Des images contre les clichés sur les oubliés de Calais

Dans son livre 
Des hommes vivent ici (1), 
la photographe Marion Osmont raconte le quotidien des migrants le long du littoral de la 
Manche, dix ans après 
la fermeture du camp de Sangatte. Un travail
 plein d’humanité 
et de dignité.

calais_m

Un grand hangar vide. Au loin, un groupe d’hommes. Sept ou huit Africains, assis ou debout autour d’une table, jouent aux cartes. Un clair-obscur d’humanité au milieu du néant. « Je suis contente d’avoir pu prendre cette image, raconte son auteure, la photographe Marion Osmont. Berlusconi, le passeur (en capuche – NDLR), m’a dit “Tu fais ce que tu veux”, cet état de grâce a duré trois secondes. Cette image montre l’attente d’une journée ordinaire. Il ne se passe rien. »

Pendant plus de deux ans, Marion Osmont a photographié la vie quotidienne des migrants de Calais. Elle publie ces photos dans un livre au titre éloquent Des hommes vivent ici. D’une grande sobriété, ses images montrent la vie dans le dépouillement : la préparation du feu, la cuisine, les nuits dans le squat, l’ennui, le linge qui sèche sur un arbre, la traque, le froid, la peur. Loin des clichés vus et revus sur les migrants de Calais, les photos de Marion Osmont sont remplies d’humanité et de dignité.

« On parle trop souvent d’eux et de nous »

Son travail est le résultat d’une démarche mûrement réfléchie. « On parle trop souvent d’eux et de nous. Je ne voulais surtout pas ça. Je pense que beaucoup de gens, s’ils savaient ce qu’il se passe à Calais, ne trouveraient pas ça normal. J’ai donc travaillé à créer de l’empathie. » MarionOsmontcouv

Pour cela, la photographe s’attache à suivre deux migrants « au plus près », Ammanuel et Haroon. Les deux hommes ne se laissent pas simplement photographier, ils sont des acteurs à part entière de la démarche du livre. « Ils m’ont montré des lieux, des campements, m’ont raconté leurs parcours. Ce n’était pas facile pour eux, mais il leur paraissait important que leur histoire soit connue. Pour que ça puisse provoquer des changements. »

Deux migrants suivis au quotidien

Marion Osmont attend quelques semaines après le démantèlement de la jungle pachtoune en septembre 2009 pour commencer son travail. « Tous les migrants étaient revenus, il fallait montrer que cette opération n’avait servi à rien. » Parisienne, elle passe ses week-ends à Calais pour suivre ces deux migrants qui ne sont pas « de passage », contrairement à ce que prétendent les ministres de l’Immigration de Nicolas Sarkozy. Tous les deux demandeurs d’asile, ils attendent la réponse de l’Office français des réfugiés (Ofpra) dans le plus total dénuement.

Des hommes vivent ici montre la vie des migrants en plan large. « C’est une forme de respect, dit-elle. Ils sont sous pression en permanence, les flics les réveillent toutes les nuits, les journalistes peuvent être parfois intrusifs. Je voulais des photos assez douces. » Exclues donc les images de la distribution, où l’on voit les migrants dans les files d’attente ou manger sur un bout de trottoir. Pendant longtemps, la photographe s’est aussi refusée à immortaliser ces séances durant lesquelles les migrants se brûlent les doigts pour échapper aux renvois vers d’autres pays d’Europe.

Trajet décomposé

Dans cette vie quotidienne calaisienne, la police est omniprésente. Dès l’aube, lorsqu’elle intervient dans les squats pour arrêter les migrants. Dans les évacuations de campements ou les destructions de squats. À chaque fois, il faut trouver un nouvel endroit où dormir, toujours plus loin, plus caché. Dans la série de photos Chez Haroon, Marion Osmont décompose le trajet pour rejoindre la cachette du Soudanais : « Traverser un hangar / se glisser dans un trou / longer un tunnel aménagé sous le sol / passer un premier mur / marcher le long d’un corridor à travers ronces / passer un deuxième mur / marcher sur un toit / passer par une fenêtre cassée / monter un escalier défoncé. » Délogé, Haroon devra s’installer encore plus loin…

Aujourd’hui, Haroon et Ammanuel, tous deux déboutés du droit d’asile après des années d’attente, sont partis vers d’autres horizons. « Je les imagine quelque part en Europe, à la rue», dit Marion Osmont. Encore plus brisés que lors de leur arrivée à Calais, il y a quelques années. « Il était encore temps de les aider alors. Avec des soins psychologiques, peut-être qu’ils auraient pu se récupérer. C’est un immense gâchis. » Aujourd’hui, environ 300 migrants survivent à Calais même. Quelque 500 autres s’éparpillent dans des petits campements le long du littoral. Dans des conditions toujours plus précaires.

