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10 reasons to be optimistic in 2019

10 reasons to be optimistic in 2019

Even the optimists among us would have to admit 2018 was a challenging year. The fractured world that became the focus of our 2018 Annual Meeting a year ago came under further pressure from populist rhetoric and rising nationalist agendas. At the same time, the urgent need for coordinated global action in areas such as climate change, inequality and the impact of automation on jobs became more intense.


It might be easy, then, to take a dim view of our world’s prospects in 2019. But the new year brings opportunities, too; opportunities that – through a combination of innovation and responsible leadership – have the potential to make our societies stronger and our world more sustainable. Some of these opportunities have been made possible by the World Economic Forum’s platform for public-private cooperation. Building on the progress made in the past 12 months, here are some of the bright spots for the year ahead.

1) Saving our oceans: The world is waking up to our ocean plastic crisis. In response to our 2015 research predicting more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, many countries are now working on introducing bans on single-use plastic, including the EU which announced a ban on 10 items in late December. Since then, our focus has been on finding ways to stop the plastic that is produced from finding its way into the sea in the first place. Backed by a coalition of government and business as well as the World Bank, our Global Plastics Action Partnership will launch pilots in Indonesia and other countries in 2019 aimed at putting this expertise into practice.

2) Helping humans win: There’s a lot of justifiable fear out there that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will lead to a further hollowing out of the jobs that can only be performed by humans. The reality, according to our latest Future of Jobs
research, is more nuanced. There will be widespread displacement as a result of AI and other emerging technologies, but there will also be more jobs created; provided we can find the people with the right skills to perform them. In 2018, the Forum’s Closing the Skills Gap initiative, backed by 26 founding partners and a technology platform developed by Tata Consultancy Services, announced an aim to provide new skills to 10 million workers by 2020. Will this target be met? Expect an update on progress this coming month.

3) Living longer: it’s been estimated that 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions arising from human activity come from livestock production, with 40% of this alone coming from cows raised for either beef or dairy farming. What if we could reduce the environmental impact of the industry, reduce human deaths, improve the lives of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide that rely on livestock farming for a living and provide consumers with more choice? Groundbreaking research we will publish on January 3 will show us how.

4) Drones to the rescue: Unmanned aerial vehicles are now as synonymous with saving lives, boosting food security and driving economic growth as they are with their use on the battlefield. Rwanda is a pioneer in this space, using drones to deliver blood and save lives across the country. In 2018, we helped Rwanda become the first country to implement performance-based drone regulations that enable access to airspace for all sizes and shapes of drones – helping the government keep up with the rapid development of innovation in this sector, expanding how drones can be used, and providing a model for other countries. In June, this was followed with a demonstration of the world’s first nationwide unmanned traffic management system in Zurich with the launch of our new Drone Innovators Network. Our continued work in this area will improve the safe use of drones and accelerate socially impactful uses of this technology around the world.

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5) Protection from pandemics: The outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa in 2014-16 demonstrated just how unprepared the world was for a major epidemic outbreak. Launched at our 2017 Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) aimed to address this by funding development of vaccines before diseases erupt. Less than two years old, CEPI is already developing 15-20 vaccines including three – for Lassa Fever, MERS, and Nipah – that have been designated an urgent threat by the World Health Organization. In 2019 we should see more partners join the coalition and vaccines pursued for new diseases that pose a threat to human health, for example Chikungunya – a mosquito-borne virus whose name derives from a term meaning “to become contorted” – and Rift Valley Fever .

6) Boosting biodiversity: The World Wildlife Fund’s warning in 2018 that only drastic action can protect us from a sixth great extinction highlighted the scale of the conservation challenge we face. One approach to this is to incentivise humans to protect, rather than destroy, biodiversity. This was the goal of the Earth Bio-Genome Project, which was launched in Davos in 2018 to emulate the success of the Human Genome Project by identifying ways of unlocking economic value from keeping our natural world intact . Judging by early successes, it is clear that there need not be a conflict between protecting life on earth and pursuing economic growth.

7) Helping women win: We don’t just measure the global gender gap at the World Economic Forum, we actively try to close it. Working on the Forum’s platform for public-private cooperation, gender parity task forces in a number of countries including Chile, France and Argentina have a target to reduce their countries’ gender gaps by 10% within three years. Meanwhile, we now know much more about how vulnerable women in particular are to the workforce disruption that we expect to see in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In 2019, efforts will be aimed at helping more women start careers in the jobs that we know will be most valuable in the future.

8) Powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution: all the gains in human and social progress promised by the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be worthless if we can’t figure out how to build the stuff we need responsibly and sustainably. How can we be sure that cobalt, that critical ingredient of lithium-ion batteries for example, has not been extracted by child labour? Or what the impacts on our health or environment are of the 50 million tonnes of electronic waste we produce each year? In 2019, our Global Battery Alliance will step up a gear in its quest to ensure our low-carbon future comes with as few human and environmental side-effects as possible. In January we will also publish new research, and some exciting ideas, on how to tackle the scourge of e-waste.

9) Ending illegal fishing: Industrial-scale fishing operations in marine protected areas are not only disastrous from a biodiversity perspective, they also ruin the livelihoods of the hundreds of millions of people worldwide that rely on the oceans for their income. The Forum’s Friends of Ocean Action will be actively seeking to turn the tables on illegal fishing in 2019, inaugurating a new technology platform and building the political will to make it harder to land catches from marine protected areas.

10) A new kind of diplomacy: With our current international architecture under pressure from a changing, fragmented world, the pressure is on to find ways for governments to work together without compromising their own national interests. If recent developments in the Western Balkans are anything to go by, the Forum’s platform approach could be one such model. From an initial meeting in Davos in 2018, the region’s leaders followed up with subsequent meetings in Sofia and Geneva. By focusing on areas of mutual concern such as curbing the region’s brain drain and preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, a new spirit of cooperation is taking hold.

10 reasons to be optimistic in 2019

Learn

What keeps a valuable sports team competitive?

What keeps a valuable sports team competitive?

  • There is a correlation between winning and revenue in Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL — but not in the NFL.
  • A wealthy team doesn’t automatically make for a successful team.
  • Your favorite sports team might not be experiencing a ‘real’ championship drought.

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Do sports teams with evergreen sales have longer championship slumps than teams who depend on winning to sell the brand? From a purely business standpoint, why invest when demand for your product is seemingly so inelastic?

There are a few ways to go about answering this. The first is to say that — as an academic named John Charles Bradbury noted in a paper published in 2016 — there is a positive correlation between winning and revenue in Major League Baseball, the NBA, and the NHL — but not in the NFL. There’s also differing degrees of positive correlation between winning and revenue, with baseball being the highest. Though it’s worth noting: “Market size and winning both affect revenue, but they do so independently.”

Conversely, Bradbury found little to indicate teams caught in a ‘loss trap’ or ‘trap game‘— the notion that a team will deliberately lose to get a financial bump.

This seems to suggest a few immediate things:

  1. Winning ‘sells the brand’ regardless of whether or not you get a championship.
  2. A team that isn’t winning doesn’t necessarily have to worry about winning to sustain its finances, especially if it’s in a strong market.

What’s more, Bradbury, notes:

Previous estimates of the impact of stadium quality on fan attendance have found a novelty or “honeymoon” effect from new stadiums that boosts revenue for between five and ten years, because fans are attracted to updated amenities and a new experience.

It’s an observation which — with the exception of the NFL once again (where the initial bump in revenue begins to turn into a negative drain fairly quickly) — Bradbury more or less confirms.

It’s also worth taking into account the average length of a title drought. In the NBA — if we’re to count 29 of 30 teams — the average length of a title drought is 32.7 years. (One team — the team that won — will always be a ‘zero’ in this.) The average length of a title drought in MLB — if, again, we’re to count 29 of 30 teams — is 24.34 years. The average overall length of a title drought in the NFL if we’re to count all 32 teams is 61.5 years.

That means that the New York Yankees are starting to regress toward the realm of historical averages; they last won a championship in 2009. The Chicago Bulls are nearly on the verge of hitting the historical average as well, as are the Houston Rockets – they last won championships in 1998 and 1995, respectively. The Lakers remain just ahead of the curve on the historical average, last winning a championship in 2010. The Dallas Cowboys — the most valuable sports franchise in the world — aren’t in the top tier of perpetually successful teams (they last won the Super Bowl in 1996), but they’re nowhere near the historical average either.

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And yet, even though the New York Yankees haven’t won a title in a decade, its revenue — as we can see above — has risen steadily since 2001. Save 2011, the Chicago Bulls has seen its revenue steadily rise since 2001. The Los Angeles Lakers has shakily — and then rather quickly — seen its revenue rise over the same time period. The Dallas Cowboys also followed an upward and much steadier trajectory.

Why is the NFL such an outlier in some of the data we’ve observed? Bradbury again: “Income per capita is positively associated with more revenue in the NFL—a one-standard-deviation increase in income was associated with a $6.6 million increase in revenue—but not for any other league.” The NFL is also a syndicate that shares revenues amongst teams and gleans its profits from a centrally dispersed television broadcast.

What does this have to do with winning? What does this have to do with the fact that the average length of a title drought in the NFL is 61.5 years? As Bradbury notes: “In the NFL, winning does not appear to provide any marginal financial gains and thus owners have no financial incentive to improve team quality.”

