In Memory of Alain Resnais

March 2nd, 2014 by Ran

Alain Resnais Collage

Legendary French filmmaker Alain Resnais passed away today at the age of 92. He was known mostly for idiosyncratic, clever and contemplative films that deal with memory, human nature and the subjectivity of truth, but his filmography is surprisingly diverse. He was a very influential figure for the French New Wave movement of the late 50s, although he did not consider himself as a part of it.

After directing mostly documentaries and short films in the 1930s and 1940s, his breakthrough came in 1959 with the controversial Hiroshima, mon amour, which tells a brief love affair on the background of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, using groundbreaking methods of flashbacks and nonlinear storytelling. Last Year in Marienbad in 1961 and The War Is Over in 1966 continued this obsession with the nature of memory.

In the late 90s Resnais developed another passion – musicals, inspired by Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective. Same Old Song from 1997 and Not on the Lips from 2003 are the most notable of this new trend, in which his second wife Sabine Azema became a prominent figure. He was an active film maker until he passed away, and his new film Aimer, boire et chanter is about to be released later this month in France.

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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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10 Shows Below Zero

January 13th, 2014 by Barak

No matter the season, it’s always nice to stay indoors and watch a good TV show, but during winter you also have an excuse to do so! To empathize with the American people who are suffering from the terrible cold weather we’ll rank the new shows with below zero temperatures. So, turn on every available heating device you have in your home and check out these 10 new promising TV shows:

-1°. The Spoils of Babylon

It’s Like: A funnier Casa De Mi Padre

Executive produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and starring Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire, IFC’s The Spoils of Babylon is a very silly humored spoof of soap operas. The amazingly impressive cast also includes Jessica Alba, Michael Sheen, Tim Robbins, Val Kilmer and Will Ferrell himself.

-2°. True Detective

It’s Like: A high quality Scandinavian crime show… only American.

Big movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson make a transition to Television for HBO’s True Detective. This stylized and tense crime drama just might be America’s answer to the acclaimed Scandinavian shows The Bridge and The Killing.

-3°. Fleming

It’s Like: James Bond without all the made up stuff…

Fleming is a mini-series about the life of James Bond creator Ian Fleming who lived a life that were pretty similar to the life of the fictional spy he wrote about. Fleming himself was also a spy and quite a womanizer. He also drank martini and wore slick suits.

-4°. Intelligence

It’s Like: Person of Interest with more special effects.

Hi-tech espionage helped by top-notch special effects – you don’t have to be very intelligent to see this series has a lot of potential. Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost) is the protagonist of this show that looks a lot like another CBS action show – Person of Interest.

-5°The Moaning of Life

It’s LikeAn Idiot Abroad with the same amount of complaining and a bit more contemplating.

After An Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington continues to travel around the world and feel like a fish out of water wherever he goes. This time he doesn’t have to deal with the challenges\obstacles that his good friend Ricky Gervais sets up for him, but his task here isn’t much simpler – he tries to understand what does it all mean, life that is.

-6°. Black Sails

It’s Like: An extremely violent Treasure Island.

Executive produced by Michael Bay, Black Sails is a sort of prequel to Treasure Island, and takes place in 1715, 20 years prior to the events of the book, during the golden age of piracy. With another high profile piracy show coming up later this year (Crossbones) this might be the golden age of TV shows about piracy.

-7°. Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!

It’s LikeJoaquin Phoenix‘s I’m Still Here, only crazier

If you thought I’m Still Here was insane wait till you see HBO’s new docu\reality\comedy. The humor here is pretty dark, and Stevens seems like an obsessed individual who is very unhappy in life. It’s definitely not the funniest thing I’ve seen, but it’s quite a fascinating character study.

-8°Rake

It’s LikeCalifornication meets Boston Legal with cannibals.

A remake of an Australian show titled likewise, Rake stars Greg Kinnear and tells the story of a morally dubious lawyer who has no problem defending the very worse (cannibals for example).

-9°. Killer Women

It’s Like: The female version of Walker Texas Ranger.

Killer Women = Walker Texas Ranger – the beard + the breasts. Judging from the trailer, it looks like and exciting and sexy action series that will give us a good measure of weekly escapism. Tricia Helfer plays the lead here, a female law enforcer surrounded by chauvinist male colleagues who want to see her fail, but she won’t because she’s a badass!

-10°. The Assets

It’s Like: The Americans, only slower.

Cold war tensions arise in ABC’s slow burning espionage thriller. The Assets is based on a true story and it seems it might give The Americans a fair fight for the title of best cold war TV thriller around today (and yes, the fact that there are only two in existence at the moment helps).

