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Five Feet Apart Trailer Looks Like A Real Tear-Jerker

There are fewer more potent combinations guaranteed to induce waterworks than when young love is mixed with life-threatening illnesses. If that’s what you need to let the tears flow freely, it’s been a while since A Walk to Remember or The Fault in Our Stars and your reservoir is probably backed up. Fear not, Five Feet Apart has you covered because the trailer for the romance looks like a real tearjerker. Check it out:

So, these two are totally doomed right? This trailer is playing on your emotions hard, showing the desperate situation Stella and Will are in with their cystic fibrosis and the restrictions of their disease. But it also features the sparks flying between them would make them want to risk their very lives just to be closer to one another.

Judging by the trailer, the chemistry between the two leads is palpable, Riverdale‘s Cole Sprouse as the defeatist rulebreaker and The Edge of Seventeen‘s Haley Lu Richardson as the eternal optimist, determined to do everything right and trying to help others along the way. This chemistry is crucial to audiences investing in their romance, and connecting with Five Feet Apart in the way that they did for something like The Fault in Our Stars– which was hugely successful.

As the trailer goes on we see that Stella pulls Will out of his malaise and gives him a reason to fight and to live, while he causes her to bend her own rules in a desire to gain some agency in her life. It looks like an incredibly sweet and uplifting story that will probably see audiences shed a few happy tears before what I imagine will be a tragic ending.

Five Feet Apart is the narrative feature debut for director Justin Baldoni who is also an actor on Jane the Virgin. The film is written by Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis. That writing duo has another film hitting theaters this year, one from the opposite end of the genre spectrum, the terrifying looking horror film The Curse of La Llorona.

Unlike The Fault in Our Stars, which was based on John Green’s book, Five Feet Apart was developed simultaneously as a YA novel according to Publishers Weekly. Rachael Lippincott adapted Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis’ screenplay into the novel, which landed on the New York Times bestseller list. So if you want to prepare your tear ducts by reading the book first, it is available.

Five Feet Apart arrives in theaters on March 15. I don’t imagine tissues are included with the price of admission so plan accordingly. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see all of the movies you can look forward to this year and stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest trailers and movie news.

A Crucial Step for Averting AI Disasters

A Crucial Step for Averting AI Disasters
Illustration: Daria Kirpach

Artificial intelligence isn’t always intelligent enough at the office.

One major company built a job-applicant screening program that automatically rejected most women’s résumés. Others developed facial-recognition algorithms that mistook many black women for men.

The expanding use of AI is attracting new attention to the importance of workforce diversity. Although tech companies have stepped up efforts to recruit women and minorities, computer and software professionals who write AI programs are still largely white and male, Bureau of Labor Statistics data show.

Deborah Harrison, left, leader of the editorial writing team for Microsoft’s Personality Chat project, works with diverse colleagues from various creative, technical and artistic backgrounds to write small talk for bots.
Deborah Harrison, left, leader of the editorial writing team for Microsoft’s Personality Chat project, works with diverse colleagues from various creative, technical and artistic backgrounds to write small talk for bots. Photo: Baret Yahn

Developers testing their products often rely on data sets that lack adequate representation of women or minority groups. One widely used data set is more than 74% male and 83% white, research shows. Thus, when engineers test algorithms on these databases with high numbers of people like themselves, they may work fine.

The risk of building the resulting blind spots or biases into tech products multiplies exponentially with AI, damaging customers’ trust and cutting into profit. And the benefits of getting it right expand as well, creating big winners and losers.

Flawed algorithms can cause freakish accidents, usually because they’ve been tested or trained on flawed or incomplete databases. Google came under fire in 2015 when its photo app tagged two African-American users as gorillas. The company quickly apologized and fixed the problem. And Amazon.com halted work a couple of years ago on an AI screening program for tech-job applicants that systematically rejected résumés mentioning the word “women’s,” such as the names of women’s groups or colleges. (Reuters originally reported this development.) An Amazon spokeswoman says the program was never used to evaluate applicants.

Broader evidence of bias came in a 2018 study of three facial-recognition tools of the kind used by law-enforcement agencies to find criminal suspects or missing children. Analyzing a diverse sample of 1,270 people, the programs misidentified up to 35% of dark-skinned women as men, compared with a top error rate for light-skinned men of only 0.8%. The study was led by Joy Buolamwini, a researcher at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Mass.

