Trending March 2024 # First Reviews Of Kutcher’s ‘Jobs’ Film Hit The Web # Suggested April 2024 # Top 5 Popular

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Ashton Kutcher’s long-awaited jOBS, a biopic on the late Steve Jobs, debuted for the first time ever last night at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. And as you can imagine, the screening was chock-full of critics and tech bloggers.

The first reviews of the movie hit the web late last night, and the overall theme seems to be “good, not great.” Both Kutcher and Gad (who plays Woz) received praise for their respective performances, but the film itself didn’t seem to impress.

Here’s a roundup of some of the top jOBS reviews from around the web…

CNET: “While “jOBS” fawns over subject, film falls flat”

“The movie gives it a shot. Kutcher drew skepticism when he was announced as the film’s lead, despite an uncanny resemblance to the man he would be playing. But he throws himself into the role, inhabiting Jobs in his mannerisms and gestures while doing a more than creditable impression of the man’s voice. Kutcher also captures Jobs’ deliberate, slightly hunched-over walk. At moments, as during an enjoyable sequence in which Jobs recruits members for the Macintosh team, Kutcher disappears into the role.”

SlashFilm: “Ashton Kutcher Plays Steve Jobs, But We Don’t Get To Know Steve Jobs”

“Apple fans are going to be very mixed on Jobs. On one hand here’s the story they’ve been dying to see, on screen, and it looks great. But the film feels slight because it tries to do too much. The effort is there and the film is entertaining, but it’s feels like the PC version of the story instead of the Apple.”

TNW: “jOBS is an entertaining, if impressionistic, portrait of Steve Jobs as a young man”

“The lead actors are likable and appear to have put serious effort into getting the spirit of the characters right. The film looks (mostly) good aside from some of what could likely be ascribed to budgetary constraints. And though the director is a tad indulgent here and there, it doesn’t take away from the overall feeling of ‘decent’ that I came away with.”

CinemaBlend: “Ashton Kutcher Does Well, But The Movie Fails To Think Different”

“After 10 days of watching Sundance films that wholly reject traditional Hollywood formulas, it’s exhausting to see the work Joshua Michael Stern does here, leaning heavily on an overbearing score and soft lighting and scenes that lay out the film’s themes as broadly as a corporate presentation. The Steve Jobs of this movie, who’s constantly berating his employees to come up with something better than the status quo, would have hated the pat sentiments and dull direction of jOBS. Apple urged people to think different. jOBS does anything but.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “jOBS: Sundance Review”

CriticWire: “Ashton Kutcher Does A Solid Steve in ‘jOBS,’ But Is This Tame Biopic a Lost Cause From the Start?”

I can’t imagine the amount of pressure that was endured by these guys throughout the film-making process. “Hey, we’re making a film about one of the most important figures of our generation. And we have almost no budget. And Ashton Kutcher is the lead.”

Kutcher, who is known for his starring roles in sitcoms and romantic comedies, drew skepticism when he was announced as the film’s lead, even though he bears a remarkable resemblance to Steve Jobs. But from the sounds of it, he gave quite a performance.

Despite the lackluster reviews, I look forward to seeing jOBS when it hits theaters on April 19.

What about you?

You're reading First Reviews Of Kutcher’s ‘Jobs’ Film Hit The Web

Macbook Pro 2023 Reviews: A Roundup Of The Critics Opinions

The fact that these laptops work with Wi-Fi 6E is one of the most essential improvements. This version of Wi-Fi is faster and works more reliably than the one that came before it. Lori Grunin of CNET found that Wi-Fi 6E was faster than Wi-Fi 6, with a steady download speed of 483Mbps on 6E compared to an average of 392Mbps on 6.

The new MacBook Pros also have a new HDMI 2.1 port that can connect to an 8K external display. This means you can now connect your MacBook Pro to an 8K monitor and enjoy high-resolution images like never before.

The new MacBook Pros look the same as the ones that came out in October 2023, so you won’t notice any big changes in terms of how they look. The 14-inch model starts at $1,999, and the 16-inch model starts at $2,499. You can pre-order the laptops on Apple’s online store.

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MacBook Pro 2023 Written Reviews

The M1 Max, despite having less raw power than its successor, was the obvious choice for shoppers trying to maximize their CPU power in 2023. The M2 Max is no longer that — the core-hungry shopper who never unplugs their laptop will have better options from Intel and AMD in 2023. What we don’t expect those options to have, in any capacity, is battery life. That’s where the M1 Max is the undeniable champion. And that’s the calculus that does remain unchanged from 2023: the MacBook Pro 16 remains the best combination of performance and efficiency that you can get. That’s why the M2 Max, despite being more powerful than the M1 Max, may target less of a “power user” crowd this year.

