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Category Archives: Golden Rule

Sara Boyns, Workplace Law: The Golden Rule applies to workplaces too – Monterey County Herald

Posted: October 24, 2019 at 11:35 am

Question:What is your number one piece of advice for avoiding workplace lawsuits?

Answer:The answer is so simple and yet so elusive in many workplaces: Be. Nice.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, a little kindness and civility can defuse and often prevent many workplace disputes that may otherwise escalate to litigation. The Golden Rule that you probably learned in elementary school is the maxim to live by if you want to avoid workplace litigation. Treat others the way you want to be treated. I am not suggesting that you need to be best friends with or even like everyone you work with. You do, however, need to interact with others in a civil and respectful manner in the workplace. Below are just a couple of examples of how employers can help foster a workplace where disputes can be resolved by respectful communication and action rather than litigation.

Be respectful and open in daily interactions

You may have heard the adage that employees quit managers, not companies.

It could also be said that many employees sue managers, not companies. While neither of these statements ring true in every situation, employees are more likely to bring a workplace grievance to the attention of their supervisor rather than an attorney when employees feel that management treats them with respect and is open to their concerns.

Moreover, supervisors and other managers who show respect and civility in daily interactions with others are less likely to be accused of harassment or retaliatory actions that often form the basis of employment litigation.

Beyond setting a positive example with their own actions, those in management positions must address inappropriate behavior that affects the workplace, both by other employees (supervisors and non-supervisors alike) and by non-employees, such as a customer or vendor. Appropriate policy implementation and training are critical tools for employers, but they are no substitute for common courtesy and respect in everyday interactions.

Employers should be particularly mindful to not lose this sense of courtesy while conducting terminations, as an embarrassing or terse termination can quickly motivate an employee to explore legal claims.

Avoid and address workplace gossip

There is nothing nice about a workplace full of hurtful rumors, and even seemingly harmless gossip can lead to tension and anxiety in the workplace, potentially damaging relationships, lowering morale, and decreasing productivity.

It goes without saying that managers should avoid participating in or condoning gossip, which could be pointed to as an act of harassment or workplace bullying.

In addition to addressing the act of gossiping, supervisors may have a duty to investigate the underlying complaint or rumor. There may be legitimate concerns in rumors that can be addressed by management before they escalate into a lawsuit. Training staff to effectively and respectfully communicate with one another to resolve problems will also help prevent and resolve conflicts that could otherwise lead to litigation.

Employers should keep in mind that workplace policies prohibiting gossip should not be overly broad, as they could be interpreted as inappropriately restricting the rights of employees to discuss wages, hours, and working conditions.

Whether you are an employer or an employee, being a jerk at work is never a good idea. Erring on the side of kindness in your daily interactions will reduce your chance of being drawn into a workplace lawsuit, and you may find it makes your workday more enjoyable as well.

Sara Boyns is a lawyer with Fenton & Keller in Monterey. This column is intended to answer questions of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice. Mail queries to Workplace Law, c/o The Monterey Herald, Box 271, Monterey 93942 or to

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Q&A with Wally Mayton of the Midland Neighboring Project – Concentrate

Posted: at 11:35 am

Love thy neighbor as thyself. This well-known bible verse has developed into what many know as The Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Here in Midland, some community leaders are expanding on this idea in a unique way.

Maybe, youve given a casual wave or nod hello from time to time. Maybe youve even exchanged small talk here and there. But how well do you know your neighbors? What do you actually know about the people living life alongside you?

The Midland Neighboring Project seeks to close that gap and create connections. We caught up with Wallace Wally Mayton to learn more about this community building initiative.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to explain the Midland Neighboring Project! Can you tell us a little about your background?

A: I grew up in a midtown southern neighborhood in Memphis, Tennessee. My childhood home was first constructed by my maternal grandparents in the early 1920s, in what was a newly developing neighborhood at the time. In the 50s and 60s, the neighborhood consisted of extended family members and neighbors with a host of children. I attended the same grade school, junior high school, and high school as my mother and all were in walking distance from our home. The sense of neighborhood was strong and well rooted with family connection.

My father was a native of Mobile, Alabama. I received my bachelor degree from Rhodes College, which was located in the neighborhood. Although my father was a native of Mobile, Alabama, Rhodes was also the alma mater of my parents. Its where they first met, and where my future wife and I would first meet.

My familys faith community was also in the neighborhood. I first left the neighborhood upon college graduation in 1970. I lived in Louisville, Kentucky where I earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1973 and in South Bend, Indiana where I accomplished a Master of Arts degree, 1974 for graduate studies.

I married my wife in 1973. I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. in 1975. Beginning in the parish ministry, I resided in a suburb of Memphis; in Anderson, South Carolina; and in Prairie Village, Kansas (metropolitan Kansas City) before our move to Midland in 1989. We came to Midland with five young daughters, ages 1-12 and looked for a neighborhood for our children to call home. I have served since 1989 as Associate Pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in Midland.

Q: What is the Midland Neighboring Project?Wally Mayton, Associate Pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church and lead of the Midland Neighboring Project.

A: The initiative is easily defined. As community faith leaders and community advocates, we encourage friends to (1) learn the names of their neighbors; (2) to build relationships with their neighbors through common interests and shared experiences; and (3) to sustain compassionate and caring practices of neighboring love. In our diverse faith community, we affirm among us the principle and discipline of love for neighbor. This concept became the foundation of Midland Neighboring.

Q: What inspired the project?

A: As community pastors and community advocates, we recognized the needs of our neighbors which might best be fulfilled through the response of their residential neighbors. Encouraged by civic leaders such as Mayor Maureen Donker, we found a common goal of asking neighbors to move beyond acquaintance to the creation of caring relationships. Our goal is the enhancement of the quality of life for all residents within Midland County.

Q: How can people get involved in the Midland Neighboring Project?

A: Involvement occurs through individual responses, through social responses among neighbors, and though programmatic and outreach responses from faith communities. Our Midland Neighboring Facebook page invites reports of neighboring initiatives throughout Midland County. Kurt Faust serves as co-facilitator and there are inspirational articles as well as invitations to neighboring events. Kurt also facilitates a monthly gathering for faith community leaders for the sharing of ideas and events.

Q: Are you holding any upcoming events?

A: We rely on individuals and faith communities, in particular, to build events based upon the practice of neighboring. Our work is to support the events financially and prayerfully, to provide resources, and to learn lessons from experiences shared with us. Our initiative also includes a Midland Neighboring Project Fund held at Midland Area Community Foundation.

Several faith communities as well as neighborhoods host events annually to bring neighbors to a common ground and to celebrate or sustain relationship-building. Memorial Presbyterian hosts an annual Crawfish Boil in the spring as one of our messages of neighboring.

Q: Are there any other projects youre involved with?

A: As a pastor, I have enjoyed generous support and encouragement from the congregation I serve and from senior pastors with whom I have served. We as a faith community accept the joys and responsibilities of practicing neighboring. The initiative has resulted in much collaboration within the Midland community that Im proud to have been a part of:

Inspired by Midland Neighboring, weve responded with other faith communities to the Flood Recovery Project in collaboration with Midland Area Community Foundation and United Way of Midland County. Pastoral commitment also extends to the Greater Midland North Family Center and the West Midland Family Center.

Growing our community in caring relationships also extends to our relationships in Midland County with Northwood University, Project 111 Safe Driving Initiative for Teens, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region, MidMichigan Medical Center Midland, Adoption Option, Inc., Midland County Affordable Housing Alliance, the Arc of Midland, Home to Stay Housing Assistance Center, Midlands Open Door, Ten16 Treatment Center, and the ROCK Center for Youth Development. These among other drivers of neighboring spirit receive our attention and commitment. I am grateful to such neighboring experiences as Leadership Midland, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Leadership Institute, Our Community Listens, and Creating Our Best.

The support for neighboring in our community is tremendous!

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Midland?

A: Of course, neighboring! I appreciate opportunities to build relationships and to offer caring and encouragement to neighbors. One of the greatest accomplishments of Midland Neighboring, in my heart, is the result of trusting and caring relationships that we enjoy as community pastors. I learn from these colleagues as my neighbors. I attempt to greet new pastors in the community. I work to sustain relationships, both personally and professionally. I am amazed how giving and receiving encouragement among peers provides both comfort and motivation.

