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Recent Entertainment articles from Daily Dot

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    While a video finally hit YouTube a couple months ago that compared the voices of Larry David and Bernie Sanders, a mashup of material that actually simulated a Sanders/David television show surprisingly didn't show up until a few days ago. 

    Considering that it uses the Democratic debate for all the Sanders footage (the arena in which a person is most likely to become caught off guard, confused, and/or frustrated), it's a mashup that's well worth the wait:

    The few times Sanders stumbled over himself after Anderson Cooper's questions (to the tune of Curb Your Enthusiasm's instantly recognizable theme song), the way he attempts to explain himself, and the fact that he has a genuinely lovely moment with Hillary that ends with him bringing up her email scandal: That's all just so... Larry. 

    Larry David told Rolling Stone that his TV counterpart was "my version of Superman. The character really is me, but I just couldn't possibly behave like that." Then again, he is sometimes like his version of Superman in real life, too, as this video proves.

    While the mashup's creator, Dominick Nero, told the A.V. Club that Bern Your Enthusiasm is not meant as a political statement, it does serve as “an ominous reminder that, like Larry David in Curb, Bernie Sanders is... by no means the perfect candidate.”  

    There will be more debates, and we'd love to see a five or six-part series of Bern Your Enthusiasm. A single debate could yield five or six episodes.

    H/T A.V. Club | Screengrab via Sunpoint Productions/YouTube


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    J.J. Watt is nothing if not considerate. The Houston Texans defensive tackle is already the best defender in the NFL—and certainly one of the best overall players in the league, as well. Off the field, he seems pretty great too, proposing marriage to little girls, hanging out with the less fortunate, and writing letters to try to get fans a vacation from work.

    It's almost like he's Batman.

    No, it's exactly like he's Batman.

    Watch the video on HoustonTexans.com, where you can see Watt as Batman playing foosball, decorating pumpkins, and giving out plenty of hugs at Texas Children's Hospital.

    Said Watt, who will be featured Sunday morning on NBC's The Today Show: "I know what it's like to be a fan. I know what it's like to be a kid who looks up to football players. I just want to be that guy who parents can point to and say, 'He does it the right way.'"

    Watt seems to be doing exactly that.

    H/T BroBible | Screengrab via Houston Texans


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    Proving that she still knows how to manipulate the press and stay relevant, Lindsay Lohan announced Friday via Instagram that she's considering running for president in 2020.

    Lohan posted the seemingly random pic of herself at some kind of awards dinner or charity gala along with a shout-out to Kanye West, Unicef, President Obama, New York's Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth, and @savethesociety, who appears to be Lohan's ex-assistant.

    Then, Lohan posted a second presidential pic—this time featuring her meeting Kanye West, who has also said he's running in 2020. The caption laid out the first arm of her campaign platform ("take care of all of the children") along with a mini-resume of her experience and expertise ("Queen Elizabeth showed me how by having me in her country.")

    Most of the comments made fun of Lohan, but some fans seemed to legitimately cheer her on. One commenter in particular had a lot to say about Lindsay's political qualifications and her instinct for environmental and animal rights policy.

    YES I LOVE MY BUBBLE GUM CANDY! AS MY BUMBLEBEE HOTTIE HONEY BUNNY RABBIT CUTIE PIE! BABE! MY LOVE SWEETHEART MY VANILLA ICE CREAM SANDWICH! AS MY SUNSHINE AS MY LINDSAY,S AND LOHAN,S! GOOD MORNING BEAUTIFUL SUNFLOWER! YOU HAVE FUN A DAY! YES I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! IM JUST GOING TO TAKE MY MORNING JOG! AS LISTEN TO MY RADIO! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! LOVE FROM YOUR SEXY LOVER BOY BOYFRIEND HOTTIE FIREMAN KANGAROO MAGAZINE MAGIC HAT LOVER BABE! JOSEPHMCCORKLE

    Or at least we think that's what that is.

    Sadly, Lohan's chances at a seat in the Oval Office are slim due to her criminal record. It's cool that she's embracing aging, though. The 29-year-old actress will indeed be turning 34 during the 2020 election year, which would make her 35 when she took office. That's what people do at 35, right? Run for president and stuff?

    We need to work on that foreign policy, though, Linds. After you posted a pic of Arabic script that you thought meant "you're beautiful" but actually translated to "you're a donkey," we're a little concerned about your future mitigating conflicts in the Middle East.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    It's wedding season, and these YouTubers are making sure theirs isn't invite-only. 

    Kaleb Nation's wedding to fellow YouTube star bfftaylor (Taylor Elizabeth Griffin) will be streamed live to the world today via Periscope. Fans can tune in starting at 5pm CT, and virtually watch the nuptials of two successful vloggers on the beaches of Alabama. And it's being filmed for TLC's Say Yes to the Dress

    The couple came together in the most modern way possible: In 2011, they met at YouTube convention Playlist Live, chronicled their relationship on their channels, and he proposed to her at DigiFest, another YouTube-centric gathering. Kaleb possibly even predicted their marriage in 2009.

    So, it would be weird if they didn't have a Periscope wedding, right? 

    While a lot of people are using Periscope to watch people smoke weed and readMoby Dick, the Periscope wedding is catching on. It seems to be the next logical step for couples who've chronicled their relationships online. 

    You can tune in here

    Screengrab via Nation/YouTube 


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    We talk a lot about things we see on the Internet "ruining" our childhoods, but a series of fake ads featuring Tony the Tiger are taking aim at adulthood. 

    Starting Oct. 7, videos began appearing on a YouTube channel called Tony is Back!, showing a character resembling Frosted Flakes' famous tiger mascot, Tony. Instead of encouraging kids to harness their potential, he's now hanging around some very adult situations. We're told he's "back to help." 

    But these videos aren't easy to watch. 

    We see him with a sex worker, cops who are brutally beating a woman, and a suicide bomber. "Like the kids he used to help, he doesn't know what to do," an ominous voiceover explains.  

    As Death and Taxes noted, TonyIsBack.com is allegedly registered to a Finnish artist named Jani Leinonen. In 2010, Leinonen was involved in the abduction of a Ronald McDonald statue from a Helsinki McDonald's, which led to the Free Ronald movement. His other works have mocked Cap'n Crunch, Burger King, and, yes, Kellogg's, so it's not hard to draw a line to the new Tony. He has not publicly confirmed his involvement. 

    The social media accounts for the Tony campaign have been disabled per Kellogg's request, but the videos haven't been taken down yet. The company told Ad Week that the "website and video have absolutely nothing to do with Kellogg." 

    The initial pitch claimed Tony would be helping 10 adults with their problems, but a note on the Tony Is Back website says that mission is "suspended for now." 


    We've reached out to the creator(s) and will update if and when we hear back. 

    H/T Death and Taxes | Screengrab via Tony is Back!/YouTube 


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    When you’re stuck for Halloween makeup ideas, it’s YouTube to the rescue. The video platform is there for you with step-by-step instructions and Halloween makeup tutorials to help you figure out how to turn your face into a one-night work of art.

    From scary witches to Snapchat-inspired DIY, we’ve rounded up some of the best tutorials for all your Halloween makeup needs.

    1) Snapchat-inspired paint filters

    If you want your Halloween makeup ideas to be viral-ready, painting your face to be the puking Snapchat rainbow is the ticket. Lots of YouTube beauty gurus have made this Halloween makeup tutorial already, and while we love the original, the most popular is from YouTuber RCL Beauty 101. She shows you how to do the puking rainbow, the cute crying filter, and the creepy monster filter all in one video.

    2) Disney-fy yourself

    If you’re looking for great Disney makeup inspiration, look no further than Promise Phan, Michelle Phan’s sister. Promise is never short on Halloween makeup ideas, and she’s been doing tons of Disney looks for fans. For a simpler option, you can do a picture-ready Elsa from Frozen look that comes off as frosted glam.

    For those in pursuit of more adventurous Halloween makeup ideas, she also does characters like Ursula from The Little Mermaid, which requires a lot more colorful paint and dramatic designs.

    3) Pop art looks

    Turn yourself into something worthy of hanging on a museum wall with a pop art look. For this effect, it’s all about the colors and your careful dot placement to create a Lichtenstein-esque look. Shaaanxo does the iconic crying comic girl look in her video tutorial, but you can apply this style to any Halloween makeup ideas you have for a comic book look.

    4) Be-witching DIYs

    There are two ways to be a witch this Halloween: You can do regular makeup and add a hat for a “sexy witch,” or you can go all out and make an elaborate and scary witch. Makeup vlogger Pixiwoo took on the latter challenge—using only the kind of Halloween makeup you can find in any Halloween supply store, not a fancy makeup shop.  

    5) Embrace the horror

    Fancy faces and pretty princesses are all great options for Halloween makeup, but the spirit of the holiday is to scare. If you’re going to delve into horror makeup tutorials, you should invest in some basic latex. BeautifulYouTV’s zipper face tutorial only requires a little bit, and the majority of the effect is created by paint and a zipper you can buy from a fabric store.

