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Posts Tagged ‘Sony’

the-interview-posterThe interview started out as the type of film that I would watch if there was nothing better to see, and not one I would rush to see on the day it came out.  For those who live under a stone, here is the synopsis from IMDB:

Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapoport run the celebrity tabloid show “Skylark Tonight.” When they land an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, they are recruited by the CIA to turn their trip to Pyongyang into an assassination mission.

The funny thing, the population of North Korea are probably unaware of the film or the fuss it is causing .  A brief overview, also courtesy of IMDB

On June 25, 2014, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency condemned the film (without naming it), promising a “merciless” retaliation if the film is released. “Making and releasing a film on a plot to hurt our top-level leadership is the most blatant act of terrorism and war and will absolutely not be tolerated,” KCNA said, citing a government spokesman.”

Then last month, the computer systems at Sony Pictures was hacked and information regarding The Interview and other films were made available online.  Soon after this a rumour started that the North Korean government was responsible for the hack in response to the films plot to kill Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.  Then earlier this week, a group calling themselves GOP (Guardians of Peace) claimed responsibility and threatened attacks against theatres/cinemas who show the film.  As various cinema chains pulled the film, Sony announced that the Christmas day release had been cancelled.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As things all unfolded on Friday some people were quick to suggest that Sony had used the attack as a convenient excuse to pull the film and claim on the insurance.  The suggestion being that the insurance payout would be greeter than the films likely box-office return.  I am cynical enough to believe this is a possibility but don’t even know if the studio is in fact insured against such eventualities.  Another theory that is just as likely is that they plan to release the film at a later date using the publicity to drum up some interest in a film that I am led to believe has not been well received by test audiences. One person who has made it clear that Sony “made a mistake” in cancelling the film is US President Barack Obama, he was quick to speak out against the decision, stating

“We cannot have a society in which some dictator someplace can start imposing censorship here in the United States”. 

In a interview with CNN Sony’s CEO Michael Lynton seems now to have made something of a U-turn, suggesting they only pulled the release because no one would show the film, and that they would show it somehow in future.  At the same time North Korea’s foreign ministry accused the US of “spreading groundless allegations”, and has suggested joint inquiry to refute them.ap_obama_presser_01_lb_141219_16x9_992

So where does all this leave us?  The first thing that comes to mind is where all this started.  A comedy film about the assassination of a real life world leader is in bad taste at best, but then comedy is often about pushing to the limit of what is acceptable.  Having not seen the film, I don’t know what the outcome or tone of it is.  Sorry for spoiling a 40 year old plot, but if I can refer to The Day of the Jackal (1973).  Had the plot to kill Charles de Gaulle been successful, it would have been a very different story.  The context of the interview is important, if the trailer and plot synopsis are to be believed The CIA are the antagonists of the plot.  As viewed by a country who fiercely entertainment output it would be easy for a North Korean to see the film as coming from the American government and not a film studio.  The voice of reason in all this seems to have come from George Clooney in an interview with Deadline,

“The South Park guys did it. They blew up his father’s head. The truth of the matter is, of course you should be able to make any movie you want. And, you should take the ramifications for it. Meaning, people can boycott the movie and not go see your film. They can say they’ll never see a Sony movie again. That’s all fine. That’s the risk you take for the decision you make. But to say we’re going to make you pull it. We’re going to censor you. That’s a whole other game. That is playing in some serious waters and it’s a very dangerous pool.” 

Clooney had previously attempted without much success to start a petition to get the film screened.  Putting all this aside, the response whether perpetrated by the North Korean or a twelve year old in his bedroom is terrorism.  While not as devastating as real world terrorism, cyber terrorism is equally as unacceptable, and as we become ever more reliant on the internet, the line between terrorism and cyber terrorism may disappear very soon.  And that is where I believe Barack Obama’s fears lie, have Sony opened the doors and encouraged other cyber attacks?

To return to the title of this article, can free speech survive cyber terrorism?  As I alluded to above attack has come from a country that has no freedom of speech and whose population is probably unaware of both the film and the fuss it is causing.  The irony doesn’t stop there, the internet is probably the greatest advance in freedom of speech since the Caxton Press over 500 years ago, and yet in this instance it is the weapon used to prevent freedom of speech.  The fact that people like Obama are beginning to speak out and Sony don’t have to stand alone in this situation is a glimmer of hope for freedom.  You then have the old adage “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”, I am now more interested in seeing the film based on fuss that it has caused than for artistic reasons.  This, as well as the millions of smaller voices that populate the internet is why I believe free speech can survive cyber terrorism.

And on a side not, The interview seems to have gone around 5/10 to 10/10 on the IMDB rating.  Hacking, IMDB having fun with us or users showing their support for the film? the interview imdb

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Ever since the explosion of comic book/superhero movies there has been calls for a female led movie.  At times it has looked like no studio would take the chance on such a project, but there could now be a race to see who gets there first.  There are three major players in comic book movies, the Disney owned Marvel Studios, DC/Warner Bros. and Sony who own the rights to Spider-Man (and many associated characters) thanks to license agreement between Marvel and Columbia (a subsidiary of Sony Pictures Entertainment).

