The Jinni Thanksgiving Dinner

November 23rd, 2013 by Asaf & May

Thanksgiving is upon us. People get together. They give thanks, eat, drink and inevitably kick back to watch TV together. What makes this year different than the rest? This year Jinni’s new website and iPad App are here to get this viewing party started right! As we gather with our families who invariably have different tastes, there comes the moment where we have to decide, what oh what will we watch together? Enter Jinni! Pop over to our new Watch Together feature and receive recommendations tailored to the combined tastes of your friends and family. So thanks Jinni, and now let’s see what tastes our dinner guests are thankful for.

The Tastes of Thanks

The Tastes of Thanks

Ten cinema and TV fans gather round the table, each has a very specific idea about what they want to watch after dinner. The turkey hot and ready for some Omnomnom-ing was presented as everybody got ready to give thanks. Jordan, who’s into Hotshot heroes, was, as usual, the first to bless: “Friends, I thank Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio for their upcoming 5th collaboration, The Wolf of Wall street. It seems like such a clever and tense film and that DiCaprio… he’s just so talented, so good looking, he reminds me of me so much”. Everyone rolled their eyes and laughed used to such antics from Jordan.

Laura, who just started a new teaching job in high school, stood up. Believe it or not, she really likes titles about Teachers and students: “I wanna thank whoever thought about making a TV show based on a Bad Teacher. A seductive and manipulative teacher is something I can all relate to and can appreciate the danger it poses. That whole against the rules attitude really makes you take a second look at what you are doing and why. Everyone smiled and promised themselves they wouldn’t send their kids to Laura’s school.


That made Brooke think about her daughter, a typical high school student who’s into reality shows and Celebrity culture: ”I wanna thank god that Dancing with the stars is about to end. As you all know, this show encourages viewers participation and keeps them captivated with exciting dances and contests, and it made my daughter a real addict“. She wiped a tear from her face, remembering the balance of their last mobile invoice.

Talking about teenagers reminded Jennifer, whose taste revolves mostly around young-heroes, what she’s thankful for: “Unlike your daughter Brooke, Some kids are talented and do their best to save the day like Katniss in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. So I think we all should be real thankful for resourceful teenagers who give hope for the future”. Brooke shed another tear.

That sincere attitude made Alexander open up (in his thick southern accent): “Y’all know, I like taking long trips in our great nation, so I’m a fan of Americana and On The Road titles. I wanna thank Bruce Dern for a damn powerful performance in Nebraska. He reminded me of my estranged, aging father who also has a drinking problem. We also took a road trip in order to save our relationship. Unfortunately it didn’t work out that well and I had to abandon him midway but I heard he made it back semi-safely”.

Hearing about family problems made Chris remember the thing he’s thankful for: “I wanna thank all of you for reminding me why I’m such a big fan of single life! and now The Bachelor is about to return for another season filled with manipulations, rivalry and a gorgeous ensemble cast to remind me why I love being single”.

THE BACHELOR - "Episode 1710" - In the dramatic Season Finale, Sean made one of the most difficult choices of this life. After having his family meet both women in spectacular Chiang Rai, Thailand, and under immense pressure, he made one final, heart-wrenching decision and chose and fell in love with Catherine Giudici, on the Season Finale of "The Bachelor," MONDAY, MARCH 11 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Dave Hagerman) SEAN LOWE, CATHERINE GIUDICI

That made J.J. think about his theory regarding human relationships: “I always believed emotions are unnecessary and that’s why I’m a fan of androids and robots, they’re simply better than us. So I’m thankful for the new futuristic series Almost Human. Those androids look so cool, and they partner up with humans in order to fight crime. Could have been a great opportunity for a boys’ night, if I could just get to like humans.”

“You think your too good for us?!” Wendy couldn’t help herself. The rest of them were used to her making a scene. No wonder her taste is artists and showbiz, as she always wanted to be an actress so whenever she got upset everyone would suddenly feel like they were being forced to experience one of her many auditions. Some of them thought she should be introduced to Marki Costello, a Hollywood manager, who stars the new reality show “The Drama Queen” which revolves around her work with ambitious actors filled with desire for fame.


