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From Content To Commerce: Why TikTok Has Become The New Digital High Street

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High Times for Tik Tok
(Source: Statista)

It’s time to forget the days of the ‘YouTube Crew’ and the Love Island Instagram Influencers, a new kid has hit the block and they are transforming digital marketing as we know it. From content to E-commerce, TikTok has revolutionised the social media landscape and it’s time to talk about why.

From its large Gen Z audience to the international celebrities it has carried up to fame, TikTok has become the platform that everyone is talking about. So it’s no surprise that large fashion and beauty brands have stepped up their game and have begun the journey towards the future of the digital high street.

(Source: Statista)

With recent studies proving that TikTok downloads have only increased during the global pandemic, taking over social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram, it’s no wonder that business leaders have seen an opportunity to grow their brand digitally. 

As Covid-19 causes more high street brands to fall through the net, read on to find out how the future of E-Commerce could be ever changed post-pandemic and why TikTok is leading the revolution.

What Is TikTok?

For those of you who have been living under a social media sized rock, TikTok is the new app that the younger generation are going crazy for. As a visual content platform, the site with over 1.1 billion users worldwide allows users to post short snappy videos of pretty much anything they like. From 15-second dances to quick comedy skits, the content creativeness is endless as our population becomes more and more tech-savvy. 

Mimicking the original staples of social media platforms such as Vine and YouTube, TikTok allows its users to like and comment on a video, follow their favourite creators and even follow links to other suggested websites associated with all the TikTok trends.

This is where the E-Commerce giants step in. With such a large audience and the ability to post all kinds of content, brands are taking advantage of TikTok’s rise to fame in the same way they dominate both Instagram and YouTube. From in-built ads that allow users to follow a link straight to their products, to brand deals with opinion-leading TikTok influencers, many brand leaders have realised that their success is now digitally driven, rather than sitting on the high street.

The Death Of The High Street

As we continue to try and forget 2020, it’s likely that the death of the physical high street has been caused by the ever-growing complications of Covid-19. While taking away most of the globe’s freedom and forcing many to retreat back to their households, our health and wellbeing isn’t the only thing suffering as a result of the pandemic. 

As we adjust to new living and working schedules, a reduction in commuters and a rise in working from home has only further reduced the need for the high street. Since the start of the pandemic, online retailers such as Amazon have seen a 51% rise in sales in 2020 alone, with this number only set to increase post-pandemic.

In contrast to this, once large consumer giants such as Arcadia, who owned the popular brand, Topshop have fallen into administration. Joining other high street retailers moving solely online. As E-commerce giants such as ASOS buy our street giants out, the days of window shopping are quickly approaching an end.

Instead, a brand new future of digital advertising is rising up, with TikTok leading the way.

The Rise Of The Influencer 

From the days of YouTube favourites, Zoella and Danisnotonfire to the new age of TikTok superstars, Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, the rise of the influencer is definitely nothing new. With the Gen Z and Millennial population beginning to become the prime demographic for high street giants, it’s no surprise that brand leaders are using the ‘influencer’ to their advantage.

Recent studies have shown that nearly half of social media users from 18 to 34 have participated in social commerce on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat in the last year. This has been highly driven by the influence of social media celebrities who continue to influence an already impressionable nation. 

With #AD and #Spon dominating the videos of our favourite TikTokers and Instagram Influencers, large brands use their widely celebrated platforms to influence the opinion of their audience. Whether it’s a new accessory or a new celebrity style, we’ve all seen this marketing technique in full force.

So how is this revolutionising the high street? As social media stars continue to define the future of the definition of a ‘celebrity’, large brands know that their opinion on a product has some serious weight in it. Better still, unlike older forms of TV advertising, consumers can not only hear about the new product but click a link below to shop it straight away, revolutionising the convenience of online shopping. In fact,  according to new research from Mediakix, 80% of marketers find have stated that influencer promotion is a highly effective marketing strategy.

