Your Films at Cannes

May 9th, 2014 by Ran

 

The most prestigious film festival is upon us. From May 14 to May 25 the most acclaimed directors on the planet will showcase their new features in the south of France. I will try to sift through the many great films on display for the most anticipated and interesting ones.

Two Days, One Night (2014)

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The new Dardenne brothers’ film features Marion Cotillard as a down on her luck woman who tries to save her job. Although their films are pretty bleak, In my book, they are always a cause for celebration.

Jimmy’s Hall (2014)

British master Ken Loach’s new feature tells the story of Irish political activist Jimmy Gralton and his deportation to the USA. A classic fighting the system tale by the ultimate fighting the system director.

Mr. Turner (2014)

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The life of one of the greatest British painters is the subject of Mike Leigh’s new film. J. M. W. Turner is played by Leigh’s favorite Timothy Spall, and at the hands of the British master this biography will surely be more interesting than most in this genre.

Clouds of Sils Maria (2014)

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In contrast of many directors (including those three above him) Olivier Assayas has had a very eclectic career. He keeps your expectations in a limbo, and that’s where I like them. His new offering (all in English) is a psychological drama about an aging actress (Juliette Binoche) reflecting on her past.

The Homesman (2014)

Tommy Lee Jones has already proven that he’s more than just an actor with the restrained but powerful Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada in 2005. With his new awaited big screen feature he’s proving that he’s partial to westerns, with a 19th century tale of a pioneer woman (Hilary Swank) who teams with a shady character (Jones himself) to escort three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa.

La chambre bleue (2014)

Another actor going behind the camera. Mathieu Amalric has dabbled in directing more than TLJ, and he’s already won an award in 2010. This adaptation of a George Simenon novel is a French sexual thriller, and there are not many better three word combinations than this…

 

Saint Laurent (2014)

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The biography of iconic fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent is the subject of this film, starring Gaspar Ulliel and winner of best actress at last year’s festival Léa Seydoux. Coming on the heels of another biopic, this one looks more edgy and interesting.

 

Maps to the Stars (2014)

David Cronenberg takes on Hollywood in his latest film – that’s bound to be explosive. Though his last film was a bit disappointing a Cronenberg film is always a cinematic event, and with John Cusack, Julianne Moore, Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska starring you can’t afford to miss it.

The Search (2014)

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This is Michel Hazanavicius’ first film since the Oscar winning The Artist in 2011, and it’s quite a change of atmosphere, moving from the golden age of Hollywood to war-torn Chechnya. It’s also a remake of the 1948 masterpiece starring Montgomery Clift set in post war Berlin.

Foxcatcher (2014)

Bennett Miller, who directed Capote and Moneyball comes back with a film about Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) and his paranoid schizophrenic brother (Steve Carell)… who killed him. This will probably be less funny than 22 Jump Street or Anchorman 2, but should be very interesting.

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Jinni Wins the Oscars!

March 4th, 2014 by Ben

2 Weeks ago we here at Jinni published our predictions for the winners of the biggest categories of the 2014 Oscars. The predictions were based on a genetic comparison of the nominees Entertainment Genome profiles against those of the past category winners. We also put out a little teaser infographic the day before the ceremony based on our predictions from two weeks prior.

So here we go Jinni readers! This is us officially tootin’ our own horn!

 

We just did it as a fun little experiment as we were getting in the spirit of the awards here at HQ, but guess what boys and girls?  Jinni nailed it! 6/6 predictions FTW!

When taking a closer look at all the common threads that come together, some very interesting trends pop out at you and not only shine a light on who may win but also on the industry as a whole.

Of course, we didn’t develop the Entertainment Genome to predict awards, we were just out to help people discover what shows and movies suited to them they were missing out on. We do get approached from time to time by Hollywood folks inquiring about other ‘off-label’ uses.

This is all just a little fun and games to us, but it begs the question, “Can any other Discovery Engines understand movies well enough to make predictions?”

Consider the gauntlet thrown! Have at thee!

Till the next time

Jinni Team out! [Drops the mic]

 

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Short Films for a Short Month

February 28th, 2014 by May

When I first started my cinema studies, I was told feature films usually last around 90 minutes. Years passed, and today it seems if a film is not at least 120 minutes it can hardly call itself a film! Just look at the recent list of Oscar nominations with The Wolf of Wall Street (180 min.), American Hustle (138 min.) and 12 Years a Slave (134 min.).
But cinema does not have to be that long to be masterful, as this list will try to prove. Each of the following shorts is captivating, touching or unique  in its own way. So as we finish up the shortest month of the year – here are 10 great short films.