After Wendy’s drama queen scene, Maggie thought how she loves TV shows with a strong female presence, although she prefers them rougher, like Nikita that just got back for a 4th season: “I thank the creators for a great series about a lethal assassin and the espionage world. I also thank them for reminding the viewers how dangerous a mistreated woman could be”.

That made everyone a bit uncomfortable and so they all looked at Walt for relief, since his only point of view in life (and entertainment) is just Feel Good. “Before things get a bit out of hand” he said, “I wanna thank the good people at Disney for a Frozen thanksgiving, sharing with us yet another stylized fairytale, filled with imaginary escapades, love and romance. I just can’t wait.”

Suddenly a miraculous event occurred: the turkey started beeping! They all looked at it. JJ began fantasizing about an android turkey, while Jordan was more practical, and in a (hotshot) heroic attempt reached for it, discovering an iPad under the turkey tray! They stared at it, and suddenly the Jinni app appeared, inviting them to create their entertainment personalities and receive tastes based recommendations. After they passed the iPad between them, they realized they all have very unique tastes and there’s only one thing fitting all of them, that they could watch together after dinner – Oprah’s thanksgiving special. Thank god for Oprah!

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The Young and the Brainless

March 4th, 2013 by Barak

After taking a look at Facebook’s most Liked movies, we couldn’t help but notice how different these movies are from IMDb’s list of top 250, not to mention BFI’s (British Film Institute) list of top 50 films of all time (chosen by hundreds of international critics.)

Here’s our take on these three lists:

Facebook’s top 10 include: Harry PotterAvatar, The Twilight Saga, Titanic, Shrek, Toy Story 3, Jackass 3, Fast & Furious, Transformers, and The Hangover.

Besides Titanic, all movies were made in the 2000′s; most of the movies are teen or family oriented, and about 40% of them are pretty much brainless (Twilight Saga, Jackass, Fast & Furious, Transformers… I’m excluding Avatar and Titanic just because I’m nice. Let’s say both of those movies have a brain, but it was lobotomized.)

IMDb’s top 10 include: The Shawshank Redemption, The Godfather, The Godfather 2, Pulp Fiction, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, 12 Angry Men, The Dark Knight, Schindler’s List, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Fight Club.

Four of these movies were made during the 90′s, two in the 70′s, two in the 2000′s, one in the 60′s and one in the 50′s. All movies are critically acclaimed and are considered to be classics or modern classics (well, all of them besides The Dark Knight maybe.) Most of the movies in IMDb’s top 10 are testosterone driven American movies, which would be suitable for a boy’s night.

BFI’s top 10 include: Vertigo, Citizen Kane, Tokyo Story, The Rules of the Game, Sunrise, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Searchers, The Man with a Movie Camera, and The Passion of Joan of Arc, 8 1/2.

The most recent movie in BFI’s top 10 was made in 1968… Three more were made in the 50′s, three in the 1920′s(!), one in the 40′s, one in the 30′s and one more during the 60′s. Seven of these movies are B&W movies and six of them are foreign. The BFI guys would definitely shake their heads in disagreement while listening to Frank Sinatra‘s song “the best is yet to come”, because they’re pretty sure the best has already happened, and it was a long, long time ago.

Places 11-20 in Facebook’s book include: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Saw, Finding Nemo, Twilight, Step Up, 2012, Dirty Dancing, The Dark Knight, Paranormal Activity, and The Lion King.

Eight movies from the 2000′s, one from the 80′s and one from the 90′s. All ten are teen or family oriented and were made in the U.S. In risk of receiving death threats I’ll say that six of the ten are cinematic trash (garbage didn’t sound appropriate), some of them are fun trash, but trash nonetheless (Pirates of the Caribbean, Saw, Twilight, Step Up, 2012 and Paranormal Activity. There’s a whole lot of trash and a bit of fun in these brackets.)