(1) Des hommes vivent ici, de Marion Osmont. Éditions Images plurielles, 25 euros, avec le soutien de Médecins du Monde et de Amnesty International.

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Rashad Jennings Is Your New ‘Dancing With The Stars’ Champion

Who needs a Super Bowl ring when you have a Mirror Ball trophy? 

After recapping the entire season like we haven?t been watching the whole time, ?Dancing with the Stars? finally announced the show?s new champion, as Season 24 came to a close on Tuesday night: NFL?s Rashad Jennings and his partner Emma Slater.

Hosts Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews revealed the winners of the Mirror Ball trophy after the duo laid waste to the dance floor. With less than 24 hours to master a finale routine, Jennings and Slater received nearly perfect scores across the board from the panel of judges.

MLB star David Ross and partner Lindsay Arnold were the runner-ups, while Normani Kordei and partner Val Chmerkovskiy placed third, which surprised pretty much everybody, including her Fifth Harmony bandmates who were in the audience. 

?I just wanted people to enjoy watching me on the dance floor,? Jennings told People, reflecting on his journey throughout the season. ?I hope people get up on their couch and dance when they?re watching at home. I just wanted to bring fun to the dance floor.?

Season 24 of the hit ABC reality show was chock-full of twists, with early frontrunners actress Heather Morris and Olympian Simone Biles eliminated long before many fans expected. However, in recent weeks, Jennings gained momentum by infusing his footwork with a sense of fun and personality. 

Of course, Twitter was quick to weigh in on the outcome with many celebrating Jennings? win, while others lamented Kordei?s loss after a season of consistently high scores and expert dancing.

If the over two-hour finale didn?t satisfy all your dancing needs, then you can catch both Jennings and Slater on the ?DWTS? tour this summer. 

?Dancing with the Stars? will return for Season 25 this September on ABC.

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Donald Trump Says ‘Evil Losers’ Behind Manchester Attack

President Donald Trump said Monday?s deadly explosion in Manchester, England was the work of ?evil losers.?

?I won?t call them monsters, because they would like that term… they?re losers, just remember that,? he said Tuesday during a press conference with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Trump met with Abbas in Bethlehem after meeting with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem on Monday. 

?We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom,? Trump said.

The blast at a concert by American pop singer Ariana Grande killed at least 23 people, including the attacker, and wounded over 50. Police said the incident is ?being treated as a terrorist incident.? 

Trump spoke to British Prime Minister Theresa May to offer ?condolences and support,? White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

First lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump also expressed sympathies for those affected by the attack.

Trump?s visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem is part of his first foreign trip as president. On Monday, he became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall. He also met with leaders in Saudi Arabia over the weekend.

The blast comes a little over two months after a deadly terror attack outside the Houses of Parliament in London that killed five people, including the assailant, and injured more than 40. 

Mollie Reilly contributed reporting.

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From Bulgaria to East Asia, the making of Japan’s yogurt culture

One of Japan?s biggest food trends right now is Bulgarian yoghurt.

City foodsters/Kakig?ri Kanna/Flickr, CC BY-ND

Maria Yotova, Kwansei Gakuin University

Yogurt has travelled from Bulgaria to Japan and back, channelling identities and national pride as it goes. The the sixth article of our series Globalisation Under Pressure charts its course. The Conversation

Japan has a new food fad: yogurt. Its artful display is the latest craze on Japanese tables, and yogurt is one of the trendiest foods in the country.

Today, millions of Japanese include yogurt in their daily diet, and the market is growing steadily. And Meiji Holdings, a Japanese company that has a subsidiary specialising in dairy products, is the biggest domestic producer in an industry valued at 410 billion yen ($US3.7 billion) annually, according to a March 6 article in the online newspaper Shokuhin Sangyou Shinbun.

