‘Ammonite’ movie review: Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan’s forbidden romance flatters to deceive

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Director Francis Lee brings a meditative beauty to his second feature, that will remain fascinating for its spirit of inquiry

There is a meditative beauty about Ammonite, which could prove soothing or distant depending on your frame of mind. The eternally dependable Kate Winslet plays Mary Anning (1799-1847), a palaeontologist whose fossil discoveries in Lyme, Dorset challenged the theories of extinction. Mary lives with her ailing mother, Molly (Gemma Jones) scoring the coast for fossils which she sells at a shop attached to the house.

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One day a geologist, Roderick Murchison (James McArdle), visits Mary’s shop and asks for a private tour of the coast where she gets her fossils. Though initially reluctant, she agrees. When Murchison has to leave for the continent, he asks Mary to watch over his wife, Charlotte (Saoirse Ronan) who has been ordered to take the sea air to recover from illness and depression.

Those Mary bristles with annoyance, she agrees and when Charlotte falls ill with fever, Mary nurses her to health. A bond is formed between the two women. As a love story, Ammonite does not work, as despite the excellent acting skills of both Winslet and Ronan, there seems to be no chemistry between the two, despite frantic fumblings, grapplings and moans.

Ammonite Director: Francis Lee

Cast: Kate Winslet, Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Jones, James McArdle, Alec Secăreanu, Fiona Shaw

Duration: 120 minutes

Storyline: A speculative love story between British palaeontologist Mary Anning and geologist Charlotte

The depiction of Anning’s sexuality attracted its share of naysayers who insisted there is no proof that Anning was lesbian. Director Francis Lee’s rebuttal, “After seeing queer history be routinely ‘straightened’ throughout culture, and given a historical figure where there is no evidence whatsoever of a heterosexual relationship, is it not permissible to view that person within another context?”, makes sense. Look what they did to Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. Choosing to making Charlotte just a geologist’s wife when she was a geologist in her own right is odd.

I found Ammonite fascinating for its spirit of inquiry; for the thought of the Ichthyosaurs and Plesiosaurus writhing in the Jurassic sea while the pterosaur soared shrieking at the cliffs. We have cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine to thank for that. Incidentally Ammonites are a group of extinct marine mollusc and mainly what Anning finds on her morning searches of the coast. Another bit of unconfirmed trivia is Anning is the source of our childhood tongue-twister, “She sells seashells on the seashore.”

The love that cannot be named does not unfortunately burn brighter than these dino-thrills and sundry bits of trivia.

Ammonite is currently streaming on BookMyShow stream

Using augmented reality to advertise products could mislead consumers, study says

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Advertisers could also distort a consumer’s sense of reality by overlaying graphics on someone’s AR glasses to change what they are seeing

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From trying on clothing to choosing furniture online, companies are finding new ways to use augmented and virtual reality (jointly called extended reality) to promote products and services. However, the technology could also be used to manipulate and deceive consumers, according to a study by the University of Michigan.

The team of researchers studied several possible ways advertisers could mislead the public using products including military games, t-shirts, deodorant and furniture. It then created scenarios using a series of prompts to answer questions like ‘how could a certain manipulative advertising technique be replicated by extended reality?’ and ‘how could an existing advertising technique be used by bad actors?’

The team identified some common ways of manipulative advertising like inducing artificial emotions, sensing and targeting people when they are vulnerable, and emotional manipulation through hyper-personalisation, it said in a study titled ‘Identifying Manipulative Advertising Techniques in XR Through Scenario Construction’.

Also Read | Facebook’s wrist watch will use nerve signals to control AR device

Advertisers could also distort a consumer’s sense of reality by overlaying graphics on someone’s AR glasses to change what they are seeing. For example, a political ad may try to paint a picture of a booming economy and release ads on AR glasses that subtly overlay graphics which hide or erase evidence of poverty, the study added.

Another possible danger is misleading experience marketing, which occurs when companies present previews of products through extended reality, which seem realistic and users may not be able to tell that the virtual product has been doctored.

“Extended reality advertising is not inherently detrimental to people, but there remains a need to be vigilant for bad actors seeking to use the technologies to harm consumers,” the team stated. A better understanding of the privacy framework and acceptable data practices around the use of extended reality must be looked into for increasing the literacy among consumers, the study added.

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Thereafter, I often sent him quotes, and we exchanged notes and books. Later, I was invited to his law firm to talk about a book I was co-editing, “DC JAZZ.” Before the event, we met in his photo-laden office. He told stories not of presidents or Wall Street but about driving a bus in Chicago and D.C. jazz clubs in the 1950s and 1960s. He knew my interests. As he straightened my tie, before my presentation, I told him about a quote of his, from my youth. Criticized for his moderation, he said, “I was elected to lead the Urban League, not the Black Panthers.” I explained that I did not understand his words then but did now. We all had different roles. He smiled, gave me a pat on the back, walked me to the podium and made me feel as if I owned the place.