I generally get more reliable performance from 6E than 6, at least in my environment. For instance, a casual Speedtest run delivered a consistent 483Mbps download on 6E but an average 392Mbps on 6 (for 400Mbps service). The latter started higher but dropped partway through as well.

The previous MacBook Pro lasted 12 hours and 36 minutes during our testing, but the new model made it to 15 hours and 10 minutes. That’s a healthy step up, especially if you find yourself stuck on a long flight without any working outlets. Apple says that the new MacBook Pros can reach up to 22 hours of battery life, but take note that figure only refers to the 16-inch model.

Either route you’ll see fast performance and a high level of responsiveness with any app. When it comes time to export an HD, 4K, or even 8K video you’ll find that the application doesn’t require a wait for rendering something for playback and that export times will be cut down dramatically. Same goes for live-previewing an app in XCode, 3D animations, batch photo edits, or illustration exports as well.

If this review seems short, that’s because there’s not too much to talk about; this is essentially the 2023 MacBook Pro but 20–30 percent faster at some tasks, and with a few connectivity options upgraded to better match what is expected from a pricey laptop like this. And that’s OK because the 2023 MacBook Pro was excellent. The 2023 version is the same but slightly better. The M2 Pro and M2 Max’s performance and efficiency make them attractive devices for many people. That said, you shouldn’t spend this amount of money if you don’t need this much performance, and let’s be real: most people don’t. The MacBook Air or one of a few particularly strong Windows ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 13 will meet many folks’ needs just as well, and for a lot less money—plus, they provide more portability.  

MacBook Pro 2023 Video Reviews, Unboxings, and Guides

The new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro 2023 models are great for tech fans who want a high-end laptop. These laptops will impress with the latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. Improved Wi-Fi 6E, an upgraded HDMI 2.1 port, and an extra hour of battery life.

The Importance Of First Party Data Activation

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Cookies going away in Chrome?

They already have been eliminated from the most popular browser on the mobile market – Safari.

How does this affect marketing & sales? What about Shopify merchants?

Brent Ramos, Product Director at Adswerve, joined me to discuss incremental measurement in ecommerce and beyond.

We talked about the importance of first-party data and the possibility of losing a lot of the third-party data that we’re getting through cookies on the Chrome browser.

Third-party data will probably always exist in some format, to some kind of degree, and not all third-party data is bad. First-party data is certainly not bad. It’s required for many daily things that we as consumers experience that we enjoy. So those first-party cookies will persist and will persist more than the third card, third-party cookies. –Brent Ramos, 05:58

Those touchpoints make up a full, wholesome persona of what a real human being could look like. And so it’s not a matter of how you collect it, but it’s a matter of having you started? And what are you doing? See it with an eye to activation. –Brent Ramos, 07:20

From the consumers’ point of view, they will be getting a better experience. They should be able to have better conversations with their brands across all of the different touchpoints and channels in a way that’s responsible and appropriate. And it’s useful all at the same time. –Brent Ramos, 11:10

[22:01] – Samples of first-party campaigns.

Resources mentioned:

So the faster you can get first-party data and lifetime value modeling embedded into your bids, the better you will be. And you won’t have to worry about competition nearly as much when you know you can do that. –Brent Ramos, 26:52

Once you add lifetime value into the equation, no matter what the attribution channel, you’re just talking in a different language. Which is more so marketing than direct response that we’re used to talking with an SEO. –Loren Baker, 24:07

It’s only going to force firms and agencies to become better storytellers. That’s really what the core component is. –Brent Ramos, 11:10

Connect with Brent Ramos:

Brent is a seasoned digital entrepreneur and ad tech expert with over 15 years of experience. He combines his expertise in front-line tactics and high-level strategy to help clients use the Google Marketing Platforms to achieve their goals.

He has been focused on delivering the highest level of predictable success possible based on new ideas that lead to high-level strategic marketing success as Product Director at Adswerve.

