Posted on February 6, 2017
Whether they were packed with celebrities or hinted at the political climate, here are the Super Bowl ads that made a splash this year
Super Bowl 51 offered a bounty of commercials some good, some not so good. Heres our rundown of the best and worst of Sundays TV presentation:
You dont look like youre from around here.
This politically charged commercial from Budweiser has been causing quite a stir since it debuted during the week. Anheuser-Busch, Budweisers owners, say the ad was not created with political intent but the parallels between todays politics and the message in the ad are certainly evident.
This spot tells the (fictionalised) story of Adolphus Busch, who leaves Germany for America in 1857 to follow his dreams and make something of himself as a master brewer. In this filmic, sweeping commercial, Busch endures a perilous voyage across the Atlantic, a fire onboard a paddle steamer but the key motif is the hostility and rancour he receives from the locals, who dont take kindly to the accented immigrant from an ocean away.
Budweiser makes a big deal of this, showing Busch being jostled and harried upon arrival, and greeted with cries of: Youre not wanted here! Go back home! In spite of this, Busch gets to St Louis, meets Eberhard Anheuser, and the pair go on to brew the beer so quintessentially American it actually emblazoned its cans with America last summer.
Of course, its merely coincidence that the spot was released just after Donald Trumps travel ban took effect, but the timing certainly gives the ad an extra frisson. Its already roused the ire of Sarah Palin and Breitbart, among others, for being pro-immigrant, as if that were something deeply iniquitous. The payoff line? When Nothing Stops Your Dreams. Its a fine, and thoughtful, ad.
There was more controversy in this ad from 84 Lumber. The original spot was rejected by the network for being too controversial, so a watered-down version was aired on Sunday evening. Initially, a Mexican mother and daughter, on their way to the US, come across a border wall just like the one to be built by Trump.
But that first ad was deemed too political so the wall was replaced by a barbed-wire fence. Of course we were disappointed, said Amy Smiley, 84 Lumbers director of marketing, of Foxs decision. But ultimately, its their network and their decision.
A classy Easy Rider spoof from Mercedes, all texture and tone. This spot was directed by the Coen brothers, and you can tell.
We join a gang of bikers in a divey bar, full of scowl and spittle, doing things bikers in bars love to do, like playing pool and head-butting each other. Steppenwolfs Born to Be Wild plays on the jukey; much alcohol is drunk; everyones having a fine old time. But then the music stops, and suddenly the mood turns ugly. Theres a car outside, blocking the bikes way. A Mercedes! Lets get the bastard who blocked us in! The bikers go outside to mete out some justice only to find the blocker-inner is, of all people, Peter Fonda, driving past in his $132k AMG GT Roadster. Still looking good, sighs one of the female bikers. And you know what: he really is.
Geoffrey Rush plays Albert Einstein in National Geographics new series Genius, which focuses each season on a different, um, genius. To celebrate NatGeos first ever Super Bowl commercial, Rush plays Lady Gagas Bad Romance on the violin and its great.
The famous chain that cooks square hamburgers makes its burgers with fresh beef thats never frozen and dont you forget it. This ad, set in an industrial freezer and entitled Cold Storage, neatly encapsulates that idea: dont settle for frozen beef from the competition (cunningly disguised as Other Guyz LLC). Very on-brand.
Last year, the NFL showcased its Super Bowl babies concept, with a video based on an interesting quirk: cities that win a Super Bowl see a rise in births nine months after their team wins. This year, the baby motif is back, and the adorable tots ( all tabloid newspapers) are dressed like a series of legends of the NFL: Mike Ditka, Michael Irvin, Vince Lombardi, Joe Namath, Bill Belichick, Marshawn Lynch and Von Miller the latter in glasses and a cowboy hat.
The point of this, according to the NFLs tagline, is that Super Bowl legends inspire Super Bowl babies because football is family. Obviously, and technically, football is family and debilitating head trauma, but I suppose that doesnt scan quite so well.
Avocados from Mexico
A nice ad from those good people at Avocados from Mexico, based around the dirty secret that avocados are full of good fat. How can we be a secret society if we cant keep all of our secrets? asks the crumpled head of this slightly shambolic clandestine organisation, which has gathered to discuss how to ramp up security and stop various beans from being spilled.
I like this ad. Its funny, and well acted, and its motif is clear, and theres a good gag about Deflategate. Plus, I like the reference to the Stonecutters episode of The Simpsons. Who enjoys avo-ca-do? We do and so on.
