Antony Beevor: the greatest war movie ever and the ones I can’t bear

He groaned at Valkyrie and despaired at Saving Private Ryan. The award-winning historian takes aim at the war films that make him furious and reveals his own favourite

For a long time now, my wife has refused to watch a war movie with me. This is because I cannot stop grinding my teeth with annoyance at major historical mistakes, or harrumphing over errors of period detail. She only made an exception when Valkyrie came out, with Tom Cruise playing Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg. Such a folly of miscasting was bound to be a hoot, and we were not disappointed, especially when Cruise saluted in that downward cutaway style as if he were still in Top Gun. But I was soon grinding away again when the director and screenwriter felt compelled to improve on history, by making it look as if the 20 July plot to blow up Hitler had still very nearly succeeded.

I despair at the way American and British movie-makers feel they have every right to play fast and loose with the facts, yet have the arrogance to imply that their version is as good as the truth. Continental film-makers are on the whole far more scrupulous. The German film Downfall, about Hitlers last days in the bunker, respected historical events and recreated them accurately.

The
The corruption of combat The 317th Platoon, regarded as the greatest war movie ever by Beevor. Photograph: Allstar/RANK

In my view, the greatest war movie ever made is The 317th Platoon, a French film from 1965 set during the countrys first Indochina war. This was the original platoon movie, whose format later directors followed but failed to match in its portrayal of characters and their interaction, to say nothing of the moral choices and the corruption of combat. It is followed closely by 1966s The Battle of Algiers, set during the Algerian war of independence. This was one of the first war films to adopt a quasi-documentary approach, and tackle the moral quagmire of torture justified by the need to save lives.

More recent imitators lack all intellectual honesty. They throw dates and place names on to the screen as if what you are about to see is a faithful reproduction of events, when they are simply trying to pass off their fiction as authentic. This is basically a marketing ploy that has developed over the last 20 years or so. Unfortunately, fake authenticity sells. People are more likely to want to see something they think is very close to the truth, so they can feel they are learning as well as being entertained. In a post-literate society, the moving image is king, and most peoples knowledge of history is regrettably based more on cinematic fiction than archival fact.

There are many examples of shameless deception, such as the notorious U-571, in which a US warship is shown to capture a German submarine and seize its Enigma decoding machine, thus enabling the Allies to win the battle of the Atlantic. Right at the end, in the credits, a brief text admitted that in fact it had been the crew of a Royal Navy destroyer, HMS Bulldog, that performed the feat seven months before the US entered the war.

Shameless
Shameless deception U-571 sees the US triumph in a war it had yet to enter. Photograph: PA

When promoting Enemy at the Gates, a fictitious sniper duel set in Stalingrad, Paramount Pictures even had the gall to claim: One bullet can change the course of history. I hasten to add that, even though Jean-Jacques Annaud invited me to come out to Germany to watch the filming, the movie had nothing to do with my book Stalingrad and I was not an adviser in any form.

The director was trying to woo me and persuade me not to be too severe on the question of truth, because we had found in the Russian ministry of defence archives that the whole story of the sniper duel portrayed by Jude Law and Ed Harris had been a clever figment of Soviet propaganda. I liked Annaud, but in the end I was not popular, of course, because Paramount had bought the movie as a true story. His great line was: But Antony, who can tell where myth begins and truth ends?

The real problem is that the needs of history and the needs of the movie industry are fundamentally incompatible. Hollywood has to simplify everything according to set formulae. Its films have to have heroes and, of course, baddies moral equivocation is too complex. Feature films also have to have a whole range of staple ingredients if they are to make it through the financing, production and studio system to the box office. One element is the arc of character, in which the leading actors have to go through a form of moral metamorphosis as a result of the experiences they undergo. Endings have to be upbeat, even for the Holocaust. Look at Schindlers List and the sentimentality of its finale, revealing that in movies only the survivors count.

