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From Godzilla To King Kong, Our Fascination For The Giant Monsters Never Ends

The Fascination For The Giant Monsters Never Ends

Every time a Godzilla movie is premiered, we hear one comment repeatedly: we don’t want to see humans talking about government conspiracies and family problems, we want to see monsters bashing each other and destroying cities. If viewers had a remote control, some would fast-forward through Millie Bobby Brown or Bryan Cranston discussing internal conflicts as if they were performing in a Shakespeare play at the end of the world. Indeed, in the three-minute trailer for Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, people occupied barely 20 seconds. It showed the giant gorilla carrying a huge axe and riding on the back of the kaiju (a giant monster in Japan) to fight together. The movie’s viewpoint belongs to the monsters. They certainly know what their audience wants.

If moviegoers pack an IMAX (image maximum) cinema, it will be to see the monster spray violet rays, buildings collapsing and bridges under siege. Even if they are more familiar with San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge crumbling in ruins rather than standing upright. Charlton Heston endured the destruction of such an iconic landmark at the end of Planet of the Apes, but the chaos in recognizable cities like New York makes for a warm and happy place for the audience, as opposed to the reality of Ukraine and Gaza. That grandiloquence where everything tumbles down is one more reason not to watch the film at home. The fake apocalypse with computerized monsters and ever greater visual effects guarantees a collective experience in cinemas. This is paramount for studios struggling to get their blockbusters onto high-end screens, which are more expensive and therefore inflate box-office figures.

The end scene of ‘Planet of the Apes.'
The end scene of ‘Planet of the Apes.’

However, destruction is nothing new in Hollywood. “There were catastrophe films in silent cinema. It had a boom in the thirties, its heyday in the seventies and a resurgence in the nineties. Nowadays, they never stop,” remembers Sintu Amat, author of the book Disaster Movies. “Whether there are wars or not, we’ll always be attracted to destruction and chaos. Although we may be convinced that it won’t happen in the near future, we like to fantasize about visualizing it and enjoy it. We have a dark side when it comes to catastrophic issues. These are stories that put normal characters in extreme situations with which we can identify ourselves,” he adds. Sigmund Freud called repetition compulsion the impulse to replicate painful situations that drive us to control our imagination and thereby cope with our fears, while finding comfort.

Amat points to classics such as San Francisco (1936), Green Dolphin Street (1947), The Naked Jungle (1954) and The Devil at 4 O’Clock (1961), and he explains that their “plots, characters and brilliant dialogues” stand out. “Their catastrophes helped resolve the plots and determine the fate of the main characters.” He points out that special effects have improved and technology has made them more striking and easier to produce, although this may be to the detriment of other qualities.

This selling-point of spectacularity has a prosaic aspect in human psychology and is also an economic driver. In 2023, IMAX cinemas broke records by grossing more than $1 billion, with all-time high revenues in 54 countries. Their ticket sales were up 24.4% largely because of Oppenheimer, which is about the creation of the atomic bomb that spawned Godzilla as a nuclear metaphor in 1954. The much more introspective Godzilla Minus One was the hottest IMAX release in Japanese movie history.

Everyone in Hollywood is battling for these cinemas, including Tom Cruise, who was frustrated that Mission: Impossible was unable to take advantage of so many giant screens because of Oppenheimer.

The CEO of IMAX had to step in to mediate: “I feel sad, but Nolan has a special place in IMAX’s heart.” In January, Warner, in an effort to coordinate all its pieces, moved the battle between King Kong and Godzilla (filmed using their technology) two weeks earlier to take over from Dune: Part Two and avoid having to share IMAX theaters with Civil War, Alex Garland’s (Ex-Machina) political post-apocalypse, whose poster shows the golden flame of the Statue of Liberty turned into a bunker amidst the destruction.

The demolition of an architectural symbol is an established cliché. The creators of The Towering Inferno (1974) and Independence Day (1996), which featured one of the most famous shots of the White House, obliterated by a laser from space, were well aware of this notion. Two years later, the film’s director, Roland Emmerich, shot Godzilla. They also had this in mind when a huge octopus scaled the Golden Gate Bridge in It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) and when Michael Bay, an expert in destruction, devastated New York’s Grand Central in Armageddon (1999). This time, Kong and Godzilla adopt Napoleon’s legacy and attempt to conquer the pyramids of Egypt, just as the film Team America: World Police predicted in its parody of America’s passion for destroying movie icons. Along the way, they stamp through Cadiz and Gibraltar without a care in the world.