Connect with Loren Baker, Founder of Search Engine Journal:

The Worst Jobs In Science

Crisp sea air isn’t a match for the stink of stomach juices and half-digested squid, but marine biologist Michelle Staudinger doesn’t mind. When boats come in from fishing tournaments up and down the East Coast, she’s waiting on the docks, asking anglers to let her clean their catch for free in exchange for the stomach contents. On any given weekend, she says, “I’m usually elbow-deep into one or another of the East Coast’s pelagic fishes. I get a lot of compliments on how fast I can gut a tuna.” At University of Massachusetts Amherst, Staudinger surveys coastal fish and marine mammals to evaluate the predator-prey relationship over time. Besides relying on fishermen to deliver species that live far offshore, she waits for some animals, such as dwarf sperm whales, to wash up dead. She once necropsied a whale that had been shipped on a flatbed truck from Florida to Massachusetts. “Oh, yeah, it’s disgusting,” she says. “But we now have baseline data for looking at how ecology is changing as the impacts of climate change grow.”. Illustration by Peter and Maria Hoey

Fish Gutter

Crisp sea air isn’t a match for the stink of stomach juices and half-digested squid, but marine biologist Michelle Staudinger doesn’t mind. When boats come in from fishing tournaments up and down the East Coast, she’s waiting on the docks, asking anglers to let her clean their catch for free in exchange for the stomach contents. On any given weekend, she says, “I’m usually elbow-deep into one or another of the East Coast’s pelagic fishes. I get a lot of compliments on how fast I can gut a tuna.”

At University of Massachusetts Amherst, Staudinger surveys coastal fish and marine mammals to evaluate the predator-prey relationship over time. Besides relying on fishermen to deliver species that live far offshore, she waits for some animals, such as dwarf sperm whales, to wash up dead. She once necropsied a whale that had been shipped on a flatbed truck from Florida to Massachusetts. “Oh, yeah, it’s disgusting,” she says. “But we now have baseline data for looking at how ecology is changing as the impacts of climate change grow.”

Sobriety Tester

Can people accurately estimate their own blood alcohol level when inebriated? That’s the question Loyola Marymount University researchers set out to answer. To get data, they sent then–psychology student Greg Wisenberg into frat parties and late-night pizza places near various southern California universities. Once there, he had to quiz revelers on their blood alcohol level and actually measure it with a breathalyzer. Not surprisingly, reactions around the kegs were mixed. “People were suspicious,” Wisenberg says. “Like, ‘What are you doing here? Why aren’t you drunk too?’” The results showed that drinkers fall into two groups: Those who were slightly buzzed consistently overestimated their intoxication, while those who were loaded grossly underestimated it. If the researchers can elucidate how partiers perceive inebriation, others could use the information to teach safety and intervention. A noble goal, but cold comfort for Wisenberg, who suffered insults and even half-serious physical threats. To one particularly boisterous group, he had to say, “I’m working now. I’m not going to fight you, but you can take my survey!”

Sobriety Tester

Can people accurately estimate their own blood alcohol level when inebriated? That’s the question Loyola Marymount University researchers set out to answer. To get data, they sent then–psychology student Greg Wisenberg into frat parties and late-night pizza places near various southern California universities. Once there, he had to quiz revelers on their blood alcohol level and actually measure it with a breathalyzer. Not surprisingly, reactions around the kegs were mixed. “People were suspicious,” Wisenberg says. “Like, ‘What are you doing here? Why aren’t you drunk too?’”

The results showed that drinkers fall into two groups: Those who were slightly buzzed consistently overestimated their intoxication, while those who were loaded grossly underestimated it. If the researchers can elucidate how partiers perceive inebriation, others could use the information to teach safety and intervention. A noble goal, but cold comfort for Wisenberg, who suffered insults and even half-serious physical threats. To one particularly boisterous group, he had to say, “I’m working now. I’m not going to fight you, but you can take my survey!”

Fatberg Flusher

Fatberg Flusher

Dead Sea Sampler

As John Selker began installing sensors in the Dead Sea, a tourist perished after taking a gulp of water. “It turns out the salt is so intensely concentrated that it’s hazardous,” says Selker, a hydrological engineer at Oregon State University. The infamous lake is covered with a thick, highly saline layer of 97°F water, and it’s getting saltier as it evaporates. Selker’s task was to figure out whether the surface exchanges water with the cooler layer far below. He eventually found that it does—information that could be used to better manage the lake. But first he learned a different lesson: Anything left in the Dead Sea eventually grows heavy with salt and sinks. After Selker began deploying more than a million dollars worth of fiber-optic cable, his computer-powered buoy foundered to the bottom. Then his team had to face the treacherous task of recovering it. “I was scared,” he says. “This is a fluid that burns like acid if you get it in your eyes. We had no life preservers, we were standing on little planks over the surface, and a helicopter was flying in to the beach to take away the dead guy.”

