Unless you’re comfortable with people discreetly listening in on your most private conversations (it’s okay, I talk about the movie Face Off with my cat, too), you should disable FaceTime right now on any supported devices. A newly discovered bug impacting iOS devices, including iPhones, allows someone to call another user through FaceTime and force it to begin transmitting the call receiver’s audio–all without them potentially even being aware.
As originally reported by 9to5Mac, the process involves you initiating a FaceTime call and then adding yourself to the call again. Due to the bug, this causes the other person’s device to effectively answer the call so that you can hear audio from their end. This has been confirmed by numerous other sources, and it’s reportedly possible that–if the call receiver presses the Power button–video is transmitted, too.
Apple has acknowledged the bug and says a fix is coming later this week. In the meantime, it’s disabled Group FaceTime functionality, which is seemingly to blame for the issues, although 9to5Mac says it’s still possible to take advantage of the exploit.
Disabling FaceTime is relatively easy, as you simply need to go into your device’s FaceTime settings and turn it off. If you do need step-by-step instructions, CNET has put together a guide on how to turn off FaceTime on both iOS and Mac devices.
In case you missed the NFL Outfits in Fortnite the last time around, Epic is bringing them back in celebration of the Super Bowl, along with a few new football-themed goodies. The special skins were only available for a limited time before, and that will likely be the case again, so grab them while you can.
According to the announcement, the sportswear will be available in the store starting on Friday, February 1 at 4 PM PT / 7 PM ET. It also says you can find two more outfit styles, with special white uniforms for the Patriots and Rams. Plus, starting on Saturday, February 2 at 4 PM PT / 7 PM ET, you can visit the store to get a free Pigskin Toy.
Also to mark the occasion, you can take part in a new NFL Rumble limited-time mode. This puts you on a team of 20 in Patriots or Rams outfits, battling for the win and a trophy. Or Epic says you can just head over to Pleasant Park for a game of catch.
The last time NFL outfits were available was in November for four days. That was a short window, but this one may be even shorter. The jerseys cost 1,500 V-Bucks ($15) the last time around, and let you customize with your own number and variants like Strong Guard, End Zone, Gridiron, and Spike.
Of course, the fan base found creative and clever ways to poke fun at the NFL through the outfits, with players sporting jerseys to lambaste controversial athletes like Michael Vick and Aaron Hernandez.
This announcement comes alongside a new Fortnite patch just released today that adds a chiller grenade, a new ‘Solid Gold’ limited-time mode, and mobile controller support.
Xbox Live Gold subscribers will get access to two Xbox One games — Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon and Super Bomberman R — in February as part of Microsoft’s Games with Gold program.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is the 8-bit-style precursor to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Koji Igarashi’s crowdfunded spiritual successor to Konami’s Castlevania series. The retro game will be joined by actual Konami game Super Bomberman R, the 2018 Xbox One update to Hudson’s classic multiplayer action game. The Xbox One version of Super Bomberman R includes a platform-exclusive character: Halo’s Master Chief.
It’s a bit later in the month than we’re accustomed to learning about Games With Gold, but Microsoft has finally shared the list of games that Xbox Live Gold members can expect to receive for free in February 2019. As always, there are a total of four games split evenly across Xbox One and Xbox 360.
On Xbox One, the month starts out with Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, a classic Castlevania-style action game released just last year; it serves as a spin-off from the upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. It’s available for the entire month of February. From February 16 to March 15, you’ll also be able to grab 2017’s Super Bomberman R, an action game where you try to corner opponents with bombs in a maze. It’s best played with friends.
Xbox 360’s first title of the month is Assassin’s Creed Rogue, an oft-overlooked entry in the series that was originally only released on last-gen platforms just as Assassin’s Creed Unity arrived for current-gen systems. It’ll be replaced on February 16 by Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, a well-received action game for the original Xbox, rather than Xbox 360. It’s available until the end of the month.
Both Rogue and Jedi Academy are playable on Xbox One through backwards compatibility, giving that system a total of four freebies in February. If you haven’t already grabbed January’s Games With Gold, you can still claim some of them before the month ends; one of them, WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship, will be available until mid-February. The full February schedule follows below.
