Thrill of the Chase: Reef Sharks, Shipwrecks and Massive Attack

Thrill of the Chase: Reef Sharks, Shipwrecks and Massive Attack

In Apex Predators, sharks discover their prey and find adventure within the hunt. In honor of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, photographer Sarosh Jacob presents stunning footage of the the Bahamas’ Ray of Hope shipwreck in an artificial reef swarming with sharks. Apex Predators is artistic take on what happens between those doing the chasing and those being sought. Paired with Massive Attack’s Angel, the sequence is absolutely mesmerizing.

Thrill of the Chase: Reef Sharks, Shipwrecks and Massive Attack

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Dazed and Confused: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

Dazed and Confused: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

New York Times journalist David Carr made the now infamously scorned Twilight star Robert Pattinson squirm in his seat Wednesday night during a TimesTalks interview that was intended to serve as an intellectual conversation about Pattinson’s latest film, Cosmopolis.

About an hour into the discussion, Carr tried to draw an analogy between Pattinson’s romantic woes with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart and the famously troubled relationship between England’s Prince Charles and Diana, the late Princess of Wales. “So if you and Kristen have trouble it’s like Charles and Di having trouble?” Carr asked.

Carr’s question wasn’t completely out of context: Pattinson, who often seemed to be intellectually in over his head during the conversation, had to ask for questions to be repeated and admitted to losing track of his thoughts, had only moments before attempted to attribute America’s obsession with fame to the country’s desire for a monarchy.

I think it’s because America really wants to have a royal family,” Pattinson said, then going even further saying that America’s Hollywood royalty are just like the real royalty except “meritocratic.” He quickly backtracked on that somewhat slippery point, but it was too late: the analogy had been cast, and Carr appeared more than content to segue into Stewart.

Pattinson seemed unprepared; waiting a while to answer, it sounded as if he was breathing in backwards for a few moments. “Well, uh, Charles,” the star finally said, after looking down while awkwardly fingering his water bottle. Carr soon moved the conversation forward, stating, “I wasn’t really going there, just so you know.” “No, I wouldn’t go that far,” Pattinson answered.

TimesTalks Presents: David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

In David Cronenberg’s new film Cosmopolis, the Twilight series’ monumentally popular Robert Pattinson utterly lacks any sense of onscreen magnetism. Without the armor of his signature role, Mr. Pattinson’s speech is halting, his face blockishly blank and he seems aware that he doesn’t really belong in the kind of art films he’d like to make.

Yet, while Cronenberg’s film, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, does not feature a strong performance by Mr. Pattinson, he ends up being good for the movie. A more naturally gifted actor would not have served the story, which needs at its center someone who emphasizes the very stilted quality of each line and the whole enterprise’s distance from reality.

Mr. Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a man who works with money in a not-fully-defined capacity: he’s worried about the yuan. Mr. Packer’s eventful day makes up the plot of Cosmopolis, as the young man only occasionally departs his giant limousine. Cronenberg’s body-horror impulse is in full effect here, with the capacious limousine growing ever more claustrophobic and Eric ever more vulnerable to violation and attack.

As he is chauffeured across midtown Manhattan to get a haircut at his father’s old barber, his anxious eyes are glued to the yuan’s exchange rate: it is mounting against all expectations, destroying Eric’s bet against it. Eric Packer is losing his empire with every tick of the clock. Meanwhile, an eruption of wild activity unfolds in the city’s streets. Petrified as the threats of the real world infringe upon his cloud of virtual convictions, his paranoia intensifies during the course of his 24-hour cross-town odyssey. Packer starts to piece together clues that lead him to a most terrifying secret: his imminent assassination.

The interior of the car is brilliantly shot in order to convey a sense of the car’s scope without ever showing its full space. The world Packer inhabits is so unsafe that to leave the car even to urinate is a great risk; so, too, is expressing any passion for the woman he brings into the car for sex. Mr. Pattinson doesn’t even remove an article of clothing for the liaison. When he finally gets the haircut he’s been driving vaguely toward all day long, it’s a half-shaved, half-long mess that looks like a Manhattanite’s idea of a Brooklynite and won’t win Pattinson any new fans.

David Cronenberg’s direction throughout Cosmopolis is impeccable, both inside the limo and out. Mr. Cronenberg keeps you rapt, even when the story and actors don’t. Some of this disengagement is certainly intentional. Taken as a commentary on the state of the world in the era of late capitalism, Cosmopolis can seem almost banal. But these banalities, which here are accompanied by glazed eyes, are also to the point: the world is burning, and all that some of us do is look at the flames with exhausted familiarity.

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (Official Trailer)

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis: Sex in the Limousine

Robert Pattinson in Cosmopolis: The Smell of Sex

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Creative Destruction: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

Creative Destruction: Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

New York Times journalist David Carr made the now infamously scorned Twilight star Robert Pattinson squirm in his seat Wednesday night during a TimesTalks interview that was intended to serve as an intellectual conversation about Pattinson’s latest film, Cosmopolis.

