The 2013 Oscars Recap. Jinni Style.

February 25th, 2013 by Uri

So, the Awards season has come and gone, leaving us with some smiling faces holding golden statues; and now it’s time for a quick recap of the major categories and trends.

Best Film – “Don’t Go Fully Period”

Dealing with state affairs and basing your film on a true story are good starting points on your journey towards the coveted golden bald man, but know this: you better not stray too far into history, since in the last ten years, no best picture winner took place in a time earlier than the  20th century. covering these three points and adding a topical touch by dealing with Iran, it’s no wonder Argo took home the big prize (portraying Hollywood producers as life savers probably didn’t hurt either.)

Best Director – 3D, Done Right, For A Change

Granted, Life of Pi isn’t as groundbreaking as Avatar, nevertheless, it is the first 3D film to win an Oscar for direction, and a much deserved one, since Ang Lee and cinematographer Claudio Miranda (who also won an Oscar for his work on this film) managed to create one of the most elegant and visually mesmerizing films in recent memory.

Best Screenplay – Festive Fifty

Quentin Tarantino celebrates half a century next month, so the academy for motion picture arts and sciences decided to give him an early birthday gift for Django Unchained’s controversial screenplay. The fact that it’s also his biggest blockbuster to date probably helped as well.


Best Actor – The Sure Thing

In the words of the great, incarcerated Wesley Snipes

Just replace “roulette” with “Oscar bets” and “black” with “Daniel Day-Lewis with facial hair”, this time, taking the prize ,as expected, for portraying the United States’ most beloved head of state.

Best Actress – Life imitates Art (or at least imitates SNL)

It’s almost impossible to win when you’re not acting in a serious film, and we’re not talking just about gross out comedies, even semi serious films are usually shunned. However, playing a troubled, or better yet, mentally unstable character can greatly improve your chances. No wonder Jennifer Lawrence was so convincing in this Saturday Night Live sketch.

Best Supporting Actress – The Other Sure Thing

The old age maxim, that in order to win an Oscar for acting you’ve got to play a suffering character (and preferably while degrading your physical appearance,) worked well for Anne Hathaway. In fact, it looked so calculated and worked so well it even spawned a pre-Oscar parody (and hats off to you, Emma Fitzpatrick.)

Best Supporting Actor – A New Winning Formula

Christoph Waltz + Racism = Oscar Winner? Yes, it does sound far fetched, but it has already proven itself three years ago in Inglorious Basterds and again this year in Django Unchained. It looks like the Tarantino/Waltz duo should brush up on their Anti-Samoan racial slur skills for the 2016 Academy Awards. To be honest, how can he lose with such a great theme song (lifted from a little known Spaghetti Western from 1971)?

Best Animated Film – Pixar’s Home Advantage

In what has become an inner Disney Derby between Brave and Wreck-It Ralph, the red headed young heroine had the upper hand, since in the last ten years the only Pixar produced films not to win an Oscar where the mediocre Cars and Cars 2.

Best Documentary – Odd (Sugar) Man Out

Being the only one of the five nominated films to not deal with a social issue, but rather chronicle the quest for finding a presumably dead legendary musician, Searching For Sugar Man won the thing that eluded it’s hero – real time acclaim and recognition.

That’s all for these Oscars, folks; we’ll leave you with this year’s wistful Animated Short winner:

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Cracking the Genetic Code of the Oscars (infographic)

February 18th, 2013 by Ben

With the announcement of the 2013 Oscar winners right around the corner, we’ve decided to crack the genetic code of an Oscar winning movie. We’ve compiled the Oscar winning titles of the main categories throughout the 21st Century (best picture, actor, actress and director, from 2000 until today), analyzed and cross referenced their genes according to the Jinni Entertainment Genome, and compared them with the genes of this year’s nominees. The following infographic displays our findings:

The Genes of an Oscar Winning Movie - by

The Genes of an Oscar Winning Movie - by

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Your Guide to On Screen Economics