The findings have spurred calls for closer scrutiny. Microsoft recently called on governments to regulate facial-recognition technology and to require auditing of systems for accuracy and bias. The AI Now Institute, a research group at New York University, is studying ways to reduce bias in AI systems.

An algorithm can become a black box in the marketplace, however. Algorithms can learn and make predictions on data without being explicitly programmed to do so. This process continues in the background after a program is built, says Douglas Merrill, CEO of ZestFinance, a Los Angeles maker of machine-learning tools for financial-services companies.

Douglas Merrill, CEO of ZestFinance in Los Angeles, says diverse employee teams may have more conflicts, but they also produce better AI programs.
Douglas Merrill, CEO of ZestFinance in Los Angeles, says diverse employee teams may have more conflicts, but they also produce better AI programs. Photo: Jeff Galfer/ZestFinance

Any biases in the algorithm can skew companies’ decision-making in costly ways. One financial-services company’s algorithm noticed that people with high mileage on their cars and those living in a particular state tended to be poor credit risks, Dr. Merrill says. Each factor alone made some sense, but combining the two would have led the company, unintentionally, to reject an undue number of African-American applicants, he says. After ZestFinance rewrote the algorithm and added a large number of additional criteria, many of those same applicants proved creditworthy.

Eliminating bias up front among those who write the code is essential. “That’s why we work so hard on building diverse teams,” says Dr. Merrill, a former CIO of Google. Asked about the makeup of his 100-person workforce, he ticks off a half-dozen groups his employees represent, including a high percentage of women, as well as military veterans and people with disabilities.

“The biases that are implicit in one team member are clear to, and avoided by, another,” Dr. Merrill says. “So it’s really key to get people who aren’t alike.”

Successful AI programs promise to open up new markets for some companies. Ford Motor Credit found in a joint 2017 study with ZestFinance that machine learning may enable it to broaden credit approvals among young adults and other applicants without lowering its underwriting standards.

Some Fortune 500 companies are using tools that deploy artificial intelligence to weed out job applicants. But is this practice fair? In this episode of Moving Upstream, WSJ’s Jason Bellini investigates.

Younger applicants are often routinely denied loans because they don’t have a credit history and their incomes are low, Dr. Merrill says. Machine learning allows lenders to scrutinize a much larger number of decision-making criteria, including whether the applicant has paid rent and cellphone bills on time, made regular deposits into savings accounts and other measures of responsible behavior. This may help identify many more creditworthy young people. “The answer to almost every question in machine learning is more data,” Dr. Merrill says.

A spokeswoman for Ford Motor Credit says the company is continuing to work on machine-learning applications.

Affectiva, an AI company based in Boston, has attracted more than 100 corporate customers by amassing a database of 4 billion facial images from 87 countries. It develops technology to read the emotional expressions on those faces accurately, regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. Companies use its software to study consumers’ reactions to proposed ads and promotions, and auto makers use it to monitor drivers for drowsiness and distraction.

At one point, Rana el Kaliouby, Affectiva CEO and co-founder says, women working in the company’s Cairo office asked, “Are there any people in here who look like us?” Engineers quickly added images of Muslim women wearing hijabs.

“You need diversity in the data, and more important, in the team that’s designing the algorithm,” Dr. el Kaliouby says. “If you’re a 30-year-old white guy who’s programming this algorithm, you might not think about, ‘Oh, does this data set include a woman wearing a hijab?’ ”

Beyond racial and gender diversity, Microsoft recruits employees with diverse creative and artistic skills to help write conversational language for its Cortana virtual assistant and Personality Chat, an AI program that handles small talk for bots developed by others. Team members have included a playwright, a poet, a comic-book author, a philosophy major, a songwriter, a screenwriter, an essayist and a novelist, whose professional skills equip them to write upbeat language for the bots and anticipate diverse users’ reactions, says Deborah Harrison, a senior manager and team leader. They also teach the bots to avoid, say, misusing ethnic slang or making sexualized remarks.

