Jonathan Majors is a bodybuilder yearning to be truly seen in Magazine Dreams
When Jonathan Majors takes to the bodybuilding competition stage in writer / director Elijah Bynum’s arresting new drama Magazine Dreams, it’s impossible not to feel as if the movie’s in direct conversation with the way that its lead star’s fame has become wrapped up in the public’s fascination with his body. Magazine Dreams’ deep dive into the life of an obsessive, aspiring pro lifter longing for a shot at fitness fame is one of the most difficult pieces of cinema to debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. But as it’s breaking your heart and making you sweat, Magazine Dreams is also laying bare many painful truths about what it means to be trapped in a world where objectification and dehumanization are the prices you have to pay for a shot at stardom.
Magazine Dreams tells the story of Killian Maddox (Majors), a painfully shy grocery store clerk who lives in a small home on the outskirts of Los Angeles with his elderly grandfather William (Harrison Page) and spends his days fantasizing about what it would be like to grace the cover of periodicals like Men’s Fitness. When he isn’t pushing his body up to and past its breaking point in the gym, Killian’s inhaling thousands of calories to keep himself going or recording videos of himself posing in his garage before nervously uploading them to his YouTube page in hopes that people will notice him.
Magazine Dreams straddles the gap between drama and psychological thriller
It hurts Killian — who’s strongly implied to be somewhere on the spectrum throughout the movie — more than he can always put into words when people comment on his videos to make fun of how awkward and earnest he is. But none of that pain really matters to Killian when he’s alone in his small bedroom gazing at the dozens of posters of models like Brad Vanderhorn (Michael O’Hearn) that are lovingly and carefully plastered across every inch of his walls and ceiling. In Killian’s mind, the only people who could ever hope to understand his passion and dedication to fitness are other lifters like Brad, to whom he diligently and desperately writes multiple fan letters — even though he’s convinced that they all go unread. And to a certain extent, Killian’s proven right as Magazine Dreams digs into the difficulties he experiences while simply trying to exist out in the world.
Even though he’s often socially inept to the point of ruining relationships, Killian has a nuanced understanding of how people see him and project all sorts of ideas onto him because of his Blackness and his physique. But aside from grandpa and his co-worker Jessie (Haley Bennett), people seldom think about how Killian perceives them, and Magazine Dreams’ story delves into how that kind of existence can push people to the edge.
Along with being a character study that Majors fully throws himself into with a vigor, Magazine Dreams also straddles the gap between being a drama and a psychological thriller not unlike Taxi Driver and, interestingly, Eminem’s “Stan.” As Maddox, Majors vacillates between moments of gentle vulnerability and steroid-fueled rage that play right into strangers’ racist assumptions about his lack of intelligence — emotional or otherwise. But whenever Magazine Dreams is zeroing in on Killian in scenes meant to leave you deeply uncomfortable or nervous, the movie very clearly wants you thinking about what, specifically, about him sets off so many alarm bells.
Majors vacillates between moments of gentle vulnerability and steroid-fueled rage
There’s a nervous and electric sense of dread coursing all throughout Magazine Dreams that intensifies as the emotional peaks and valleys of Majors’ performance become increasingly extreme. The film intentionally blurs Killian’s experience of reality as different people come into his life to hurt or find sexual gratification in him. But there’s always a very distinct and exacting visual clarity when Magazine Dreams is focused on highlighting his body in a way that feels reflective of how people see him as something to be consumed rather than a person to be admired or respected.
The frantic, spiraling quality that dominates its final acts is part of Magazine Dreams’ story. It has the unfortunate side effect, though, of flattening characters like Taylour Paige’s Pink Coat and Sonny Valicenti’s James into late-coming members of a Greek chorus who spell out some of the movie’s core ideas that are already pretty evident. As it’s hurtling through multiple shocking emotional climaxes, you get the sense Magazine Dreams might be a more taught and singularly devastating film if it settled on one. But as a psychological crucible meant to hit you hard and leave you reeling, Magazine Dreams is beyond effective and something worth sitting with long after the credits are over.
GitHub takes down repository containing Twitter’s source code
Microsoft-owned GitHub took down a repository by a user named “FreeSpeechEnthusiast” that contained proprietary source code to Twitter after the social network filed a DCMA takedown request. The username certainly seems to be a jab at Twitter owner Elon Musk, who has claimed to be a “free speech absolutist” many times.
