Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Stanley Kubrick Films Ranked, From ‘The Shining’ to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’

On what would have been the great director's 89th birthday, the IndieWire staff ranks his 13 feature films.

Stanley Kubrick
Everett Collection/Rex

Today would have been Stanley Kubrick's 89th birthday. The director passed away in 1999 as he was completing his 13th and final feature film, "Eyes Wide Shut," at the age of 70.
In honor of the great director's career, eight members of the IndieWire staff — William Earl, Kate Erbland, David Ehrlich, Eric Kohn, Michael Nordine, Zack Sharf, Anne Thompson, and this author — individually ranked the director's films, which have been averaged together to result in the following list. While Kubrick only made 13 films over a 46-year span, he made more than his fair share of masterpieces. As a sign of just how deep the quality of this list runs, six different titles received first-place votes, while in the final tally the difference between #1 and #7 was razor thin.
Read More Why David Lynch Has Become the Most Important Actor on 'Twin Peaks'

13. "Fear and Desire" (1953)

"Fear and Desire"

At the age of 23, Kubrick was a fairly successful photographer and had made two short films, which he used to raise the money for "Fear and Desire," this story of a soldier who survives a plane crash and lands behind enemy lines. Shot in five weeks in the California mountains with a crew of five, Kubrick thought he would keep costs down by shooting the film without sound and add music and effects in post. The plan backfired, as post-production costs blew well past his budget. The strength of the film lies in the honest, unflinching portrayal of death and man's animal instincts removed from society. The film has a sense of realism, as you can sense the skills of the young documentary photographer behind the lens. Over the years, Kubrick was embarrassed by his first feature and did his best to pull prints from circulation.

12. "Spartacus" (1960)


Star and producer Kirk Douglas fired the great Anthony Mann a week into production and brought aboard a 33-year-old Kubrick, who Douglas thought did a good job with "Paths of Glory." This didn't mean the massive studio epic was to become a Kubrick film, but that didn't stop him from trying. Kubrick butted heads with the screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, over the lack of flaws in the hero (which is humorous, if you've seen other epics of this era); he fought with Welles and Sirk's great DP Russell Metty over the framing and lens choice; and he was forced to cut the bloody battle scenes he was most proud of when they proved too disturbing. Ultimately, "Spartacus" ranks as a decent Hollywood epic that contains Kubrick's craft. It was a significant resume builder, and introduced him to larger-format cinematography the and depth of detail it could achieve.

11. "Killer's Kiss" (1955)

"Killers Kiss"

At 26, Kubrick borrowed $40,000 to make his second feature, which he sold to United Artists for $100,000 with a promise of another $100,000 to pay for his third feature, "The Killing." The strength of this film largely comes from Kubrick-the-hotshot-Look-magazine-photographer, rather than Kubrick the budding filmmaker. Shot on location in New York, the film captures the city as it really was, with images that evoke its atmosphere and seedy underbelly. In particular, ta rooftop scene by the waterfront shows how Kubrick's knowledge of the city and light meant he could turn New York into the perfect set. In telling the noir story of a washed-up boxer trying to help a girl tangled in a messy situation, you can feel Kubrick trying to adapt his sense of composition into filmmaking, with an instinct to strip a scene down to its most basic elements.

10. "Lolita"

Adapting Nabokov's novel into a 1962 film was not an easy task. Kubrick had to keep the drama flowing, while keeping the sexuality tacit. (He later remarked he would have never done the film if he'd known the losing battle he'd fight with censors.) Even so, Kubrick implied a great deal in the film's carefully mannered performances and loaded scene transitions.
Putting the book's terrific end at the beginning was a sacrifice, but it also allowed Kubrick to give the film a sense of fatalism as well as a dramatic jump start. More than anything, Kubrick brought humor to the story. Peter Sellers and James Mason are excellent, and Kubrick used them to find the line where he wouldn't undercut the drama and still be playful. It's a film that can feel a little ordinary for Kubrick at first, but with each viewing you can see the director smirking at their predicament and piety. Had Kubrick been unleashed, this likely would have been a full-blown black comedy.