The Red Balloon (1956)
Touching on the verge of sentimental, this is a story about a young kid and a red balloon in Paris. With no dialogue at all the film lets us see and understand the kid from the balloon’s point of view.

Facing Fear (2013)
Nominated for best documentary short in the upcoming academy awards, this short tells an amazing story of a former neo-Nazi and one of his gay victims when their paths collide. The way it continues is surprising, to say the least.

The ittle Matchgirl (2006)
If this short won’t make you cry, you have a heart of stone. This adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story beautifully captivates the hardships and loneliness of a poor young girl dreaming of a better world.

Strangers No More (2010)
Sincere and uplifting, this best documentary short Oscar winner for 2010 revolves around an exceptional school in Israel, where refugee children struggle to fit in to a sometimes unwilling society.

Vincent (1982)
One of the shorts which launched Tim Burton‘s long, fruitful career deals with an eccentric boy who love everything gothic, dramatic and surreal. Burton’s unique visual style is apparent even in this early effort.

La Jetee (1962)
One of the most well-known and acclaimed shorts ever, Chris Marker‘s La Jetee is an atmospheric and bleak tale about time travel after a 3rd world war. Using unique cinematic language Marker managed to create a film every cinema lover knows.

9 (2005)
A surrealistic future dystopia is the setting of this amazing short, which deals with strange puppets who come to life. Creator Shane Acker was approached to make a full length feature of this short, which unfortunately failed to remain as tight-scripted as the original.

Un Chien Andalou (1929)
The famous collaboration between Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali is not meant for the faint of heart. Without any real narrative this short follows Dali and Bunuel’s dreams and sub consciousness to create something that wasn’t seen on the screen until then.

Get a Horse! (2013)
One of this year’s nominees for best animated short, this film does a masterful job in showing how 3D can be used. A hilariously comical clash between cartoon characters of the past and special effects of the present.

Room 8 (2013)
This year’s BAFTA winner in an eerie tale of a convict, a prison cell and one strange box. Telling anything more will be a spoiler, but believe me – you don’t want to miss this one.

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And the Oscar Goes to…

February 20th, 2014 by Barak

This year’s Oscars are coming up, and we decided to try and analyze the nominees and determine the winners while using the abilities of our entertainment genome. So, what type of movies are nominated this year and what history is trying to tell us regarding the winners in each major category? (Possible) answers below.

Time and Place

Only 1 movie among the 9 that were nominated for the best picture award takes place in the U.S. and in contemporary times (Nebraska). As for the others, some went back 20-170 years (The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers Club, American Hustle, 12 Years A Slave), others are contemporary, but went far away from American soil, to sea and even to space (Captain Philips and Gravity), and one movie miraculously time traveled into the (very?!) near future (Her). Philomena takes place in the 21st century, but a significant part of it takes place in the last century, and it also takes place in the U.S., but mostly in Ireland and England. Bottom line – the best contemporary American movies don’t take place in contemporary America.

The 3 Groups of Movies in the Best Picture Category

9 different movies are nominated for the best picture award, but with the help of our genome we’ll try and prove that the 9 movies can be easily divided into 3 different types instead of 9: The first and largest group: Touching and contemplative movies about human nature, obsession, human relationship, mind and soul and estrangement. Her, Philomena, Nebraska and Dallas Buyers Club all belong to this group. The second group tells Captivating survival stories about trying to survive in perilous situations while being confined and afraid. Gravity, Captain Philips and Twelve Years a Slave are the 3 movies that fit the description. The third and last group include two Humorous and clever crime movies about cons and scams, dishonesty and corruption. American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Predictions

Using genetic stats from the last 20 years we’ll try to determine the winners in the 6 major categories:

Best Picture

Dominant genes among the winners in this category during the last 20 years include: drama, captivating, life is a bitch, period, 20th century, mind and soul, bleak, stylized, emotional, unfulfillment, society, based on a true story and rough. This is a reward that’s not given very lightly, so it’s not surprising that the typical winner here is also far from being light. Actually, they tend to be very heavy, just ask Crash, The English Patient, Schindler’s List and Million Dollar Baby.

The genome predicts: 12 Years A Slave

Best Actor

Dominant genes from the last 20 years: Touching, contemplative, psychological, hopes, sincere, human spirit, friendship, biography, determination and misfits. In this category sincere and touching psychological biographies that celebrate the triumph of the human spirit tend to win. The past winners from the last two decades Philadelphia, Crazy Heart, Forrest Gump, Milk, Life is Beautiful, Shine, Lincoln and Ray are all good examples. 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club seem like the ideal movies to win in this category, so who will it be, Chiwetel Ejiofor or Matthew McConaughey?

