTube channel in which he said he was “deeply remorseful” for his behavior and apologized directly to Mr. Rock and his family.
provided to Variety. When his appeal was measured again in July, (before he released his video apology) it dropped to a 24 from a 39, what Henry Schafer, executive vice president of the Q Scores Company, called a “precipitous decline.”
Apple has delayed films before. In 2019, the company pushed back the release of one of its first feature films, “The Banker,” starring Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson, after a daughter of one of the men whose life served as a basis of the film raised allegations of sexual abuse involving her family. The film was ultimately released in March 2020 after Apple said it reviewed “the information available to us, including the filmmakers’ research.”
Many in Hollywood are drawn to Apple for its willingness to spend handsomely to acquire prominent projects connected with established talent. But the company has also been criticized for its unwillingness to spend much to market those same projects. Two people who have worked with the company, and who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss dealings with Apple, said it usually created just one trailer for a film — a frustrating approach for those who are accustomed to the traditional Hollywood way of producing multiple trailers aimed at different audiences. Apple prefers to rely on its Apple TV+ app and in-store marketing to attract audiences.
Yet those familiar with Apple’s thinking believe that even if it chooses to release “Emancipation” this year, it will not feature the film in its retail outlets like it did for “CODA,” which in March became the first movie from a streaming service to win best picture. That achievement, of course, was overshadowed by the controversy involving Mr. Smith.
This uproariously funny and clever buddy comedy uses humor to talk about pressing societal issues.
Two dudes are in a biosphere after the world has ended. We don’t know exactly why, or how long ago. But childhood friends Ray (Sterling K. Brown) and Billy (Mark Duplass), who also co-wrote the screenplay with director Mel Eslyn, in a stellar debut) are now presumably spending the rest of their days in a dome protecting them from whatever made Earth uninhabitable. Climate change feels implied but is never directly referenced. Ray is a charismatic, quietly confident scientist who built the biosphere, while Billy is a well-meaning putz who somehow served as the last president of the United States when end times happened. Humanity had to have already been on its last legs for Billy to be an elected official at any level of government.
The biosphere is designed not just to sustain life, but to also maintain some semblance of normalcy. The guys play video games, exercise, read, cook and have the necessities for comfortable living, relatively speaking. But they both seem to recognize this can only last for so long, and it’s a ceremonious seafood dinner, of all things, that sparks a doomsday scenario for their safety inside the dome, challenging their friendship, the way they see each other and the way they see themselves.
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And that’s really all I feel I should say. The less you know about this movie going in, the better. No trailer, no detailed plot summary, not even too much discussion about the themes “Biosphere” is tackling. Because, rest assured, while it approaches some deep, important topics in the span of 106 minutes, even knowing what those are would tip you off to possible directions the story is headed. That doesn’t seem fair. “Biosphere” made its world premiere with a surprise screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, which is appropriate for a movie you should embrace as a complete surprise.
What I will tell you is “Biosphere” is creative, daring and hysterical. Eslyn and Duplass show no hesitation in pushing these two characters to unexpected, bold places. And they do so with comedy that often plays as both outrageous and tender. It’s their conduit for the social commentary that reverberates throughout the biosphere and in the feelings and interactions of the last men on Earth who inhabit it.
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Eslyn also makes a remarkably assured feature-length directorial debut, helming an ostensible sci-fi comedy that’s so much more. A lot could go wrong with how this story is told and the messages it offers, and the seemingly unique but actually relevant questions it presents. She fearlessly handles this with sincere thoughtfulness and empathy.
And when you have a cast of two, that dynamic had better work. Brown and Duplass are a delight to watch, both together and individually. Their chemistry as lifelong friends is believable from the moment we meet them on their morning jog around the dome, discussing the dynamics of video-game brothers Mario and Luigi. It’s a galaxy-brain conversation you have only with someone you feel comfortable around. Their banter never feels forced, and it seems likely the screenplay was light on dialogue in some places to allow space for the two actors to just riff organically.
A surprise entry at TIFF, and one of the most pleasant surprises of the year for me, “Biosphere” goes far deeper than what it means to live in a post-apocalyptic world, continually pushing the audience to consider the human experience in ways most ordinarily wouldn’t. In the case of Ray and Billy, that consideration comes while stuck in a doomsday dome. Fortunately for us, all it could take is watching a movie.
The highly anticipated sequel to “Knives Out” is never dull but not as sharp-witted as its predecessor.