So what improves team quality? What’s the incentive to win that cuts across the NBA, the NFL, the NHL, and MLB?

Does a large salary improve team quality? Does a large salary incentivize players to win? It’s worth noting that a large salary is one of the most noticeably clear benefits to be gained from working in a monopsonic system, and that — until 1978 and the emergence of Dave Parker — the idea of rich athletes was something of a novel one. But money doesn’t always buy success either; think of the success of Leicester City F.C. or the emergence of moneyball in Oakland. Think of the fact that — in order to give a team in the NFL an 80% win-rate — you’d have to outspend the average league salary by 174%.

One argument

from Christopher Maier of the University of Bayreuth and others that cuts against the grain is noting that the “integration of family and private problem support … show strong positive effects on athletes’ job satisfaction.” Indeed, the finding echoes some of the comments Paul George made when he spoke about why he decided to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Thunder Media Day: Paul George

On Media Day for the current 2018-2019 season, George noted the quality of the relationships he’d formed. “Almost felt like I’d been here for a while,” he said.

Paul George is currently playing the best basketball of his life. And that’s why you should invest in the sport (or any sport) and go see a game: He’s an elite athlete. And that matters. When the NFL brought in ‘replacement players’ during the 1987 strike, attendance to games dropped.

So we have Paul George on fire. And even though the Thunder haven’t won a championship since 1979, revenues are going up.

What keeps a valuable sports team competitive?

Culture

Shoshana Zuboff discusses her new book, “Surveillance Capitalism”

Ever since academic Shoshana Zuboff coined the term “Surveillance Capitalism” in 2015, it’s become a touchstone for the debate over commercial surveillance (we’ve cited it hundreds of times). This week, Zuboff published her (very thick) book on the subject, to excellent early notices; I haven’t read it yet, but it’s next on my list.

Though I’m familiar with the general shape of Zuboff’s argument, I’m really eager to get to grips with the specifics, and to see how it’s evolved over the last three-and-some years.


Here’s a head-start: in this weekend’s Observer, John Naughton (previously) interviewed Zuboff at length about her book, and what she said bodes well for the book.



That said, I want to mark out an area of caution that I have with what I’ve seen so far of her argument — a problem that I’ve had with other critical books about the rise of Big Tech: locating the original sin of Big Tech in advertising and surveillance, rather than concentration and monopoly.


Derek Powazek’s memorable phrase, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product” is true, but incomplete. It’s true that companies that use surveillance and data to pay their bills view their “customers” as the advertisers, rather than the users.

“You’re the product” is true in advertising models, but it’s also true in for-pay models. Whether it’s Apple sustaining itself by blocking third-party repairs, extracting rents from app vendors, and sneakily degrading the performance of its products over time; or John Deere ripping off farmers for repairs to six-figure purchases, or GM locking out independent repair and third-party spares.


The kind of capitalism that’s the problem isn’t “surveillance” capitalism, it’s unfettered capitalism, where market concentration and regulatory capture allows companies to monopolize whole sectors and then abuse the customers they control. It’s true that some giants moderate their behavior (Apple voluntarily eschewing surveillance), but this is only ever instrumental, about positioning a place in the market, and never about principle (Apple’s got a very flexible attitude toward privacy indeed).


The problem with this misdiagnosis is that it implies that if only there were cost barriers to participation in online discourse, we’d dispense with the pathologies of surveillance capitalism. But in our highly unequal times, a cost barrier just means that the rich get to talk and the rest of us have to listen — or worse yet, we’ll only get to participate in forums where the wealthy set the rules on the basis of ideologies much more specific and targeted than profit-at-any-cost.


But as I say, I’m basing this on Zuboff’s summary of her position and not the book itself. Watch this space for a full review as soon as I get a chance to read the book.

While it is impossible to imagine surveillance capitalism without the digital, it is easy to imagine the digital without surveillance capitalism. The point cannot be emphasised enough: surveillance capitalism is not technology. Digital technologies can take many forms and have many effects, depending upon the social and economic logics that bring them to life. Surveillance capitalism relies on algorithms and sensors, machine intelligence and platforms, but it is not the same as any of those.


‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism [John Naughton/The Observer]

(Image: Shoshana Zuboff
, CC-BY
)

from Boing Boing https://boingboing.net/2019/01/21/problem-is-big-not-tech.html

Film

Seeing Double: ‘Dante’s Peak’ vs ‘Volcano,’ 1997’s Dueling Disaster Movies

(Welcome to Seeing Double, a series where two strangely similar films released around the same time are put head-to-head. This time, we take a timely look at two movies that turn volcanic activity into action/adventure romps for the big screen.)