T-Mobile loves to get its claws into a celeb. Last years Super Bowl ad starred Drake; the year before, Kim Kardashian. And this year its no different: Justin Bieber is T-Mobiles man, alongside Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski and former NFL star Terrell Owens, trying to make the link between the unlimited moves of touchdown celebrations and the unlimited data sold by a telecoms behemoth.
Theres lots to enjoy here: Gronk as a caveman, TO taking it to the next level, Biebs, in glasses and a tux, acting the giddy goat. Its perhaps a slightly tenuous concept, but its pulled off with great panache, and its charming. Go Biebs.
Definitely a contender for most irritating ad of the evening. First of all, I dont think the good people at Michelob should be taking Where Everybody Knows Your Name, the theme tune from Cheers, in vain. Its not yours to appropriate, Michelob! Second, the link between deeply mediocre beer and attractive people self-absorbedly working out is thin, to say the least. All that whooping and hollering in the name of self-improvement really grates! Come on, now: youre doing push-ups in a gym, youre not Nelson Mandela.
Brewed for those who go the extra mile, reads the tagline. Pish.
Did Steve Carell really have a little moustache in high school? It seems so! This is an amusing ad, creative and funny, but totally spoiled by a mawkish payoff line that makes Honda sound like theyre a band of international socialists rather than a car company.
The conceit is neat: nine stars Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Amy Adams, Magic Johnson, Steve Carell, Missy Elliott, Stan Lee, Jimmy Kimmel and Viola Davis emerge from their deeply embarrassing high school yearbook photos and give a little homily about following your dreams and never giving up. Kimmel and Carell, especially, are funny, especially Carells Michael Scott-esque retort of: That was a rhetorical question, Darryl.
And I fully concur with the ads motif. Its a noble sentiment! Dont be put off. Be the best you can be. Dont listen to the haters. And then Honda comes along and says: We felt this ad fits really well into who Honda is, as far as chasing your dreams no matter what people tell you keep trying, keep innovating and keep going.
Hm. So Honda is chasing your dreams no matter what people tell you? I thought it was selling cars. Shows how much I know!
The return of Bud Light late-1980s mascot Spuds MacKenzie, who made his debut during Super Bowl XXI in 1987. In this ad, the ghostly figure of Spuds appears to dispense advice to a man who really needs his help because hes decided to stay home like a plum instead of going to watch the game with his friends.
According to Bud Light, Spuds MacKenzies affinity for living life to the fullest with friends, both old and new, embodied the spirit of Bud Light that we still honor today. The spirit of Bud Light! Marvellous.
You gotta love a man who cleans, havent you! I like to scrub the toilet bowl so clean that I could eat my dinner off it. (In it?) This is a funny ad, in which we see a woman dreaming of getting hot and heavy with the cartoon Mr Clean and, erm, a mop. Plus, in those white jeans of his, Mr Cleans butt looks impressively high and tight.
My friend Adam is a fan of Jason Stathams movies, so hell love, love, love this action-thriller spoof for the Israeli tech company Wix. Wix builds websites, so in that sense the thrillingly urgent Statham is a slightly incongruous pitchman, but its certainly a watchable ad. Gal Gadot is on hand to kick some butt, too, and there are many shots of J Statham brooding in a turtleneck, which is something we can all get behind.
Cam Newtons Panthers arent involved this year, but he is in this reasonably amusing ad for Buick. Its a variation on that old Well, if hes a so-and-so, then Im a Dutchman! line. In this case: if that gorgeous, sleek vehicle in the parking lot is a Buick, then my kid is Cam Newton on the football field. And then the real Cam Newton comes in to the game, which is nice, because its always fun to see eight-year-old kids getting thrown to the floor by a 6ft 5in, 245lb NFL quarterback. Watch out for Miranda Kerrs gratuitous appearance at the end.
I wonder how much money Squarespace, which sells domain names, paid John Malkovich for appearing in this amusingly sweary ad. Loads, probably. Anyway, Malkovich is at his fulminating best after learning that some anonymous internet dweeb has taken the URL johnmalkovich.com. Hilarity ensues, but the funny thing is, the site johnmalkovich.com exists its being used by the real John Malkovich to sell his new clothing line, of all things. All very meta.
Updated on January 30, 2017
Screen Actors Guild gave top prizes to the stars of the fact-based Nasa drama and the sci-fi show while powerful speeches against Donald Trump took center stage
The stars of Hidden Figures and Stranger Things were the big winners at this years Screen Actors Guild awards while political speeches dominated the evening.