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The true story that wasnt Jude Law as a sniper in Enemy at the Gates. Photograph: Allstar/Paramount

I was asked by a large-circulation American weekly magazine to review Saving Private Ryan. My piece was spiked since it did not share the widespread adulation, and I still shake my head in disbelief when it is regularly voted the best war movie ever. It is nevertheless a work of intriguing paradoxes some intended, others not. Steven Spielbergs storyline rightly dramatises the clash between patriotic and therefore collective loyalty, and the struggle of the individual for survival. Those mutually contradictory values are, in many ways, the essence of war.

Spielberg said at the time that he sees the second world war as the defining moment in history. One also suspects that he wanted this film to be seen as the defining movie of the war. If so, it is a uniquely American definition of history, with no reference to the British let alone the Soviet role.

Eight US rangers under the command of a captain, having survived the initial D-day bloodbath, are detailed to seek out and save a single man, Private Ryan. The Hollywood notion of creativity often takes the form of cinematic ancestor worship but in this case, it is images and effects that are recycled. Spielberg may not even have included them consciously but, during the landing, the blood in the water in the first machine-gunning prompts memories of Jaws, another Spielberg film. And German Tiger tanks can indeed appear like prehistoric monsters, but when the sound effects of their approach later in the film resemble that of the Tyrannosaurus rex in Jurassic Park, it all seems too much.

After a truly extraordinary opening probably the most realistic battle sequence ever filmed everything changes and becomes formulaic. The climax combines just about every cliche in the book, with a very mixed handful of men (almost a la Dirty Dozen) improvising weapons to defend a vital bridge against an SS Panzer counterattack. The redeemed coward and the cynic reduced to tears both ticking the arc of character box are straight out of central screenwriting. The US air force arrives in the nick of time, just like the cavalry in 1950s cowboy films. And to cap it all, the final frames are of Private Ryan, standing in old age amid the rows of white crosses in a military cemetery, saluting his fallen comrades as tears run down his cheeks.

So what, apart from milking our tear ducts with both hands, was Spielberg really trying to do? Was his revolutionary approach to realism the special effects and stunt teams make up the largest blocks in the credits simply an attempt to conceal a deeply conservative message, as some commentators claimed?

It was not quite as simple as that. Amid the horror of war, Spielberg seems to be trying to rediscover American innocence, that Holy Grail that existed only in the Rousseau-esque imagination yet was virtually incorporated into the constitution. Spielberg, like other Hollywood directors of the time, came from a generation scarred by the moral quagmire of Vietnam. He understood the national need, in the post-cold war chaos, to reach back to more certain times, seeking reassurance from that moment in history the second world war when the fight seemed unequivocally right. Tell me Ive led a good life, says the weeping veteran in the cemetery to his wife. Tell me Im a good man.

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A stinker Mel Gibson in The Patriot. Photograph: Allstar/Columbia Pictures

You are, she replies, and the music begins to swell, with drum beats and trumpets. This representative of American motherhood appears to be reassuring the US as a whole. She seems to be speaking to a nation unable at that time to come to terms with its role in a disordered world, to a nation that, for all its power, can be bewilderingly naive abroad because it so badly needs to feel good about itself at home.

Even movies ostensibly showing corruption and criminality in the heart of the CIA and the Pentagon have to end on a nationalistic note, with a tiny group of clean, upstanding American liberals saving democracy. And it is, of course, hard to forget The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson, that fearless symbol of Brit-bashing films, whether at Gallipoli or all woaded up in the Scottish Highlands as Braveheart.

Andrew Marr rightly called The Patriot, set in the American war of independence, a stinker. As he pointed out: Black Americans, in fact destined to stay slaves thanks to the war, very many of whom enlisted with the British, are shown fighting shoulder to shoulder with their white rebel brothers. The British are portrayed as effete sadists and serial war criminals, just as in other American films. The huge support of the Bourbon French, who helped win the war, is airbrushed out. And the fact that most colonists actually sided with King George is airily forgotten.

