Post-App Store developer platform Blackstorm launches a games studio

October 31, 2016
everwings blackstorm game Whenever a new developer and compute platform comes along — whether that’s the mobile phone or a VR headset — games are quick to follow as one of the first ever use cases. That’s the case now with Blackstorm, a development platform that’s geared toward different platforms like Messengers and the browser that can easily be accessed without having to download a… Read More

6 Movies You Won’t Want To Miss This Month

The latest indie turn from Kristen Stewart, a doc about Japan’s biggest glam-rock band, and more.

Aquarius

Aquarius

Movies starring older women have become a quiet box office phenomenon, the likes of Lily Tomlin, Sally Field, and Blythe Danner attracting female-skewing audiences eager to see stories about life over 60. But, with all due respect to those august ladies, they’ve got nothing on Sonia Braga in Kleber Mendonça Filho’s vivid (if a little too sprawling) Brazilian movie Aquarius.

Braga, at 66, is vibrant, sensual, and so very compelling as Clara, a retired music journalist living alone in a gorgeous art deco apartment building being targeted by developers. As the life she’s carved out for herself is threatened, Clara only seems to take firmer hold of it, fighting back against attempts to bully her out of her home and blooming under the pressure. When the shady investors hold a raucous shindig in the empty apartment above hers, she responds by blasting Queen’s “Fat Bottomed Girls,” an act of rebellion that segues into a party of one, a portrait of a woman enjoying the glorious, hard-earned certainty she has in her own identity.

How to see it: Aquarius is now playing in limited release — check out a list of theaters here.

Vitagraph

Certain Women

Certain Women

There are three parts to Kelly Reichardt’s Certain Women, all set in Montana, each focused on a different female character looking for connection in a small town. There’s the barest bit of overlap between them, but for the most part, the sections exist in their own constrained orbits, adaptations of Maile Meloy short stories turned into slender, subdued segments — a little too subdued, in the case of the first two, which feel dwarfed by the expansive horizons against which they’re set. Laura Dern is a lawyer with a difficult client, while returning Reichardt collaborator Michelle Williams plays a mother and wife who negotiates to buy a pile of sandstone for her house, a sequence in which the dramatic rise and fall is almost imperceptible.

But then there’s the third part, about how a lonesome ranch hand named Jamie (Lily Gladstone) stumbles into a night-school law class being taught by Beth (Kristen Stewart), who lives four hours away and has to make the dangerous drive home each night. Jamie isn’t a law student, but she starts attending anyway, getting into a routine of escorting Beth to the diner afterward, listening to her talk, and yearning for something more from the relationship. It’s a story about longing and loneliness that’s sad, sweet, and perfect — and while Stewart continues her fascinating run of indie films, it’s the newcomer Gladstone you remember. She funnels those swelling emotions into a few terse words.

How to see it: Certain Women is now playing in limited release — click on “Watch Now” here to see a list of theaters.

IFC Films

The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden

The Handmaiden is a movie made of contradictions. It’s about an elaborate scheme to defraud an heiress named Hideko (Kim Min-hee) with the help of a thief named Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) who poses as her new maid, though who the target is and who’s being taken advantage of soon becomes unclear, the con crumbling in the face of an unexpected romance. It’s set in Korea, but it’s a Korea under occupation in the 1930s with many of its characters affecting Japanese-ness as a sign of social status. It’s almost entirely staged inside a Frankensteined manor that’s done in half British architecture and half Japanese — a giant, conflicted monument to colonialism. And it’s a film fueled by the degree to which its women are underestimated and objectified by men, only it features some of the male-gaziest lesbian sex scenes imaginable.

Well, no one goes to the director of Oldboy expecting restraint. Park Chan-wook has ported Sarah Waters’ Victorian England–set novel Fingersmith halfway around the world and adapted it into an opulent, twisted, overheated gothic drama. But, thanks to its strong lead performances, The Haindmaiden is also an irresistible love story about two women who find themselves genuinely seen and appreciated for the first time — by each other.

How to see it: The Handmaiden is now playing in limited release — check out a list of theaters here.

Magnolia Pictures

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

A horror movie guaranteed to drive many a horror fan wild with frustration, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is, fair warning, an exercise in building dread, but not one intent on delivering a big payoff. In fact, Lily (Ruth Wilson), the main character and often the only figure onscreen, tells the audience how the movie’s going to end right at the start, murmuring in voiceover that she’s a 28-year-old live-in hospice nurse, and that she won’t live to see 29. She’s been hired to take care of a mentally and physically deteriorating, once-famous author named Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss) who insists on calling her “Polly.” The two are alone in the house, except when they’re joined by a ghost.