I attest that Midland cares. We have the spiritual equipment love for neighbor that allows growth and bonds of friendship to happen in spite of our diversity or difference of opinions. We care for one another. This is the legacy we as a family, and I as a pastor and neighbor, discovered on our move into Midland County. We are grateful to call Midland home!

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Looking For A Smart Business Strategy? Think Less Time On And More Time Off – Forbes

Posted: at 11:34 am

One of the smartest and most impactful strategies I've implemented for my business and team came from a gut decision. Sometimes you have to ditch the logic and analysis and simply go with a feeling. Thats what happened two years ago when I decided to mandate regular three-day weekends for everyone at our software development company. Turns out making three-day weekends a regular thing isnt just good for company culture its great for business, too.

Below, I am going to explain why that strategy of giving the team Fridays off as a mandatory benefit was one of the best business decisions we have ever made, and why you should consider doing the same.

Putting The 'Yay!' In 'FriYays'

The seed for our PTO policy was planted over drinks with a close buddy two years ago. We were talking about company culture and brainstorming ideas to differentiate our businesses from the "free snacks and happy hour" crowd. We wanted to find a way to better promote our values, positivity and performance among our team, and we knew the solution lay in the idea of work/life balance.

My friend mentioned how his company updates their PTO policy for the summer months and gives employees every other Friday off from June through August. I had heard of companies letting employees clock out early on summer Fridays, but giving them every other Friday off for three months seemed truly awesome.

I left drinks with my curiosity piqued. What if we did something like this for our software development company? I talked to my cofounder/CTO about giving our team Fridays off, and we defined three priorities:

1. Promote a culture of caring by practicing the Golden Rule and treating our team the way we wanted to be treated.

2. Do things differently.

3. Lead by example for how to build a business and team in the outsourcing software development industry.

We decided to implement a policy we called "FriYays," giving our employees every other Friday off (half the team one Friday; the other half the next Friday). At first, it was just for the summer months. But when we looked at our billable hours and productivity for those months, we didnt see any issues with our cash flow or profitability (and we noticed the team was much happier), so we extended it permanently for the entire year. This felt like a giant step.

FriYays were offered on top of the existing 25 paid vacation days, 10 national holidays, and as-needed sick days. No ones salary was lowered. With FriYays, our team got 26 extra paid vacation days each year.

Did we have strong research data to back up this decision? Not really. Did we know if it was going to disrupt productivity or output? We thought it might. Were we scared our clients may be upset that their team members werent there every Friday? Yes. Did we make a gut decision that turned out to be one of the best ones we have ever made for our business? Hell yes.

We knew it was risky, but FriYays aligned with our company values and commitment to our team. Two years later, we are all the stronger for it.

Happy Team, Better Business

With the FriYays policy in full effect, our team reports feeling happier and more motivated, and they have much more time to take care of their lives away from work. The additional paid time off frees them up to spend more time with their families and tend to personal self-care tasks. We even had a team member use his extra time off to build a cabin in the countryside.

On the business side of things, we have seen productivity go up (measured by more billable hours each month when compared year over year) and turnover go down. Our clients even report improved output and increased project satisfaction. We also shifted our business strategy to include a stronger focus on developing open-source products, as many of our software engineers enjoy spending their FriYays learning, training and working on passion projects associated with building software.

With all those positive contributing effects, its no surprise to learn that our profitability has increased significantly, too. We attract more top-tier engineering talent who know about our one-of-a-kind PTO policy. This allows us to take on larger, higher-dollar contracts, and our powerhouse team has become even more efficient and dedicated to the projects we work on.

Increased PTO: More Than A Recruitment And Retention Tool

While I do think generous PTO policies give a company a unique advantage when competing for top talent, I have found this type of benefit goes well beyond a recruitment and retention tool. The success of FriYays has helped us understand that more time away from work makes you better when you are at work. And by requiring three-day weekends instead of making vacation time "optional" or "unlimited," you can level the playing field for your employees, and they will take advantage of the time off knowing everyone else will, too.

For our existing employees, FriYays has served as a clear and resounding message that we regard them not the bottom line as our No. 1 priority. When we talk about "caring" as one of our company values, it feels good to know that we are walking the walk and backing it up with policies that prove it.

Making big decisions for your company can be scary. It is strikingly evident to me now, though, that when you do the right thing for your team, you cant go wrong. Whether its updating your PTO policy, offering the benefits you would want, sticking with yearly raises or cultivating a culture where employees can grow and get promoted, putting your team members first will pay off in ways you cant even imagine.

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Looking For A Smart Business Strategy? Think Less Time On And More Time Off - Forbes

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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry must abide by the Queens THREE golden rules –

Posted: at 11:34 am

Meghan and Prince Harry have voiced their discontent and struggle over being under the relentless public eye and attention of the press in an ITV documentary aired on Sunday. But Charles Moore, columnist and former editor of several British publications, said the Duke and Duchess of Sussex dont seem to be following key rules that have been helping members of the Royal Family maintaining a professional relationship with the press. He wrote in the Daily Telegraph: There are a few rules worth observing for a professional relationship with the press.

Rule 1: do not seem too needy.

The press are bullies and fasten on to this sense that they are being pleaded with.

Here the Queen is the model - never self-pitying, never anxious to know what we think or what we might write.

The Princess Royal is also good at this.

She gets on with her duties, speaks with her customary directness and doesnt fuss.

Rule 2: do not get involved in political or cultural controversy.

The risks massively outweigh the benefits.

Just be a quiet force for good.

Rule 3: coordinate what you do with other royals.

The monarchy, after all, matters far more than the concerns of any member of the Royal Family.

READ MORE:William's 'stiff upper lip' defence revealed

We know that dynasties ofter fight.

All the more reason for their members to present a united front to the outside world, even when seething inwardly.

The Sussexes are in danger of ignoring all three rules.

Both, in different ways, seem needy - she of attention, he of peace and quiet.

Both seem politically naive.


Both also appear not to be coordinating with their royal relations.

Neither Prince Harry or Meghan have openly expressed their political views since becoming Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

However, Meghan has often praised former First Lady Michelle Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, both leading personalities representing the Democrats in the US.

In the ITV documentary, Harry & Meghan: An African Journey, Meghan was asked about the impact on your physical and mental health of all the pressure that you clearly feel under.

The Duchess, fighting back tears, said: I would say - look, any woman, especially when they are pregnant, you are really vulnerable and so that was made really challenging.

And then when you have a newborn, you know?

And especially as a woman its really, its really a lot.

She also told broadcaster Tom Bradby she and Harry arent thriving but merely surviving under the pressure of the media attention, perceived as too big and suffocating.

Similarly, Prince Harry said he fears a repeat of the past, comparing his mother Princess Diana to his wife, the Duchess of Sussex.

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Playing the Trump Card this Political Season: Civility within Political Hostility –

Posted: at 11:34 am

Just the simple fact that I used the word trump in my articles title is sure to generate hate mail. Some might see it as a subversive tactic to promote the current presidentothers the opposite. Neither is the case. Im simply using it as a hook for you to read what should be the trump card this political season.

If youve ever played a card game, like Spades, you understand the idea of a trump card. If you play an Ace of hearts and I dont have any hearts, I can then play a trump card and beat your Ace.

In this article, I want to briefly share what this political game is about, how people tend to behave in the game, and conclude with an exhortation to believers to play the trump card of virtue and civility during this political season.

Whats this political game about?

George Washington, in his farewell address, states,

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . And let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

Religion, at the very least, provides a framework for morality.

Our political climate has always had sides that disagreed and fought over the role of government within culture. Small government verses big government. Yet, for the most part there was a common worldview held by both sides. That is no longer the case.

What is transpiring today is the clash of two completely different worldviewsan accelerated culture of secularism facing off against an aging culture of Christendom.

For many Americans, the stakes are extremely high as they engage in what James Davison Hunter calls the culture war.

How do people tend to behave in this game?

Who really likes to lose? With the opposing sides believing whats on the line, the vehemence and hostility shown from both shouldnt surprise anyone.

James Davison Hunter, years ago in his book, Culture Wars, describes the back and forth hostile climate as competing visions for a preferred American future. Within this war for the culturefrom a place of desperationeach side has to discredit the opposing side to gain legitimacy for their beliefs, views, and policies.

In other words, in an attempt to win and become king of the proverbial cultural hill, they have to make the opposing side out to be the enemy.

Not to be too simplistic, but the volatile climate boils down to one side fighting for something as they feel oppressed by the limitations and restrictions (and even archaic views) of a previous generation, and the other side fighting against something as they feel like their way of life has been and is being threatened.

