Daily Archives: August 24, 2015

Mr. Holmes Review: Multiple levels, all of them charming

There have been some great big budget movies this summer. At the same time there have been some supreme turds that got a lot of hype and therefore had lots of reviews written about them.

Buried at the bottom of the box office, however, are some hidden gems. There are some great movies out there that didn’t get a lot of the media attention and didn’t have the wide releases that films like Avengers or Mission: Impossible received. Some of these will disappear and never be heard from again (The Loft) but some have the chance to thrive, and maybe even pick up an award or two. But even if they don’t they are still worthy of your attention.

If you love movies, and you your local cinema is playing Mr. Holmes, do it and yourself a favor and see it.

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Now granted, there’s not an explosion to be heard. There’s not a car crash to be seen. Other than one simple shot of a room disappearing into someone’s memory, there isn’t a hint of computer generated effects (and even that one shot might have been done practically; it’s hard to say). It’s a slow and steady movie; the kind that lets the performances breathe and lets the screenplay take its time setting things up before paying everything off with a quaint, tidy and heartfelt conclusion.

DIFFERENT, YET FAMILIAR

As a fan of the character, I’m happy to see Sherlock Holmes in the middle of a comeback, with multiple iterations of the character appearing in a variety of formats.

On CBS in the US, there is the show “Elementary” which has the seemingly-obligatory “twist” on the format that networks execs feel is needed. In this case we have a female Watson and a New York City setting. It gets fair reviews but I’ve never bothered with it. It belongs to a dying breed of TV shows: Long, 20+ episode seasons, many of which are filler, with stand-alone plots contained within the 40+ minute episode format.

Of course there are the Robert Downey Jr. “Sherlock Holmes” movies, done with great style and pizazz by director Guy Ritche. They are great popcorn flicks with a breakneck pace and witty banter between Holmes and Watson, but there is little surface resemblance to the source material.

On the BBC, you have the Benedict Cumberbatch vehicle, “Sherlock” which, while having a modern setting, has managed to retain the spirit of the Doyle writings better than either of the two franchises previously mentioned. Each episode is essentially a short mystery movie, with great cinematography, sharp screenplays, and perfect chemistry between the lead actors. US viewers can keep up with it through Netflix (which is how I discovered it). There are scarce few “episodes” compared to “Elementary” but if its quality over quantity you believe in, the BBC show beats CBS handily.

And then there’s “Mr. Holmes.” Like “Elementary” it takes some liberties with the character (to the chagrin of the Doyle estate) but not at the expense of the character or his history. Like the BBC show it offers just as much introspection for the titular detective as it does the examination of the mystery, but unlike “Sherlock” the character himself is presented with an old school gravitas, and not in Cumberbatch’s “wild and unpredictable” style.

The basic plot concept of the movie, based on the novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind” by Mitch Cullin, is that Sherlock Holmes is very old, starting to suffer from dementia and has retired to the country to write a book. All of his prior escapades, written by Dr. Watson, were embellished and exaggerated, and Holmes intends for the last book about his life to be proper and accurate, even if that means “less colorful.” The trouble is, the plot—based on his final case, and the reason he retired—slips in and out from his failing memory.

What we have here is not a “Sherlock Holmes” movie, with all the trappings and tropes we expect from them. Instead we have a movie about Sherlock Holmes the man, that celebrates (and in one sense, repudiates) his tremendous mind stripped away from the bells and whistles and pipes and deerstalker hats.

NOT ONE STORY, BUT MANY
(SPOILERS)

The film is told across multiple time periods. The main setting is late 1940’s London, as the elderly Holmes lives in the country with a live-in housekeeper, Mrs. Munro, and her son, Roger. The housekeeper is frustrated by Holmes, who—in his own inimitable style—usually puts her down and criticizes her, without even being aware of his own verbal cruelty. She seeks to move away for better employment, but her son has taken an interest in the retired detective, and Holmes eventually takes a liking to him too.

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Sherlock seeks to write one book, discussing what ended up being his final case. This gives the almost-100 year old detective some purpose in his final years, and Roger gives him an outlet to talk out his thoughts the way he once did with Dr. Watson. The flashback scenes are peppered throughout the movie, while the present day plot shows Holmes playing beekeeper, teaching and recollecting with young Roger and annoying Mrs. Munro.

