If you’ve never heard of the West Memphis Three, do some research before you begin—you’ll want to be prepared. Within only a minute of the film’s opening, as Metallica’s “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” noodles forebodingly over pixelated camcorder videos, intolerable images taken straight from police evidence glance across frame, so quickly and frankly you’ll immediately question if they are, in fact, real. Of course, they are—they are images no person should ever have to see, and yet Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky use them only to expose the unbelievable horror at the heart of the appropriately named Paradise Lost. What unfolds over the following two and a half hours is just as heartbreaking: a trio of teenage boys (one with an IQ of 72) is put on trial for the brutal murders of three prepubescent boys, the only evidence against them a seemingly forced confession by the young kid with the below-average IQ, and laughably circumstantial physical proof. The film explores the context of West Memphis, its blindly devoted Christian population and how the fact that these teenagers dressed in black and listened to Metallica somehow led to their predictable fates at the hands of a comprehensively broken justice system. With surprising access to everyone involved in the trial, as well as a deft eye for the subtle exigencies of any criminal case such as this, Paradise Lost is a thorough, infuriating glimpse of the kind of mundane evil that mounts in some of America’s quietest corners. Welcome home. —Dom Sinacola
"Sometimes it's fun to have a straw with something, and sometimes it's just practical. I bought these to use in smoothies specifically so I could cut down on the massive amount of waste we all create by using disposable straws (something that even inspired a campaign by the National Parks Service). Once you've made the change, it's not even noticeable in your daily life, and it makes a big difference in the grand scheme of things for the environment. Plus, they come with their own cleaner, so you never have to worry about not being able to properly sanitize them." — Mara Leighton
Amazon Vine is also available to non-Amazon brands, but, specifics around how the program works are difficult to determine because Amazon doesn’t make it public. But many analysts say it is fairly expensive to participate, saying it can cost manufacturers as much as $5,000 to obtain reviews for one product, along with the cost of giving the product away. (The money to participate goes to Amazon; the Vine reviewers receive no compensation beyond the free product.)
In October 2016, Amazon Music released a music streaming service called "Amazon Music Unlimited." Unlike Prime Music with its somewhat limited catalog, this stand-alone music streaming service has "tens of millions" of songs and is intended to compete with music streaming leaders such as Spotify and Pandora Radio. It has a similar price structure, albeit with a $2/month discount for Amazon Prime members.
Our survey found that membership declines from the April 2018 peak spanned the income scale, although the greatest declines were among consumers in the $35,000–$74,999 income range. This is a demographic that has a near-average Prime penetration rate, meaning that the group does not exhibit the growth potential of lower-income households, which account for a smaller proportion of Prime members. But those in the $35,000–$74,999 income segment also do not have the financial security of those in higher-income households, which account for much higher-than-average subscription rates. So, these data may imply that those in the “squeezed middle” are canceling their Prime memberships at higher rates than those in other income groups, despite an apparently benign economic context.
That said, SHOP stock does have some concerns, and in my opinion it’s not one of the best Amazon-proof stocks to buy on this list. I wrote earlier this month that investors should consider selling SHOP, even though I like the long-term story. Valuation is high, and this market remains uncomfortable in paying up even for high-growth plays. That said, Shopify does have plenty of room for growth, and I don’t expect Amazon to make much of a dent in its market share.
This new $24.99 product is exactly what the name suggests: it’s a plug that goes into an outlet and is compatible with Alexa. So you can tell Alexa to turn on or turn off whatever’s plugged into the Smart Plug from wherever you are. And it supports the automatic Wi-Fi setup mentioned above. Preorders kick off today, and the $24.99 Smart Plug will be available in October.
For more than two decades, shoppers perusing the aisles of Walmart have run into cans of Sam’s cola or coffee alongside national brands on the shelves. In Costco, shoppers can pickup store-brand Kirkland paper towels and bacon. (Store brands are typically priced well below their big-brand peers because they do not spend money on expensive national marketing campaigns like Procter & Gamble or Kimberly-Clark.)
It’s not difficult to imagine a different cut of Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits that hews closer to the arc of a traditional sports story. Hers has the makings of a familiar one, of a misfit who wants more than anything to compete—but unlike most stories of inspirational audacity, The Fits is as much about discomfort as the catharsis that comes with achievement. In it, Toni (Royalty Hightower) is an 11-year-old who has more experience with stereotypically male pursuits like lifting weights and punching speed bags than the usual interests of a pre-teen girl. She spends nearly all of her time at the Lincoln Recreation Center alongside her boxer brother, Jermaine (Da’Sean Minor), pushing her body to the limit. While she shows a remarkable aptitude for the ascetical devotion required for boxing, she still dreams about competing on the dance team, “The Lincoln Lionesses.” Framed with a rigid sense of space by cinematographer Paul Yee, and backed by the groaning score from veteran composers Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans, The Fits is infused with such dread that one can’t help but imagine that characters’ muscles and bones could break or shatter at any moment. The film’s most explicit example of which may be Toni pulling off a temporary tattoo, but The Fits is firmly a story of metaphysical body horror, an allegory about our greatest fears of physical fragility shot brilliantly through a feminist lens. With that, the film manages to reinvent the sports story as something both brainy and physically pure. —Michael Snydel
Amazon’s retail presence has continued to grow with a diverse mix of outlets. The company now operates 17 brick-and-mortar bookstores, Amazon Fresh grocery pickup locations, pop-up stores it locates in shopping malls, and four Amazon Go grab-and-leave bodegas. In 2017, Amazon acquired the Whole Foods supermarket chain, which currently operates 470 locations.
One example is the entry zone at the front of the store - you'd think that's a prime location for signage, deals, brochures, etc. But when you're headed through the door into the store you see almost nothing and stop for almost nothing, and then (in America) you tend to drift to the right and then you're 'in' the store. If you put a store directory just inside the door, nobody uses it. Move it back a bit so you can find it once you're into the store and suddenly it's heavily utilized. He has hard observational data for all these, so they're compelling in addition to being fascinating.