9. "Full Metal Jacket" (1987)

"Full Metal Jacket"
Kubrick's war film splits into two distinct parts that echo each other in a way that isn't blatant or contrived, but starts a conversation in your head about what being a soldier does to your humanity. Part one is like a great one-act play, in which real-life drill sergeant-turned-actor R. Lee Ermey tries to break a flabby Private Pyle (Vincent D'Onofrio) into becoming a soldier. Ermey's rapid-fire dialogue is delivered in ways that makes you believe he likely was a tremendous drill sergeant, while at the same with sense of humor that is endlessly quotable and amusing. Underneath the barrage of dialogue comes the arc of a young man who clearly doesn't have the stuff to cut it; the army will bleed him of weakness, even at the cost of his humanity, to turn him into a killer.
For the second half of the film, Kubrick transformed England into Vietnam, blowing up old buildings, importing trees from Hong Kong (along with a plastic jungle from California that he instantly dismissed), and acquiring enough old helicopters and tanks to start his own army. The results are impressive, if not 100 percent up to the impossible standards Kubrick set for himself. At the same time, the battleground is made to feel intentionally foreign, as Matthew Modine's character, as sympathetic observer in part one, tries unsuccessfully to stay on the periphery of war.

8. "The Killing" (1956)

"The Killing"
Kubrick, at 28, believed this was his first "mature" feature. Using his favorite pulp writer Jim Thompson and a cast of characters from his favorite crime films, Kubrick's spin on film noir is immensely entertaining. As they set up the puzzle pieces needed to rob the race track, and it all gloriously falls apart, there's tremendous attention to detail. Kubrick's coolness and sense of humor make this one of the fresher and more enjoyable heist movies ever made. From a Kubrickian studies point of view, you can feel the director's style start to emerge, but you can also see (something Kubrick discovered for himself at the time) that his approach to filmmaking would be much different than his photography. He would need far more control and resources (money!) to bring the exactness that his vision required.

7. "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999)

"Eyes Wide Shut"

There's a misconception that Kubrick was a cold filmmaker. It's more that throughout his career, he never wavered on the perception that humanity has completely screwed itself over with its blind acceptance of the institutions of war, law, and social hierarchies. The institution of marriage and the concept of monogamy fall into the same bucket for Kubrick, although he identifies with his protagonists' struggle — and that intimate relationship is especially clear in this film about a married couple (played by then-husband and wife, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman). As Kubrick was a longtime admirer of Max Ophuls' waltz-like camera movement, you can feel the freedom an older Kubrick has granted himself to let the camera dance. Leaning on the film's Freudian source material, the filmmaker's fascination with the absurd rituals of man bends toward a surreal and dreamlike exploration. Yet this is still Kubrick, as he sets dead aim at privilege and patriarchy — to say nothing of toying with Cruise's persona on and off screen — and the film has all the edge and bite of his previous work.

6. "Paths of Glory" (1957)

"Paths of Glory"
While every bit a Stanley Kubrick film, this pre-1960s masterpiece is a window into an alternate path of Kubrick's career — had he not achieved artistic freedom and practically invented his own personal brand and mode of filmmaking. Kirk Douglas plays a lawyer-turned-colonel in the French Army who, in the midst of World War I trench warfare, must defend three of his men facing the death penalty as a result of their regiment retreating, refusing a senseless order to charge toward certain slaughter. Kubrick has the aristocracy of military power (brought wonderfully to life by Adolphe Menjou) in his crosshairs — but it's the nobility and strength of Douglas' character in the face of senseless death, beautifully realized in the trenches and the court room, that anchors this film.
While the character of men crumbles under extreme pressure, Kubrick creates the most traditional hero in his most traditional narrative. The takeaway is that Kubrick was capable of doing a straightforward drama extremely well, if necessary. The film's end, where Christiane Harlan sings "The Faithful Hussar" in the packed beer hall, is one of the most emotional and effective endings in film history, as the moment of shared humanity brings a tear of reflection to the tragedy that's just unfolded. That the German actress would later become Kubrick's wife and great partner in filmmaking until his own death 42 years later adds an extra layer meaning to his fans.