The cast of the drama based on a true story about three women who played an integral role at Nasa won the big prize of the night for best ensemble in a motion picture. Accepting the award, star Taraji P Henson said: This story is of unity and this story is about what happens when we put our differences aside … Love wins.
Updated on January 23, 2017
Hopefully you can only relate to the experience of fallingthrough an iced-over lake or pond thanks tomovies and TV shows. The classic filmLittle Womencontains one of thescariest such scenes, but the unfortunate truth is that these things happen in real life.
Falling through ice can be deadly, and most likely becomes one of the most horrifying experiences of a person’s life. The water is so cold you’re unable to move after a short period of time, and if you’re sucked under an iced-over area you’ll struggle to make it back to where you fell in.
The thought of something like this happening to anyone is horrifying, but can you imagine finding your beloved and helpless dogstuck in this situation?
That’s exactly what happened to this terrified golden retriever. He fell beneath the ice and the White Lake Michigan Fire Authority came to his rescue in the nick of time.
Thankfully someone saw the dog and called the authorities, otherwise, this 14-year-old dog might not have made it.
He went in about 100 yards from shore. Threefirefighters tethered out to him on a rope and saved his life.
Today he’s back with his family, but he’s still dealing with medical issues. Let’s pray for his speedy recovery!
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Updated on December 9, 2016
American artist Robert DeJesus continues to transform strangers’ photos into anime versions of themselves (previously here) and we thought it’s high time to look at his new works.”I got into drawing and Anime during high school,” DeJesus told Bored Panda. “Dr. Slump and Akira were my very first manga I owned and collected.”
“Years later, when I started attending anime/manga shows as a guest around the US, the Anime caricatures became a favorite with my followers and since then I kept making them.” Now, Robert offers custom portraits on his eBay store, where people can participate in auctions if they want a personal piece. “I wish I could draw all of [the requests], but I fear I’ll get burned out trying. My plan was to do these as a side thing to help fund the other projects I am also dying to work on.”
Updated on December 1, 2016
People of Earth, Furby has returned. And its beady eyes are aimed at your wallet.
For those not in the know, the original Furby was the Christmas gift of 1998, an animatronic, Mogwai-like fuzzball that spoke its own language when it wasn’tmaking rude noises. Like all fads, Furby was dying before its second birthday, and gone by 2002.
But wait! Furby returnedwith an upgrade in 2005, andagain in 2012. New versions have launched eachyear since. The $100 Furby Connectisthe most recent edition.
As with all Furbies, the Connect is plush and effusive and so annoying that one simply cannot comprehend its enduring popularity. It is designed for nostalgic hipsters and small children (6 and up per the box), andany parent who purchases one for their tyke is setting themselves up for immediatepsychological ruin. Let me put it this way:In my 25-plus years of writing about tech, thisis the only device I’ve tested that left my entire family pleading with me to turn it off within minutes of unboxing. Let me put it another way: Google “Furby” and the top question in the “People also ask” section is, “How do you turn off a Furby?”
And let me tell you: It is freakin’ hard to turn off a Furby.
Discretion has never been Furby’s strong suit. He hollers in pidgin English (aka “Furbish”) in an especially loud and shrill voice about nothing in particular, begs to be played with or sung to, and incessantly wiggles about like a kid jonesing on too many Froot Loops. There is no power button. With the Furby Connect, the toy ships with a “sleep mask,” which, when positioned perfectly eventually shuts the thing up. This is not instantaneous, however, taking as long as10 seconds to kick in. If you’ve slightly misaligned the mask or find yourself at all inebriated, Furby won’t go down at all, and you maywell fear that Furby has become self-aware and refusing toobey instruction, at least for the six hours of play time that four AA batteries will supply.
Of course, one Furby is buta gateway to a whole pack of them. Multiple Furbies will talk, sing, and fart in unison. The toy also is a gateway to the even more nefarious side of the Furbyverse: Furby Connect World, a mobile app that lets your Bluetooth-enabled Furby interact with a rudimentary video game designed for the 8-and-under set. Furby Connect World is a game where you hatch Furbies—dozens of them if you stick with it—and put them to work like virtual (yet cuddly) slaves. The reward? More Furbies, all of which mustbe exhaustingly fed, cleaned, and medicated in the increasingly chaotic virtual world. Your real Furby can even take an e-shit on a massive toilet that speaks volumes about the target audience for this game.
