How Netflix’s High Flying Bird Upends the Conventions of the Sports Movie

There’s no game-winning miracle dunk in High Flying Bird, a new basketball film from Steven Soderbergh that arrived on Netflix on Friday. There’s no training montage, rousing halftime speech or pint-sized surprise hero, either.

Instead, the film is driven by backroom machinations, Sorkin-esque walk-and-talks and tense face-offs over cups of tea.

But while the film mostly lacks basketball, it is more true to the state of modern professional basketball than most other films about the sport—and it strikingly captures the current power struggle of black athletes as they battle with owners for player autonomy, free speech and billions of dollars in revenue.

The film follows the fictional agent Ray Burke (André Holland) in the midst of the contentious 2011 NBA lockout. He works to outmaneuver a cutthroat team owner (Kyle MacLachlan) in lockout negotiations, expand the mindset of a downtrodden, debt-ridden rookie (Melvin Gregg) and team up with a steely player’s union executive (Sonja Sohn) to alter the economic structure of the league.

The stakes may initially appear lower than other Soderbergh films—like drug trade in Traffic or corporate corruption in Erin Brockovich. But the heart of the movie’s conflict lies in the control and commodification of black bodies. One character compares the NBA draft to a slave auction; another recounts the NBA’s white-only origins, describing the league’s integration in 1950 as a “game on top of a game”: a system used by wealthy white owners used to control players’ movements, image rights and earnings.

The fierce and dense screenplay was written by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who won an Oscar in 2016 for co-writing Moonlight. Like that film, High Flying Bird champions characters who search for radical ways to survive and transcend unjust systems. McCraney explained a driving factor behind both films in an interview with GQ this month: “On one hand, the American dream is being carroted in front of us, but on the other, the stick of oppression is beating us.”

McCraney, Soderbergh and Holland (who co-produced the film) situate the film within a lineage of black protest. It takes its name from the Richie Havens version of a folk song that poignantly calls for freedom. And Ray treats the sociologist Harry Edwards’ 1969 book The Revolt of the Black Athlete as a sacred text. In that book, Edwards outlines the systematic discrimination faced by black athletes and recounts his efforts to create a black boycott of the 1968 Olympics, which led to a Black Power salute in Mexico City. “They tell the world that the Games are free of discrimination, a wonderful example of fair play to everyone,” he writes. “Meanwhile, neglect kills off your people faster than you can sprint.”

Edwards himself appears in High Flying Bird, forging a direct link between a time when black superstars like Bill Russell had to sleep in separate hotels and a new era of protest. Edwards now serves as Colin Kaepernick’s advisor and works with many sports teams; he remains vocal about what he terms the “social, physiological and cultural scaffolding that allows individual bias and prejudice to find affirmation in discriminatory actions.”

In the same way that Edwards worked to debunk the rosy vision of sports presented by the Olympics, McCraney and Soderbergh use High Flying Bird to rebel against the utopian construct of sports movies. Films like White Men Can’t Jump, Glory Road and The Blind Side propagate the idea that sports can drive equality; that class and race tensions vanish while on the hardwood or gridiron through a shared determination and perseverance.

High Flying Bird, in contrast, is far more cynical. “The league is a business,” Ray reprimands Erick. “Business. We are in business.” While Michael Jordan won his freedom through a buzzer beater in Space Jam, High Flying Bird quashes the notion that on-court victory even matters. The film’s NBA isn’t a conduit for greatness but rather a cold, unfeeling corporation in which MacLachlan’s snot-rocketing executive profits off of black men scraping against each other in a zero-sum game. High Flying Bird could be called an anti-Sports Movie: its goal is not to uplift, but rather to provoke, mobilize and envision a future in which the players themselves own the league. And in contrast to the sweeping cinematography of other sports films, High Flying Bird was shot on an iPhone.

In real life, the 2011 lockout ended in relative defeat for the players’ union, as NBA owners forced players to accept a reduction in their share of revenue. But since then, players have taken steps to increase both their income and agency, drastically changing the landscape of the league.

LeBron James, in particular, has been revolutionary in how he wields power over his own career. He has encouraged other players to follow his lead in claiming autonomy, and he condemned a double standard that shackles devoted superstars to teams while allowing owners to trade them when it suits their business strategy. (On Wednesday, he took to Instagram to criticize the way in which Harrison Barnes was unceremoniously shipped off for a trade during a game.) This season has seen several stars—including Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis—use their leverage to forge their own career paths rather than stay beholden to team owners.