If you’re afraid to discover new things (like new shows), you can just welcome back your old favorite shows which are returning from a long hiatus. I recommend:

Person of Interest, The Walking Dead, House of Cards, Banshee, Sherlock, Justified, Community, Parks and Recreation, Downton Abbey and The Big Bang Theory.

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Happy Birthday Nic Cage :)

January 8th, 2014 by Guy

Nicolas Cage is turning 50, which is quite a feat for one of the busiest actors in Hollywood. When you come from one of the most talented filmmaking families in history (the Coppolas) it’s only natural for you to be extra ambitious and strive to make your stamp on the industry. While we respect Nic and his past achievements with classics such as Face Off, Birdy and Leaving Las Vegas, it’s apparent that he’s not picky on films he’s participating on in the 2000s. So our gift for you Nic, is showing you examples from your fellow actors who are making successful acting choices.

Samuel L. Jackson – Work as part of an ensemble cast/Only in small doses

Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Wars needs no introduction, and this installment which connects the old and the new franchise include a large ensemble in which Sam shines bright. The reason why it is so good is partially because Sam often plays villains or immoral characters and here he plays on the side of the good.

Django Unchained (2012)

Django made big waves last year when it came out, and while it has a large cast, and a rather long running time, it’s only towards the last segment of the movie when we finally encounter Sam, and his character is cunning, devious, sometimes awkwardly funny, but most important of all, he does his job well.

Bruce Willis – Stick to Comics & Animation

Sin City (2005)

The thing that makes Bruce stand out in this film, is that he’s not the regular flat character who shoots people and blows everybody up. He’s an anti-hero, with many flaws, and he’s willing to sacrifice everything to save a little girl and allow her to live a normal life. Similarly to Sam, Sin City is also divided to segments so Bruce also appears in small-doses which enhance his performance.

Red (2010)

Much like the former, this ensemble feature is based on comics, and turns Bruce’s action towards a more humorous approach, adding a down-to-earth love story in the mix. Moreover, Red takes itself lightly, which is often a recipe for a good film. If you’re too serious, and you tell a bad story that is unreliable, you’re bound bomb.

Robert De Niro – Work with Bradley Cooper Winking smile

Limitless (2011)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

It’s no secret that in recent years Bradley Cooper had become a rising star in Hollywood, especially since his recent Oscar nomination in Silver Linings Playbook. In the past decade, De Niro either played in date/family comedies or some badly written action thrillers. Out of all those movies, he got most praise and recognition for his roles alongside Bradley. Now Nic, I’m not saying I have a script in my hands to give you, but maybe striking while the iron is hot would be highly beneficial, wouldn’t you say? Winking smile Give Brad a call!

Forest Whitaker – Play real historical figures

There is no doubt Forest Whitaker gives a powerful and captivating performance as real-life dictator Idi Amin. True stories always speak louder than fiction, and the same thing goes for actors depicting real people, because you assume the behavior of that character is real. You assume it really happened, and it’s harder to doubt your actions.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013)

From portraying a ruler to playing a servant, nothing proves your skill as an actor better than showing your versatility and ability to be anyone. Some of the most famous actor’s biggest career problem is that they cannot reach self fulfillment due to being stuck in a certain stereotype. They cannot convince you they can do anything else.

Nicolas Cage – Stay true to Offbeat

Bad Lieutenant (2009)

Not to be mistaken as a remake, this movie follows the 1992 movie of the same name, focusing on different characters with a different plot, yet maintaining the crazy, unbalanced, manic and frantic demeanor of it’s title character. Despite not being an instant hit at the box office, Nicolas Cage received much acclaim for his unhinged performance. He was always known to dive into the darkest corners of his characters minds (see below for a bonus clip)

Adaptation. (2002)

It is my personal opinion this is the best Nicolas Cage film to date. Written and Based on the trials and tribulations of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman as he does his best to adapt one of his favorite books into a screenplay. The more he writes the more desperate he becomes. One of the brilliant things Kaufman added to the story was a fictional brother who is the polar opposite of he himself, thus allowing Cage to show incredible acting prowess throughout the film.

Nic, we all love you. You are a great actor in your own right. In 50 years, you gave us memorable films to look back on, and hopefully you are not done. You are truly one actor that is utterly dedicated and committed to your art-form. If anyone doubts you, I hereby present a bonus clip that shows you’ll do whatever it takes to give an entertaining performance!

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The Best of 2013

December 30th, 2013 by Barak

During 2013, we at Jinni tried our best at doing the most important thing there is to do – watching movies and TV shows; as much as possible. So after we did such a good job and completed all of our viewing assignments (well, not really, it’s an ongoing assignment that only ends when you die) all that’s left to do is choose the best titles of the passing year (with the help of our entertainment genome, because we can’t really do anything without it).

here are our best titles of 2013:

Moving unfulfilled loveMud

Mud is a touching and heartwarming drama about love, or unrequited love to be more precise. It’s a bit slow paced, but never boring. I consider it to be the best movie of the year.