“It’s so dumb!” – Daniel Craig in one of the more entertaining scenes of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”, but also an accurate description of how I felt for stretches of the sequel to 2019’s widely beloved “Knives Out.” That’s OK, though. While “Onion” lacks the same charisma, charm and wit as its predecessor, it’s still undoubtedly a crowd pleaser that buzzes along despite a 139-minute runtime.
Craig’s shtick as renowned detective Benoit Blanc is perhaps even more fun this time around. Rian Johnson is also back as writer/director, with a new murder mystery that, to his credit, has an entirely distinct setup from the last film.
A group of friends (Janelle Monáe, Kathryn Hahn, Leslie Odom Jr., Kate Hudson, Jessica Henwick, Dave Bautista, Madelyn Cline), all successful in their very different careers, receive an invitation in the mail. Their ultra-rich tech buddy, Miles Bron (Edward Norton), is inviting them to stay at his remote Greek island to solve his own murder — as in a dinner party murder mystery. (Blanc also gets an invite, though Bron swears he never sent him one. Blanc would like a prize… perhaps an iPad… for whoever solves the mystery). But when this much wealth, privilege and ignorance among friends considered “disrupters” in their respective fields gathers under one roof, something bad is bound to happen. It does, of course – just not in the way, or when, we expect. And so, we’re off.
Johnson ratchets up the comedy in “Glass Onion” to mixed results. The first third of the film is an unwelcome (and unnecessary) reminder of pandemic lockdowns and mandates, along with an over-reliance on spoofing the ultra-wealthy. Of course, lampooning the ignorance of privilege is part of the fun of both “Knives Out” movies, but some of the satire in this case is so on the nose that it feels patronizing. You can almost feel Johnson elbowing the audience saying, “Rich people, am I right or what?!” There must be a more creative, thoughtful way to riff on toxic greed and influencer culture than, for instance, Hudson’s character casually tweeting an antisemitic remark because she’s a self-proclaimed “truth teller.” These types of punchlines are neither nuanced nor outrageous enough to be particularly funny.
The hit-and-miss nature of the laughs isn’t helped by a cast of characters I just never wanted to spend time with. Johnson mostly gives his actors caricatures to work with, and the dialogue does a little too much winking to the audience for its own good. Again, both “Knives Out” movies featured mostly unlikeable characters. I found the first bunch deplorably fun, while I wouldn’t want to RSVP to a party with this crew — even on a Greek island with a literal onion-shaped glass room.
Along with Craig, Monáe is excellent as Andi Brand, the lone member of the friend group with a soul. Monáe is asked to carry large parts of the movie. She succeeds, giving us some of the most intriguing moments of the film as the puzzle pieces come together. Norton also completely works playing the insufferably snobbish genius who feels compelled to rent the actual Mona Lisa from The Louvre (the museum needed some money during the pandemic) just to remind his friends — and himself — how impressive he is. The entire ensemble, really, understands the assignment here. This is a big, ridiculous, meta whodunnit. The talent of the main cast (plus fun cameos!) is not in question.
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The good news is “Onion” begins to click once we get all the unpleasantries of meeting these unsavory characters out of the way and the mystery plot kicks in. The more screen time for Craig and Monáe, the better. Johnson clearly recognizes what he has with the pairing, not unlike Craig and Ana de Armas in 2019. Their chemistry is delightful, and their comedic moments feel organic and earned.
What starts as Johnson’s forced attempt to show he can still subvert the murder mystery genre with biting social commentary turns into another fun trip through the peculiar mind of one Benoit Blanc. “Glass Onion” is consistently entertaining; and just as Johnson said after the TIFF premiere that he’ll keep making these movies until Craig blocks his number, I’ll keep watching Craig have fun in this role. I can’t help but feel, though, that this second entry into the franchise suffers a bit from the Netflixification of cinema, with a baseline level of competence from everyone involved in a big-budget production that’s just serviceable; you stream it and move on. At least that iPad will come in handy.
In 2011, Catherine Engelbrecht appeared at a Tea Party Patriots convention in Phoenix to deliver a dire warning.
While volunteering at her local polls in the Houston area two years earlier, she claimed, she witnessed voter fraud so rampant that it made her heart stop. People cast ballots without proof of registration or eligibility, she said. Corrupt election judges marked votes for their preferred candidates on the ballots of unwitting citizens, she added.