5. "A Clockwork Orange" (1971)

"A Clockwork Orange"
The social satire of "A Clockwork Orange" has become an accepted part of popular culture, which somewhat masks its status as one of Kubrick's most heady and most risk-taking works. Adapted from Anthony Burgess' 1962 book, it tells the story of Alex (Malcolm McDowell, in one of those roles that sticks to actor for decades) and crews of "droogs," a group of violent juvenile delinquents in a future dystopia. In a film that explores the potential dangers of how behavioral psychology could be used by a totalitarian government, Kubrick was uncharacteristically open in announcing the film's themes he was exploring. He wrote: "It is a story of the dubious redemption of a teenage delinquent by condition-reflex therapy. It is, at the same time, a running lecture on free-will."
The film's subversive brilliance is how Kubrick uses cinema to not only make Alex and his "droogs" palatable, but also uncomfortably entertaining. Kubrick constantly, but expertly, teeters on the line of identification and satire of his nihilistic characters who beat, rape, and steal. In a unique combination of music and costuming — because what thug doesn't wear white leotards, a black derby, and love to kick back to some Beethoven — Kubrick created a cartoonish version of cool. The use of language and voiceover were also precisely executed. Kubrick's decision to use the teenage mode of speech invented by linguist-turned-author Burgess (Nadsat, a form of Russian-influenced English slang) was particularly important; it supplied a necessary distancing tool for the audience to be entertained by Alex's gleefully indifferent and wittily inhumane narration. When juxtaposed with the political doublespeak of government officials, as Kubrick simultaneously skewers the left and the right, the film dramatically switches gears, as the audience is confronted by our own moral attitudes about the constraints of society, government, and the concept of free will.

4. "Barry Lyndon" (1975)

"Barry Lyndon"
Deliberately slow in its pacing and physically distant with an omniscient narrator who pushes us only further away, this film somehow enthralls you to the point that every small gesture is packed with meaning and emotion. Based on a Victorian novel (regarded as the first without a traditional hero), "Barry Lyndon" is the story of a calculating and amoral Irishman (Ryan O'Neil) who climbs society's ladder. Kubrick tells the story with what seems like a cool detachment, but seduces the audience into caring. "Barry Lyndon" is also an impossibly beautiful film and a technical marvel. The director's wide-angle distance is matched with some of his most profound framing and elegant production design, with costumes that tell a rich and layered story. Aided by John Alcott's cinematography, which utilized a special f0.7 lens made by NASA to capture 70mm images lit by candlelight, is is amongst the greatest of all time.

3. "The Shining" (1980)

"The Shining"
It could be argued the most influential film on this current moment in filmmaking is "The Shining." From its more overt psychological approach to genre, use of location, and groundbreaking camera movement, Kubrick's horror classic is a vital touchstone for this generation of filmmakers. Interestingly, it was not widely accepted by critics, who had a hard time connecting to Jack Nicholson's struggling writer who slowly descends into madness as he brings his family to The Overlook Hotel. Kubrick was drawn to making a horror film to explore his deep mistrust of the flaws of man's personality.That the film's incredibly effective scares and sense of unease comes from this exploration, and Nicholson's amazing descent into madness, isn't meant to be welcoming.Yet, at the time, the film was seen as so over the top that it became Kubrick's first film to receive nominations from the Razzies rather than the Academy.
The film's crowning and lasting achievement, however, is the way Kubrick married his precise sense of composition and pacing with a moving camera that brought the film's psychological underbelly to life. Experimenting with Steadicam inventor and operator Garrett Brown, Kubrick put the new tool to use and, in the process of doing 50 repeat takes, helped Brown perfect his invention.

2. "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1964)

"Dr. Strangelove"
FilmStruck / Criterion Collection
One of the keys to understanding the brilliance of this black-comedy masterpiece is Kubrick initially set out to make a more straightforward thriller about a nuclear-weapons crisis. In the process of doing extensive research, Kubrick couldn't get past the absurdity of the "mutual assured destruction" theory that justified both sides of the Cold War endlessly stockpiling nuclear bombs as they gamed out doomsday scenarios. Thinking of our current political moment (which understandably has artists befuddled about how to handle it), the idea that Kubrick made this comedic masterpiece in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisist and on the eve of the Vietnam War is truly remarkable. What's even more amazing is, close to 30 years after the end of the Cold War, the film still feels just as fresh and insightful.
As Kubrick delights in skewering real-life political realities and figures, the key is his deft touch with comedy. Reluctantly accepting Columbia Pictures' insistence that Peter Sellers play four different roles (he ultimately only played three) after the financial success of the comedian playing multiple roles in "The Mouse That Roared," Kubrick turned the studio mandate to his advantage as Sellers supplied the exact slow-burn comedic timing needed to draw pitch-perfect performances from dramatic actors like George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden. Yet all the role playing and madcap humor were  a delivery device for Kubrick to hold up a mirror to a world on the brink of destroying itself.