Cinemas are also still showing Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, a saga that echoes the same glacial theme and opens the doors of the Empire State Building to its monsters as it did in 1984, although the Marshmallow Man did not cause quite as much terror. Almost as little as Sharknado, which was the delight of the lowbrow cinema in six TV movies. On the positive side, from the golden age of catastrophes, Sintu Amat highlights Earthquake (1974) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972), as well as Dante’s Peak (1997), the Norwegian film The Wave (2015) and Contagion (2011), which predated Covid-19.

The destruction of the White House in Roland Emmerich’s film ‘Independence Day.'
The destruction of the White House in Roland Emmerich’s film ‘Independence Day.’

In an international context, some directors have made the most of the opportunity to stamp their style on the genre of raging monsters and destruction. Guillermo del Toro pitted robots against monsters in Pacific Rim; Nacho Vigalondo spun it into a toxic, city-destroying love story in Colossal; Marc Forster besieged capital cities with zombies in World War Z (David Fincher wanted to make the sequel but it never took off), and Bong Jon-hoo created one of the iconic works of the modern kaiju genre in The Host. Some succeeded in making humans interesting as well, like Shin Godzilla masterfully did, by modernizing truisms in a bureaucratic reinvention that had as much of The West Wing as of kaiju. Although it was inspired by the Fukushima disaster, today it has another interpretation after seeing how governments have dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic. Sometimes unreality is best grasped through exaggeration.

Even if audiences don’t want to see humans, the Godzilla/Kong Monsterverse has brought together John Goodman, Brie Larson, Tom Hiddleston, Kurt Russell, Dan Stevens and Rebecca Hall in its four movies and two series. And Hollywood’s greatest sagas keep calling the red phone when faced with monkey and amphibian assaults. In May, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will be staging its tenth movie battle. The Jurassic Park franchise will now be heading to the city with Jurassic City, where the dinosaurs attempt to bring something new to a disaster we’ve seen hundreds of times before. The meteorites of Greenland and the tornadoes of Twisters will also be back.

An image from ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ of a devastated New York City.
An image from ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire’ of a devastated New York City. Sony pictures

When climate change and wars push us closer to destruction, there is some comfort in non-reality. “We’re all concerned about the future of the planet and the human species,” concludes Amat. If Godzilla and Kong fail to deliver on their tale of unity in the face of phenomena to our true battles, it will be the moment to duck and replicate Charlton Heston by shouting out: “You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!”

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How Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins Is Revolutionizing The Fashion Modeling

Emergence of AI-Generated Virtual Twins

The Voice Of EU | In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion modeling, a groundbreaking innovation has emerged: the creation of virtual twins through the power of artificial intelligence (AI). This technological advancement has already made waves in the industry, exemplified by the case of Alexsandrah, a renowned model who has seamlessly integrated her AI counterpart into her professional endeavors. The implications of this development are far-reaching, reshaping not only the creative landscape but also the economic and ethical dimensions of the fashion world.

Alexsandrah, known professionally by her first name, stands as a pioneer in this new era of modeling. She proudly shares that her digital twin mirrors her appearance “even down to the baby hairs,” blurring the lines between reality and simulation. This symbiotic relationship between the human model and her AI counterpart signifies a transformative shift propelled by AI technology.

Advocates of AI-generated modeling argue that its increasing prevalence promotes diversity and inclusivity within the fashion industry. By showcasing a wider range of body types and underrepresented demographics, AI models empower consumers to make more informed purchasing decisions, ultimately reducing fashion waste stemming from product returns. Moreover, the cost-effectiveness of digital modeling presents economic opportunities for both companies and individuals seeking to leverage this innovative technology.

However, amidst the promise of progress, critics voice concerns regarding the potential ramifications of AI modeling. The displacement of human models, makeup artists, and photographers looms large, raising questions about job security and ethical implications. Furthermore, there is apprehension that unsuspecting consumers may be deceived into mistaking AI models for real individuals, undermining transparency and authenticity in the industry.

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

London-based model Alexsandrah has a twin, but not in the way you’d expect

Sara Ziff, a former fashion model and founder of the Model Alliance, underscores the pressing need to address these concerns. She highlights the risk of distorting racial representation and marginalizing models of color through the uncritical adoption of AI technology. Indeed, data indicates that women, especially those from underrepresented groups, are disproportionately affected by the advent of AI in modeling, further exacerbating existing disparities in the industry.