Dead Sea Sampler

As John Selker began installing sensors in the Dead Sea, a tourist perished after taking a gulp of water. “It turns out the salt is so intensely concentrated that it’s hazardous,” says Selker, a hydrological engineer at Oregon State University.

The infamous lake is covered with a thick, highly saline layer of 97°F water, and it’s getting saltier as it evaporates. Selker’s task was to figure out whether the surface exchanges water with the cooler layer far below. He eventually found that it does—information that could be used to better manage the lake. But first he learned a different lesson: Anything left in the Dead Sea eventually grows heavy with salt and sinks.

After Selker began deploying more than a million dollars worth of fiber-optic cable, his computer-powered buoy foundered to the bottom. Then his team had to face the treacherous task of recovering it. “I was scared,” he says. “This is a fluid that burns like acid if you get it in your eyes. We had no life preservers, we were standing on little planks over the surface, and a helicopter was flying in to the beach to take away the dead guy.”

Queasiness Generator

Former Greek Navy officer Panagiotis Matsangas got his Ph.D. in nausea. Now a scientist for the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, his job is to convince test subjects to sit in a special motorized chair that heaves side to side for an hour, while they try to solve cognitive tests through virtual-reality goggles. “People often don’t want to participate when they learn too much about my studies beforehand,” Matsangas says. Inducing even mild motion sickness, he’s found, causes a person’s multitasking ability and cognitive performance to fall, which could impact everything from Navy staffing policies to ship design. But when Matsangas tries to butter up subjects by explaining the importance of the tests, it doesn’t always work, he says. “Some of them feel really unwell.”

Queasiness Generator

Former Greek Navy officer Panagiotis Matsangas got his Ph.D. in nausea. Now a scientist for the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, his job is to convince test subjects to sit in a special motorized chair that heaves side to side for an hour, while they try to solve cognitive tests through virtual-reality goggles. “People often don’t want to participate when they learn too much about my studies beforehand,” Matsangas says.

Inducing even mild motion sickness, he’s found, causes a person’s multitasking ability and cognitive performance to fall, which could impact everything from Navy staffing policies to ship design. But when Matsangas tries to butter up subjects by explaining the importance of the tests, it doesn’t always work, he says. “Some of them feel really unwell.”

Troll Hunter

If you’ve ever had a little too much fun editing Wikipedia, you may have been part of information scientist Madelyn Rose Sanfilippo’s research. Whoever changed Grover Cleveland’s page to say he had “mad beat boxing skills” is an example of the light-hearted form of trolling Sanfilippo researches. But her work at Indiana University has also sent Sanfilippo into the ugliest corners of the Internet. People will join memorial pages for the deceased, for example, just to mock the public mourning. “You can’t really sit there and read for extensive periods of time because it becomes overwhelming,” Sanfilippo says. There’s also a professional hazard to maintaining close proximity with trolls, who see an information scientist as bait—she often receives insulting and offensive emails. “It’s mostly poking fun at my credibility as a researcher,” says Sanfilippo. Despite the harassment, she thinks the work is only getting more important. “With trolling’s increasing prevalence,” she says, “it’s important to understand how to mitigate the impacts.”

Troll Hunter

If you’ve ever had a little too much fun editing Wikipedia, you may have been part of information scientist Madelyn Rose Sanfilippo’s research. Whoever changed Grover Cleveland’s page to say he had “mad beat boxing skills” is an example of the light-hearted form of trolling Sanfilippo researches. But her work at Indiana University has also sent Sanfilippo into the ugliest corners of the Internet. People will join memorial pages for the deceased, for example, just to mock the public mourning. “You can’t really sit there and read for extensive periods of time because it becomes overwhelming,” Sanfilippo says.

There’s also a professional hazard to maintaining close proximity with trolls, who see an information scientist as bait—she often receives insulting and offensive emails. “It’s mostly poking fun at my credibility as a researcher,” says Sanfilippo. Despite the harassment, she thinks the work is only getting more important. “With trolling’s increasing prevalence,” she says, “it’s important to understand how to mitigate the impacts.”

Wriggling With Parasites

Christopher Schmitt, a primatologist at the University of California, Berkeley, is currently researching the role of genomics in primates’ weight gain.