It’s not a slow burn so much as a bunch of glowing embers, but if you can reconcile yourself to director Oz Perkins’ pace, I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House turns out to be almost unbearably creepy on atmospherics alone. It uses space with remarkable artistry — dark doorways hold potential horrors, empty parts of the frame become places where mysterious things can lurk, and characters facing away from the camera seem terrifyingly exposed. Lily, who scolds herself for her fear in antiquated language (“Silly billy,” she mutters), is like a figure out of a Shirley Jackson novel, but then Iris, in a lovely touch, is inspired by Shirley Jackson herself, character and creator trapped together in a nightmarish meditation on death.

How to see it: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is streaming on Netflix.

Netflix


View Entire List ›

Here are all the Chevy SEMA 2016 concepts

October 31, 2016

Share Facebook Tweet Pinterest Email Chevy celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Camaro — along with a lot of trucks — the night before the SEMA Show opened in Las Vegas. 2017 Camaro SS Slammer No less a Chevrolet enthusiast than Dale Earnhardt Jr. introduced the Camaro SS Slammer (pictured above), a lowered, road-hugging one-off […]

Twitter unveils new options for customer service

October 31, 2016
twitter-140-media Twitter has been expanding the customer service side of its product, with recent additions including a Customer Service settings page for businesses. Today it’s adding a couple more features — namely, an automated welcome message that shows up whenever a customer starts a Direct Message conversation with a business’ account, and “quick replies” that ask the… Read More

Hello launches a voice-enabled Sense bedside sleep tracker for $149

October 31, 2016
sense sleep tracker With Alexa and Google Assistant are gunning for control over the general voice-driven experience with technology, that might open doors for some more targeted verticals that are centered around voice. It’s not an unheard of strategy — building services and tools around specific experiences rather than trying to do it all at once has been an effective approach for many startups… Read More

Instapaper premium goes free for all users

October 31, 2016
instapaper Following its acquisition by Pinterest in August, Instapaper’s premium version will now be to all users, the company said today. As part of the acquisition, Instapaper’s team would begin working on Pinterest’s core experience. But the company also said that the app would live on as a separate entity and continue to get updates from the Instapaper team at Pinterest. Now, under… Read More

Hallelujah: Mercedes is bringing back the straight-six

October 31, 2016

Share Facebook Tweet Pinterest Email Mercedes-Benz took the wraps off four new engines this week: a 3.0-liter inline-six, a 3.0-liter diesel inline-six, a twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder and a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The latter will make an appearance in the updated 2017 S-Class, and the four-cylinder can go into just about any globally offered model; it’s […]

Instagram Introduces New Shopping Feature To Get You To Buy More Stuff

October 31, 2016

Instagram is introducing new mini shops in an attempt to sparks sales of products in its feed.

The shops, which are debuting in a test with 20 partners next week, allow you to tap on items you see in pictures and explore them in more detail inside the Instagram feed. A “shop now” button is included within the mini shops, and hitting it will open a checkout web page for the product you’re looking at inside Instagram.

Warby Parker, Abercrombie & Fitch, Coach, JackThreads, and more are participating in the test, which will be live in the US only to start. The retailers won’t be able to promote the shops with advertising for now, though that will likely come down the road.

Instagram already sells ads that include a “shop” button, but the new mini shops are meant to bridge the gap between the moment you become aware of a product and when you decide to buy it. They also give you more information as you consider buying something, a step that naturally occurs when you shop offline.

“You can get inspired [online], and you can buy — it’s that in between state between the shop window and the cash register that doesn’t exist today,” Instagram’s director of market operations, Jim Squires, told BuzzFeed News.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter have all introduced commerce to their platforms over the past two years, but so far the results have been less than spectacular. Twitter, for one, ceased development on its buy button and disbanded its commerce team. Retailers have also played down other platforms’ programs, and a study by the research firm GlobalWebIndex found that only 14% of people aged 16 to 64 want to see buy buttons on Instagram.

“There’s work to be done,” Squires said.

Still, Instagram has long been a place where people arrange transactions in comments underneath photos of items they like. And now, it’s trying to develop a product that captures the spirit of those conversations in an effort to generate even more sales.

Instagram tests shoppable photo tags

October 31, 2016
instagram-shoppable1 Instagram wants you to shop without always having to interrupt your scrolling with a browser window. That’s why today it will start showing shoppable tags on photos from 20 retail brands like Kate Spade and JackThreads to iOS users in the US. The retailers tag products in their photos, which are hidden behind a “Tap to view products” button. After selecting their product… Read More