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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Jinni’s Bill of Entertainment Rights

December 9th, 2013 by May

Today is Human Rights Day. With all due respect to the rights of equality, free speech, etc., let’s talk about the really important rights: our entertainment rights! Without further ado, here’s Jinni’s bill of entertainment rights (and if by any remote chance you’re using another entertainment service, check if you get these rights, and then switch to Jinni :).

We have the right to mobility!
Along with our new and improved site we have recently launched a new iPad app, which already gained the title of best new app in the entertainment category. Now you can really use Jinni anywhere…
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We have the right to get personalized recommendations!
No more guessing whether we’ll like a movie or not based on external information like director, actors or genre. No more spending too much time deciding what you wanna watch. Jinni offers each registered user a complete entertainment personality with up to 12 tastes suited just for you.
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We have the right to explore by mood!
How many times you said “I feel like watching something funny/captivating/tense“? With Jinni’s mood search you can do just that! Just click the moods you’re interested in, and you’re there. You can also combine these moods with genes from other categories like plot or style to find the perfect choice for you.

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We have the right to know which friends share our movie tastes!
Our Taste Buddies feature allows you to know which friend’s recommendations you can trust to be good also for you and why.
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We have the right to know if a movie will suit us before even watching it!
Why bother wasting your time on titles you might not even like? Jinni’s “Your Match” feature allows you to see how you will likely rate a title, based on your previous ratings and tastes.
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We have the right to use a customized, personalized TV guide!
The old grid chronicles just don’t work for us in this age of countless channels and providers. Our new personalized guide allows you to see what TV shows and movies your local television provider is airing that suit your tastes.
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We have the right to tune our search and discovery!
Sometimes we want to be very precise in our search. For example, you might want a love story but not something everyone’s seen or perhaps you want a movie which is especially fast paced. Jinni’s Story Tuners help you to really fine tune your preferences.
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We have the right to find something to watch together without fighting over it!
How many times did you gather for an evening with friends, your spouse or family but could not decide what to watch? Jinni’s Watch Together feature takes everyone’s tastes into consideration and recommends the titles that are most suitable for the whole group.
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We have the right to explore only relevant providers!
Have a Netflix subscription?Addicted to HBO? Want to watch only what’s on VUDU? Jinni allow you to filter your results to just your favorite providers.
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We have the right to search in natural language!
No need to complicate yourself with professional terms. Just write what you want to watch in your own words, and Jinni will deliver.
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One for the future – we have the right to talk to our app!
We want to make life even easier for our users, so in our upcoming future releases you won’t even have to write – just talk! Our team is currently tuning our natural language understanding (NLU) interface and we will integrate into our iPad app. Follow us on facebook and twitter to know when this feature and others become available!

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Cannes 2013 – Round Up The Usual Suspects

May 13th, 2013 by Uri

Cannes-film-festival-logo

We are all creatures of habit, and the people heading Cannes Film Festival (and probably the most prestigious of them all) are not all that different, as evident from this year’s line-up, which includes many past winners. It’s also safe to say that the competition is more open this year, since the Festival’s favorite auteur of recent years, Michael Haneke (3 grand prizes in 11 years) is absent this time. Here are some choice repeat offenders, and a couple of hopefuls, we’ll be seeing this year:

Baz Luhrmann

The Australian director won a minor prize at Cannes in 1992 for the stylized romance Strictly Ballroom. More than 20 years later he returns with another film in the same vein, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

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Sofia Coppola

Sofia Coppola won a prize in 2006 for Marie Antoinette, a film based on a true story, which centered around a strong female presence and featured an abundance of style and fashion. Fast forward 7 years and Ms. Coppola returns with The Bling Ring, a film based on a true story, centered on a strong female presence which features an abundance of style and fashion.

Nicolas Winding Refn

A brooding Ryan Gosling as a criminal hero already brought Winding Refn the grand prize in 2011 with the rough, L.A set, neo noir Drive, so why not repeat parts of the formula, only this time set the action in Thailand? Hopefully, Only God Forgives will not follow in the footsteps of The Hangover Part II and will manage to replicate its predecessor.