The case of iconic denim brand Levi Strauss & Co. illustrates the nuanced stance that companies are taking towards AI-generated models. While initial experiments with AI models aimed to diversify representation, backlash prompted a reevaluation of their approach. Levi reaffirmed its commitment to live photo shoots and human models, signaling a cautious approach to AI integration in its operations.

Despite varying responses from industry players, the demand for AI-generated models continues to grow. Companies like Lalaland.ai, founded by Michael Musandu, are at the forefront of this technological revolution. Musandu emphasizes the complementary nature of AI models, envisioning them as supplements rather than replacements for traditional photo shoots. He underscores the potential of AI to enhance the shopping experience, reduce product returns, and create new job opportunities within the industry.

The journey towards ethical AI implementation in fashion modeling is fraught with challenges, as highlighted by the experiences of models like Yve Edmond. Concerns regarding consent, compensation, and labor rights underscore the need for robust regulatory frameworks. The Model Alliance advocates for legislative measures to safeguard the rights of fashion workers, including provisions for informed consent and fair compensation in the realm of AI modeling.

Amidst the complexities and controversies surrounding AI-generated modeling, individuals like Alexsandrah navigate this new frontier with a sense of optimism tempered by vigilance. By fostering transparency, ethical use, and equitable compensation, AI has the potential to expand opportunities for models of color and revolutionize the fashion industry. As stakeholders grapple with the ethical and economic implications of this technology, the journey towards a more inclusive and sustainable future for fashion modeling continues.


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— By Darren Wilson | Contributor VoiceOfEU.com

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Top 10 most profitable places in Britain for holiday rentals

The most profitable locations in Britain for holiday rentals has been revealed – and the majority are not located anywhere near a beach.

Staycation favourite Cornwall is top of the rankings, with an average price per night of £84 for a room and £117 for a whole house.

A total of 476,910 bookings were made via popular holiday rental companies in the area last summer, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics data by the money website Wealth of Geeks.

The figures suggest that holiday lets in Cornwall took bookings worth £40million between the beginning of July and the end of September last year.

However, most of the top 10 are located in inner London, the research showed.

The most profitable locations for buy-to-let have been revealed, with staycation favourite Cornwall at the top of the rankings

The list of top ten places also includes several areas in London, including Westminster in second place.

The average price of renting a holiday let in Westminster is £133 a night for a room and £435 for a house.

With 304,790 holiday let bookings, it produces a revenue for the area in the heart of London’s west end of £34,441,270 for the summer period last year.

The calculations were based on bookings on Airbnb, Booking.com and the Expedia Group, with data taken from the Office for National Statistics.

The rental prices, meanwhile, were taken from Airbnb across 388 British towns, and the total revenue was calculated by multiplying the number of nights with the nightly cost of a room on Airbnb.

The revenue did not take into account any costs of running a holiday let, such as repairs and maintenance, nor did it factor in property prices.

All of the remaining locations in the top ten were in London except for one on the south coast.

This was Brighton and Hove, where average rental prices per night were £100 for a room.

In total, the data suggested that the British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023.

Michael Dinich, of Wealth of Geeks, said: ‘Holiday rentals play a vital role in the UK’s tourism industry by supporting local economies, providing accommodation to enhance visitor experience, and promoting tourism in diverse regions across the country.

‘Tourism also helps to promote awareness of lesser-known areas, helping to distribute tourist spending more evenly across the country.

‘While some destinations may experience seasonal fluctuations in tourism often in the summer months, holiday rentals attract visit year-round, helping to sustain economies and businesses during off-peak seasons.’

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year's Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped

The findings show that those looking to invest in the holiday lets market need to do their sums carefully before taking the plunge and committing to a particular area.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf, explained: ‘This data shows that it’s not just the prospect of beaches and more reliable weather which drives profitability.

‘It’s not just traditionally popular holiday destinations which produce the best returns so it’s vital that would-be landlords do their research carefully before investing.

‘The ability to make money depends on supply and demand, not just the attributes of an area.

‘At what level a landlord can rent their property for, after taking into account all expenses, is key and explains why areas such as Westminster and Camden are proving profitable, where they may lack the charm of a traditional UK holiday destination such as Cornwall.’

