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The Miss Sofia Coppola Seminary For Eternal Admirers

THE AIR THAT I BREATHE

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do next, but I knew I wanted to do something that was really beautiful.” 

Sofia Coppola’s movies reveal her contradictions. She is a director whose Hollywood inauguration was a birthright, thanks to an illustrious family tree and a luckless child-acting stint she never wanted. Fleeting youthfulness lies at the center of her stories: the troubled teens in “The Virgin Suicides” and “The Bling Ring,” the aging actors adrift in “Lost in Translation” and “Somewhere,” the callow duchess thrust into notoriety in “Marie Antoinette,” and now the repressed boarding-school denizens in “The Beguiled.” Her characters seek better horizons, but Coppola is nothing if not resolute, sophisticated, singular.

In the words of “Bling Ring” star Israel Broussard, Coppola has a “motherly essence and gracefulness.” According to “Virgin Suicides” matriarch Kathleen Turner, who also co-starred with Coppola in the 1986 comedy “Peggy Sue Got Married,” “She gives you a lot of freedom, but you feel she knows what she wants.” Stephen Dorff, the “Somewhere” headliner in whom Coppola spotted a “vulnerability” that no other director saw, waxes about her observant and “confident” disposition. Bill Murray, who netted his only Oscar nomination to date for “Lost in Translation,” has been known to call her the Velvet Hammer. 

Not many filmmakers can claim palettes ― or personas ― as idiosyncratic as Coppola’s. She is known for getting the performances she wants from her actors and the sun-splashed aesthetics she wants from her cinematographers. She can take on the gravity of the French Revolution or the Civil War, imbuing a contemporary milieu that might make you forget you’re watching a period piece. She has tackled the insularity of suburbia and the disconnectedness of a metropolis, ensuring you relate to both. Every time you think you know Sofia Coppola, she challenges your assumptions, while still maintaining a fixation on adolescence’s ephemerality and the inhibitions that accompany maturity. 

The Beguiled,” which opens in limited release June 23, is more contained than her previous features, taking place entirely at the Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. The institution’s resources have grown scarce as the Civil War roars on, invoking a malaise that defines the Coppola catalog. 

″‘Somewhere’ was an exercise in how minimal we could make that movie and still have it be a movie,” she said during our recent interview in New York. “The script was not even a script — it was like 30 pages and it was just very, very simple. After ‘Marie Antoinette’ was so decorative and so many people, I wanted just to strip down how simply you could make a movie. That was the thinking. And then after ‘Bling Ring’ was such an ugly world, I wanted to do something beautiful. That was the starting point for ‘The Beguiled.’”

Focus Features

AGE OF CONSENT

“Sometimes I can’t just relax and enjoy a book without looking at it as something to adapt, which is annoying because I enjoy just reading books.”

Across her six movies ― seven if you count the hourlong Netflix holiday special “A Very Murray Christmas” ― Coppola has adapted novels fixated on young women, told poignant original stories of self-rumination and depicted larger-than-life episodes from history. 

Coppola, 46, never wanted to do a remake, but she gravitated toward “The Beguiled” after her production designer recommended the vampy 1971 original directed by Don Siegel and starring Clint Eastwood as an injured Union soldier being nursed to health at the New Orleans boarding school. The few girls and women who remain there are transfixed by the mystifying man’s presence.

Siegel’s version, derived from a Thomas P. Cullinan novel that Coppola dismisses as “pulpy,” portrays the headmistress Miss Farnsworth (played by Geraldine Page) and her students as erratic and feral ― “crazy,” as Coppola puts it. While watching them plant seeds of flirtation and seduction, Coppola pondered what a less masculine perspective would entail, though she swears she’s not the type to consider what she would have done had she directed whatever movie she’s experiencing. 