One team labored over how Cortana should respond to a user who announced, “I’m gay,” Ms. Harrison says. Her team came up with a pleasant, nonjudgmental response: “I’m AI.” But they weren’t satisfied, she says. It was a teenage visitor to their lab who suggested a tweak that finally pleased everyone: “Cool. I’m AI.”

Write to Sue Shellenbarger at sue.shellenbarger@wsj.com

More From Work & Family

Juice WRLD Is Forced To Give His Heart Up On Wounded New Song ‘Robbery’

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, Juice WRLD has a dark tale of romance gone awry to share. The rapper released his new single “Robbery” today via Beats 1 Radio as Zane Lowe’s World Record. Don’t let the mischievous name fool you; the only boundaries broken here are metaphysical in nature, not physical. Take a listen to it below.

“Robbery” is in line with the smooth, mid-tempo jams that Juice WRLD specializes in. Nick Mira, the producer behind his breakout single “Lucid Dreams,” returns to the fold with a piano-heavy instrumental that soundtracks Juice WRLD’s wounded wailing. The song is a drunken reflection of a toxic relationship by Juice WRLD, with the rapper confessing to his deepest insecurities to remain sane. “One thing my dad told me was ‘Never let your woman know when you’re insecure’/So I put Gucci on the fur/And I put my wrist on iceberg,” he caterwauls dejectedly. You can practically hear him venting to a stranger at the bar, during a commercial break for a college football game, his breath heavy with the thick smell of fresh beer.

“Robbery” is the first single from Juice WRLD’s forthcoming sophomore album Deathrace for Love that is set to drop on March 8Later this month, the rapper will be joining Nicki Minaj for The Nicki WRLD Tour that’s set to kick off in Munich, Germany.

Lady Gaga Will Not Stand For Any Cardi B Criticism: ‘Let’s Celebrate Her Fight’

Lady Gaga and Cardi B both walked away winners at last weekend’s Grammys, but only the latter queen has had to defend her victory amid an onslaught of criticism. Cardi’s win put her in the history books as the first solo female artist to earn Best Rap Album, but after some haters said she didn’t deserve it, she deactivated her Instagram and ranted about the “bullshit” she’s been taking.

“I’m seeing a lot of bullshit today and I saw a lot of shit last night, and I’m sick of this shit,” she said in a now-deleted video. “I worked hard for my motherfucking album.”

Gaga apparently caught wind of the controversy and showed Cardi some love with a heartfelt post on Twitter that called on others to support the “brave” MC.

“It is so hard to be a woman in this industry. What it takes, how hard we work through the disrespectful challenges, just to make art,” Gaga wrote, alongside a photo of them meeting at Sunday night’s ceremony. “I love you Cardi. You deserve your awards. Let’s celebrate her fight. Lift her up & honor her. She is brave.”

Gaga wasn’t the only one to defend Cardi’s hard-earned win. Pusha T, another contender for Best Rap Album, offered his congrats, as did Chance the Rapper, who called her award “overly deserved.”

“It would be inconceivable not to honor u last night,” Chance wrote in the comments of a now-deleted post. “Straight up bask in it YOU deserve it. It’s a feeling very few will ever know, but YOU do.”

All “bullshit” aside, Gaga’s support has to mean a lot to Cardi — the Bronx rapper is, after all, a longtime Little Monster. She hasn’t responded to Gaga’s tweet yet, but hopefully she’s basking in the love from her fellow Grammy victor.

Annie Leibovitz on Being Envious of Herself

Annie Leibovitz
Annie Leibovitz Photo: © Annie Leibovitz

After Annie Leibovitz’s start as a staff photographer for Jann Wenner’s Rolling Stone in 1970, her first cover for the magazine—a black-and-white portrait of a boyish-looking John Lennon—ran in January 1971, when Leibovitz was just 21. Almost a decade later, she took the now-iconic photograph of Lennon nude and curled around Yoko Ono in bed, just hours before Lennon’s assassination; the print became the magazine’s striking memorial cover. Leibovitz’s other subjects for the magazine, where she worked until 1983, when she left for Vanity Fair, included dozens of other artists who shaped the era, like Patti Smith, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. Now, in Annie Leibovitz: The Early Years, 1970–1983, a new show opening February 14 at Hauser & Wirth in L.A., Leibovitz revisits that work for the first time. The photographer combed through thousands of images to select the more than 4,000 pictures in the exhibition. She talks about curating the show with WSJ.:

WSJ. Magazine: What was your emotional reaction to looking back on your early work?