    6) Advanced character work

    If you are ready to really commit to an advanced Halloween makeup idea, invest in some latex and polymorph plastic, and go to town on crazy designs like this killer snail. You’ll definitely win your local costume contest, but on the flip side no one will want to talk with you all night long because you’ll look terrifying.


    With these Halloween makeup tutorials at your fingertips, you’ll be full of Halloween makeup ideas to turn into a spookily impressive reality this Oct. 31.

    Screengrab via ellimacs sfx makeup/YouTube


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    Maybe some people saw it coming, but Larry David as Bernie Sanders is a pretty stellar casting decision by Saturday Night Live.

    David showed up on last night's episode in a sketch about this week's Democratic debate.

    Sanders will be sticking around until the primaries early next year at the very least, so SNL either needs another funny old Jewish man or, preferably, should bring David back every week.

    The presidential race will continue to get the SNL treatment. Donald Trump is due to host soon, a decision that's provoked a petition with over 100,000 signers asking NBC to reverse the decision due to Trump's comments about immigrants.

    Most important of all, David asked the important questions: "Who do you want as president? One of these Washington insiders or a guy who has one pair of clean underwear that he dries on a radiator?"

    Screengrab via Saturday Night Live/YouTube 


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    Last night, Tracy Morgan hosted Saturday Night Live, marking the first time he'd returned to the stage since being injured in a car accident in 2014. And the appearance of Alec Baldwin in the cold open might have hinted at what was to come. 

    In his monologue, Morgan explained that he told Lorne Michaels that once he recovered, he wanted to "come home." To show how much love his comedy family had for him, he flashed back to a 2012 episode of 30 Rock, which was actually a 2015 reunion starring Baldwin, Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer, and Jane Krakowski. 

    Morgan said it best: "Let's be funny." 

    Screengrab via Hulu 


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    Wednesday is Back to the Future Day, when everyone lucky enough to live among the flying cars and holographic movie theaters of Hill Valley, California, hopes to meet the 1980s version of Michael J. Fox as he tries to save his future self while riding a hoverboard and fleeing Griff Tannen and his posse of futuristic hooligans.

    To mark the occasion, the Fine Brothers gathered a bunch of teenagers and showed them clips from Back to the Future II to see what they thought of the moviemakers' vision of the future.

    To those of us who grew up in the 1980s and '90s and who have loved the BttF franchise ever since, it's actually pretty heartening to see that these whippersnappers have an appreciation for Doc Brown and Marty McFly and all the shenanigans that ensued between and because of them.

    But perhaps the best reaction occurred when these two teens learned that  the movie takes place in the same year in which they're currently living.

    For those of us who remember seeing the Back to the Future trilogy in theaters, the above reaction feels all too familiar.

    Screengrab via Fine Bros. Entertainment/YouTube


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    After four years of waiting, there's finally a new Adele album on the way.

    Adele teased the album during a commercial break on U.K. X Factor this weekend with a lyric video clip from an upcoming single.

    "Hello, it's me," the clip begins. "I was wondering if after all these years/you'd like to meet to go over everything."

    This is Adele's first song since Skyfall in 2012, and needless to say it's already getting fans very excited to hear more.

    Say hello to your next breakup soundtrack. Adele is here for you, now and forever. 

    Photo via Christopher Macsurak/Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)


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    Following in the footsteps of an Internet mashup, Saturday Night Livedemonstrated in its most recent episode that Larry David is perfect as Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders—and Sanders, for one, agrees.

    At an event in Iowa on Sunday, Sanders discussed SNL’s cold open, which skewered last week’s Democratic debate, from Kate McKinnon’s Hillary Clinton to Alec Baldwin's attention-starved Jim Webb. But David, playing Sanders, was clearly a highlight, perfectly capturing the tone and the bravado of the Vermont senator's persona.

    At one point, David’s Sanders claimed that not only did he not have a Super PAC, but he also didn't have a backpack, and he only owned one pair of underwear, compared to billionaire candidates who he said had three or four pairs.

    Sanders, who only owned one suit when he was the mayor of Burlington, Vermont—a number that grew after he joined the Senate—was in a joking mood as he dispelled the SNL suggestion on Sunday.

    “Last week, I bought my second pair of underwear,” he said. “Please don’t write it down. I have an ample supply of underwear.”

    Sanders, who danced with Ellen last week, had nothing but praise for David's portrayal.

    “In terms of Larry David, I think we’re going to put him up on the stage of our next rally—let him do it rather than me,” Sanders said. “He does it better than me.”

    He also joked that it was his hair that drew people to his campaign, but the discussion soon went back to business as usual as Sanders discussed how his childhood made him an outsider in the Democratic presidential race and the challenges that lay ahead.

    And if he is able to win Iowa? That could clear the eventual path to the Democratic nomination.

    “If we win in this state—it’s close, but I think we can—I think it lays a groundwork to victory,” Sanders explained. “If we win this thing, it would be the biggest political upset in modern America.”

    H/T The Des Moines Register | Screengrab via Saturday Night Live/YouTube


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    Eddie Murphy appeared on Saturday Night Live’s 40th anniversary special in February, but it wasn’t to appear in a sketch. And he didn’t do a Bill Cosby impression, as rumored

    Sunday night, Murphy was the recipient of the Mark Twain Prize, and during his acceptance speech, he remarked that Cosby also has a Mark Twain Prize. He asked the crowd if the comedian had to give his back:

    No, because I know there was a big outcry from people — they was trying to get Bill to give his trophies back. You know you fucked up when they want you to give your trophies back.

    The clip, which starts around 2:30, also shows Murphy doing a Cosby impression, in which the comedian does one show where he talks “crazy” about his “motherfucking trophies.” 

    This was Murphy’s first standup bit onstage in nearly 30 years. The Washington Post recently profiled Murphy, and he explained that even though Cosby was in the news at the time (for numerous allegations of rape and sexual assault), he didn’t want to do the SNL bit: 

    There’s nothing funny about it. If you get up there and you crack jokes about him, you’re just hurting people. You’re hurting him. You’re hurting his accusers. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m coming back to SNL for the anniversary, I’m not turning my moment on the show into this other thing.’ 

    Cosby’s accusers now number in the 50s, and as more women are speaking out, Cosby is seeing morelegal issues. Several institutions have revoked honorary degrees and awards. Othercomedians have come out against him. 

    So Murphy seems to have changed his approach, and perhaps he felt it was time, as he walks into his next act and attempts a return to standup. The Washington Postreports that he bounced the material off Arsenio Hall and Chris Rock before the show. According to Hall, Murphy explained his new approach: 

    “Because Cosby gonna get sick of this soon, he’s gonna get sick of people hating, and eventually he’s gonna have to say something.”

    H/T Uproxx | Photo via david_shankbone/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


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    BY SAM GUTELLE

    Two of most significant projects in YouTube’s pipeline have been linked to one another, and the video site looks as if it will provide information about both of them on Oct. 21. That’s the date when, according to Recode, YouTube will discuss its new slate of original programs, some of which are likely to be included within the site’s upcoming subscription service.

    YouTube will discuss its original programs during an event at its Los Angeles creator space. As far as we know, the programs in question are the ones revealed in an April 2015 blog post. They’ll each be created in partnership with top-level YouTube stars, with the video site providing all necessary funding. The creators working on their own projects as part of the new initiative are SmoshPrank Vs. PrankThe Fine Bros, and Joey Graceffa.

    On Wednesday, we hope to hear more about YouTube’s distribution strategy for its new round of originals. Recode believes at least some of the originals will be released behind paywalls. Users will need to sign up for YouTube’s upcoming subscription service, which is rumored to carry a price tag in the vicinity of $10 per month.

    Recode characterizes the new slate of originals as a successor to the YouTube Original Channels Initiative, which launched in 2011 and taught YouTube some important lessons about the content it produces for its own viewers. One of the most important things YouTube learned is that content from its own creative community tends to click with its viewers, especially when compared with content produced by larger media companies. Since the end of the Original Channels Initiative, the rise of YouTube’s Spaces has allowed the video site to allocate more resources to its creative community; with its new originals, it will take that commitment even further.

    Some people may remember the poor returns YouTube received the last time it tried to offer a large slate of exclusive, premium content behind a paywall. In general, the video site has struggled to find ways to get viewers to pay for content, but if any programs are able to drive significant subscription revenue, it’s these ones–engineered by beloved online video content creators–that have the best shot. We’ll have a better idea of YouTube’s game plan once the video site’s Oct. 21 event begins.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Rapper and fashion hero Kanye West made a splash on Monday with the release of two new tracks. But it’s complicated.