These efforts have been aided by the rise of social media and other online outlets that allow players to control their own public image and speak out on political and social causes. James famously tangled with Donald Trump on Twitter, while Kevin Love opened a dialogue about mental health issues on The Players’ Tribune, a media platform founded by Derek Jeter.

Meanwhile, a massive $ 24-billion TV deal, combined with a favorable 2017 bargaining agreement negotiated by Michele Roberts, the leader of the N.B.A.’s players union, landed huge payday opportunities for young stars, 45 percent raises for players on minimum contracts and higher minimum salaries for veterans.

In High Flying Bird, Ray aims even higher, dreaming of a radical player-owned league in which games are streamed straight to YouTube or Netflix. Such a drastic shift seems unlikely any time soon. Until then, activists, filmmakers, and the players will continue to work to challenge power structures and shake the perception that athletes are not looked at as “super animals,” as Edwards wrote in 1969, but treated with full humanity.

Sports – TIME


Scientists discover that flying squirrels glow bright pink under UV light

flying squirrel glow

If you’ve ever seen a flying squirrel in the wild you know that they’re neat little critters. They’re not particularly bothersome, and aside from mastering the age-old art of raiding bird feeders they’re rather pleasant creatures. Pleasant creatures that, as it turns out, glow bright pink when hit with ultraviolet light.

In an incredibly interesting study that was born out of mere happenstance, researchers in Wisconsin discovered that the furry little fliers are imbued something that makes them glow, but they’re not entirely certain what it is.

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Scientists discover that flying squirrels glow bright pink under UV light originally appeared on on Wed, 6 Feb 2019 at 23:07:16 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.



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‘Dumbo’ Set Visit: Grounding a Flying Elephant Movie

‘Dumbo’ Set Visit: Grounding a Flying Elephant Movie

This March, when you see an elephant fly, you will believe it. Disney’s re-imagination of their 1941 classic Dumbo is a magical movie, for sure, but there’s also a certain reality to what Tim Burton’s achieved this time around.  While his Wonderland was the stuff of dreams, this is a story of the American Dream, and therefore had to be more relatable.

During a visit to the London set of Dumbo in 2017, we talked to a few of the human cast members, namely Colin Farrell,…

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Oh great, Russian fighter pilots are going to start flying with scary AI wingmen

Russian military

Well, it seems Russian military officials don’t want to just stop with that fearsome new hypersonic intercontinental ballistic missile that was tested last month, which we told you about and which Russia claims there’s no defense against. It would appear the country’s military forces have also been testing the feasibility of having AI-powered wingmen fly alongside Russian fighter pilots, executing commands issued by the human pilot an inaugurating a scary new chapter in aerial military combat.

News accounts of Russia’s efforts here are the result of images spotted on social media of a drone called Hunter, an unmanned combat vehicle, along with images of a jet called the Sukhoi Su-57. Of particular interest is that fighter jet’s tail. As you can see below, on the tail you can see the shape of a jet as well as an image that seems to be the “Hunter” drone, along with the image of a lighting bolt.

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Oh great, Russian fighter pilots are going to start flying with scary AI wingmen originally appeared on on Sun, 27 Jan 2019 at 14:51:10 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.



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Felicity Jones Talks Flying High at Dior’s Circus

ROLL UP, ROLL UP: One of the guests at the circus tent setting for the Christian Dior show Monday afternoon felt right at home. “Rogue One” actress Felicity Jones had just a week ago wrapped filming “The Aeronauts,” in which she plays a circus performer and hot air balloon pilot.
“It’s a real magical adventure story, so this is totally fitting,” she said. Even the acrobatics seen during the show were nothing to scare the rising performer — the role saw her shooting in a hot air balloon.
“It’s pretty amazing, actually, because you go up so gently it’s not quite as scary as you think it’s going to be because it’s a slow incline, but then suddenly you’re 2,000 feet up looking out of the balloon and thinking, ‘Wow, it is actually quite high up here.’”
Maria Grazia Chiuri had called on acrobatic troupe Mimbre to perform as part of the circus-inspired show, framing the models as they walked the runway. “She wanted Mimbre to come with a team of all-female acrobats,” Lina Johansson, artistic director and cofounder of the London-based company, who began work choreographing the project with 18 performers in November, explained backstage before the show.
“Maria Grazia is so inspiring

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Wondrous extinct flying reptiles boasted rudimentary feathers

A microscopic examination of fossils from China has revealed that the fur-like body covering of pterosaurs, the remarkable flying reptiles that lived alongside dinosaurs, was actually made up of rudimentary feathers.