Annie Leibovitz: Well, it is very emotional to see that period. Installing it in L.A., I realized how the work was really born in California. I worked for Rolling Stone for 13 years, and for the first seven or eight, a lot of the work was there: driving the highways, the offices, living in San Francisco and going down to L.A. to do work. There’s some of my family pictures in there as well. And a lot of people I photographed aren’t with us any longer, so both those things become very emotional to me. The writers Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson aren’t with us anymore. You look at it and you see this bygone era of sorts that resonates with today and what’s going on with our politics today, on some level—kind of mirroring the Nixon period.

But I can also stand outside of it and look at it as the story of a young photographer learning how to take photographs. Learning how to see, learning how to look, learning. You know, I was obsessed. Everything was about photography. I had my camera with me all the time and I lived with my camera. On some level, to grow up for me was having to wean myself from all that—to start to have a life.

How did you choose the photos in the show?

I wanted it to overwhelm a young photographer… I’ve always been in love with the series in photography, how photographs sort of bounce off each other, and how they give it a new meaning when you see them next to each other, like brothers and sisters. In the end, I’ve always understood that the power of my work is going to be the body of work.

How did your eye develop over the years?

At one point I thought maybe I was a journalist. But I realized that I probably was not, because I had a point of view and I thought the work was stronger if it had a personal point of view.

TOUR DE FORCE Leibovitz was the tour photographer for the Rolling Stones, whose fans are pictured above, in 1975. “I turned into a nocturnal animal,” she says. Rolling Stones tour, Cleveland, Ohio, 1975
TOUR DE FORCE Leibovitz was the tour photographer for the Rolling Stones, whose fans are pictured above, in 1975. “I turned into a nocturnal animal,” she says. Rolling Stones tour, Cleveland, Ohio, 1975 Photo: © Annie Leibovitz, The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1

At what point did you realize your talent for portraits?

I don’t think I ever thought that way. I think that I got tired of having a label of some kind. When I worked at Rolling Stone, I was a music photographer, and then when I went to Vanity Fair, I was a celebrity photographer. I realized, maybe people will leave me alone if I just said I was a portrait photographer, you know? In portraiture, you’re allowed to take some license. You’re allowed to use journalism, you’re allowed to use creativity, you’re allowed to go off the grid, go off the deep end, you know? You can have all different ways of approaching how to take a photograph.

I first looked back at this period of work in 1990, in this book that had John Lennon and Yoko Ono on the cover [Annie Leibovitz: Photographs, 1970-1990]. When I first looked at it, I thought Oh, I’m so envious of that young work. It’s just so pure and energetic and out there and journalistic, and it was very powerful. I did try to integrate some of that in my portraiture. And that’s kind of where I’m at now. I think I’m kind of a hybrid—it looks a little bit like journalism, but it’s still a very set up, posed picture.

You’ve written before that the best photos you’ve made of musicians were of the Rolling Stones on tour. Still true?

Yes. I was asked to be the tour photographer for the 1975 Rolling Stones tour, and of course I said yes, because Robert Frank did the 1972 Rolling Stones tour and Robert Frank was like God to me. [The band was] very open. I was hired to get publicity pictures, and after the first week I never saw the daylight again. I turned into a nocturnal animal. So I was very ingrained and working in a way that was very special. So they, of course, are the best [of my] work of that period of musicians. I didn’t look at the work for a long time afterwards because I didn’t want it to be so romantic and it just still has a sense or a feeling of romance. But I’m long past that now, so.

What’s the most important thing you could achieve with your art?

Having done this for so long, almost 50 years, sometimes it’s just about having a record. The body of work takes over. It’s bigger than me. It has just a sense of history, and I feel committed and responsible to working until I can’t work any longer and continuing this body of work to look at this period of time.

Is there something about the way you work that gets subjects to open up?

When you’re young, no one’s paying any attention to you. Imagine you’re a girl, size S. No one’s really paying attention, and I think that I wasn’t really known until maybe the ‘90s, when I did that book and people began to connect who I was with my photography. Sometimes it works against you to be known, and people don’t really want to deal with that. But that being said, I think that I’m pretty direct. I’m pretty straightforward and no-nonsense and we get to work right away.