How did yogurt go from being a food alien to the Japanese, a substance often considered distasteful or even inedible just 35 years ago, to being a daily necessity and a symbol of health and well-being?

 

 

Plain Bulgarian yogurt has become a symbol of good health.

Ned Jelyazkov/Wikimedia, CC BY-ND

 

 

A new superfood

That was the question underlying the fieldwork I conducted from 2007 to 2012, for which I examined both dairy companies and consumers (available here in English and also in Japanese). I traced this commodity through time and space ? from Bulgaria to Japan ? watching it transform.

I asked people: what do you think you?re actually eating when you consume yogurt? Is it a specific bacterium, a cool trend or a health-boosting substance?

Turns out, yogurt?s current standing in Japan as a scientifically proven, evidence-based health food was created by a sophisticated marketing campaign that brought consumers to this non-traditional product through mythologist branding.

Meiji?s yogurt commercials extol the Bulgarian origins of their product, presenting the eastern European nation as the sacred birthplace of yogurt. In Bulgaria, they tell consumers, dairy production is an old tradition, and ?the wind is different, the water is different, the light is different.?

Bulgaria, the sacred birthplace of Japanese yogurt.

What triggered the Japanese Meiji Bulgaria Yogurt company, which now boasts 43% market share and 98.9% brand awareness, to invest in this product?

The quest for longevity

Meiji started considering how to develop Bulgarian-style yogurt for the Japanese market in the late 1960s.

At the time, the only type of yogurt available in Japan was a sweetened, heat-treated fermented milk with a jelly-like texture. Brands such as Meiji honey yogurt, Snow brand yogurt and Morinaga yogurt were distributed in small 80-gram jars and consumed as a snack or dessert, according to Meiji?s company history.

Sweet Morinaga yogurt was around in the 1960s.

Morinaga Milk

Plain yogurt with living Lactobacillus bulgaricus, like what is popularly consumed in Bulgaria, did not exist. One member of Meiji?s Bulgaria yogurt project told me he still remembered the shock of trying the plain yogurt presented at the Bulgarian pavilion at the 1970 World Fair in Osaka. It was weird, he said, and astonishingly sour.

But plain yogurt had a powerful draw: the promise of increased longevity. At the dawn of the 20th century, Nobel Prize-winning Russian scientist Elie Metchnikoff (1845-1916), developed the theory that ageing was caused by toxic bacteria in the gut. He pinpointed lactic acid bacteria for its ability to neutralise these toxins and thus slow the ageing process.

Metchnikoff touted the unparalleled effectiveness of Lactobacillus bulgaricus, isolated from homemade Bulgarian yogurt, for this task and recommended eating it every day.

Metchnikoff feeding his good bacteria to the elderly.

Revue

That myth remains today. During my fieldwork in Bulgaria, I heard the same story many times: how powerful the local bacterium was; how it made delicious and healthy yogurt.

One elderly woman attributed her daughter?s recovery from breast cancer to homemade goat-milk yogurt.

?It is the bacillus that makes our milk, my girl?, she concluded. ?It is unique. When I was young I didn?t eat much yogurt, but now that I take it every day, my blood pressure has been normal and I feel so energetic!?

From inedible to irreplaceable

Meiji realised that, technologically speaking, it would not be difficult to produce plain yogurt with living Lactobacillus bulgaricus. In 1971, the company launched its innovative product in Japan, simply calling it ?plain yogurt?.

Consumers hated it. Some took its sourness to mean that the product had gone bad while others doubted its edibility.

Yogurt was associated with good health, before good taste.

Ignat Gorazd /Flickr, CC BY-SA

But Meiji persevered. In 1973, after making an agreement with the Bulgarian state-owned dairy enterprise to import yogurt starter cultures, the company received permission to rename its product Meiji Bulgaria yogurt.

The idea was to market authenticity, making full use of the Bulgarian rural idyll: pastoral scenery, herds of sheep and cows, bagpipers in traditional garb and healthy elderly people living in harmony with nature.

In the 1980s, the company combined this strategy with further microbiological research and closer cooperation with the Bulgarian side. In 1984, Japanese consumers saw a new Meiji Bulgaria yogurt with sleeker packaging, helping build its market presence.

Meiji Bulgaria yogurt in its nice new package.