Sony could be first out the blocks,  it appears Amazing Spider-Man 3 has been pushed back and will follow a Sinister Six movie in 2016 and an female led spin-off possibly in 2017.  Lisa Joy Nolan (Pushing Daisies, Burn Notice and the forthcoming  Westworld) has been hired to write but no announcement has been made about who the main character will be.  The most obvious options are Spider-Woman and Black Cat,  the latter being the frontrunner as her alter ego, Felicia Hardy (Felicity Jones) was introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.  I know nothing about the character, a little research tells me she was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man No. 194 (1979) and has been both an adversary and love interest of Peter Parker/Spider-Man.  I know about as much (or little) about Spider-Woman.  It appears several woman took the name, most notably Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter and Mattie Franklin. originally introduced in Marvel Spotlight #32 (Feb. 1977) she went on to have her own self-titled series (1978 – 1983).Felicia Hardy Felicity Jones

DC have two options, Wonder Woman or Catwoman.  A Catwoman movie is unlikely at this time thanks to the last attempt, Catwoman (2004).  This leavers Wonder Woman.  First appearing in All Star Comics #8 in December 1941, Wonder Woman is an Amazon warrior princess, known in her homeland as Princess Diana of Themyscira, she uses the pseudonym Diana Prince.  She has a range of superhuman powers and an array of weapons as you would expect for a comic book hero.  Gal Gadot has been cast to play the part in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (set for release March 2016) with a possible  Wonder Woman and Justice League movie to follow, no dates announced.Gal Gadot Wonder Woman

Marvel already have their character but don’t seem to know what to do with her:  Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow made her first comic book appearance in Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964).  She was introduced into the current Marvel film universe in Iron Man 2 (2010) played by Scarlett Johansson, also appearing in Avengers Assemble (2012) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) and will appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).  Little more than window dressing in Iron Man 2, she and Clint Barton / Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) were the most interesting characters in Avengers Assemble and added a further dimension to the character in Captain America: The Winter Soldier this year.  Anyone concerned about the star power of Scarlett Johansson should take a look at the numbers for Luc Besson’s Lucy.Black Widow

Is it a question of who gets there first, or who gets it right?  The success of the rubbish Transformers: Age of Extinction and the failure of the excellent Edge of Tomorrow there is more to success than quality.  With budgets of up to $250million studios are more interested in fanatical success than art or critical acclaim. With this in mind, it isn’t a case of who has the best character, script or idea, but the one who thinks he can turn a profit.  It might be a case of wait and see what the competition do.

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There appears to be a lot of fuss over James Bond drinking Heineken in the upcoming movie Skyfall, what’s the big deal? It isn’t the first time he has drunk beer. Product placement isn’t new to movie in general and certainly isn’t new to Bond. Think of the cars he drives, Bond didn’t give up his Bentley (driven in the books) in favour of various Aston Martin, Lotus and BMW’s for the fun of it. And lets not forget Vesper Lynd’s introduction in Casino Royale where Bond makes it clear that his watch is an Omega not a Rolex (as featured in the books and worn by Sean Connery). Pierce Brosnan used a Ericsson phone and had a Parker Jotter pen with a handy class-four grenade (I still have one that I won along with a copy of GoldenEye on VHS – mine lacks the grenade). By the time Pierce Brosnan hung up his Walther it is rumoured that as much of half the $140million budget for Die Another Day (2002) came from “marketing partners” this led to the film being nicknamed “Buy Another Day.” Then we have the whole idea of what is sponsorship, United Artists is part of MGM that by the time Daniel Craig took over were owned by Sony. Take a look at the gadgets on display, Sony Vaio laptops, Sony Ericsson mobile phones, Sony Bravia TV’s and Sony Cyber-shot cameras.

Looking more specifically at what Bond drinks, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Bond actually drinks more Champagne than anything else including his signature Vodka Martini. The original character in Ian Fleming’s novels favoured Taittinger remarking in Cassino Royale “[1943 Taittinger] is probably the finest champagne in the world”. in the movies, Sean Connery’s Bond appears to have preferred Dom Perignon but some time in the 80’s and ever since thanks to a sponsorship deal Bond started drinking Bollinger. Oh and did I mention bond has had a deal with Heineken before! If you still have a problem, look at it this way, it could be far worse, he could be drinking the tasteless self proclaimed king of beers that is drunk in most Hollywood productions.

If you are still not convinced, sit back watch any Bond movie and lookout for the products, if you need some refreshment during the film why not try one of these, the recipe for “The Vesper” is:

  • Three measures of Gordon’s Gin
  • One of vodka
  • Half a measure of Kina Lillet
  • Shake over ice until it’s ice-cold and strain into a martini glass.
  • Then add a large thin slice of lemon peel

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