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Hostiles Uses the Past to Look at the Present



Hostiles, Scott Cooper’s new western, wants to be taken seriously. It wants to say important things, address essential themes, and say it all with unflinching intensity and beauty. To do that, especially in today’s market, takes not only talent, but courage and restraint. His success is mixed.

The film begins with a quote from D. H. Lawrence: “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer. It has never yet melted”. The film itself sets a course to both illustrate this observation and to melt both the heart of the protagonist, Capt. Joe Blocker(Christian Bale) and the hearts of the audience.

Like other Post-Modern westerns (specifically, Unforgiven and Dances With Wolves) Hostiles uses the genre conventions to self consciously address the larger themes of violence and racism. The title itself carries this load, indicating both hostility and the notion of the Other. A timely film, it would seem, in this current age. But when done well, as in the case of the two older films, westerns have always been timely.

It’s an old saw that America defined itself through western expansion …. and westerns are soundtracked to the hum of old saws …. that in the West, America found its identity story.

But does America want westerns? And is Hostiles the kind of Western they want? Director Scott Cooper earnestly believes it’s the movie they need.

So, like so many contemporary filmmakers, he goes to the source western, the post Viet Nam thinking man’s western, John Ford’s The Searchers, for imagery and inspiration. Beginning with the Comanche attack on the settlers, through the framing of Christian Bales’ prejudiced and hateful Captain Blocker in the cabin’s doorway, through his path to healing and redemption, the fingerprint of Ford’s iconic film is everywhere.

The difference though is both dramatic and telling. Ford suggests and Cooper shows, if not tells.

Despite using the landscape, always a western’s greatest assess, effectively, letting its beauty and scope dwarf and counterpoint the characters, and despite strong internally driven performances by everyone, the film only sometimes hits its emotional mark.

Too often the characters say what they should show. These are truths that should be felt, not articulated. At times he trusts in the power of his silences to speak…and he wisely and admirably avoids comic relief….but as the film draws to its end, there are confessions and self reflections that deflate the emotional power of the scene. And power is exactly what Cooper is striving for, and he should be duly respected in these cynical franchise days for the attempt. Pushing Max Richter’s soundtrack to the front of the mix, assigning its rich synthesized and orchestrated chords to lead, Cooper is declaring his intent to address America’s burden of violence and heal its self-inflicted wounds.

For all the violence, this is not an exploitation film, it is not a shoot’em up. Cooper is aiming for a deadly seriousness and gravity that the themes demand. Christian Bale’s performance certainly is all in. He is like a still and broiling focus of Cooper’s ambition to say something profound, both timely and timeless. His character takes the mythic arc from lost to found, from damned to redeemed, but in order to make it fit the narrative it feels like stages are missing.

It’s as if in this PTSD parable, Cooper wants his hero to heal so badly that he’ll take a shortcut here and there to help him along. He begins the film as a hardened and hateful government sanctioned killer, an Army officer who has done awful things in the line of duty. But when he encounters, the vulnerability of the traumatized settler woman (Rosamund Pike), he becomes a compassionate and thoughtful man. Add the vulnerability (to say nothing of the nobility) of the Cheyenne chief (Wes Studi), then the Captain truly begins to change, and change rapidly, too rapidly.

The last shot of The Searchers is John Wayne, framed by a cabin door, having saved his niece and overcome his prejudice, returning alone to the wilderness. The door closes.

The last shot of Hostiles nods to this iconic ending, but vicariously invites the audience, for America, to enter and be healed. It is such a noble gesture, I wish it had been more earned. As it is, I wish Captain Blocker well, but I wish the film hadn’t got there so fast and, despite the many wounds and corpses, so easily.

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The HISTORY Channel’s “The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch” To Make Panel Debut at San Diego Comic-Con



“The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch,” a hit nonfiction series on the HISTORY Channel, is making its debut at San Diego Comic-Con with an exclusive panel. The panel will feature aerospace engineer, astrophysicist, and lead scientist Dr. Travis Taylor; Defense Intelligence Senior Executive (Retired) Jay Stratton; and others. The series follows current ranch owner Brandon Fugal and an accredited team of scientists, researchers, and experts as they conduct carefully curated scientific experiments, daring drilling and drone exercises, and more to uncover what’s taking place on the anomalous 512-acre hotspot of high strangeness and UAP-related activity. New episodes currently air on Tuesdays at 9/8c, with the two-hour season five finale airing on Tuesday, July 23 at 9/8c.

HISTORY’s “THE SECRET OF SKINWALKER RANCH” PANEL – Thursday, July 25 from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Hilton San Diego Bayfront (Indigo Ballroom)

Can You Keep A Secret? Unveiling the Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch – Ever seen a UAP? Or witnessed something strange and unusual that you couldn’t explain? Join the experts from The HISTORY® Channel’s hit series The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, including astrophysicist and lead scientist Dr. Travis Taylor and others, for a dynamic panel discussing the motivations, inclinations and secret findings currently taking place at one of the most infamous UAP and paranormal hotspots to ever exist. The moderator will be Matt Zoller Seitz (New York Magazine/Vulture). Cast subject to change.

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Adult Swim, the global leader in adult animation, unveiled plans today for San Diego Comic-Con which includes an ongoing Pirate-themed fan “parrrty” featuring a series of special evening events, exclusive panels diving into key Adult Swim programs, and the kick-off of a cross-country mobile tour to celebrate “Rick and Morty: The Anime.”