FAMILY MATTERS Marilyn Leibovitz, Dulles International Airport, Virginia, 1972 / Samuel Leibovitz, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1972
FAMILY MATTERS Marilyn Leibovitz, Dulles International Airport, Virginia, 1972 / Samuel Leibovitz, Silver Spring, Maryland, 1972 Photo: © Annie Leibovitz, The Early Years, 1970 – 1983: Archive Project No. 1

What books do you read?

When I first started taking photographs, in ‘69, ‘70, there were not that many photography books, there were just a few. But now it’s pretty prolific. I’m just looking at two catalogs that are just incredible: that David Wojnarowicz catalog from the Whitney, which is an incredible volume, and then also the Brassaï catalog from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s show. That’s what’s sitting on my table right now.

I’m also reading Beto O’Rourke’s blogs. I’m very impressed with him and his stream-of-consciousness writing. He’s out there meeting people and he’s telling their stories. He’s out searching, and I find it very appealing because I can identify with that.

And what’s next?

Well, it’s hard for me, I can’t tell you what I’m doing, literally. But this year I am working on a series, of course, of portraits throughout the year of a lot of politics. This weekend I’ll be doing one, but I can’t tell you who they are. But you can imagine. And suffice it to say, whoever you can think of, that’s what I’m working on.

Corrections & Amplifications
Leibovitz combed through thousands of images to select the more than 4,000 pictures for the show. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated she selected more than 5,000. (February 13, 2019)

Can a Grown Woman Wear a Hair Bow?

Why We Love Them

DURING MY CHILDHOOD in the Chicago suburbs, every day was a hair-bow day. Piano recitals and church on Sundays were cause for embellishment, sure, but so were apple picking and playing soccer. So my heart skipped a beat when, decades later, in my capacity as a fashion reporter, I watched the hair adornment come down the spring 2016 Oscar de la Renta runway in its simplest form—black and loosely tied. Since then, hair bows, once the territory of girlish characters like Hello Kitty, have become a signature for fashionable women like Ariana Grande and Kate Middleton. I have eagerly tried them in many forms,…

Batman And The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Are Getting A Crossover Movie

Comic book crossovers are a frequent occurrence, though most of the time they happen with characters owned by just one company. But every now and then, two companies will join forces to have two separately-owned properties interact with one another. DC Comics and IDW Publishing have already done this several times with Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and today it’s been announced that the Caped Crusader and the Heroes in a Half Shell will now join forces in a cinematic setting as well.

Based on the first Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book crossover that was written by James Tynion IV and illustrated by Freddie William II, this Warner Bros Animation direct-to-video movie, titled Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, is a co-production between DC Entertainment and Nickelodeon, and will be released on 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD this spring. Batman will cross paths with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles through a “transdimensional encounter,” and the anthropomorphic amphibians will subsequently team up with the Dark Knight to fight his colorful rogues gallery.

As reported by SYFY WIRE, Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will feature Troy Baker voicing both Batman and The Joker. Baker has previously voiced those characters in separate projects, but this will be the first time that any actor has voiced the arch-nemeses in the same project. The cast also includes The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’s Darren Criss as Raphael, Saturday Night Live’s Kyle Mooney as Michelangelo, Grace and Frankie’s Baron Vaughn as Donatello, Eric Bauza (who voices Splinter on the Nickelodeon series Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as Leonardo, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s Rachel Bloom as Batgirl, Spongebob Squarepants’ Tom Kenny as The Penguin, Adventure Time’s John DiMaggio as Mr. Freeze, The Powerpuff Girls’ Tara Strong as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, Reno 911!’s Carlos Alazraqui as Bane and The Expanse’s Cas Anvar as Ra’s al Ghul. Robin will also appear, as shown by the first official still from the movie, but it wasn’t revealed who will voice him.