The Coen Brothers

With no less than three previous wins (Barton Fink, Fargo and The Man Who Wasn’t There) Ethan and Joel Coen are undoubtedly well liked on the French Riviera, so Inside Llewyn Davis, their gloomy musician’s life affair, will probably be warmly received.

Jim Jarmusch

Another multiple Cannes Winner (Stranger Than Paradise, Mystery Train, Broken Flowers and the short Coffee and Cigarettes III), Jarmusch returns to the festival with Only Lovers Left Alive, a film that looks like a diversion from his usual oeuvre, since it deals with vampires, but, come to think of it, he will most likely portray them like all his heroes, as quirky misfits.

Steven Soderbergh

It is fitting that Soderbergh, who won in 1989 with his debut Sex, Lies, and Videotape and helped usher in a new era of independent cinema, will screen Behind the Candelabra, his self-professed last film, in the same venue. Similarly to his first film, Soderbergh’s last one also deals with sexuality, although this time in a much flashier way.

Roman Polanski

Polanski has only one Cannes win, which came pretty late in his career, for the epic The Pianist. However, Venus in Fur, his entry for the competition this year, is a little more reminiscent of his latest film, Carnage, since it’s also based on a play and seems to have the same chamber drama qualities.

Paolo Sorrentino

With Il Divo, his Cannes winner from 2008, becoming unexpectedly topical since its subject, former Italian head of state Giulio Andreotti, passed away last week, Sorrentino’s La grande bellezza may not enjoy the same success, as it brings a different, more personal, view of life in Rome.

James Gray

Being in the competition three times (The Yards, We Own The Night and Two Lovers) and never winning, James Grey can only hope that fourth time is a charm. The fact that The Immigrant is a gloomy period piece certainly won’t hurt its chances.


François Ozon

Nominated only once, a decade ago, for Swimming Pool, French director Ozon should hope to benefit from a home court advantage (as some of his compatriots have in previous years), with Jeune et jolie, an episodic and contemplative tale of a young prostitute.

>> To comment on this blog post, or to share your own insight on entertainment, join us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/JinniDotCom

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The Autism Spectrum on Screen

April 23rd, 2013 by Ran

April is Autism Awareness Month (among other things.) Autism is a good example of why awareness is very important. In the fifties, it was believed that lack of motherly love caused autism; they even gave it a name ‘Refrigerator Mother Theory’ – and you know the word ‘Theory’ makes it official. So parents of autistic kids not only had to deal with the difficulties of raising an uncommunicative child whose needs they did not fully understand, they also had to deal with the stigma of being conceived as emotionless bad parents. Knowledge about this disorder evolved over time, but not before people thought it was caused by vaccinations, prenatal stress, watching too much TV, or other factors which have since been disproven. Asperger syndrome, which now seems like the most common of conditions, was coined only in the 80s, and recognized formally in the 90s. So much has changed in our perception and treatment of autism; and let me make a (not so) bold prediction -  much will change in the future. A great medium to raise awareness for this difficult condition is the small or silver screen, but it does have its problems. Rain Man (which I forewent for originality’s sake) was the first significant film to feature an autistic man, and while everyone was moved by Dustin Hoffman’s character, for which he won a deserving Oscar, many later thought that all autistic people are wizards in math. Since then (especially in this century, when autism has become prominent in films and TV shows) and nowadays, everyone thinks that they can diagnose a person with Asperger.

Let’s take a look at those small and big screen titles that helped raise awareness for autism:

1. Adam (2009)

We’ll start off lightly with a romantic drama about an engineer with Asperger (Hugh Dancy) who falls in love with a ‘normal’ woman (Rose Byrne). Asperger seems to be comedy gold – because people who have it are usually high functioning, but socially awkward and tactless. This is because they struggle to decipher human emotions, sarcasm and other basic social skills. Luckily, this touching film does not overdo it.

2. The Black Balloon (2008)

This Australian drama deals with the heavier side of the autism spectrum. Thomas (Rhys Wakefield) is your ‘regular’ teenager trying to adjust to a new neighborhood, new school and new friends. He also deals with an autistic brother, and not the highly functioning funny one. It’s a great coming of age drama that averts clichés, deals with this subject matter with the sincerity it deserves, and presents some amazingly good acting.