On Friday, Twitter filed a petition in the District Court of Northern California asking GitHub to take down the code and also help it find the perpetrator. The subpoena asks GitHub to disclose name(s), address(es), telephone number(s), email address(es), social media profile data, and IP address(es) linked with “FreeSpeechEnthusiast”.
The development comes days before March 31, when Musk will supposedly make Twitter’s algorithm related to the recommendation open source.
It’s not clear what part of Twitter was leaked on GitHub and for what duration. GitHub’s DCMA takedown blog just mentioned it took down the repository containing “Proprietary source code for Twitter’s platform and internal tools.”
The code-hosting site didn’t say if any users were able to access the repository before the company took it down. We have asked for a comment and will update the story if we hear back.
Twitter might be concerned about copies of the code that might not be present on GitHub. Twitter’s internal investigation suggested that the people who were responsible for the leak left the company last year, as per a report from the New York Times. The story also suggested that the social network’s executives got to know about the code leak only recently.
The company is facing a tough time after Musk’s takeover last year. Recent reports suggest that the Tesla CEO now values Twitter at $20 billion — less than half of the $44 billion he paid for the social network. According to a report from the New York Times, Musk also wrote an email to employees to announce a new stock compensation program that said Twitter could be worth $250 billion one day.
To get Twitter’s finances in better shape, Musk has taken radical steps for cost-cutting including mass layoffs and relaunching a new subscription program that offers verification as one of the benefits. According to data from analytics firm Sensor Tower, Twitter has managed to just get $11 million out of this new service. For comparison, Twitter registered $1.17 billion in revenue for Q2 2022.
At a recent conference, Musk said that time on users’ Twitter is poorly monetized.
“The average amount of time that people spend on Twitter per day that 250 million [monthly active users] is around half an hour or so. So what we have is — the thing that’s I think most interesting — is there are about 120 to 130 million hours of human attention per day on Twitter,” he said
“Every single day on, average, which is — I think it comes to a really interesting point which is to — just it’s startling how poorly monetized that is — because you have to say like how valuable is that attention 100 to 130 million hours of human attention per day of people that read — so these are the generally the smartest people in the world, the most influential people in the world.”
As expected, when we reached out to Twitter, we got a poop emoji.
Activist investor Elliott ditches director nomination plans for Salesforce
Activist investor Elliott Investment Management won’t be proceeding with plans to nominate its own directors to Salesforce’s board, citing improved performance and a clearer “focus on value creation” from the enterprise software company.
Elliott — one of five activist investors within Salesforce’s ranks — announced ahead of Salesforce’s recent Q4 earnings that it was pushing several of its own candidates toward the Salesforce board after a turbulent 2022 for the company. However, after a return to financial form for Salesforce, beating growth forecasts and announcing more shareholder returns, it seems this has been enough to convince Elliott that Salesforce has corrected course.
In a joint statement today, the companies said that in light of Salesforce’s recently announced “profitable growth framework” dubbed “New Day,” alongside its strong fiscal year 2023 and a slew of additional “transformation initiatives,” Elliott won’t pursue its director nominations.
“I have great respect for Marc [Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff] and his team, and I have become deeply impressed by their strong ongoing commitment to profitable growth, responsible capital return and an ambitious shareholder value creation plan,” Elliott managing partner Jesse Cohn noted in a press release.
First Citizens to acquire Silicon Valley Bank
First Citizens BankShares has agreed to buy Silicon Valley Bank, the California lender that served as lifeblood of thousands of startups and whose collapse sent shockwaves through the financial sector, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said on Monday.
The deal includes the purchase of about $72 billion assets of Silicon Valley Bank at a discount of $16.5 billion. About $90 billion in securities and other assets of the California-based lenders will remain “in receivership of disposition” by the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
The announcement comes weeks after the FDIC seized control of Silicon Valley Bank on March 10 after a run on deposits made the lender insolvent. The 17 former branches of Silicon Valley Bank will open as First Citizens Bank on Monday, the FDIC said.
“In addition, the FDIC received equity appreciation rights in First Citizens BancShares, Inc., Raleigh, North Carolina, common stock with a potential value of up to $500 million,” the FDIC said in a statement.
Before the collapse, the Silicon Valley Bank was the 16th largest bank in the U.S. Its meltdown was the largest bank failure in the U.S. since the 2008 financial crisis.
More to follow.
- GitHub takes down repository containing Twitter’s source code
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