February 2019 Games With Gold
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (Feb. 1-28)
Super Bomberman R (Feb. 1-Mar. 15)
WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship (Jan. 16-Feb. 15)
February’s Games with Gold is an interesting mix, from retro stylings to series like Star Wars and Assassin’s Creed. As always, these games are only “free” if you have an active Xbox Live Games with Gold subscription.
Pokemon Go‘s big Hoenn celebration event is coming to an end, and a new Legendary Pokemon is set to debut soon afterward. Niantic has announced that Palkia, the cover monster from Pokemon Pearl, will begin appearing in Raid Battles today, January 29, at 1 PM PT / 4 PM ET.
As usual, in order to catch Palkia, you’ll first need to team up with other players in-person, then visit a Gym that’s hosting a Palkia Raid and battle it. If your party manages to defeat the Legendary Pokemon, you’ll be rewarded with a handful of Premiere Balls and an opportunity to capture it.
Although it may not look it, Palkia is a dual Water- and Dragon-type, which means it only takes neutral damage from Ice attacks, one of a Dragon Pokemon’s biggest weaknesses. Your best bet is to battle it using other Dragon-types, such as Dragonite and Rayquaza–although The Pokemon Company warns that Palkia will always know a Dragon-type Fast Attack of its own. You can read more details on the official Pokemon website.
Palkia will appear as a Raid Boss until February 28, giving you about a month to capture it. It is also the fourth Gen 4 Legendary Pokemon to appear in Pokemon Go thus far, following Giratina, Cresselia, and Heatran.
Niantic hasn’t announced when other Gen 4 Legendaries will debut in Pokemon Go, but the developer had previously teased the Lake trio–Azelf, Uxie, and Mesprit–in a promotional image for the game’s recent winter event, suggesting they may also be on the way soon.
In addition to Palkia’s arrival, Pokemon Go players have the game’s next Community Day to look forward to soon. The event takes place on Saturday, February 16, and will feature another Gen 2 Pokemon: the Ice/Ground-type Swinub.
The line, from the Greek tragedian Aeschylus’ trilogy The Oresteia, haunted painter Francis Bacon over the course of his life. In 1944, the artist synthesized his nightmare into Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion, a triptych that reimagined the Furies as a set of jagged mandibles bursting through splashes of red. Like a nightmare whispered down the lane, Three Studies later inspired another artist: Ridley Scott, who coated them in obsidian for his 1979 masterpiece, Alien.
In Memory – The Origins of Alien, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe travels into the nebula of behind-the-scenes Alien anecdotes to break down how the voices of Scott, sci-fi writer Dan O’Bannon, and artist H.R. Giger melded to form the iconic motion picture. Straddling the line between behind-the-scenes doc and the modern “video essay,”Memory is a deep, deep, deep dive, but rarely an info dump. The joy of Philippe’s film is that it’s a stunning work of art in its own right.
The notion might prompt film purists to summon the Thinking Face emoji. I’ve certainly been a skeptic; after all, movies like Memory – The Origins of Alien don’t capture any of the story first hand. The film is not Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams, which documents the jungle madness of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo production; or Hearts of Darkness, the infamous companion to Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now; or Lost in La Mancha, a DVD extra gone rogue as Terry Gilliam’s first attempt at shooting The Man Who Killed Don Quixote melted down before the camera crew’s eyes. Blood, sweat, and tears drip down the lenses of those fly-on-the-wall documentaries. Memory, which includes a number of expert talking heads but not, say, an exclusive Ridley Scott interview, sits alongside them as more of an onlooker.
Twenty years ago, Memory would have been an elaborate DVD extra. But films like Best Worst Movie, a how-did-this-get-made investigation of Troll 2, and the fan documentary The Shark Is Still Working, a feature-length Jaws doc that took amateurs with camera rigs seven years to compile before Universal eventually threw it on a home video re-release, established nostalgia-soaked documentaries as a creatively lucrative genre. With a knowledgeable crew, and the right sound bites, an exercise for EPK packages could become a definitive document. Hallmarks like Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy and Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th, and the work of Charles de Lauzirika, the DVD extras guru behind the worthy-of-a-theatrical-release documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner, treat well-known films like they’re the Cuban Missile Crisis or Apollo 11 moon landing.