“I just wanted to connect with each character on a human level, so I just tried to think about what it was like for her,” Coppola said, referring to Farnsworth, brought to life in this rendition by Nicole Kidman’s commanding subtlety. “I wanted her to have dignity and be attractive. Just because she’s older doesn’t mean she needs to be crazy. And also just because they have desire, that shouldn’t be something crazy either — that should be something human and natural. In the other one, they had to become perverted. She had an incest story, and there’s a lesbian dream montage. Maybe it’s just the style of that time and that point of view, but I wanted to make her more human and relatable.”

These are, after all, women who have been subjected to a sort of finishing academy. They’ve read manuals on how to behave like a proper lady, what men expect from them, where their places in society lie. Played by Coppola veterans Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, along with a handful of lesser-known young actresses, the characters engage in a battle royal, each pining for the affection of the interloping soldier (Colin Farrell, more strapping than ever).  

“The Beguiled” harks back to Coppola’s 1999 debut, “The Virgin Suicides,” in which five 1970s teenage sisters shelter their sexuality inside a suburban Michigan home run by parents who implement similar Victorian confinements. The frilly white frocks adorning “The Beguiled” resemble the pale floral gowns the Lisbon sisters don on prom night, not long before collectively ending their lives. Josh Hartnett’s cool Trip Fontaine, who turns heads as he glides down the school’s halls like a true magic man, is to “The Virgin Suicides” what Farrell’s Corporal John McBurney is to “The Beguiled.” 

Jeffrey Eugenides, the Pulitzer winner who wrote the novel on which “Virgin Suicides” is based, emailed Coppola to say he was “excited” she was adapting “The Beguiled,” a movie he loves. “I feel like there must have been something that he had in the back of his mind — there’s some relation” between the two stories, she said.

Despite our conversation about the threads that travel throughout her work, Coppola has no idea what anyone says about her online and in magazines. Her stories, largely centered on privileged white people, have inspired a derby of think pieces and Twitter debates, but Coppola is “too sensitive” to engage with those who accuse her films of, say, favoring style over substance. In fact, when I mentioned the passionate debates surrounding her work and its relation to her life as the daughter of the Hollywood legend who directed the “Godfather” trilogy (and the cousin of Jason Schwartzman and Nicolas Cage), she responds with her typical “Oh!” Your opinions about Coppola, whatever they may be, are likely to take her by surprise. It’s almost as if ― imagine! ― she is not here to substantiate critics. Her characters are always searching, just as she sought an identity independent of the biography that so many of us scrutinize. (She once started a fashion line and studied painting at the California Institute of the Arts. She has since helmed music videos, commercials and an opera.)

“I’m flattered that anyone’s thinking about that,” she said, indicating no desire to elaborate.

Paramount Classics

JUST LIKE HONEY

“I think about a young audience. I want them to have something. I never understood why movies for teenagers didn’t look good or weren’t good quality.”

On and off movie sets, Coppola is known for her gentle hand. She can come across as aloof, but during our time together earlier this week, her eye contact was warm and she seemed game to discuss whatever topic arose, even if she doesn’t necessarily enjoy annotating her own work. 

“She appears almost passive,” Kathleen Turner told me. “She kind of lets things happen and then says, ‘Hmm, nah, that’s not quite how I saw it’ or ‘That’s not quite what I was thinking.’ There’s no outright criticism, per se, or it’s so seldom that it’s very surprising if there is.”

With that temperament, actors want to give her what she’s looking for. It’s why Dunst has returned to Coppola’s charge time and again, and why the elusive Bill Murray became an unlikely muse for her as a screenwriter, and why the image-conscious Emma Watson went total Valley Girl sleaze in a what felt like a left turn after “Harry Potter” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”

Working with her costume designers and art directors, Coppola gives her casts photographs and films to study. For “The Bling Ring,” a story about real Los Angeles teens who preyed on opulent celebrity homes, she asked Watson and the other actors to watch heist capers like “Ocean’s Eleven.” For “The Beguiled,” Coppola looked to Roman Polanski’s “Tess” and David Hamilton’s ethereal photos of girls.

