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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, wader, Doctor RJ, rfall, JML9999 and Man Oh Man. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, ek hornbeck, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7, BentLiberal, Oke and jlms qkw.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary. Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

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Naomi Watts and Ben Stiller in Noah Baumbach's 'While We're Young'
Instead of just focusing on one issue, movie or TV show, I'm going to open up the floor and ask a question. If a friend asked for a recommendation of a movie or TV show, what would you tell them? What should people try giving a chance?

I'm gonna make a few suggestions and do some quick reviews of recent shows and movies that might be worth taking a look at. Continue below the fold for more.

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"I want all the media to put their hands up and swear something this election season. I solemnly swear not to talk about Hillary's appearance because that is not journalism."
The year is not even half done and we already have some great candidates for the dumbest news columns of the year. Last week, the New York Times and Michael Barbaro put out on one of the stupidest puff pieces in recent memory, where it was claimed the country "craves a relatable eater in chief" after "eight years of a tea-sipping president." So vote for Jeb Bush because of his eating habits and Paleo diet?

Today, Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post feels the need to devote thousands of words coming to the defense of superficiality. His point of disagreement is with comedienne Cecily Strong's admonition to the Washington press corps that Hillary Clinton's appearance should be off limits.

Her line divided the room more than anything else uttered that night. There was wild cheering from some sections of the crowd. (Remember that lots and lots of people in attendance are not journalists before you start bashing the "lap dog media.") There was silence from other sections of the audience ... But the broader idea that Strong was pitching was some version of this: How a candidate looks doesn't matter at all, and reporters who spend any time writing or thinking about it are committing journalistic malpractice. To which I say: Wrong.
For literally decades, Hillary Clinton has been subjected to constant coverage by a bunch of media Heathers that dissect her hairstyle, her clothes, whether she wears makeup, and even her damn glasses. If you think this sort of thing has an edge of sexism, well you're not the only one. But don't worry, according to Cilliza he doesn't want to scrutinize her appearance in the bad way. He wants journalists to have the ability to "properly contextualize coverage of any candidate's appearance." However, he spends so much time justifying judging a candidate on superficial reasons, he never asks whether the media should be? Or whether the end-effect is to cause the sexist coverage Cilliza is very careful in trying to distance himself from, but in the end can't.

More below the fold.

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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, wader, Doctor RJ, rfall, JML9999 and Man Oh Man. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, ek hornbeck, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7, BentLiberal, Oke and jlms qkw.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary. Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

Continue Reading
Alicia Vikander as Ava in Alex Garland's 'Ex Machina'
It's a tale as old as dirt. Man plays God and creates life in our own vision. Some see the creation as tools to do with as we please, while others empathize and have feelings for the new creation. But sooner or later, things get complicated.

This is the basis for Alex Garland's film, Ex Machina, which both examines these issues in very intelligent ways and also falls into Hollywood cliches. The biggest of those cliches is a fear of discovery leading to disaster, which runs through a LOT of stories over the past few thousand years. This is usually a truism, since stories are predicated on conflict, and most times it would get pretty boring if what the characters discovered was sweet dreams and sunbeams. However, it's interesting to examine how far this particular notion extends.

Continue below the fold for more.

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Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 08:38 PM PDT

Superman is a 'false god'

by Doctor RJ

Warner Bros. had planned to release the trailer for Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice next week. But the leak of a bootleg version last night changed things, and precipitated director posting the footage on his Twitter feed. This movie, which builds off of 2013's Man of Steel, is a critical linchpin in Warner Bros. attempt to establish a cohesive D.C. Comics cinematic continuity with their characters and catch up with Disney and Marvel's success.

Speculation about Batman v Superman has been running rampant since it was first announced at 2013's Comic-Con. Snyder has heavily implied the story borrows from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns and the trailer confirms it. The movie will introduce a new iteration of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and many of the Justice League members will make appearances. (e.g., Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, etc.) However, Warner Bros. could not have picked a dumber title for this film if they had tried, and there's a worry the studio is in such a hurry to catch-up with Marvel they're throwing every character into this movie and it's going to be a muddled mess.

This teaser trailer offers a glimpse of the world's reaction to Superman after the events of Man of Steel, as well as a first look at Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne and Batman. Check out the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice after the jump.

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Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 07:30 PM PDT

The plot thickens on 'Orphan Black'

by Doctor RJ

Maria Doyle Kennedy in BBC America's 'Orphan Black'
About two years ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously biotech companies could not patent human genes. However, the court made a distinction between DNA that occurs in nature and synthetic DNA created in a laboratory. According to the ruling, manipulating a gene to create something not found in nature, through cDNA, is eligible for patent protection.

The ruling was name-checked last year in BBC America's Orphan Black, where eugenics and questions of identity are significant parts of the plot. For those unfamiliar, the critically acclaimed series, created by Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, centers around multiple "Neolution" conspiracies dealing with clones that all look like the very talented Tatiana Maslany. Much like an X-Files conspiracy, the show is a search for answers about why they were created and for what purpose? But at every turn a new question arises. And beyond bioethics and drama, the show's subtext is feminist concerns and class issues.