Volcanic eruptions don’t typically get the kind of attention in the US that hurricanes, tornadoes, and sinkholes do as they’re understandably infrequent here in the states. We had Mount St. Helens back in 1980 and then… nothing. The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s big island started spewing lava from newly created fissures in the earth last year, though, destroying homes and roads and causing thousands of people to be evacuated. Thankfully, no one lost their lives to the red-hot rumblings this time, but Hollywood likes their gassy earth tales a bit deadlier.

1997 saw two big studio movies open less than three months apart focused on volcanic tales with far deadlier outcomes. Dante’s Peak was first out of the gate on February 7 and actually focused on a Mount St. Helens-type scenario, while Volcano opened on April 25 and moved the action to the unlikely locale of downtown Los Angeles. Both are big-ish, effects-driven disaster pics with remarkably similar character dynamics, but for all their similarities, they’re wholly different beasts.

Keep reading for a head-to-head face-off between Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

The Story

In Dante’s Peak, a vulcanologist who lost his lady friend to a violent eruption four years prior is called to the Pacific Northwest to investigate earthy rumblings near the small Washington town of the title. His arrival coincides with the town celebrating being named the second most desirable place to live in the US, and the accolade comes with some big corporate interests as well. The town’s booming, and no one wants to hear nonsense talk of an impending disaster. So yeah, it’s Jaws with a mountain-sized shark. Harry’s warnings aren’t heeded by townspeople or his own boss, and soon ash, rock, and boiling water start devouring everything and everyone in their path. Can Harry and the mayor save lives and find love along the way?

Volcano is set in the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles with a population wholly unprepared for volcanic activity. Earthquakes maybe, but they have no time in their day for hot lava. After an underground tease of what’s to come kills seven utility workers, the head of L.A.’s Office of Emergency Management begins to suspect something bigger is on the horizon. He teams up with a geologist who suggests the culprit is a volcano, and while she’s laughed at initially she’s quickly proven correct. A second quake cracks the earth even further and soon molten lava – and high-flying lava bombs – are turning downtown L.A. into a disaster zone.

Advantage: Jaws riffs are typically good fun, but while Dante’s Peak is just that, it means the story is a familiar one. Volcano, by contrast, mixes things up by bringing a volcanic disaster somewhere wholly unexpected. To that point, while an exploding mountain offers the possibility of exciting destruction seeing a modern, well-known city destroyed in detail by lava is undeniably more promising. And lastly, while Volcano‘s action kicks in almost immediately, Dante’s Peak has us waiting nearly an hour before the damn thing blows and the disaster picture begins. So yeah, Volcano wins this round.

The Filmmakers

Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Species) helmed Dante’s Peak, and while the past decade has seen him fall into smaller scale releases (Seeking Justice, McLaren), he was in his prime here. Writer Leslie Bohem has a somewhat less distinguished career, but having previously written Daylight for Sylvester Stallone, he was firmly in the “mid-sized disaster epic” state of mind. He earns an extra point here for sneaking in the preemptive strike against Volcano with the line, “Sure beats the hell out of LA.” Holding it all together, meanwhile, is uber-producer Gale Anne Hurd. She’s shepherded many of your favorite genre films into theaters including The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Alien Nation, Tremors, and more, and her hands in this mix boded well.

Volcano‘s behind the scenes talents were a bit less notable despite director Mick Jackson having made two terrific films (L.A. Story, The Bodyguard) prior to 1997. Writer Billy Ray has since gone on to deliver smart scripts like Shattered Glass, Flightplan, and Captain Phillips, but at the time, his highpoint was his debut thriller Color of Night. Yes, the Bruce-Willis-shows-his-dong movie. Similarly, producers Andrew Z. Davis and Neal H. Moritz went on to deliver some massive films, but they came into Volcano with resumes highlighted by the likes of Warren Beatty’s Love Story and Juice.

Advantage: I’m unapologetic in my love for The Bodyguard, but Dante’s Peak takes this category. Donaldson just brought more to the table than Jackson, and with Hurd watching over things the production felt like a far safer bet. It also has the smarter script that affords more time to its characters, more thrilling set-pieces, and a scene of self-sacrifice that lands with truly effective emotion. (I say “smarter script,” but yes, it does also include a scene where our hero tries to drive across lava.) Point Dante’s Peak.

The Cast

Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton headline Dante’s Peak, and both were already veterans of big action franchise films. Brosnan even had a James Bond film (Tomorrow Never Dies) open this same year. They both balance the serious nature of the drama with the heightened fun of the disaster picture premise. The highlight of the supporting cast? John Carpenter favorites Peter Jason and Charles Hallahan.