To create a Southern Gothic mood, smoke machines cast a fog over the Louisiana plantation’s oak trees. Coppola imagined a rich backstory for the manor that houses the Martha Farnsworth Seminary, once the site of antebellum balls. “It had its grand days,” she said. “The party’s over.” 

Therein lies a key theme coursing through Coppola’s work: The party is over. It was over for Murray’s and Dorff’s fame-fatigued slouches in “Lost in Translation” and “Somewhere,” respectively. It came to a fatal end in “Marie Antoinette,” and a legally and spiritually fraught stopgap in “The Bling Ring.” In the case of “The Virgin Suicides,” the party could never begin. In a bold move that’s rare for a mainstream Hollywood debut, teen girls were ascribed a sort of ennui and restraint that regularly haunts adults. 

“When I was starting with ‘Virgin Suicides,’ I wanted to make something about young women because I felt they weren’t always depicted in a way that I could relate to,” she said. “Besides [John Hughes movies like ‘The Breakfast Club’ and ‘Sixteen Candles’], there were always 35-year-olds playing teenage girls.” 

Despite numerous childhood and young-adult screen credits ― including her infamously derided turn as Michael Corleone’s daughter in “The Godfather Part III” and an appearance in Madonna’s “Deeper and Deeper” video at age 21 ― Coppola blanches at the notion that she herself was something of a child starlet. Regardless, she clearly has a kinship with young actors and actresses that feeds into her recurring themes surrounding the power of youth.

Israel Broussard, for example, said she’d make the “Bling Ring” cast run and jump up and down before a scene to “get the heart racing.” Coppola said she employed the same tactic on “The Beguiled,” ordering the actresses to dash around in their characters’ nightgowns to prepare for a scene in which they’re hysterical. 

Such anecdotes speak to the essence of a Coppola set. Kidman may be one of the few older actresses with whom Coppola has collaborated, but the idea of her sprinting though a New Orleans mansion ― which, by the way, belongs to actress Jennifer Coolidge ― conjures up an image of girlhood, fleetingly recaptured just as Sofia would want it.

Columbia Pictures

CROWN ON THE GROUND

“I just want my movies to do well enough so I can keep making movies.”

In Hollywood, Coppola has been given what some might call a blank check. Few directors can make virtually any movie they want without interference from the studio backing the project. Coppola, who maintains final-cut approval, has said that securing the necessary financing for “The Beguiled” ― a reported $10 million ― wasn’t easy. Nonetheless, she has avoided the box-office litmus test that plagues many women, whose misfires are not granted the free pass their male counterparts enjoy. 

Coppola’s highest-grossing film is easily “Lost in Translation,” which opened in 2003 and collected $119.7 million worldwide (in addition to Oscar nods for Best Picture and Best Director; she was the first American woman nominated for the latter). Despite 2010′s “Somewhere” petering out at $13.9 million and 2013′s “The Bling Ring” stalling at $19.1 million, she’s continued her track record, making a movie every three or four years.

Some of that goodwill was inevitably aided by her father’s legacy, even though Coppola’s work stands on its own. But Coppola only cares about ticket revenue insofar as she wants assurance that she can continue to work with the same freedom. (In 2015, she exited Disney’s live-action “Little Mermaid” reboot, which she would have filmed underwater, because the studio wouldn’t grant her creative license.) This time, however, she’s more invested in the profits.

“It would be fun if [‘The Beguiled’] is successful, just because there’s such a feeling right now with ‘Wonder Woman’ being a hit,” she said. “Ours is not on that scale, but it would just be nice for female-driven stories. The studios don’t always think that’s a valid audience, which it is. […] So in that way, I hope it does well.” 