    One of the tracks features tinkering, Auto-Tune vocals spread over the beat from the Weeknd’s “Tell Your Friends”—a months-old track West himself helped produce. Dubbed “When I See It,” it’s a playful outtake about “being in the wrong place at the right time” and generally hanging out during the summer. Clocking in under two minutes, the streaming song is barely a doodle.

    The other is a veritably expansive, sweltering arrangement of 2008’s “Say You Will.” This remix is a spotlight for violinist, composer, and singer Caroline Shaw, whom West featured this month for a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in San Francisco.

    However, the songs appear to have hit West’s new SoundCloud page 14 days ago and only began to gain attention when highlighted by his long-time barber Ibn Jasper on Instagram.

    And also rapper and West protégé, Travis Scott.

    West has yet to address the tracks publicly, though it’s highly unlikely that they’ll appear on his next record, tentatively titled Swish. (One is seven years old; the other from an old beat. West would never retread like that. Come on, fam.) It is, however, interesting that one of music’s made modern voices felt compelled to play the young man’s SoundCloud remix game at all. No Tidal or Apple Music exclusives, just easily disseminated MP3s that play out like mixtape B-sides. 

    Listen to them on West’s SoundCloud page

    H/T Artistic Manifesto | Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Ellen DeGeneres took a second to revisit the infamous selfie from the 2014 Oscars with Bradley Cooper when he stopped by Ellen Monday. 

    It turns out the picture—which featured DeGeneres and Cooper alongside a ton of cheesing A-list actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, and Lupita Nyong'o—was originally supposed to be taken by Streep herself, but Cooper got so caught up in the moment he missed the memo. 

    "You ruined it in the most perfect way," DeGeneres explained to a laughing Cooper. "It was so funny, because the whole joke was... I was gonna try to get Meryl out of the picture to take the picture, and she wouldn't be in it at all. And I kept trying to get her out of the picture, and you were like, 'No, no, no! I got it!'"

    So basically, Cooper got so excited about there being so many celebrities around, he ruined a joke about how there were so many celebrities around. Can you blame him? 

    Here's the full clip:

    The good news is, even though Ellen's joke didn't go according to plan, the tweet still famously broke Twitter. To date, it has more than 2 million favs and 3 million retweets. 

    So don't feel too bad, Bradley. 

    H/T E! News | Screengrab via TheEllenShow/YouTube


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    We here at the Daily Dot are big fans of streaming TV and movies, but we also know how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the massive lists of Netflix’s comings and goings each month. Here’s our curated take of what’s new on Netflix this month.

    October 2015

    Pick of the month: Beasts of No Nation (Oct. 16)

    Having established a solid foothold in the world of streaming television with shows like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, and Daredevil, now Netflix is stepping into the world of film with Beasts of No Nation. Written and directed by Cary Fukunaga (HBO’s True Detective, season 1), Beasts stars Idris Elba and Abraham Attah in a story about civil war and child soldiers in an unnamed African country. Attah plays Agu, a young boy who is recruited into the rebel forces of the NDF after his family is executed. Elba is the Commandant, both commander and twisted father figure to Agu as he serves as a pawn of the forces ripping his homeland apart. Netflix released Beasts simultaneously on streaming and as a limited release in theaters, continuing to shift the dynamics of the media landscape in a way that has some theater owners irked (four theater chains, including AMC and Cinemark, are boycotting the film for violating the traditional 90-day theatrical release window). Both Elba and Attah have received tons of critical praise for their Beasts performances, and there’s already potential Oscar buzz for the both of them. Netflix has already acquired a shelf full of Emmys, so can an Academy Award or two be far behind?

    Best of the rest

    1) Batman Begins (Oct. 1)

    While Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight is a true masterpiece, Batman Begins is arguably a better realization of Batman/Bruce Wayne himself, if only because it doesn’t have Heath Ledger’s iconic portrayal of the Joker to steal the spotlight. Bale’s gruff Batman voice may still be an easy punchline, but his haunted, determined portrayal of the crimefighter is still one of the best, and the script by Nolan and David S. Goyer actually makes the concept of a rodent-dressed vigilante scaring the shit out of hardened criminals grounded and believable. If somebody really was going to become Batman, it would pretty much have to happen like this. (Except for maybe the fear gas and the ninjas.)

    2) Boogie Nights (Oct. 1)

    I’ll always have a special soft spot for Magnolia (that montage!), but Boogie Nights rivals it for the position of my favorite Paul Thomas Anderson flick to date. Mark Wahlberg stars as doofy high school dropout Eddie Adams, who is reborn as “Dirk Diggler” after porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) discovers him and his star-making schlong. In between all the boot-knocking, Dirk finds a new dysfunctional family in his porn crew, but his cockiness (ahem) paves the way for his own eventual downfall. The amazing cast also includes Julianne Moore, Heather Graham, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, to name a few.

    3) The Bourne Identity/The Bourne Supremacy (Oct. 1)

    It’s a little frustrating that The BourneUltimatum wasn’t included with Netflix’s October update, but even two-thirds of one of the best action franchises of all time is still plenty to be excited about. Matt Damon sells both the badassery and the tortured humanity as a former covert agent with a Swiss cheese memory and loads of people who would really prefer he be dead now, thanks. And if you want to finish out the trilogy, The Bourne Ultimatum is available from Amazon and other digital retailers.

    4) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Oct. 1)

    You have to admire the gumption of director Tim Burton and actor Johnny Depp for thinking they could improve upon Gene Wilder’s iconic performance as mysterious confectioner in 1971’s WIlly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Actually, no, you don’t, it was a terrible idea. Still, if you liked the story of Wonka and Charlie but thought it needed a less charismatic lead and a bunch of the same schtick Burton has been serving up for the past several decades, help yourself. Me, I’ll stick with the creepy-ass boat ride and the sheer, pitch-black brilliance of Wilder-Wonka. Good day, sir!

    5) Million Dollar Baby (Oct. 1)

    Hilary Swank earned her second Best Actress Academy Award for her performance as an underdog amateur boxer who is taken under the wing of a weary trainer haunted by his past (Clint Eastwood). Baby also earned trophies for director Eastwood and supporting actor Morgan Freeman—oh, and it nabbed the Best Picture Oscar for 2005. The flick is based on the short stories of fight manager Jerry Boyd, so it’s certainly not lacking for verisimilitude. Adapted for the screen by Paul Haggis (Crash), it’s a powerful and emotional story of redemption and tragedy, but it’s also depressing as all hell. Don’t watch it unless you’re ready for a downer.

    6) The Nightmare (Oct. 1)

    Wes Craven soiled the pants of an entire generation with his stories of teenagers being tormented in their dreams by a vicious, knife-fingered psychopath who could kill you while you slept. If Freddy Krueger ever frightened you, the documentary The Nightmare will likely scare the snot right out of you, because it examines the very real phenomenon known as “sleep paralysis,” a condition where the sufferer experiences vivid, frightening dreams or hallucinations while incapable of moving or waking up. It would be a very bad idea to watch this before bed time … which I wish someone had told me before I made that very mistake. The Nightmare was directed by Rodney Ascher, who previously earned both attention and critical acclaim for 2012’s Room 237.

    7) Reign: Season 2 (Oct. 2)

    The CW’s period drama is currently chugging through its third season, continuing the net’s history of letting shows grow and find their audience even if they aren’t breakout hits. Created by Laurie McCarthy and Stephanie Sengupta (Ghost Whisperer), Reign explores the early life of Mary, Queen of Scots. In season 2, King Henry II is dead, and Mary and her husband Francis have ascended to the throne of Scotland. Unfortunately, the land has been devastated by a plague, religious discord is rife, and politics continues to be deadly. (Reign airs Friday nights at 7pm CT on the CW.)

    8) iZombie: Season 1 (Oct. 6)

    Based on the Vertigo comic-book series by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, iZombie stars Rose McIver as Olivia “Liv” Moore, a morgue worker who regularly “samples the merchandise.” She’s a zombie, and she has to eat brains both to survive and to be able to pass as the living. But all that noshed gray matter has some gnarly side effects, allowing her to see flashes of the dearly departed’s lives and deaths. Being a civically minded zombie, Liv poses as a psychic and uses her abilities to help the local cops solve the murders of those on her menu. iZombie was adapted for TV by Diane Ruggiero-Wright (Bates Motel) and Rob Thomas, the genius who gave us Veronica Mars. iZombie’s second season is currently airing Tuesday nights at 8pm CT on the CW.

    9) The Flash: Season 1 (Oct. 6)

    DC may be trying to rival the Marvel Cinematic Universe with next year’s Batman v Superman, but I’m far more interested in the shared TV mythology it created with Arrow and expanded with the breakaway CW hit The Flash. Grant Gustin is perfect as speedster Barry Allen, a crime scene investigator haunted by his mother’s murder by a superfast mystery man. After being granted powers of his own by a freak accident, he struggles to defend his home of Central City against a rogue’s gallery of villains, as well as to solve the mystery of his origins and clear the name of his father, who’s in jail for the murder of his mom. The Flash is action-packed, funny, earnest, and charming as hell, a perfect slice of Silver Age comic-book fun updated for the smartphone era. You can keep your brooding Dark Knights and even your Men of Steel; I’ll stick with the Fastest Man Alive, thanks. (Season 2 of The Flash is currently airing Tuesday nights at 8/7c on the CW.)