In talking with Roger, Holmes’ weakened memory starts to flicker back to life. He begins to recall details of the case in question. It was thirty years earlier when a man, Thomas Kelmot, entered his office seeking for Holmes to solve the mystery of his wife, Ann. She wasn’t missing, and she hadn’t taken up another man, but there was something different about her and the husband wants to know what has changed. It turns out that the wife had recently suffered two separate miscarriages and was struggling to cope. Though the “case” seems hardly worthy of the name, Holmes agrees to see after the wife.

Another, separate, series of flashbacks concern a trip Holmes took to Japan. These take place only a short time before the “present” day of the movie, though Holmes health is much stronger compared to how it will soon be. He travels to Japan looking for a particular jelly that is supposed to help with the dementia that is just beginning to take hold of his mind. He talks with a man named Umezaki, who claims to be a long-time admirer of the detective’s.

[GadgeTell] New Cognistx App Will Change the Way You Shop

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Modern day high-tech marketing is fraught with inaccurate recommendations and suggestions for items already purchased. It also has a reputation for giving consumers the impression that their privacy is being violated by bots that monitor their web browsing habits. Cognistx is a soon-to-be-released app that promises to change that.

Modern Day ECommerce Marketing

One of 2015’s retail trends is the increased usage of state-of-the-art technology in marketing. Contemporary digital marketers are always looking for a better mousetrap when it comes to catching people in the lower end of the sales funnel.

Wanting to present their advertising copy directly in front of consumers who are ready to buy, they send consumers product recommendation emails or run online ad campaigns with graphic banners designed specifically for their alleged interests.

However, it’s often the case that customers don’t find these recommendations helpful or just ignore them altogether.

Amazon’s recommendations have been panned by countless consumers. The company’s recommendation algorithm is so off that a question about its bad recommendations earned a spot on Quora.

Beyond that, people often feel violated when companies advertise to them based on their online and/or offline activities. Consumers may view such ads as invasions of privacy and a little too all-knowing. In one classic case, Target found out that a teenage girl was pregnant before her father even knew.

The Future is Soon

An upcoming app, Cognistx, promises to put an end to these problems in high-tech marketing. In other words, it’s going to do what other marketing algorithms have failed to do thus far. It’s going to recommend on-sale items to you that you’ll actually find worthwhile, without causing you to look over your shoulder.

Here’s how it works. You download the app with an explicit level of permission that it will monitor certain behaviors. You’ll receive notifications based on those behaviors.

For example, if you’ve recently subscribed to Cigar Aficionado, then you can expect the app to share with you information about classy cigars that are on sale.

The app focuses on the tiniest of micro-niches: yourself. It captures and remembers what you do, and determines your shopping habits accordingly. It provides recommendations based on those habits.

People who are concerned about the so-called “creepiness factor” of the app monitoring their activities can express disinterest in certain types of promotional recommendations. They won’t have to worry about behaviors related to those recommendations being monitored any more.

The Focus is on You

One of the founders of Cognistx is Eric Nyberg, a professor in the Language Technologies Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He helped develop IBM’s Watson™, the intelligent application that ultimately beat humans at Jeopardy!

Nyberg says that his insights into language processing and data management are key components in the app.

The co-founder of the company, Sanjay Chopra, says that the focus of Cognistx is on the consumer and not on marketing teams.

“Ideally we are going to get away from a world where a marketing team decides on offers for large segments of the customer demographics, and instead looks at ways of actually coming up with very personalized offers,” he says. “These offers really depend on who you are, and even what you’ve been doing in the last day or 15 minutes.”

Jeffrey Battin, the president of the company, says there are values in the “smart” surveys conducted on a mobile device in a retail environment.

“Wouldn’t it be great to understand and have immediate context as to every single user’s sentiment and be able to measure that to the store level, to the manager level, to the customer level?” he asks. “We have a customer that is extremely valuable, and, if we’re seeing scores drop off, we can be attentive to their needs. At the same time, if customers are scoring high, why not take that opportunity and instantly offer them an incentive to share the good news with their friends?”

Cognistx hopes to go live by the fall of 2015.