We
We will fight them on the pristine beaches Kenneth Branagh in Dunkirk. Photograph: Allstar/Warner Bros.

Patriotism also permeated those British war movies of the 1950s and 60s The Dam Busters, Reach for the Sky, The Cruel Sea, The Heroes of Telemark, The Battle of the River Plate, Cockleshell Heroes. It camouflaged itself in self-deprecation, but the rousing march music in the finale always braced our belief in the rightness of our cause. We have long made fun of all the period cliches, unable to believe that anyone talked like that. But when researching my new book Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges, I found that German officers really did say to the British paratroopers taken prisoner: For you the war is over.

One of my favourite remarks, recorded at the time by a junior doctor, is the reaction of Colonel Marrable, the head of an improvised hospital in the Netherlands, when Waffen-SS panzergrenadiers seized the building. Still puffing gently on his pipe, he says to his medical staff: Good show, chaps. Dont take any notice of the Jerries. Carry on as if nothing has happened. I have always been doubtful about the notion of a national character, but a national self-image certainly existed during the war and for some time afterwards. Perhaps that is partly why I do not react so angrily when watching films of that era. Also, they never used that weasel claim based on a true story.

Recent productions are a very different matter. Last years Dunkirk and Darkest Hour were strong Oscar contenders. Yet watching Dunkirk, you would have thought that CGI had not been invented. Where were all those 400,000 men and their discarded equipment on all those miles of empty, pristine beaches? The film also gave the impression that the air battles took place at low level over the sea when, in fact, Fighter Command was counterattacking at altitude and well inland. It also implied that the little ships, as Churchill called them, rescued more soldiers than the Royal Navy warships. Wrong again.

He
He never set foot on the Tube in his life Gary Oldman takes the underground as Churchill in Darkest Hour. Photograph: Alamy

Darkest Hour had even more historical inaccuracies. Gary Oldman fully deserved the best actor Oscar for his brilliant performance as Churchill, but those responsible for the script get nul points. I fear that anyone who agrees to be a historical adviser for a movie is putting their reputation on the line. The ludicrous scene of Churchill in the underground (where he had never set foot in his life) was not the only howler.

On becoming prime minister in 1940, Churchill remained in the Admiralty, but he generously allowed Chamberlain to carry on in Downing Street. His respectful treatment of his former leader is important because when it came to the crunch with Lord Halifax, over the question of asking the Italians to discover Hitlers peace terms Chamberlain supported Churchill and did not plot against him as the film suggests.

Also, why were so many scenes shot in the bunker war rooms when the Luftwaffe had not yet bombed London? I was so irritated, it was a good thing I saw it on my own. Another visit to the dentist, I fear.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/may/29/antony-beevor-the-greatest-war-movie-ever-and-the-ones-i-cant-bear

“Deep Fake” Videos Created By AI Just Got Even More Terrifying

Fake videos created by AI-assisted algorithms are already causing a stir. So-called “DeepFakes” have put other people’s words into the mouths of politicians and even superimposed celebrity faces onto the bodies of porn actresses.

Now, researchers have developed a new approach that can make the videos even more convincing, which makes them all the more terrifying.

Previously, this technique could only manipulate facial expressions. The results were pretty impressive, although not totally convincing. This new approach is the first successful attempt to transfer the full three-dimensional head position, head rotation, face expression, eye gaze, and eye blinking from a video of one face onto a video of another.

Building on their previous deep-learning algorithms, the new technique offers more realism and subtlety, picking up on fine details such as the slight flick of a head or the wiggle of a shoulder. The new results also show way less glitchy distortions, also known as artifacts, which can make most forgeries easy to spot. The videos are so seamless that their experiments showed that people were unable to detect any video manipulation at all. As far as they could tell, the videos were real.

You can see the results for yourself in the video below. The new research from Stanford will be presented at the VR filmmaking conference SIGGRAPH later this summer.