About an hour into the discussion, Carr tried to draw an analogy between Pattinson’s romantic woes with Twilight co-star Kristen Stewart and the famously troubled relationship between England’s Prince Charles and Diana, the late Princess of Wales. “So if you and Kristen have trouble it’s like Charles and Di having trouble?” Carr asked.

Carr’s question wasn’t completely out of context: Pattinson, who often seemed to be intellectually in over his head during the conversation, had to ask for questions to be repeated and admitted to losing track of his thoughts, had only moments before attempted to attribute America’s obsession with fame to the country’s desire for a monarchy.

I think it’s because America really wants to have a royal family,” Pattinson said, then going even further saying that America’s Hollywood royalty are just like the real royalty except “meritocratic.” He quickly backtracked on that somewhat slippery point, but it was too late: the analogy had been cast, and Carr appeared more than content to segue into Stewart.

Pattinson seemed unprepared; waiting a while to answer, it sounded as if he was breathing in backwards for a few moments. “Well, uh, Charles,” the star finally said, after looking down while awkwardly fingering his water bottle. Carr soon moved the conversation forward, stating, “I wasn’t really going there, just so you know.” “No, I wouldn’t go that far,” Pattinson answered.

Times Talks: David Carr with David Cronenberg and Robert Pattinson

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis

In David Cronenberg’s new film Cosmopolis, the Twilight series’ monumentally popular Robert Pattinson utterly lacks any sense of onscreen magnetism. Without the armor of his signature role, Mr. Pattinson’s speech is halting, his face blockishly blank and he seems aware that he doesn’t really belong in the kind of art films he’d like to make.

Yet, while Cronenberg’s film, based on the novel by Don DeLillo, does not feature a strong performance by Mr. Pattinson, he ends up being good for the movie. A more naturally gifted actor would not have served the story, which needs at its center someone who emphasizes the very stilted quality of each line and the whole enterprise’s distance from reality.

Mr. Pattinson plays Eric Packer, a man who works with money in a not-fully-defined capacity: he’s worried about the yuan. Mr. Packer’s eventful day makes up the plot of Cosmopolis, as the young man only occasionally departs his giant limousine. Cronenberg’s body-horror impulse is in full effect here, with the capacious limousine growing ever more claustrophobic and Eric ever more vulnerable to violation and attack.

The interior of the car is brilliantly shot in order to convey a sense of the car’s scope without ever showing its full space. The world Packer inhabits is so unsafe that to leave the car even to urinate is a great risk; so, too, is expressing any passion for the woman he brings into the car for sex. Mr. Pattinson doesn’t even remove an article of clothing for the liaison. When he finally gets the haircut he’s been driving vaguely toward all day long, it’s a half-shaved, half-long mess that looks like a Manhattanite’s idea of a Brooklynite and won’t win Pattinson any new fans.

David Cronenberg’s direction throughout Cosmopolis is impeccable, both inside the limo and out. Mr. Cronenberg keeps you rapt, even when the story and actors don’t. Some of this disengagement is certainly intentional. Taken as a commentary on the state of the world in the era of late capitalism, Cosmopolis can seem almost banal. But these banalities, which here are accompanied by glazed eyes, are also to the point: the world is burning, and all that some of us do is look at the flames with exhausted familiarity.

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis (Official Trailer)

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David Boudia Upsets Chinese, Wins Olympic Gold in 10-Meter Platform Diving

David Boudia Upsets Chinese, Wins Olympic Gold in 10-Meter Platform Diving

Chinese divers had won six of the seven gold medals awarded at the 2012 London Games going into the final diving event, the men’s 10-meter platform. Two Chinese divers, Qiu Bo and Lin Yue, were ranked first and second after the preliminaries and again after the semifinals. But in an upset, David Boudia of the United States won gold, the first gold medal for the United States in diving since Laura Wilkinson in 2000 and the first for the men since Mark Lenzi won the 3-meter springboard in 1992.

Read more about David Boudia’s Gold Medal victory in the New York Times here.

David Boudia Wins Olympic Gold in 10-Meter Platform Diving

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A Soldier’s Heart: Let There Be Light

A Soldier’s Heart: Let There Be Light

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the invisible wound that scars war veterans, and some individuals are so afflicted that they die physically or psychologically from this traumatic wound through suicide, homicide or incurable psychosis. In 2012, this disorder is recognized and understood in ways it never was before, making it more possible for traumatized men and women to get the help they need. However, war-related PTSD certainly isn’t new, and when the 20th century and its technological might ushered in massively brutal, worldwide conflicts that buried forever idea of a “gentleman’s war,” it also drastically increased the psychological pressures on combat troops. Motion pictures have been used to document the many aspects of war. Over the years, the United States government has commissioned a number of documentaries that look at soldiers returning from theaters of war, as they attempt to reintegrate into the society they left behind.

