Thursday, January 27, 2011

Photographing Fairies (1997) - Not Your Usual Fairy Movie!

An Eerie Little Fairy Tale on the 'Cottingley Fairies'

A Compelling fantasy drama loosely inspired by the famous “Cottingley Fairies” incident of 1917 which even attracted the attention of the Great Arthur Conan Doyle, this beautifully photographed movie is actually based more on Steve Szilagyi’s best selling book of the same name.

Set in post-war Britain of the 1920's when believing in fairies nearly reached mass hysteria and respectability following the discovery of the “Cottingley Fairies”; it revolves around young photographer Toby Castle (Die Another Day's Toby Stephens) who returns to England heartbroken after losing his new bride down a crevasse on the first day of their honeymoon in the Alps.

He returns home cynical and dismissive, despite living in the same society where new ideas about the after-life and spirituality are seeping into the mainstream. His views soon change though when he meets the mysterious Beatrice Templeton (Frances Barber) who shows him a photograph of her daughters playing with fairies.

Toby is soon convinced that they are indeed real after seeing them for himself and he sees a way in which he can be re-united with his lost love. This view isn't supported by Beatrice's religious husband (played with aplomb by Ben Kingsley), a manic fundamentalist preacher whose less than tolerant attitude ultimately leads to violence.

Winner of the 1998 Méliès d'Or award, Nick Willing’sPhotographing Fairies” is a rather serene film touching on many themes: grief, love, despair and afterlife while also exploring Edwardian society’s interest in supernatural possibilities outside the established realm of those days. Accompanied by a wonderful score, this is a little known British gem that you may never catch on TV.

Incidentally, this is one of the 2 movies that were made based on the “Cottingley Fairies”, the other being 1998’s Fairy Tale: A True Story– a more factual narrative starring Peter O'Toole and Harvey Keitel.

Single File - Free Streaming/Download link - Stagevu or Veehd link.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thinking about Lateral Thinking

We're all capable of Lateral Thinking – of thinking sideways, yet still having the natural ability to understand, or to make the mental leap between what is being said and what is being implied.

Yesterday, I watched an old episode of “Only Fools and Horses”, a popular British TV sitcom that ran between 1981 to 1991 and even upto the early 2000’s. What I'm getting at is the genius of scriptwriters like John Sullivan, who anticipates an audience's response before conjuring up something brilliant. With “Only Fools and Horses”, he decided that forever and a day the character 'Trigger' would get his best mate's name wrong, without exception. What an indisputably splendid bit of audience understanding to include such a detail.

So why do we love this kind of lateral thinking? Probably because we welcome humor more if we've got a bit of work to do to 'get the gag'. It's more rewarding.

The point is, Creatives (blokes like me who in the creative industry) bang on about being lateral thinkers... but ask them to explain what lateral thinking is.

For me the best analogy is a joke – 'a man walks into a bar... BANG, it was a lead bar' – Okay, so it's a crap joke, but let's face it, in a split second you probably envisaged that man, saw his face, his clothes, where he was, and you had in mind a particular guy with an open door. Yet you were thrown sideways by the punch line, and the bar in question conjured up a completely different picture in your mind – a solid piece of lead piping, with the same guy's face now wedged up against it.

The fact that, to a greater or lesser degree, we can all consciously make this sort of leap sideways allows us to take what can only be described as the 'scenic route' to a concept. Getting there is 75% of the reward. And the ability to take an even more oblique route is perhaps the difference between a great idea and a bloody extraordinary idea.

To be too obtuse in one's communications is, of course, counter-productive. The more oblique the route, the more likely it is you're going to get lost. Equally, to generate a formula (or road map) for this kind of thinking is clearly impossible. So to make sure we come up with bloody fantastic ideas more often than not, the answer is simply to have an alternative approach, to think in a way that explores all the routes around and between concepts.

And anyway, this kind of lateral approach is much more fun than always going in a fixed direction. So, are you thinking now?

P.S: If Lateral Thinking interests you, read Edward de Bono's "New Think: The Use of Lateral Thinking", "Parallel Thinking: From Socratic thinking to de Bono Thinking" and "Six Thinking Hats: An Essential Approach to Business Management". All the 3 books are a great read and proof why de Bono is perhaps considered one of the greatest thinkers of all time!

Monday, January 17, 2011

15 Best Female Rock Songs for the New Year

Pop Rock Hits from 15 Best Female Vocalists (That I Can Think of Now)

My first Music post for the New Year and what better way to celebrate than a smashing collection of 15 awesome songs from 15 best female vocalists that I can think of (now)- including personal favorites like Sarah McLachlan, Lene Marlin, Beth Orton and Michelle Branch. 2 Things to do now - click the download button, enjoy!

