March – The Director’s Month?

March 24th, 2014 by Uri

Apparently, if you are determined to be a film director, then March is the best month to be born in, based on the quantity and diversity of talented filmmakers born this month;

Here is our partial rundown, by date of birth.

Ron Howard (March 1, 1954)

Sure, some of the older folks still think about Richie Cunningham (or Opie Taylor, if you’re even older…) when they hear Ron Howard’s name, but in the last couple decades, he is quite the synonym for Hollywood Toned productions, and we, here at Jinni, feel that his latest effort, Rush, was short changed for Oscar Nominations this year.

Zack Snyder (March 1, 1966)

Most astrologists characterize Pisces men as introverted, shy or reticent, however, checking Zack Snyder’s filmography can prove this astrologists painfully wrong, as his films are usually pretty exciting, with little to no pause for nuances or subtlety.

Rob Reiner  (March 6, 1947)

Someone more in sync with his astrological sign is Rob Reiner, which many of his film, as expected from a member of a deeply romantic sign, are a perfect pick for a date night.

Gore Verbinski (March 16, 1964)

He might not have the richest or more diverse body of work, but Gore Verbinski certainly have a penchant for money making, since most of his recent films were blockbusters, the recent relative fiasco called The Lone Ranger notwithstanding.

pirates-of-the-caribbean

Spike Lee (March 20, 1957)

In his latest fiction films (such as the abysmal Old Boy remake) Spike Lee may have drifted away from his roots as a creator of thought provoking pieces, but luckily, he is still responsible for some excellent documentaries.

Quentin Tarantino (March 27, 1963) 

Starting your career with gory heist film probably means you won’t be making anything suitable for family outing in the foreseeable future. Staying on his path, there is no wonder that Quentin Tarantino’s films are causing more and more controversy.

Django

Michael Haneke (March 23, 1942)

If you’re fed up with Hollywood tone blockbusters and you’re looking for a cinematic experience that will let you look into the darkest sides of human nature, you’ll find the output of today’s bleakest filmmaker perfect for you.

The_White_Ribbon

Akira Kurosawa (March 23, 1910)

Undoubtedly one of the greatest directors in history, and the man responsible not only for popularizing samurai films, but also inadvertently helping create the spaghetti western, Kurosawa has created some of the most memorable epics of world cinema.

Ran

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Live free or die trying!

October 22nd, 2013 by Barak

12 Years a Slave, an Oscar buzzed movie starring an ultra-impressive cast that includes Chiwetel Ejiofor (as the lead), Brad Pitt, Paul Giamatti, Michael Fassbender, Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael K. Williams is coming out this week. It deals with a free black man, who is abducted and sold into slavery.


In this post I wanted to focus on movies that dealt with people who didn’t want to accept slavery – whether it is slaves who rebelled and took revenge against their cruel owners or politicians who wanted to abolish slavery. Here are my top 10 movies about fighting slavery:

10. Lincoln (2012)


This captivating Oscar winning biography focused on Abraham Lincoln, the inspirational leader who had a lot of courage and determination and managed to finally abolish slavery in the U.S.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “I’d like to get the Thirteenth Amendment through the House, and on its way to ratification by the states, wrap the whole slavery thing up, forever and aye. As soon as I’m able. Now. End of this month. And I’d like you to stand behind me.”

9. Amazing Grace (2006)


This sincere periodic bio-drama dealt with the campaign against slave trade in Britain, led by William Wilberforce, who was responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the British parliament.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “William Wilberforce, however, will return to his family, lay his head on his pillow and remember: the slave trade is no more.”

8. Moses (1995)


In this biblical dramatic mini-series Ben Kingsley takes the role of Moses, who freed his enslaved people from Egypt (with a little help from god).

Inspiring quote from the movie: “Let my people go!”

7. Amistad (1997)


Based on actual events in 1838, it tells the story of African slaves who violently took over their transport ship with the hopes of returning back to their homeland. This movie ultimately carries an uplifting message of freedom and the fight for justice.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “The natural state of mankind is freedom. And the proof is the length to which a man, woman or child will go to regain it once taken. He will break loose his chains. He will decimate his enemies. He will try and try and try, against all odds, against all prejudices, to get home.”

6. Thriller – A Cruel Picture (1973)


In this disturbing Swedish revenge movie a young woman is kidnapped and forced to work as a prostitute. After intensive training she becomes a killing machine and takes revenge against those that enslaved her and sexually abused her.

Inspiring quote from the movie: *didn’t manage to find one, I blame the mute lead character.

5. Ben-Hur (1959)


In this exciting classic Oscar winning movie, a Jewish prince played by Charlton Heston is betrayed by his Roman friend and sent into slavery; he wins back his freedom and comes back for vengeance.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “Your eyes are full of hate, forty-one. That’s good. Hate keeps a man alive. It gives him strength.” (I personally hate melon. That keeps me alive).

4. Gladiator (2000)


This epic modern classic that has some unforgettable battle scenes tells the story of a roman general who loses his family, becomes a slave and vows to take revenge on the ones who betrayed him.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions and loyal servant to the TRUE emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.”

3. Glory (1989)


Glory is a sweeping historical war movie that benefited from an Oscar winning performance by Denzel Washington. It tells the story of heroic black soldiers who fought for freedom in the American Civil War.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “We want ‘em to know that we went down standing up! Amongst those that are fighting against our oppression. We want ‘em to know, Heavenly Father, that we died for freedom!”

2. Spartacus (1960)


Stanley Kubrick‘s amazing epic stars Kirk Douglas in the role of his lifetime as a man who leads a slave uprising against the Romans. This Oscar winning classic is regarded as one of the best movies ever made.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.”

1. Django Unchained (2012)


This Oscar winning movie is – like every movie made by Quentin Tarantino, a very exciting and entertaining movie, even funny at times, but it’s also an important movie about racism and the horrors of slavery.

Inspiring quote from the movie: “His name is Django, he’s a free man, and he can ride what he pleases.”

I’ll end this post with Sting’s song “If You Love Someone Set Them Free”:

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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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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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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.

Tarantino-Oscar

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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