The movement has inspired gems and cheap imitations. On the momentous side of the spectrum is British, blockbuster-lover Jamie Benning’s trilogy of Star Wars docs “filmumentaries” which run well over six hours and feature rare footage hunted down on eBay. (And he’s never made a cent on them, thanks to right issues.) Of course, the advent of Kickstarter prompted a major uptick in “fan documentaries,” which find excuses to chronicle the productions of nostalgia-soaked favorites. Major entries include Back in Time, about Back to the Future, and Ghostheads, a Ghostbusters tribute, and there are new ones almost every week.
Memory works on a different level. Philippe exalts Alien through talking head interviews, but also connects the dots between creative history and meaning. He falls down the rabbit hole of O’Bannon’s love for Planet of the Vampires and H.P. Lovecraft, then finds conclusions in the writer’s ongoing battle with Crohn’s disease and the gastric monsters it inspired. Diverse voices revel in Giger’s twisted art while being mindful enough to see the sexual and gender commentary at work. Some of Philippe’s subjects can unpack what it meant to put male pregnancy on screen in 1979. Screenwriter Ronald Shusett offers his own two cents: “The alien fucks him!”
Like Philippe’s previous film, 78/52, which hyper-analyzed Alfred Hitchcock’s work in the Psycho shower scene, Memory was almost entirely devoted to the chestburster, and it shows. From conception to craft to execution on set to a critical read of the finished product, the sequence symbolizes the macro and micro of Alien’s vision. Luckily, watching the model baby xenomorph rip out of John Hurt’s prosthetic chest and spray an unexpecting Veronica Cartwright with blood (the shocked looks is real) over and over and over again has its pleasures — and no rewind button included.
Memory avoids descending into subtextual mania — if you want to luxuriate in wacky theories, Room 237 is your movie — by keeping a firm foot planted in the technical. Designers tell Philippe how Scott bucked their verisimilitude-first advice for the dream logic of making it rain inside spaceships. The documentary describes a number of the camera angles, and the director’s penchant for picking up the camera and operating himself. The movie risks losing even hardcore Alien junkies, which is why it’s great.
Unlike the heavy petting of fan documentaries, a dedication to formal understanding inches Memory towards territory occupied by video essayists like Every Frame a Painting, Lindsey Ellis, Patrick (H) Willems, and Kristian Williams, who weave together film grammar, interpretation, and business history into grand theories on cinema. The difference is that Philippe doesn’t need to talk to camera. His interviewees do the heavy-lifting, as well as newly shot footage that capture the spirit of Alien. In one scene, Aeschylus Furies emerge from Gigerian hallways, whispering once again about human blood and wicked smiles.
Not only does Memory – The Origins of Alien remind us that video essays are art, but the film legitimizes the playing field for creators with similar ambitions. Video essays can and should play at film festivals. They should find new homes in a streaming landscape devoid of DVD extras. The great documentary/commentary hybrids are rich, and only underestimated by YouTube algorithmic selections. So will we see new expressions of analysis grace our screens in the future? There’s a good chance; in this space, everyone can hear you scream.
Last year hardware maker Razer turned four of its peripherals pink. This year the company’s “Quartz” line of pink gaming gear expands by a microphone, wireless PlayStation 4 controller, headset stand, phone case and, best of all, a limited edition pink metal Razer Blade Stealth laptop. Pink metal. Mmmm.
My love of pink things, specifically pink gaming gear, is well-documented. What began years ago as a convenient color-coded way to support my older sister’s struggle against breast cancer (she kicked its ass) blossomed into an overwhelming appreciation for the softest, loveliest and happiest of hues. More and more people are catching on to pink power every day, and some of those people are fans of Razer stuff. Those people should love the new Quartz line.