    10) Arrow: Season 3 (Oct. 7)

    Of course, there would be no Flash without the show that spawned it, the CW’s take on DC’s emerald archer, the Green Arrow. After being lost on a remote island for years, aloof playboy Oliver Queen learned the skills and the drive to return to his home of Starling City and take down all the crooks and corrupt officials who have “failed this city.” In season 3, Oliver and his team of noble vigilantes faces his most overwhelming foe yet: the nigh immortal Ra’s Al Ghul and his League of Assassins. Arrow has had its ups and downs over the years, but its strength has always been its charismatic cast, including Emily Bett Rickards as adorable tech expert Felicity Smoak, David Ramsey as stalwart badass John Diggle, and Stephen Amell as the wounded but well-intentioned Oliver. Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 7pm CT on the CW.

    11) Legends: Season 1 (Oct. 7)

    Sean Bean—he of the frequent onscreen expirations—headlines this TNT thriller series as Martin Odum, a crack undercover FBI man who can become damn near anybody but whose revolving door of identities leaves him questioning both his sanity and his own real identity. Based on an award-winning novel by Robert Littell, Legends was adapted for television by Howard Gordon (24, Homeland), Jeffrey Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow), and Mark Bomback (The Divergent Series: Insurgent). Legends will return for a second season on TNT beginning Nov. 2.

    12) Supernatural: Season 10 (Oct. 7)

    Carry on, my wayward sons, indeed. Supernatural is one of the shows that helped build The CW, so it’s not surprising that the network has continued to return that support, allowing the show to build a large and loyal following over the past decade. Brothers Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have a lot of bad road behind them, having faced down creatures from every corner of your nightmares and lost pretty much everyone they care for along the way. In season 10, Dean has fallen prey to a terrible darkness, and Sam works to try and find a way to bring him back from the precipice before he does something unforgivable. Supernatural’s 11th season is currently airing Wednesday nights at 8pm CT on the CW.

    13) Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom (Oct. 9)

    In addition to becoming a power player on the original scripted drama front, Netflix has been racking up quite a track record for acquiring top-notch documentaries, including What Happened, Miss Simone? and Mitt. That trend continues with Winter on Fire, which delves into the protests and civil unrest that rocked Ukraine in 2013, eventually resulting in the Ukrainian revolution the following year. As the official synopsis puts it, “The film captures the remarkable mobilization of nearly a million citizens from across the country protesting the corrupt political regime that utilized extreme force against its own people to suppress their demands and freedom of expression.”

    14) Jane the Virgin: Season 1 (Oct. 12)

    Adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela, Jane the Virgin is the story of a devout young Latina woman who is saving herself for marriage … until a doctor mistakenly artificially inseminates her during what was supposed to just be a checkup. As if that’s not awkward enough, the father of her new aspiring bundle of joy is 1) married, 2) her former teenage crush, and 3) the owner of the hotel where she works. That’s one helluva triple-whammy. Actress Gina Rodriguez won a Best Actress Golden Globe for her performance as Jane, and the series also earned both a Peabody Award and an AFI Award. Jane the Virgin returned for a second season on Oct. 12, and new episodes air Mondays at 8pm CT on the CW.

    15) Circle (Oct. 16)

    The 2015 horror/sci-fi flick Circle begins with a simple but intriguing premise: 50 people awaken to find themselves in a strange room with no memory of how they got there. They are arranged in a circle, and very soon, something unseen begins killing them. Every two minutes, another person dies, but the group soon realizes they can control the carnage … to an extent. They can’t stop it, but they can decide who dies next, through an act of collective will. So how do you direct a chain of death that very well may kill all of you? Who deserves to live the longest, or maybe even to be the last man standing? The Hollywood Reporter described Circle as “Twilight Zone-y” in its generally positive review, and that’s certainly good company to be in.

    16) Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (Oct. 18)

    Ruth (Rooney Mara) and Bob (Casey Affleck) are a pair of wannabe Bonnie and Clydes for whom one job goes very bad indeed. Their buddy Freddy is killed, Ruth shoots a sheriff, and Bob decides take the fall for the whole mess so the pregnant Ruth can raise their child. Years later, Bob escapes from prison and hopes for a happy reunion with the mother of his child, but his oncoming presence could collapse the lie that has permitted Ruth a somewhat normal life while he was in the clink. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints was written and directed by Texas filmmaker David Lowery, who’s currently working on Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon.

    17) Hemlock Grove: Season 3 (Oct. 23)

    Just in time for Halloween, Netflix’s horror/thriller series is returning for a third and final season. If you’ve been curious about the show are a horror junkie, this will be the perfect excuse for a binge-a-thon. The series, executive produced by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, Hostel), centers on a fictional Pennsylvania town plagued by violence, supernatural goings-on, and Famke Janssen. Season 3 promises more monsters, more gore, and possibly even the “end of days.” Sadly, the most carnage involving the show may have come from the critics savaging it for the past two seasons. Still, they’re called “guilty pleasures” for a reason.

    17) Manson Family Vacation (Oct. 27)

    Reconnecting with the brother you never really got along with is a noble enough goal. Unfortunately for Nick Morgan (Jay Duplass), all his estranged brother Conrad (Linas Phillips) wants to do during his visit to Los Angeles is tour the Manson Family murder sites. Well, they always say the family that becomes just a little too interested in a bunch of homicidal psychopaths together, stays together… right? The film began life as a Kickstarter project, and it’s currently rocking a damned impressive 100 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    18) The Gunman (Oct. 28)

    Sean Penn tries to follow in Liam Neeson’s footsteps on the “respectable older actor tries out the action-hero thing” path. Penn is Jim Terrier, a veteran black-ops merc who left the soldier’s life behind after successfully assassinating a government official in Africa. Years later, he returns to the “scene of the crime” for nobler purposes, serving as a charity worker. Unfortunately, his dark past catches up with him when he’s attacked, forcing him to go on the run in search of the truth about who wants him dead—and why.

    September 2015

    Pick of the Month: The Walking Dead: Season 5 (Sept. 27)

    Fellow cord-cutters, rejoice! The long weeks spent plugging your ears and avoiding social media are drawing to a close, and if you’ve managed to remain unspoiled about The Walking Dead’s most recent season this long, you’ve only got a little while longer to remain in self-imposed exile. Season 4 was a long walk toward the uncertain destination known as “Terminus,” and that supposed safe haven proved about as hospitable as the name suggests. Season 5 finds Rick and his fellow survivors fighting to escape from their (latest) captors and once again in search of sanctuary in a world that seems determined to bury them in a steady torrent of blood and bad days. The Walking Dead has always been uneven, but season 5 is a welcome return to form in just about every way imaginable, and it’s a helluva lot more entertaining than the misguided (and unfortunately named) prequel series, Fear the Walking Dead. (It even includes the return of one fan favorite from the show’s earliest days.)

    Best of the rest

    Lawrence of Arabia: Restored Version (Sept. 1)

    Based on the larger-than-life story of British archaeologist and soldier T.E. Lawrence, this 1962 classic follows Lawrence’s World War I adventures across the Arabian Peninsula, during which he first fought against and eventually found himself sympathizing with the various local tribes. The film won a whopping seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. It’s also jaw-droppingly, eye-gapingly gorgeous, so you’ll want to view it on the biggest screen possible. I personally am planning on breaking into AT&T Stadium and borrowing the Jumbotron.

    The League: Season 6 (Sept. 1)

    Even if you don’t give a fig about football—of either the fantasy or the IRL varieties—there’s plenty to love about FX’s The League. The show is about a group of friends who compete in an aggressive fantasy league, battling each other for “The Shiva,” an eyesore trophy named for their high school valedictorian. Football may be the ostensible focus of the show, but really it’s just an excuse to watch this crew lie, cheat, manipulate, and screw each over in their dogged pursuit of victory at all costs.

    Masters of the Universe (Sept. 1)

    Oh lordy, I love it when Netflix drags out a relic like this one. It’s been three decades since I’ve seen this thing, but I’m going to go ahead and guess it doesn’t hold up without the nostalgia filter dialed up to 11. Thankfully, my nostalgia filter is strong, so I’m looking forward to introducing my kids to the musclebound He-Man (Dolph Lundgren), who finds himself transported to Earth to keep the budget down in order to retrieve the magical Cosmic Key before Skeletor (Frank Langella) and his minions can get to it. Also enjoy an embarrassing early-career appearance by a pre-Friends Courteney Cox. Hopefully the new movie will be better....

    Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood (Sept. 1)

    Netflix continues its plan to assist me in my master plan to get my kids hooked on every educational staple of my own childhood. First they added episodes of Bill Nye, the Science Guy to the Instant catalog, then Reading Rainbow. Now the gentle, sweater-wearing Presbyterian minister who taught so many of us not to be dicks is available for streaming. The beloved PBS children’s program Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood aired from 1968 to 2001, and this first Netflix “volume” includes 20 episodes from the series’ long history. Hopefully there will be many more to come.

    The Monster Squad (Sept. 1)

    Ask someone to list off great ’80s kids’ films, and you’ll get stuff like Goonies, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal. The Monster Squad may not make the top 10 lists as often as those undisputed classics, but it deserves more love than it gets, both because it pits a group of horror-movie-loving kids against versions of Universal’s classic movie monsters and because it gave us the immortal line “Wolfman’s got nards!” Monster Squad was co-written by Fred Dekker, who also penned the ’80s cult classic Night of the Creeps, and Shane Black, who became one of the most highly paid screenwriters of all time with flicks such as Lethal Weapon and The Last Boy Scout. Black has staged a major comeback in recent years with flicks like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Iron Man 3, and he’s recently reunited with Dekker for the Amazon Western pilot Edge.

    Our Man in Tehran (Sept.  1)

    Most people had probably never heard of the events of the so-called “Canadian caper” until Ben Affleck’s Argo brought the daring rescue mission back into the public consciousness. That flick was a rousing good time, but for anyone curious to learn more about the real-life CIA-backed mission to rescue U.S. diplomats from the midst of the Iran hostage crisis, look no further than Our Man in Tehran. The 2013 documentary focuses on the heroic actions of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor and his staff, who put their own lives at risk to shelter six American diplomats and cooperate in a scheme to smuggle them out of Iran.

    Person of Interest(Sept. 1)

    What if you had a machine that could predict violent crimes before they could happen? That’s the high concept behind Person of Interest, CBS’ sci-fi procedural created by Jonathan Nolan, brother and frequent collaborator of Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan. What began as a relatively boilerplate sci-fi procedural has evolved into a fascinating exploration of morality and artificial intelligence. Lost’s Michael Emerson stars as Harold Finch, a reclusive billionaire and software genius who created the Machine. Jim Caviezel plays John Reese, a troubled Special Forces/CIA veteran recruited by Finch to be the means to his ends. Seasons 1-3 are currently streaming on Netflix Instant, and season 4 will be available beginning Sept. 22. The show’s fifth season will premiere on CBS this fall.

    The Rambo Trilogy (Sept. 1)

    Netflix added the first five Rocky movies a while ago, and now it’s lined up Sylvester Stallone’s other huge ’80s franchise. Beginning with 1982’s First Blood, Stallone introduced the world to John Rambo, a battle-scarred Vietnam vet trying and failing to move beyond his traumatic experiences in the war. Based on the novel by David Morrell, the first Rambo movie is a bit less cartoonish than the ones that followed, pitting Rambo against unfriendly small-town cops when he just wants to be left alone. First Blood Part II sends Rambo back to Vietnam to rescue POWs, and Rambo III drops him into Afghanistan to retrieve his friend Col. Sam Trautman (Richard Crenna), who has been captured by Soviet soldiers. (The 2008 follow-up, titled simply Rambo, isn’t currently available on Netflix.)

    Sleepy Hollow (Sept. 1)

    Tim Burton’s spin on Washington Irving’s spooky 1820 short story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow envisions the Headless Horseman as a former Hessian mercenary turned supernatural killing machine, and Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp) as a cowardly but brilliant New York police constable sent to the titular village to investigate a series of brutal murders. Give it a watch and see if you can erase the memory of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Dark Shadows.

    Up in the Air (Sept. 1)

    George Clooney plays a corporate “downsizer” named Ryan Bingham, a man whose life consists of airplanes and airports, traveling from one city to the next so he can deliver terrible news to people who are suddenly without a job. His comfortable life on the go is threatened by Natalie (Anna Kendrick), a new hire with a plan to replace Ryan’s job with videoconferencing. To make matters worse, he’s assigned the indignity of “showing her the ropes,” a task—along with his relationship with fellow frequent flyer Alex (Vera Farmiga)—that soon has Ryan questioning his whole philosophy on life. (For more from Up in the Air co-writer/director Jason Reitman, check out Men, Women & Children on Amazon Prime beginning Sept. 12.)

    Zathura (Sept. 1)

    Zathura is based on a book by Chris Van Allsburg, the same guy who wrote Jumanji, so calling ZathuraJumanji in space” isn’t just easy shorthand. Much like in Jumanji, the events of Zathura are driven by a mysterious board game discovered by curious kids, but in this case the game in question unleashes meteor showers and hostile aliens rather than monkeys and Robin Williams. Apparently Chris Van Allsburg was seriously traumatized by a board game at some point in his life. Zathura was directed by a post-Swingers, pre-Iron Man Jon Favreau, so it’s got a good pedigree, if nothing else.

    Madam Secretary: Season 1 (Sept. 4)

    Tea Leoni stars as Dr. Elizabeth Faulkner McCord, a former CIA analyst and college professor turned United States Secretary of State. Wings alum Tim Daly plays her husband, Cheers’ Bebe Neuwirth her chief of staff, and Keith Carradine stands in as POTUS Conrad Dalton. Madam Secretary follows McCord’s struggles to balance her personal and family life against the demands of one of the nation’s highest offices. The political drama was created by Judging Amy/Joan of Arcadia veteran Barbara Hall, and the show will return for a second season on Oct. 4.

    Longmire: Season 4 (Sept. 9)

    Fans rallied to try and save Longmire after A&E canceled it last year, and thankfully Netflix eventually agreed to pony up for a fourth season. Based on Craig Johnson’s series of “Walt Longmire Mysteries” books, Longmire stars Robert Taylor as Sheriff Walt Longmire, a gruff and laconic lawman who keeps the peace in the fictional Absaroka County, Wyoming. Walt is still grieving the death of his wife, which was a lot more complicated than the “cancer” explanation he told their daughter, and the truth about what really happened to her forms an ongoing arc as the series progresses. Battlestar Galactica fan favorite Katee Sackhoff co-stars as Victoria “Vic” Moretti, Walt’s deputy and a former Philadelphia homicide detective with skeletons of her own. Lou Diamond Phillips recurs as Henry Standing Bear, owner of the Red Pony Cafe, Walt’s best friend, and a frequent middle man between Walt and the local Native American population. Season 4 will pick up right where season 3 left off, with Walt bent on revenge after having learned the truth about who was responsible for his wife’s death.

    The Bank Job (Sept. 14)

    I’m a sucker for a good heist flick, and The Bank Job has the added appeal of being based on a real-life robbery from which the stolen goods were never recovered. Jason Statham stars in one of his less punchy roles, playing Terry Leather, a car salesman whose friend talks him into mounting a “foolproof” bank robbery, unaware that his seemingly benevolent friend (Saffron Burrows) has secret motivations of her own. The target is a roomful of safety deposit boxes filled with money and jewelry… but the contents of one of those boxes will put Terry and his crew in the crosshairs of powerful people.

    Moonrise Kingdom (Sept. 15)

    Wes Anderson’s movies can definitely be love-them-or-hate-them affairs, with his style sometimes hovering right near the border of self-parody. Still, nobody else makes movies quite like him these days, and as long as he keeps attracting casts that include the likes of Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jason Schwartzman, I’ll keep on coming back. In Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson conjures an eccentric vision of a 1960s New England summer camp, two smitten 12-year-olds who run away together, and how their disappearance turns the local community on its ear. Moonrise Kingdom was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay award in 2013, and it’s currently boasting a 94 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    The Blacklist: Season 2 (Sept. 15)

    James Spader is at his best when he’s chewing scenery as the smartest man in the room who also knows he’s the smartest man in the room and who is eager to remind the rest of us that we’re a bunch of dolts. That description more than fits Raymond “Red” Reddington, the brilliant criminal mastermind at the heart of The Blacklist. This month Netflix will be adding season 2 of the NBC hit, in which Red continues to assist the FBI—and young profiler Liz Keen (Megan Boone) in particular—in tracking down some of the most dangerous crooks on the planet. It’s pure popcorn television that steps back and lets Spader shine, and you’ve got a few weeks left to binge before the show returns for a third season on Oct. 1.

    Keith Richards: Under the Influence (Sept. 18)

    Academy Award–winning director Morgan Nevilla helms this documentary look at the iconic Rolling Stones guitarist, currently enjoying his 72nd trip around the sun. Under the Influence follows Richards as he works on Crosseyed Heart, his first solo album in over two decades, and will include interviews, archival material, and “both new and beloved music.” Richards’ new album will release the same day Under the Influence hits Netflix, so Stones fans will have plenty to look forward to. You can listen to “Trouble,” a track off Crosseyed Heart, below.