The genome predicts: Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club.

Best Actress

Dominant genes from the last 20 years: gender,  human nature, dishonesty, society, family relations, witty, couple relations, love and romance, gloomy,  Touching , humorous and redemption. Winners from the past include witty and humorous films about couple and family relations like As Good As It Gets, The Silver Linings Playbook, Erin Brokovich and Shakespeare in Love, and also gloomy movies that deal with society, gender and dishonesty issues like Boys Don’t Cry, The Iron Lady and Monster. There’s one movie that might be a combination of these two types of movies…

The Genome Predicts: Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine.

Best Directing

Dominant genes from the last 20 years: Blockbuster, Hollywood tone, death, epic, stylized, escapades, survival, human spirit, atmospheric, suspenseful, heroes, against the odds. It seems that there isn’t really a place for a low budget indie film winner in this category. This category is looking for a flashy, great to look at, grand movie that includes plenty of heroics and adventures. Life of Pi, The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, Braveheart and also Titanic and Forrest Gump were all such movies; and they won.

The Genome predicts: Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity.

Best Writing – Original Screenplay

Dominant genes from the last 20 years: couple relations, humorous , independent, stylized, witty, mind and soul, clever,  love and romance, sentimental, date night, offbeat, gloomy. Suddenly the tone got much lighter. If you want to win Best Original Screenplay you should write something funny, weird, sophisticated and a bit sad about couple relations, mind and soul and love. Here are winners that prove that point: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, Midnight in Paris, Lost in Translation and American Beauty.

The Genome predicts: Spike Jonze, Her.

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay

Dominant genes from the last 20 years: gloomy, emotional, sincere, misfits, bleak, Touching,  rough, human nature, society, cruelty. The difference in tone between best original screenplay and best adapted screenplay are incredible. While the first is very light in tone (at least in comparison to the other major Oscar categories), the second might be the category with the most serious tone. Don’t expect to laugh or even to smile when you check out these past winners: Schindler’s List , Precious, Sling Blade, The Pianist, A Beautiful Mind, Brokeback Mountain and Traffic.

The genome predicts: John Ridley, 12 Years A Slave.

One thing that Hollywood did wrong is related to the differences between the best actor and best actress categories. Best actor category is about human spirit, against the odds and uplifting (positive), and best actress is mainly about the less pleasent sides of human nature. What does it say about Hollywood and its attitude towards the sexes? It’s unequal at the very least. And if we’re already talking about wrongdoings that needs fixing, giving the best picture award to 12 Years A Slave might be a good place to start.

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Emmy’s 2013 – To Troll or not to Troll + 10 Fall Season Hopefuls

September 23rd, 2013 by Barak

This is an important month for Television, not only were the Emmy winners announced yesterday, but also many new fall shows are premiering on all of the major networks. I’ll start with my take on the Emmy’s, and then I’ll pick the 10 most promising new fall shows.

The Emmy’sThe Emmy winners were announced, and I really can’t say I trust or understand the people who choose the winners…I’ll start from the bad and end with Breaking Bad:

Modern Family won the award for best comedy series again (!), don’t they know there are other good comedies around? Louie for example. Modern Family is a nice sitcom, but it’s not a modern classic that deserves to win the Emmy 4 years in a row.

Jim Parsons is another major Emmy failure in terms of picking a deserving winner, he won 3 times in the last 4 years, years in which much more deserving nominees lost, especially Louis C.KDon Cheadle and Larry David. Parsons does a good job in The Big Bang Theory, but picking him year in year out over these three is surreal.

Moving on to drama, my guess is that Jeff Daniels won just because they couldn’t decide who to give the award to from all of the really good candidates: Bryan CranstonKevin Spacey and Jon Hamm.


As for the best miniseries/TV movie, while watching Matt Damon and Michael Douglas making out might be alluring to some, Behind the Candelabra isn’t remotely as good as Top of the Lake, the moody and powerful drama from the Sundance channel.

And now for the part in which I’ll try being positive on for size:

Claire Danes might be an obvious choice for the best dramatic actress award, but the reason that makes her such an obvious choice is that she’s so good. Jeff Daniels wasn’t an obvious choice for example, he was a bizarre one.

Anna Gun definitely deserved to win in the supporting actress in a drama category for her fantastic portrayal of Skyler White in Breaking Bad, and Bobby Cannavale‘s win was a pleasant surprise, he did a great job as Gyp Rosetti, probably the wackiest character ever seen in Boardwalk Empire, a worthy candidate to the fictional psychopaths hall of fame.