I was studying wild lowland woolly monkeys in Amazonian Ecuador, and one day I was running in a downpour when I accidentally fell down on a trail and stuck my hand in some jaguar scat. Then I made the mistake of scratching some old tick bites, introducing a type of hookworm. These worms don’t have the enzymes to digest the dermis and enter the bloodstream, so they crawl around under the skin leaving raised trails. They itched so bad, it felt like my bones were on fire. A few weeks later, in an effort to help, a Quechua guide had me grind up leaves, spit in them, and rub the paste on my skin. The next morning, I woke up with black chemical burns all over. Finally, I went five hours by boat and truck to the closest medical facility to get a simple anti-parasitic medicine. But it was worth it. Because of that trip, I was able to publish an important paper about monkeys’ social groupings.”

Robot Teacher

Scientists have long sought to create the ultimate social robot, a personable machine like C-3PO. But for artificial intelligence to react to our emotions, someone’s first got to train bots to recognize them—which is Michel Valstar’s job. A computer scientist at the University of Nottingham in England, Valstar spends his days creating a database of faces showing anger, disgust, fear, and happiness. “Computers are so literal,” he says. “They have to be fed every possible situation and taught the context.” First, Valstar recruits human subjects to make expressions for a camera. To capture real anguish, for example, he asked a group of chronic back pain sufferers to repeatedly perform difficult stretches. Then he annotates the footage, a task that takes several hours per minute of video. “It’s the kind of work that turns you into a zombie,” he says, requiring close attention to detail but promising endless monotony. With the help of buckets of coffee, Valstar has now built a record so comprehensive it will be used in the new field of behaviomedics—training robots to spot changes in patients caused by medical conditions like pain or depression.

Robot Teacher

Scientists have long sought to create the ultimate social robot, a personable machine like C-3PO. But for artificial intelligence to react to our emotions, someone’s first got to train bots to recognize them—which is Michel Valstar’s job. A computer scientist at the University of Nottingham in England, Valstar spends his days creating a database of faces showing anger, disgust, fear, and happiness. “Computers are so literal,” he says. “They have to be fed every possible situation and taught the context.”

First, Valstar recruits human subjects to make expressions for a camera. To capture real anguish, for example, he asked a group of chronic back pain sufferers to repeatedly perform difficult stretches. Then he annotates the footage, a task that takes several hours per minute of video. “It’s the kind of work that turns you into a zombie,” he says, requiring close attention to detail but promising endless monotony. With the help of buckets of coffee, Valstar has now built a record so comprehensive it will be used in the new field of behaviomedics—training robots to spot changes in patients caused by medical conditions like pain or depression.

Rat Exerciser

After graduate school, Marc Kubasak set an ambitious goal: Find a way for paralyzed people to walk. But to help people, first he had to help rats. Kubasak took paralyzed animals, transplanted glial cells from the olfactory bulb in the brain to the injured area, and then retrained them to walk. That involved sewing little vests to suspend the rodents from a robotic arm. Then, he says, “I had to make little circles with my fingers moving the rats’ legs on a treadmill for five to 12 hours a day, five days a week.” He walked 40 rats, clocking 2,500 hours over the course of a year. In the middle of the study, Kubasak developed a rodent allergy: His airways closed up and his hand swelled to the size of a catcher’s mitt. He was rushed to the ER. Eventually, he had to work in a total-body suit, complete with battery-powered respirator. But Kubasak persevered. Most of his rats walked again. And this year, doctors at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland and University College London translated Kubasak’s procedure to a man whose spine was damaged in a knife attack.

Rat Exerciser

After graduate school, Marc Kubasak set an ambitious goal: Find a way for paralyzed people to walk. But to help people, first he had to help rats. Kubasak took paralyzed animals, transplanted glial cells from the olfactory bulb in the brain to the injured area, and then retrained them to walk. That involved sewing little vests to suspend the rodents from a robotic arm. Then, he says, “I had to make little circles with my fingers moving the rats’ legs on a treadmill for five to 12 hours a day, five days a week.” He walked 40 rats, clocking 2,500 hours over the course of a year.

In the middle of the study, Kubasak developed a rodent allergy: His airways closed up and his hand swelled to the size of a catcher’s mitt. He was rushed to the ER. Eventually, he had to work in a total-body suit, complete with battery-powered respirator. But Kubasak persevered. Most of his rats walked again. And this year, doctors at Wroclaw Medical University in Poland and University College London translated Kubasak’s procedure to a man whose spine was damaged in a knife attack.

This article was originally published in the February 2024 issue of Popular Science, under the title “The Worst Jobs In Science”.