Smart Marketing 

Creative Technology officer at WPP’s Mindshare, Jack Smyth claims that TikTok’s approachable nature allows brands to blend in amongst creative content streams, for the ultimate smart marketing. 

“Culturally, TikTok is well placed for live-streamed commerce to capture the dissolving distinction between content and commerce because it doesn’t feel as polished as other platforms” he added in a recent interview with Social Media week, suggesting that TikTok could rise up against other advertising platforms such as Instagram.

What’s more, the announcement of TikTok’s new partnership with Shopify, a start-up online retailer for small businesses, is only set to encourage the birth of a true digital high street. As Shopify tracks TikTok’s trends and insights, it is helping businesses embrace new selling strategies and make unique connections with users in order to target their advertisements.

In a recent interview, Director of Shopify, Shimona Mehta described the partnership as the beginning of the future of online shopping and a new way to target demographics: “Brands are having to compete like never before to get the attention of buyers. The goal is for businesses to make it easier for buyers to discover their brands. With this new TikTok partnership,  Shopify merchants in the UK can connect with new customers in a way that can help them build their brand, drive sales and create engaged communities”.

Looking To The Future

The future of the high street seems highly likely to become completely digitalised, with many younger consumers viewing physical shops as a secondary addition to their favourite brand’s online platform. As TikTok continues to rise up amongst Gen Z trendsetters, this is just the beginning of a social media-orientated shopping experience that is here to stay.

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ESPN Anchor Sage Steele: ‘Mandating Vaccines is Sick!’

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ESPN Anchor Sage Steele: ‘Mandating Vaccines is Sick!’

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ESPN anchor Sage Steele lashed out at her employer for forcing her to take a vaccine she did not want.

Steele, co-host of the 12pm SportsCenter on ESPN, expressed her employee grievance during an appearance on the “Uncut with Jay Cutler” podcast.

She said that she received a Covid mRNA vaccine that day but “didn’t want to do it.”

1632867917 791 ESPN Anchor Sage Steele ‘Mandating Vaccines is Sick

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“I work for a company that mandates it and I had until September 30th to get it done or I’m out,” Steele told Cutler, a former NFL quarterback.

“I respect everyone’s decision, I really do, but to mandate it is sick and it’s scary to me in many ways. I just, I’m not surprised it got to this point, especially with Disney, I mean a global company like that.”

ESPN is jointly owned by The Walt Disney Company and Hearst Communications.

On Tuesday, Steele retweeted a thought-provoking statement by Orlando Magic center Jonathan Isaac:

“Misrepresentation only allows for others to attack straw men, and not reason with the true ideas and heart of their fellow man. It helps no one! True journalism is dying! I believe it is your God given right to decide if taking the vaccine is right for you! Period!”

Isaac, who previously tested positive for Covid, is among a group of NBA players, including Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal, who refuse to get the vaccine.

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Vaccinated couple who died of Covid-19 are not considered ‘fully vaccinated’ because they didn’t get booster shot

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A Michigan couple who received both mRNA injections before dying of Covid-19 are not considered “fully vaccinated” because they didn’t receive the booster.

Cal Dunham, 59, and his wife Linda, 66, died within one minute of each other while holding hands, according to family.

Cal and Linda received their mRNA injections in May. Cal updated his Facebook page to announce they’d gotten their shots.

They both took extra precautions because they had pre-existing health conditions. Still, they contracted Covid during a camping trip, Fox 17 reported.

The couple’s daughter Sarah Dunham said her parents believed they caught colds or had sinus infections.

“[My dad] called me before our family camping trip and said he wasn’t feeling good but he thinks it’s just like sinus, and [Linda] caught it and she’s like, he gave me his cold,” she told Fox17.

“The third day they woke me up and said, ‘We’ve got to go because we don’t feel well.’ So I packed them all up and they left.”

The couple was hospitalized and placed on ventilators. They died within one minute of each other while holding hands on Sunday.

Their deaths will not be listed as breakthrough Covid deaths because they didn’t receive the third booster shot.