Considering that this movie is based off the first time that Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles met on the printed page, noticeably absent from this lineup of characters is the Turtles’ greatest foe, The Shredder. In the original storyline, Shredder and his Foot Clan were transported with the Turtles to Gotham City, and Shredder subsequently formed an alliance with Ra’s al Ghul. Either this movie is keeping Shredder’s role a secret or this will be more of a loose adaptation that doesn’t include him. If it’s the latter, perhaps he could be saved for a sequel where Batman is the one transported to the Turtles’ universe and has to fight an assortment of their enemies, including Shredder.

After Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first crossed over in 2015, these versions of the characters reunited in 2017, where Bane traveled to the Turtles’ universe and seized control of the Foot Clan. That story could also be used as the story for a Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sequel, especially since we’re meeting Bane in the first movie. There was also a crossover that was published between late 2016 and early 2017, although that was a separate ‘first encounter’ event between the Batman from the DC Animated Universe continuity and the Ninja Turtles from the world of the 2012 CGI animated series. In any case, this animated movie marks the next logical step for an odd, yet fun superhero alliance that’s less than half a decade old.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the biggest updates concerning Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, whether they’re together or off on separate adventures. If you want to learn what movies are heading to the big screen this year, look through our 2019 release schedule.

The Black Widow Movie Just Added Some Star Wars Talent

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is in a fascinating place right now, as Phase Three comes to a close with Avengers: Endgame. With only two blockbusters left in the current slate of movies, plenty of moviegoers are looking to the unclear future of Marvel. Unfortunately, very little is known about the franchise in Phase Four, except for Spider-Man: Far From Home and the still developing Black Widow movie. Luckily, the latter seems to be moving forward well.

Scarlett Johansson’s signature Marvel character will finally take the spotlight in her own movie, with a team coming together for the developing project. Cate Shorltand has been tapped to direct the upcoming blockbuster, with an official director and producing team also assembled to craft the Black Widow movie. Now Star Wars: Episode IX art director Jim Barr has been revealed to be doing the same job for Black Widow.

This latest report comes to us from HN Entertainment, and shows that Marvel Studios is really working to get Black Widow‘s team together for the upcoming solo movie. While its setting and plot are still a mystery to the general public, every new crew announcement proves that the highly anticipated solo flick is truly coming together, and is poised to become a reality. The question is: when?

Jim Barr is just the latest crew member that has signed onto the Black Widow movie, with the Art Director’s job helping the movie’s visuals make their way to the silver screen. He’ll be joining Lore director Cate Shortland, who is helming the project written by Jac Schaeffer (Captain Marvel). This trio will make up the backbone of the upcoming blockbuster, and finally give Black Widow the solo adventure she deserves.

Aside from his work as the Art Director for Episode IX, Jim Barr has a variety of credits within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He was actually the art director Avengers: Infinity War, helping to bring the massive ensemble project to theaters. He also worked on Doctor Strange, which is just as challenging in regards to the ambitious scope and visuals of the trippy blockbuster.

By comparison, the Black Widow movie might be far less challenging for Jim Barr. Natasha Romanoff doesn’t have superpowers, and her solo movie might give Marvel Studios the opportunity to pull back after CGI-heavy projects like Infinity War and Captain Marvel. While the public has no semblance of what Black Widow will be about, Phase Three has proven that ambitious and original new installments really resonate with audiences. Just look at the massive success of Black Panther, which has even earned a handful of Oscar nominations since its release.

The mystery of Black Widow‘s contents will likely continue for some time, at the very least until Avengers: Endgame finally hits theaters. Marvel hasn’t reveled its plans for Phase Four, and it looks like Natasha will have a major presence in the upcoming blockbuster. Let’s just hope she makes it out alive.

Black Widow will return to the MCU when Avengers: Endgame arrives in April 26th. In the meantime, be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Is It Healthy to Study in Bed?

Is It Healthy to Study in Bed?
Photo: iStock

With extracurriculars, academics and a social life to maintain, goal-oriented students have to squeeze time from their hectic schedules to get homework done. The result? Lots of studying, writing and reading happens while lying or lounging in bed. Though many parents insist children study only at a desk, they may be surprised to hear what experts think about where and when it’s best to review and learn. We gathered informed opinions from experts in education psychology, sleep medicine and ergonomics.

Doing the Homework

As a debate about homework escalates nationwide, a perhaps less-discussed issue is where this home-studying takes place. Among those who recognize that much of it happens in bed are industrial engineers and furniture designers. Over the years they have come up with across-the-bed tables that angle laptops for proper typing, reading pillows that cradle the neck, back and arms, even hard-sided lap pillows for resting a laptop on.