2024 Lexus Ls 500 First Drive: The Luxury Of Identity

2024 Lexus LS 500 First Drive: The luxury of identity

If it’s usually your thirties when you discover your real identify, you could argue the 2023 Lexus LS 500 and LS 500h are ahead of schedule. The fifth-generation of the automaker’s flagship luxury sedan arrives just before the car’s thirtieth birthday, promising more refinement, more technology, and – arguably most important – more character. If the original LS defined Lexus as a luxury upstart in 1989, the new LS finally sees the automaker come to terms with its Japanese roots.

It’s no stretch to say that some generations of LS have been anonymous in their design. This, after all, is the car that for several years was the vehicle-of-choice for the clandestine agents in the BBC series “MI-5” when they wanted to remain surreptitious around London.

Lexus’ answer was the addition of a controversial grille in 2012, officially keeping the sedan in line with the “spindle” design of its range-mates, but quickly compared to the gaping maw of the Predator. It also added an F SPORT edition to the line-up, with tuning to the suspension as well as a more aggressive body kit. Still, one of the lingering complaints – the quality of the interior compared to Lexus’ German rivals – remained.

It’s all change for the fifth-generation LS. The spindle remains, but it’s more curvaceous than before: a bow-sided hourglass more akin to the cinched waist of an elegant ballgown than the battle grimace of an interstellar warrior. Chief designer Koichi Suga says the 2023 LS was “forged from passion” and the car’s more flowing lines and curves reflect that. It leaves it looking smaller, too, even though it’s actually a little longer and wider than before, albeit lower.

Some key considerations remain. Rear seat headroom proved to be a particular obsession, and the wheelbase grew 1.3-inches, predominantly stretching legroom for those in the back. As a result there won’t be an “L” long-wheelbase version, at least for now.

There’s a heritage story to be told, too, something Lexus has at times struggled to achieve. If the first LS was Toyota’s attempt to out-German the Germans, each subsequent car has tried for an uneasy balance between directly competing with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi, and honoring the automaker’s own Japanese heritage.

So, Lexus turned to master craftsmen to develop traditional decorative glass panels, which it used as the molds for interior door trim. Rather than just wrapping sections of the cabin in leather, it used origami-style folded fabric. The woodwork is laser-cut, bonded woodgrain slices for symmetrical grain, nestling among swathes of grooved aluminum that echo the blades of a tea whisk. One woman spent eight hours a day, for six whole months, computer-generating the surfaces on the grille: 5,000 of them on the regular LS, and 7,000 on the F SPORT.

It’s possible that Lexus has gone a little overboard. Indeed, the interior of the LS can be an overwhelming place, full of shapes, curves, overlaps, and layers. Happily there’s been a focus on choice as well as craftsmanship: none of the cars I sat in were entirely subtle, but there were certainly more sedate trims compared to the Japanese glass and origami options.

Either way, it might run the risk of feeling tacky had Lexus not taken a noticeable step up in materials and the quality of its fit and finish. As the Lexus LC coupe demonstrated, the automaker is absolutely capable of putting together a cabin that’s aeons away from that of your Toyota. Happily, that has translated over to the new LS.

It’s not a completely clean sweep, mind. Lexus gives its new dashboard a vast display atop the center console, but then squanders its potential with its Enform infotainment system.

Enform looked dated on the old LS, and it looks positively archaic on the new car. Where Mercedes, Audi, and BMW give you crisp graphics and smooth transitions, Lexus’ system is visually clunky and overloaded with iconography. As in the LC you get a touchpad in the center console with which to navigate the UI. It’s better than the joystick other Lexus cars use, but with its bizarre achievement of being somehow both too sensitive and not sensitive enough, that’s still faint praise.

The experience is all the more frustrating given how much time you’ll spend navigating through the UI. The 2023 LS isn’t short of physical buttons for things like HVAC and multimedia, which is welcome, but most of the electronics rely on digging through Enform to access them. A second control panel, this time a touchscreen, lives in the armrest between the rear seats and has a better interface, and I can’t help but wish it had been carried forward to what those in the front use.

It’s a shame, because Lexus hasn’t stinted on technology. The Lexus Safety System+ is standard, with pre-collision with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alerts and lane-keep assistance, and auto high-beams, together with a 12-speaker Pioneer audio system. Go digging through the options list, though, and there’s plenty to choose from.

A 23-speaker, 2,400W Mark Levinson audio system with 7.1 surround sound that uses speakers embedded in the cabin’s roof sounds tremendous. The four-zone climate control uses sixteen sensors spread across the four main seating positions to track occupant temperature, adjusting both the HVAC, seat heating and cooling, and steering wheel heating to maintain a comfortable level. The driver’s seat is 28-way adjustable, with five massage programs and a clever easy-exit system that partially deflates the outer side cushion.