The FDA approved Pfizer-BioNTech booster shots for those age 65 and older, people with pre-existing conditions, or those with pre-existing medical conditions.

U.S. Pres Joe Biden, 78, received a booster shot in front of cameras on Monday. He said America won’t return to normal until 97% or 98% of Americans are vaccinated.

A GoFundMe page was created to help raise funds for funeral expenses.

 
Copyright Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to the photograph(s) or video(s) used in this post. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act of 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” of photographs for purposes such as parody, criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, and research.

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Rick Ross agrees to pay baby mama Briana Camille $11K in monthly child support for their three children

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Rick Ross‘s pockets are a little lighter after he agreed to pay one of his baby mamas $11,000 per month in child support for three children.

According to TMZ, Ross agreed to pay Briana Camille $11,000 per month plus annual payments of up to $3,000 per child and attorney’s fees.

His financial records shows Ross earns $585,000 a month from his various business ventures while Camille earns just $142 a month.

1632858823 429 Rick Ross agrees to pay baby mama Briana Camille 11K

Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

If you recall, Ross filed for joint custody of the minor children he shares with his ex-girlfriend after she slapped him with a paternity suit for their two children, Berkeley and Billion.

Ross, whose real name is William Roberts II, filed a countersuit citing Briana’s “erratic behavior” and accusing her of preventing him from seeing the children.

The rapper was criticized for mocking Briana after a DNA test confirmed he is the biological father of Berkeley and Billion.

“I can’t believe Fat Girl took the blood test, damn, they said she damn near fell running away from them people when they came to make her take the blood test,” he said in a video clip posted on May 18.

1632858823 147 Rick Ross agrees to pay baby mama Briana Camille 11K

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Ross called Briana his “surrogate” in the caption, writing “Eyez dat baby papi!! My surrogate always delivers!!! Big Thank you #Fatgirl.”

At the time, she was pregnant with their infant named Bless, who recently turned 1.

Ross has two other children, adult daughter Toie Roberts and teenage son, William Roberts III, from previous relationships.

Ross recently gifted his son with his own Wing Stop franchise for his 17th birthday.

He captioned a photo of his son sitting on a throne:

“Everyone wish my son @mmgbigbank
HAPPY 16th BIRTHDAY !!!

Today he became the owner of his 1st
@wingstop franchise.

Your now officially a BOSS !!!
Keep Going.”

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‘The Wait is Over’: The Wendy Williams Show Returns On October 4

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‘The Wait is Over’: The Wendy Williams Show Returns On October 4

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Wendy Williams confirms her daytime talk show will return on October 4, despite her mental and physical health issues.

Williams, 57, announced her talk show’s definite return on her Instagram account.

The caption read: “THE WAIT IS OVER! Season 13 starts MONDAY. You don’t wanna miss it!”

1632854861 165 ‘The Wait is Over The Wendy Williams Show Returns On

BlayzenPhotos / BACKGRID

Wendy looked frail when she was discharged from a NY hospital on Sept. 24 following treatment for Covid-19 and a possible mental breakdown.

She was photographed arriving home with her son Kevin Hunter Jr. and an assistant pushing her in a wheelchair.

The daytime TV host, who is fully vaccinated, was previously hospitalized on Sept. 15 after she tested positive for a “breakthrough case” of Covid-19.

A source told TMZ that Wendy is currently “asymptomatic”, meaning she is showing no symptoms of Covid.

Breakthrough cases occur when fully vaccinated persons are infected with Covid-19.

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Tags: breakthrough Covid cases, COVID-19, television news, The Wendy Williams Show, Video, Wendy Williams

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Jada Pinkett Smith and daughter Willow Smith considered getting Brazilian butt lifts

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Like mother, like daughter. Jada Pinkett Smith and her 20-year-old daughter Willow Smith considered undergoing Brazilian butt lift (BBL) surgeries.

In a teaser for Wednesday’s episode of Red Table Talk on Facebook, Jada, Willow, and Jada’s mother Adrienne Banfield-Norris discuss peer pressure to follow risky trends.