Places 11-20 in IMDb’s list include: Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Inception, Goodfellas, Star Wars, Seven Samurai, Forrest Gump, The Matrix, and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.

Three movies are from the 2000′s and three from the 90′s, two are from the 70′s, one is from the 80′s and another one is from the 50′s. Once again, IMDb’s top movies continue the trend of highly acclaimed movies which are more boys/men oriented, while this time also showcasing a bit more Sci-Fi and a little less criminal intent.

Places 11-20 in BFI’s list include: Battleship Potemkin, L’Atalante, Breathless, Apocalypse Now, Late Spring, Au hasard Balthazar, Seven Samurai, Persona, The Mirror, and Singin’ in the Rain.

These are very old movies, most of them B&W; eight are foreign movies and none were made during the past 35 years. May I remind you this list was comprised in 2012?

If I had to put a face to each list, Facebook’s list seems like it was made by a young hysterical girl with a real passion for reading (tweets.) Miley Cyrus could have written it with the help of her younger brother (if she has one.)

IMDb’s list seems compatible with a male American film enthusiast; someone like Quentin Tarantino.

And I guess that the face that’s most suitable to represent BFI’s list is that of a European film connoisseur (French no doubt) over the age of 80; let’s say Jean-Luc Godard.

To sum it up, BFI’s opinion is that cinema’s golden age ended back when Moses still wore short pants, and that good movies are eternal, even if they were made in the 1920′s and didn’t include color, or a spoken voice; Most Facebook users probably think that a movie can’t be good if it doesn’t include robots, zombies and/or vampires, and even then, it might be good only if it was made after the year 2000 of course; Preferably after the year 2010. And so, I think that IMDb is the voice of reason in this instance (at least when compared with the other two lists), including great movies that were made in the past, along with great movies that are still being made today.

So, why not end on a positive note, and just say hooray for (good) movies!

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You’re Never too Old for a Hollywood Duel

April 22nd, 2012 by Barak

This week two Hollywood giants are celebrating their birthdays – Jack Nicholson (75) and Al Pacino (72). Both are just about at the same age and hold the same prestigious status as two of the greatest actors who ever lived. While the last great movie by either wasn’t made very recently, we still think they deserve a high stakes head-to-head battle to determine, once and for all, which of them is the better actor??

10. Adam Sandler Collaborations

Jack and Jill (2011) VS. Anger Management (2003)

An almost scientific way to determine the quality of an actor’s career is to see how well he collaborated with Adam Sandler. Jack and Jill was scorned, but my unpopular opinion is that Al Pacino was absolutely hilarious playing a zany version of himself. Anger Management wasn’t the critics favorite either, but it offered some very funny scenes, including Nicholson singing I Feel Pretty while being stuck in a traffic jam, forcing Adam Sandler’s character to sing along. I call it a draw.

9. Trilogies
The Godfather Trilogy (1972-1990) VS. The Jack Nicholson/Bob Rafelson Trilogy (1970-1996)

There is no way there will ever be a trilogy better than The Godfather trilogy (unless someone will make Mary Poppins 2 and 3.) Jack Nicholson’s unofficial Bob Rafelson trilogy, which included Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens and Blood and Wine, is a pretty good one, but the Corleone family made me an offer I just couldn’t refuse. 1-0 Pacino.

8. Remakes
Insomnia (2002) VS. The Departed (2006)

Insomnia was as good as the Norwegian movie on which it was based. The Departed wasn’t as good as the amazing Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong movie on which it is based. Nevertheless, The Departed was still better than Insomnia and even earned Martin Scorsese his first Oscar. 1-1 draw.

7. 1983 Successes
Scarface (1983) VS. Terms of Endearment (1983)

Pacino’s performance in Scarface is probably ranked 1st place in the overacting hall of fame (if such an hall of fame ever existed) and that’s precisely what makes it so great and fun to watch over and over again while shouting along “Say hello to my little friend!” Terms of Endearment is one of the most overrated and unjustified Oscar winners for Best Picture. Even Jack Nicholson doesn’t save it. Scarface shoots Terms of Endearment in the face and wins this round. 2-1 Pacino.