Understanding that the marketing of films is a commercial art unto itself, and that any project’s success is dependent on it opening at the right time and reaching the right demographics, Coppola was disappointed that the “Beguiled” trailer gave away so much of the plot. It’s advertised as a standard thriller, featuring an “over-the-top” score that doesn’t appear in the film, a nearly music-free production that’s striking for someone associated with eclectic soundtracks. She does, however, love the posters and T-shirts with “vengeful bitches” scrawled in cursive, a reference to one of Farrell’s lines of dialogue. In an odd moment of cross-brand synergy, “Real Housewives of New York” cast members posted Instagram photos wearing the shirts and promoting the film’s release date. 

Setting aside her family name and the strain of being a woman in a male-monopolized industry, Coppola’s distinctive visual flair and languid pacing are key to the creative immunity she has attained.

“Sofia also has an uncanny ability to communicate her vision in a few incredibly evocative and well-chosen words,” Sarah Flack, who has edited Coppola’s movies since “Lost in Translation,” wrote in an email. “I often tell directors that I can get them from A to Z (from the dailies to a cut scene, or from one version of a scene to another version, or a new version of the film) if they just tell me what Z is. They don’t have to figure out how to get to Z with the footage we have ― that’s my job ― as long as they know what Z is. Sofia not only knows what Z is at all times, but she can describe Z in the most perfect way.”

Coppola is the rare woman who invites few, if any, comparisons to her male predecessors and equivalents. Having long ignored her father’s advice to “say ‘action’ louder so they know you’re in charge” (and survived just fine, thank you very much), Coppola doesn’t need a penetrating presence in Hollywood’s macho auteur club or dazzling box-office returns to make the movies of her choosing. She simply needs her own biography, displaced and refracted upon each endeavor.

We faithful peasants will continue to eat her cake.

“The Beguiled” opens in limited release June 23 and expands nationwide June 30.

Focus Features

Lady Gaga Goes Full-On Glam, Sports Signature Style During Hike With New Boyfriend

Playing Lady Gaga Goes Full-On Glam, Sports Signature Style During Hike With New Boyfriend

Lady Gaga has officially proved she’s down to dress up for any occasion.

The “Perfect Illusion” singer went for a hike with her new boyfriend, talent agent Christian Carino, in Montauk, New York, on Thursday, going full-on glam as they trekked through the woods.


WATCH: Lady Gaga Is Dating Her Talent Agent Christian Carino

The 31-year-old pop star braved her way through the gravel path in a pair of pointed toe nude stilettos, which she styled with a high-waisted, bodyhugging black skirt and a matching off-the-shoulder ruffled crop top which bared her toned tummy. She completed the chic look with round-framed sunglasses, with her hair tied back into a messy bun.

Her beau opted for a more appropriate hiking ensemble — a basic black T-shirt with black shorts and sneakers.

Photo: Splash News

We’re not sure how Mother Monster survived a hike in heels, but, then again… is there anything she can’t do?


WATCH: Lady Gaga Holds Hands With Boyfriend Christian Carino at Star-Studded 31st Birthday Party

Gaga and Carino also made headlines in March when they were spotted heading to Gjelina restaurant in Venice, California, in celebration of Gaga’s 31st birthday.

More on that in the video below!

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Kim Kardashian Now Owns a Piece of Jewelry Formerly Worn by Jackie Kennedy

Kim Kardashian West’s jewelry collection just got so much classier!

The 36-year-old reality star now owns a timepiece that formerly belonged to Jackie Kennedy, after placing the highest bid in an auction.


WATCH: Kim Kardashian Continues Chic Streak in NYC, Rocks Sexy Corset and Silk Pants

A source at Christie’s Auction House in New York confirmed to ET that the Selfish author did, in fact, purchase the Cartier watch previously worn by the former First Lady. West’s winning bid was $379,500.

Photo: Getty Images

The 18k gold square-shaped wristwatch features a black band and a watch face with Roman numerals. The accessory is engraved with the date Feb. 23, 1963, exactly nine months before Kennedy’s husband, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated. The style icon received the watch as a gift from her brother-in-law, Prince Stanislaw “Stas” Radziwill.