Volcano‘s top stars didn’t shine as bright back in 1997 (and one of them only grew dimmer since), but they made for a pretty compelling and atypical pair at the time. Tommy Lee Jones brings his cantankerous self to the role, and while it seems beyond his wheelhouse, it’s clear he’s embracing the action-hero environment with energy and a clear sense of humor. He’s fighting lava in L.A. and he’s loving every minute of it. Anne Heche was heading into her career highpoint in ’97, and while it wouldn’t last long, she proves herself more than capable of delivering charismatic and capable lead role. The supporting cast is every bit as solid with smaller turns from Don Cheadle, Gaby Hoffman, John Carroll Lynch, John Corbett, Keith David, Richard Schiff, Michael Rispoli, and the terrific Jacqueline Kim.

Advantage: All due respect to Jason and Hallahan, but the winner here is Volcano, easy.

Critical Reception

Neither critics nor audiences were all that enamored by Dante’s Peak. Per Rotten Tomatoes, the film sits at a surprising 24% with many reviewers enjoying the big disaster sequences while finding the script and character-work simply disastrous. As mentioned above, the peak doesn’t blow until about an hour in leaving a lot of hot air turning people off for far too long. The audience score is barely better at 38%.

Volcano had the opposite problem with critics liking it more than audiences. Its RT score reached 50% – half of the critics really dig a cranky Tommy Lee Jones! – while the audience number sits at 31%.

Advantage: Rotten Tomatoes may be less of a science than vulcanology, but numbers don’t lie. Volcano wins this round.

Budget and Box-Office

Dante’s Peak had a healthy budget of $116 million, which, while quaint these days for a supposed blockbuster, was no small potatoes in ’97. It’s all on the screen with some (mostly) strong digital work accompanied by a healthy dose of practical stunt/destruction action. Unfortunately, its box-office capped out at $178 million worldwide, meaning after marketing costs were taken into account the film narrowly crept into the black.

Volcano cost a little bit less (relatively speaking) at $90 million before marketing, but while that still feels like a lot for what we get on the screen, it also wasn’t apparently enough. The film features more than a few extremely rough VFX shots, mostly in the back half as the city is really going to hell. A sequence involving the intentional downing of a high-rise building is especially egregious in its laughably bad composite work – seriously, the shot of Jones running towards us as the building collapses is something special. It went on to earn $122 million worldwide, but on this budget plus marketing costs that means it was a definite financial bust.

Advantage: Both films fared well on video and probably count as successes now, but based strictly on box-office takes, this category goes to Dante’s Peak.

My Take

Both scripts feature a fair amount of silliness and weak writing, but Dante’s Peak is the better put together movie. It just looks and feels more consistently professional throughout. All of that said? Volcano is far more entertaining of a watch. Tommy Lee Jones getting pissed off at the earth’s crust is priceless, the precarious blend of the serious and silly is good fun, and moments of sacrifice are effective and affecting (even when they too are silly). It also earns a point for its clumsy but heartfelt attempt at commenting on the racial division in L.A. with a little girl’s observation that we all look the same when covered in ash. Aww. Neither film is more than mild entertainment, but if you can only watch one volcano-centric movie…make it Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). If it has to be one of these, though, see the one where the coast is toast… see Volcano.

The post Seeing Double: ‘Dante’s Peak’ vs ‘Volcano,’ 1997’s Dueling Disaster Movies appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/dantes-peak-vs-volcano/

Film

Seeing Double: ‘Dante’s Peak’ vs ‘Volcano,’ 1997’s Dueling Disaster Movies

(Welcome to Seeing Double, a series where two strangely similar films released around the same time are put head-to-head. This time, we take a timely look at two movies that turn volcanic activity into action/adventure romps for the big screen.)

Volcanic eruptions don’t typically get the kind of attention in the US that hurricanes, tornadoes, and sinkholes do as they’re understandably infrequent here in the states. We had Mount St. Helens back in 1980 and then… nothing. The Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s big island started spewing lava from newly created fissures in the earth last year, though, destroying homes and roads and causing thousands of people to be evacuated. Thankfully, no one lost their lives to the red-hot rumblings this time, but Hollywood likes their gassy earth tales a bit deadlier.

1997 saw two big studio movies open less than three months apart focused on volcanic tales with far deadlier outcomes. Dante’s Peak was first out of the gate on February 7 and actually focused on a Mount St. Helens-type scenario, while Volcano opened on April 25 and moved the action to the unlikely locale of downtown Los Angeles. Both are big-ish, effects-driven disaster pics with remarkably similar character dynamics, but for all their similarities, they’re wholly different beasts.

Keep reading for a head-to-head face-off between Dante’s Peak and Volcano.

