Monthly Archives: April 2019

A critic’s picks for this year’s Cinetopia film festival

Navigating the vast spread of venues and works at almost any film festival can be daunting, and Cinetopia, put on each year by the Michigan Theater Foundation, is no exception. With screenings from May 10-19 all over metro Detroit (as far west as Ann Arbor, and as far north as Bloomfield Township’s Maple Theater), there’s almost bound to be something playing not far away. But how to choose? And how to even attend? Though the most thorough and up-to-date information remains at the festival website (, which also lets you search screenings by area), we’ve got a smattering of promising titles from across the festival here to help narrow the field.

Cold Case Hammarskjöld: Programmed thanks to local pop-up screening standby and longtime favorite Cinema Lamont, this Sundance-premiering Danish documentary investigates the 1961 plane crash that killed a former UN secretary, delving into the possibility of foul play. A

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A Second Fyre Festival Documentary Is Coming To Aussie TV And We’re SO READY!

Oh this is going to be GOOD! A second documentary dedicated to the infamous Fyre Festival is on it’s way to Aussie TV and we’re SO READY for it!! (Unlike the organisers were for the actual festival… Too soon?)

Channel Seven will play host to the Australian premiere of Hulu’s doco about the failed music festival and the con-man behind it all, Billy McFarland.

Titled Fyre Fraud, the feature-length original documentary is described as a unique and personal true-crime investigation into the story of how Billy managed to swindle thousands of dollars from innocent people.

F Y R E F R A U D 🔥 Australian Premiere Sunday 9.30 on Seven . . . Hulu’s acclaimed feature-length original documentary film about the failed music festival that swindled thousands, featuring an exclusive interview with Billy MacFarland #fyrefraud

A post shared by Channel 7 (@channel7) on Apr

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John Singleton’s Family Releases Statement About His Death – Tha Wire

Today in Tha Wire we join the world in mourning one of the most iconic film directors of all time, John Singleton. The LA native was the first Black filmmaker/director and the youngest to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Director. In spite of making groundbreaking films like Higher Learning, Boyz In The Hood, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Baby Boy, Four Brothers, Hustle Flow and more he was nominated, but never won an Academy, Oscar or Emmy Award for any of his blockbuster films. Ironically, thanks to his

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Barack and Michelle Obama announce their first 7 projects for Netflix

Illustration for article titled Barack and Michelle Obama announce their first 7 projects for Netflix
Photo: Mark Wilson (Getty Images)

Last May, Netflix signed husband-and-wife producing team Barack and Michelle Obama to a multi-year development deal—sorry, “storytelling partnership”—that would allow the two of them to put their very famous names on various forms of content through their Higher Ground Productions label. Now, the Obamas have finally announced their first slate of projects for Netflix, with the former President saying in a statement that these projects touch on “issues of race and class, democracy and civil rights, and much more,” and he believes they will not only “entertain” but “educate, connect, and inspire us all.” (Apropos of nothing, remember when we had a competent guy running the country and not a stupid shit monster?)

As for the

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US teen ‘beheaded school mate in rage after accusing him of sleeping with his girlfriend’

An American teen beheaded his schoolmate and cut off his hands in a jealous rage, a court has been told.

Mathew Borges, 17, is charged with murdering Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, who he accused of sleeping with his girlfriend.

The 16-year-old victim’s body, minus the hands, was found floating in a river by a dog walker a few weeks after he went missing in 2016.

Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino was allegedly decapitated by his schoolmate near Boston, USA. (Facebook)

His head was found nearby in a bag, in his hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts, north of Boston

It’s alleged text messages sent by Borges, then 15, to his girlfriend include one the day before the killing, which said: “The next time you see me, look at my eyes because that’s the last time they’ll be like that. They’ll be dead.”

Mathew Borges, 17, is charged with murdering Lee Manuel Viloria-Paulino, who he accused of sleeping

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4 Shocking True Crime Cases ‘The Act’ Could Explore In Season 2

The Act airs its Season 1 finale on Wednesday, and while the dramatic reimagining of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard’s toxic relationship has made for a fascinating first run, it may be just the first of several true crime stories the Hulu series will explore. No official plans have been announced for The Act Season 2, but the show has always been billed as an anthology. So if it does come back for more episodes, it’s likely it will pivot to an entirely new case.

Act co-creator Michelle Dean, who also wrote the BuzzFeed article on which the show is based, confirmed in March that Hulu hasn’t yet green-lit the show for another season. But she does have plans for more, should they renew it. “The Act was designed as an anthology: obviously the title refers to a

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Why Is Aaron Schmidt From ‘Kids Behind Bars’ in Jail? It’s a Tragic Story

On Jan. 31, 2011, Aaron shot and killed his neighbor, Alana Calahan, who was also 14. The teen initially claimed to have seen an intruder on her family’s Harlem, Ga. property, but later told investigators that he accidentally fired a gun in the Calahans’ dining room. 

“I didn’t know the gun was loaded,” Aaron said through tears during a police interrogation. However, Superior Court Judge Michael Annis, who sentenced the boy to life in prison without parole plus five years, said he believes Aaron planned the murder.

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‘Extremely Wicked’ director Joe Berlinger explains why America has an insatiable appetite for…

Joe Berlinger, one of the pioneers of the ever-popular true crime genre, is no stranger to criticism in regards to his work as a documentary filmmaker. His experience in shedding light on dark subjects ranges from his work on Brother’s Keeper to the Paradise Lost trilogy, all of which surround horrific murder trials, which is why his multiple film and television projects about the actions and trials of Ted Bundy does not seem unfitting.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is Berlinger’s first scripted, narrative film about the infamous serial killer’s manipulative actions from the 1970s up until his execution in 1989. Starring Zac Efron in the role of Bundy and Lily Collins as his longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, the film is focused through Liz’s perspective of Bundy as she refuses to believe the dark truth about her boyfriend.