Political seasons are typically super-charged. But it seems that over the last few political cycles they are becoming downright vicious. Truth be told, it seems theres nothing but clanging noises of people shouting, yelling, and demonizing those who hold differing political views.

What I believe we are witnessing today is a climate where fire is fought with fire. I have been a critic of President Trump. I believe there are things that he does that is unbefitting of the office of president. I also believe that he has riled up some right-wing conservative evangelicals who have adopted such tone and rhetoric that dismisses, discredits, and demonizes the other side.

However, the same is true for many on the left. Elizabeth Warren mocking response to a question posed to her at the most recent Equality Town Hall was telling. She pretty much dismisses anyoneparticularly a man who would hold a traditional view of marriage. Whats interesting is that in a follow up question, Warren answers it by singing a song she remembers from her church when she was an adolescent. The song? Jesus Loves the Little Children.

After singing the chorus, she describes how that song expresses how she sees her faith informing her of those who would identify as LGBTQ. But I find it odd that her faith informs how she sees those in the LGBTQ community, but not the old-fashioned man who holds to a traditional view of marriage.

What seems fairly obvious is that we live within this environment where tolerance is lacking towards anyone who holds a different worldview or who embraces a different policy. And if tolerance doesnt exist, neither will dialogue or discussion.

The Common Good, the Great Commandment, and the Golden Rule

What is the trump card within such a hostile, vitriolic climate? People who work for and towards the common good, who love God and love others, and who do unto others as they would have them do unto them.

Could you imagine the future of a nation that consisted of a group of people enacting such virtue and civility?

Such behavior will serve as a breath of fresh air amidst such a life-sucking environment. But even more so, as we move deeper into the 21st century, such behavior will be vital for the church to fulfill her greater purposeto give witness to the lordship of Christ.

Therefore, virtue and civilityembodied in working for the common good, loving God and others, and treating others the way we would want to be treatedwill be our trump card in the age of hostility!

To help lead out in displaying civility in a political culture of hostility, I am partnering with the National Institute for Civil Discourse and their Golden Rule 2020: A Call for Dignity and Respect in Politics initiative to promote civility in our country.

The launch of this initiative will take place on November 3, 2019exactly one year before the 2020 election.

On this day, congregations are invited to take a few minutes in their worship service to 1) pray for our country and 2) promote the application of the Golden Rule and other Christian principles in political discussions.

To find out ways your congregation can participate by using prayers, Bible readings, statements, bulletin inserts, sermon ideas, and other available resources, visit

Ed Stetzerholds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, serves as Dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.

Josh Laxton currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Billy Graham Center, Lausanne North American Coordinator at Wheaton College, and a co-host of the new podcast, Living in the Land of Oz. He has a Ph.D. in North American Missiology from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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The Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 2010s – Paste Magazine

Posted: at 11:34 am

In putting together a list of the best science fiction films of the 2010s, we immediately deviated from the criteria used in our 100 Best Sci-Fi Movies of All Time list. For that list, in an effort to give the true breadth of the sci-fi genre its due and avoid having one-third of the list dominated by sub-genres that deserve (and have been accorded) lists of their very own, we purposefully stayed away, mostly, from films depicting post-apocalyptic wastelands, superheroes or kaiju. For this list, weve relaxed those restrictions a bit. In tipping the hat to the best sci-fi movies of a decade, it would seem a shame to exclude explorations of time-honored genre concepts like the multiverse, worm holes and flame-throwing electric guitars.

35. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) Director: Matt Reeves

The second film in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a beautifully designed mixed bag. Its a good film, and if you enjoy action or sci-fi movies or keeping up with the latest advances in How the hell did they pull that off? visual effects, you should definitely see it. But in comparison to the fun and surprises of Rise, Dawn cant help but feel a little self-serious and predictable. Its a parable that strives to be an epic. Ascendant director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) evidently has the ambition to equal The Empire Strikes Back or The Dark Knight when it comes to genre sequels, and even though the film falls considerably short of those lofty goals, you cant fault him for trying.

Set roughly a decade after the events of Rise, heroic chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis, reprising his justly lauded performance-capture role) has established an Ewok-style primate paradise in the lush forests outside San Francisco. Its an apparent utopia where the golden rule is ape do not harm ape, communication happens via sign language and the existence of humans, largely wiped off the planet by the virus introduced in Rise, is a distant memory. For some, that memory is more of a nightmareincluding Caesars longtime frenemy Koba (Toby Kebbell), who has never been able to forgive the evils inflicted upon him in human captivity.

For all the flaws of character and narrative, Reeves has crafted a movie of nearly nonstop forward momentum. Its visually compelling, never drags and benefits from ace technical contributions from the likes of cinematographer Michael Seresin (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino. Geoff Berkshire

34. Monsters (2010) Director: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards 2010 directorial debut about a world going about its business six years after a crashed NASA probe has spawned monsters would lead to much bigger things (and bigger monsters) for the films director/writer/cinematographerboth 2014s Godzilla reboot and even a piece of Star Wars (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Its a bit ironic that Edwards got handed the keys to films depedent on spectacle when his Monsters depends on understatement and a focus on the all-too-human interactions going on in the midst of what sure seems to be an alien invasion. Monsters focuses on a photojournalist (Scoot McNairy) tasked with escorting the daughter (Whitney Able) of his boss out of a expanded quarantine zone and into the safe area beyond the border walls erected to keep the monsters out. (This is the rare case where a movie involving trying to keep others out of the United States has very little purposeful resonance with our current political climate.) The resulting film feels both familiar and strange, even as the performances and script sometimes flaga viewer ultimately doesnt really know whats coming next, which is great quality for any sci-fi film to have. Michael Burgin

33. The Worlds End (2013) Director: Edgar Wright

The third installment in Edgar Wrightand Simon Peggs Cornetto trilogyso named for the ice cream treat that makes a cameo in each episodeis a clever extension of the signature style the director and star/writing partners established with Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, and an expansion on their themes of friendship, nostalgia and standing up to the Man. Where their 2004 zombie comedy riffed on monster movies and their 2007 actioner took on buddy cop flicks, The Worlds End mines sci-fispecifically, a particular brand of mid-20th-century social science fiction (think Invasion of the Body Snatchers)to explore dichotomous trends in the yearning to recapture youth and the homogenization of culture.

The novelty has worn off Wright and Peggs shtick a bit, but even the reiterated gags (the characters must traverse garden fences again) are still funnywinks to their fans rather than lazy writing. For all their horsing around, Wright is an accomplished filmmaker who embeds story in the very mechanics of cinema. The films narrative is steeped in reminiscenceour selective memories when it comes to what it was like to be young and how youth shapes the people we become as adults, from the labyrinthine origins of slang phrases that comprise the private language of a group to the adolescent loves and rivals that still obsess us. The epilogue goes off the rails a little, but Wright and Peggs willingness to introduce a new reality (like the humans and zombies living side-by-side at the end of Shaun) suggests another motif in their oeuvrethe resiliency of the human spirit. Exceedingly quick-witted and fast-paced, The Worlds End merits repeat viewings. If Shaun and Hot Fuzz are any indication, it, like old friends, will be even funnier and wiser than you remember. Annlee Ellingson

32. Big Hero 6 (2014) Directors: Don Hall, Chris Williams

Big Hero 6 takes place in San Fransokyo, a futuristic metropolis where east and west collide in a loudly colored urban jungle. Its in the citys back alleys that we meet the aforementioned Hiro as he hustles his way through an illegal robot-fighting ring; hes a smart kid, but he lacks ambition, at least until he signs up at San Fransokyo Tech (the movies M.I.T. surrogate) at the behest of his older brother, Tadashi (Daniel Henney). Fortune favors the clever Hiro, who gets in without breaking a sweat thanks to his last-minute invention, a nanobot legion with endless practical applications. But no sooner is he admitted than a fatal explosion at the school takes Tadashis life and sets Hiro on a grief spiral. Enter Baymax (Scott Adsit, formerly of TVs 30 Rock, whose voiceover is the films secret weapon). Tadashis crowning achievement, Baymax is an inflatable health care companion designed to dispense medical aid at the mere sound of human distress. Baymax wants Hiro to feel better. Hiro wants to distract himself from his brothers death by figuring out who stole his nanobots in the wake of the San Fransokyo Tech catastrophe. Thus, the kid whips up a suit of armor and a suite of programming upgrades to turn the big guy into an ass-kicking juggernaut. Theyre quite a pairone not seen in movies since 1999s The Iron Giantthough Hiro isnt battling crime as much as hes simply trying to move on from his brothers death. Its the films through line, and a big part of what makes Big Hero 6 such a success.