    Gotham: Season 1 (Sept. 21)

    Gotham was simultaneously one of the biggest hits and one of the most frustrating viewing experiences of the 2014-2015 TV year. Robin Lord Taylor gave a breakout performance as a cowardly, manipulative young version of Batman villain the Penguin, but too often this “pre-capes” prequel felt like an exercise in pointless wheel-spinning, a never-ending parade of “Hey, look who it is!” without many compelling reasons to actually give a shit about these characters. Still, I’d be lying if I said the show didn’t have its moments—many of them involving Donal Logue’s morally flexible Detective Harvey Bullock—and young David Mazouz does far better with the thankless role of a pre-pubescent Bruce Wayne than anyone could have expected. Am I damning with faint praise? It’s only because you should be watching Arrow/The Flash instead. Gotham season 2 premieres on Fox the same day this hits Netflix, which is decidedly binge-unfriendly.

    August 2015

    Pick of the Month: Reading Rainbow: Volume 1 (Aug. 1)

    The beloved children’s program was back in the news last year after host LeVar Burton launched a massively successful Kickstarter campaign to both resurrect the show and bring it to as many schools as possible, free of charge. Now Netflix is bringing the classic original series to its streaming catalog, hopefully exposing a whole new generation to Burton’s infectious love of reading. Between this and the May arrival of Bill Nye, the Science Guy, Netflix seems to be making a run on the educational shows of my youth, and I couldn’t be happier. My kids are just getting old enough to have an interest in storybooks, so I can’t wait to work through the Reading Rainbow catalog with them. This first “volume” includes such classics as If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Aesop’s “The Tortoise and the Hare,” along with 23 other episodes.

    Best of the rest:

    1) Beneath the Helmet: From High School to the Home Front (Aug. 1)

    This 2014 documentary follows five Israeli high school graduates as they transition into their compulsory military service in the Israel Defense Forces’ army paratrooper brigade. For those unfamiliar, citizens of Israel are required to serve in the military after reaching the age of 18 (although there are exceptions), often for three years or more. Beneath the Helmet is presented as a coming-of-age story, exploring the lives of an Ethiopian immigrant, a female sergeant, a Swiss volunteer, a soldier descended from Holocaust survivors, and the unit’s commander, all struggling to balance their service with their personal lives and family commitments. It doesn’t look like Beneath the Helmet has a Rotten Tomatoes page at the moment, but it’s currently rocking an impressive 9.4 user rating on IMDb.

    2) Chronic-Con, Episode 420: A New Dope (Aug. 1)

    In 2003, documentarian Morgan Spurlock subjected himself to ungodly amounts of McDonald’s for his movie Super-Size Me. Stoner comedian Doug Benson responded in 2008 with Super High Me, which was sort of the same thing but with Benson consuming enough marijuana to give most of the West Coast the munchies. Now Benson is nipping at Spurlock’s heels again with Chronic-Con, Episode 420: A New Dope, which riffs on Spurlock’s 2011 flick Comic-Con: Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. Chronic-Con follows the comedian through a hazy landscape of cosplayers, fans, and celebs, including Spurlock, Joe Rogan, Brian Posehn, and fellow stoner Kevin Smith, to name just a few. Having been several times over the years, I can only imagine the surreal experience of Comic-Con is even weirder when viewed through an ever-present fog of pot smoke. I just hope Benson brought his own snacks; convention center food is crazy expensive.

    3) Dogs on the Inside (Aug. 1)

    Netflix is kicking off the month with several intriguing new documentary additions, and this one is pretty much guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings of any animal lover. Dogs on the Inside explores a program that pairs abandoned rescue dogs with inmates at a Massachusetts prison. It’s about more than just companionship: Many of the dogs have been abused or mistreated, so their new human partners must first earn the animals’ trust, a commodity unquestionably in short supply behind bars. The inmates help save dogs that would otherwise likely be euthanized, and both human and canine partners help rehabilitate each other and hopefully put their darker times behind them. Honestly, I can already tell you I won’t be making it through this one without choking up a little.

    4) Enemy at the Gates (Aug. 1)

    Set during the Battle of Stalingrad in World War II, Enemy at the Gates stars Jude Law as Vassili Zaitsev, a former shepherd serving as a sniper in the Russian Army. After saving the life of one Commisar Danilov (Joseph Fiennes), Vassili becomes a propaganda tool for Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev, with the army newspaper spinning tales about the young marksman’s heroic exploits against the invading Nazis. The Germans soon take notice and deploy their own lethal sniper, tasking Major Erwin König (Ed Harris) with putting a bullet through Vassili’s brain. Loosely based on the experiences of the real-life Vassili Zaitsev, Enemy at the Gates follows the dueling snipers as they lead each other on a game of cat-and-mouse against the backdrop of one of the bloodiest battles in history.

    5) The Hurt Locker (Aug. 1)

    From the rubble of World War II-era Stalingrad, venture forward 60 years and into another war entirely. Written by Mark Boal, a journalist who was embedded with an Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit in Baghdad in 2004, The Hurt Locker follows Sergeant First Class William James (Jeremy Renner), a veteran assigned to lead a bomb disposal team after his predecessor is killed by an IED. His maverick—or reckless—approach to an inherently dangerous job does little to endear him to his new squad, who are convinced he’s more interested in chasing an adrenaline high than trying to keep them all alive. The Hurt Locker took home six Academy Awards in 2010, including Best Motion Picture and Best Director for helmer Kathryn Bigelow.

    6) Russell Brand: End the Drugs War/From Addiction to Recovery (Aug. 1)

    British comedian/author/activist Russell Brand is a love-him-or-hate-him personality on the best of days, but even if you have no patience for his politics, there’s no question that he’s got some valuable insights when it comes to addiction. Brand has talked extensively about his struggles with substance abuse—and the fact that he knows he could very easily slip back into it at any time, even after over a decade of sobriety. Brand explores society’s attitudes and approaches to the problems of substance abuse—and substance abusers—in a pair of BBC Three documentaries hitting Netflix in August. In End the Drugs War, Brand explores how various countries handle the problem and questions whether criminalization is the answer. In From Addiction to Recovery, Brand shines a light on his own troubled past, including his addiction to heroin and the death of his friend, performer Amy Winehouse.

    7) Welcome to Me (Aug. 6)

    Kristen Wiig plays Alice Klieg, a TV-obsessed woman with borderline personality disorder who spends most of her money on lottery tickets. Except she actually beats the odds and wins, netting an $86 million jackpot. She celebrates by moving into a casino hotel, but after she gets booted off the news right in the midst of delivering a speech she’d prepared—one that inexplicably includes mention of masturbation—Alice decides she wants her own show, so she can say whatever she wants to say. In addition to the always wonderful Wiig, Welcome to Me’s stellar cast includes Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Robbins, and Alan Tudyk.

    8) HitRECord on TV: Season 1 (Aug. 7)

    Actor/director Joseph Gordon-Levitt has forged a career as one of the most interesting young performers of his generation in movies such as Brick, (500) Days of Summer, and Looper, but since 2005 his passion project has been the website/collaborative production company he founded with his brother, Dan. HitRECord on TV is the culmination of that work, a series that premiered on Pivot last year and which compiles user-contributed short films and performances, with each episode’s content focused on a particular theme. The eight-episode first season includes explorations of fantasy, trash, space, games, money, patterns, and more. The show just aired its second season on Pivot last month, so expect it to show up on Netflix eventually. In the meantime, there’s plenty more to explore on the HitRECord website.

    9) Doctor Who: Season 8 (Aug. 8)

    For the fourth time in Doctor Who’s “modern era,” a new actor stepped into the TARDIS and the iconic role of the nigh-immortal Time Lord. And new lead Peter Capaldi was a very different Doctor indeed than David Tennant or Matt Smith: darker, less given to whimsy, and at times much colder than his recent regenerations. This is a Doctor who describes his companion Clara as his “carer”—she cares so he doesn’t have to—and while he’s not nearly as callous as he pretends to be, Clara’s doubts as to whether she can trust the Twelfth Doctor underscore the entire season. Capaldi’s Doctor is set to return for a new season of adventures in September, so now’s the perfect time to jump aboard if you’ve ever been curious about what all the fuss is about. If nothing else, watch “Listen,” arguably one of the finest episodes of Doctor Who ever.

    10) Two Days, One Night (Aug. 11)

    The talented Marion Cotillard landed a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her performance as Sandra, a worker at a solar-panel factory in Belgium. After a nervous breakdown forces her into a brief leave of absence, she returns to work to discover that she’s been rendered redundant: management is paying her co-workers a significant bonus to pick up a few extra hours so they don’t have to keep her on. With a family to care for and desperate not to lose her job, Sandra spends the weekend appealing to each of the 16 co-workers who hold her future in their hands. But she’s got a hard sell: Times are tough, and all of them could use that extra money. If the synopsis doesn’t win you over, listen to the Tomatoes: Two Days, One Night is rocking a damned impressive Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97 percent Fresh. That’s even Fresher than Will Smith during the Bel-Air years.