The researchers believe that the technology could have some useful applications, such as post-production editing. For example, it could be used to superimpose the face of deceased actors into a new or unfinished film. It could also be used for dubbing, either in movies or for teleconferences.

Nevertheless, the technology has raised its fair share of eyebrows. Politicians and computer scientists alike have also flagged up concerns that the tech could be abused to create the ultimate “fake news”, with some even warning that the technology has the power to shape global politics.

“Unfortunately, besides the many positive use cases, such technology can also be misused. Currently, the modified videos still exhibit many artifacts, which makes most forgeries easy to spot,” the researchers write. “It is hard to predict at what point in time such ‘fake’ videos will be indistinguishable from real content for our human eyes.”

But before our civilization falls into a confusing mess of inauthenticity, check out these DeepFake videos of Nicolas Cage superimposed into numerous Hollywood movies:

Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/technology/deep-fake-videos-created-by-ai-just-got-even-more-terrifying/

‘How many straight rom-coms do we need?’: Jim Parsons fiercely defends ‘Love, Simon.’

How many romantic comedies starring straight couples have been made since the dawn of time?

A thousand? A million? There have been a lot!

Americans haven’t suffered from a straight rom-com shortage since rom-coms became a thing — “Annie Hall” in 1977, “The Apartment” in 1960, or maybe even “It Happened One Night” way back in 1934.

Rarely do you hear complaints from moviegoers about Hollywood churning out too many of them.

Which is why Jim Parsons has had it.

Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

The actor visited “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on May 7 to promote a reboot of the gay-themed Broadway show “The Boys in The Band.” As the conversation veered into the need for more LGBTQ representation in theater, film, and beyond, Parsons revealed one thing that irked him about the criticism aimed at the film “Love, Simon” earlier this year.

The teen rom-com — the genre’s first to star a gay lead while also boasting a big budget — was dinged by some critics for arriving in theaters about a decade too late. “‘Love, Simon’ Is a Groundbreaking Gay Movie,” one headline announced, “But Do Today’s Teens Actually Need It?”

According to Parsons, the answer is a resounding yes.

The wide release of “Love, Simon” meant an LGBTQ-themed movie for teens was in most movie theaters across the country. That’s never happened before. And for a gay kid in, say, small-town Kansas, that matters.

As Parsons explained:

“I read a couple of articles that were essentially saying – I loved [‘Love, Simon’], by the way — but there were a couple articles that were like, ‘That’s too late.’ … That we’re beyond this now — the kind of tale of coming out that this was. And I thought, ‘Maybe if you’re a 30-something writer living in New York or L.A. it may be like, ‘I don’t need to see this,’ obviously. But I don’t know – I think there are people in many other places that, yes, you do still need to see it.”

Parsons then pointed out how absurd it is to argue a gay rom-com is “too late” to make a meaningful difference when no one holds straight rom-coms to the same standard:

“Never mind the fact [they’re saying] ‘a gay rom-com — it’s too late.’ Well, tell that to ‘When Harry Met Sally,’ you know? Which was brilliant, but I’m saying, ‘How many straight rom-coms do we need? When is it too late for them?’ You know?”

Check out the interview below.

Parsons begins talking about “Love, Simon,” at about the 7-minute mark.

He’s not wrong, is he?

We often eat up straight rom-coms faster than the popcorn kernels in our buttery palms without thinking twice about their relevance to the social consciousness of the day.

Yet with rom-coms featuring marginalized lovebirds, there seems to be a different standard. Did “Love, Simon” explore queerness in a positive way? Was it relatable enough for LGBTQ teens? Was it timely enough to make a difference? Did it revolutionize the fight for LGBTQ equality in 1 hour and 50 minutes of screen time?!

