PROSPERITY: In theaters near you!

Want to watch Prosperity LIVE in theaters? Well now’s your chance! Prosperity screenings are in select theaters across the country at the IFC Center in New York, Laemmle Music Hall in Los Angeles, and at all Studio Movie Grill Locations. Check the list below to find a theater screening near you: New York IFC CENTER –...

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‘Jaws’ 40th Anniversary: Here Are 11 Shark Facts to Think About When You’re Watching the Film

‘Twas a cruel summer 40 years ago. Unsuspecting moviegoers were scared out of their wits – and clean out of the ocean – by a movie about a 25-foot man-eating shark that could destroy fishing boats, tear down docks and completely disembowel the summer economy of a small, fictional New York island. The year was 1975 and the movie, of course, was Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.

It was such a massive hit that it jammed the shark into American’s brains and changed the way we thought about the creature, probably forever. It infected pop culture for years. It also negatively affected shark populations.

But what have we learned about one of Earth’s oldest creatures and perhaps the most effective predator ever? Lots, actually. The movie, despite its highly exaggerated story, stirred a fascination with sharks that lead to excessive and often brutal hunting, but also scientific research that has given us far more knowledge and respect for, and even laws protecting them.

As the movie gets talked about again, here are a few things to think about:

1. The first sharks were the biggest and most ferocious. The C. megalodon was estimated to be, on average, between about 50 feet to 60 feet in length and came into existence about 15.9 million years ago and went extinct about 2.6 million years ago (or during the Cenozoic Era). It looked like a cross between a great white and mako shark and swam in virtually every part of Earth’s prehistoric oceans. While the megalodon is long gone, there are 465 shark species today.

2. Though we might think of them as fierce predators, sharks have a very slow reproduction rate and that makes them extremely vulnerable. They only reach reproductive age at 12 to 15 years old and mothers can only have one or two pups at a time, meaning it can take many years for populations to recover from various threats.

3. As the ocean’s top predator, sharks serve the same purpose in the ocean that tigers, bears, raptors, snakes and other predators serve on land: They keep populations healthy. Since sharks usually get the slowest, oldest or sickest fish, it maintains a healthier gene pool for future populations.

4. Sharks even help clean the ocean by eating dead fish, whale and dolphin.

5. Sharks groom the ecosystems they feed off of and hold things in balance. Their absence in places like coral reefs can quickly alter the populations of other species and do serious damage to those ecosystems. Even the simple presence of a shark can generate an intimidation factor that keeps grazers from destroying things like sea grass beds.

6. Recent research has found tagged sharks and marine animals gravitate toward warmer ocean water – namely 79 degrees and above – which also happens to be the temperatures where hurricanes develop. Following the sharks and other animals will give scientists a picture of what ocean temperatures are like and where to anticipate possible hurricane activity.

7. Dogfish sharks contain a chemical called squalamine, which research has found kills bacterial microbes [...]

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Feel Good Movie Review: ‘The Bear’ Is a Cubs-Eye View of Survival in the Wilderness

Feel Good Movies is an ongoing series reviewing films from past and present that we’ve selecting based on their ability to uplift the mind and soul. Not all movies we review are on the surface “feel good” – while some may be happy, others may be sad – but the objective is always to motivate, enlighten and uplift. 

Rarely is an animal the lead in a live-action movie. Since the days of Steamboat Willie, cartoons have made it routine, but it’s always been a rare feat for flesh and blood movies. Partly because filmmakers are reluctant to work with animals and partly because we like to think we’re the only interesting species in the world.

The Bear (1989) gets it right in bold and innovative ways. An orphaned bear cub must beat the odds to survive in the wilderness after his mother is accidentally killed. Usually, the story of an animal is told from an overriding human perspective. Basically, how the creature must survive in our world. There are easy caricatures of good guys, bad guys, and the animals stuck between them. While there are certainly many all too real stories that could be spun from that basic idea, they almost never are.

With The Bear, the entire movie takes place somewhere deep in the wilderness. The story is told from the cub’s point of view and it’s riveting. There is little dialogue, supplied only from the few humans present. And the humans themselves are neither good nor bad. They are hunters – typically painted as the bad guys in animal movies – but here, they are gray and human and vulnerable and learn as they go. Kind of like all of us. And in an unusual twist, they are the outsiders here.

Based on the 1916 novel The Grizzly King, a true story by hunter-turned-naturalist James Oliver Curwood, the movie uses a Curwood quote as a recurring plot point and as a way to clinch the movie’s climax: The thrill is not to kill, but to let live. It even includes the true event the book was based on to illustrate the point with a particular twist. That I won’t reveal, but it’s a key moment in the movie.

Yes, there are some Hollywood contrivances that certainly exist to help the narrative, but even if you know better, it’s hard to mind. No, bear cubs don’t typically sound the way this cub does. Clearly, he’s been humanized a bit. But it never gets in the way. And no, in the wild, an adult male bear would likely never be a big brother to a strange cub. He would almost surely kill it.

In life, there is killing to eat. There is in some cases, killing to end suffering. Then, there is the plethora of other moments where killing takes place. But the movie is ultimately about survival on multiple levels, with its lessons applied to bear and man – a wishful and somewhat allegorical appeal to live life a little lighter. A lesson which could [...]

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