1. "2001: A Space Odyssey" (1968)

"2001: A Space Odyssey"
Looking back now, with the hindsight of nearly 50 years, it is still hard to fully appreciate just how visionary Kubrick was as a filmmaker, technician, and thinker. With little precedence, Kubrick brought to life an artistic use of sci-fi visual effects (in great collaboration with Douglas Trumbull) and a vision of artificial intelligence (in great collaboration with Arthur C. Clarke) that not only still feels fresh, but embarrasses (or at least it should) filmmakers in 2017.
Determined to make a different type of sci-fi film, Kubrick recruited Clarke to help him develop a story that explored man's relationship to the universe. Simultaneously, the two worked on a novel and screenplay, using an early work of Clarke's as starting point, to flesh out the genre-altering screenplay. For all of their different versions (and abandoned elements) as they struggled to work out the complexities, and for all the cutting-edge technical engineering the film required, Kubrick's existential vision of "2001" is brilliantly simple and cinematically exact. It's as transcendent, bold, and distilled as any film ever made.

One of the most important aspects of the film that rarely gets discussed is how important it was to Kubrick's career. This was not a film that took years to be appreciated. While initial reaction was mixed, it slowly steamrolled its way throughout the year (not that long ago, films weren't defined by their opening-weekend box office) to become the highest-grossing film of 1968. Yet it's easy to imagine how a heady film of this scope could have become an extremely expensive art-film flop. One of the keys to Kubrick, intentional or not, was he was at least somewhat in tune to the zeitgeist. While that's not by any means a prerequisite of great art, the fact that this film was a breakthrough sensation and captured the imagination of the public, one year before we put a man on the moon, solidified his reputation as a visionary.

By 1972, "2001" was already appearing on the Sight and Sound's once-a-decade poll of the greatest films ever made. The artistic and financial freedom he gained from Warner Bros. as a result defined his later career, and allowed him to make his last five films in his own unorthodox, obsessive, and unimpeded way. While it's fun to debate which film is Kubrick's best, this was the one that defined him.

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100,000 Pages of Chemical Industry Secrets Gathered Dust in an Oregon Barn for Decades — Until Now

For decades, some of the dirtiest, darkest secrets of the chemical industry have been kept in Carol Van Strum's barn. Creaky, damp, and prowled by the occasional black bear, the listing, 80-year-old structure in rural Oregon housed more than 100,000 pages of documents obtained through legal discovery in lawsuits against Dow, Monsanto, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the Air Force, and pulp and paper companies, among others.

As of today, those documents and others that have been collected by environmental activists will be publicly available through a project called the Poison Papers. Together, the library contains more than 200,000 pages of information and "lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment," said Peter von Stackelberg, a journalist who along with the Center for Media and Democracy and the Bioscience Resource Project helped put the collection online.

Van Strum didn't set out to be the repository for the people's pushback against the chemical industry. She moved to a house in the Siuslaw National Forest in 1974 to live a simple life. But soon after she arrived, she realized the Forest Service was spraying her area with an herbicide called 2,4,5-T — on one occasion, directly dousing her four children with it as they fished by the river.

The chemical was one of two active ingredients in Agent Orange, which the U.S. military had stopped using in Vietnam after public outcry about the fact that it caused cancer, birth defects, and serious harms to people, animals, and the environment. But in the U.S., the Forest Service continued to use both 2,4,5-T and the other herbicide in Agent Orange, 2,4-D, to kill weeds. (Timber was — and in some places still is — harvested from the national forest and sold.) Between 1972 and 1977, the Forest Service sprayed 20,000 pounds of 2,4,5-T in the 1,600-square-mile area that included Van Strum's house and the nearby town of Alsea.