This is exactly why we need more rom-coms featuring LGBTQ people from all walks of life — people of color, people of minority faiths, disabled people, and everyone else. That way, the few films featuring marginalized people that do get made won’t bear the brunt of cramming the experiences of an entire group into one trip to the movies.  

Or, as Parsons quipped, to laughs: “Let me get sick of too many gay rom-coms, then, thank you very much. Bring it on.”

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/how-many-straight-rom-coms-do-we-need-jim-parsons-fiercely-defends-love-simonjim-parsons-is-hilariously-fed-up-with-straight-rom-coms-and-he-has-a-great-point

Times People Explained Movies So Badly

Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/5kQmYHs

Ryan Reynolds revealed how intense his anxiety can be. Here’s how he manages it.

Ryan Reynolds is a funny guy.

Really, though. His jokes alone are a good reason to join Twitter.

But behind the laughs, the “Deadpool” star lives with a more sobering reality: the daunting effects of anxiety.

Reynolds has opened up about living with anxiety before. But in a new interview with The New York Times, the actor shed even more light on what he’s experienced living with the mental health condition and how he copes with its at times devastating hold.

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.

“I have anxiety,” Reynolds explained to The Times. “I’ve always had anxiety.”

“Both in the lighthearted, ‘I’m anxious about this,’ kind of thing,'” he continued, “and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.”

Reynolds isn’t alone at the darker end of that spectrum. About 18.1% of adults in the U.S. — 40 million people — live with an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The organization reports it’s the most common form of mental illness in the country.

Though occasional bouts of anxiety are a normal part of being human, the Mayo Clinic notes that “people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations.”

Reynolds believes his anxiety stems, at least in part, from his childhood in Vancouver, Canada. “Our father was tough,” he told Variety in 2016:

“He wasn’t easy on anyone. And he wasn’t easy on himself. I think the anxiety might have started there, trying 
to find ways to control others by trying to control myself. At the time, I never recognized that. I was just a twitchy kid.”

Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images.

As an adult, he said his anxiety has manifested in many ways. He used to wake up in the dead of night, gripped with irrational panic over his future. When he starred on the ABC sitcom “Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place” two decades ago, he’d often warm-up the live studio audience — not to selflessly loosen up fans, but to re-focus “the energy of just wanting to throw up,” he told The New York Times.

The actor can remember self-medicating in his early 20s as an attempt to avoid the symptoms associated with anxiety, saying, “I was partying and just trying to make myself vanish in some way.”

Reynolds plans on doing many of his upcoming “Deadpool 2” promo interviews in character — not to get laughs, he explained, but to temper his anxiety.

Even after decades in the spotlight, the actor’s anxiety elicits a unique kind of dread before interviews and talk show appearances. Emulating Deadpool’s sardonic stage presence helps him feel a bit more comfortable.

“When the curtain opens, I turn on this knucklehead, and he kind of takes over and goes away again once I walk off set,” he told the Times. “That’s that great self-defense mechanism. I figure if you’re going to jump off a cliff, you might as well fly.”

Reynolds also uses a meditation app, Headspace, to stay calm and — after years of living with anxiety — confidently reminds himself ahead of appearances that the awful feelings will soon pass.

If you’re in Reynolds’ boat, there’s no need to feel helpless. Everyone’s anxiety is different, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment, but the Mayo Clinic has some advice for those living with its effects: Take part in activities you enjoy, avoid drugs or alcohol (which can worsen symptoms), and consider reaching out for help from a medical professional.

To learn more about anxiety, visit the Mayo Clinic’s website.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/ryan-reynolds-revealed-how-intense-his-anxiety-can-be-here-s-how-he-manages-it

We shouldn’t be surprised that Southwest’s hero pilot is a woman

(CNN)The image of a pilot under stress, making a heroic emergency landing with a disabled plane, is the heart of lots of movies.

Now, rethink that image.
That is what happened Tuesday after the emergency landing of a Southwest Airlines plane in Philadelphia. An engine broke up in flight, the debris shattered a window and the rapid decompression nearly sucked out a passenger, who later died.