Paired properly via Bluetooth (which was not always a given in my testing), your real-world Furby will offer a running commentary about the goings on in the virtual-world game, hollering and screeching and laughing at the same damn thing, over and over. The game is playable without a real-world Furby, but doing so activates a Freemium version of the game. Some of the upgrades cost a pretty penny—so think carefully before handing your phone over to Junior.
I want to be clear: I’m not saying the Furby Connect is a bad product. It does exactly what it says it will do. What I am saying is that if you allow one in your home, you are mentally deranged.
To my family, I apologize deeply. That is all.
2/10 – Sad, really.
Updated on November 18, 2016
The inimitable Nic Cage plays Gary Faulknera samurai sword-wielding man who travels to Pakistan on a mission from God to capture Osama bin laden. And yes, this really happened. “>
The wild tale of Gary Brooks Faulkner, the 50-year-old Colorado construction worker who ventured into Pakistan to capture Osama bin Laden armed with a samurai sword and a mission from God, is a stranger-than-fiction story so bizarre its no wonder Hollywood snapped up the rights to turn it into a film.
When that film stars the one and only Nicolas Cage as the bespectacled hash-smoking Christian part-time handyman ex-con given to manic verbal diarrhea and fantastical delusions of grandeur, Faulkners eccentric life story zooms way past verisimilitude, speeding all the way back around to the kind of wonderfully insane art form in itself that we see too rarely from movie stars these days. Is it a bad performance? Is it good? Whatisgood, really, when Cage opts to put seriousness aside and embrace the crazy-eyed kookiness we love him for?
In other words: Cages star turn inArmy of One, directed by deadpan auteur Larry Charles (Borat), is right up there with the Nic Cagiest of Nic Cage roles. You might say it falls somewhere on the Cage spectrum between the coked-up cop antihero ofBad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleansand his impersonation of Charlie Kaufman inAdaptation. Brit comedy bad boy Russell Brand plays God, which should give you an idea of how serious and straight-faced an undertaking this is.
This is a film that lets Cage run rampant in nearly every scene like a bull in a china shop, which can admittedly become exhausting. And yet it captures the undercurrent of well-meaning humanity that drove the erratic, abrasive, but kind of lovable weirdo who truly believed he was doing the Lords work by bringing bin Laden to justice. (And, owing to a prior kidney condition, was supposed to be on dialysis treatment three times a week.)
Army of Oneis also a movie in which Nicolas Cage as Gary Faulkner, who returned home a media darling and famously made the talk show rounds, revels in the attentionand delights at the thought of Nicolas Cage playing him in a movie.
Its almost a shame how unceremoniously this gem of a Cage performance is being dumped into a mostly digital release by the Weinsteins (who have executive producer credits). Perhaps true Cage fans will catch it on VOD, in the privacy of their own homes, where no one can see you cackle at the sight of Nicolas Cage, gray beard and long ponytail, waxing poetic about chicken wings and lecturing strangers on how to buy toilets at Home Depot, delivering lines like They dont call me the psychic wizard for nothin! with nasally, wild-eyed gusto.
The real-life saga of Faulkners one-man odyssey was an epic misadventure for the ages. After getting the idea to hunt down Osama from God in a dream in 2004, the Greeley, Colorado, native made several attempts to travel to the Middle East. They included buying a 21-foot yacht he had no idea how to operate, which he planned to sail halfway across the globe in with no life jackets, no safety kit, and no training. He set off from San Diego and made it as far as Mexico before a hurricane wrecked it and sent him home early.
Another failed boat trip later and Faulkner graduated to flying, still with no conceivable plans for traveling in a foreign land. By the time he actually made it to Pakistan for the first time, according to the film, he spent a month wandering the slums of Islamabad, having a blast, and entertaining the locals. But he was no closer to finding al-Qaedas leader and sending him to America to face retribution.
Updated on November 6, 2016
Depraved new shocker The Greasy Strangler recalls a tradition of late night cult favorites, full of severed limbs, psychedelia and fecal matter
The Greasy Strangler hits the big screen this week and is a strange, grisly homage to cult films and to the midnight moviegoing tradition. From the mad, the bad and the weird, the shocking to the surreal, here are a few of the late-night movies that set the scene for greasy strangling.
With El Topo, Alejandro Jodorowsky did not think hed simulated a psychedelic experience, he believed hed created the psychedelic itself. It was the first midnight movie, an acid western and an eastern, an experiment in cinematic alchemy featuring occult symbols, castration, self-immolation, a man savoring the taste of a high-heeled shoe, a game of Russian roulette played in church. To the uninitiated El Topo was confounding, but to its devotees, it was a religious experience, like midnight mass with more marijuana.