An Executive power rear seat has a fold-out ottoman with adjustable leg-rest angle and extra seat recline, together with massage. Both moonroof and panoramic moonroof options are offered, plus a hands-free power trunk with both open and close features, and a vast color head-up display. More cameras than the average TV studio give a full 360-degree perspective along with close-ups of the corners of the car.

The Lexus Safety System+ Advanced Package adds in pedestrian alerts and active steering assistance that can help swerve the LS around someone who has wandered off the sidewalk and into your lane. It also gets front cross traffic alerts and – courtesy of better front and rear radar coverage and a stereo front-facing camera array – road sign recognition. Lexus is talking up its ability to track road markings, too, with Lane Tracing Assist, that can minimize steering input required to keep the LS in the center of the lane.

What it isn’t is the semi-autonomous driver assistance that Audi, BMW, and Mercedes have begun offering, among others. The 2023 LS can keep you dead center in the road, but Lexus is clear that it’s a “co-driving” system and that you still need to have your hands on the wheel. A few fingers should be enough to satisfy the sensors, but this isn’t Tesla Autopilot or Cadillac Super Cruise.

Happily being behind the wheel of the new LS isn’t as somnolent as was at times the case with previous generations. Lexus has two engines for the 2023 model year, a 3.5-liter V6 with 416 HP and 442 lb-ft. of torque, and a 3.5-liter hybrid with 354 HP. Both can be had in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive forms; the LS 500 gas-only car has an F SPORT option and a Performance Package option.

I spent time in both LS 500 and LS 500h, and came away generally impressed. The former has a 10-speed automatic with closely-spaced ratios, and isn’t shy about gear changes. There’s a smooth surge of power when you apply your right foot, though I’m not entirely convinced that the car really needs so many gears. Switch from normal mode to Sport or Sport+ using the dial mounted up on the side of the instrumentation binnacle and things get more eager. Just as the LS looks smaller from the outside compared to the outgoing car, it shrinks around you a little more from behind the wheel, too.

As for the hybrid, though it’s not the first time the LS has offered an electrified powertrain, Lexus does expect a much higher percentage of buyers this time around. It too promises a 10-speed transmission, though it’s achieved with some engineering and electronic magic. In fact, there’s what amounts to a four-speed automatic which then simulates ten gears by chopping those four speeds into individual chunks.

The result, Lexus says, is the “rhythmic shifting” of a regular car without the rubber-band feel of a CVT. As with its gas-only counterpart, I’m just not convinced it’s required, however, though it does pay dividends when it comes to economy. Lexus is quoting 25 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined with the RWD hybrid, adding up to the potential of 600+ miles from a full tank of gas. You lose a little of the urgency of the more powerful car – 0-60 mph comes in 5.1 seconds, rather than 4.6 – but it’s a hushed, smooth place from which to do your bit for Mother Earth.

Not, though, entirely as smooth as I might have expected. The firmer suspension of the F SPORT is one thing, and Lexus will offer an air suspension option atop the standard adaptable variable suspension with its 650 levels of damping force adjustment, but I’m going to blame the standard-fit run-flat tires for being a little less cosseting than regular versions. Lexus says they’re more accommodating than most of their ilk – they even have certain alloy wheel designs that use clever hollow rims and resonator chambers to dissipate vibrations more effectively – and that’s probably true, but I’d still wager most rear-seat passengers would prefer a standard spare and squishier rubber.

Compared to the German cars, Lexus is counting both on a more memorable car and a competitive price to distinguish the new LS. Sales will start at an aggressive $75,000 when the car arrives in dealerships come February 2023, and the automaker expects almost three-quarters of all cars sold to leave the showroom under $80k. At that point, you’re still $10k behind a base-spec S-Class.

All the same, I suspect badge appeal will mean Audi, BMW, and Mercedes keep many of their sales. Lexus’ predicted conquest rate – the number of buyers it converts from rival automakers – is 40-percent, and I think that’s realistic. I just expect it to be brands like Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln, and Cadillac to bear the brunt of those losses.

If the old LS bordered on the forgettable, the new 2023 LS 500 and LS 500h are anything but. You may not like the grille, or the interior design, but at least Lexus has taken a stand, and it leaves the new cars feeling much less like formulaic interpretations of luxury. There are idiosyncrasies still, but competitive pricing and near-obsessive attention to detail make these the most appealing LS models in thirty years.