So what was it like for Berlinger to tackle such a disturbing story like Bundy’s

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Breaking News – Two Deaths, Three Days, One Mansion – ID Investigates Mysterious Deaths in Two-Hour Special Event "Rebecca Zahau: An ID Murder Mystery"


–The All-New Special Premieres Monday, May 27 at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery —

(Silver Spring, Md.) – On July 11, 2011, 6-year-old Max Shacknai suffers a fatal fall in his father’s Coronado home while under the watch of his father’s girlfriend, Rebecca Zahau. Tragedy strikes a second time when just two days later, Rebecca’s body is found naked, bound and gagged, hanging from a balcony of the same mansion. Police suspect guilt over Max’s death drove Rebecca to take her own life, but a myriad of peculiar clues and troubling evidence suggest a more sinister possibility. Was Rebecca Zahau murdered? Leading true crime network Investigation Discovery (ID) examines

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Here Are the 10 New Books You Should Read in May

Many of the best new books coming out in May ask readers to question humankind’s durability in the face of adversity, whether it be troubling changes meant to “rejuvenate” society, as in Ma Jian’s China Dream or more personal, devastating loss, as in Jayson Greene’s Once More We Saw Stars. Several of the characters in these books, as well as the writers behind them, maintain a sense of encouraging optimism as they struggle through trying times. Here, 10 books you should read in May.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, Casey Cep (5/7)

In Furious Hours, writer Casey Cep describes a complicated 1970s murder investigation in which a rural preacher was accused of killing five of his family members before being murdered himself. The case caught the attention of legendary novelist Harper Lee, who spent a year in Alabama reporting on the story and several after crafting a true-crime book about the events. Lee never finished her book, but decades later, Cep follows both the investigation and Lee’s fierce obsession with it.

Exhalation: Stories, Ted Chiang (5/7)

Ted Chiang’s latest short story collection asks readers to reconsider how the world they live in could one day be shaped by growing advancements in technology. Chiang — author of Stories of Your Life and Others, which was the basis of the sci-fi film Arrival — tackles complex questions about free will, artificial intelligence, evolution and more in these nine stories that break down what it really means to be human.

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna, Juliet Grames (5/7)

Stella Fortuna is either cursed or very lucky: she has survived near-death experiences eight or so times (the narrator isn’t quite sure how many). In her debut novel, Juliet Grames explores Stella’s life of near-misses, beginning in the small Italian village where she was born in the 1920s and moving toward her home in Connecticut, where she is the matriarch of a boisterous Italian-American family. As Stella strives to prove herself among the many messy and aggressive men in her life, Grames uses her heroine’s story to reflect on motherhood, inherited trauma and survival.

The Bride Test, Helen Hoang (5/7)

Khai Diep’s autism means he processes emotions differently than the people around him do, but, Helen Hoang emphasizes in her latest novel, that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of love. In The Bride Test, Khai’s mother travels to Vietnam and recruits Esme Tran, a woman desperate to better her own family’s life, to come to America and meet her son. Like she did in her debut hit The Kiss Quotient, Hoang again tests the boundaries of affection as Esme begins to fall for Khai, whose understanding of love deepens.

China Dream, Ma Jian (5/7)

In Ma Jian’s highly anticipated new novel, a fictional Chinese provincial leader is haunted by his country’s violent past as he attempts to implement President Xi’s China Dream, which overrides people’s private dreams. Ma Jian, whose work has been banned in China for the past 30 years, creates a dystopian present-day China in this narrative about power, history and the effects of materialism on a society.

The Unpassing, Chia-Chia Lin (5/7)

A Taiwanese immigrant family living in Alaska grapples with guilt and grief when Ruby, the youngest daughter, dies after contracting meningitis from her brother. Chia-Chia Lin’s debut novel traces what happens to the family in the aftermath. The saga escalates when the father, a plumber and repairman, is sued in a dispute over an improperly constructed well he had a hand in installing. Lin offers a portrait of a family in The Unpassing, which bypasses the American dream in favor of bleaker truths, ruminating on community, communication and belonging.

The Farm, Joanne Ramos (5/7)

At Golden Oaks, a glamorous yet secretive facility outside of New York City, women in need of money are paid to carry the fetuses of the wealthy. Although Golden Oaks treats these surrogates well — providing organic meals, personal trainers and more — there are strict rules that cut the women off from the outside world. In Joanne Ramos’ debut, the seemingly idyllic setting becomes insidious as the women must consider what staying at Golden Oaks will mean for their futures.

Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer, John Glynn (5/14)

It’s Memorial Day weekend 2013 and John Glynn has just arrived in Montauk, where he’s put down $2000 to share a house with 30 other 20-somethings for the summer. Despite being nervous about the investment, Glynn is desperate to escape a loneliness that has been weighing him down, intensified by the death of his grandmother. In his memoir Out East, Glynn recounts a formative summer filled with secrets, first love and self-discovery.

Once More We Saw Stars: A Memoir, Jayson Greene (5/14)

Editor and writer Jayson Greene’s life is catapulted into tremendous despair when his two-year-old daughter is fatally struck in the head by a brick while sitting on a park bench with her grandmother. Greene recounts the harrowing incident and its repercussions in his memoir Once More We Saw Stars, which invites readers into an intimate portrait of grief.

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World, David Epstein (5/28)

What is the key to succeeding in a field? Journalist and author David Epstein argues that in order to nail a specific skill, you might want to first consider becoming a generalist. In Range, Epstein analyzes athletes, artists, musicians and more to demonstrate his belief in the power of learning from a diverse set of experiences in order to become stronger in an individualized area.

Write to Annabel Gutterman at