Reuters: Science News

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5 things you didn’t know about flying first class


Whether you’re a frequent flyer who regularly travels for business, or if you just fly once a year for your family vacation, you know that flying can be one of the most stressful and tiring experiences of your journey. When flying economy, you have little leg room, odd next door neighbors, super long queues and pretty basic commodities – Yep, the toilet will always smell! But there is another part of the plane that you barely ever see: First Class. Unless you’re really lucky, of course. Here’s what it’s like to fly in first class.

Many people use it to network

We’ve all seen the scenes in movies where the two unsuspecting victims meet next to each other on the plane, share a pleasant hello and then a cliche moment brings them together – cut to the ending and they’ve become BFF’s and set up a meeting in New York to go over a business proposal together next month. Okay, it doesn’t really work like that, but many people do use first class to network with other like-minded. Because the people who fly in First Class normally have more money and work for Fortune 500 companies, they’ll all have something in common – business. In fact, Virgin Atlantic have found that one in five of their First Class customers had done business with someone they had met during their first class flight. Some airlines are now even creating specific networking flights!

You get even more vacation time

If you’re used to flying economy, you’ve probably seen the First Class passengers stroll along past you with their fast-track boarding passes and saunter onto the airplane while you crouch on the floor in a crowded airport lounge. Yep, the first class passengers not only get to board the plane first – but they also get to depart the plane before everyone else too! This means they can get ahead of the game, and be the first in the queue for customs and baggage reclaim. Ultimately, this means they get even more vacation time because they’ll be out the airport doors and onto the beach while you’re still stuck on the plane!

It’s super comfortable

Okay, we all know the deal. Economy flights are in NO WAY comfortable. With little-to-no legroom, a next door neighbor who is sitting way too close to you and using your armrest, and absolutely no way to stretch out and have a good kip; a long-haul flight can be an absolute killer. But long-haul First Class flights? They’re a completely different story. In nearly every first class area of any airplane, the seats are a world apart. Quite literally. With individual seating, each passenger gets their own little area of the plane with a reclining chair (which makes an extremely comfortable bed), a sliding divider which shuts you off from the other passengers, and your own personal TV. The nine-hour flight will just be like your average evening at home.

You can actually get work done

If you’re traveling on a business trip and need to perfect your presentation before you reach your destination, it will be pretty impossible to do so if you sit in economy – because you two choices; have the ability to feel your legs and not get work done, or get work done and lose all circulation. The choice is yours. However, in first class, working is no issue. In fact, your plane journey will probably be more comfortable than your own office! In your First Class seat, you’ve got your own individual table with ample writing space, multiple power sockets to ensure your laptop never runs out of battery, and most now have WIFI! Who needs an office?

You don’t need to be rich to fly first class!

There’s a common misconception that you need to be super rich to afford seats in First Class. As much as it is true buying first class seats through the airline will cost you a hefty sum, there are ways to try and get a first class upgrade for a cheaper price (or even for free!). First and foremost, you need to go by the premise that ‘it doesn’t hurt to ask.’ You’ll be surprised how accommodating airlines can be when it comes to upgrading their passengers – if you just ask! The best way to do this is to always be polite and friendly to them when you go to the check-in desks, and if they have something available, they may bump you up. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Ever wondered what it’s like to fly first class? Here are a few pointers to whet your appetite, but why not try it out for yourself?


The post 5 things you didn’t know about flying first class appeared first on Worldation.



Flying in a chopper over the water? See what it takes to escape if it goes down

In preparation for a helicopter ride out to Shell’s massive oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, CNBC first had to pass an extensive underwater drowning training course. Watch as Worldwide Exchange anchor Brian Sullivan escapes a helicopter crash simulation underwater – fully strapped in and upside down


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