LB Bulgaricum

Meiji got another boost when it acquired the right to put the government-issued Food for Specified Health Use (FOSHU) seal on the label of its Bulgarian yogurt in 1996. Health benefits have been the focus of its yogurt branding and marketing ever since.

Branding the holy land of yogurt

Imbuing their Bulgarian brand with new meanings, images and values, Meiji has not only turned a nice profit but also created in Japan a beautiful picture of Bulgaria as ?the holy land of yogurt?.

Back in Bulgaria, the media is fascinated by the popularity of a Japanese-made Bulgarian yogurt. In one 2015 article, Japanese consumers claimed that Meiji?s Bulgarian yogurt was more popular than Coca-Cola.

Almost every story about Japan, whether travelogues about dining or economics articles, mentions the Bulgarian yogurt success story. This narrative is even used by companies and politicians in post-socialist Bulgaria to invoke national pride.

In Bulgaria, preparing yogurt from goat?s milk.

Maria Yotova

To many Bulgarians I met, the new Japanese identity of their local yogurt embodies the very spirit of Bulgarian collective traditions. At the same time, they feel more connected to the modern world by its adoption as a symbol of health and happiness in one of the world?s great economic powers.

Globalisation may have shaken cultural values across the world, but yogurt?s transformation has been a miraculous one, becoming a source of health and nourishment for people in Japan and a salve for the Bulgarian national soul.

Maria Yotova, Lecturer in Food Culture, Kwansei Gakuin University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Here’s How Long Your Trash Will Hang Around After You’re Dead

This story is part of a series on ocean plastics.

Some things you toss in the trash will have a longer life span on this planet than you will ? and that?s not good news for the environment.  

Americans generated 258 million tons of trash in 2014, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. While some of this trash gets recycled or composted, most of it ends up in landfills, where it releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. A lot of it also ends up in the oceans, where animals can eat it or get harmed by it ? particularly if it?s plastic trash like bottle caps or fishing nets.

And while an apple core might take just two months to decompose, a plastic water bottle can take up to 450 years, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. What?s more, plastics may never fully disappear, scientists say. When plastic trash is dumped into the ocean, for example, it breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as microplastics. Fish and shellfish eat these particles, and people who eat seafood are consuming them too. 

SaveOnEnergy, a company that helps people choose their power provider, recently created a pair of graphics that bring to life the problem of long-lasting trash. The group used NOAA and other government sources to find decomposition rates for everyday materials ? and the results will give you some food for thought:

?Bringing simple data like decomposition rates to the surface and manifesting the impact of mindless ?tossing? on generations to come is one small way to contribute,? SaveOnEnergy editor Heather Bailey told HuffPost in an email.

On the upside, there are some easy ways for you to fight pollution in your everyday life: You can try not to consume as many single-use items ? such as straws or takeout containers ? and recycle any items you do use. You can also volunteer to help at local beach clean-ups.

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National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday he doesn?t really remember what President Donald Trump said in a meeting with Russian officials earlier this month.

McMaster was in the now-infamous Oval Office meeting with the president, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. But when pressed on whether Trump called former FBI Director James Comey a ?nut job? in that meeting and bragged about firing him, McMaster said he couldn?t remember.

?Well, I don?t remember exactly what the president said,? he told ABC?s ?This Week.?

?But the gist of the conversation was that the president feels as if he is hamstrung in his ability to work with Russia to find areas of cooperation because this has been obviously so much in the news,? he went on. ?And that was the intention of that portion of that conversation.?

Notes provided to The New York Times on Friday by an administration official said that Trump told the Russians he felt ?great pressure because of Russia.?

?That?s taken off,? Trump reportedly said, referring to his firing of Comey.

McMaster defended the president, saying notes on the conversation should not have been leaked at all.

?I?m really concerned about these kind of leaks because it undermines everybody?s trust in that kind of an environment where you can have frank, candid and oftentimes unconventional conversations to try to protect American interests and secure the American people,? McMaster said.

McMaster also repeatedly declined to answer a question about whether Trump confronted the Russian officials in person about their alleged interference in last year?s presidential election.

?I?m not going to divulge more of that meeting,? McMaster said. ?Those meetings, as you know, are supposed to be privileged. They?re supposed to be confidential.?

This story has been updated with additional information about McMaster?s Sunday remarks.

