The Fall and Rise of M. Night Shyamalan

Call it a surprise twist, if you must: Early one Monday morning in November 2018, M. Night Shyamalan turned on his shower, and no water came out. The writer-director has come to believe that the universe is fundamentally benevolent, and as it happens, the universe — not to mention the vast success of his initial run of movies, beginning with The Sixth Sense — provided him with a 125-acre country estate west of Philadelphia, where he’s lived with his family since 2007. So he simply popped into another building on his sprawling property, terrifying a cleaning woman in the process. He grabbed a shower there, mussed his thick black hair up as usual, and managed to get his youngest daughter to school, prepping her for a French quiz on the way.

Can Civilization Survive What’s Coming?

A thousand years from now, when some vaguely human-like machine digs through the ashes of the Twenty-First century and tries to figure out what happened to those once-thriving animals called Homo sapiens, it may be confused about why an intelligent species that could build rockets and write songs like “Imagine” couldn’t heed warnings of its own destruction. A key question for future historians of the universe: How stupid were those humans anyway?

The Dukes of Oxy: How a Band of Teen Wrestlers Built a Smuggling Empire

The gutted teddy bears were tossed everywhere, the slit carcasses and polyester innards strewn on the floor and kitchen table along with tens of thousands of dollars in fifties and hundreds — stacks of notes being tallied in an automatic money counter. On the table, there was a Glock .45, a Remington .308 sniper rifle, and scores of pharmaceutical vials containing thousands of opiate pills.

Life and Death in a Troubled Teen Boot Camp

In the darkness of early morning, 16-year-old Bruce Staeger lay splayed across his mattress, sleeping soundly for once. Most nights, he would smoke a blunt and crash, but not this one. Lately, his mother had been watching him closely. She and Bruce’s stepdad had even installed a motion detector on the porch of their doublewide trailer to keep him from sneaking out at night. Around 4:30 a.m., his bedroom light suddenly flipped on. Bruce rolled over, blocking his eyes from the glare to find his mom sitting on the edge of the bed. “Bruce, do you remember what I told you a few days ago?” She said softly. “I would never make a decision that would hurt you.”

Can We Survive Extreme Heat?

On a scorching day in downtown Phoenix, when the temperature soars to 115°F or higher, heat becomes a lethal force. Sunshine assaults you, forcing you to seek cover. The air feels solid, a hazy, ozone-soaked curtain of heat. You feel it radiating up from the parking lot through your shoes. Metal bus stops become convection ovens. Flights may be delayed at Sky Harbor International Airport because the planes can’t get enough lift in the thin, hot air. At City Hall, where the entrance to the building is emblazoned with a giant metallic emblem of the sun, workers eat lunch in the lobby rather than trek through the heat to nearby restaurants. On the outskirts of the city, power lines sag and buzz, overloaded with electrons as the demand for air conditioning soars and the entire grid is pushed to the limit. In an Arizona heat wave, electricity is not a convenience, it is a tool for survival.

In Praise of “John Wick,” the Last Great American Action-Movie Franchise

It was just a guy’s name. You could guess that he was played by Keanu Reeves, given that we’d seen laughing with a woman over a meal and kissing her against a picture-postcard vision of Manhattan’s skyline. Then we go from Sad Keanu sitting bedside in a hospital to Sadder Keanu standing graveside as a coffin is lowered into the ground. Later, he gets his wife’s posthumous gift to him: a puppy. The man and his dog, who is indeed adorable by any standard, tool around in his vintage Mustang. We know something else happened, because we’ve also briefly glimpsed Bloody Keanu, lying battered on a warehouse floor. But as far we knew, this was a movie about a gentleman — he’s called John — who lives in an exceedingly well-furnished apartment, is deep in the throes of grief and has only his faithful companion to help him move on. Maybe the pooch will teach him how to love again. Maybe he’ll meet someone nice at the dog park. The title told you nothing. It was just a guy’s name.