“For reasons too long to get into, we at Adult Swim have always used a pirate ship (and, owls, but maybe we’ll do that at a later con) as a metaphor for how we operate,” said Michael Ouweleen, president, Adult Swim. “We thought since we like to think of us, fans and network, as all one thing, that we should bring the pirate ship to the harbor of San Diego this year and let everyone join us on the – erm – poop deck.”


Adult Swim will crash onto the shores of San Diego with a shipwreck adventure on the network’s Adult Swim on the Green space outside the San Diego Convention Center (5th Avenue Landing and Convention Way). The “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” will include custom games, exclusive first looks, giveaways, and evening entertainment including DJ laser sets – no badge required!

The space will also host a series of special evening events including:

  • AEW x Adult Swim “Battle for the Booty” Wrestling Tournament – Join a collection of AEW wrestlers who will face off in a tag team tournament against famous Adult Swim faces for a no-holds-barred event as each competitor vies for the chance to win the “Battle for the Booty” title. Thursday (7/25) at 7:30pm
  • Adult Swim’s Night of New – Comic-Con attendees will be the first to experience a collection of brand-new Adult Swim series at this special screening event featuring the full-length premiere episodes of “Common Side Effects,” “Rick and Morty: The Anime,” “Invincible Fight Girl,” and “Women Wearing Shoulder Pads” alongside more never-before-seen Adult Swim content.  The screening will also be livestreamed in real-time on Adult Swim’s YouTube Channel. Don’t miss your chance! Friday (7/26) at 7:30pm
  • Fun with Zach and Michael – Fresh off the finale of the hit series’ second season, join “SMILING FRIENDS” co-creators Michael Cusack and Zach Hadel for a special live-draw and fan Q&A event. Saturday (7/27) at 7:30pm

The first 1,000 attendees to join the “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” at 1pm on Thursday, Friday and Saturday will receive an exclusive giveaway! For more details on the “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” visit here.


This summer marks the return of the famed Rickmobile and Mortymobile for Adult Swim’s “Anime-rican” tour in support of the new series “Rick and Morty: The Anime,” and San Diego Comic-Con is its first stop! Fans attending the “Adult Swim Pirate Parrrty” will have a chance for a photo-op with the Mortymobile, while the Rickmobile will roam San Diego’s Gaslamp District with special giveaways. After Comic-Con, both the Rickmobile and the Mortymobile will cross the country for a nine-city tour that will conclude in Adult Swim’s hometown of Atlanta.


The fun continues inside with a series of can’t-miss panels featuring advanced looks, breaking news and insightful discussion from series creators and voice talent:

  • Adult Swim’s “Common Side Effects” Series First Look – Come experience the side effects of an incredible panel discussion about Adult Swim’s highly anticipated new series.  “Common Side Effects.”  From executive producers Mike Judge and Greg Daniels, and creators Joe Bennett and Steve Hely, this comedic thriller follows two former high school lab partners who take on big pharma and government agencies as they try to bring a medicine that cures everything to the whole world. Co-creator Steve Hely and writer/director Sean Buckelew will join the series voice cast including Martha KellyEmily PendergastJoseph Lee Anderson and Dave King to discuss the new series. Friday (7/26) at 11am, Indigo Ballroom
  • Adult Swim’s “Rick And Morty: The Anime” Series First Look – Go further into the multiverse of Rick and Morty with the new series “Rick and Morty: The Anime” as it lands at San Diego Comic-Con.  Writer/director Takashi Sano, producers Joseph Chou and Takenari Maeda, and Adult Swim’s head of action and anime Jason DeMarco will share details about the intergalactic adventure and show you the inner workings of the new series on Adult Swim. Friday (7/26) at 12pm, Indigo Ballroom
  • “My Adventures with Superman” Screening Presentation and Panel – Join executive producers Jake WyattJosie CampbellBrendan Clogher, and voice cast members Jack QuaidAlice LeeIshmel Sahid, and Kiana Madeira as they answer your burning questions from season two. Plus get the early scoop on all the action, comedy, and romance that awaits Clark, Lois, and Jimmy in season three. Airing on Adult Swim, “My Adventures with Superman” is produced by Warner Bros. Animation. Saturday (7/27) at 10am, Indigo Ballroom 
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BMI® and White Bear PR are excited to present “The Character of Music: The Art of Scoring for Animation,” at Comic-Con 2024. The panelists include BMI composers Sherri Chung, Deana Kiner, Kevin Kiner, Sean Kiner, Joy Ngiaw, along with composers The Newton Brothers and songwriter Alex Seaver. The panel will be moderated by White Bear PR’s Chandler Poling and introduced by BMI’s Director, Film, TV & Visual Media, Louie Stephens.

Step into the mesmerizing world where sound meets artistry at this year’s “The Character of Music: The Art of Scoring for Animation” panel. Discover how composers work hand in hand with animators and directors to weave a seamless tapestry of sound and imagery. The panelists include Deana, Kevin and Sean Kiner (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: The Bad Batch, Star Wars: Rebels), Sherri Chung (Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Based On A True Story), Joy Ngiaw (Blush, Barbie Mysteries), The Newton Brothers (X-MEN ’97), and songwriter Alex Seaver aka MAKO (Arcane: League of Legends). 

San Diego Convention Center Room 6BCF
111 W. Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101 

Sunday, July 28, 2024 


2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. PST

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