Local authorities found no evidence of the election tampering she described, but Ms. Engelbrecht was undeterred. “Once you see something like that, you can’t forget it,” the suburban Texas mom turned election-fraud warrior told the audience of 2,000. “You certainly can’t abide by it.”
planting seeds of doubt over the electoral process, becoming one of the earliest and most enthusiastic spreaders of ballot conspiracy theories.
fueled by Mr. Trump, has seized the moment. She has become a sought-after speaker at Republican organizations, regularly appears on right-wing media and was the star of the recent film “2,000 Mules,” which claimed mass voter fraud in the 2020 election and has been debunked.
She has also been active in the far-right’s battle for November’s midterm elections, rallying election officials, law enforcement and lawmakers to tighten voter restrictions and investigate the 2020 results.
said in an interview last month with a conservative show, GraceTimeTV, which was posted on the video-sharing site Rumble. “There have been no substantive improvements to change anything that happened in 2020 to prevent it from happening in 2022.”
set up stakeouts to prevent illegal stuffing of ballot boxes. Officials overseeing elections are ramping up security at polling places.
Voting rights groups said they were increasingly concerned by Ms. Engelbrecht.
She has “taken the power of rhetoric to a new place,” said Sean Morales-Doyle, the acting director of voting rights at the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan think tank. “It’s having a real impact on the way lawmakers and states are governing elections and on the concerns we have on what may happen in the upcoming elections.”
Some of Ms. Engelbrecht’s former allies have cut ties with her. Rick Wilson, a Republican operative and Trump critic, ran public relations for Ms. Engelbrecht in 2014 but quit after a few months. He said she had declined to turn over data to back her voting fraud claims.
“She never had the juice in terms of evidence,” Mr. Wilson said. “But now that doesn’t matter. She’s having her uplift moment.”
a video of the donor meeting obtained by The New York Times. They did not elaborate on why.
announce a partnership to scrutinize voting during the midterms.
“The most important right the American people have is to choose our own public officials,” said Mr. Mack, a former sheriff of Graham County, Ariz. “Anybody trying to steal that right needs to be prosecuted and arrested.”
Steve Bannon, then chief executive of the right-wing media outlet Breitbart News, and Andrew Breitbart, the publication’s founder, spoke at her conferences.
True the Vote’s volunteers scrutinized registration rolls, watched polling stations and wrote highly speculative reports. In 2010, a volunteer in San Diego reported seeing a bus offloading people at a polling station “who did not appear to be from this country.”
Civil rights groups described the activities as voter suppression. In 2010, Ms. Engelbrecht told supporters that Houston Votes, a nonprofit that registered voters in diverse communities of Harris County, Texas, was connected to the “New Black Panthers.” She showed a video of an unrelated New Black Panther member in Philadelphia who called for the extermination of white people. Houston Votes was subsequently investigated by state officials, and law enforcement raided its office.
“It was a lie and racist to the core,” said Fred Lewis, head of Houston Votes, who sued True the Vote for defamation. He said he had dropped the suit after reaching “an understanding” that True the Vote would stop making accusations. Ms. Engelbrecht said she didn’t recall such an agreement.
in April 2021, did not respond to requests for comment. Ms. Engelbrecht has denied his claims.
In mid-2021, “2,000 Mules” was hatched after Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips met with Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative provocateur and filmmaker. They told him that they could detect cases of ballot box stuffing based on two terabytes of cellphone geolocation data that they had bought and matched with video surveillance footage of ballot drop boxes.
Salem Media Group, the conservative media conglomerate, and Mr. D’Souza agreed to create and fund a film. The “2,000 Mules” title was meant to evoke the image of cartels that pay people to carry illegal drugs into the United States.
said after seeing the film that it raised “significant questions” about the 2020 election results; 17 state legislators in Michigan also called for an investigation into election results there based on the film’s accusations.
In Arizona, the attorney general’s office asked True the Vote between April and June for data about some of the claims in “2,000 Mules.” The contentions related to Maricopa and Yuma Counties, where Ms. Engelbrecht said people had illegally submitted ballots and had used “stash houses” to store fraudulent ballots.
According to emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, a True the Vote official said Mr. Phillips had turned over a hard drive with the data. The attorney general’s office said early this month that it hadn’t received it.
Last month, Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips hosted an invitation-only gathering of about 150 supporters in Queen Creek, Ariz., which was streamed online. For weeks beforehand, they promised to reveal the addresses of ballot “stash houses” and footage of voter fraud.
Ms. Engelbrecht did not divulge the data at the event. Instead, she implored the audience to look to the midterm elections, which she warned were the next great threat to voter integrity.