    11) Alex of Venice (Aug. 15)

    Because one dynamite female lead performance deserves another, we recommend following up Two Days, One Night with Alex of Venice. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, probably best known as the crushworthy Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, stars as the Alex in question, a workaholic lawyer whose life is thrown for a loop after her stay-at-home husband bails on her. Now she must reinvent her life while caring for and reconnecting with both her young son and ailing father (Don Johnson). With the exception of interesting highlights such as Scott Pilgrim and Death Proof, Winstead has usually been better than the material she’s been cast in, so it’s great to hear so many critics singling out her performance in Alex of Venice, with Variety calling her “extraordinary.”

    12) Byzantium (Aug. 27)

    We just recently broke down some of most interesting vampire movies currently available on Netflix and Hulu, and if Neil Jordan’s Byzantium had already been up, we definitely would have included it. Byzantium stars Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as a mother and daughter pair of vampires who have been alive since the Napoleonic era. Byzantium unfolds both in modern day and through flashbacks, exploring how the two became immortal bloodsuckers, and their pariah status within the secretive echelons of the vampire elite (there’s always a vampire elite, isn’t there?). The flick got mixed reviews, currently sitting at 63 percent positive on Rotten Tomatoes, but critics praised its moody atmosphere, and frankly, I’d watch Ronan in damn near anything.

    13) Narcos (Aug. 28)

    Netflix has had a busy few months, introducing two new series in the form the sci-fi epic Sense8 and the Wet Hot American Summer prequel First Day of Camp, not to mention returning favorites Orange Is the New Black and BoJack Horseman. Now the streaming giant is wrapping up the summer with a bang, courtesy of Narcos, a new crime drama centered around Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and law enforcement’s attempts to curb the flow of cocaine into the United States in the 1980s. Created by Chris Brancato (Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU), Narcos will trace the rise of the Medellin Cartel, an empire that eventually made Escobar one of the wealthiest criminals in history. Even better, the series is being directed by José Padilha, best known for the Elite Squad movies and the better-than-it-had-any-right-to-be RoboCop remake.


    July 2015

    1) An Honest Liar (July 1)

    Stage magician James Randi has spent the last several decades using his knowledge of illusion and deception to debunk self-proclaimed psychics, faith healers, and other con artists who use their skills to prey on the emotionally vulnerable. An Honest Liar chronicles Randi’s long career as an icon of reason and skepticism, including his frequent appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show and his crusading attempts to make life difficult for people like spoon-bending celebrity psychic Uri Geller. In addition to the main attraction of Randi himself, the filmmakers also interview luminaries from the worlds of magic, science, pop culture, and skepticism, including “Science Guy” Bill Nye, MythBuster Adam Savage, illusionists Penn & Teller, and rock legend Alice Cooper.

    2) Set Fire to the Stars(July 1)

    British TV helmer Andy Goddard (Torchwood) makes his feature directorial debut with Set Fire to the Stars, which stars co-writer Celyn Jones as legendary Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. (One of Thomas’ best-known works was “Do not go gentle into that good night,” which featured prominently in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.) Elijah Wood co-stars as John Malcolm Brinnin, a meek poetry professor who gets the chance to host his literary hero, Thomas, during a weeklong visit to the States. Brinnin’s uptight nature clashes with Thomas’ heavy drinking and larger-than-life hedonism, and the trip soon becomes an object lesson in why it’s sometimes best not to meet your idols.

    3) Knights of Sidonia: Season 2 (July 2)

    Netflix boasts a decent selection of anime, but in 2014 it expanded the variety of its Netflix Originals catalog with Knights of Sidonia, based on the manga series by Tsutomu Nihei. Knights is set in the year 3394, a millennium after the Earth was obliterated by a race of giant alien monsters and the remnants of mankind regrouped and fled, Battlestar Galactica–style. The Sidonia is the last-known surviving ship of this exodus, a massive vessel populated by over 500,000 people. Having grown to adulthood living in the bowels of the ship and training on a mech simulator, the heroic Nagate Tanikaze is perfectly suited to join the fight when the deadly Gauna creatures threaten his home once again.

    4) Faults (July 3)

    Claire (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a strong-willed cult member kidnapped and forced into a round of deprogramming at the behest of her desperate parents. Her guide back to “normality” is Ansel Roth (Leland Orser), one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of mind control. Suffice to say, Claire isn’t giving up her convictions without a fight, and the power struggle between the two makes Faults both funny and ferocious. Faults premiered at South by Southwest in 2014 and balances dark humor and satire against more serious commentary about manipulation and brainwashing. Winstead in particular has been singled out for giving perhaps the best performance of her career thus far. It currently holds an 88 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

    5) Monsters: The Dark Continent (July 9)

    Gareth Edwards’ understated creature flick Monsters posited a world where huge, tentacled alien beasts had overtaken much of Mexico, forcing the country into military quarantine. Monsters was a deliberately paced, ground-level look at fantastic events, even holding off the really good looks at the creatures until the film’s climax (a trick he repeated with Godzilla). This sequel runs counter to that philosophy in just about every way. Set 10 years after the first Monsters, The Dark Continent takes a more action-oriented approach that drops four soldier friends into a Middle East positively swarming with the alien creatures. So long, character work and nuance; hello, explosions and monster stampedes.

    6) Serena (July 9)

    Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by Ron Rash, Serena stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as a pair of newlyweds running a timber company in Depression-era North Carolina. Anyone who saw Cooper and Lawrence’s chemistry in Silver Linings Playbook would be excited to see the actors playing an on-screen couple again, but unfortunately the pair’s performances are one of the only things critics praised about Serena. It’s rocking a cringe-inducing 20 percent Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes at the moment, so if you’re curious, watch it for Cooper and Lawrence and moderate your expectations appropriately. (Fun fact: Serena was originally going to be directed by Darren Aronofsky and star Angelina Jolie.)

    7) Creep (July 14)

    The found-footage horror/comedy Creep stars co-writer director Patrick Brice as a videographer who answers a cryptic Craigslist ad from Josef (co-writer Mark Duplass), a terminally ill man who wants someone to film him in a series of videos for his unborn son. The situation soon takes a turn for the, well, creepy when it becomes clear that Josef may be… shall we say “less than stable.” Creep scared its way to a 91 percent Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, earning positive reviews from outlets such as the Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire. Bonus points if you pretend Duplass is playing his character from The League the whole time.

    8) Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau (July 14)

    Director Richard Stanley was fired by New Line a mere three days into filming his 1996 attempt to bring H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau to the big screen. Things didn’t get any better from there. John Frankenheimer stepped into the vacated director’s chair, but he faced a sea of troubles that included script problems, production delays, and a pair of uncooperative egos named Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer. The end result is one of the worst movies ever made...which, thankfully, makes for a fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary. In addition to revisiting the shitshow that was The Island of Dr. Moreau’s actual shoot, Lost Soul examines Stanley’s original vision for the film, including his plans for Bruce Willis to play the role that eventually went to Val Kilmer.

    9) Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (July 15)

    Da Sweet Blood of Jesus tells the story of Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams), a respected anthropologist who is inflicted with a hunger for blood after an encounter with a cursed African artifact. Director Spike Lee actually turned to Kickstarter to fund Da Sweet Blood of Jesus—a first for Lee—and the movie was filmed in only 16 days.

    Lee describes this particular “joint” as being about “Human beings who are addicted to blood. Funny, sexy and bloody. A new kind of love story (and not a remake of Blacula).” It received a VOD release this past February, just in time for Valentine’s Day. And am I the only one disappointed that it isn’t a remake of Blacula though?

    10) Changeling (July 16)

    Based on strange-than-fiction real-life events, Changeling stars Angelina Jolie as Christine Collins, a woman in 1920s Los Angeles whose son vanishes. Her relief when the LAPD announces they have found him is soon dashed by the discovery that the kid they bring forward isn’t actually her boy—even if they keep insisting he is. Soon the scandal-plagued department is trying to shut her up and brush the case under the rug, but Collins never gives up hope or stops trying to find her son. Writer J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, Netflix’s Sense8) spent a year researching the real-life Collins case, and even included newspaper clippings in copies of the script to remind people that this bleak and bizarre story was based on true events.

    12) BoJack Horseman: Season 2 (July 17)

    Easily the weirdest original show in Netflix’s stable, BoJack Horseman stars Will Arnett as the titular Horseman, a washed-up sitcom star in a world where humans share the planet with anthropomorphic animals who are apparently not very creative when it comes to choosing last names. BoJack is eager to try and rekindle his fame, just like any other has-been celebrity—horse-headed or neigh. In addition to Arnett, BoJack Horseman’s impressive voice cast includes Amy Sedaris, Paul F. Tompkins, Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, Patton Oswalt, Stanley Tucci, J.K. Simmons, and Community’s Alison Brie as BoJack’s ghostwriter/love interest. Season 2 also adds Friends star Lisa Kudrow into the mix.