36Th Annual Redstone Film Festival Tonight

36th Annual Redstone Film Festival Tonight Best student films to be screened

The annual Redstone Film Festival draws standing room only crowds, so plan to arrive early for a good seat. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Tonight could be the night Wes Palmer becomes an award-winning filmmaker. His film You Are Here is one of six competing for best picture at the 36th Redstone Film Festival, which annually screens outstanding work by College of Communication filmmaking and screenwriting program students and recent alums.

Palmer’s film about sneaking into a mall to live inside a model RV was a labor of love, the result of a year-and-a-half collaboration with classmate Luke Shields (COM’14), the film’s screenwriter.

“The story’s changed massively since that first draft, but the fundamental inspiration remained the same,” says director Palmer (COM’16). “I asked Luke if he’d let me direct You Are Here and after many, many rewrites and several months of late nights sending drafts and notes back and forth, we’ve finally arrived at the film we’ll be screening at the festival.”

The Redstone Film Festival, sponsored by Sumner Redstone (Hon.’94), chairman emeritus of CBS and Viacom, is tonight, Friday, March 18, at the Tsai Performance Center.

Other festival finalists are Emily Sheehan (COM’15), who made Adaptation, a documentary that explores the process of the ancient Chinese art of batique, or tie-dye, and its place in today’s world; Dan Behar (COM’16), whose mockumentary-style film Jump is about competitive jump roping; Sara Robin (COM’15), director of Listeners, a futuristic sci-fi film about two friends combating the government’s use of mind reading; Tara Kavanaugh (COM’16), who directed More, the story of a young woman struggling with relationship boundaries; and Anneliese Scheck (COM’15) whose film Postal is about a mailman who falls in love with a woman with agoraphobia, an anxiety disorder that can cause panic attacks and social withdrawal.

All of the works were originally created for a COM film, television, or video production class or as a graduate thesis project. The finalists and winners are chosen in a two-step process. First, a committee of production, screenwriting, and film-studies graduates whittles down the submissions to a list of finalists, and then another panel of film industry professionals weighs in on the winners. Canon DSLR camera equipment, Avid editing software, ProTools sound software, and MacBook Pro computers will be among the festival’s prizes.

The annual Fleder-Rosenberg short screenplay contest winners will also be announced at the festival. Sponsored by screenwriters Gary Fleder (COM’85) and Scott Rosenberg (COM’85), the contest gives out three prizes: $1,500 to the first prize winner, $1,000 to the second prize winner, and $750 to the third prize winner, all of whom must be currently enrolled film and television majors or minors.

As well, the Adrienne Shelly Production Grant will be awarded tonight. The $5,000 grant goes to a female director from the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, established in honor of producer, writer, and actress Shelly (COM’87), best known for her film The Waitress, who was murdered in her New York City apartment a decade ago. A musical adaptation starring Tony-winner Jessie Mueller opens next month on Broadway.

This isn’t Sheehan’s first Redstone appearance—she walked home with the third place prize last year for her film After, a fictional story about the choices made during an affair. Last summer, she participated in the Looking China Film Program, a joint program between BU and Beijing Normal University: BU student filmmakers spend two weeks in China, and are paired with Chinese peers to produce a film together.

“Due to the nature of the Looking China program, when you first arrive in China, you have a vague idea of what you’re going to do, but nothing is entirely set in stone,” Sheehan says. “In my case, I knew that I wanted to study some kind of hands-on process that involved the focus and attention of a dedicated individual.” Working with her Chinese coproducer, Sheehan zeroed in on a real-life mother and daughter dedicated to preserving the ancient art form of batique despite waning interest and challenges from contemporary society. She says the two-week production schedule was intense, enjoyable, and successful—and it’s giving her another chance at a Redstone prize.

Kavanaugh, a grad student in COM’s cinema and media production program, was thrilled when she learned her film was chosen for the festival. “To me, success means that people watch the film, connect, and gain a deeper understanding of those around them,” she says. “Being selected makes me feel like there are people who have connected with this film, and it also gives an opportunity for more people to see it.”

This year’s winners will be chosen by filmmaker, casting associate, and actress Maura Smith (COM’13), cinematographer Paul Goldsmith, and actor, director, and producer Lewis Wheeler.

The 36th annual Redstone Film Festival is tonight, Friday, March 18, at 7 p.m., at the Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave. The event is free and open to the public. BU Today will publish a story about this year’s winners on Monday, March 21.

The Boston Redstone Film Festival will be followed by a Redstone festival in Los Angeles on April 7.

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