Photo: ETONLINE

West’s latest purchase is certainly interesting, as it doesn’t include diamonds or anything flashy, a major change from her usual accessories of choice. Back in April, the mother of two explained that she was probably going to swear off jewelry after she was robbed at gunpoint in Paris in October.

“I know this sounds crazy, but I know that was meant to happen to me,” West said during her guest appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “I’m such a different person. I was definitely materialistic before. I just don’t care about that stuff anymore.”


WATCH: Kim Kardashian May Swear Off Jewelry After Paris Robbery

“It’s not to say I’ll never wear jewelry again or anything like that. I truly don’t know if I’d ever feel comfortable,” she continued. “I truly don’t know if I’d ever wear real jewelry again.”

Hear more in the video below.

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Johnny Depp Apologizes For Joke About Assassinating President Trump

Johnny Depp I’m Sorry, Mr. President … I Made A Bad Joke

6/23/2017 11:43 AM PDT

Breaking News

Johnny Depp is apologizing for his joke about assassinating President Trump, saying he didn’t mean any harm by it.

Johnny released a statement admitting the “bad joke” he told Thursday to the Glastonbury Festival crowd was in poor taste.

“It did not come out as intended, and I intended no malice,” his apology read. “I was only trying to amuse, not to harm anyone.”

Depp had joked, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”

The White House condemned Depp for the joke and called on Hollywood to speak out against this type of violent rhetoric.

Johnny Depp Once Booted from White House Reception for Showing ‘Disrespect’

Johnny Depp Once Booted from White House Reception For Showing ‘Disrespect’

6/23/2017 11:17 AM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Johnny Depp‘s disdain for the White House runs deep … so deep he was once corralled by Secret Service agents who refused to let him shake the President’s hand.

Depp, who’s taking heat for his Trump assassination crack, was at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. back in January 1988 — yeah, we know it’s the ’80s — where President and Nancy Reagan held a ceremony for the fight against AIDS.

Johnny — who was the star of “21 Jump Street,” started clowning almost from the get-go. During a private tour, he picked his nose at the podium in the Press Room and flipped off the camera outside the gate.

We’re told he was in the Rose Garden when he lit up a cigarette, much to the dismay of the Secret Service.

Later, during the event, Johnny was in the Blue Room when he once again lit a ciggy … enraging the agent.

When it came time for the receiving line to meet the Prez and First Lady, the agents told Johnny he could not participate because he had shown disrespect.

Check out the PSA.

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ANCIENT ALIENS? Mummified three-fingered ‘non-human corpse unearthed’

The discovery has been billed as “one of the most important discoveries of the 21st century” by one UFO journalist involved in a documentary about the “creature”.

However, it has already been slammed as a hoax by more sceptical researchers.

A slickly-produced mini documentary emerged claiming to show the excavation of the “mummy” from near the UNESCO World Heritage Nazca Lines site, which is a series of ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert. 

The footage on conspiracy theory website Gaia.com alleges it was found this spring, when Gaia filmmakers recorded researchers and scientists carrying out tests on the odd discovery.

The objects appears as a crouched mummified body of a humanoid figure with an elongated skull and three fingers on each hand and foot.

The body is 168cm (5’6”) tall, with proportions “similar to humans”.

It is said to have an elongated skull, small nose and just ear holes.

The mummy is also covered in a white powder, which the team claims was to dry the skin and preserve remains. 

The research team is made up of people with pseudoscientific beliefs, according to fact checking website snopes.com, which also wrote about the video.

In the film, Dr Korotkov claims the features are not a deformity, but the individual is “another creature, another humanoid”.

MK Jesse, a musculoskeletal radiologist at the University of Colorado Hospital, told Gaia it seemed unlikely changes were made to the skull or hands to provide their unique appearance.

Alien-PeruYouTube

The three-fingered mummy over Peruvian images depicting three fingered beings.

The film claims carbon dating of samples from the body show it was mummified between 245 and 410AD, and that DNA tests are underway. 