1. Adrienne Pierce - Downside Of Love (3:20)
2. Aimee Mann - Thirity One Today (4:52)
3. Beth Orton - Thinking About Tomorrow (6:40)
4. Jane Wiedlin - Blue Kiss (3:28)
5. Lene Marlin - Another Day (4:07)
6. Lucy Woodward - What's Good For Me (3:59)
7. Melissa Etheridge - Come To My Window (3:57)
8. Michelle Branch - Goodbye To You (4:11)
9. Mieka Pauley - (Prologue) All The Same Mistakes (4:19)
10. Minnie Driver - Down (4:36)
11. Sarah Bettens - Stay (3:17)
12. Sarah Mc Lachlan - Sweet Surrender (3:59)
13. Serena Ryder - All For Love (3:58)
14. Sheryl Crow - Love Is All There Is (4:01)
15. Adele - Chasing Pavements (3:31)

Free MP3 Download – Zipped Folder - 78.43 MB – Megaupload link


You can buy original CDS/DVDs & Mp3s of the above artists at emusic, amazon, itunes, other online stores or your nearest music and movie retailer.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Fighting the Recession!

How You Can Stop The Downturn

Today I had one of my smallest US clients default on the payment. And he had the American recession and his house mortgage to blame. With a brand new year just beginning, it felt really terrible.

Recession just like Residential Prices, I am reliably informed by a friend who works for one of the United States’ largest realty advisory – depend on four crucial factors: general employment, household incomes, interest rates and consumer confidence.

Okay, so there’s nothing too startling here or that you didn’t already knew. But let’s take a look at the detail.

Clearly, the first three of these key factors can be quantified, even predicted. But the problem my pal and his colleagues have is that consumer confidence is intangible, it’s indefinable, unquantifiable and in total too slippery for its own good. Property ‘experts’ like him are always having the rug pulled from under their feet by that fickle-minded beast, shopper confidence. Sure, the realty market is still on the up in most areas of the country, but it’s slowing down or stabilizing.

It’s not just the real estate market that relies on consumer confidence, of course. The whole economy relies on confidence.

If one thing’s for sure, confidence is not simple to forecast. We rely on it, yet we can never be sure of where it’s heading. And we have only a very fuzzy understanding of what influences it, what makes it go up or go down. Something we think should be seen as hugely positive news might not have the desired effect on the population, and something else that’s apparently catastrophic might not be given much credence by the economy.

So here’s a practical thought for all of you.

Why do we all fall into the trap of running down the economy just because someone else tells us they've heard there is a downturn, that there are no more jobs or that the economy’s slowing down? Even if there is indeed a recession, why do we allow ourselves to be swayed by unnecessary despair? Nothing more than an insecure feeling that perhaps we should all avoid spending our money right now? Nothing more than a failure to take a little risk now and then!

For God’s sake, we all need to snap out of it! It’s precisely because people like you (and me) are choosing the ‘safe’ route and not spending our money that the whole economy is threatened with slowdown! If you don’t spend your money, the person who would have got it won’t spend his either, and so it goes on, down the food chain of the entire economy.

So…the solution has to be that the chap at the top of the food chain needs to spend his money, and that way it will trickle down to the guy at the bottom, with everyone becoming more and more confident as the flow of cash continues.

So come on all you big transnationals, all you large companies who ought to know better, get your cheque books out and get the economy going again.

And let’s stop talking so damningly about the economy, no matter which country you live in. It’s happening right now, in hotel lounges, bars and pubs, newspapers, magazines, blogs, up and down at all nations (or at least most of them) across the world. And it’s something we've all got to stop.

Or else, if the economy really does slow down to the point of shrinking, we've only got ourselves to blame, myself included. So, let’s change the lingo “The economy’s booming”. Pass it on!!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dead Man On Campus (1998) - How to Pass by Catastrophe

An Academic Black Teen Comedy!

Two first-year college students have to resort to desperate actions to get through their degree course. An unfathomable loophole in the University rules might help them get through. Josh is discovering that the first year of college can be tough. It doesn't matter if you're a straight A high school student, college is a different ball game all together.

The tough part about college isn't the academic work, but rather the road to excess and over-indulgence, and actually having too much fun.

When his grades fall rapidly and the end of the semester looms, Josh has to come up with a plan to salvage his grade average and his scholarship.His roommate is in the same quandary, and together they find out an antiquated rule (pass by catastrophe) in the college charter, which, plainly put, says that any student dying while studying at the college automatically receives a straight A average grade.

So, how to die and get the grade and still live anyway? Simple, get someone else to die in you place. Bizarre subject matter for a dumb comedy, maybe, but with some amusing moments in a black sense, “Dead Man On Campus” sets off to tackle the college movie in a different and weirdly instructive manner.

Tom Everett Scott, recognizable from his hit role in the Tom Hanks directed flick "That Thing You Do", plays Josh, who gets to the celebrated Daleman College on a scholarship, only to find that more fascinating activities flourish outside the lecture rooms. In a panic, he resorts to frantic measures to preserve his exceptional academic standing.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, known in the US for his television role as Zack Morris in "Saved By The Bell", is Cooper. Cooper is a blue-blood, rich guy, with a weakness for the lavish and luxurious life. Initially a mismatch for Josh's average background, he becomes a cohort in Josh's criminal plan.

The two advertise for a room-mate, intending to somehow get this roommate to die - the rest is obvious. Or is it? Watch it and you'll know.

Single File - Free Streaming/Download link - VeeHD or Megaupload Download link.
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