      Watch passenger video inside Southwest plane

    Oxygen masks came dangling down and the pilot took action. In recordings to air traffic control, in a calm cool voice, the pilot showed nerves of steel and landed the plane quickly and safely.
    “We have a part of the aircraft missing,” the pilot told air traffic control as the plane descended to safety.
    The public was quick to call the pilot a hero. Her name is Tammie Jo Shults. She is one of the Navy’s first female fighter pilots and the first woman to fly a F/A-18.
    Why does that matter? Ultimately it doesn’t. And that’s the point, especially to those passengers so terrified, Some used video chat during their perceived last moments and others tried to help wounded passengers and calm terrified travelers. It was a potential catastrophe being streamed and tweeted in real time. Were they thinking of the gender of the pilot? Likely not. All they wanted was the pilot to perform flawlessly.
    But, the image of the hero pilot as a “he” made some reports erroneous; not to pick on CBS, but the description of the aftermath — “Everyone clapped and praised the pilot after he set the aircraft down” — was wrong. And that error cultivates the stereotypical image of the cool guy saving the masses.
    Shults did everything that a highly trained professional would do. It wasn’t magic to her or her colleagues; they have trained and exercised for that moment of crisis for most of their careers. In other words, she is a hero to us, but for her and her colleagues she performed exactly to plan.
    Shults is proof, again, that there is no “female” approach to high-risk jobs, especially those in the military and public safety. Women should be given access because there really is no difference in their performance.
    The fight, for example, to get women into combat roles in our military, a debate that ultimately led to complete access for women in 2013, wasn’t because there is a girl’s way to fight, but because, if trained, women can perform in the same way as men.
    The goal of giving women access to these jobs, and promoting them once there, isn’t pursued because it makes us feel good, but because there is no reason to exclude women if they can perform as well as men.

    Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    Our images of the hero pilot aside, Shults showed that “nerves of steel” can have two X chromosomes. A combination of a person’s natural inclinations and the kind of training she received in the military were the key factors in her safe landing. I’m all for promoting a female hero, and the casting for the movie may have already begun. But the lesson of the safe landing isn’t that a female pilot performed heroically, but that a professional pilot performed exactly as trained.

    Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/18/opinions/southwests-hero-pilot-kayyem/index.html

    What actual longsword duels would have looked like.

    Longsword duels were a lot grittier than the movies make them out to be.

    Read more: http://www.wimp.com/what-actual-longsword-duels-would-have-looked-like/

    Netflix Proves It Can Raise Prices Without Losing Customers

    • Advances in Europe, Latin America drive growth past forecasts
    • Online service plans to release about 700 titles this year

    Netflix Inc. used to worry it would alienate customers by raising prices for its streaming service. Not any more.

    The company posted its strongest subscriber growth since going public 16 years ago, despite raising prices for most of its customers over the past several months. Los Gatos, California-based Netflix added 7.41 million users in the first quarter of the year, according to a statement Monday, easily topping analysts’ projections.

    New Subscriber Outlook

    Netflix capped an upbeat quarter with a bright forecast for new customers

    Source: Company reports

    Note: In millions

    Raising prices enabled Netflix to boost sales 40 percent last quarter and quiet investors who fret about all the money the company spends on original series and movies. Netflix will spend $7.5 billion to $8 billion on programming this year to lure more customers to its online TV network, which now boasts 125 million subscribers worldwide.

    “You have to earn it by doing spectacular content,” Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said on a call with investors. “If you do that, you can get people to pay more because then we can invest.”

    The results, including higher earnings and an upbeat forecast, were welcome news to investors. Netflix rose as much as 8.3 percent to $333.21 in extended trading after the results were announced. The stock was up 60 percent this year at Monday’s close in New York.