    13) Tig (July 17)

    On Aug. 3, 2012, comedian Tig Notaro walked on stage at Largo in Los Angeles and opened her set with these words: “Good evening, hello, I have cancer. How are you?” The crowd laughed, expecting a bit. Instead, Notaro delivered a set that has become justifiably legendary in the standup world, with the comic opening up about her diagnosis, only days before, of invasive stage II breast cancer. The documentary Tig explores Notaro’s fight against her illness, her reignited career in the wake of that unforgettable Largo set, and even her finding love in the wake of a dark and difficult time. On a related note, you should definitely listen to Tig’s bit about how she is cosmically bonded to former ’80s teen pop icon Taylor Dayne.

    14) Teacher of the Year (July 23)

    “Surrounded by the eccentric faculty of Truman High School, Mitch Carter wins the California Teacher of the Year award and immediately receives a tempting offer that may force him to leave his job.” Key and Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key co-stars as a character named Ronald Douche (pronounced “doo-shay”), so on the surface this flick could easily be a trainwreck. However, Teacher of the Year did well on the festival circuit, the reviews currently listed on Rotten Tomatoes are mostly positive, and the trailer actually looks like this one might be worth your time. Honestly, I’d check it out for Key’s presence alone, but throwing the Sklar Brothers into the mix just cements the deal.

    15) The Guest (July 25)

    Director Adam Wingard gave the world the outstanding 2011 slasher flick You’re Next. With 2014’s The Guest, Wingard reunited with You’re Next screenwriter Simon Barrett for a thriller about a family mourning the loss of their oldest son, Caleb, a soldier who died in Afghanistan. When a stranger named David shows up claiming to be a friend of their late son, the family embraces him and welcomes him into their home. David is polite, helpful, and seemingly a great guy… but events soon begin to suggest that he harbors dark secrets and a violent streak that could put the entire family in danger. (July 25 is a long way away, so we highly recommend checking out Wingard’s You’re Next in the meantime if you haven’t already.)

    16) Comet (July 28)

    I’m a sucker for Emmy Rossum, but ever since Tusk, I can’t see Justin Long without subconsciously superimposing the walrus mustache back onto his upper lip. That’s bound to interfere with my enjoyment of this high-concept romantic comedy/drama that explores a six-year star-crossed relationship in non-linear fashion. Writer/director Sam Esmail received a “story by” credit on the 2014 found-footage horror flick Mockingbird, and more recently he created the thriller series Mr. Robot for USA. If nothing else, the fact that this isn’t a guy I’d expect a rom-com from intrigues me, and Comet looks to be playing with stylistic and narrative flourishes that could be interesting. Plus, let’s be honest: I’ll follow Emmy anywhere.

    17) Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (July 31)

    Wet Hot American Summer was a flop when it was released in 2001, but it’s since become a cult classic thanks to a script that deftly skewers ’80s teen sex comedies and a dynamite ensemble cast that includes Paul Rudd, Janeane Garofalo, Elizabeth Banks, David Hyde Pierce, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, Bradley Cooper, and Amy Poehler, to name just a few. A decade and a half later, Netflix is taking viewers back to Camp Firewood in this prequel series. And yes, you can be sure there will be plenty of jokes about the fact that the “teenage” cast is now several decades past their first pimple. First Day of Camp is set earlier in the same summer explored in the original movie, and includes appearances by Jon Hamm, Chris Pine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristen Wiig, Judah Friedlander, Michael Cera, and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

    Screengrab via Netflix/YouTube


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    A judge has sided with YouTube creator Ray William Johnson in his lawsuit against Jukin Media establishing a fair use precedent that could have wide-ranging implications for creators who earn a living aggregating and curating viral video clips.

    The lawsuit originated back in 2014, when Jukin issued multiple YouTube copyright claims against Johnson’s viral clip show Equals Three, accusing the creator of stealing multiple clips from its popular Fail Army channel. In November of that year, Johnson responded by suing Jukin for lost revenue claiming a fair use exemption for the clips.

    It now appears that the law is on Johnson’s side. In a decision issued on Oct. 13, U.S. District Court Judge Stephen V. Wilson ruled in favor of Johnson, citing the “transformative work” exception of the fair use statute. In the case of all but one of the contested video clips, Judge Wilson found that Johnson’s show substantively transformed the video in question and that the show’s transformative nature outweighed its commercial objectives.

    A concrete definition of what constitutes fair use has been notoriously difficult to pin down, a problem that has plagued many creators in the digital space who rely on re-purposed content. In this case, the judge found that the clips had been substantially re-contextualized through the commentary provided by Equals Three host Robby Motz.

    Of the 19 videos contested in the suit the judge found that only one, “First person to buy iPhone 6 in Perth drops it on live TV when pressured by reporters,” did not meet the criteria for a transformative work because the host made only broad general comments rather than direct critical statements about the video. 

    Read the full article at the Video Ink.

    Screengrab via RayWilliamJohnson/YouTube


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    Tyler Oakley’s first memoir, Binge, hits shelves today as the YouTuber-turned-author embarks on an international book tour. Oakley is one in a long line of YouTubers who’ve turned to the publishing industry in the past year, telling tales of their lives to passionate fanbases who turn out in droves to push them up the charts. If you’re clamouring for a copy but wondering what you’ll find in its pages, we’ve compiled seven things you’ll learn about Oakley, from his sex life to his driving record, when you pick up Binge.

    1) Tyler Oakley is R-rated

    Well, not totally, but definitely more than his other LGBT YouTuber counterparts. Openly gay from the get-go in his YouTube career, Oakley’s made no secret of his life as a sexually active adult. The book definitely goes there, from covering his first major relationships to his “ten cummandments” learned living in San Francisco after college. He lets fans in on unexpected fetish moments, Grindr hookups gone wrong, and everything in between.

    2) Tyler Oakley has a lot of feelings on holidays

    An entire chapter, “Unnecessary Holiday Traditions,” is dedicated to Oakley’s opinions on events from St. Patrick’s Day (no green, please) to how “Happy Birthday” is completely insufferable.

    3) Tyler Oakley is not a safe driver

    A fan might think they’re super lucky to get into a car with Oakley, but if he’s behind the wheel, he warns for disaster. The book details several car crashes and roadway accidents—as well as the surprising link between his vehicular mishaps and his love life.

    4) Tyler Oakley has a full-on Beyoncé life plan

    No, not a plan to live life like Queen Bey, but plans for what he’d do if he someday woke up in his glittering bodysuit. He lays out a clear plan of action in one chapter about how he’d go through his 24 hours for maximum Beyoncé time. It’s a good reminder that everyone should have a body swap game plan in their back pocket.

    5) Tyler Oakley should be your date to a wedding

    If you need a plus one, Oakley proves in the book that he’s game for anything and happy to roll with the punches. Even if the entire situation he’s landed in is a lie.

    6) Tyler Oakley is extremely open

    He may have broadcast his life on YouTube for the past eight years, but Oakley goes in depth in his book on several sensitive topics, including domestic abuse and depression. In a book with a lot of laughs, his weightier sections stick with the reader.

    7) Tyler Oakley trusts you

    He kicks off the book explaining that he’s letting his fans in on his life by talking about the distinction between Mathew, his legal first name, and Tyler, the name he started going by in childhood. He describes Mathew as his more private identity, and introduces the book by explaining that he’s telling those stories, the Mathew stories, as his sign of trust to his readers.

    Illustration by Max Fleishman


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    Tom Hiddleston has three awesome-looking movies coming out over the next few months, including Crimson Peak. Yet somehow, we still haven't reached Hiddleston saturation point.

    I Saw The Light stars Hiddleston as country music icon Hank Williams, a role that required him to replicate Williams' mid-20th century Southern accent. After the film's premiere in Nashville this weekend, he treated the cast and crew to a live performance of some of Hank Williams' best known songs. The accent holds up pretty well.

    Turn down the charm, please, Mr. Hiddleston. This is too much.

    Screengrab via Comicbook.com/YouTube


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    Hack Into Broad City has been our lifeline to Abbi and Ilana while Broad City is heading into season 3. The latest episode of the accompanying webseries, which airs while Broad City is off the air, takes us deep into their closets with “The Purge.”

    And their Crocs, which Abbi bought when she was really into Top Chef. There’s also a throwback to their performance bibs and Abbi’s pastel sweater shame. This clip will definitely make you question that fringe vest you bought when you were hungover. 

    In the time since season 2 ended, the ladies have apparently turned in a draft of a film script and gotten a catchphrase from the show branded on a Wendy Nichol bag. But don’t worry, filming has started on season 3, and there might be a cronut storyline.  

    Now, where are my Crocs...

    Screengrab via Comedy Central 


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