6. Confined
Dog Day Afternoon (1978) VS. The Shining (1980)

Dog Day is one of the most captivating bank robbery/hostage situation movies ever, and Pacino proves how versatile he can be, portraying a gay criminal 4 years after portraying Michael Corleone in The Godfather 2. The Shining is a Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, a horror movie better than Jaws and Alien put together. I regret saying that, because Jaws is awesome. But I just had no other way to prove that The Shining should be the winner here, which it is. 2-2.

5. Fighting the System
Serpico (1973) VS. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

This is a tough one. Serpico is one of the most famous cop movies ever, with a memorable performance by Pacino as an honest and determined law enforcer with a very honorable moral code. But One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is simply one of the greatest movies ever created in the history of the world and the worlds beyond it. Serpico loses, and it can use the famous line from this round’s winner: “At least I tried”. A dramatic overturn: 3-2 Nicholson.

4. Jack VS. Jack
You Don’t Know Jack (2010) VS. About Schmidt (2002)

Al Pacino’s TV movie was a solid biography of the extremely controversial Jack Kevorkian. In About Schmidt, an excellent and moving character study, Nicholson gave one of his absolute best performances. Jack (Nicholson) beats Jack (Kevorkian) this time, or gives him euthanasia if you like. 4-2 Nicholson.

3. (Slightly) Similarly Named Movies

Any Given Sunday (1999) VS. As Good As It Gets (1997)

Any Given Sunday was a very good sports movie with a convincing performance from Pacino. As Good As It Gets was one of the best feel good movies of the 90′s with an absolutely fantastic performance from Nicholson and therefore it is the winner in this round. 5-2 Nicholson, this is getting embarrassing for Pacino.

2. Acclaimed Crime Movies
Heat (1995) VS. Prizzi’s Honor (1985)

Heat is a strong contender for being the best movie De Niro and Pacino collaborated on, and just to remind you, they were together in The Godfather 2, so that says a lot. Prizzi’s Honor is a darkly humored John Huston movie that shows a battle between Nicholson and Kathleen Turner‘s character, which Nicholson wins. However, Nicholson does not beat Heat. 5-3 Nicholson. Comeback for Pacino? Not if you’re good at math and see that there’s only one more movie-battle left.

1. Nose Related Titles
Scent of a Woman (1992) VS. Chinatown (1974)

First of all I’ll just clarify the connection – in Scent of a Woman Pacino uses his nose to smell the women (that was the more obvious one) and in Chinatown there’s that unforgettable scene where Roman Polanski cuts Jack Nicholson’s nose. As for the tough decision I have to make here, I’m gonna go with a draw. I really love both movies.

Conclusion: 5-3 in favor of Jack Nicholson which is the better actor apparently. I guess the fact that he worked harder (75 movie credits for Nicholson in comparison to only 49 for Pacino) benefited him in this case, and that should be a lesson to us all: Work hard and maybe one day you’ll win a completely insignificant blog post competition.

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10 Golden Rules for Developing a Next Generation TV Guide

September 20th, 2011 by Yosi

After sixty years in hibernation, the TV guide is finally awakening to innovation. The static grid of shows and airing times that granny loved getting in the mail each week is crumbling under the strain of hundreds of linear channels, DVR, VOD and over-the-top internet streaming services and a new generation of consumers who expect a fast, personalized discovery experience. Providers can feel the winds of change brewing and are investing top talent to develop the next generation of guides. The following are 10 challenges and opportunities the industry must master if it wants to continue to keep customers happy.

1) The Couch Potato is Here to Stay

This is not an insult, simply a fact. When we sit down in front of the TV we want to watch something good and we expect it to be easy to find. After all, we’re not in the mood to work. Users want the act of finding something to watch to be as effortless and enjoyable as watching it is.