Jada, 50, said she once considered following the popular Brazilian butt lift trend after checking out her butt in the mirror.

“I’m glad we’re here talking about this today, the BBLs, because I was considering getting one,” she said.

“Me too!” said Willow. “I considered getting the tiniest little bit, but then I just got into the gym and got it anyway.”

Jada added:

“I told her. I said, ‘You want a butt? One thing your mother know how to do is build a butt.’ And you built it to the point that people thought you got surgery.”

Photo may have been deleted

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Banfield-Norris, left, touched on the peer pressure that causes young women to risk their lives for inflated butts.

“I just feel like there’s always so much more pressure on women to look a certain way,” she said.

“You know it’s all about youth, so for somebody like me, the struggle has been extremely real. Like I’ve had botox, then you get to the point where how much you’re gonna do, but then it almost becomes addictive.”

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Tags: Adrienne Banfield Norris, Brazilian butt lift, Jada Pinkett Smith, Red Table Talk, Video, Willow Smith

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Will Smith Speaks His Truth About Open Marriage with Wife Jada

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Renell Medrano for GQ

Two years ago singer August Alsina revealed he had a sordid affair with actress Jada Pinkett Smith, who is married to A-list actor Will Smith.

At the time of his scandalous revelation, Alsina, 29, said Smith, 53, knew about his wife’s May-December relationship and gave them his blessing.

In the November 2021 issue of GQ magazine, Smith admitted both he and Jada, 50, have stepped outside their marriage over the years in order to keep their Love alive.

“Jada never believed in conventional marriage,” Smith tells the men’s fashion magazine.

“Jada had family members that had an unconventional relationship. So she grew up in a way that was very different than how I grew up. There were significant endless discussions about, what is relational perfection? What is the perfect way to interact as a couple? And for the large part of our relationship, monogamy was what we chose, not thinking of monogamy as the only relational perfection.”

Smith, who shares daughter Willow, 20, and son Jaden, 23, with Jada, admits they both opted for an open marriage after years of monogamy.

“We have given each other trust and freedom, with the belief that everybody has to find their own way. And marriage for us can’t be a prison. And I don’t suggest our road for anybody. I don’t suggest this road for anybody. But the experiences that the freedoms that we’ve given one another and the unconditional support, to me, is the highest definition of love.”

Photo may have been deleted

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Smith said he often called legendary actor Denzel Washington for marital advice over the years.

“Throughout the years, I would always call Denzel. He’s a real sage. I was probably 48 or something like that and I called Denzel. He said, ‘Listen. You’ve got to think of it as the funky 40. Everybody’s 40s are funky.’ He said, ‘But just wait till you hit the fuck-it 50s.’ He said, ‘Just bear with your 40s.’ I stopped and I was like, ‘The funky 40s and the fuck-it 50s?’ And that’s exactly what happened. It just became the fuck-it 50s, and I gave myself the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do.”

Photo may have been deleted

Kris Connor/Getty Images

Will also explained to GQ magazine why he scrapped the making of Emancipation, the film that tells the story behind the photo of “Whipped Peter.”

The historic photo of the ex-slave’s scarred back, taken during an Army medical examination, became known as “The Scourged Back.”

The movie was originally scheduled to shoot in Atlanta, Georgia, but Smith pulled the movie out of Georgia in response to Gov. Brian Kemp‘s new voter protection bill.

“I’ve always avoided making films about slavery,” Smith told GQ writer Wesley Lowery.

“In the early part of my career… I didn’t want to show Black people in that light. I wanted to be a superhero. So I wanted to depict Black excellence alongside my white counterparts. I wanted to play roles that you would give to Tom Cruise. And the first time I considered it was Django. But I didn’t want to make a slavery film about vengeance.”