Gory fist fighting: Banshee

Banshee offers some of the best fight scenes ever seen on TV. The fight scenes are extremely violent, sometimes gory, maybe a bit over the top and they are the reason Banshee is one of the coolest, and most fun shows on TV.

Aging Tough heroes in prison: Escape Plan

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger trying to escape from prison together and trying to survive in the mean time. I can’t ask much more from a movie. These two aren’t too old for this s**t yet. They each still have a few more good action movies in them.

Captivating talk showTalking Bad

Breaking Bad – one of the best shows of the 2000′s deserved such an admiring talk show. They discussed and analyzed each one of the last 8 episodes of the series with the help of the show’s writers and actors. It helped better understand the series and helped to properly say goodbye.

Bittersweet middle aged romance: Enough Said

The wonderful performance by James Gandolfini here just emphasizes how tragic his death was. Thinking on all the great film roles we could’ve gotten from him in the future adds a lot of bitterness to this sweet movie.

Confined, strong female presenceOrange is the New Black

Another hit series from Netflix offers a compelling ensemble cast of characters, dark and cynical humor, touching moments. It is a well done mix of humor and drama; HBO is already feeling Netflix breathing down its neck.

Sentimental coming of age: The Way, Way Back

Sam Rockwell gives one of the best performances of his career in what I believe to be one of the best coming of age movies ever made. It offers a near perfect combination of comedy and drama with a lot of heart.

Offbeat docu/mocku/reality:  Nathan for You

The funniest TV show of 2013. It’s hilarious, brilliant and offbeat, and offers a combination of silly, dry and irreverent humor. It’s sort of a parody on business marketing TV shows, but you really need to watch it to know what it’s all about. The show’s creator – Nathan Fielder, is a comic genius.

Feel good time travel: About Time

About Time is a very funny, charming, romantic and life affirming movie. If this movie won’t make you feel good I don’t know what will…Maybe sugar, lots of chocolates and ice cream.

Atmospheric and tense, orchestral scoreThe Fall

The Fall is one of the best crime series to come out of Britain in recent years. The acting here is top notch, as is the writing and the camera work, but the real secret weapon of the series is its haunting score.

Irreverent love and romance: I Give It a Year

This is a movie that asks you to forget everything you know about romantic comedies. It hilariously reinvents the genre. It was written and directed by Dan Mazer, Sacha Baron Cohen‘s writing partner in both Ali G and Borat, so it’s no wonder it’s so good.

Gloomy crimes and family relations: Ray Donovan

Sophisticated, rough and heart breaking crime drama with top notch performances all around. I think it deserves a place alongside TV’s A-list crime dramas like The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire.

Silly humored all-star cast: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

The 1st Anchorman movie was the funniest movie ever made as far as I’m concerned, a masterpiece of silly and absurd humor. Anchorman 2 lives up to its predecessor. Kristen Wiig, Jim Carrey, Liam Neeson, Kirsten Dunst, Harrison FordSacha Baron Cohen, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and John C. Reilly joined the already impressive cast from the 1st movie for this non-stop laughs sequel.

Suspenseful espionage: The Americans

Fans of Homeland who found themselves harshly disappointed from the season finale can find comfort with another superb espionage thriller – The Americans. All they have to do is replace Carrie with Kerri (Carrie Mathison with Keri Russell).

Futuristic young heroes: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

The Hunger Games is a rarity – a clever and thought provoking movie…for teens. Not many of those around. Good thing there’s another movie in the series coming out next year.

Stylized criminal heroes: Peaky Blinders

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 an extremely good looking show and I think it’s Britain’s answer to Boardwalk Empire, and a good one at that.

Exciting ego clashRush

A well-made sports drama (if you’re not sure what well-made means watch this movie). Exciting race scenes and powerful performances by the two leads make Rush a rush.

Clever master criminal: The Blacklist

Mind games, manipulations, intrigue and unexpected plot twists, seasoned with a great performance by James Spader makes The Blacklist into a clever treat-ller (a thriller which is a treat to watch). To me, it’s like a combination between Person of Interest and Silence of the Lambs.

Thought provoking documentaryBlackfish

A fascinating documentary about a fascinating creature. It will make you think twice before you decide to visit Seaworld, and it definitely won’t make you want to work there.

Contemplative sexual relations: Masters of Sex

Talking and contemplating about sex might be enough for a network series, but this is Showtime (cable), so of course there are also a lot of explicit sex scenes here! But seriously now, it’s a high quality show about human nature, determination/obsession and… well, sex.

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