It shows alleged CAT scan results showing a skeleton inside the mummy, while 

internal organs are said to be intact.

Jay Weidner, Senior Director of Content for Gaia, said that petroglyphs located near the mummified body show three-fingered humanoid figures as well. 

Pseudoscience website ancient-origins.net is keeping an open mind.

A critique on its website said: “Open-minded scientists studying human origins may find themselves in a situation where they have to identify this surprising discovery as true, probable, or a false find. 

“It is important in these situations to remain curious yet sceptical. 

“Numerous hoaxes have been taken as fact in archaeological history, but there are just as many (or more) factual finds that have been discredited for not fitting into mainstream science.”

Snopes.com said: “The absence of a single definitive explanation for their (Nazca Lines) origins has prompted speculation that aliens were somehow involved in their creation.

Open-minded scientists studying human origins may find themselves in a situation where they have to identify this surprising discovery as true, probable, or a false find.

Ancient Origins


“However, no evidence has ever definitively proved the existence of alien life, and countless ‘alien’ discoveries have later been shown to be hoaxes or to have far more mundane explanations.”

Mexican journalist Jaime Maussan, is said to have reported the existence of the Nazca mummy to Gaia and is in the video.

He has been linked to a series of alleged alien body discoveries that later turned out to be false or hoaxed, including one in 2015, said to have been a photograph of an alien from Roswell that was in fact, a mummified child.

Forensic scientist José de Jésus Zalce Benitez, was involved in the same project with Mr Maussan, and has worked on the latest film.

Dr Korotkov claims to have invented a camera that can photograph the soul.

Snopes.com added: “Gaia.com has a long history of providing a platform for false and spurious pseudo-science, conspiracy theories, and paranormal claims. 

“It remains to be established whether the Nazca ‘mummy’ is actually an excavated corpse or simply a hoax, what its origins are, and how its apparent deformities came about. 

“But we are willing to say with certainty that it will not succeed where thousands of previous ‘discoveries’ have failed, and present definitive, scientifically verifiable proof of alien life.”

Others went further, including British UFO author Nigel Watson, who told Express.co.uk: “It looks like a plaster cast model to me. 

“I’d call it a 110 percent fake!”

Mick West, administrator, of metabunk.org, said: “The do show a CT scan of the mummy, which, if genuine, does suggest they are actually bones. 

“Things that strike me as particularly fake looking are the face, which looks like it has been sculpted from clay.

“Here there seems to be a “cuff” where the more human looking arm ends, and the more alien looking hand begins. 

“If I wanted to fake such a thing, I would use a real human skeleton (and preferable an actual real peruvian mummy, of which there are probably still many in undiscovered graves) then add fake hands, feet, and head. 

“The Skull is interesting, as from the x-ray shown it looks like a real skull, but oddly shaped.” 

In January, alien investigators claimed a giant hand with three fingers was real and could have come from a dead extra terrestrial being.

Brien Foerster, of Hidden Inca Tours, and his team claim to have been given the three-fingered specimen by a group of cagers who were exploring desert tunnels in southeastern Peru.

The explorers said it was found near a strange elongated humanoid skull that was also given over.

There were instant claims that the items are hoaxed, particularly as the group would not give exact details about the location of the finds.

STEPHEN HAWKING: ‘What aliens know about Donald Trump and why he threatens Earth’

Mr Hawking slammed Mr Trump for pulling the US out of the Paris Climate Change agreement which his predecessor Barack Obama and most world leaders had signed up to.

Speaking at the Starmus science festival in Norway, Mr Hawking said: “I am not denying the importance of fighting climate change and global warming, unlike Donald Trump, who may just have taken the most serious, and wrong, decision on climate change this world has seen.”

The remark came as he gave a lecture on why the human race will have to find a new planet to live on outside our solar system in the next 200 to 500 years because Earth “will become inhospitable“.