2) The Paradox of Choice Requires Personalization

Too much choice is overwhelming and is a barrier to consumption. The guide must give quality, personalized recommendations to help users overcome the fear of regret and so the guide becomes your best salesperson.

3) Content Selection is Meaning Driven

What do you want to know about a movie before you decide to watch it? Basic metadata isn’t much help. A rich, human description of the mood, style and plot elements gives us a real feeling for the movie and allows us to overcome the fear of regret and decide if we want to see it.

4) Future-proof the guide for an on-demand world

On-demand video is growing fast and now is the time to future-proof the guide. Service providers that don’t move quickly are at risk of choking future consumption with an antiquated guide.

5) Building Trust Between Man and Machine

Trust is what fuels recommendations to spur action. How can humans learn to trust machine-made recommendations? A discovery engine must be able to explain, in human terms, everything it does.

6) There is No Such Thing as ‘Average Taste’

Our tastes are as distinct and varied as we are. Sometimes I enjoy a witty humorous movie about couple relations, other times I’m in the mood for stylized, exciting movies about space travel and saving the world with androids and alien. You can’t average out things like ‘aliens’ and ‘couple relations’ to get a mathematical estimation of my taste. Yet this is exactly what most so-called ‘personalized discovery’ engines do; bunch everything a user likes together. If we are going to deliver a truly personalized experience that will help consumers find content they will enjoy, first we must recognize that each individual is unique and his or her tastes include several distinct types of content.

7) Keeping Content Fresh is a Challenge

Movies and TV are special, that’s why we love them so much. But that’s also why finding and choosing the right content is such a difficult process. We expect endless fresh programming, to fit our specific preferences and to match the exact mood we’re in at that moment. If the guide fails to lead users quickly to content that suits their taste and mood, they will blame the provider and come to the conclusion that there is ‘nothing good to watch’.

8) Humans seek meaning, not data

We have all been trained by web browsers to think in keywords, but human communication is more than a collection of key words wound into a Boolean string. Just try asking Google to recommend a ‘ feel good witty movie about couple relations’ – you won’t get useful results. The next generation of guides needs to speak in casual human language and deliver relevant and accurate results.

9) ‘Lingua Franca’ of Video Content

The only way guides will be able to communicate with users in a meaningful language is by adopting a normalized unified language or ‘Lingua Franca’ for describing entertainment content. This Lingua Franca will allow the breadth of entertainment content to be described in a single descriptive language irrespective of the producer, director or script writers. From the consumer perspective, all content can be understood in the same natural metaphor.

10) Separating the Social Wheat from the Chafe

Our entire industry seems caught up in the latest Social TV buzz. All the tweets, updates, ‘likes’ and ‘+’s have created massive amounts of TV and movie related social media data. But this kind of random chatter doesn’t drive consumption and it doesn’t enhance the television experience. Why? Because most of your friends don’t share your taste in TV and movies. If Social TV is going to truly enhance the discovery experience, we must be able to identify those few friends that have similar tastes and use them as a source of high quality social recommendations. THAT is social TV.

*An abbreviated version of this article first appeared in Multichannel Magazine

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Nuclear Cinema Reflects on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

August 9th, 2011 by Ran

On August 6th 1945, the first nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Three days later, because no word of surrender came out of Japan, a second bomb was dropped, this time on the port city of Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days later and World War II ended. About 200,000 people were killed in these bombings, mostly civilians. The debate still rages today over how necessary these attacks really were (especially the second one) in forcing Japan to surrender. The fact that “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” are the only atomic bombs ever used in combat shows how reluctant countries are to face the moral implication of causing such mass destruction. Film and TV makers have found the subject of nuclear bombs a fertile ground for many kinds of scenarios; treating it from four main perspectives:

The Comic/Satiric Approach:

1. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, 1964

Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War offbeat masterpiece still stands as the greatest anti war movie of all time. Peter Sellers, in multiple roles, George C. Scott and Sterling Hayden expose the machismo involved in making decisions of this magnitude and force us to question the sanity of such decision makers.