I mean, look at this thing:
Okay, so it’s not a dedicated gaming laptop like the Razer Blade or Razer Blade Pro. The 13-inch Stealth is more of a productivity laptop. But where the original black Stealth or the newer gunmetal or white variations, there is nothing understated about the Valentine’s Day limited edition. It is pink and shiny and it’s got a lovely red Razer logo below the screen.
There have been other pink laptops. Some are gaudy plastic trash. Others do the whole Apple “rose gold” thing. Screw rose gold in its stupid rose gold face.
Again, not a powerhouse, but pretty tough for a super-thin, three pound notebook. It’s got Nvidia GeForce MX 150 4GB graphics, 16GB of dual channel memory and an 8th generation Intel i7-8565U processor. It’s going to spread the hell out of some sheets. The limited edition pink Razer Blade Stealth goes on sale today for $1,600 in the US, Canada and China.
The second coolest new pink thing from Razer is the pink version of the Raiju Tournament Edition wireless PlayStation 4 and PC controller. With its re-mappable buttons (it’s got its own mobile configuration app) and adjustable sensitivity options, it’s a very versatile controller. Unfortunately it’s only available in Europe, Asia and Oceania, so if you aren’t there you’ll have to import the $150 controller elsewhere.
But that’s okay. The pink third-generation Razer Kraken headset ($80) should be available everywhere, as will the pink version of the Razer Seiren X microphone ($100) and the handy pink Base Station Chroma ($60).
Finally, we’ve got the new additions to the Quartz keyboard and mouse lineup. There’s a pink version of the Razer Huntsman ($150). It uses optical switches for faster response, interrupting a beam of light to register a keystroke rather than hitting mechanical contacts. The Razer Basilisk ($70) is a nice all-around mouse that will do until someone releases a pink trackball. Finally there’s the Goliathus Extended Chroma, a $60 keyboard and mouse surface that’s mostly gray, so it doesn’t really count.
Oh, and there’s a pink case for the Razer Phone 2 in the picture up top, but that’s a very specific thing for very specific people, none of whom I know.
The takeaway here is that if enough of us pink fans make enough noise, eventually everything will be pink and we can finally take a break to roll around in all of it. Read more about Razer’s extended Quartz line over at the official website.
Metacritic has released its 2019 Game Publisher Rankings, providing a look at the best the industry had to offer last year from a different angle than individual games. Capcom took the top prize, with an average Metascore of 79.3 across all of its games released last year.
The publisher rankings are actually divided into two categories. The first consists of big publishers that released 12 or more distinct titles throughout the year. The second group, labeled “mid-size” publishers, released between 5-11 games. Publishers who released four or fewer weren’t listed at all. The formula takes into account average Metascore, the percent of scored products with “good” (75 and above) and “bad” (49 and below) reviews, and the number of games with “great” (90 and above) reviews, with point values attached to each.
After crunching the numbers, Capcom came out on top. It had 83% good games and only 17% so-so ones, and no bad ones. Its best-scoring game was Monster Hunter World at an average metascore of 90, which helped boost it from the fifth place last year. Its worst-reviewed game was Mega Man X Legacy Collection 2, which we noted in our own review was the weaker half of the full package.
Sega came in second place with an average score of 78.5 led by Sonic Mania Plus, followed by EA at 77.5 led by FIFA 19. Those were both improvements over last year, when Sega came in third place and EA didn’t make the list at all. Nintendo wasn’t so lucky, though, falling from second place in 2017 to fourth. Ubisoft rose from sixth place to fifth.
Due to its number of releases, gaming giant Activision Blizzard falls in the mid-size publisher of these rankings, where it came in the first. It was followed by Paradox Interactive and 505 Games. In a surprising twist, the publisher behind the best-reviewed game of the year, Red Dead Redemption 2, came all the way in fourth place for the mid-tier. Its points were weighed down somewhat by some so-so releases along with Carnival Games for Switch, which reviewed poorly.
You can read below for the top ten listings in both categories, and hop over to GameSpot’s sister site Metacritic for all the detailed data.
As a child growing up in South Africa, Debbie Berman always dreamed of being able to tell the sort of stories that people could connect with emotionally in order to help them escape reality. In time, what began as weekends spent convincing the other kids in her neighborhood to participate in home movies grew into a lifelong passion that led to her working on some of Marvel Studio’s biggest movies to date like Black Panther and Captain Marvel.