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TIFF 2021 ‘I’m Your Man’ Review: A Sincere Dissection of Relationships That Utilizes Human Cyborgs

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TIFF 2021 ‘I’m Your Man’ Review: A Sincere Dissection of Relationships That Utilizes Human Cyborgs

In a world as lonely as ours, many people just want to find someone who makes them happy. But in a world as twisted as the one we inhabit, a corporation will find a way to exploit that loneliness for a profit. Maria Schrader’s I’m Your Man approaches this concept with understanding and tenderness, while exploring the questionable aspects of replicant beings. A meditation on human nature and how we relate to one another, the film will leave audiences warm and fuzzy while pondering the numerous topics it grapples with. 

The concept of having the “perfect partner” created for you is the inception of Schrader’s film. Alma (Maren Eggert) is an archeologist who clearly appreciates her own space. She prefers things tidy and avoids disruption. When she is picked to participate in a study on human cyborgs designed to be one’s perfect companion, she approaches it with skepticism from the very start. The study is meant to last three weeks and will help determine whether these robots will receive similar or at least partial treatment to humans. Her manufactured man is Tom (Dan Stevens), a handsome and polite cyborg who appears to be completely genuine. Alma immediately keeps him at an arms-length, deciding that this whole thing is a mistake. She still has to interact with him for the next three weeks, however, during which he will attempt to fulfill her every wish. 

Schrader’s awareness of emotional connection versus logical reasoning is astounding, making for a complex study of human nature. Alma’s analytical mind keeps her at a distance from Tom from the beginning. She concludes that he is nothing more than a machine, so why should she invest her time in caring for him? Tom, on the other hand, though built for the singular purpose of providing Alma with happiness, is much more complex than she originally perceived. Referring to his operating system every time she dismisses him as a robot, she begins to question whether or not that means he can’t feel. Tom’s operating system programs him to emote and react in a specific way, but isn’t that how humans are wired, just with organic matter instead of machinery? There is no one true answer to the question of whether robots can truly feel things, and Alma struggles with this throughout the story. However, Schrader never turns her film into an exploration of science or religion. Instead, she uses the premise to investigate the contradictions we hold as humans who are constantly seeking connection. 

Dan Stevens shines as Tom, playing him with the perfect balance of robotic precision and cutting honesty. It is his genuine nature that works to win Alma over, along with the audience. The viewing experience is a delight to witness mostly as a result of the dynamic between Tom and Alma. They are almost complete opposites due to Alma’s pessimism and Tom’s never-ending optimism. Beneath these layers, however, Schrader works to unpack the makeup of each of these characters, resulting in empathetic people. As their relationship develops, the film meditates on our abilities to trust our hearts versus our heads, thus opening ourselves to love. 

Blending all of these elements together results in a truly captivating film. This is partly thanks to Stevens’s earnest performance, which matches so well with Eggert’s uptight Alma. Although the ideas circling the narrative sound complex, Schrader crafts a digestible romance that carries much within it. The sincerity between the actors and the story itself creates a relationship that is easy to fall for over the runtime. If Dan Stevens’s striking blue eyes won’t win you over, the tenderness of I’m Your Man surely will.

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Suspect in Miya Marcano missing person case kills himself

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Family handout

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed the “person of interest” in the case of a missing 19-year-old college student was found dead of an apparent suicide.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina identified the suspect as Armando Manuel Caballero, 27.

Caballero was wanted for questioning in the search for Miya Marcano who was last seen on September 24 at Arden Villas apartment complex where she lived and worked in Orlando, Florida.

Caballero was found dead in his apartment at Arden Villas on Monday, according to Mina. He had been dead “for quite some time”.

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Orange County Sheriff’s Office

Miya worked in the leasing office at Arden Villas. Caballero began working at the complex as a maintenance man in June, and he also lived there.

Sheriff Mina said Caballero was romantically interested in Miya, and she repeatedly rejected his advances.

Mina said Caballero used a “master key fob” to enter Miya’s apartment at 4:30 pm, about 30 minutes before she got off work on September 24.

Photo may have been deleted

The petite college student attended Valencia University near the apartment complex. Police say foul play is suspected in her disappearance.

Her apartment showed signs of a struggle and the front door was barricaded from the inside.