3. Snow Cake (2006)

This Canadian drama rests on the shoulders of its actors: Alan Rickman, Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss. A high functioning autistic woman (Weaver) who lost her daughter in a car accident develops a strange relationship with the man who caused the accident (Rickman). In the hands of a great actress like Weaver, you can be sure that the subject of autism is dealt with much sincerity and humanity.

4. Elling (2001)

An autistic 40 year old man is thrown out of his home after his mother dies and is placed in a government home with the simple-minded and sex-obsessed Kjell. The uptight Elling and the uninhibited Kjell form a great odd couple, who somehow help each other function in a world which doesn’t really accept him. It’s an offbeat and touching Norwegian comedy, with great acting.

5. Ben X (2007)

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Apparently, outside of porn and and pictures of cats, the Internet does prove itself useful at times. Autistic people are a case in point. Since autism is mostly manifested as a severe lack of communication skills and human interaction abilities, the mediation of the computer or the web helps autistic people develop those lacking skills. This Belgian film, based on true events,  deals with this issue, with great suspense and style.

6. Mary and Max (2009)

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This Australian bittersweet animated dramedy shows how those who lack social skills find good ways to express themselves in a less hi-tech way than the web – through writing. A special friendship is formed between a young shy and lonely Australian girl and an elderly autistic and obese American man. The clay animation is excellently done, and the two misfit characters are very endearing.

7. My Name is Khan (2010)

How do you successfully combine Asperger syndrome, terrorism, 9/11 and song? Easy, make a Bollywood film. This is the journey of an autistic Muslim man (Shahrukh Khan) to the US, right after the attack on the Twin Towers and the wave of anti-Muslim sentiments that cost him his son’s life. This drama is not only for Bollywood fans, as it deals with themes like racism, fear and Islam in a very mature way.

8. Touch (2012)

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A 9/11 widower (Kiefer Sutherland) realizes that his autistic son has the ability of foreknowledge through numbers and patterns that connect us all. Together they try to prevent bad things from happening. It’s a show about redemption that blends humanity with suspense and sci-fi elements with fantasy, but it’s done in a pretty believable way.

9. Mabul (2011)

This drama from Israel shows the struggles of a family whose autistic son comes back from the institution they placed him in, after it closes down. This unwanted presence forces the family members to come face to face with their guilt of not loving their son enough and causing his condition, and with this new ‘burden’ that had landed on their shoulders. It’s an in-your-face and complex character study that will leave you speechless.

10. Parenthood (2010)

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Based on the 1989 film of the same name, Parenthood is the story of the extended Braverman family. Watching both versions will show you how far we have come in terms of awareness. While in the original film, Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen’s son has an undiagnosed disorder that causes him to be uncommunicative and behave erratically, in the new version we know the kid suffers from Asperger syndrome. The show does justice to its origin, and has great writing and a great ensemble cast.

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Festive Under Fifty

March 27th, 2013 by Uri

Quentin-Tarantino

Hollywood’s resident bad boy – Quentin Tarantino – celebrates his 50th birthday today. During the half a century he’s been on this planet, QT has managed to cause quite a bit of mayhem, while collecting numerous prestigious awards on the way. We, here at Jinni, wish him all the best (and advise him to stay away from acting), and since he’s gone and joined the cadre of elderly filmmakers, we’ve listed nine directors who haven’t reached their Jubilee yet. (And while we would love to have a stronger female presence on this list, it has, regrettably, remained mostly dominated by men.)

Quentin Tarantino (49+1)

Never shying away from controversy, Tarantino’s recent films have dealt with sensitive subjects such as slavery and racism in the least politically correct way imaginable. Luckily, he injects his rough films with generous amounts of dark humor.

Most Memorable Movie – Pulp Fiction

A groundbreaking tale of criminals running loose in Los Angeles, this postmodernist cult hit not only won the grand prize at Cannes but also resurrected John Travolta’s career.

Guillermo del Toro (49)

Starting out as a makeup artist, it is hardly surprising the Del Toro films show a passionate interest in insects, monsters, and all kinds of deadly creatures. However, he does not limit himself to scary and gory affairs, as he sometimes chooses to take a more offbeat approach.