    Hastings hasn’t forgotten when a price increase almost took down the company. The stock stock price fell precipitously and subscribers canceled over a few months in 2011 after the company split its streaming service from its DVD-by-mail service, a move that amounted to a 60 percent price increase for customers who wanted to keep both.

    Forgive, Forget

    Yet a growing segment of the population forgave and forgot, replacing live TV services with Netflix’s on-demand library, even as the company’s average U.S. subscription price rose 12 percent in the past year. The popularity of the service surged in the U.S. once Netflix began funding original series, such as “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.”

    The production pipeline has since increased to levels that rival the world’s largest media companies. Netflix will release about 700 original pieces of programming this year, including about 80 movies (more than any studio), more than one stand-up special a week and as many unscripted series as any U.S. cable network.

    Worth just $20 billion at the end of 2014, when it had only released a handful of original shows, Netflix will likely surpass $140 billion in market value when trading opens Tuesday. Chief content officer Ted Sarandos has used the company’s rise to lure some of the top creative minds from rival studios.

    In February, producer Ryan Murphy agreed to leave 21st Century Fox Inc., where he made “American Horror Story,” for a deal at Netflix worth a reported $300 million. Earlier, the company signed “Scandal” producer Shonda Rhimes, who left her long-time home at Walt Disney Co.’s ABC to make shows exclusively for Netflix.

    More In-House

    Netflix has told investors it will save money by bringing development and production in-house and avoiding the markups imposed by rival studios. But spending is still growing as the company expands production in areas like film, unscripted series and kids programming. In the last quarter, the company released the documentary miniseries “Wild, Wild Country,” the second season of the Marvel comic series “Jessica Jones” and the horror film “The Cloverfield Paradox.”

    Total streaming content obligations grew to $17.9 billion in the first quarter, from $17.7 billion three months earlier, and that doesn’t account for the ballooning budget to market shows. While Netflix reports a profit, its cash flow last quarter was a negative $287 million, and investors will be paying close attention to whether the company plans to take on more debt, as it has every year since it started releasing original programming several years ago.

    Netflix has allayed concerns about its cash burn by continuing to add subscribers. On Monday, the company said it aims to add another 6.2 million subscribers in the second quarter. The company is also forecasting a further 41 percent increase in revenue this quarter, to $3.93 billion, and said profit would rise to 79 cents a share, both topping Wall Street estimates.

    This growing output justifies price increases, Netflix says. While $9.99 a month made sense when Netflix was making about as many shows as HBO, which costs more than that, the company can now offer customers as many new shows as several cable networks put together.

    Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-16/netflix-top-estimates-for-quarter-projects-continued-gains

    Some Humans Have Real “Superpowers” – Here Are The Lamest Ones That Have Been Confirmed To Exist

    Comic books and action movies give an unrealistic expectation of superhuman abilities. In reality, having an extra-human ability isn’t all explosions, saving the world from evil, and flying off into the distance. If X-Men was real, for example, and we were all born with a random mutant ability, you can bet we wouldn’t all be able to read minds and control the weather. While there are some people with some pretty awesome “superpowers” (you can read about them in our article here), most of us would end up with these rather lackluster talents.

    Goosebumps Boy  

    Most people only get goosebumps when they are cold, experiencing strong emotions, or listening to “Africa” by Toto; however, a select few people have the ability to consciously give themselves goosebumps on cue.

    “It starts in the back of my neck,” an Argentinian man with this superpower recently told The Atlantic“It’s like I have a muscle there and I just make it work.”

    A recently posted pre-print study described 32 people who can control their goosebumps. They found that people with this ability tend to have personalities that are more open to experience. Other than this, it remains a bit of a mystery, although it doesn’t appear to be associated with any health problems.

    Pretty cool as party tricks go, but unlikely to stop any villains from taking over the world.

    The Real-Life Matter-Eater Lad

    Michel Lotito was a Frenchman with the incredible ability to eat more or less anything he wished (except bananas and hard-boiled eggs, which reportedly made him sick).