Theres a lot here that feels familiar, particularly the origin story trappings and the assembly of the super team were used to in the MCU, but few among those films feel quite so refreshingly alive as Big Hero 6. Theres a beat here, a rhythm that the film follows from start to finish as it juggles adult themes through the lens of childrens fare This is an immensely entertaining picturebright, vivid and smartly constructed on tropes that show themselves a bit too much in its peers. In Sonys The Amazing Spider-Man films, the confrontation of loss plays like a grinding chore instead of an essential part of the heros journey. In Big Hero 6, that component feels organic. It belongs. Thrilling, well-crafted set pieces are only one aspect of what makes blockbusters like this tick. The bond between a boy and his android makes up the rest. Andy Crump

31. Snowpiercer (2014) Director: Bong Joon-Ho

There is a sequence midway through Snowpiercer that perfectly articulates what makes Korean writer/director Bong Joon-ho among the most dynamic filmmakers currently working. Protagonist Curtis Everett (Chris Evans) and his ragtag band of rebels have just entered a train compartment where they are ambushed by a legion of men armed with axes. Everett bravely (or foolishly, depending on your perspective) leads the charge and the two armies engage in a no-holds-barred, slow motion-heavy action set piece. Metal clashes against metal, and characters slash through their opponents as if their bodies were made of butter. Its gory, imaginative, horrifying, beautiful, visceral and utterly glorious. As a whole, Snowpiercer may not always reach such a level, but it certainly does its darndest. Adapted from a French graphic novel by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand and Jean-Marc Rochette, Snowpiercer is a sci-fi thriller set in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world. Nearly two decades prior, in an ill-advised attempt to halt global warning, the government inundated the atmosphere with an experimental chemical that left our planet a barren, ice-covered wasteland. Now, the last of humanity resides on Snowpiercer, a vast train powered via a perpetual-motion engine. Needless to say, this scenario hasnt exactly brought out the best of humanity.

Bleak and brutal, Snowpiercer may not quite reach the heights of Bongs Korean output, but it does act as a more than successful demonstration of what he can bring to the table as a director. Bong may very well be playing a song that weve all heard before, but he does it with such gusto and dexterous skill you cant help but be caught up the flurry.

30. Ad Astra (2019) Director: James Gray

Brad Pitt plays Roy McBride, an astronaut from a future near to ours, who, when we meet him, is somehow surviving an explosion from an international space station by using his preternatural ability to control his heart rate and his breathing, remaining calm in the face of mortal peril. The explosion was caused by a series of solar flares that, its learned, may be caused by an experiment years before led by Roys father, Griffin (Tommy Lee Jones), who was thought to have died but may be alive and in fact may have sabatoged the mission. Government officials, fearing the flares could end up destroying all life on planet Earth, want Roy to send a message to Griffins ship, hopefully persuading him to halt the flares and come back home. Roy, who hasnt seen his father since he was a teenager, isnt sure the missions going to workbut hes haunted by his own demons, demons not entirely disconnected from his father. If this sounds like an exciting space yarn, know that director James Gray is in a much more meditative state here: The film is more about the mystery of the soul of man than it is about the mystery of the universe, or even about some big spaceship fights. The universe is the backdrop to the story of a man and his thwarted issues with his father, and his inability to connect with anyone else in the world because of it. Like many of Grays films, Ad Astra is about the depths one can find within oneself, how far down anyone can climb and hide. Pitt wouldnt seem like the ideal actor for a part like thatcharisma drips off him so effortlessly that it leaves a trail behind him wherever he goesbut hes impressive at playing a man who doesnt understand himself but suspects the answer to the riddle that has vexed him his whole life must be in this man who gave him life but whom he never really knew. Theres a reserve here that Pitt draws on that works well for him; its a serious performance, but it never feels showy. He is searching for something, knowing full well he probably wont find it. Gray does provide some thrills on the journey of father to find son, and they are extremely well-crafted, particularly a battle with space pirates on the moon that takes place in a world without both gravity and sound. And in Pitt he has a solid emotional center that the audience will still follow anywhere, even if its to the ends of the solar system just to confront his daddy issues. Will Leitch

29. Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Director: Robert Rodriguez

Alita: Battle Angel begins with Dyson Ito (Christoph Waltz), doctor to cyborgs, scavenging through a junkyard full of spare parts in order to find anything he can use. What better way to start a film than with a metaphor about itself? Just like Dr. Ito, director Robert Rodriguezand co-writer/co-producer James Cameron sift through the remnants of established sci-fi and cyberpunk properties in order to glue together a recognizable and cohesive narrative within the confines of its genre. Considering the talent involved, its not surprising that the finished product is a frequently fun and kinetic, visually pleasing sci-fi/actioner, albeit one that doesnt have a single new or fresh part embedded in it. Again considering the talent involved, that feels like a lost opportunity. Based on the popular manga, Gunnm, Alita: Battle Angel mostly takes its visual cues and narrative structure from a 1993 anime adaptation. That anime is barely an hour long, yet manages to pack in a sprawling cyberpunk universe with a deep and complex lore that supports whatever over-the-top tech fetish cyber action it throws at you. The story follows Alita (Rosa Salazar), whom Dr. Ito finds during his junk hunt and brings back to life. Her brain is human, but the rest of her is artificial. Just like a cyborg version of Jason Bourne, she doesnt remember her past, but has supreme ass-kicking instincts, leading Ito to suspect some sinister military use in her past. The future world that Battle Angel inhabits is the lovechild of Blade Runner and Mad Max, a grimy post-apocalyptic city thats also a grand, overpopulated cyberpunk metropolis. Apart from Alita gradually figuring out her ass-kicking skills, theres another clear reason for giving the character amnesia: So she can be used as an exposition dump to settle the audience into the storys world and the hodgepodge of various sub-plots that co-screenwriters James Cameron, Laeta Kalogridis and Robert Rodriguezcram into a two-hour runtime. However, when the fighting finally begins, Battle Angel gets its metallic ass in gear. Rodriguez pushes the confines of the PG-13 rating to create some genre- and source-material-appropriate hack-and-slash gruesomeness with a significant amount of cyborg bodies split in half, decapitated and torn to pieces. For fans of the manga and anime, there isnt much in the way of new material to be found here, though nor is it likely to grate on ones fandom to the extent that the Ghost of the Shell live-action adaptation did. For fans of futuristic sci-fi/action, it should provide an engaging experience. Oktay Ege Kozak

28. Tron: Legacy (2010) Director: Joseph Kosinski

Not quite 30 years past its predecessor, the sequel to Steven Lisbergers religious cyber-allegory doubles down on all of Trons big ideas, balking at nothing, embracing everything, re-introducing Computer Jesus/famous engineer Flynn (Jeff Bridges) in full saintly beard and robe, messiah and Jedi and godhead all at once. And all this time hes been hiding inside the cyberworld he once helped liberate from an evil AI, when his son, sexy hacker Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund), accidentally follows in his fathers footsteps and materializes within the much-updated cyberworld, discovering both what the elder Flynns been up to and just how fascistic cyberlife has gotten. The spiritual demagogue this time around is Clu (de-aged, digital Jeff Bridges), now far corrupted beyond the benevolent force Flynn once programmed him to represent, and the political subtext this time around is just all text. But with a lifetimes worth of digital effects advancements behind him, director Joseph Kosinski leans hard into building an overwhelming sense of awewhich makes him something of the perfect choice to helm the sequel. Like the first Tron, in which feeling gobsmacked by technology is kind of the point, Legacy compensates for any weaknesses in world building or shoddy storytelling with sheer scale. Daft Punk scores such astounding melodrama as deftly as they were obviously born to do. Accordingly, Kosinski holds back on the digital Jeff Bridges, couching the unreality within the excuse of an unrealityhes supposed to look a bit off, a bit concoctedand gauging the distance between what he wants to do and what he knows hes capable of doing with care and grace far beyond whats demanded of him in what could have amounted to little more than a long-overdue Disney cash-in. Dom Sinacola

27. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) Director: Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards venture into a galaxy far, far away is the Star Wars film we never knew we needed. A triumphantly thrilling, serious-minded war movie, its incalculably stronger for the fact that its not the first chapter in a new franchise, but complete and self-contained (to the extent that any Star Wars film can be) in a way that no other Star Wars entry, other than A New Hope, is capable of achieving. It doesnt set the stage for an inevitable next installment, and its characters are all the realer for the fact that theyre not perpetually sheathed in blasterproof Franchise Armor. I had no idea until I watched Rogue One how refreshing that concept would be.