He said this was down to over population, resources being used up, and the impact of climate change.

He also said our days were numbered due to the risk from rogue asteroids hitting Earth.

Stephen Hawking said we would have to take plants and animal species from Earth to set up new ecosystems – but even the closest possible contender was 4.5 light years away, and may already be occupied by aliens.

He said how, despite travelling through space for 40 years, NASA’s Voyager space probe had only last year left our solar system and ventured into interstellar space, with it unknown what it will discover.

He said of where Voyager is going: “If there are any alien beings there today they remain blissfuly ignorant of the rise of Donald Trump.” 

What are they hiding? MoD finally releases UFO alien X-Files… but mystery three held back

UFO and alien truth seekers have been eagerly awaiting the release of 18 MoD reports into UFO cases, after a series of hold ups in getting them made public via the National Archives.

But, there are claims the truth still isn’t out there after three of them were still not released, and officials appeared to make it very difficult for anyone to view the 15 others.

Instead of being placed online as many National Archives documents now are, the papers can only be seen by making an appointment with the Government archive service in London.

Or copies can be ordered for a fee online with several days wait before they they arrive.

Nick Pope, who worked in the department of the MoD which investigated UFOs until 2009 and now speaks at alien-related conferences across the globe, said there would be claims they had been “snuck out”.

He said: “It seems that The National Archives has released 15 of the remaining 18 Ministry of Defence UFO files, marking the final stages of what’s been a nine-year long project to declassify and release the MoD’s entire archive of UFO files. 

“Unlike all such previous releases of UFO files, I wasn’t pre-briefed on the release date. The release of these final files has been extensively delayed and at one stage they were sent from the MoD to the National Archives, but then sent back to the MoD. 

“Embarrassment about this delay may explain why – unlike releases of previous batches of MoD UFO files – there hasn’t been a proactive media release. 

“Accordingly, I suspect the UFO and conspiracy theory community will say that these files have been “snuck out’

“I think one has to pay for access, unlike previous batches, which were free for a month.”

But, he said he did not believe there was a smoking gun of evidence for alien life in the files as had been hoped.

Those hoping the files could solve the mystery of the December 1980 Rendlesham UFO case may also be disappointed, he said.

The UK alien sighting happened when three US officers based at RAF Bentwaters, near Woodbridge, Suffolk, claimed a “triangular shaped craft” landed in neighbouring woods in the early hours of December 26.

The case was later investigated by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), but it concluded there was no evidence of alien visitations or any national security risk, and the sightings were most likely the result of beams of light from a nearby coastal lighthouse.

Truth seekers believe there is more to it and the files might solve the mystery.

Mr Pope said: “I believe there are some documents on the Rendlesham Forest incident, though I’m pretty sure they’re duplicates of material that’s been released previously.

“The release of these real-life X-Files shows that the UFO mystery lives on and that there’s still huge interest in this fascinating topic. 

“These files will give people a revealing insight into this bizarre and intriguing aspect of Ministry of Defence business. 

“I think these files perfectly capture the wonder and fascination of the UFO mystery and show how MoD officials – myself included – struggled to make sense of one of the great mysteries of the modern era. 

“Sadly, there’s no ‘smoking gun’ in these files that will prove we’ve been visited by extraterrestrials, but there are plenty of intriguing UFO reports, as well as policy papers explaining how the MoD handled this subject. 

“The lack of a smoking gun and the fact that these files seem to have been slipped out without a formal media announcement is bound to start some conspiracy theories, and I know that many people believe the ‘good stuff’ is being held back. 

“Furthermore, the fact that some files haven’t been digitised, can’t be downloaded, and can only be viewed in person at the National Archives will doubtless also generate conspiracy theories. 

“After this, there are only three more UFO files still to be released, and they should be made public later this year, so there’s still more to come.”

The NBA Draft proves just how far men’s fashion has come

June 2003: A time when 50 Cent’s “21 Questions” ruled the pop charts, Charlie’s Angles: Full Throttle ruled the box office, and young men favored very, VERY baggy suits. 