    During his lifetime, he consumed 18 bicycles, 15 shopping carts, seven TVs, six chandeliers, two beds, and even a Cessna 150 light aircraft – yup, he ate a whole plane. Of course, he ate the objects in smaller chopped-up pieces with liters of water, but it’s still fairly remarkable.

    Lotito was awarded a brass plaque by the Guinness Book for his achievements. He was so honored, he ate that too.

    The Human Towel-Dryer

    Scientists have shown that some people are able to consciously up their body temperature through meditation.

    During this study, the researchers headed to Tibet to witness a practice where nuns were able to raise their core body temperature and dry up wet sheets wrapped around their bodies in the cold Himalayan weather (-25°C/-13°F) while meditating. Lab experiments later showed that the nuns were able to consciously increase their core body temperature from 37 to 38.3°C (98.6°F to 100.9°F). It’s likely that the temperature of their fingertips and toes increased even higher.

    Eli Sprecher et al/American Journal Of Human Genetics

     

    Struggles-To-Unlock-iPhone Girl

    There’s a genetic condition dubbed “immigration delay disease”, where people have no fingerprints.

    Scientifically known as adermatoglyphia, it was first discovered when a Swiss woman struggled to get through immigration control when entering the US in 2007. Her dermatologists looked into the case and found that eight other members of the woman’s extended family also had no fingerprints. There are only four known extended families worldwide that have the condition.

    It turns out that it is caused by a single gene mutation and is totally harmless, if not mildly inconvenient (then again, think of all the crimes you could get away with).

    Does Ozzy have a genetic superpower that has protected his health from decades of living hard and fast? Marko Ristic ZT/Shutterstock

    The Incredible Aging Rockstar

    Ozzy Osbourne remains a total mystery to science. Nevertheless, sequencing his genome revealed some rather interesting insights into the human body and its limits. Despite living like a recklessly excessive, bat-eating lunatic for 40-odd years, Ozzy remains in remarkably good shape. A clue to this superpower could be in his genes and how it affects his metabolism.

    As reported by Scientific American in 2010, one of the many findings was an unusual variant near ADH4, one of his alcohol dehydrogenase genes. In theory, a change to this gene could either increase or decrease a person’s tolerance and metabolism of excessive alcohol, but the scientists say they aren’t sure which.

    Ozzy, however, is certain: “I used to drink four bottles of cognac a day. I’m not sure I need a Harvard scientist to get to the bottom of that mystery,” he replied in a column for the UK’s Sunday Times.

    Once again, it’s a pretty incredible ability, but we can’t see Marvel or DC Comics picking it up anytime soon.

    Brewery Boy 

    There’s a condition known as auto-brewery syndrome, or gut fermentation syndrome, that causes the gut to produce significant doses of alcohol from the sugars ingested in their diet, sometimes effectively leaving the person drunk. It’s believed that the condition is caused by Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast in the gastrointestinal system.

    If you think this sounds like fun, you’re wrong. Many people will experience chronic fatigue, belching, dizziness, disorientation, irritable bowel syndrome, and effectively a non-stop hangover. If you are fortunate enough to not experience severe symptoms, you could still be arrested on drunk-driving charges, as one Texas woman found out in 2016.

    Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/some-humans-have-real-superpowers-here-are-the-lamest-ones-that-have-been-confirmed-to-exist/

    If Game Of Thrones Was Made By Disney

    While the huge fandom of Game of Thrones are waiting for the 8th and final season of the cult HBO series, the artists from Combo Estudio offer an alternative setting for the show.

    Fernando Mendonça and Anderson Mahanski have portrayed how Games of Thrones would look like if it was animated by Disney studios, and the result is as awesome as it sounds. The duo have captured the aura of Disney movies so well, you’ll probably wish they would reboot GoT ASAP.

    More info: comboestudio.com.br | Facebook

    Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/game-of-thrones-disney-style-illustration-combo-estudio/