Our protagonist is Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a plucky young woman whose brilliant scientist father (Mads Mikkelsen) has been controlled throughout her life by the Empire and coerced into designing superweapons of the moon-sized, planet-killing variety. Forced into adulthood on the fringes of the Rebel Alliance, shes assembled a Jack Sparrow-esque rap sheet and, as the film begins, finds herself in Imperial prison on various petty charges. Sprung by the rebels (who all carry themselves like serious badasses, by the way), shes sucked into a mission involving her father, the newly completed Death Star and a cast of resistance fighters and idealists all opposing the Empire in one way or another. Its often been said that George Lucass original work mirrors the likes of Kurosawa and spaghetti westerns, and thats never been more true than in Rogue One as it slowly assembles its team.

This is pretty far from the kid-friendly, fast-talking, joke-cracking bluster of John Boyegas Finn in The Force Awakens, and any fears that Disney was trying to lighten the mood of the film by inserting humor via subsequent reshoots are positively unfounded. The droid character of K-2SO, voiced by Alan Tudyk, shoulders almost the entire load of comic relief, and although his funnier lines do occasionally seem out of place, they ultimately buoy the film with much-needed levity. Indeed, without those occasional chuckles, one might describe the film as positively dourtheyre well calculated to be just enough. What Rogue One is, most accurately, is what it was sold as all along: A legitimate war movie/commando story, albeit with some familial entanglements. Jim Vorel

26. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) Director: James Gunn

Director (and co-writer) James Gunn has taken the somewhat obscure team (to non-comic-book fans, at least) and kept the source materials tone, attitude and bombastic settings intact. As the self-named Star-Lord, Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) presents viewers with a pretty irresistible amalgam of Han Solo, Mal Reynolds and Captain Kirk. (Pratt owns this role.) The scene-stealing duo of Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) and Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) also provides the latest reminder of how convincing mo-cap-aided CGI has become. (Within moments after being introduced to them, I was yearning for a Rocket and Groot buddy picture.) Frankly, its hard to compete with Quill, Rocket and Groot, but Drax (Dave Bautista) and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) dont need to shine as brightlyunlike The Avengers, one doesnt get the sense each team members time center stage is being meticulously measured. (One other important thing to note about Groothe is Groot.) Marvels rambunctious entry into the space-opera genreand the cornerstone of its Cosmic Marvel roster of characters and storylinesso perfectly embodies what the preceding months of hype and hope foretold that even its weak points feel almost like unavoidable imperfectionsbroken eggs for a pretty satisfying omelet. Michael Burgin

25. Pacific Rim (2013) Director: Guillermo del Toro

With Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Torohas reinvigorated the Kaiju film, one of those rare pulp genres thats actually native to the silver screen. In doing so, del Toro pulls off an even rarer feat, creating a movie that both distills and perfects the tradition from which its drawn. (Del Toro also delivers a few lessons in genre storytelling that many of the top names in sci-fi and fantasy would do well to emulate.) Ultimately, del Toros film is less an homage to the Kaiju film than the long overdue perfecting of it using technology that has finally caught up to the genres demands. (In this, it shares much with the superhero film efforts of the last decade or so.) Pacific Rim is the Kaiju film Ishiro Honda would have made had he $200 million and the technology of today to spend it on. And regardless of its box office success, it is the standard against which future Kaiju films will beor in the case of its lackluster sequel, wasjudged. Michael Burgin

24. Thor: Ragnarok (2017) Director: Taika Waititi

Like the Guardians of the Galaxy films, which are the closest non-Thor cousins in tone and spirit to the third installment in the god of Thunders personal franchise, Thor: Ragnarok opens with a lively prologue/set piece involving its protagonist Thor-ing like a boss accompanied by a rockin tune. Its a great nod to all the comic book fans jonesin to see Thor using Mjolnir, his trusty hammer, to just all-out wreck those who oppose him. From there, Waititi keeps the pace swift, resolving a few plot cliffhangers, throwing down an extended cameo, introducing this films big bad in Hela (a dependably enjoyable Cate Blanchett), propelling Thor (and Loki) to their next stop on the its a big universe express, meeting new faces (Jeff Goldblums Grandmaster and Tessa Thompsons Valkyrie foremost among them), reuniting with everyones favorite green-thewed god-pummeler before bringing it all back for the big finale in Asgard. The result? One of those two-hour-plus films that youll swear was just an hour-forty. Waititi seems to delight in exploring the interplay between Hemsworths physical and comic presence. It yields a version of Thor that might annoy some comic book purists (but certainly didnt this one), but its an undeniable asset for the franchise. Some years and a few Avengers films to go before audiences would know whats next for Thor (and whether it would involve Hemsworth), Thor: Ragnarok, left us all suddenly eager to find out. Michael Burgin

23. Inception (2010) Director: Christopher Nolan

In the history of cinema, there is no twist more groan-inducing than the it was all a dream trope (notable exceptions like The Wizard of Oz aside). With Inception, director Christopher Nolancrafts a bracing and high-octane piece of sci-fi drama wherein that conceit isnt just a plot device, but the totality of the story. The measured and ever-steady pace and precision with which the plot and visuals unfold, and Nolan mainstay wally Pfisters gorgeous, globe-spanning on-location cinematography, implies a near-obsessive attention to detail. The film winds up and plays out like a clockwork beast, each additional bit of minutia coalescing to form a towering whole. Nolans filmmaking and Inceptions dream-delving work toward the same end: to offer us a simulation that toys with our notions of reality. As that, and as a piece of summer popcorn-flick fare, Inception succeeds quite admirably, leaving behind imagery and memories that tug and twist our perceptionsdaring us to ask whether weve wrapped our heads around it, or were only half-remembering a waking dream.

Director Andrei Tarkovsky wrote a book about his philosophy towards filmmaking, calling it Sculpting in Time; Nolan, on the other hand, doesnt sculpt, he deconstructs. He uses filmmaking to tear time apart so he can put it back together as he wills. A spiritual person, Tarkovskys films were an expression of poetic transcendence. For Nolan, a rationalist, he wants to cheat time, cheat death. His films often avoid dealing with death head-on, though they certainly depict it. What Nolan is able to convey in a more potent fashion is the weight of time and how ephemeral and weak our grasp on existence. Time is constantly running out in Nolans films; a ticking clock is a recurring motif for him, one that long-time collaborator Hans Zimmer aurally literalized in the scores for Interstellar and Dunkirk. Nolan revolts against temporal reality, and film is his weapon, his tool, the paradox stairs or mirror-upon-mirror of Inception. He devises and engineers filmic structures that emphasize times crunch while also providing a means of escape. In Inception different layers exist within the dream world, and the deeper one goes into the subconscious the more stretched out ones mental experience of time. If one could just go deep enough, they could live a virtual eternity in their minds own bottomless pit. To sleep perchance to dream: the closest Nolan has ever gotten to touching an afterlife. Michael Saba and Chad Betz

22. The Martian (2015) Director: Ridley Scott

Ridley Scotts The Martian is largely a cold, deliberate film, but theres still something undeniably stirring about it. Instead of showering us with treacle, the film pays tribute to simple human attributes such as smarts, teamwork, sacrifice and determination, going about its business much like its resourceful characters do. And yet, the films underlying message is nonetheless inspiring: We can do great things if only we put our minds to it. Based on Andy Weirs 2011 novel, The Martian is set in a not-too-distant future in which U.S. astronauts are conducting manned missions to the Red Planet. The latest expedition finds a crew that includes Commander Melissa Lewis (Jessica Chastain) and botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) getting ready to return home to Earth when a deadly storm suddenly bears down on them. In the rush to return to their ship, Watney is hit by debris and presumed dead, Lewis reluctantly taking the rest of her crew into space. Except, of course, Watney hasnt really died. As you might imagine, much depends on the films outcome, and Scott finds a way, even in the storys final moments, to undercut the obviously emotional stakes with a calm precision that makes it all the more thrilling and harrowing. Consequently, The Martian is subtly heroic, peeling away the potential histrionics of the stranded-on-Mars plot to look at the very human men or women who ensure that the spaceships can fly in the first place.Tim Grierson

21. Attack the Block (2011) Director: Joe Cornish

Written and directed by Joe Cornish, the sci-fi action comedy centers on a gang of teenage thugsparticularly their disgruntled leader, Moses, remarkably underplayed by a young John Boyegaand their housing project in South London. When the defiant juveniles take their crime to a new level and mug an innocent nurse (a delightful Jodie Whittaker), they immediately find themselves plagued by alien invaders. These hideous creatures, with their jet black fur and glowing blue fangs, want nothing more than to destroy the boys and their tower block.