Most Memorable Movie – Pan’s Labyrinth

Directing a surreal coming of age film set in the 1940s war-torn Spain, just between directing two comic adaptations about an antisocial yet heroic huge demon, might seem like a radical divergence, but Del Toro managed to create a truly essential piece of dark fantasy.

Guy Ritchie (45)

What’s the link between fast and funny gangsters stories set in London and London-based fast period pieces about a hotshot hero fighting crime (aside from the locale and the pace, that is?) Well, it’s their director, who apart from a brief stint as Madonna’s husband/domestic moviemaker, had established himself as the UK’s premier boys’ night entertainment supplier.

Most Memorable Movie – Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Setting the tone for the rest of his career, as well as unleashing Jason Statham and Vinnie Jones on the unsuspecting world, Ritchie’s debut film is still his wittiest, most enjoyable creation.

Lynne Ramsay – 44

This Scottish director doesn’t have the most extensive filmography – and recent developments suggest that it won’t grow anytime soon – but the handful of films she has directed have an exceptional elegiac quality to them.

Most Memorable Movie – We Need to Talk About Kevin

A disturbing literary adaption which inspects the darkest corners of the human nature and features one of the best performances in Tilda Swinton’s career, which is no mean feat.

Wes Anderson (44)

Best known for his meticulous visual style (some would go even further and call it obsessive), this Texas native has gathered somewhat of a cult following for his quirky views of dysfunctional characters.

Most Memorable Movie – The Royal Tenenbaums

Featuring an all star cast, this dry humored and clever film created the template for the rest of Anderson’s oeuvre, which, sadly, replicated the Tenenbaums’ formula with diminishing returns.

Paul Thomas Anderson (43)

Not related to Wes (and  gladly, neither to Paul W.S. Anderson), PT Anderson’s films are also entirely different, focusing on tense, often destructive, human relationships. The only possible exception being Punch-Drunk Love, which, while being charmingly humorous, also dealt with an emotionally damaged protagonist.

Most Memorable Movie – There Will Be Blood

An epic piece set in the early 20th century, this captivating film showcases the sometimes overwhelming intensity PT Anderson’s work often achieves, both visually and emotionally.

Christopher Nolan (43)

Without a doubt, the most commercially successful director on this list, with a lifetime gross of over $1.5 Billion, Christopher Nolan seems to have found the perfect middle ground between Hollywood tone and a more personal, often mind bending, style.

Most Memorable Movie – Memento

As tempting as it is to insert a nonlinear pun about this original film’s importance, we’ll just say that it catapulted Nolan’s career, and proved that clever and commercial aren’t mutually exclusive. Now, what was that memorable film by Christopher Nolan?…

Nicolas Winding Refn (43)

Offering a unique vision which is both rough and atmospheric, Winding Refn’s films may not be for everyone, since they often display strong violent content, but they also have have surprisingly quiet and reflective moments.

Most Memorable Movie – Drive

In this hyper stylized neo noir about a lone wolf cruising nocturnal Los Angeles, inflicting horrible violent comeuppance on various bad guys, Winding Refn pushes his signature style to its furthest, neon-lit limit.

Sofia Coppola (42)

Sofia Coppola’s films have a very distinct look & feel, concentrating on gloomy and atmospheric stories about young women, often in vulnerable emotional situations, surrounded by an unsympathetic world. Looking at her upcoming projects, it doesn’t seem like she’s going to stray too far away from her niche.

Most Memorable Movie – Lost in Translation

Not only did this stylized story about unfulfillment and alienation win an Oscar for its screenplay, it was also Scarlett Johansson’s breakout role and provided Bill Murray a much deserved Golden Globe.

Ben Affleck (41)

The youngest director on this list, Affleck probably had the most comprehensive makeover, transforming himself from an oft ridiculed actor (Gigli, anyone?) to a multiple awards winning director, dealing with historical events.

Most Memorable Movie – Argo

His most recent film, which was also his biggest commercial and critical success, really elevated Affleck from the status of an actor with a knack for directing into that of an accomplished director whose Oscar nomination snub raised more than a few eyebrows.

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