The Story

In Dante’s Peak, a vulcanologist who lost his lady friend to a violent eruption four years prior is called to the Pacific Northwest to investigate earthy rumblings near the small Washington town of the title. His arrival coincides with the town celebrating being named the second most desirable place to live in the US, and the accolade comes with some big corporate interests as well. The town’s booming, and no one wants to hear nonsense talk of an impending disaster. So yeah, it’s Jaws with a mountain-sized shark. Harry’s warnings aren’t heeded by townspeople or his own boss, and soon ash, rock, and boiling water start devouring everything and everyone in their path. Can Harry and the mayor save lives and find love along the way?

Volcano is set in the bustling metropolis of Los Angeles with a population wholly unprepared for volcanic activity. Earthquakes maybe, but they have no time in their day for hot lava. After an underground tease of what’s to come kills seven utility workers, the head of L.A.’s Office of Emergency Management begins to suspect something bigger is on the horizon. He teams up with a geologist who suggests the culprit is a volcano, and while she’s laughed at initially she’s quickly proven correct. A second quake cracks the earth even further and soon molten lava – and high-flying lava bombs – are turning downtown L.A. into a disaster zone.

Advantage: Jaws riffs are typically good fun, but while Dante’s Peak is just that, it means the story is a familiar one. Volcano, by contrast, mixes things up by bringing a volcanic disaster somewhere wholly unexpected. To that point, while an exploding mountain offers the possibility of exciting destruction seeing a modern, well-known city destroyed in detail by lava is undeniably more promising. And lastly, while Volcano‘s action kicks in almost immediately, Dante’s Peak has us waiting nearly an hour before the damn thing blows and the disaster picture begins. So yeah, Volcano wins this round.

The Filmmakers

Roger Donaldson (No Way Out, Species) helmed Dante’s Peak, and while the past decade has seen him fall into smaller scale releases (Seeking Justice, McLaren), he was in his prime here. Writer Leslie Bohem has a somewhat less distinguished career, but having previously written Daylight for Sylvester Stallone, he was firmly in the “mid-sized disaster epic” state of mind. He earns an extra point here for sneaking in the preemptive strike against Volcano with the line, “Sure beats the hell out of LA.” Holding it all together, meanwhile, is uber-producer Gale Anne Hurd. She’s shepherded many of your favorite genre films into theaters including The Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Alien Nation, Tremors, and more, and her hands in this mix boded well.

Volcano‘s behind the scenes talents were a bit less notable despite director Mick Jackson having made two terrific films (L.A. Story, The Bodyguard) prior to 1997. Writer Billy Ray has since gone on to deliver smart scripts like Shattered Glass, Flightplan, and Captain Phillips, but at the time, his highpoint was his debut thriller Color of Night. Yes, the Bruce-Willis-shows-his-dong movie. Similarly, producers Andrew Z. Davis and Neal H. Moritz went on to deliver some massive films, but they came into Volcano with resumes highlighted by the likes of Warren Beatty’s Love Story and Juice.

Advantage: I’m unapologetic in my love for The Bodyguard, but Dante’s Peak takes this category. Donaldson just brought more to the table than Jackson, and with Hurd watching over things the production felt like a far safer bet. It also has the smarter script that affords more time to its characters, more thrilling set-pieces, and a scene of self-sacrifice that lands with truly effective emotion. (I say “smarter script,” but yes, it does also include a scene where our hero tries to drive across lava.) Point Dante’s Peak.

The Cast

Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton headline Dante’s Peak, and both were already veterans of big action franchise films. Brosnan even had a James Bond film (Tomorrow Never Dies) open this same year. They both balance the serious nature of the drama with the heightened fun of the disaster picture premise. The highlight of the supporting cast? John Carpenter favorites Peter Jason and Charles Hallahan.

Volcano‘s top stars didn’t shine as bright back in 1997 (and one of them only grew dimmer since), but they made for a pretty compelling and atypical pair at the time. Tommy Lee Jones brings his cantankerous self to the role, and while it seems beyond his wheelhouse, it’s clear he’s embracing the action-hero environment with energy and a clear sense of humor. He’s fighting lava in L.A. and he’s loving every minute of it. Anne Heche was heading into her career highpoint in ’97, and while it wouldn’t last long, she proves herself more than capable of delivering charismatic and capable lead role. The supporting cast is every bit as solid with smaller turns from Don Cheadle, Gaby Hoffman, John Carroll Lynch, John Corbett, Keith David, Richard Schiff, Michael Rispoli, and the terrific Jacqueline Kim.

Advantage: All due respect to Jason and Hallahan, but the winner here is Volcano, easy.

Critical Reception

Neither critics nor audiences were all that enamored by Dante’s Peak. Per Rotten Tomatoes, the film sits at a surprising 24% with many reviewers enjoying the big disaster sequences while finding the script and character-work simply disastrous. As mentioned above, the peak doesn’t blow until about an hour in leaving a lot of hot air turning people off for far too long. The audience score is barely better at 38%.