As the series begins its third season, the female clones of Project Leda are no longer alone. However, like a lot of mythology heavy TV shows, there is a question of how deep down the rabbit hole can a series go before it becomes a tangled mess of its own creation? You might need a pencil and paper to keep track of all the factions (and the factions within factions), who is on which side, and the purpose and agenda each group is working toward. And at times, it seems like the writers aren't really sure about the answers to those points, or know where they're going with them. But the draw and reason to watch is still Maslany, who amazes in multiple performances.

Continue below the fold for more.

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Thu Apr 16, 2015 at 01:25 PM PDT

'Chewie, we're home'

by Doctor RJ

This is going to be short. But for all the Star Wars fans among us, the second trailer for J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens has just been released at the annual Star Wars Celebration fan gathering. The first teaser from last November focused on the new characters, featuring John Boyega‘s Finn, Daisy Ridley‘s Rey, Oscar Isaac‘s Poe Dameron, and the mysterious lightsaber-wielding Kylo Ren.

This second trailer has some more familiar faces, as well as a recognizable voice narrating. Check out a much more revealing The Force Awakens teaser trailer after the jump.

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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, wader, Doctor RJ, rfall, JML9999 and Man Oh Man. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, ek hornbeck, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7, BentLiberal, Oke and jlms qkw.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary. Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

Continue Reading
Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock in Netflix's 'Daredevil'
At the moment, the superhero genre is arguably at its peak. Movies based on comic book characters have raked in billions at the box office, with both Disney and Warner Bros. planning to spend billions more on serialized story arcs spread across multiple films spanning well into the next decade, including the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron and next year's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Analysts have been wondering for a while if there will come a saturation point where the bottom will fall out. However, we haven't reached that point yet.

A longstanding argument about superheroes is whether the genre is inherently a right-wing power fantasy Dick Cheney would probably embrace. In most stories, violence becomes a tool for either social change or maintaining the status quo. The bureaucracy of government is inept and corrupt because people are bad and corrupt behind a thin veneer of civilization. And a hero (or group of heroes) must rise above it all through brute force, sidestepping legalities like privacy and due process, to protect humanity from itself. However, this interpretation is overly simplistic and doesn't apply universally. Through a character like Captain America, the Marvel films have presented ideals and principles as being more important than power and safety. And even the Batman story of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy can be interpreted as a story in which the use of violence is a tragedy without a distinction between vengeance and justice. And violence used as a means to an end only escalates the cycle.

The latest offering from Marvel Studios is Netflix's Daredevil, which plays with many of these ideas and is much different than anything Marvel has done before. It's gritty, violent, and explores the consequences of this particular genre, both physical and emotional, on a much smaller and grounded scale. Created by Drew Goddard (The Cabin in the Woods) and produced by Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus), both veterans of Joss Whedon shows, Daredevil follows the exploits of blind lawyer Matt Murdock as he tries to defend the 10 blocks of Manhattan known as Hell's Kitchen from drug dealers, human trafficking, government corruption, and a new kingpin.

Follow below the fold for more.

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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest with a crew consisting of founder Magnifico, current leader Neon Vincent, regular editors side pocket, maggiejean, wader, Doctor RJ, rfall, JML9999 and Man Oh Man. Alumni editors include (but not limited to) palantir, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, ek hornbeck, ScottyUrb, Interceptor7, BentLiberal, Oke and jlms qkw.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary. Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Please feel free to share your articles and stories in the comments.

Continue Reading

Mon Apr 06, 2015 at 07:30 PM PDT

'Furious 7' is stupid fun

by Doctor RJ

And I mean stupid in the best way possible.

The common refrain about The Fast and the Furious franchise is one needs to "turn off their brain" and just enjoy the cars, women, and action. To a certain degree, that's true. These are most definitely not movies defined by their gritty realism, or art house films concerned with the esoteric qualities of the human condition. But neither are the James Bond and Star Wars franchises, which also require not thinking too hard about certain aspects of the plot, and fostering a suspension of disbelief.

Arguably, the fair way to judge something like this is on the level of what it aspires to be and whether it achieves that mark in an enjoyable way. For example, the discography of Rick James is not filled with tracks that are particularly "deep" in introspection about social issues. And they're not intended to be. They're songs about very kinky girls, cold-blooded women, and "Mary Jane" to a funk bass groove. And if that's your thing, it works. With the Fast and Furious films, they're silly, ridiculous and preposterous. But, as a movie viewing experience, the franchise embraces awe and spectacle to create a fun popcorn action movie, and Furious 7 is probably the most fun I've seen an audience have with a film all year.

Delayed almost a year in order to rework the story and insert digital trickery given the death of actor Paul Walker, Furious 7 ups the ante and stakes but also has to strike a tonal balance. The result is enjoyable, but doesn't reach the kinetic heights of some of the movie's predecessors.

Follow below the fold for more.

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