Lastly, congratulations to the Emmy decision makers, you saved yourselves from a major embarrassment when you gave the award for best drama series to Breaking Bad, what took you 5 years?! After 4 consecutive wins for Mad Men they gave the award to another excellent series – Homeland, and now Breaking Bad’s moment has arrived. Breaking Bad is\was the best TV series of 2013. While Breaking Bad finally got what was coming to it, a few modern classics never won the Emmy award for best dramatic series – Deadwood,HouseDexter (when it was still good, now it’s too late for that). I hope the same injustice won’t be made with 2 other great shows: Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.

Moving on to the new fall TV shows, there are many new promising TV series coming your way! Actually, there are so many new fall TV shows coming up, that I had a very hard time picking the 10 that I think are going to be the very best. Did I make the right choices? Only time will tell…Show some character and make sure you don’t miss out on anything worth watching! Here are my picks for the 10 most promising new TV shows:

10. Trophy Wife (Premieres 24.9 on CBS)


The who
: This series prides itself with an impressive cast that includes Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford and Marcia Gay Harden.

The what: A sitcom about a party girl who quite suddenly marries an older guy and finds herself dealing with his 2 overbearing ex-spouses and their mischievous children.

The what it’s like: The new Modern Family?

9. Ironside (Premieres 2.10 on NBC)


The who
: Starring Blair Underwood (In Treatment) as detective Ironside.

The what: Based on a show titled likewise that ran from 1967-1975 and deals with a tough wheelchair bound detective who with the help of his team solves the most difficult cases in New York city.

The what it’s like: Hopefully it will be better than other remakes of classic detective shows like Kojak, Dragnet and Prime Suspect.

8. Dracula (Premieres 25.10 on NBC)


The who
: Daniel Knauf, creator of the HBO series Carnivale, will be the show’s head writer, and Dracula will be played by The Tudor‘s Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The what: A stylish looking series that tells the story of Dracula who comes to London under a false identity in order to exact revenge on those who betrayed him.

The what it’s like: The Count of Monte Cristo with sharper teeth.

7. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Premieres 17.9 on Fox)


The who
: The show’s impressive cast includes Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Terry Crews and Fred Armisen.

The what: A sitcom about an immature NYPD detective and his new strict boss.

The what it’s like: Something between Reno 911! and Starsky & Hutch.

6. Masters of Sex (Premieres 29.9 on Showtime)


The who
: Created by Michelle Ashford (writer in both The Pacific and John Adams), and starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.

The what: A drama about 2 groundbreaking researchers who examined human sexuality.

The what it’s like: Kinsey with more sex and nudity.

5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Premieres 24.9 on ABC)


The who
: Created by Joss Whedon (Buffy, The Avengers) and starring a relatively unknown cast of actors, headed by Clark Gregg.

The what: An action sci-fi series about a select team of law enforcement agents who investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.

The what it’s likeThe Avengers without the huge stars and the even bigger budget.

4. Hostages (Premieres 23.9 on CBS)


The who
: Alon Aranya, Omri Givon, and Rotem Shamir created an Israeli series that was never produced, Hostages is based on that series. It stars Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott and Tate Donovan.

The what: A thriller about a surgeon who gets reluctantly involved in a political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI Agent.

The what it’s like: Wants to be Homeland, might be more like Harrison Ford‘s 2006 movie Firewall.

3. Hello Ladies (Premieres 29.9 on HBO)


The who
: The series was created by the lesser known member of the comedy writing team that includes Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant…Stephen Merchant. Another comedy writing duo helped create the series – Gene Stupinsky and Lee Eisenberg who also co-wrote many episodes of the American version of The Office. Merchant is also the star of the show.

The what: A socially awkward Englishman comes to Los Angeles in order to find the woman of his dreams.

The what it’s like: The Mindy Project meets How I Met Your Mother with a touch of The Office?

2. Almost Human (Premieres 4.11 on Fox)


The who
: Executive produced by the TV god J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe), and stars Karl Urban (Dredd) and Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell).

The what: A futuristic action sci-fi series about a police department in which human detectives are paired with life-like androids.

The what it’s like: I, Robot and Dredd.

1. Peaky Blinders (Premiered 12.9 on BBC Two)


The who
: Created by Steven Knight (also wrote Eastern Promises) and stars Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill.

The what: A gangster saga that takes place around 1919 and deals with an Irish gang and the tough law enforcer out to get them. It’s stylized, tense and atmospheric and if you’re into crime dramas you must see it.

The what it’s like: Boardwalk Empire, The Black Donnellys.

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