In the spirit of Spielbergeven more so than J.J. Abrams Spielberg ode of the same year, Super 8Cornish uses alien beings as the catalyst to bring supernatural redemption to a person and a community. He focuses specifically on Londons socioeconomic bottom half and the turmoil surrounding them, exposing the lies that societys youth buy into that prolong cultural discontinuity. A comical scene, in which Moses tries to make sense of the aliens while giving excuses for his criminal behavior, highlights this cleverlyhe doesnt just blame the government for violence and drugs in his neighborhood, he blames the government for the whole alien invasion.

Cornish, however, doesnt simply confront this hopeless attitude, he points toward hopemost vividly in the way Moses battles the aliens, his fight rapt with symbolic implications. Though he tries to escape the beasts through running and avoidance, he realizes he must inevitably face them, but not on his own. In Attack the Block, the alien invasion becomes one giant metaphor for the darkness that binds Moses, his friends and his blocka threat that can only be countered with the pivotal power of community. Maryann Koopman Kelly

20. Upstream Color (2012) Director: Shane Carruth

Shane Carruths Upstream Color builds a stunning mosaic of lives overwhelmed by decisions outside their control, of people who dont understand the impulses that rule their every action. Told with stylistic bravado and minimal dialogue (none in the last 30 minutes), the film continually finds new ways to evoke unexpected feelings. The visualsfrom stunning shots of underwater schist to microscopic photographycombine with extraordinary sound design and rhythmic cross-cutting to create a hypnotic portrait of the storys intertwined narratives. The means to the interconnectivity is a small worm whose parasitic endeavors link lives together, but Carruth doesnt bother with sci-fi exposition. The organism does what it does, and thats all we need to know. This allows more time to explore the emotional impact the organism has on the characters. Ultimately, thats where Upstream Color succeeds. An elaborate intellectual concept fuels the film, but a rich sense of humanity gives it power. Jeremy Matthews

19. Dredd (2012) Director: Pete Travis

Karl Urbanwhos no stranger to tightly wound sci-fi fare (including the unfairly maligned The Chronicles of Riddick) provides the scowl and chin of Judge Joseph Dredda total-law package professional who is clearly as disinterested in humoring his rookie partner as the script is in coddling its audience. A few lines of raspy Man with No Name narration, coupled with a superbly bleak establishing shot from cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, are all the generosity afforded by the filmmakers toward understanding this world before it unleashes chase sequences and bursting heads. This is a film that aims squarely at respecting its sources established fan base, and cares little for casualties who cant hang on through its grindhouse paces.

Though the competent, workmanlike approach to achieving the visceral thrills of the source material is excellently realized, it comes at the expense of sidelining writers Wagner and Ezquerras satirical background radiation of fascisms consequences. While a few moments of gallows humor emergetypically of the Ouch! varietyany subtext that might get in the way of servicing its adrenalized momentum is cordoned off, so as not to disturb the thrilling crime scene. Nothing more to see here, folks. Move along. But this is not even an offense punishable by three days in an Iso-Cube. The rule of law by which audiences are meant to abide is laid out immediately and authoritatively, andjust in case you needed remindingDredd is the law. Scott Wold

18. Looper (2012) Director: Rian Johnson

Joseph-Gordon Levitt channels his inner badass to act as the younger version of Bruce Willis, nailing (with the help of some CGI and prosthetics) Williss ubiquitous action presence. The best case made on film for If time travel is outlawed, only outlaws will have time travel!, writer/director Rian Johnson wisely treats the tech as a given, focusing instead on the dramatic scenarios humans use of it would create. The result is one of the more thrilling time-travel-infused flicks of the last few decades, and one obvious reason why Johnson was trusted with a Star Wars film not long afterward. Christian Becker

17. Okja (2017) Director: Bong Joon-ho

Okja takes more creative risks in its first five minutes than most films take over their entire span, and it doesnt let up from there. What appears to be a sticking point for some critics and audiences, particularly Western ones, is the seemingly erratic tone, from sentiment to suspense to giddy action to whimsy to horror to whatever it is Jake Gyllenhaalis doing. But this is part and parcel with what makes Bong Joon-ho movies, well, Bong Joon-ho movies: Theyre nuanced and complex, but they arent exactly subtle or restrained. They are imaginative works that craft momentum through part-counterpart alternations, and Okja is perhaps the finest example yet of the wild pendulum swing of a Bong films rhythmic tonality.

Okja is, in other words, the culmination of Bongs unique rhythms into something like a syncopated symphony. The film opens with Tilda Swintons corporate maven Lucy Mirando leering out an expository dump of public relations about her new genetically created super-pigs, which will revolutionize the food industry. Were also introduced to Johnny Wilcox, played by Gyllenhaal as a bundle of wretched tics, like theres a tightly-wound anime character just waiting to rid itself of its Gyllenhaal flesh, but in the meantime barely contained. Okja is the finest of the super-pigs, raised by a Korean farmer (Byun Hee-bong) and his granddaughter Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun), an orphan. Okja is Mijas best friend, a crucial part of her family. Bong takes his sweet time with this idyllic life Mija and Okja share. The narrative slows down to observe what feels like a Miyazaki fantasy come to life. Mija whispers in Okjas ear, and were left to wonder what she could possibly be saying. The grandfather has been lying to Mija, telling her he has saved money to buy Okja from the Mirando corporation. There is no buying this pig; it is to be a promotional star for the enterprise. When Johnny Wilcox comes to claim Okja (a sharp note of dissonance in the peaceful surroundings) the grandfather makes up an excuse for Mija to come with him to her parents grave. It is there he tells her the truth.

Mijas quest to rescue Okja brings her in alliance with non-violent animal rights activists ALF, which ushers the film into a high-wire act of an adventure where Bongs penchant for artful set-piece is pushed to new heights. The director works with an ace crew frontlined by one of our greatest living cinematographers, Darius Khondji, who composes every frame of Okja with vibrant virtuosity. The very action of the film becomes action that is concerned with its own ethics. As the caricatures of certain characters loom larger, and the scope of the film stretches more and more into the borderline surreal, one realizes that the Okja is a modern, moral fable. Its not a film about veganism, but it is a film that asks how we can find integrity and, above all, how we can act humanely towards other creatures, humans included. The answers Okja reaches are simple and vital, and without really speaking them it helps you hear those answers for yourself because it has asked all the right questions, and it has asked them in a way that is intensely engaging. Chad Betz

16. Interstellar (2014) Director: Christopher Nolan

Whether hes making superhero movies or blockbuster puzzle boxes, Christopher Nolandoesnt usually bandy with emotion. But Interstellar is a nearly three-hour ode to the interconnecting power of love. Its also his personal attempt at doing in 2014 what Stanley Kubrickdid in 1968 with 2001: A Space Odyssey, less of an ode or homage than a challenge to Kubricks highly polarizing contribution to cinematic canon. Interstellar wants to uplift us with its visceral strengths, weaving a myth about the great American spirit of invention gone dormant. Its an ambitious paean to ambition itself. The film begins in a not-too-distant future, where drought, blight and dust storms have battered the world down into a regressively agrarian society. Textbooks cite the Apollo missions as hoaxes, and children are groomed to be farmers rather than engineers. This is a world where hope is dead, where spaceships sit on shelves collecting dust, and which former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) bristles against. Hes long resigned to his fate but still despondent over mankinds failure to think beyond its galactic borders. But then Cooper falls in with a troop of underground NASA scientists, led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), who plan on sending a small team through a wormhole to explore three potentially habitable planets and ostensibly secure the human races continued survival. But the film succeeds more as a visual tour of the cosmos than as an actual story. The rah-rah optimism of the films pro-NASA stance is stirring, and on some level that tribute to human endeavor keeps the entire yarn afloat. But no amount of scientific positivism can offset the weight of poetic repetition and platitudes about love. Andy Crump

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The Best Sci-Fi Movies of the 2010s - Paste Magazine

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WMU professor, a German soldier during WWII, made theory of peace his lifes work –

Posted: at 11:34 am

KALAMAZOO, MI -- A Western Michigan University professor who spent his teenage years fighting as a German soldier during World War II later dedicated his life to studying religious and moral issues and spreading peace among all people.

