Best Summer 2014 Films

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As the sweltering summer days melt into crisp autumn ones, it’s the perfect time to recognize the notable blockbuster films of the summer. The ones that made us laugh so hard that the sensations reverberated in our bellies. The ones that played our emotional heartstrings like a fiddle brining us to Oscar worthy tears. The ones that provided us with edge of your seat suspense as plot twist after plot twist unfolded. These are the movies that draw in the masses, sell out the theatres, bring in the big bucks, and serve as entertaining water cooler conversations with colleagues at work

With kids out of school with idle time on their hands and parents in vacation mode, the movie studios begin rolling out their all star films from early May though late August, hoping to serve as a fun family outing or as a fun activity to fill free time.

This year’s summer films were a bit lackluster and didn’t quite live up to our high movie expectations. Instead of rolling out hit and hit each weekend and finally climaxing in a Michael Bay spectacle of fiery explosions, dizzying 360-shots, and epic lines that elicit thunderous clapping and hooting from the audience, we got a spotty summer of semi-epic movie releases that fizzled out in mid-July, and left moviegoers wondering what happened to all the big movies of the summer by the end of August.

Despite this dismal reality, there are ten notable summer films we’d like to recognize:

  • 22 Jump Street – Channing Tatum and Jonah HIll bring back the fun, laughter and crazy when they head to colleague.
  • Boyhood – Refreshing, fictitious coming of age story that is filmed over twelve years.
  • Chef – Culinary coming of age story on a food truck.
  • Edge of Tomorrow – Sci-fi thriller that continues the Terminator saga of man vs. machine.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy – An unlikely team of heroes, including a talking tree and rambunctious raccoon, save the universe. 
  • Love is Strange – Love  holds us together when the world around us is falling apart (even if it doesn’t make any sense).
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Heartwarming sequel that surpasses the original. Don’t forget the great life lessons.
  • The Hundred Foot Journey – Culinary worlds collide against the quintessential backdrop of a rural town in France.
  • X Men Days of Future Past –  Building upon X-men First Class and our love of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.
**Dawn of the Planet of the Apes** – We didn’t see it, but heard it was AWESOME! Let the word of mouth reviews speak for themselves.

Understanding Convergence Culture

Introduction

The Three Ingredients of Convergence Culture

Ingredient One: Media Convergence

Real World Example: The White House provides a great example of how content is flowing across multiple media platforms. How many platforms do you think the White House uses to reach the American people – 2, 4, 6? The answer is 8. Check out all the sites!

Website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WhiteHouse

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/whitehouse

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/105479712798762608629/posts

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/whitehouse

Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/whitehouse

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/artist/the-white-house/id299652047

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/White-House-2199632?gid=2199632&mostPopular=&trk=tyah

Ingredient Two: Participatory Culture

Real World Example: The Hunger Games viral campaign provides a great example of consumers participating with their favorite brands.

The Hunger games is a book by Susan Collins set  in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death in an annual live television event. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.The Hunger Games movie used the structure of the book’s world as the backbone of their viral campaign. Fans were asked to use their Twitter or Facebook account to see what District they were in. When they signed up, fans were able to see a newly released trailer, but also information on how citizens of their virtual Panem could run for mayor in their District. Check out the job requirements of the postion:

Ingredient Three: Collective Intelligence

Real World Example: The Dark Knight Rises viral campaign is a great example of collective intelligence. In this age of information overload, we are inundated with too much information. No one knows everything, but everyone knows something. Let’s explore how the Dark Knight viral campaign gets fans to talk amongst about the movie. This conversation created buzz and accelerated the circulation of media content.

When the final trailer of the “Dark Knight Rises” was released a few weeks ago, dedicated fans went on a viral hunt for Batman, the anonymous vigilante. The journey began on the film’s website . At this location fans are introduced to John Doe  (a.k.a. The Batman) and the charges is accused of committing. The goal of the campaign is to redouble the efforts to catch Batman and those supporting his return. The website also includes an extensive list of real-world locations where “graffiti related to movement in support of the vigilante’s return” is supposedly located. The spots appear around the globe and include dozens of locations in the United States.

Loyal fans have tweeted and emailed from the locations listed on the site, and each location marked off the list revealed a single frame of film from the upcoming trailer. The stills appeared one-by-one here.

 Convergence Culture Adventure with the Muppets 

Drum roll please……

Miss Piggy strikes a pose with me at my wedding

Gonzo and I check out the Cherry Blossoms

Fozzy and I have a good laugh

Kermit and I visit Big Ben

Top 10 Rules of Social Media Networks Explains Growing Popularity of Pinterest

Pinterest Case Study: Rules for Social Media Success

  1. F-R-I-E-N-D-S! People join social media sites to be where their friends are. From September 2011- February 2012, monthly unique visits to Pinterest grew 866 percent. What does that mean? People are migrating to the new site and becoming part of this growing community.
  2. Stay in Your Own Niche. It isn’t trying to be Facebook (a la Google+), it is trying to be Pinterest, a photo sharing site.
  3. Play Nice With Others. Pinterest interface makes it easy to use and it integrates well with the big TWO social media sites (facebook and twitter). See what happens when new social media platforms don’t play nice with the big dogs.
  4. Fit Into the Social Lives of Users. Pinterest satisfies the addiction for hoarding images and content and appeals to your desire everyone’s desire to be creative. It’s accessible. You don’t have to log on Facebook or Twitter to access it. The pin it browser plug-in makes Pinterest accessible at all times. It’s flexibility allows for all types of uses and works well with most goals and stages of life.
  5. Novelty. Many social media users are suffering from Facbeook and Twitter fatigue. Those with the desire to be early adopters and part of the ever evolving social media movement are gravitating towards this new platform.
  6. It’s Addictive.  (See: Reasons 1-5 and 7-10)
  7. It’s Emotional. Images possess so much information and a powerful image evokes emotion. Who wouldn’t love this site!
  8. Curation Central. The world is at your fingertips on the web and we are in a culture of information overload.  Pinterest allows us to take the bread crumbs on the web (See Henry Jenkins: Collective Intelligence) and organize them into meaningful categories.
  9. A Community of Common Interest. Unlike Facebook, Twitter, where you’ll mostly follow friends or famous people, on Pinterest you follow the people you enjoy reading or hearing about, people that have creativity. Learn how communities of common interest got started! Check out this great article on the  history of early virtual communities.
  10. If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead. Pinterest relies on open–ended participation by it users. Participants are  motivated, deeply engaged, and tailor content to meet the needs of different niche communities.

Use the QTR Code or  link to navigate to my A Night @ The Movies Pinterest site!

Check out this super cool infographic!

Spreadability: A Theory of Grassroots Circulation

Check out the slides below to learn about Henry Jenkin’s theory of spreadability. Enjoy!

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Here is one of my favorite YouTube videos.

Continue to make it spreadable by sharing it with a friend!

I live in Clarendon and think this spoof is hilarious, especially the Starbucks part.

Funny, it reminds me of a scene from Shrek.

Wedding Bells

On Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 6 PM I tied the knot with my very best friend at Top of the Town in Rosslyn, VA. It was a perfectly beautiful day. As Nick and I are both movie fanatics you better believe that movies played a big role in how we meet and made a special appearance on our wedding day.

Our Story

On Friday, April 2, 2010, Nick and I  meet our friend Jason Greer at Sizzling Express in Columbia Plaza. The occasion – taking a survey about the State Department’s Career Entry Program to help him out with an assignment for his graduate school statistics class. The truth be told, both of us really wanted to cancel because the meeting was on a Friday evening after work; however, we both realized that we had reached the point of no return. As we all know, there is a point where it is still “polite” to cancel and we both had far exceeded that point. So, on Good Friday, we found ourselves sitting across from Jason at a table side by side taking a survey.

At the end of the hour long survey, Jason offered to buy us coffee to thank us for our help. Before leaving, he said the infamous words, ” you both like movies. Talk.” Up until this point we had not really spoken to each other except for saying hi.

Nick: What are some of your favorite movies? [This is one of his signature lines]

Lynn: Runaway Jury, Ever After, The Dark Knight…

Nick: I love you! That is my favorite movie [Referring to the Dark Knight].

From there the discussion continued until Jason returned with the coffee. Jason, Nick and I all spent the following 15-minutes drinking coffee and chatting. Before we all headed our separate ways – Nick and I agreed to stay in contact with one another since we both worked in the same building.

On Monday, Nick sent me an email and we began a long series of coffee breaks to talk about movies – old ones and upcoming releases. The funny thing is that for the first couple of months the only thing we knew about each other is that we both liked movies and we both liked talking about them. From movie discussions, we eventually progressed to seeing movies at the theatre, going out on dates and becoming the very best of friends.

Movies Debut at the Wedding

 

So now you are probably wondering exactly how we incorporated movies into our wedding day. Well, one of the many joy of wedding planning is figuring who will be sitting at what table, especially when you have a sit down dinner (and let me just say, its a nightmare). Anyway, instead of giving the tables numbers, we decided to name them after movies that had wedding themed titles (drum roll please): Love, Actually, The Proposal, 27 Dresses, The Wedding Planner, Father of the Bride (my father’s table of course), Ever After, The Wedding Singer (the musicians sat here of course), The Vow and Princess Bride.

Favorite Movie: Runaway Jury

Hey moviegoers, if you recall from my March 22 blog post – Formula For A Favorite Movie – I promised to explain why Runaway Jury is one of my favorite films of all time. I know it’s a little overdue, but better late than never. Check out my video blog (V-log) below to hear my response.

What is your favorite movie and why does it speak to you?

Here are some photos from my trip to New Orleans in 2007. I hope you enjoy!

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If You Had The Chance To Change Your Fate, Would You?

Trailers are the first glimpse we see of a film. They tell us the story in a highly condensed fashion (in less than 2 minutes and 30 seconds) and must have maximum appeal. Since the purpose of the trailer is to attract an audience to the film, these excerpts are usually drawn from the most exciting, funny, or otherwise noteworthy parts of the film usually without producing spoilers. Trailers are also tailored for different demographics groups based on age, race, gender and nationality to have the greatest impact.  Like most people, the tailed advertising doesn’t bother me a bit; however, it was interesting to see how different the marketing was for Pixar’s movie, The Brave.

Now, I am very excited about this movie because it will be the first movie by Pixar, that has a female protagonist, who is strong-willed, brave and determine to make her own fate. The movie chronicles the journeys of Merida, a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus of Scotland. In the film she defies an age-old custom sacred to the lords of the land and inadvertently unleashes chaos and fury in the kingdom. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late. The teaser trailer for this film sent chills up my spine and made me feel invested in the trails that Merida will experience in this movie.

The Brave Teaser Trailer

However, when the full length movie trailer was released, I was disappointed that it sets a completely different tone for the film. The trailer makes the movie seem like  a movie of slap-stick jokes and cheap laughs. This is not the movie I had envisioned from the teaser trailer. All the suspense, intrigue and magic seemed to be lost. I was disappointed. How could Pixar ruin its first film with a female lead?

Then something happened that I didn’t expect. One day after work my fiance Nick, showed me the Japanese version of the Brave trailer and I was in awe. Not because there was a different version of the trailer, but because they had gotten everything right. The trailer truly captures the essence of the movie and makes the case that this movie is indeed worth seeing. My only wish, is that this trailer was released in the United States. What were the markers thinking?

Which full length movie trailer do you like best – The American version of the Japanese one?

Double Take

We’ve all experienced the phenomenon of deja vu in the movie theatre, as we sit there munching on our buttered popcorn and enjoying our carbonated fountain drink. You know the feeling. That quantum leap, twilight zone, ripple in time, sucked into a vortex effect that occurs. You crinkle your nose  and arch your eyebrows as your brain searches through it elaborate archives of  indexed memories. Then it happens, the aha moment when you realize the trailer you are watching has exactly the same premise as one you’ve seen before. And we aren’t talking a trailer you’ve seen a decade ago or even two years ago, but if you recall correctly, it was just last week. We’ll this blog posting is dedicated to those moments when the studios just don’t seem to coordinate their efforts and they present us with the exact same film, with two divergent point of view.

Here are three recent movie double faux pas. Vote for your favorite video in each pair!

The tale of Snow White. Do you prefer a  laugh-out loud comedy for the whole family or an epic Lord of the Ring-esque adventure?

Magicians Pulling Rabbits Out of Hats. Do you prefer rivaling magicians or a magical mystery?

Does Sex Ruin Friendships? Do you prefer a high-strung dramedy or a breaking-the-rules Hollywood romance?

What do you think about movie double takes?

Formula For A Favorite Movie

What I love most about film is that it is a medium that speaks to all of us. We may not all like the same genre, but there is one movie out there (no matter how obscure) that captivates each of us and compels us to watch it over and over again so that we can relive the magic we experienced the very first time we saw the film. So what are the elements that lay the groundwork for a favorite movie? I’d like to propose three core elements:

1)  An All- Star Cast – Every good movie has a cast of actors and actresses who embody the character they are playing and have the uncanny ability to capture the subtleties and nuances that bring each of the characters to life by adding depth, dimensionality and authenticity to the characters. They not only become “people that we know,” but generate chemistry and camaraderie on the screen as they interact with one another.

2)   A Timeless Tale With Emotional Punch – Our favorite movies tell tales that are memorable and speak to us on a personal level. These are tales of the human condition, unrequited love, epic journeys and even coming of age. These films tend to elicit a strong emotional response whether it is uncontrollable laughter, a smile that radiates a sense of contentment, or a deep sense of empathy or loss.  Our favorite films touch our heart and soul profoundly.