Perhaps the most famous documentary about returning soldiers is the 1946 film Let There Be Light by the acclaimed filmmaker John Huston, who considered the film to be one of his best movies. However, its fame derives mainly from being kept hidden for 35 years after it was made, by a War Department uncomfortable with the notion that there is any lasting downside to war for the returning veteran. The War Department was so uneasy about this documentary that it had the film remade as Shades of Gray, a propaganda docudrama based on Let There Be Light, which not only eliminated African-American soldiers from the cast, but also suggested that only soldiers who were disturbed before they went to war broke down upon their return.

Film history isn’t the only context in which to appreciate Huston’s hour-long documentary, his third and final film for the Army Signal Corps. Let There Be Light is also one of the earliest commercial depictions of psychotherapy, in this case the military’s use of it to treat what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The U.S. military now offers a wide array of pre- and post-battle therapies to help soldiers recover from traumatic experiences. In contrast, Let There Be Light’s gruff doctors, who inject sodium amytal and conduct religious group therapy sessions, look prehistoric by comparison.

Nevertheless, Let There Be Light, like its routinely under-appreciated 1946 fictional counterpart, The Best Years of Our Lives, remains essential viewing. Each of the films conveys a sense of compassion toward soldiers; the soldiers presented in these films don’t ask to be called heroes, they only want normalcy. Today’s returning soldiers surely feel the same, and yet their experiences on the battlefield are increasingly abnormal, even unknown, to most people they encounter upon returning.

Seven months after the War Department forcibly prevented Let There Be Light from premiering at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art, a disabled Army veteran named Harold Russell became the only man to win two Oscars for the same performance. Russell received the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and an Honorary Award for Nonprofessional aActing for his role as a returned soldier in The Best Years of Our Lives. William Wyler’s 168-minute drama concerns the homecomings of three soldiers, and it was showered with awards throughout the winter and spring of 1947, including a Best Picture Oscar and multiple Golden Globes and New York Film Critics Circle citations.

The Best Years of Our Lives and Let There Be Light aren’t cynical or judgmental of American society, but are quietly brave and emotionally devastating. Let There Be Light attempts to shield us with its preentation of hospital interiors that are clean, orderly and positively overstaffed. Nonetheless, the men and their stories are unforgettable. You finish watching the film feeling emotionally drained and deeply grateful that they won’t have to fight again.

To commemorate this past Memorial Day, the National Film Preservation Foundation premiered the film on its website and will run the film through the end of August.

A Soldier’s Heart: Let There Be Light

The Best Years of Our Lives

Read more about Let There Be Light in The Morning News here.

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Metamorphosis: A Deliciously Tasty Vengeful Feast

Titian: Diana and Callisto (1556-59)

Titian: Diana and Actaeon (1556-59)

Titian: The Death of Actaeon (1556-59)

Metamorphosis: A Deliciously Tasty Vengeful Feast

The National Gallery in London has acquired three of Titian’s paintings based on Ovid’s myth of Diana and Actaeon: Diana and Actaeon, Diana and Callisto and The Death of Actaeon. As recounted by Ovid in Metamorphoses, the hunter Actaeon, chancing upon the chaste Diana bathing naked with her nymphs, is transformed by the vengeful moon goddess into a stag, who is then killed by his own hounds.

One of the works commissioned to celebrate this exhibition, Metamorphosis: Titian 2012, is a beautiful and mystical short film that provides a contemporary retelling of Titian’s Diana and Actaeon. Metamorphosis was directed by the talented writer-director duo, Tell No One, also known as Luke White and Remi Weekes. Instead of the bath scene that Titian depicts, the story unfolds at a countryside estate. The film does a tremendous interpretation of the original myth and painting; at times the film’s visual effects are so stunning they could be paintings themselves.

Metamorphosis: A Deliciously Tasty Vengeful Feast

(Best Viewed in HD Full-Screen Mode)

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A Medley Relay Victory in His Final Race, Phelps Claims 18th Olympic Gold

A Medley Relay Victory in His Final Race, Phelps Claims 18th Olympic Gold

Michael Phelps was honored with a special individual ceremony after concluding his record-breaking career Saturday as the most decorated Olympian. FINA president Julio Maglione presented Phelps with a silver trophy to recognize his achievements.

Phelps pushed the United States in front to win the medley relay Saturday in the final swimming event of the London Games, after which he is retiring. At these games Phelps won four gold medals and two silvers, more medals than any other swimmer.

Last Tuesday, Phelps became the most decorated Olympian of all time when he won a record 19th Olympic medal at the London Games. With help from his American relay teammates, Phelps won his first gold medal in London in the 800-meter freestyle. He followed that achievement with three more gold medal performances this week, as he swam to victories in the 200-meter individual medley, the 100-meter butterfly and the 4×100-meter medley relay.

Read more about the amazing achievements of Michael Phelps in the New York Times here.

Michael Phelps Wins Gold in Final Olympic Race, 4x100m Medley Relay

Michael Phelps Awarded His Final Olympic Medal

Michael Phelps Wins Olympic Gold in Final 100m Butterfly

Michael Phelps Wins Olympic Gold in 200m Individual Medley

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