2. The Simpsons, 1989 – ?

Although past its prime, Matt Groening’s masterpiece TV series is still one of the most important in TV history – animated or otherwise. This eccentric family has entertained us in a witty and clever way for more than two decades, while still delivering a biting critique of the social decay surrounding us. Homer’s workplace, Springfield’s power plant, owned by Montgomery Burns, is a constant criticism of the use of nuclear energy and the distrust we should have with the people who pull the strings.

The Action Approach:

3. True Lies, 1994

This could fit in the first category, but for lack of social criticism I’ll put it in the action section. Here, Arnold Schwarzenegger is trying to find four nuclear warheads that have disappeared from a former Soviet Republic. Disregarding the representation of Arabs as sort of hillbillies, this movie is great fun, cementing Schwarzenegger’s status as one of the greatest comedic actors of our time (maybe I’m exaggerating). Classic lines, Eliza Dushku as the rebellious daughter, and a great fighting scene atop of a fighter plane make for a great action comedy.

4. X-Men: First Class, 2011

I usually don’t like prequels. They often don’t mesh well with the movie or series they’re perquelling. But this one is different. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender play the younger Professor X and Magneto during the Cuban missile crisis. The intrigue between the mutants begins as one faction tries to force a nuclear war in order to wipe out the human race, while Professor X and his crew try to stop it. Great action and Special Effects. (For what really happened at this pivotal moment in history see The Kennedys below)

5. Fist of the North Star, 1986

Let’s imagine what the world would be like after a nuclear holocaust. Actually you don’t have to, thanks to this based on comics Anime film. In the backdrop of an anarchic society we find the lone wolf Ken, a martial arts warrior defeated by a former friend who wanders aimlessly in the wilderness. That is until he saves a couple of kids and suddenly finds new purpose in life. It’s bleak and rough, but with great martial arts fights.

The Artistic Approach:

6. Until the End of the World, 1991

Wim Wenderssci-fi adventure is set in a world facing an imminent nuclear threat as an Indian nuclear satellite is about to plummet towards earth. An odd character is traveling on the road with a camera that captures emotions and memories with the images. It’s a very long film, but Wenders is a master of on the road movies, and knows how to make them captivating.

7. Hiroshima Mon Amour, 1959

Early Alain Resnais works show his fascination with the concept of memory. In many of his films we experience this through the conflict between two different people’s memories, blurring the edges between memory and so called reality. In this piece two lovers talk about the bombing of Hiroshima. He is Japanese, and she is French. He speaks first hand while she is tells of the events from the perspective of occupied France. This atmospheric piece is an essential watch for movie lovers.

The Historical Approach:

8. Silkwood, 1983

Mike Nicols’ film tells the true story of a nuclear plant whistleblower that died in a mysterious car accident after wanting to expose negligence that caused several of her co-workers to become ill with radiation sickness. It is relevant to the problems and dangers we face today with nuclear energy. Meryl Streep, Cher and Kurt Russell round out a great cast with a story that is touching while not being too emotional.

9. The Fog of War, 2003

Since one of Errol Morris’ movies (The Thin Blue Line) helped release a man wrongfully convicted of murder, he has been lauded as one of the most important documentary filmmakers of all time. The Fog of War is a biography of Robert S. McNamara, secretary of defense under JFK, through out the Vietnam War and during the Cold War where the threat of nuclear war was very real. Here you get the most sincere account of one of the most controversial figures in US government history, mainly because he speaks freely about his life and ideology. A captivating and thought provoking piece.

10. The Kennedys, 2011 – ?

In this miniseries the History Channel depicts one of the most powerful political families in US history. The cast is very good (even Katie Holmes is acceptable), and it seems to disregard the myth behind John F. Kennedy (Greg Kinnear), focusing instead more on father Joseph Kennedy as the dominant force of the family. It’s a captivating watch.

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