Oscar season is upon us and I recently spoke with Berman about what it was like to be part of the team behind one of the most hyped movies in Marvel history (and a serious contender for Best Picture, to boot), as well as how her experiences as an editor have shaped her perspective on the industry over time. Besides her work on Marvel films, Berman edited the 2015 meta-horror The Final Girls, as well as the pilot of NBC’s Timeless. She explained that while the editing landscape, like much of the rest of Hollywood, is gradually becoming a more inclusive space, there’s still a long way to go. The key to really making a name for one’s self in the field, Berman said, is understanding the importance of hearing “no,” but never letting it deter your ambition.
io9: Tell me about your origin story.
Debbie Berman: I’m originally from South Africa, and I was one of those kids who was always obsessed with movies. When I about 11-years-old, I used to spend every weekend with my friends making films and forcing all of the kids in the house to have starring roles, and it was always something that called to me.I loved the idea of telling stories and having people emotionally connect to them, or to be able to see them as an escape.
It took me a while to manage to get to the States. I originally immigrated to Canada for a couple of years, eventually made my way to LA, and this has really just been a lifelong dream.
io9: How did you get onto this track?
Berman: [chuckles] There’s a six-hour version of this story, but the shorter version all boils down to being really, really focused on what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. But also, and this is important, not being deterred by hearing “no.” And I heard “no” a lot. When I was interviewing for Spider-Man: Homecoming I heard a lot a lot of that, and I couldn’t let that get to me, and had to see it all as part of a larger, more exciting conversation about me working on Spider-Man. The fact that people were saying no was irrelevant because there was no way that I was going to stop fighting for myself.
On the opposite end, I had to learn to understand the importance of saying no myself, and being very selective about the kinds of projects I wanted to take on—projects that would be good for my career, and not just for the money. It’s brutal, constantly tracking your professional momentum, and not necessarily seeing the kinds of results when and how you want for a long time. But you’ve got to surround yourself with people who are positive—people you can look to for inspiration and guidance along this path.
io9: What made you gravitate towards these kinds of movies in particular?
Berman: I feel like at this point in time, these are the films that are really talking to people, and I want to make films that people love and want to watch over and over again. They’re the kinds of movies you can laugh and cry at and just really have that full range of experiences all while you’re having fun. That’s what I feel the Marvel movies really do, and so I’m powerfully drawn to them.
io9: What does the beginning of your creative process look like when you’re coming onto a Marvel film? How do you get into the groove of the project and then start crafting it into a narrative that makes sense?
Berman: It’s interesting because in some ways, you’re behind the curve of everyone else and a lot of other people have already been directly involved in the project. They’ve already put time and energy into shaping the nuance of various scenes, but what I’m bringing at that point is a pair of fresh eyes, which is a gift. At the same time, you haven’t necessarily been a part of a lot of conversations about the film that have happened, and so what I try to do is to really get the footage to speak directly to me.
I watch every frame of the dailies and, also the footage before action and after cuts in order to get a sense of the what the energy is like between the actors and the director in the moment. Between takes, when they’re just talking, I’ll pump up the volume and listen to carry that feeling over into the way a scene is edited.
I do what I can to embed myself into the film because ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what everyone else has been discussing for months because the reality of the film becomes the footage that I get. It’s both what was intended and what randomly happened on that day, and I have to find the piece of that footage that speaks to me the most.
For me, it’s about building familiarity with the material, finding the tone, and the style. Another thing, I’ll ask directors what their favorite films are and try to understand what’s important to them as a filmmaker. So for Ryan Coogler, he such a kind, warm-hearted human being, I really thought that he’d talk to me about these triumph of the human spirit films, but his favorite film is Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet, which is a very dark and gritty film. Another film he recommended was Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank—which was sort of equally dark.
And from that, I came away feeling that what Ryan’s really going for are movies that are about what make people tick. I took that with me into my editing and when I was working on a scene, I realized that understanding what made the characters tick would be core to telling the story the way he envisioned.
io9: When you’re in the editing bay looking at all of the pieces to this massive puzzle that is the movie, how much of your own subjective creativity comes into play as your shaping the final product?