Volcano had the opposite problem with critics liking it more than audiences. Its RT score reached 50% – half of the critics really dig a cranky Tommy Lee Jones! – while the audience number sits at 31%.

Advantage: Rotten Tomatoes may be less of a science than vulcanology, but numbers don’t lie. Volcano wins this round.

Budget and Box-Office

Dante’s Peak had a healthy budget of $116 million, which, while quaint these days for a supposed blockbuster, was no small potatoes in ’97. It’s all on the screen with some (mostly) strong digital work accompanied by a healthy dose of practical stunt/destruction action. Unfortunately, its box-office capped out at $178 million worldwide, meaning after marketing costs were taken into account the film narrowly crept into the black.

Volcano cost a little bit less (relatively speaking) at $90 million before marketing, but while that still feels like a lot for what we get on the screen, it also wasn’t apparently enough. The film features more than a few extremely rough VFX shots, mostly in the back half as the city is really going to hell. A sequence involving the intentional downing of a high-rise building is especially egregious in its laughably bad composite work – seriously, the shot of Jones running towards us as the building collapses is something special. It went on to earn $122 million worldwide, but on this budget plus marketing costs that means it was a definite financial bust.

Advantage: Both films fared well on video and probably count as successes now, but based strictly on box-office takes, this category goes to Dante’s Peak.

My Take

Both scripts feature a fair amount of silliness and weak writing, but Dante’s Peak is the better put together movie. It just looks and feels more consistently professional throughout. All of that said? Volcano is far more entertaining of a watch. Tommy Lee Jones getting pissed off at the earth’s crust is priceless, the precarious blend of the serious and silly is good fun, and moments of sacrifice are effective and affecting (even when they too are silly). It also earns a point for its clumsy but heartfelt attempt at commenting on the racial division in L.A. with a little girl’s observation that we all look the same when covered in ash. Aww. Neither film is more than mild entertainment, but if you can only watch one volcano-centric movie…make it Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). If it has to be one of these, though, see the one where the coast is toast… see Volcano.

The post Seeing Double: ‘Dante’s Peak’ vs ‘Volcano,’ 1997’s Dueling Disaster Movies appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/dantes-peak-vs-volcano/

BORED

4 Best And 4 Worst American Horror Story Episodes

4 Best And 4 Worst American Horror Story Episodes American Horror Story has covered plenty of terrifying ground, so there are bound to have been some huge hits, and some big misses, along the way. Here are some of the best and worst episodes of Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology juggernaut.

#AmericanHorrorStory #AHS

Best: Piggy, Piggy (Murder House) | 0:13
Worst: Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins, Scumbag (Cult) | 1:11
Best: Bitchcraft (Coven) | 2:18
Worst: Seven Wonders (Coven) | 3:08
Best: Monsters Among Us (Freak Show) | 3:58
Worst: Curtain Call (Freak Show) | 4:58
Best: Name Game (Asylum) | 6:04
Worst: Checking In (Hotel) | 6:58

Learn

15 surprising life lessons from a highly successful 80-year-old

15 surprising life lessons from a highly successful 80-year-old

Blackstone’s Byron Wien, Vice Chairman of Private Wealth Solutions Group, gave a speech laying out the wisdom he learned during his 80 years. Here are 15 of Wien’s best life lessons, which teach us about improving our productivity, sleep, burnout avoidance, and everything in between.


1. “Concentrate on finding a big idea that will make an impact on the people you want to influence. The Ten Surprises, which I started doing in 1986, has been a defining product. People all over the world are aware of it and identify me with it. What they seem to like about it is that I put myself at risk by going on record with these events which I believe are probable and hold myself accountable at year-end. If you want to be successful and live a long, stimulating life, keep yourself at risk intellectually all the time.”

2. “Network intensely. Luck plays a big role in life, and there is no better way to increase your luck than by knowing as many people as possible. Nurture your network by sending articles, books and emails to people to show you’re thinking about them. Write op-eds and thought pieces for major publications. Organize discussion groups to bring your thoughtful friends together.”

3. “When you meet someone new, treat that person as a friend. Assume he or she is a winner and will become a positive force in your life. Most people wait for others to prove their value. Give them the benefit of the doubt from the start. Occasionally you will be disappointed, but your network will broaden rapidly if you follow this path.”

4. “Read all the time. Don’t just do it because you’re curious about something, read actively. Have a point of view before you start a book or article and see if what you think is confirmed or refuted by the author. If you do that, you will read faster and comprehend more.”

5. “Get enough sleep. Seven hours will do until you’re sixty, eight from sixty to seventy, nine thereafter, which might include eight hours at night and a one-hour afternoon nap.”