A view of the Five Rivers valley in rural Oregon looking southwest from Carol Van Strum's front door.
Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

As in Vietnam, the chemicals hurt people and animals in Oregon, as well as the plants that were their target. Immediately after they were sprayed, Van Strum's children developed nosebleeds, bloody diarrhea, and headaches, and many of their neighbors fell sick, too. Several women who lived in the area had miscarriages shortly after incidents of spraying. Locals described finding animals that had died or had bizarre deformities — ducks with backward-facing feet, birds with misshapen beaks, and blinded elk; cats and dogs that had been exposed began bleeding from their eyes and ears. At a community meeting, residents decided to write to the Forest Service detailing the effects of the spraying they had witnessed.

"We thought that if they knew what had happened to us, they wouldn't do it anymore," Van Strum said recently, before erupting into one of the many bursts of laughter that punctuate her conversation. We were sitting not far from the river where her children played more than 40 years ago, and her property remained much as it was back when the Forest Service first sprayed them with the herbicide. A mountain covered with alder and maple trees rose up across from her home, just as it did then, and the same monkey puzzle tree that was there when she moved in still shaded her dirt driveway.
But Van Strum, now 76, is much changed from the young woman who politely asked that the federal agency stop spraying many years ago. After the Forest Service refused their request to stop using the herbicides, she and her neighbors filed a suit that led to a temporary ban on 2,4,5-T in their area in 1977 and, ultimately, to a total stop to the use of the chemical in 1983.

For Van Strum, the suit was also the beginning of lifetime of battling the chemical industry. The lawyer who had taken their case offered a reduced fee in exchange for Van Strum's unpaid research assistance. And she found she had a knack for poring over and parsing documents and keeping track of huge volumes of information. Van Strum provided guidance to others filing suit over spraying in national forests and helped filed another case that pointed out that the EPA's registration of 2,4-D and other pesticides was based on fraudulent data from a company called Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories. That case led to a decision, in 1983, to stop all aerial herbicide spraying by the Forest Service.

"We didn't think of ourselves as environmentalists, that wasn't even a word back then," Van Strum said. "We just didn't want to be poisoned."

Still, Van Strum soon found herself helping with a string of suits filed by people who had been hurt by pesticides and other chemicals. "People would call up and say, 'Do you have such and such?' And I'd go clawing through my boxes," said Van Strum, who often wound up acquiring new documents through these requests — and storing those, too, in her barn.

Some of the more than 100,000 pages of discovery material related to the chemical industry that were stored in Carol Van Strum's barn in rural Oregon.
Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

Along the way, she amassed disturbing evidence about the dangers of industrial chemicals — and the practices of the companies that make them. Two documents, for instance, detailed experiments that Dow contracted a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist to conduct on prisoners in the 1960s to show the effects of TCDD, a particularly toxic contaminant found in 2,4,5-T. Another document, from 1985, showed that Monsanto had sold a chemical that was tainted with TCDD to the makers of Lysol, who, apparently unaware of its toxicity, used it as an ingredient in their disinfectant spray for 23 years. Yet another, from 1990, detailed the EPA policy of allowing the use of hazardous waste as inert ingredients in pesticides and other products under certain circumstances.

There were limits to what Van Strum could prove through her persistent data collection. The EPA had undertaken a study of the relationship between herbicide exposure and miscarriages and had taken tissue samples from water, animals, a miscarried fetus, and a baby born without a brain in the area. The EPA never released the full results of the "Alsea study," as it was called, and insisted it had lost many of them. But a lab chemist provided Van Strum with what he said was the analysis of the test results he had been hired to do for the EPA, which showed the samples from water, various animals, and "products of conception" were significantly contaminated with TCDD.

When confronted, the EPA claimed there had been a mix-up and that the samples were from another area. Van Strum filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the results and, for years, battled in court to get to the bottom of what happened. Though the EPA provided more than 34,000 pages in response to her request (which Van Strum carefully numbered and stored in her barn), the agency never released all the results of the study or fully explained what had happened to them or where the contaminated samples had been taken. And eventually, Van Strum gave up. The EPA declined to comment for this story.