Berman: Initially, for the first pass, I put 100 percent of my own perspective in, I don’t try to guess what other people want. I try to acquire data so that I have a basic understanding of what direction they’re leaning, but I go with what I want to see, what I find funny, what I find emotional. Because part of my job as an editor is to bring that to the table, just so that the director can almost see how a different perspective can bring some new insight to the end film. From there, things become much more collaborative.
io9: Especially when you’re working with co-editors.
Berman: Of course. With both Black Panther and Spider-Man: Homecoming, I was fortunate enough to have phenomenal co-editors. On Black Panther, Michael [P. Shawver] and I always watched each other’s scenes and would comment on them, give suggestions. We really provided each other with another set of honest eyes.
The amazing thing about Ryan Coogler is that, well he’s a genius, but he was always completely open to our interpretations of the work. If Michael and I felt a certain way about something, and Ryan felt another way, he’d usually go with our suggestions because he trusted us and honored our instincts.
io9: How do you contribute to the visual language of a film through editing? Especially to amplify the textual elements of the film’s story that we get through dialogue, for example?
Berman: A lot of that comes from whose perspective you’re editing from at any given moment. Take that first Warrior Falls scene. Initially, there was a whole opening to the scene where T’Challa wasn’t even there, and it was just Zuri explaining to the tribes what was about to happen. You meet everyone standing there, and it was a couple minutes-long opening, and it was great, but watching that first cut, we realized that we needed to see this all through T’Challa’s eyes, from his perspective. So we cut out that whole opening and now we arrive with him at Warrior Falls.
We stay on his back as he’s leaving the ship, and then we see the tribes at the same time he does, and so what he’s seeing there is what’s really dictating the visual language of how that scene evolved and what to show where. His emotions are what tells me when to cut to a super-wide shot, because he feels the epicness of what he’s seeing and you should as well, but then we cut to close-ups of his family’s face to make the scene feel emotions, too.
One of my first instincts was that the ending of the film wasn’t the right ending, and it’s something I spoke to Ryan about quite a bit, but it wasn’t really about convincing him. We had this really great ending that worked well where T’Challa gives this beautiful speech at the United Nations—it was originally much longer—and that first cut was really well received. Everyone enjoyed seeing T’Challa standing there powerful and triumphant, but something in my gut told me it wasn’t right.
As an editor, I don’t always know what the answer is, I just sometimes know that I need to keep nudging people. So I spoke with Ryan a few times, and he agreed with me, and he started thinking about what the ending of the film needed to me. It seems so obvious now when you see T’Challa and Shuri in Oakland, but I’ve found with filmmaking, sometimes decisions that seem obvious actually take you quite a while to come to them.
But at the time, when we were looking at the whole film, it was really difficult, but Ryan disappeared into his office for a few days and came back out with this beautiful scene set in Oakland. For a film that was so epic to have such a personal ending really resonated with all of us because it comes back to that idea of something being taken away, but ultimately being given back. It was powerful.
io9: We’ve gotten to a point where there are pushes for more representation both in front of and behind the camera and in writers rooms, but what’s it like in the editing bay? Is it a field that’s still predominantly white and male, or is that changing?
Berman: I think the editing field might be slightly better? I try to hire a diverse mix of people, and I think sometimes the change that can start to happen will be—people will begin to hire more women, but they hire them in really low positions, and there’s no clear path upwards. So, I go out of my way to make sure that people are hired in key positions—for example on Captain Marvel, our two first assistants are women, which is phenomenal, and our second assistants are guys, and we make a wonderful team.
io9: What’s been interesting about editing Captain Marvel?
Berman: It’s been interesting working with a team of directors, it’s something I hadn’t experienced before. It’s also cool to be working on something set in the ‘90s because it’s such a fun era and there’s a lot of nostalgia [to be] created with that.
Black Panther is returning to theaters next month, the 91st Academy Awards air on ABC on February 24, and Captain Marvel hits theaters on March 8.
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