Miya went missing hours before she was scheduled to fly to Fort Lauderdale to visit her parents.

An arrest warrant was issued after the complex manager told authorities that Caballero entered Miya’s apartment that day without permission.

Marcano’s grandmother, Joysue Thompson, told WESH 2 News that Miya was “the family’s princess.” She said the family believes she’s alive and they just want her brought home safe.

“All we ask you is help us bring Miya home. Bring her home safe, just drop her off and let us know where she is and we’ll pick her up – just bring her home.”

“Our deputies and investigators are working around the clock to find 19-year-old Miya Marcano,” Sheriff Mina said in a statement on Facebook.

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Tags: crime news, law and order, missing person, Miya Marcano, suicide

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‘Casino Royale’ at 15: How Daniel Craig’s Debut Bond Outing Reloaded the Franchise

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‘Casino Royale’ at 15: How Daniel Craig’s Debut Bond Outing Reloaded the Franchise

It’s October 14th, 2005. We’re in London.

A blonde-haired, blue-eyed actor rocks up aboard HMS Belfast facing the world’s press. It’s Daniel Craig, the new James Bond, soon to prove wrong the naysayers and that vocal minority who will pooh-pooh his legitimacy as the sixth actor to take on 007 in the Eon series.

15 years later, Craig’s debut outing, Casino Royale, is cemented as a modern classic with emotional and physical punches galore. Not to mention that it’s also a standalone exemplar of filmmaking and a victorious addition to Eon’s rich 007 canon — quite a considerable achievement for a franchise of 25 entries approaching its 60th anniversary faster than a Roger Moore eyebrow raise.

Yet the road to Casino Royale was far from smooth. Columbia’s acquisition of the story’s rights in the 1950s prevented the first Bond adventure from being adapted by Eon. CBS’s 1954 TV play following Barry Nelson’s Americanised ‘Jimmy Bond’ and David Niven’s kooky 1967 psychedelic spoof were both wanting as faithful adaptations to “the spy story to end all spy stories” until a 1999 court settlement granted the rights to Eon Productions.

By that time, Pierce Brosnan was still James Bond, spearheading a tenure that favored the fantastical. This was especially true for the series’ ruby entry Die Another Day, infamous for its CGI tsunami kite-surfing and invisible Aston Martin. Needless to say, the overall flippancy of the series seemed at odds with a world seismically changed after 9/11. To Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, it was clear that 007 needed more than his martinis to be shaken, not stirred. A reboot was needed — a chance for the franchise to return to its roots, to the original gritty imagination of author Ian Fleming, who had worked on covert operations during WW2.

Eon/MGM/Sony Pictures

Like the novel, Casino Royale would act as an origin for the world’s most famous super spy, but not quite as we had ever seen him before. Here is a younger, more brutish Bond, a blunt instrument who throughout the film will be sharpened by tragedy and woe. No traditional gun barrel is present in the opening shot (pun most definitely intended). Instead, we enter a rather moody, monochromatic world angled at Dutch tilts, redolent of the dirty, crooked game of espionage. For the first time, we witness Bond attain double-0 status through the murder of two double agents: one is battered, drowned, and shot at, and the other silenced by a silencer, the latter killing promising that the savage we have witnessed is indeed a stealthy sophisticate in the making. Cue Chris Cornell’s “You Know My Name”, a rock anthem drenched in adrenaline. As we head bob, we wonder if the name “Bond. James Bond” is all we’ve ever known about cinema’s icon.

Eon/MGM/Sony Pictures

Director Martin Campbell affirms that there is more to Mr Kiss Kiss Bang Bang than this swinging ‘60s epithet. Like his stellar entry directing Goldeneye — when Bond was dismissed as “a relic of the Cold War” and initially seen to be at a loss without his regular international nemesis — Campbell turbocharges 007 into the 21st century, this time facing the threat of modern terrorism.