Rudolf Siebert, 92, sat in his study surrounded by bookshelves full of titles on religion, philosophy and theology, in his home on Piccadilly Street in Kalamazoo reflecting on his more than five-decade career at WMU and his youth in Germany that helped shape his ideas about the world.

His exploration of the worlds values began young. He was just 6 when Adolf Hitler came into power in Germany.

As a member of the Catholic Youth Movement, Siebert opposed fascism. The movement was involved in helping Jewish people hide in basements, he said. During that period, Siebert said, he witnessed the groups leaders being beaten and, in some cases, killed.

Drafted at 15

At the age of 15, he was drafted into the German Air Force. Siebert said he tried to fight the draft, but was eventually escorted to the airport by an armed German officer. There was no conscientious objector status in Germany during WWII, he said.

I wasnt going to fight for the Nazis, having resisted them to this point, Siebert wrote in a brief autobiography posted on the professors website.

Siebert said he lived under fascism, which he describes as utter barbarism," for 12 years. As a child, he remembers seeing Hitler give speeches in stadiums.

As part of the Catholic Youth Movement, he remembers helping hide Jewish people and secretly distributing religious literature that criticized the concentration camps.

If there ever was a just war then this war against Hitler was it, Siebert said.

Siebert said on the first night of his military training, his hometown of Frankfurt was bombed. Despite his opposition to the wars overall goals, Siebert said he remembers understanding then that his purpose as a soldier was to protect German women and children.

There was nobody at home to defend the cities, so I was among the young men, boys really, who were drafted into the Air Force to defend Frankfurt and other German cities, Siebert wrote in his autobiography.

Siebert described the damage to his hometown in his autobiography as extensive," further explaining that, "the little houses in Frankfurt were made with wooden beams covered in tar. People burned to death in the streets as a fire storm swept through the residential district.

I considered the deliberate firebombing of civilians to be against the Geneva Convention, Siebert said. It was unethical and immoral.

Prisoner of war

Siebert rose to the rank of lieutenant and led troops in battle against U.S. Gen. George Patton during the famous American military leaders march toward Berlin. He ultimately surrendered, and was taken as a prisoner of war by American forces in 1944.

He was 17 years old.

As a prisoner, Siebert was transported to Worms and then Marseille by railway car that was meant to be used for animals, he said. Angry crowds of people threw stones at the prisoners, Siebert said. He was knocked unconscious and remembers a Protestant minister offering him the last of his water. It was an act Siebert describes today as heroic.

Through this experience, the professor said, he became an ecumenist, identifying with the global movement promoting unity among religions.

Siebert eventually arrived at Camp Allen in Norfolk, Virginia, where he remembers working at a library and studying economics and political science with American professors. He was part of a group of German soldiers identified as anti-fascist, who were trained and sent back to Germany in an effort to spread democracy there after the war.

He returned to Germany in February 1946 and, in addition to his work with the anti-fascists, began his study of critical theology at the universities of Frankfurt, Mainz and Mnster. Siebert remained in Germany for the majority of the next 16 years, leaving briefly in 1953-54 to study as an exchange student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He returned to the United States in 1962, initially for teaching and research assignments at St. Agnes College and Loyola College in Baltimore, then moving to Michigan with his wife and six children in 1965.

Siebert and his late wife, Margaret Noyes, went on to have eight children, 14 grandchildren, and five great grandchildren, according to his autobiography.

Today, Siebert holds multiple degrees in theology, philosophy and social work. He has taught, lectured and presented in Western and Eastern Europe, the United States and Canada.

A theory of peace

Siebert started as a professor at WMU in 1965 after earning his doctoral degree from Johannes Gutenberg-Universitt Mainz in Germany. He would ultimately develop the Critical Theory of Religion and Society" with colleagues in Germany, Europe and America.

Sieberts critical theory aims to bring together people of different religions and nonreligious societies into a place of peace.

Unfortunately, the violence is always the first answer and the last answer, Siebert said. "It does not work.

Siebert describes his theory in his over 30 books and more than 400 published articles. He created it to help work for peace among religions and nations, and it aims to reconcile religious and secular societies to resolve the ongoing deadly culture wars," he said.

The professor retired in August after teaching in the WMU Department of Comparative Religion for 54 years.

During his tenure, Siebert held various leadership positions at the university and elsewhere.

He served as director of the Center for Humanistic Future Studies at WMU since 1980, and as director of the international course Future of Religion at the Inter-University Center in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia/Croatia, since 1975. Since 1999, Siebert served as director of the international course Religion and Civil Society in Yalta, Ukraine.

In 1970, he was selected as an Outstanding Educator of America and, in the same year, received the WMU Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award.

Siebert was awarded a five-year grant in October 2011 to fund his international teaching.

The longtime scholars career also included working locally on George McGoverns 1972 presidential campaign. Siebert said he served as a liaison between Western Michigan University and the Student Democratic Society.

Dustin Byrd, a former WMU student who described Siebert as his mentor, said Siebert was a well-loved professor at WMU and will be missed by both students and faculty, he said.

He is one of those jewels in academics were lucky to have in Kalamazoo, Byrd said.

A steadfast force

Byrd, an associate professor in philosophy and religion at Olivet College, began as an undergraduate at WMU in 1994. He completed both a bachelors and masters degree in comparative religion, taking every course that Siebert offered, he said.

Sieberts early years spent as a soldier during WWII definitely influenced his theoretical work, Byrd said. The professors life experiences and his lifelong interest in conflicts surrounding religion are inseparable, he said.

Siebert was one the universitys longest-serving professors, Department Chair Steven Covell said. Most slow down as they age, Covell said, but Seibert stayed active in teaching and research until his doctor told him to stop.

The department is quieter without Siebert there, he said.

Its hard to imagine the place without him," Covell said. He was steadfast in his mission to bring people together."

Siebert will be honored for his work at the university in November during an upcoming conference, Critical Theory and the Study of Religion: A Conference in Honor of Dr. Rudolf Siebert. The event will include over a dozen scholars and presentations on the study of religion.

The department is currently raising money to create a Humanistic Research Center and to hire a new faculty member to carry on the teaching and research of the theory, Covell said.

As a Catholic, Siebert said, he believes in the Golden Rule to treat others as one would want to be treated. This standard should be applied beyond individuals, he said, and also dictate how nations treat one another.

Where the Golden Rule is missing there is no culture but only barbarism, Siebert wrote in his autobiography.

People who view the world through a strict set of rules rather than treating others as they would want to be treated can become cold" to human suffering, Siebert said.

It can become a really cold thing." Siebert said. Cold.

"Because you dont see the pain of people and the suffering of people. So therefore, its not simply to be on one side or the other.


WMU professor, a German soldier during WWII, made theory of peace his lifes work -

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TRX/USD technical analysis: As most of the major cryptos break lower TRON could be holing up – FXStreet

Posted: at 11:34 am

As most of the major cryptocurrencies broker lower in Wednesday's session, TRON managed to stay above its major low point of 0.011744.

The potential now is that the aforementioned low holds and the price continues to consolidate until the crypto space finds some relief.

If the past is anything to go by when one out of many cryptocurrencies holds up whena retracement phase kicks in it could shoot higher.

This is just an observation and not a golden rule but it did happen to Bitcoin Cash and Ethererum Classis on previous occasions.

The two of them managed to stay above lows when Bitcoin crashed and then when the retracement phase moved in they jumped. Both on separate occasions.

Now on the daily chart, the consolidation zones lie between 0.011744 and 0.018603. The latter also confluences with a 23.6 Fibonacci zone.

The RSI indicator is also tilted to the downside now but this is to be expected after such a heavy day of selling but it is far from oversold.

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TRX/USD technical analysis: As most of the major cryptos break lower TRON could be holing up - FXStreet

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Musician’s Friend Black Friday deals 2019: how to get the best prices on guitars, drums, keyboards and more – MusicRadar

Posted: at 11:34 am

Black Friday 2019 is nearly here, that time of year where we eagerly await some of the craziest bargains since... well, the previous year. As one of the nation's largest music gear retailers, Musician's Friend is bound to have some juicy discounts on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for you.