Carol Van Strum prepares to work on her property with her dogs Maybe and Mike at her side in May 2017.
Photo: Risa Scott/RF Scott Imagery

She had to make peace with not fully understanding a personal tragedy, too. In 1977, her house burned to the ground and her four children died in the fire. Firefighters who came to the scene said the fact that the whole house had burned so quickly pointed to the possibility of arson. But an investigation of the causes of the fire was never completed.

Van Strum suspected some of her opponents might have set the fire. It was a time of intense conflict between local activists and employees of timber companies, chemical manufacturers, and government agencies over the spraying of herbicides. A group of angry residents in the area near Van Strum's home had destroyed a Forest Service helicopter that had been used for spraying. And, on one occasion, Van Strum had come home to find some of the defenders of the herbicides she was attacking in court on her property.

"I've accepted that I'll never really know" what happened, said Van Strum, who never rebuilt her house and now lives in an outbuilding next to the cleared site where it once stood.

But her commitment to the battle against toxic chemicals survived the ordeal. "If it was intentional, it was the worst thing that ever happened to me," she said. "After that, there was nothing that could make me stop."

Still, after all these years, Van Strum felt it was time to pass on her collection of documents, some of which pertain to battles that are still being waged, so "others can take up the fight." And the seeds of many of the fights over chemicals going on today can be tied to the documents that sat in her barn. The Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories scandal is central in litigation over the carcinogenicity of Monsanto's Roundup, for instance. And 2,4-D, the other active ingredient in Agent Orange, is still in use.

Meanwhile, private timber companies continue to use both 2,4-D and Roundup widely, though not in the national forest. Van Strum has been part of an effort to ban aerial pesticide spraying in the county, and is speaking on behalf of the local ecosystem in a related lawsuit.
"I get to play the Lorax," Van Strum said. "It's going to be fun."

Top photo: From left, Carol Van Strum and her neighbor Kathy clean and pull staples as Peter von Stackelberg, who covered Industrial Bio-Test Laboratories as a reporter for the Regina, Saskatchewan, Leader-Post, operates two scanners simultaneously, May 2017.

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Hiding from artificial intelligence in the age of total surveillance

July 22, 2017 Victoria Zavyalova

Grigory Bakunov, a top specialist at one of Russia's largest tech companies, has invented an anti-facial recognition algorithm to conceal people's identities with the help of makeup.

The service was able to offer futuristic makeup that could trick smart cameras with just a few facial lines. Source: Grigory Bakunov

Facial recognition software is a reality and an increasingly irritating one. Smart cameras are monitoring the streets of most major cities, social media have massive databases of users' faces, and god knows how security services are planning to use it. Is there any way to escape Big Brother and enjoy some privacy?

Developers and researchers are already working on this. For example, Carnegie Mellon University recently showed how specially designed glasses can trick facial recognition software into thinking you are someone else, and projects such as CV Dazzle explore how fashion can be used as camouflage.

Grigory Bakunov, director of technology distribution at Yandex, Russia's tech giant, decided he had enough. "Facial recognition systems are used by different people for various purposes, and it's impossible to move around Moscow avoiding cameras," he wrote on Telegram

So, he took some time from his day job to develop an algorithm that prevents facial recognition software from successfully identifying a person. His service offers special makeup to hide people's identity from artificial intelligence.
New algorithm prevents face recognition from identifying you/Grigory Bakunov

"An easy but effective algorithm was developed very fast," Bakunov wrote. "The service was able to offer futuristic makeup that could trick smart cameras with just a few facial lines."

The project proved short lived, however, because Bakunov realized that it would now be possible to deceive banks and police.

"That's why we decided we shouldn't launch it on the market; the chance that someone might use it for nefarious purposes was too high," Bakunov said. 
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Justin Trudeau lands on the cover of Rolling Stone | Toronto Star

The overall glowing story by writer Stephen Rodrick calls Trudeau "a progressive, rational, forward-thinking leader" who "overcame tragedy to become Canada's prime minister."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has landed on the cover of August's Rolling Stone. "Justin Trudeau is trying to Make Canada Great Again. He is using, let us say, different methods," says writer Stephen Rodrick  (Martin Schoeller for Rolling Stone) 

By Alanna RizzaStaff Reporter

Wed., July 26, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine's August issue and heads are turning.

