Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement co-stars in and co-directs this clever mockumentary about the banal bummers of the afterlife, when vampires stop being polite and start getting real. As “documented” by a camera crew, Clement and collaborator Taika Waititi (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok) share a flat with fellow bloodsuckers who, when they aren’t bickering over dish duty and rent, are schooling a green new vamp—who in turn brings the centuries-old creatures into the technology age. The New Zealand-made horror-comedy is deeply self-aware, reveling in its silly practicalities: It’s tough to go clubbing when your undead identity requires that you be invited inside. When you’ve got nothing but time, the mundane becomes even more ridiculous, and Shadows’ way with the absurd is spot-on. (And that’s before we meet a pack of smug rivals who refuse to lower themselves to “swearwolves.”) What the genre- and cliché-bending film lacks in plot it more than makes up for in tongue-in-cheek charm. Who would’ve thought vampires were such dorks? —Amanda Schurr
For instance, Prime members who download the Whole Foods app can save up to 10 percent on select Whole Foods purchases just by scanning their smartphone at a Whole Foods register. Prime members also get discounts on digital services like FreeTime Unlimited, which costs $2.99/month for Prime members or $4.99/month for non-members. Throughout the year, Prime members also get exclusive discounts on Amazon hardware, which the online retailer recently refreshed.
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Customers are given a time window of four hours for the package to be delivered. Once the courier opens the door, the Cloud Cam records a clip until the door is locked, which is sent to the customer's smartphone. Participants in the service can also use the Amazon Key companion app for iOS and Android to lock and unlock the door, monitor the camera, and issue virtual keys.
The Echo Link (above) is “designed to connect to a receiver or amplifier, with multiple digital and analog inputs and outputs for compatibility with your existing stereo equipment.” There are no mics built in here; instead, the Echo Link serves only to “let you control music selection, volume, and multi-room playback on your stereo with your Echo or the Alexa app.”
Say hello to the pili nut! Boasting a higher fat and lower carbohydrate content than just about any other nut on the planet, this snackable wonder is your ketone-loving body’s new best friend. Hunter Gatherer’s handy multipack includes flavors like black pepper turmeric, spicy chili, and Himalayan salt and coconut oil, each wild harvested from pili trees in the mountains of the Philippines.
Snap refused to disclose any financial terms of the partnership. It could be earning a referral fee for each thing you buy from Amazon, or it could just be doing the legwork for free in exchange for added utility. A Snapchat spokesperson tells me the latter is the motivation (without ruling out the former), as Snapchat wants its camera to become the new cursor — your point of interface between the real and digital worlds.
The revamped Echo Plus looks much closer in design to the standard, cloth-covered Echo for a friendlier appearance in your living room. It’s got better sound and, like last year’s model, can act as a hub for your smart home gadgets. There’s also an integrated temperature sensor that can trigger Alexa routines based on a room’s temperature. Priced at the same $149.99, the Echo Plus goes up for preorder today and ships in October.
Social commerce is heating up as Instagram launches Shopping tags in Stories and a dedicated Shopping channel in Explore, while Pinterest opens up Shop the Look pins and hits 250 million monthly users. The feature should mesh well with Snap’s young and culture-obsessed audience. In the U.S., its users are 20 percent more likely to have made a mobile purchase than non-users, and 60 percent more likely to make impulse purchases according to studies by Murphy Research and GfK.
What’s perhaps most refreshing in Green Room is writer-director Jeremy Saulnier’s lack of interest in the kind of moralizing that made his last film, Blue Ruin, ultimately seem conventional. Instead, Saulnier simply presents us this nutty scenario without feeling the need to lard it up with anything as cumbersome as topical commentary or moral ambiguity. He proceeds to wring as much tension and suspense from its pulpy retro plot as possible, adding a few entertaining grace notes along the way, which can best be seen in its performances. In the ensemble-based Green Room, Saulnier revels in the contrasts of personalities and styles: band bassist Pat’s (Anton Yelchin) Bill Paxton-like desperation, for instance, set alongside the weary, near-drugged-out deadpan of Amber (Imogen Poots), a friend of the woman whose murder sets off the film’s violent chain of events; or the imperial calm of Darcy (Patrick Stewart), the ruthless leader of the band of white supremacists who attempt to kill Pat, Amber and the rest. It’d be a stretch to call these characters three-dimensional, but nevertheless, under Saulnier’s writing and direction, they all manage to stand out just enough as individuals for us to become emotionally involved in their fates. Meanwhile, Saulnier supports these characters and plot turns with filmmaking that is remarkable for its economy and patience. D.P. Sean Porter gets a lot of mileage out of the cramped quarters and grimy lighting of the bar, lending its wide (2.35:1) frames an appropriately nightmarish feel amidst many suspenseful set pieces. In those ways, the lean, mean Green Room stands as one of the best B-movie genre exercises in many years. —Kenji Fujishima
A subscription service designed expressly for ages 3 to 12, FreeTime Unlimited curates kid-friendly apps, e-books, games, movies, TV shows and other content. It's compatible with Kindles, Fire tablets and the Fire TV, and it includes parental controls for things like setting time limits, adjusting content filters, and reviewing any photos taken with the tablet.
In July 2010, Amazon announced that e-book sales for its Kindle reader outnumbered sales of hardcover books for the first time ever during the second quarter of 2010. Amazon claims that, during that period, 143 e-books were sold for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no digital edition; and during late June and early July, sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcovers.