Tag Archives: film

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I Watched #140 Characters, a Documentary

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Though an older and short documentary (a little under half an hour) #140 Characters, a Documentary tells about how four different people used Twitter.  One for business, another for networking, another for fundraising, and another for a personal relationship.  The documentary does much with simple voice overs from the four people.  Focus is then put on the user stories rather than any advanced cinematography or techniques.

Twitter’s power to grow an audience quickly and easily shines brightly along with its ability to accelerate interpersonal relationships speed of growth.  Twitter’s positive impacts are highlighted with any downsides not mentioned, so the documentary is biased but not in any outright malicious way.  The users stories are extremely impactful and instill hope in the platform’s use for good.  Overall the documentary highlights the positive merits and uses of Twitter and demonstrates a time where social platforms brought people closer rather than divided them.


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The Internship (2013) – Review

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Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson star in The Internship (2013), a light-hearted comedy about two middle-aged men that find themselves working at Google. The movie is directed by Shawn Levy, also known for Date Night and Real Steel. Wilson and Vaughn portray Billy and Nick, and they know nothing about the internet or social media. The movie forces them to adapt in order to fit in to this new work environment. It centers around the idea that the internet, and social media, were introduced into workforce with little to no warning to employees. People were starting to feel outdated and irrelevant because they knew little to nothing about the internet and its possibilities.

Overall, the movie is a pretty average comedy. The jokes are serviceable and it provides quite a few good laughs, but it is ultimately pretty forgettable. Forced romance subplots bog down the interesting parts of the story, and Wilson and Vaughn are not really charismatic enough to carry this film on their backs when the film can’t do it alone.

Its understanding of young people, tech, and social media isn’t necessarily incorrect, but it is fairly rudimentary. Stereotypes fill each scene, causing the movie to offer no new ideas to talk about. The “save the day” moment at the end requires Vaughn and Wilson’s characters to use “old-fashioned” knowledge and problem solving to accomplish their goal, and while that is a prevalent theme throughout the movie, it ultimately feels like a slight rejection of “new” media.

Perhaps the film wasn’t trying to make a statement that bold, and it’s more likely that it was a poor attempt at introducing the possibilities of the digital age to people that were not raised with the technology. However, the culmination of tone that is inherent in a comedy of this sort and the frequent, albeit harmless, stereotypes that are presented results in more of a caricature than a real-world thought experiment.

It’s important to note that I am in my (very) early 20s and may not be the target audience for this film. I could be approaching it from more of a cynical viewpoint, which may not give the film the credit it deserves. I did like the movie, but it’s not necessarily something I would rewatch or recommend. However, the end credit sequence is very unique and enjoyable. I’d give that another watch.


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Missing Chinese Starlet

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If you’ve opened any of your snapchat news within the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard about Fan Bingbing. The Chinese superstar, with a status paralleled to that of Jennifer Lawrence, hasn’t been seen out in public since June of this year. Many fans are left panicking, because right before her disappearance Fan was caught up in a large tax evasion scandal rocking the country’s film industry.

China began capping actors’ and actresses’ pay to reflect only a percentage of the film’s budget to avoid multi-million dollar paychecks to the already wealthy elite. Fan was targeted by the Chinese authorities that claimed she was using tax evasion to keep her earnings secret. This is a major crime in China and many have been held prisoner and tortured for this and far less. Her disappearance has many people wondering if the authorities have taken her into custody. Without any confirmation of her whereabouts, there is a chance this has happened and her safety may be a cause for concern.

Other conspiracy theories suggest Bingbing has fled the controlling country to find a safe haven in possibly the United States. People believe they spotted Fan at LAX and she could be staying in The United States to protect herself and her fortune. Bingbing has been cast in upcoming roles and movies that begin filming within the next months, so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Nonetheless, this scandal has rocked the international movie industry and shed a light on how political differences can affect a worldwide industry.


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Chef (2014) – Review

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Jon Favreau stars in and directs the 2014 independent film Chef. From IMDb, a head chef quits his restaurant job and buys a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family. Favreau plays Chef Carl Casper, who works at an esteemed restaurant under an owner that doesn’t quite agree with his culinary vision. After an important food critic gives his food negative reviews, Casper loses his cool in a restaurant full of plugged-in customers. Videos of his outburst go viral and Twitter users start to chime in, but he has no idea how to process or handle any of these 21st-century consequences. That is where the heart of the movie lies. The film primarily focuses on how Casper is violently thrown into a digital world when he was previously only used to the “old-fashioned” way of doing things. We see him learn and grow, as well as connect with his family, through a lens completely new to him. He learns how to use the digital age to his advantage instead of just falling victim to it.

 

After quitting his restaurant job, he eventually purchases a very run-down food truck in an effort to start something new. He uses Twitter to promote his truck, and quickly becomes a new kind of internet phenomenon. His family helps him along the way and it seems that he has finally found his true passion with the help of social media.

 

There are undertones that sort of fall in line with Favreau’s career trajectory as well. Favreau directed Iron Man and Iron Man 2, but did not direct Iron Man 3 mainly due to conflict or disagreement with the studio. After leaving Marvel, he directs Chef and finds out what he actually loves doing. It’s also very likely that Favreau was thrust into the hell that social media can be when he directed some of the biggest movies of the past decade. Regardless of the critical success of either Iron Man or Iron Man 2, the Internet can be ravaging when it comes to large, loyal fan bases such as the Marvel fan base. Because of all this, Chef feels strikingly personal and realistic, as if it has come from personal experience.

 

Technically, the movie is fairly basic. It’s low-budget and low-scale, but that works more for it than against it. The movie has a personal, home-grown feeling to it, which is very similar to the vibe of Casper’s food truck (and food). It completely splurges on the food imagery, though. There is one scene in particular where Casper is rather upset at the preceding events, so he stress cooks. He stress cooks some of the most delicious food that I have ever seen. I’ll go as far as to say that the worst part about this movie is the food that it shows, because it has introduced me to ideas that I will never be able to taste myself. It did, however, get me hooked on Cubanos.

 

Simply put, this movie is about three things: food, family, and the real-world consequences and opportunities presented by social media. I believe it successfully addresses each of those topics, and makes a bold statement on each. Food is passion and art, and it should be treated that way. Family is where success begins. And social media is definitely a blessing and a curse, and it’s not in disguise at all. I’d recommend Chef for anyone looking for a heart-warming movie, but don’t watch it if you’re remotely hungry at all. It becomes torture at that point.  


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Yep. I Don’t Like Horror Movies.

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I went and saw the horror movie, A Quiet Place. Though it’s officially listed as a drama/thriller, please don’t be fooled. It’s a horror movie. I am opposed to viewing horror movies because they take a toll on my psyche. You may ask, “Then why did you go see this movie?” My answer: I was simply trying to be a supportive fan of director John Krasinski (a.k.a., Jim Halpert from The Office) and his amazingly talented wife, actress Emily Blunt. So there I found myself, stress-eating the saltiest popcorn I’ve ever eaten for an hour and half.

Let me explain the premise. John Krasinski and Emily Blunt play a married couple living with their three children in a horrible world where people are attacked by creatures that hunt solely by sound. So yes, a lot of emotion in the movie is communicated through wide eyes and shushing. At the center of the film is the fiercely loving family occasionally attacked by sonic monsters.

My favorite aspects of this movie:

  • Emily Blunt is absolutely incredible. She is fierce, kind, loving, and communicates this with little dialogue.
  • The movie stars Millicent Simmonds, a deaf American child actress. John Krasinski pushed her casting because it absolutely makes sense to cast a deaf actress in a deaf role.
  • There’s a perfect balance of sound and silence. Normal background noise and painstaking silence is broken up by the careful placements of vocal conversation and even a sweet song.
  • I’m pretty sure the movie did exactly what it was supposed to do. I was super scared. I have never been more scared of the sound of myself eating popcorn.

I will officially recommend the movie when my nightmares subside. I can appreciate the horror film, but yep, I don’t like horror movies.


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The Best Film & TV Product Placements

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Product placement can be a powerful digital marketing tool for brands. Whether it is paid or unpaid, product placement can do wonders for brand awareness and often correlates with spikes in sales. Of course, there are rare cases of negative product placement, i.e. Crock-Pot in This Is Us. Unlike newer methods of digital marketing like social media, product placement has been in use for a long time. They vary in subtlety and exposure, but a good product placement makes its mark in the feature without being laughably obvious (peep #10).

Take a look at some of my favorite product placements in a mix of film and television, old and new.

1. Stranger Things: Eggos

If Eleven doesn’t convince you to buy some Eggos, then I don’t know what will. She smashed a lot of things and committed a crime to get them, so maybe they’re worth trying.

2. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Reese’s Pieces

This is an emotional pairing for me because I am simultaneously so afraid of E.T. and love Reese’s Pieces. This is an early example from 1982, and it was definitely not Spielberg’s last product placement.

3. Top Gun: Ray-Ban Aviators

We have a lot of things to thank this movie for, namely the iconic beach volleyball scene. But Aviators and bomber jackets are not forgotten. Cheers to you, Tom.

4. Castaway: Wilson

This unpaid product placement became a gold mine for Wilson, and they even released their own volleyball design with the red handprint to match the movie. The relationship between Wilson the washed up volleyball and Tom Hanks in Castaway will pull at your heartstrings. Name a better duo. I’ll wait.

5. Modern Family: Apple

In an interesting move by co-creator of the show, Steve Levitan, he decided to film an entire episode with Apple devices. He stated that the choice was not paid for by Apple and was purely an artistic move. We’re just supposed to believe that so…sure.

6. Back to the Future Part 2: Nike

When you want your brand to be cutting edge, what better way than to make shoes for the future? Nike featured its classic designs in the 1980s portion of the film as well as the futuristic 2015 design above, and you know, it really wasn’t all that far off.

7. Fight Club: Starbucks

First rule of fight club: You do not talk about fight club. Second rule of fight club: You DO NOT talk about fight club. People don’t really remember the third and fourth rule. The fifth rule on the other hand, was created by and for Director David Fincher. He challenged himself to put a Starbucks cup in every frame of the movie. I’d call him basic if it weren’t done to emphasize the company’s ever-present influence in world culture and globalization.

8. James Bond (Goldfinger): Aston Martin DB5

This car brand and model have forever been linked to James Bond’s iconic character. Sean Connery sold the car with his performance as the smooth-talking, debonair British secret agent.

9. Parks and Recreation: Kaboom!

Was anyone else floored when they found out that “Kaboom!” is a real business? He may be the only man who can match Leslie Knope’s enthusiasm, and that Britney Spears mic only sells his brand more.

10. Bones: Toyota

This was definitely not the most exciting picture I could have chosen, but it just goes to show how blatant and drab this product placement is in Bones. Please watch this very real clip of characters discussing the self-park feature of this car. This is an ode to car product placements past, present, and future. Absolutely cringy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDe9_c8QAM0

Surprised by any of these product placements? Let me know in the comments below, and feel free to suggest any you think deserve to be on the list.

Sources

Erik. “Top 40 Product Placements of All Time: 10-1.” Brands&Films, 13 Jan. 2011, brandsandfilms.com/2011/01/top-40-product-placements-of-all-time-10-1/.

France, Lisa Respers. “’Modern Family’ Airs Apple-Centric Episode.” CNN, Cable News Network, 26 Feb. 2015, www.cnn.com/2015/02/26/entertainment/modern-family-apple-feat/index.html.

Gragert, Anna. “Did You Notice This Prop in Every Single ‘Fight Club’ Scene?” HelloGiggles, 1 Sept. 2015, hellogiggles.com/lifestyle/food-drink/prop-no-one-noticed-fight-club/.


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