March 25th, 2012 by Ran

The end of March is time for annual fiscal reports in many countries around the world. Companies and corporations submit (hopefully truthful) reports of losses or profits that will determine how much they will pay in taxes, or how many loopholes they will jump through. Their reports will also determine whether they will continue to receive loans from banks or other financial institutions. Incidentally, on this day in 1957 the European Economic Community was created, grouping Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and Netherlands under one single umbrella economy, which was later expanded to the European Union in 1993. Today, 55 years later, the question about the future of this union is what everybody, and not just in Europe, is talking about (especially given Europe’s economic situation, and the world’s in general, after the 2008 financial crisis.) The economy sucks wherever you are, whether it’s in Europe, the US or Asia (in Africa, nothing’s changed, the situation has been, and still is, terrible). At the same time, capitalism is both the new religion, and a despicable one. If you’re feeling lost in all the mess and confusion that’s ruling the world of finance, you’re not alone. Even the experts are not bold (nor stupid) enough to predict what will happen to tomorrow’s stocks or gas prices. The globalization process has connected everyone to everything, and the relations of cause and effect are now ever more complex. Lucky for you, I have compiled a list of titles that will help you make sense of (or get mad at) the economic world. From informative and thought provoking via touching to exciting and entertaining, here they are:

1. The Corporation (2003) – This is the first of a trilogy of documentary films that I consider to be essential films, which could easily replace any macro-economics course. They explain how we got to where we are today. The premise is an 1886 Supreme court decision that gave corporations many of the rights people have. So the filmmakers set out to profile what type of a person a corporation would be. It’s sort of the reverse “what kind of animal are you?” game. The answer is pretty bleak and disturbing – a psychopath. Although it was made in 2003, the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling from 2010, that gave corporations and unions the right to spend unlimited political money (just like you and I would) makes it ever more relevant. It’s a pretty biased film (to the left, if you’re wondering), but one conclusion is unquestionable: Money in politics is bad.

2. Food, Inc. (2008) – This documentary will show you the effects of the industrial revolution and capitalism on the food industry. You will understand that making money and making food don’t really go together after this eye opening and very thorough documentary. The fact that health food is the province of the rich makes the saying “It’s better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick” ever so true and a bit less funny, but we do get a glimmer of hope towards the end.

3. Inside Job (2010) – Both chapters lead us to the grand finale – the 2008 financial meltdown. you will get mad, you’ll get depressed, you’ll feel helpless… all the things a good documentary should make you feel. The fact that no one really paid the price or acknowledges responsibility for the abuse of the financial system, and that everyone just wants to keep going like nothing happened, makes the first movie’s claims so very accurate (one of the traits of the psychopath is the inability to feel guilt).

4. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005) – This is a guide on how to go from being named “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six years in a row (1996-2001) to going bankrupt in 24 days. Many companies go bankrupt, few do it in such a dramatic fashion. All of this is thanks to the magic of deregulation. It’s a tale of corruption, greed, hubris and human nature. Thanks to filmmaker Alex Gibney, bankruptcy and economics never looked as exciting or as funny (in a sad and infuriating way). Maybe too funny and exciting, as 2008′s crisis proved the lesson wasn’t learned.

5. Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010) – You might ask ‘Isn’t Eliot Spitzer the lawyer guy who resigned after admitting to frequenting prostitutes? How is that relevant to the economy?’ This precise question is answered in this clever documentary. This is a story of a meteoric rise to the top, and subsequent and painful downfall of one of the most promising politicians of this century (who exposed Enron’s corruption). His ambition ultimately did him in. He thought he was invincible, going after corporate crimes and Wall Street corruption. He was a relentless reformer, that got things done, but he flew too close to the sun. Exposing his sexual vice was enough to melt his wings… He is such a charismatic and complex character that you will be captivated throughout this film.

6. Margin Call (2011) – If the documentary genre is too much for you, here you will find a fictional account surrounding the 24 hours leading to the financial meltdown of 2008. It’s a thriller, and its goal is more to entertain than to inform, but the cast is very good (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons and Zachary Quinto), and while you know pretty much what happens you’ll be on the edge of your seat.

7. Better Off Ted (2009 – 2010) – After I depressed the hell out of you with those documentaries, let’s look at the corporate world in a humorous way. Jay Harrington and Portia de Rossi headline this workplace sitcom about a the on-goings in a wacky corporation. It’s a great satire, and De Rossi steals the show by perfectly embodying the spirit (or lack thereof) of the modern corporation, with obvious lack of emotion or basic social skills. It’s a shame it was cancelled after only two seasons.