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since, as evidenced by this comparison that circulated on Twitter during Thursday’s NBA Draft. 

That top pic is the draft class of 2003, featuring LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, among others. Look at their suits! Look at their pants! The entire draft was either sponsored by JNCO jeans, or the John Gotti look was very much in style. Maybe both. 

Now look at the bottom pic. That’s the draft class of 2017. Much less fabric involved, resulting in a much better look. 

2003 was a special time, and we’re not done here. Here are some pre-draft portraits top picks posed for 14 years ago. “Iconic” is a word that comes to mind. 

Kirk Hinrich.

Kirk Hinrich.

Image: NBAE/Getty Images

Darko Milicic.

Darko Milicic.

Image: NBAE/Getty Images

T.J. Ford.

T.J. Ford.

Image: NBAE/Getty Images

Chris Kaman.

Chris Kaman.

Image: NBAE/Getty Images

Reece Gaines.

Reece Gaines.

Image: NBAE/Getty Images

Carmelo Anthony.

Carmelo Anthony.

Image: nbae/getty images

Sure, 14 years from now they’ll be roasting what the 2017 draft class wore on Thursday — but for now, let us have our laughs. They’re good laughs. 

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Hummer factory gets second life making electric cars

Electric cars are in, Hummers are out at an Indiana plant.
Electric cars are in, Hummers are out at an Indiana plant.

Image: Getty Images for Go Ultra Low

A U.S. auto plant that once made giant gas-guzzlers will now make cars that don’t need gas at all.

AM General, which previously built the Hummer H2, sold its factory in South Bend, Indiana to the electric carmaker SF Motors, both firms announced  Thursday.

SF Motors will pay $110 million to produce “intelligent electric vehicles,” according to publicly available filings. It will spend another $30 million to upgrade the 700,000-square-foot commercial assembly plant.

The company didn’t elaborate further on its plans for the factory, such as how many cars it will produce annually or what types of smart driving or electric-powertrain technologies they’ll use. But executives said the arrangement will preserve about 430 U.S. auto worker jobs that were at risk of disappearing. 

AM General built Hummer H2s from 2002 to 2009.

AM General built Hummer H2s from 2002 to 2009.

Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

SF Motors is a young division of Chongqing Sokon Industry Group, a major Chinese manufacturer of motorcycles and commercial vehicles that’s expanding into the U.S. electric car market. SF Motors officially launched earlier this month with a new headquarters in Silicon Valley.

The division has hired several former engineers from the leading electric automaker Tesla, Electrek reported. Tesla cofounder and original CEO Martin Eberhard is also reportedly a consultant for SF Motors, according to the news site.

SF Motors’ move into Indiana is a pretty poignant symbol of the clean energy transformation: a plant that once produced beastly sport-utility vehicles will now churn out cars with virtually no tailpipe emissions. A Kentucky coal mining museum sparked a similar narrative this spring when it installed solar panels on the building’s rooftop.

The deal with AM General also arrives as sales of electric vehicles are surging in the U.S. and globally.

About 2 million plug-in hybrid and battery-powered vehicles were on the roads worldwide in 2016, a 60-percent jump from the year before, the International Energy Agency reported this month. 

While that’s still only 0.2 percent of total light-duty vehicles globally, the agency said it expects sales to keep climbing as car battery prices plunge and governments adopt policies to fight climate change.

A Tesla Roadster recharges.

A Tesla Roadster recharges.

Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Transportation comprises about one-fifth of total greenhouse gas emissions, mainly through the burning of petroleum fuels.

AM General originally built the South Bend plant in 2002 to make the Hummer H2, a civilian version of the Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) sold by General Motors. The company produced the H2 under contract to GM until January 2009.

The Indiana company said the sale will not affect its military assembly plant, where it supports and upgrades hundreds of thousands of Humvees still serving the U.S. armed forces.

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