6. “Evolve. Try to think of your life in phases so you can avoid a burn-out. Do the numbers crunching in the early phase of your career. Try developing concepts later on. Stay at risk throughout the process.”

7. “Travel extensively. Try to get everywhere before you wear out. Attempt to meet local interesting people where you travel and keep in contact with them throughout your life. See them when you return to a place.”

8. “When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen. It is my belief that some important event in everyone’s youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.”

9. “Take the time to give those who work for you a pat on the back when they do good work. Most people are so focused on the next challenge that they fail to thank the people who support them. It is important to do this. It motivates and inspires people and encourages them to perform at a higher level.”

10. “At the beginning of every year think of ways you can do your job better than you have ever done it before. Write them down and look at what you have set out for yourself when the year is over.”

11. “Don’t try to be better than your competitors, try to be different. There is always going to be someone smarter than you, but there may not be someone who is more imaginative.”

None

12. “When seeking a career as you come out of school or making a job change, always take the job that looks like it will be the most enjoyable. If it pays the most, you’re lucky. If it doesn’t, take it anyway, I took a severe pay cut to take each of the two best jobs I’ve ever had, and they both turned out to be exceptionally rewarding financially.”

13. “There is a perfect job out there for everyone. Most people never find it. Keep looking. The goal of life is to be a happy person and the right job is essential to that.”

14. “When your children are grown or if you have no children, always find someone younger to mentor. It is very satisfying to help someone steer through life’s obstacles, and you’ll be surprised at how much you will learn in the process.”

15. “Every year try doing something you have never done before that is totally out of your comfort zone. It could be running a marathon, attending a conference that interests you on an off-beat subject that will be populated by people very different from your usual circle of associates and friends or traveling to an obscure destination alone. This will add to the essential process of self-discovery.”

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— Published on December 3, 2018

Reprinted with permission of Thrive Global. Read the original article.

15 surprising life lessons from a highly successful 80-year-old

Film

Exclusive ‘The Sisters Brothers’ Clip Goes Behind-the-Scenes of the Best Movie You Didn’t See in 2018

the sisters brothers clip

The Sisters Brothers is the best movie you didn’t see in 2018 – a strange, melancholy postmodern Western starring John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Riz Ahmed and Jake Gyllenhaal. If you missed the film in theaters (and there’s a good chance you did), The Sisters Brothers is hitting digital this week, and Blu-ray next month, and you should really make an effort to see it. In honor of the digital release, we have an exclusive The Sisters Brothers clip focusing on the film’s director, Jacques Audiard.

The Sisters Brothers Clip

I loved The Sisters Brothers when I saw it at TIFF, and was disheartened when the movie underperformed at the box office. Don’t get me wrong – I wasn’t expecting it to be a blockbuster. But practically no one went and saw this thing, and that’s unfortunate. Movies like The Sisters Brothers should be embraced, because they’re so rare. As I wrote in my review:

Sad, surreal and often quite bleak, The Sisters Brothers is simultaneously inviting and repellent. The world of the film – captured through gorgeous, painterly cinematography by Benoît Debie – is often vibrant and inviting. The best movies are those we wish we could climb inside and stay a while, and that’s exactly the vibe The Sisters Brothers gives off. And yet, the film is punctuated with bursts of shocking, disturbing violence. This polarizing blend might repulse some viewers, while others will been enchanted.

This clip has the cast and crew singing the praises of director Jacques Audiard, and rightfully so – the filmmaker created something unique.

The Sisters Brothers arrives on Digital January 22 and on Blu-ray & DVD February 5, and I urge you to seek it out. You’ll be rewarded with something special. A list of special features included on the digital and Blu-ray release is below.

Based on Patrick deWitt’s acclaimed novel, The Sisters Brothers is set during the 1850’s gold rush and follows two brothers earning a living as hired guns as they hunt down a chemist who has stolen a valuable formula from their employer. Charlie Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix) is a violent drunkard with a penchant for the hard life he and his brother have grown into, while Eli Sisters (John C. Reilly) is torn between the desire for a simpler, more peaceful life and the guilt-ridden responsibility to stick by his brother’s side, despite the trouble it brings. While the two brothers pursue the chemist (Riz Ahmed) and his unlikely companion John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) across the Oregon Territory, director Jacques Audiard takes viewers on a cathartic exploration of what it means to be a man in a world contrasted by violence and opportunity.

  • Striking Gold: Making a “Modern Day” Western
  • Q&A Panel
  • Promotional Featurettes:
    • Brothers Forever
    • Wanted Dead or Alive
  • Gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer

The post Exclusive ‘The Sisters Brothers’ Clip Goes Behind-the-Scenes of the Best Movie You Didn’t See in 2018 appeared first on /Film.

from /Film https://www.slashfilm.com/the-sisters-brothers-clip/