In Casino Royale, Bond must beat Mads Mikkelsen’s slimy Le Chiffre, a banker to the world’s terrorists, in a game of poker at Casino Royale Montenegro. Should Bond lose, MI5 will have directly financed terrorist organisations and orchestrated millions of deaths.

Here is certainly a resonant threat for our times, as well as for Fleming’s. The author, who lived in a post-war era shadowed by the atomic bomb, asserted in an interview that “we have a lot of dangers that some lunatic might get hold of weapons and start threatening the world.” Fleming’s fear of non-state extremists is the same fear we share today. Campbell did not need to reinvent Bond; he needed to return to Fleming’s prescience.

Eon/MGM/Sony Pictures

Such dangers are translated through the langue of action, with Campbell crafting set-pieces that are just as characterful as they are exciting. Bond’s foilings of two bomb-makers are staged on such a scale that they would be the grand crescendos to any nominal blockbuster. In the first sequence, a kinetic camera keeps up with a thrilling foot-chase through a Madagascan construction site, with Sébastien Foucan’s (the very founder of freerunning) Mollaka diving and darting with balletic energy, displaying the slipperiness of such modern dangers. Craig’s Bond smashes and crashes after him, evoking the reckless but persistent force that this younger, more inexperienced man possesses. In another scene, while defending an airport, Bond himself is bruised and bloodied, but throughout the film, he proves to be a reassuring presence for our times, having terrorized the terrorists that invade our own reality. Here, 007 excels in encouraging a wounded West to feel that we are not so entirely at the mercy of such pestiferous evils.

Whereas most directors would fail at the tremendous challenge of making a card game exciting for the big screen, Campbell understands that the film’s poker match is more than just a gamble. What we see on screen is a spectacular war between freedom and terror, a clash of ideologies — the fate of the modern world up for grabs. Close-up shots of Craig’s piercing blue eyes and Mikkelsen’s weeping tear duct affirm the adage that we learn most about characters when they are under pressure: revealed are each man’s determination to best the other and the fear each has if they don’t. As Bond quips, “you play the man,” not the hand he has. We see Bond’s resourcefulness, followed by a tempest of tension and angst that imbues the shifting of casino chips on the table, making them feel like armadas being sent along a green baize sea by their admirals. Indeed, these quiet moments ring the loudest.

Eon/MGM/Sony Pictures

Such scenes of introspection make Casino Royale so special. If you manage to avoid a cardiac arrest at what can only be described as a blood-curdling stairwell fight with a nasty sword-swinging rogue, you will remember how the film then dares to slow down, nestling comfortably with the anomie of murder. Bond heads back to his room, reflecting on his near-death experience. Despite being a double-0, every kill is a dirty job. He washes the blood off his crisp white shirt and looks in the mirror, knowing he can’t do the same for his stained soul. Again, we see Craig’s blue eyes, piercing one second, pools of self-loathing the next. Throughout the film, the gaze of our hero fluctuates, expressing an internal dialogue: is this path of an assassin the one for him? And in this mirror scene, the camera holds, beat after beat, refusing to be any generic action movie that will skip to the next explosion. We stay with Bond and feel his pain, never more so than when he comforts Eva Green’s Vesper in the shower in one of the most touching and real scenes in the series, devoid of lascivious subtext and aided by David Arnold’s gentle orchestral score, brassy and bold in the style of John Barry but able to offer a softer, tender delicacy at times like this.

Eon/MGM/Sony Pictures

Green is bewitching as Vesper Lynd. Beneath a steely exterior, she’s just as witty as she is fallible; there has been no greater match for Bond since Diana Rigg’s Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Her tragic end gives this entry emotional depth like never before as we smart and cry from what could have been. She is the harbinger of this film’s theme — trust — and complements an impressive-looking Bond stepping out of the Bahaman surf, his marble-like exterior acting as hard armour around the cold heart that is set to be broken before it is betrayed.

Eon/MGM/Sony Pictures

Indeed, Bond is challenged — physically and spiritually — like never before in this film, particularly in the horrendous testicular torture scene that comes straight from the novel and which is surely the most wince-inducing moment ever committed to celluloid.