Image via Cognistx Website

Link:

[GadgeTell] New Cognistx App Will Change the Way You Shop

WWE SummerSlam 2015 Results

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Controversial Resurrection.

For the 28th year in a row, WWE would host “The Biggest Event of the Summer” as the four-hour extravaganza known as SummerSlam would come to you, live on the WWE Network, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. In an action-packed, four-hour blockbuster of an event, possibly no match is more personal and more intense than the boiling feud between The Undertaker and “The Beast” who ended The Undertaker’s legendary undefeated streak back at WrestleMania 30, Brock Lesnar. In the lead up to a rematch that is sixteen months in the making and deemed “too big for WrestleMania”, Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker have tried to destroy each other at every opportunity and The Undertaker’s road to redemption began at Battleground last month when “The Phenom” made his shocking return to WWE, costing Brock Lesnar the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. The night after that on RAW, a knock-down, drag-out brawl would ensue between the two heated rivals with the WWE locker room, security, and even the local police having to get involved to finally stop the two Superstars from destroying each other. Now, after all the turmoil and after all the threats and promises of a “resurrection”, these two titans would collide at SummerSlam as “The Deadman” The Undertaker goes one-on-one with the one in 22-1, “The Beast” Brock Lesnar!

In the long and storied history of WWE, there are very few impressive feats that have not been accomplished at one time or another and, with each passing year, fewer feats remain unconquered and one of those accomplishments that has never been seen is for one Superstar to hold two of the most prestigious championships in the history of professional wrestling and, at SummerSlam, two Superstars will enter the ring with their respective titles, but only one Superstar will leave as both the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and the United States Champion. Since cashing in his Money-in-the-Bank contract at WrestleMania to ultimately win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Seth Rollins’ reign as champion has been criticized by Superstars and fans alike and, while Rollins has defended the top prize in WWE against the likes of Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, & Roman Reigns, those victories have been deemed questionable as outside interference and underhanded tactics have helped Seth Rollins survive as champion with Rollins’ ego growing with each title retention. One man who has taken exception to Seth Rollins’ tactics as WWE World Heavyweight Champion is fifteen-time World Champion and reigning United States Champion John Cena, who has more than questioned Seth Rollins’ validity as champion, apparently insulted by how the WWE World Heavyweight Champion conducts himself, but at SummerSlam, John Cena would get the opportunity to not only take the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Seth Rollins, but make history in WWE by winning his sixteenth World Title, tying Cena with the unparalleled “Nature Boy” Ric Flair as having the most reigns as World Champion in history! For Seth Rollins, SummerSlam will be a night to prove to John Cena and the world that he is a true champion and that he deserves to hold WWE’s top prize and, in the process, make some history of his own by becoming the first Superstar in history to hold the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the United States Championship at the same time!

Ever since Bray Wyatt got involved in the Money-in-the-Bank Ladder Match and cost Roman Reigns the briefcase back in June, Roman Reigns has struggled to combat “The New Face of Fear” and, with Bray Wyatt reuniting with Luke Harper at Battleground, “The Big Dog” has recruited an old friend and a man he proudly refers to as his “brother”, Dean Ambrose. Together, the former Shield teammates have taken it to Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper in recent weeks and, at SummerSlam, these two “families” would square off in a tag team match with both sides looking to eradicate the other.

Throughout WWE history, there have been many actors who have stepped inside the ring for a bevy of different reasons from Seth Green to Hugh Jackman to Johnny Knoxville, but never has an actor stepped into the ring under such bizarre circumstances. For weeks now, the enigmatic Stardust has been on a mission to find a “hero” and, after Neville proved to not be Stardust’s fancy, Stardust would set his sights on actor Stephen Amell, who is famous for portraying The Green Arrow superhero on the TV show “Arrow”. Now what began as a heated Twitter feud will take to the ring at SummerSlam as Stephen Amell will step into a WWE ring to compete for the very first time as the man who portrays The Green Arrow will team up with the man who has mastered the Red Arrow, Neville, to face the team of Stardust and his new associate, the self-proclaimed “Cosmic King” King Barrett.