3)   Memorable Lines – Our favorite movies have memorable dialogue– “I’ll be back” and “Here’s looking at you kid.”  So I understand this point might be a little bit controversial, especially for the Michael Bay film fans out there who will argue that explosions alone can make a movie awesome. I accept this point (and I do like Michael Bay films), but I truly believe that stunning visual images paired with great dialogue is what makes a favorite movie worth seeing over and over again. You’ve got to love movies that ooze blockbuster, but still make you think and use all of your senses.

“Trials are too important to be left up to juries.” – Rankin Finch (Gene Hackman)

So, what is my favorite movie? I actually have three – Ever After, The Dark Knight and The Runaway Jury. For this entry, I’d like to talk about “The Runaway Jury,” a book written by John Grisham that was turned into a live action motion picture.  The funny thing about it is I really didn’t like the book, but when the movie came out, it captivated me. The Runaway Jury is about a landmark court case involving a major gun company. It tells the story of Wedell Rohr (Dustin Hoffman) a torts lawyer who is taking on the gun lobby who have solicited the aid of Rankin Finch (Gene Hackman) a jury consultant.  These two men are entwined in a battle to win the hearts of minds of the jury. What they don’t expect is Nicholas Easter – Juror # 9 (John Cusack) and his girlfriend Marlee who are in the game as well and they have an agenda of their own. Check out my next blog post to learn why this is one of my favorite films.

 What is your favorite movie? What are the core elements that make it your favorite film?

Hooray For Hollywood

“So tonight, enjoy yourselves because nothing can take the sting out of the world’s economic problems like watching millionaires present each other with golden statues.”- Billy Crystal, 2012 Oscars Host

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Check out other memorable quotes from the Oscars.

It was one hour till show time and there Nick, my fiancé, and I were sitting in the family room in our matching cream overstuffed chairs with our Oscar ballots in hand, busily marking our choices for Best Picture, Best Sounding Mixing, Best Director etc. The task at hand was to guess who the Academy would deem worthy of the prestigious Oscar in each film category. I chewed on my pen pensively as I selected my answers and eagerly waited for the event to get underway.

So here are 5 personal observations from the event:

1) This year’s program was hosted by actor, writer, producer, comedian, film director and nine time Oscar host, Billy Crystal. During the evening he charmed us with his patented singing, made us laugh at his punchy jokes and served as our guide – the Virgil to our Dante if you will – for a fun-filled evening. While Billy Crystal’s an entertaining host, I’ll never forget Hugh Jackman’s performance. This man was born to entertain!

2)    I’ve seen hundreds of fashion shows with models sauntering down the runway and giving their best pose as the camera men eagerly snaps photos a mile a minute, but nothing compares to Jolie’s awkward yet sultry pose that she did not once, but twice for the spectators. If you ever need to make an unforgettable entrance – call up Angelia and ask her how to Vogue – strike a pose!

3) I joined the Academy to give Chrisopher Plummer a standing ovation when he accepted his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Beginners. It was an endearing moment. As Plummer walked across the stage in his black velvet suit nostalgia momentarily set in as I was whisked away to my youth like Dorothy being jostled from Kansas by the Twister to the days when Plummer captivated me with his melodiously rendition of Edelweiss in The Sound of Music. It was endearing to see Plummer receive his award and when he addressed his tiny golden statuette saying -“You’re only two years older than me darling, where have you been all my life?,” a smile was instantly painted across my face as I was reminded that my favorite actors truly are those people who are humble and can take a few moments to even laugh at themselves.

4) I have been perplexed the entire awards season by the fact the Rango keeps winning Best Animated film. This movie lacked charm and the characters weren’t memorable. Personally, I would have given the award to Dreamwork’s Puss In Boots all the way! Since it’s inception in 1995 Pixar has set a high standard for animated films. The stunning animation is always paired with witty dialogue for the adult viewer, wisecracks for the children and a well told, adventurous story that provides a thrilling roller coaster ride for the entire family. Rango failed to get winning marks in all of these categories, but people in Hollywood obviously really loved it.

5) Every Oscar ceremony has its surprise and this year was no different. The entire award season Viola Davis has been receiving major accolades for her performance in The Help. First securing The Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress followed by the  the illustrious Screen Actor’s Guild Award for Best Actress. Davis’ road to the Oscars made her a shoe in to win, but surprisingly Meryl Strep, who won a Golden Globe for Best Actress, took the Oscar home. Despite the outcome, Davis warmly  and proudly congratulated her dear friend and fellow actor as she took the stage to accept the award.

Another exciting Oscar season has come and gone. I can’t wait till next year!