It is a test of Bond’s faith, which has always been incorruptible — a key ingredient that has forever been a huge part of the character’s success. But in this film, our hero is the most human he has ever been, and a body, no matter how chiselled, can be broken. Bond’s trust in his cause, however, prevails after surviving a hero’s journey for the first time in the series.

Eon/MGM/Sony Pictures

That is not to say that Casino Royale forgets to be — to steal a phrase from Octopussy’s theme “All Time High” — “a sweet distraction for an hour or two”.

Cinematographer Phil Meheux does a stellar job of setting a standard of visual excellence before the much- and rightly lauded Roger Deakins in Skyfall. That precedent is set in Craig’s first film, with an outing that has had no greater vacation vibe since Thunderball. The white sand and blue water of the Bahamas, the Caribbean sunshine, the return of the Aston Martin DB5, and a return to Fleming’s hungry hedonism, including the Vesper Martini — it is all enough to make you grin. The ordering of Champagne Bollinger and caviar makes any 007 fan fist-pump as our hero relishes a true Bondian lifestyle, forever reminding us that life is short and dangerous and one should savour the finer things just as Fleming, who stimulated the reader “even to his taste buds,” did.

Indeed, in every aspect, this is the most visceral Bond film. Every punch and kick counts. Every bead of sweat is seen. We feel the pain of death and the pleasure of living life to its fullest. Casino Royale filled our cup and we drained it dry. It was as tasty as a Vesper.

For some of us, it’s all we want to drink…

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NY Governor Calls in National Guard to Replace 72,000 Unvaccinated healthcare Workers

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NY Governor Calls in National Guard to Replace 72,000 Unvaccinated healthcare Workers

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

New York Governor Kathy Hochul declared a State of Emergency and called in the National Guard to replace 72,000 unvaccinated healthcare workers who were terminated at midnight.

Hochul deployed thousands of “medically trained” National Guard troops to staff hospitals in the state after 72,000 healthcare workers were fired for missing the deadline to get vaccinated.

Hochul signed an executive order on Monday evening, allowing the National Guard to replace the terminated hospital staff.

“The only way we can move past this pandemic is to ensure that everyone eligible is vaccinated, and that includes those who are taking care of our vulnerable family members and loved ones,” Gov. Hochul said.

In New York, 84% of hospital workers are vaccinated. But Hochul said that’s not enough.

“I will be signing an executive order to give me the emergency powers necessary to address these shortages where they occur,” Hochul said during an appearance in the Bronx.

1632835153 11 NY Governor Calls in National Guard to Replace 72000 Unvaccinated

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The National Guard troops will fill in for understaffed hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes.

It isn’t clear who will fill the jobs vacated by the National Guard troops.

According to CDC statistics, over 74% of Black NY residents are unvaccinated.

On Sunday, Gov. Hochul told the congregation at the Brooklyn-based Christian Cultural Center that the mRNA vaccine is God’s answer to “our prayers.”

“I prayed a lot to God during this time and you know what, God did answer our prayers,” she said.

“He made the smartest men and women, the scientists, the doctors, the researchers — He made them come up with a vaccine. That is from God to us and we must say, thank you, God. Thank you.”

Hochul urged the congregation to become her “apostles” by encouraging others to get their shots.

“I need you to be my apostles. I need you to go out and talk about it and say, we owe this to each other. We love each other. Jesus taught us to love one another and how do you show that love but to care about each other enough to say, please get the vaccine because I love you and I want you to live, I want our kids to be safe when they’re in schools, I want to be safe when you go to a doctor’s office or to a hospital and are treated by somebody, you don’t want to get the virus from them. You’re already sick or you wouldn’t be there.”

She added that the vaccinated are “the smart ones” and the unvaccinated “aren’t listening to God and what God wants.”

Hochul, who is a Democrat, became governor on August 24 after her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat, resigned in disgrace.

Twitter responded to Hochul deploying the National Guard to replace experienced nurses and doctors.

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