So, if you're in the market for anything music-related, be it a new guitar pedal, amp, electric guitar, drum set, synth, MIDI keyboard or audio interface, Musician's Friend should have a deal worth you brandishing your credit card for, and it's our job to trawl the best ones. Be sure to bookmark this very page to ensure you don't miss out on the biggest Musician's Friend Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains.

Bookmark the MusicRadar Black Friday music deals hub The Musician's Friend stupid deal of the day Check out all the Musician's Friend Hot Deals MF Rocktober deals: 20% off all qualifying products

Although Black Friday isn't until 29 November, the best Musician's Friend deals are likely to kick-off ahead of the big day and there should be plenty of bargains to be had right through to Cyber Monday on 2 December and beyond.

Musician's Friend is the perfect place to go if you're looking for anything from a brand new guitar, to acoustic treatment for your studio. In fact, you could give your entire studio a revamp with the sheer volume of electronic drum sets, keyboards, synths, audio interfaces and recording equipment on offer.

Black Friday is also the perfect time to stock up on those music-making essentials and accessories too: guitar strings, tuners, picks and guitar straps are just the start. If you can make music with it, it's more than likely that Musician's Friend will have it.

You should be spoilt for choice from Musician's Friend's massive stock when Black Friday rolls around.

Last year saw a whopping $859 shaved off a Martin 00-28 acoustic guitar, for instance, while lucky punters bagged an incredible saving of $650 on the Supro 1622RT Tremo-Verb. Elsewhere, you could get $100 off eight select special edition Fender electric guitars, acoustic and basses.

We think you can expect some entirely bonkers music gear discounts coming your way this Black Friday. Of course, we'll keep you updated with the very best ones right here on this page.

The golden rule when hunting for Black Friday music deals is to know what you're looking for. Whether you're a guitarist, bassist, drummer, producer or DJ, think about what you need to improve your music-making life and then start researching it. This will save you a lot of time when the Musician's Freind Black Friday deals start rolling in, as you'll quickly be able to decide what's relevant to you and what isn't.

Also make sure you're aware of current prices that way you'll know how good a deal something really is when you see it reduced on Black Friday. Some supposed 'savings' aren't everything that they seem.

The good news is that you can easily find out what the best music-making products are by checking out MusicRadar's huge portfolio of buying guides.

Get a phenomenal $859 off a Martin 00-28Looking for a great deal on a legit American-built acoustic guitar? Last year Musician's Friend applied a huge discount to the Martin 00-28 Grand Concert acoustic.

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Musician's Friend Black Friday deals 2019: how to get the best prices on guitars, drums, keyboards and more - MusicRadar

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Heres the stock-market trade this hedge-fund star is most excited about right now – MarketWatch

Posted: at 11:34 am

Whos got a subscription?

Larry Hite is a long-time successful hedge-fund manager who doesnt believe he or really anyone can predict what the stock market (and other markets) will do next, or which seemingly successful companies will suddenly crash. (Just remember Enron, he says.)

Nor does he care much for Wall Streets standard buy-and-hold advice for small investors.

Rather, the 78-year-old has become fabulously wealthy using computer programs to detect and follow price trends and by following one simple rule: cutting his losses early. He founded Mint Investment Management Co., and the composite of funds achieved a compounded annual rate of return above 30% before fees during his 13-year run there. He now runs Hite Capital, a family wealth management firm.

I love making money, he says.

Hite expounded on his approach to investing in his new book, The Rule: How I Beat the Odds in the Markets and in Lifeand How You Can Too. He discussed his investment style, a current trade and some of his best and worst trades in an email interview with MarketWatch.

Question: Which of your current trades are you most excited about?

Answer: Im interested in stocks that went from selling software to subscription models. Companies with a recurring subscription model like Apple AAPL, -0.05%, Netflix NFLX, +0.58% or Amazon AMZN, +0.98% have not only a recurring revenue, but also a captive revenue.

Q.: Why did you make it? And when?

A.: Within the last few years because we are all electronically hooked up and companies like Apple are the amplifiers. Subscription models are a revolution in retail because the monthly or annual revenue generates a steady stream of cash.

Q.: What would make you get out of it?

A.: If the share price hits my stop-loss threshold of 2%. Im always measuring the risk and move quickly. If it drops, I get out and preserve my capital and look forward to the next opportunity.

Q.: How many trades do you have on at a time, on average? And, on average, how many others are you monitoring for an entry point?

A.: We are technical traders and the number of trades we have could have at any given time is driven by numbers: price, volume, averages, etc. As for monitoring for trades, that is driven by the methodology we trade on and the universe of stock and commodities that we have defined. Currently in our systems we are monitoring 600 stocks, and we could have a maximum of 30 in active trades.

Q.: On average, how long are you in a trade?

A.: I go trade by trade and really focus on the price and the trend. I watch the markets and ride the momentum. To quote David Ricardo who had three golden rules Never refuse an option when you can get it; cut short your losses and let your profits run on.

Q.: Whats been your best trade ever, and why did you make it? And you got out because..?

A.: In the mid 70s, the coffee markets prices were extremely low; there was a glut of supply and farmers were getting hurt. I researched 50 years of weather patterns and supply/demand data and saw that coffee consumption had been rising for a long time but prices hadnt yet responded. I bought calls on coffee options futures betting their value would rise and I rode the trend from 60 cents to $3.10. My initial $500,000 investment went up to $15 million. When the trend reversed and went down, I got out with $12 million.

Q.: Can you talk about a big trading mistake and what you learned from it?

A.: I was trading orange juice years ago and my computer showed me a price, but when I went to sell I wasnt able to get the same price. I got very angry and stubborn which was really stupid. After I lost enough money, I stopped being stubborn and learned a valuable lesson.

Q.: Youve made lots of money as a trend trader, and you write in your book that you make money because you do what the market tells you do. If only it were that easy! Why, in your opinion, is this not a more crowded strategy?

A.: A lot of people adhere to Wall Streets conventional advice, which tells investors to buy and hold with a passive approach to their portfolio. In this school of thought, you should do nothing when prices drop and not to pay attention to fluctuations in the market, but rather wait it out, because over time they believe the stock market always rises and you will always do well. Trend following is my bible and I feel its the safest thing you can do and the best way to make money.

Q.: What advice would you offer a small investor looking to emulate you? Whats your No. 1 rule?

A: I always have a stop-loss order in place which will automate a sell-off once an asset declines by an amount that you predetermined based on what you have decided you can lose.

Q.: Jim Cramer said earlier this month that you have to be out of your mind to have any conviction about this stock market right now. Do you agree? Is todays market that different than those of the past?

A.: No, its not. I respect the intelligence and devotion of economists and historians who have tried to understand global markets and develop a theory of human behavior and market dynamics. But when you start believing you have remarkable market-predicting powers, you get into trouble every time.

Q.: How has your own approach to trend following evolved over the years? Have you shifted over the year in what you trade, say commodities vs individual stocks vs the broader market? Are trades generally longer now? Or shorter?

A.: My approach hasnt changed significantly. Risk management and a diversified portfolio remain important factors in my overall strategy.

Q.: Do you take into account a companys fundamentals like earnings forecasts and how fast it is growing vs. its sector, valuation measures like P/E ratios, and other factors, or is that all irrelevant as a trend follower?

A.: I look at the price and the other factors are irrelevant. I continue doing whatever is making me the most money. I have done research and run thousands of simulations over the years and what I see convinces me that peoples emotions dont change. Its not intellect that moves the markets, its emotions.

Q.: Why do you prefer trend-following over other strategies, including buy and hold? Is it just better suited to your personality, or is there a deeper reason?

A.: I believe in adaptive systems. Trend following empowers you to see clearly that you can make the right choice for right now. It gives any motivated person a chance to invest in the markets with managed risk.

Q.: Now for some questions away from trading. Whats the best thing youve bought recently?

A.: I was very happy to give my daughter a really beautiful wedding recently and I am looking forward to more grandchildren. Family is everything.

Q.: And what do you hate spending money on?

A.: Jewelry. I would much rather invest the money.

Q.: If you werent trading the markets, what would you be doing?

A.: Studying history.

Q.: And whats your retirement plan?

A.: I will keep doing this 20 years after Im dead. I enjoy what I do and I love making money.

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Heres the stock-market trade this hedge-fund star is most excited about right now - MarketWatch

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