Since making his main roster debut, Kevin Owens has made enemies of just about everyone, repeatedly walking out on matches and even abandoning his tag team partners. However, one man who has taken issue with Kevin Owens’ behavior is “The Swiss Superman” Cesaro, who has raised the ire of the self-proclaimed “Prizefighter” by questioning Kevin Owens’ toughness and willingness to fight and, at SummerSlam, these two would go one-on-one in a match that could potentially steal the show.

A couple of months ago, WWE Principal Owner Stephanie McMahon ushered in a revolution in the Divas division, bringing Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks up from NXT to shake up the Divas division and bring forth a Diva Revolution. It would not take long for alliances to be formed and, at SummerSlam, those alliances would square off as Team PCB, which consists of Paige, Charlotte, & Becky Lynch, Team B.A.D., which consists of Naomi, Tamina, & “The Boss” Sasha Banks, and Team Bella, which consists of Divas Champion Nikki Bella, Brie Bella, & Alicia Fox would wage war in a Divas Three-Team Elimination Tag Match! Which trio of Divas will emerge victorious and how will it affect the Diva Revolution?

Throughout both men’s careers, one thing has become abundantly clear, Randy Orton and Sheamus cannot stand each other. For years, “The Viper” and “The Celtic Warrior” have butted heads on numerous occasions over championships and just pure disdain and, at SummerSlam, these two former World Champions would collide again as Randy Orton would go one-on-one with “Mr. Money-in-the-Bank” Sheamus.

Ever since Lana left Rusev and aligned herself with her new man, Dolph Ziggler, Rusev has become obsessed with humiliating Lana at every turn, even dressing up his “new Lana” Summer Rae to look like his ex-girlfriend and having Summer use Rusev’s Accolade on Lana. However, after weeks of having to witness his girlfriend being humiliated in front of the world, Dolph Ziggler would return from a throat injury caused by Rusev to reunite with Lana to try and crush Rusev & Summer Rae. This has led to a match at SummerSlam as “The Show Off” Dolph Ziggler would compete for the first time in a month against “The Bulgarian Brute” Rusev with the Superstars’ respective ladies sure to be at ringside.

Also at SummerSlam, the Intercontinental Championship would be up for grabs as, in a match originally scheduled for Battleground, “The Big Guy” Ryback would defend the Intercontinental Championship in a Triple Threat Match against both The Miz and “The World’s Largest Athlete” Big Show where the first Superstar to gain a pin or submission will walk out as the Intercontinental Champion. Much like Ryback, The Prime Time Players would also have the odds against them as The Prime Time Players would defend the WWE Tag Team Titles in a Fatal 4-Way Tag Match against The New Day, The Lucha Dragons, & Los Matadores where the first team to score either a pin or submission will win the match and leave the Barclays Center as the WWE Tag Team Champions.

Match Results

  • Sheamus def. Randy Orton by pin following the Brogue Kick.
  • WWE Tag Team Championship: Fatal 4-Way Tag Match: Big E & Kofi Kingston (with Xavier Woods) def. The Prime Time Players (c), The Lucha Dragons, & Los Matadores by Kofi Kingston pinning Diego following the Clash of the Titus by Titus O’Neil (c) to win the WWE Tag Team Titles.
  • Dolph Ziggler (with Lana) and Rusev (with Summer Rae) fight to a double count-out.
  • Stephen Amell & Neville def. Stardust & King Barrett by Neville pinning King Barrett following the Red Arrow.
  • Intercontinental Championship: Triple Threat: Ryback (c) def. The Miz and Big Show by pinning The Miz following the Knockout Punch by Big Show to retain.
  • Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns def. Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper by Roman Reigns pinning Bray Wyatt following the Spear.
  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship & United States Championship: Seth Rollins (c) (with Jon Stewart) def. John Cena (c) by pin following the Pedigree on a steel chair to win the United States Title and retain the WWE World Heavyweight Title.
  • Divas Three-Team Elimination Tag Match:
    • Team Bella elim. Team B.A.D. by Brie Bella pinning Tamina following the Bella Buster.
    • Team PCB elim. Team Bella by Becky Lynch pinning Brie Bella following a pumphandle slam.
  • Kevin Owens def. Cesaro by pin following the Pop-Up Powerbomb.
  • The Undertaker def. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) by submission to Hell’s Gate.

See page 2 for detailed results.

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WWE SummerSlam 2015 Results