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Fox Searchlight

Trailer Thursday: After Earth, Now You See Me, Kings of Summer, The East

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Fox Searchlight

Welcome to Trailer Thursday, where we help you decide what to do with your Friday night (and when to stay home). Here’s what’s coming out tomorrow.

After Earth

About 1,000 years after humans abandoned our planet, Will and Jaden Smith go back to see if it's still the Willennium. It's not. Wild animals now rule the planet, which is a problem when Kitai (Jaden) has to roam off by himself to find an emergency beacon when his dad is injured. Also there's an alien wandering around. It's currently at just 15 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. For reference, other movies hovering around 15 percent include Ghost Rider, White Chicks, Sex and the City 2, and Zookeeper.

See it if:

- You think it's been way too long since Will Smith last starred in a post-apocalyptic movie.
- You keep hoping that M. Night Shyamalan is going to return to his Sixth Sense glory days.
- You feel that Will Smith has earned your box office bucks by getting Alfonso Ribiero to do the Carlton on Graham Norton.

Now You See Me

David Copperfield meets Robin Hood. A team of illusionists called the Four Horsemen somehow robs banks during their shows, then gives the money to their audiences. Despite what I think is a rather interesting premise, most critics are saying it doesn't live up to the potential. Currently 46 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

See it if:

- You always wished Ocean's Eleven had included more sleight of hand.
- You believe Conan O'Brien should have cameos in all films.

The Kings of Summer

Three teens, frustrated with various aspects of their lives, spend the summer building a house in the woods to escape responsibility and annoying parents. It looks kind of adorable and is at nearly 80 percent fresh.

See it if:

- You're a fan of Stand By Me, The Sandlot and other coming-of-age stories.
- You're one of the legions of fans who love TV darlings Allison Brie and Nick Offerman.

The East

A former FBI agent goes undercover in an anarchist collective called the East. But she falls in love with Alexander Skarsgard (obviously) and she starts to wonder which side she's actually on. Currently 75 percent fresh.

See it if:

- You've always thought someone should stick it to big, immoral corporations.
- You're a big shot at a big, immoral corporation.
- You don't care about corporations, immoral or otherwise, but you will see anything starring Alexander Skarsgard.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]