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Saudi King Confident Trump Can Solve Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Foreign Minister Says

The king of Saudi Arabia told President Donald Trump on Saturday that he?s optimistic about the U.S. leader?s ability to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians, according to Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.

At a press conference alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Jubeir said Trump and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had a ?very, very good and very wide-ranging conversation? that covered United States-Saudi relations, common concerns about Iran and combating extremist groups, the Syrian civil war and the Saudi war in Yemen.

The king ?expressed the kingdom?s optimism that President Trump, with a new approach and determination, can bring a conclusion to this long conflict,? Jubeir said, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

?He certainly has the vision and we believe the strength and the decisiveness,? Jubeir continued. ?And the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands prepared to work with the United States in order to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Arabs.?

Trump has yet to clarify his plan to oversee peace between Israel and the Palestinians who have been living under Israeli occupation since 1967. As a candidate, he vowed to repair ties with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who clashed bitterly with former President Barack Obama over West Bank settlements and the Iran nuclear deal. Trump even pledged to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a move that previous administrations had said they would make only when Jerusalem?s status is resolved in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Trump has since effectively tabled that promise and hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House earlier this month. Speaking about the possibility of an accord during the visit, Trump said, ?We will get this done.? 

Trump is set to head to Israel after he leaves the Saudi capital of Riyadh early on Monday. He is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Monday evening, and due to meet with Abbas on Tuesday.

The visit follows an awkward moment in U.S.-Israeli relations. In a meeting with Russian officials last week, Trump reportedly revealed classified information provided by Israeli intelligence about an ISIS terror plot.

Trump?s first trip abroad as president is providing the White House with an opportunity to draw attention from mounting scandals surrounding him at home. On Friday afternoon, The New York Times broke the latest in a string of revelations suggesting that Trump fired FBI Director James Comey to quash the agency?s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. Trump reportedly told Russian officials that Comey was a ?real nut job,? and that he had fired him to ease the ?great pressure? the Russia probe had put on him.

Saudi Arabia spared no pomp and circumstance in welcoming Trump, sending a formal royal delegation to greet him when he arrived on the tarmac and putting his face on billboards across the city. 

The Saudi government is eager to start fresh with the U.S. after several major disagreements marred its relationship with Obama. The Obama administration?s attempts at rapprochement with Iran, namely through the landmark agreement halting Iran?s nuclear program, and refusal to intervene against Syrian President Bashar Assad, rankled Riyadh. 

Unlike the reception given to Trump, the Saudi king notably refused to greet Obama at the tarmac during his last visit to the kingdom in April 2016. 

Still, the Obama administration provided crucial logistical support for Saudi Arabia?s controversial invasion of Yemen, which human rights groups say has resulted in a massive humanitarian crisis.

The Obama administration had already committed to much of the $110 billion new weapons sales deal that Trump and Salman signed on Saturday. A new report commissioned by the human rights arm of the American Bar Association, and presented to the U.S. Senate, argues that the weapons sale is illegal under U.S. law in light of ?recurring and highly questionable? Saudi airstrikes that resulted in civilian deaths.

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Mark Zuckerberg Is Making Good On His Wedding Promise To Priscilla Chan

Happy anniversary to Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan!

On Friday, the Facebook CEO and his wife ? a philanthropist and pediatrician ? celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. Zuckerberg marked the occasion with a sweet Facebook post (naturally!) that also told the funny story of how their wedding ended up falling just one day after the social media company went public back in 2012. 

?Priscilla and I wanted a low key wedding so we decided to make it a surprise and have it in our backyard. I sent our friends and family an email telling them I was throwing a surprise party for Priscilla to celebrate her graduation from medical school. Since they thought it was a surprise for Priscilla, they kept it quiet. When they showed up at our home, I told them we were getting married. It was a great day,? Zuckerberg wrote in the post.

?One side effect of having a surprise wedding is that Facebook?s CFO who was managing our IPO process had no idea we were getting married,? he continued. ?With IPOs, the process goes on for a while and you just go public when everything is ready. When I originally set the date for our surprise, we had no idea when the IPO would be.?

Despite his best efforts, there was nothing Zuckerberg could do to change the date of the IPO. Nevertheless, the wedding went smoothly, but, unfortunately, their honeymoon in Italy was cut short. 