These can all help bed-studiers be more comfortable. However, Atul Malhotra, a physician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, with a focus on sleep medicine, notes: “Lying down or sitting upright doesn’t impact your brain function—your posture doesn’t matter.”

The only widely known study specifically on students doing homework in bed versus at a desk was published in May 1968. Of the 100 or so college students they surveyed—admittedly at a time when studying was quite different than the screen-based work now—the researchers at the University of California, Davis, found no difference in grade-point average between those who worked at their desk and those who studied in bed.

“The assumption that there is a single type of study environment optimal for all students appears unwarranted,” the authors concluded.

One concern is that being cozy in bed typically brings on sleepiness, which may compromise a student’s ability to retain information, says Harris Cooper, a social psychologist with a specialty in education at Duke University. But he adds that figuring out how you learn and study most effectively at a young age isn’t a bad thing.

“If they are getting their work done and it is of quality, then knowing what environments work for them will prepare them to be lifelong learners in various locations,” Dr. Cooper says. The professor of psychology and neuroscience suggests parents and students track progress over time to see if they are, indeed, producing as good work in bed as at a desk.

Losing the Last Page

When someone reads a book just before falling asleep, and puts the bookmark on page 89, it’s common not to recall in the morning what happened on page 88, Dr. Malhotra says.

“That which happened right before you sleep doesn’t register, so many people have to re-read page 88—but they will remember page 87,” he says. He doesn’t take issue with one of his daughters who studies in bed with music on. But he suggests that anyone who does homework on the comforter at night go back a few pages or at least 10 minutes’ worth of work in the morning and redo and review it. Also, if you have to read and retain something important, don’t read it just before sleeping, as the few minutes just before sleep aren’t optimal for memory retention.

“Read it, then brush your teeth, then go to sleep,” he says. He also doesn’t mind a little morning lie-in coupled with studying. “You’re often free from distractions in bed in the morning, before the day’s chaos begins,” he says. If you find comfort in bed when the sun comes up, that might be a good opportunity to learn and retain new information.

Getting to Neutral

Standing with arms relaxed at your side is considered the “neutral” posture, with no stress put on any particular part of your body, says ergonomics specialist Janice Fletcher at UC San Diego Health, an academic medical center.

She makes sure people get close to neutral while working at their desks, adjusting keyboards so that the elbows are slightly wider than at right angles, and wrists are either straight or slightly bent downward, “never flexed in the ‘tell it to the hand’ position,” she says. She also places monitors so the neck is neither flexed nor extended. Perhaps surprisingly, the second-most neutral posture is lying in bed flat on your back, though not much studying can be accomplished in that position, she admits.

Ms. Fletcher is fine with people studying in bed, though she suggests that rather than just plopping onto a mattress to do homework, students should plan a little.

The best posture for reading in bed, she says, is sitting up with your back against the headboard and pillows under your arms to raise the reading material to eye level.

“That way you don’t have to bend your neck to view the book or device,” she says. Find a flat surface for writing or supporting a computer on your lap, and use a soft light to prevent a glare that may harm the eyes. For homework involving lots of paper and books, a desk might be a better choice, but bed-studying can be done effectively. “Make yourself as neutral as possible” by sitting similarly to the way you would if you were at a desk, with the help of cushioning, she says.

“If you’re at neutral, you’re more comfortable,” Ms. Fletcher says, “and I would guess you’d be less distracted because you wouldn’t be thinking about your discomfort.”

After Watching The Frozen II Trailer, Here’s What We Hope The Movie’s About

The first Frozen 2 teaser trailer just came out and … wow. It didn’t reveal much about the plot, we didn’t hear any of the new songs, and we didn’t even hear any of the characters’ voices. It was darker and bolder than expected, suggesting a surprising new direction for the extremely popular franchise.