The overall glowing story by writer Stephen Rodrick calls Trudeau "a progressive, rational, forward-thinking leader" who "overcame tragedy to become Canada's prime minister", such as the death of his younger brother Michel who was killed in an avalanche and the death of his father, former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

On the front cover, Trudeau is pictured with the words "Why can't he be our President?" He stares intensely with a slight smile as he leans against a dark glossy table.

The photos are paired with a lengthy profile, with the usual comments about his hair (which Rodrick writes is "a color found in nature"), his appeal to young Canadians and how he's a self-proclaimed feminist

This leads up to Rodrick's comparison of Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump's stances on abortion, pot legalization, climate change, and Russia.

"Trump's son met with Russian nationals who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trudeau's foreign minister is Chrystia Freeland, a Canadian of Ukrainian descent who is banned in Putin's Russia," writes Rodrick.

"Justin Trudeau is trying to Make Canada Great Again. He is using, let us say, different methods."
Trudeau tells Rodrick that while he disagrees with Trump "on a whole bunch," the pair have "a constructive working relationship."

Trudeau adds that going out of his way to "insult the guy or overreact or jump at everything he says (that) we might disagree with is not having a constructive relationship."

There is some critique of Trudeau's government towards the end of the article, such as "getting hammered by the right wing" for Omar Khadr $10.5 million settlement as well as broken campaign promises on electoral reform and the lack of improvement on the quality of life for Indigenous people.

Some, not as excited about Trudeau's cover, took to Twitter to say they'd happily offer him up to the U.S.

"He's exactly socks-and-selfies deep. If that's your dream leader, please take him," tweeted Andrew Scheidl.

"Oh for the love of…will you PLEASE knock it off. Hope for the free world? Yeah, he's a regular super hero. Stop" tweeted Mike O'Hara.

Others displayed their happiness with the Prime Minister.
"He knows what he doing. True North Strong and Free." tweeted Janis Sexton.
"Excellent article. Hater's heads exploding," tweeted another.

With files from Canadian Press
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US Energy Secretary takes 22-minute prank call from “Ukrainian Prime Minister”

Perry defended Paris Agreement withdrawal, entertained pig manure biofuel idea.

Megan Geuss - 7/25/2017, 5:55 PM
Enlarge / WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump's choice as Secretary of Energy, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Capitol Hill January 19, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Last week, US Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry took a phone call from two men he thought were the Ukrainian Prime Minister and his translator. But the 22-minute-long phone call was actually two Russian pranksters, Vladimir "Vovan" Kuznetsov and Alexei "Lexus" Stolyarov, otherwise known as the "Jerky Boys of Russia," in the style of an American prank call duo from the 1990s, according to Bloomberg.

The Washington Post confirmed the conversation with the Department of Energy. In audio originally posted on a Russian website and reposted elsewhere, the dialogue touched on a Baltic Sea pipeline that would pump Russian gas, as well as an expansion of coal and oil and gas interests in Ukraine. Early in the conversation, Secretary Perry tells the pranksters that "the [Trump] administration is broadly supportive of sanctions against Russia at this particular point in time," and later he offers that "negotiation is always possible" on coal exports to Ukraine.

The Secretary also advised the "Prime Minister" that, without transparency about regulations and geological data about where wells have been or could be drilled, it would be hard for the US to help oil and gas companies expand exploration in Ukraine.

Perry also told the men that the US was very interested in working with Ukraine "on the civil nuclear side" and noted that that's what they'd discuss in an upcoming meeting. "Between coal, oil and gas, and nuclear, this August meeting can be very productive," Perry said.

Perry also took questions from the men about the Paris Agreement, which the Trump administration intends to withdraw from. "I hope that stepping away from the Paris accord will not have any negative impact with our relationship with the Ukraine," Perry said on the phone. "We tried to divorce the politics from this and really just let our record stand, one that I'm very proud of.
According to the Washington Post, the duo played it straight the whole time, including during a part of the call when Kuznetsov and Stolyarov told Perry that Ukrainian President Poroshenko had invented a new biofuel out of pig manure and alcohol.

The Russian pranksters have allegedly duped Elton John and John McCain in the past. But how these two men got Perry on the line is unclear. "Calls between Cabinet secretaries and foreign officials are typically closely vetted; it's not clear how the pranksters connected with Perry," Bloomberg wrote.

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