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

The British holiday rental market made £739,211,390, during the summer of 2023, according to the latest data

Tax crackdown

The data on the most profitable holiday lets follows a crackdown on the sector by the Chancellor.

Jeremy Hunt announced in this year’s Budget that the tax relief available for furnished holiday lets would be scrapped to help improve the availability of long-term rentals.

The move is due to come into force at the beginning of April next year and is widely seen as a way of bringing the tax regime of shorter-term lets more in line with longer term rentals.

Experts operating in the sector insisted that holiday rentals remained in demand ahead of the changes.

Graham Donoghue, of Sykes Holiday Cottages, said: ‘Staycations have been growing in popularity over the past decade and right now demand for our UK holiday cottages is higher than ever, with the average annual income of a holiday let owner up as a result.

‘Hotspot locations like Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Cornwall continue to see considerable demand and bookings across the UK for our holiday cottages have been up 11 per cent during the current Easter school holidays.

‘The demand we’re witnessing is particularly good news for our holiday let owners who have faced their own set of challenges recently. Despite changes, which we are carefully guiding our owners through, it’s clear that holiday letting remains a profitable and rewarding long-term business model.’

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‘Monkey Man’: Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel makes directorial debut with a delicious stab at action cinema

Dev Patel has always had an intelligent glint in his eye. From his big screen debut in Slumdog Millionaire to his role as a journalist in Aaron Sorkin’s series The Newsroom, the British actor usually brings a sense of peace, calm and intelligence to his performances. Perhaps that is why it is no surprise that, at 32, he has made his directorial debut with a film in favor of social outcasts, which he also produces, co-writes and stars in. The surprise is its genre: Monkey Man is a fierce action and martial arts film, revolving around hand-to-hand combat, dismemberment and knife fights.

Patel returns to India, the land of his ancestors, for his story of revenge that is strengthened by the creative arsenal applied to its sequences — and not only those of combat. While there was a serious lack of design in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire, one of the worst choices for Oscar for Best Film in Oscar history, Monkey Man has at its heart a physical and moral entanglement, involving a sadistic police chief, a luxury brothel that serves as home to both fornication and power, and a ragged young man who seeks to atone for the death of his mother through the most savage forms of violence.

Monkey Man is also set in a slum overrun by gambling and fights, with Patel earning a few rupees as an underground bare fist fighter wearing a crude monkey mask. With its colors and the camera’s handling of Bombay’s chaos, the movie has echoes of Brazil’s City of God.

Image from the movie 'Monkey Man.'
Image from the movie ‘Monkey Man.’Universal Pictures

A comparison can also easily be made with the John Wick saga, which has revolutionized commercial action and martial arts cinema in the past 10 years. Patel even mentions John Wick in one on-screen exchange. Yet, despite the similarities, the staging and editing of their spectacular fight sequences set them apart. In the four installments of the John Wick movies starring Keanu Reeves, the choreography regarding the confrontations is developed through a paradoxically harmonious staging of continuity, with general shots extended in time. The dynamics of their contenders and their movements are visualized with hardly any editing, almost like a classic fifties musical but instead of dances, there is physical destruction.

The action in Monkey Man, on the other hand, is not one of continuity, but of rupture. The cuts are incessant and move at an unrestrained pace; the shots come in quick succession, with barely a second or two between them. Patel’s handling of cinematic language is brutal. For a novice director, he displays a dazzling energy, cadence and expressiveness. This is demonstrated by three of the only four fights in the ring, each one based on a dynamic sense of space and narrative. The first is defined by the close-up shot, with the camera directed at the waist of the opponents or even lower — giving the viewers a sense of overwhelming closeness. The second offers a very different vision of the fight, which is both more poetic and exquisite. And the third uses surprise as the main exponent, and is raw and concise.

With rough textures, contrasting colors and ochre photography, reflecting the social mud in which most of the characters are stuck, Monkey Man only slips off kilter in the second half, when the Hindu demigod, Hanuman, assumes the tragic halo that envelops the protagonist. Although it gives him authenticity with respect to his lineage, the visualization is tinged with a somewhat tiresome messianic muddle of lyrical ambition.

Monkey Man

Director: Dev Patel.

Cast: Dev Patel, Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Sobhita Dhuliwala.

Genre: Action. United States, 2024.

Duration: 121 minutes

Release date: April 12.


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