?The wedding was really special, but, as you know, our IPO wasn?t exactly smooth. Priscilla and I took off on our honeymoon, but I wanted to be with our team when things got rocky, so I cut our honeymoon a few days short. Instead, I promised Priscilla that every year we?d have a honeymoon to celebrate our marriage.?

Since then, they?ve taken honeymoon trips to places like Japan and France; last year, they went to New York City to see ?Hamilton? on Broadway. This year, they?ll be staying stateside and spending time in rural Maine. 

The couple, who has a one-and-a-half-year-old daughter named Max, is expecting another baby girl later this year. 

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An Ode To Michael Fassbender Seducing Michael Fassbender In ‘Alien: Covenant’

This post contains mild ?Alien: Covenant? spoilers.

?Alien: Covenant? has two Michael Fassbenders. Both are androids. They engage in existential disputes on a remote planet. They debate the poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley. One teaches the other to play a flute. More importantly, they kiss. 

These two Michael Fassbenders form the hallmark of ?Alien: Covenant,? the sixth installment in the 38-year-old ?Alien? franchise. One Fassbender is the prototype David, returning from ?Covenant? processor ?Prometheus.? David?s devilish God-like tendencies have annexed the planet where the titular colony ship is investigating a rogue radio transmission. For his next trick, Fassbender plays Walter, a new-and-improved humanoid that takes care of the Covenant and strains to protect his crewmates from the extraterrestrial beasts David has cultivated. 

Set 10 years after the events of ?Prometheus,? ?Alien: Covenant? remains engaging even when it drowns in self-serious philosophizing and the foolish actions of its hollow characters. It is a Ridley Scott movie, after all. But any virtues are crumbs compared to Fassbender?s double billing, which takes all kind of bizarre and wonderful turns. 

In typical fashion, Fassbender commands both roles like a demigod reigning over his creations. Pitted against each other, the characters present a duality. Walter, short-haired and American-accented, is the dutiful good to David?s vainglorious evil. One telltale sign: David has a menacing British timbre. Another: He?s staging science experiments using remnants of the failed Prometheus mission. Soon enough, a fresh tribe of aliens are running amok, obliterating the Covenant?s inhabitants. In between sparring matches with his malevolent twin, can Walter rescue his friends?

You?ll find out the answer for yourself. Really, who cares when we can focus on David and Walter?s cozy spats about the origins of species and the nature of existence? Fassbender gives David an elfin camp just shy of cliché ? it?s perfect for the type of android (you know the one) that cites the Romantic poem ?Ozymandias.? And even more perfect for an android that essentially seduces his robot doppelgänger.

Deep inside a dim lair in David?s temple, as the movie builds toward its chaotic fever pitch, David baits Walter with a touch of intimacy. He pauses to teach Walter to play a recorder. Imagine that romantic-comedy trope where the dude perfects his girlfriend?s golf swing, except it?s two lookalikes blowing on a flute. ?Watch me ? I?ll do the fingering,? David says as Walter toots the mouthpiece. If the audience at your theater doesn?t hoot and holler in response, demand a refund. Or, rather, give it a few more seconds, because David says ?You have symphonies in you, brother? and plants a peck on Walter?s lips. For one brief, shining moment, it?s touching, watching David admire someone (something?) who was also born that way.

Alas, a romantic comedy this is not. David?s smooch is a segue for his battle royale with Walter and the other Covenant crew members who haven?t already been executed. We just happen to get an outré display of delicious android queer-baiting along the way.

Through it all, Fassbender is so on top of his game that ?Alien: Covenant? can stand up against his finest screen performances (?Hunger,? ?Shame,? ?Jane Eyre,? ?12 Years a Slave,? ?Slow West?). The way his stilted cyborg cadence changes from the humanistic Walter to the devious David creates a metaphysical tug-of-war, as though the pair represent two halves of one conflicted soul. Their interplay embodies some of Scott?s most masterful wizardry. From a logistical vantage, that flute scene is a true ?wow? moment, unfolding with seamless titillation, as if two different actors are sharing the exchange. 

By the end, the horror-movie elements and the philosophical world-building in ?Alien: Covenant? don?t cohere. But it almost doesn?t matter, partly because Scott has such a technical mastery and partly because Fassbender?s dueling energies are such a delight. Where else will we see an actor known for menacing villains and connection-hungry drifters play both in the same movie? Nobody does it like Mikey. 

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