Sometimes less is indeed more, and the Frozen 2 trailer gave us a lot to work with. So CinemaBlend rose to the challenge, with Dirk Libbey and Gina Carbone speculating through the waves, winds, fires, and snowflakes — revealing what they hope the mysterious movie will be about…

Dirk Libbey: I love the way a trailer can be two minutes long and basically tell you nothing. We get a lot of cool shots, but without any context they just don’t mean anything. Still, I get the feeling this will be something of a “road movie.” Shots near the end that show them walking together and staring out over beautiful scenery together seem to imply they’re going someplace, which is cool, because expanding the world beyond Arendelle is a nice idea.

Gina Carbone: If I had to imagine what the first Frozen 2 trailer would look like, this is not it. But that’s a compliment. It would’ve been easy to give us something cute and funny. This is anything but cute and funny. It’s intense, very dark, darn near frightening, and even ends with Anna grabbing a sword and slicing at the screen. I love that this gives us clues and mysteries, and fodder for speculation. I hope Disney doesn’t follow this with a more typical trailer. Don’t even preview the new songs!

Dirk: I keep going back to the shot of Anna surrounded by those odd crystals. She clearly isn’t happy to see them, and the design shows up in the new poster as well, so we know they’re important. They could be ice, which might mean they’re a new aspect of Elsa’s powers manifesting. Could we be seeing a story where Elsa is going someplace to learn about the origin of power in order to better control it? The first movie just sort of hand-waved it all away, “it’s magic, don’t worry about it.”

Gina: I think she’s surprised more than anything, like what is this stuff? The poster shows four different designs on the snowflakes. I like the theory that they represent the four seasons, and perhaps four different powers — like Elsa with ice/winter. If so, I don’t know if those crystals by Anna represent Elsa or someone else. The trailer does show a few autumn scenes, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people out there with powers like autumn wind, summer fire. (What would spring be – growth?) There’s a shot in the trailer where it looks like Elsa might be protecting Olaf from fire or some kind of barrier. A fire counterpoint to Elsa’s ice?

Dirk: That works. We see the shot with the pair of new characters has one of them being blown up into the air by an apparent gust of wind.

Gina: OK, speaking of the new characters, I’m calling it now – the new girl and boy in the autumn woods are Elsa and Anna’s mom and dad in a flashback. Maybe Mom had an autumn wind power the way Elsa has a winter frost power? Or maybe not. But King Agnarr had blonde hair and Queen Iduna was a redhead like Anna. I like the idea of tying in that history, since it seems like there’s unfinished business with the parents.

Dirk: Hmmm…. I feel like that would be a fairly big retcon to throw into the sequel. Like, isn’t that the first thing you tell the trolls when Anna is sick? “Elsa was born with these powers, and also mom has them too.” Still, I can’t say the idea doesn’t have a particular poetry to it. There’s no denying there’s something of a similarity between Anna and this new character. They certainly could be related. And the idea that some of what we see here could be flashback should certainly be considered.

Gina: I know some fans were wondering if the new characters could be Anna and Kristoff’s kids. It seems like there must be a reason why that new girl looks so much like Anna. I like the parents idea more than the kids, but who knows yet. Both of the flashback/flashforward theories could be wrong. We know Evan Rachel Wood and Sterling K. Brown are voicing new characters, but not necessarily those characters. I’m excited to see what they bring. I’m also excited and curious for an explanation on the dark ocean opening. That’s the sequence I keep going back to.

Dirk: That’s part of why I think Elsa’s own powers are at the center of this. I feel like she’s testing herself there, maybe trying to accomplish some specific task with her abilities.

Gina: I like bonkers fan theories, so I like the idea that the parents are still alive out there (and connected to other Disney universes, because the wilder the theory, the better). Maybe this journey is to find them. That’s probably too simplistic, but so be it. Since Elsa’s powers were such a focus of the first movie, along with Anna finding herself and appreciating the true love of sisterhood, I like the idea of other characters also having powers. But of course Elsa’s wintry powers would still be paramount in a movie called “Frozen.” This is her world, we’re just visitors!

Frozen 2 has several seasons to get through before arriving in theaters on November 22, 2019. That date is almost exactly six years after the premiere of Frozen in November 2013. Disney will almost certainly share more trailers and TV spots as the release date gets closer, along with an official synopsis that may pop holes in all of our hopes and theories. In the meantime, bookmark our 2019 movie release date calendar to keep up with everything both Disney and non-Disney heading to theaters this year.

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