A film about characters vying for the title of the filthiest person alive. As its tagline suggests, Pink Flamingos was an exercise in poor taste, but it was also a celebration of the outr, a tribute to freaks, degenerates, rejects, anyone whos ever lived in a crib and really loved eggs. It existed outside the system, beyond the fringe, beyond pornography according to New York magazine. It established Divine as a cult icon and defined the midnight movie. Pink Phlegm-ingo Barf Bags were distributed at screenings if anyone vomited during the film, John Waters considered it a standing ovation.
Enter the Dragon
It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Do not concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory. Enter the Dragon dropped Bruce Lee into a James Bond storyline, one with no guns and a whole lot more ass-kicking. It introduced Jim Kelly as a black power hero who beats up racist cops trying to keep him from the martial arts tournament where the film takes place. It brought the kung fu craze to America, graced us with the legendary cool of Lee, and taught us the art of fighting without fighting.
Dario Argentos Suspiria is a fairytale about a womens ballet academy run by witches where students die more often than dance. Like all great midnight movies, it ushers us into another world, one governed by dream logic. The hypnotic pull of danger drives its plot, as inexorable as a nightmare with images to match: a woman running through the woods, a blue-lit room inexplicably filled with coiled wire, yellow eyes watching in the dark, a McDonalds in Germany. Its a fairytale influenced by Bluebeard, Snow White and stories of witchcraft recounted by co-writer Daria Nicolodis grandmother.
The Warriors is Walter Hills modern Odyssey. The one and only Cyrus seeks to unite all the gangs in New York City, and delegates from these gangs come together to hear him speak. But hes shot and killed, and the Warriors are framed. Hill presents these criminal protagonists as classical heroes as they traverse the dreamscape of their city and battle their way home from the Bronx to Coney Island. Pauline Kael wrote that The Warriors communicated the anger of the dispossessed, but it also showed us their heart, their valor, and their cool leather vests.
A woman dressed as a nun kisses a bullet alone in front of her mirror, then aims a gun at an unseen enemy. This is Abel Ferraras Ms 45, also known as Angel of Vengeance. Zo Tamerlis Lund plays mute seamstress Thana, a woman raped twice in the same afternoon, who kills one of her attackers and keeps his gun. Ferrara and Lund bring humanity to Thana, choosing not to play her like a maniac but a woman dealing with PTSD. Ms 45 is like Death Wish from a womans perspective, the Platonic ideal of rape-revenge movies, and a powerful indictment of male violence.
Evil Dead II
In Sam Raimis revision of The Evil Dead, an ancient evil is unleashed in a cabin in the woods when passages are read from the Book of the Dead, and Bruce Campbells iconic hero Ash descends into madness and Kandarian demons. Evil Dead II had more humor and pathos than its predecessor: Ash kills his girlfriend when she becomes possessed and then he must fight his own hand and sever it with a chainsaw after it turns against him in a balletic, slapstick one-man show. Its The Three Stooges meets the Grand Guignol to create ingenious postmodern horror.
Updated on October 18, 2016
You asked for it and here it is: What’s a better way to follow-up the Things You Didn’t Know About Edward Scissorhands than with another Tim Burton film? The 1988 classic Beetlejuice contains more secrets than we thought to conjure up.
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Posted on October 10, 2016
Probably the first time I saw Clive Owen, it was in a film commissioned by BMW to advertise its cars. At the time, I didnt really care all that much about cars (I had one, and it was fine, and that was all I needed to know about that) but these short movies still had a considerable impact on me, mostly because they were so well-made.
The original series starred Owen as the The Driver, an otherwise unnamed protagonist with a flare for fine wheel work. They also starred BMW cars, which were very capable co-stars when paired with Owens keen ability to whip vehicles around in ways that frustrate opponents and get hard jobs done with a maximum of cool. The originals also featured a steady stream of star directors and on-screen talent, including then-power couple Madonna and Guy Ritchie.
Owens stoic Driver makes a return these many years later, having aged better than myself, and hes going on adventures with a new cast that includes standouts like Jon Bernthal (The Punisher from Netflixs Daredevil), Dakota Fanning and Vera Farmiga. The Escape isdirected by Neill Blomkamp of District 9 fame, which means itll probably be better than most of the things youd pay $10 or more to go see in theaters today.
The Escapes inaugural episode (assuming there are more than one) will debut on October 23, which is just over a month away. If you didnt catch the original and are wondering what all the fuss is about, or you just want to relive the magic,check out this full playlistof The Hire on YouTube.