8. Mondays in the Sun (2002) – Set in Spain way before the EU crisis, this drama about unemployment couldn’t be more relevant today, as the unemployment rate has recently reached more than 22%. Spanish heavyweights Javier Bardem and Luis Tosar play struggling working class people in the port town if Vigo. It’s an intimate portrayal of the harsh reality of people dealing with their plight from pride, proving men to be helpless and useless, and it is dealt with great sincerity. You will not stay indifferent to this film. Today’s Spanish youth doesn’t even have the memories of the good old days to hold on to.

los lunes al sol

9. Battle in Seattle (2008) – History repeats itself. This movie depicts the 1999 chaotic protests against the World Trade Organization meetings that were scheduled there, accusing it of widening the gap between rich and poor. Sounds familiar? Today’s Occupy Wall Street movement’s claims are very similar, so things don’t really change (sigh). What was planned as a peaceful demonstration soon deteriorated into chaos and mayhem in the streets. The violent outburst undermined the activists’ agenda, just like every violent incident by protesters today hinders their message and effort.

10. V for Vendetta (2006) – If you’ve followed the news in the past year, chance is you’ve seen the mask of V. This anti-hero became one of the symbols of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and many organizations claiming to fight the system. Although the movie does not really deal with the economy, the rebellious attitude has crossed over to the economic protest, proving without a doubts that the cliché is right: money does make the world… (go round, fight, unite, anything really).

v for vendetta

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Gene 5 – Chicken Soup for the Incorrigible Pessimist’s Soul

August 19th, 2010 by Ben

Want to submit your own Gene 5 piece? More info at the end of the post.

Angie J. Han is a Brooklyn-based writer who likes thinking about pop culture, especially films, television, and how feminism relates to both. You can find her work at AngieHan.

I’d consider myself a very happy, cheerful person. But in spite of this – or perhaps a therapist would say because of this? – I’ve got a thing for movies with the “gloomy” and “unfulfillment” genes. My favorite films feature protagonists filled with longing and regret, and usually end badly. They’re not always easy to watch, but I find them satisfying in a way that the candy-coated optimism of Slumdog Millionaire could never hope to be.

1. McCabe & Mrs. Miller

Director Robert Altman takes familiar Western conventions – a larger-than-life hero, a beautiful hooker, miles of empty frontier and a can-do spirit – and turn them into a moody, bitter meditation on how the West was really won.

2. The Fountain

Yes, it’s a mess. But give in to the experience, and you’ll find that it’s an elegantly imagined, enchantingly told mess. Hugh Jackman’s arresting performance anchors three melancholy love stories that intersect through time and imagination.

3. The Wrestler

Mickey Rourke made his comeback with this crushing story of a has-been wrestler facing his twilight years with regret and disappointment. You know those uplifting tales of people who turn their lives around armed with nothing but determination and a smile? This isn’t one of those.

4. The Last Temptation of Christ

Who could be more unfulfilled than a man who had to sacrifice the best parts his life for the greater good? Martin Scorsese strips away the mythology surrounding the son of God, revealing a complicated – and undeniably human – man facing the harshest decision of his life.

5. In the Mood for Love

Wong Kar-Wai’s masterpiece of sexual tension plays out in the things that don’t happen, rather than the things that do. Sumptuous cinematography helps create an atmosphere heady with desire, while stars Tony Leung and Maggie Cheung soulfully attempt to not seduce each other.

What’s your favorite gene (search term) on Jinni? Is there one, or several combined, that especially expresses your tastes – or your life? Email us at with a piece about your favorite gene and the 5 movies or shows that express it for you (200-500 words; or you can present your ideas in images/video), and we’ll publish our Gene 5 selections on a rolling basis.

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Gene 5: My First Film Festival

August 17th, 2010 by Ben

Want to submit your own Gene 5 piece? More info at the end of the post.

Coral Russell is a self confessed movie junkie. She loves using movies, technology, music, arts, and plain old curiosity when it comes to teaching or learning a new language at English as a New Language. Connect with her on Jinni here.

I wrote about my plans to attend the The Plaza Classic Film Festival in El Paso, TX on August 5- 15, 2010 in a previous post. Here’s a follow-up describing my actual experiences at the festival, including my final impressions of the five films I set out to watch. Warning: A few (mild) spoilers ahead.

1. Picnic (1955)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this movie since I knew nothing about it – was it a romance, a tragedy, a comedy?  It ended up being a romance – the pretty girl runs away with the hunky boy – and a comedy.  It’s pretty darn funny!  One-liners run through the whole film and make it thoroughly entertaining.  It’s sexy, even by today’s over-the-top standards, and I love the way Hal calls Madge “baby.”  Hal’s character and the acting is a little awkward – for example, the way he grips his ripped-up shirt when an older woman mauls him. Though it does give the character “innocence,” as my mother put it.  It was a treat for Nick Clooney to come out and introduce the movie as one of his favorites, and to have my mother with me, who first saw it when she was twelve.  If you love classics, you’ll love this movie.

2. Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

…because hell won’t have her!  At least that’s what I said after seeing this classic. The title is actually taken from Hamlet.  This film noir was good even though it was out-of-character.  Technicolor made all the outdoor scenes rich, as if you could step right into Jacinto, Behind the Moon, or Bar Harbor.  Gene Tierney was just as gorgeous and fit the settings perfectly, using it to hide her sociopath ways. “Ellen will win, Ellen always wins.”  “Sometimes truth is wicked.”  “There’s nothing wrong with Ellen, It’s just that she loves too much.”  You’ll have to experience this thriller for yourself to see if, indeed, Ellen always wins…

3. Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

“I see no point in living if I can’t be beautiful.”  Well, now I know why Miyazaki is revered.  Even though I’ve seen a couple of his other films, this one is my favorite so far.  I’m lucky to have been able to see this on the big screen with my daughter.  After the whirlwind hour-and-forty-minute movie, I confess I teared up a little at the end.  My daughter loved it, laughed out loud, described it as a romantic comedy and at the end declared that we must buy this movie to see again.  But like Howl’s Moving Castle, some of the best anime is not just for kids. One could carry on many layers of conversation about the themes of love, friendship, freedom, following your heart, forgiveness and believing in yourself that the movie covers with a wonderful sense of humor.

4. Cat People (1942)

Peter Bogdanovich introducing Touch of Evil

“Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depressions in the world consciousness.” – The Anatomy of Atavism – Dr. Louis Judd

For a low-budget, sixty-eight year old film, this still packs quite a punch.  Simone Simon, playing Irena Dubrovna, with her light Serbian accent, diminutive stature and cat-like grace makes you feel sympathy for her as she loses her struggle with the dark forces turning her into a killer.  The first real glimpse of the “monster” lurking inside her is when she sticks her hand in a bird cage, presumably to pet her canary, but quickly her face and hand movements mimic that of a cat playing with its prey.  The psychiatrist she turns to for help opines, “There is in some cases a psychic need to loose evil upon the world, and all of us carry within us a desire for death.”  Add the layering of menacing sounds on top of ordinary ones and suggestive images and sounds, and you have a classic horror movie that influenced the genre for years.

5. Sleeping Beauty (1959)

My last movie review should have been Murder, My Sweet, but an unexpected job interview interfered.  I picked this Walt Disney classic to replace it because it took the Plaza Classic Film Festival three years to convince Disney to let them screen a film (any film!). Disney told them at the last minute they could show it on Sunday at 1:30pm. People flew in from nearby states to see the screening, since it’s so rare for Disney to release one of their films.  The place was packed!  Over 2000 seats were filled for this 1959 film that took a decade to put together because of the hand-inked cells. Just one background scene took seven to ten days to paint.  The Plaza Theater also showed off its new “Dawn til Dusk” light show over the ceiling of the theater. Ijust love happy endings!

About the Plaza Theater

The Plaza Theater has a wonderful rags to riches story.  It originally opened in 1930 and was nicknamed the Showplace of the Southwest.  It was built during the Great Depression when $0.35 a seat was hard to come by.  The introduction of drive-ins in the 1940s, TV in the 1950s, and El Paso’s growth in the 1970s all took its toll on the theater.  The Dallas-based Interstate Theaters gave up and closed the doors. The Dipp family bought it in 1973, but were only able to keep it open for a couple more years. When the wrecking ball threatened to turn the Plaza Theater into a parking lot, a “Save the Plaza” committee was formed to rally the community to support restoring it.  They succeeded, but ran into numerous road blocks for nearly 30 years before the grand re-opening in 2007.

The theater has been restored to its original splendor with state-of-the-art performance capabilities, not only for cinema but also theater, Broadway shows, opera, ballet, symphonies and public speakers.  The place is amazing and one-of-a-kind.  I love the downtown area and all the work that is going into making it a cultural hubbub for El Paso, TX.  The Plaza Classic Film Festival was my first chance to experience the new and improved downtown area and it was worth the trip.

What’s your favorite gene (search term) on Jinni? Is there one, or several combined, that especially expresses your tastes – or your life? Email us at with a piece about your favorite gene and the 5 movies or shows that express it for you (200-500 words; or you can present your ideas in images/video), and we’ll publish our Gene 5 selections on a rolling basis.

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