THE WORD OF THE YEAR AND OTHER LISTS!

    Although there are some ten days left of the 2015 calendar year based upon the above date of this edition whereas there still isn’t many days left regardless, one may find short and long lists of the ___ of the year, from the best of something, the worst of another thing, the most important, the least important, or whatever idea of notion is worthy enough to be classified in a list to make the year 2015 a significant one for the record books.
     For instance, writers of media, be it on TV, movies, recordings, books, or its equivalents, have noted their categories for the best and/or worst forms of the said media for the season. Sports writers are compiling their notes for the year in sports. Same goes for journalists whose beat is harder news. (Politics, religion, community issues, etc.) These lists are the ones to compose such lists are popular to release due to the fact that the final week or so of the year is the slowest, and the fact that notion noteworthy would ever top the lists in question that would change things between now and December 31st. Of course, unless something tragic occurs, be it natural or “man made”, then that would change things. But that is besides the point!
     There are many lists to review out there is cyberspace land–just use your favorite search engine to find ‘em! However, one list out of many are the so-called “words of the year” as defined by Oxford University Press, that publishes the Oxford English Dictionary, as well as the Oxford Dictionaries Online, and is a department of the University of Oxford Their choice of words of the year are based upon how often these phrases are used in the English language, mostly in counties that use English in modern society such as North America (US and Canada mainly) as well as the UK (England, Ireland, Scotland, etc.) where Oxford University is based.
     The word Oxford chose as the top word of the year isn’t a word at all, but a illustrative device that is used in electronic communication via e-mails and text. It’s an image of a smily face with tears emerging from the eyes, as if the face was laughing with tears of joy. In fact, this illustrative image called an “Emoji” is referred to as a “Face With Tears of Joy”. This face is used by those that place this image within the body of and e-mail an/or text message. This emoji, a Japanese based word that comes from two separate Japanese words “e” meaning “picture” and “moji” meaning “character”, has been used since the latter years of the 1990’s when e-mail messages stated to become a mainstream method of sending off letters. When text messaging took off a few years later, traits in e-mails were easily moved to texts sent via smart phone devices, a platform that can support images embedded within text messages.
     This emoji, also known as a “LOL Emoji” or “Laughing Emoji” constituted of nearly 20% of all such emojis use in both the USA/Canada and the UK. This amount of usage was good enough for Oxford to place this device as a “word” rather than an image. For the record, the runner up emoji symbol, used in 9% of all uses, consisted of the same smily face winking and puckering up its lips with a heart emerging to the right of the lips, suggesting that this user of this image is sending off a kiss of affection. And in addition to the same record, the word “emoji” was added to the Oxford dictionary in 2013!
     Other words (among many others) that made the list? “Ad Blocker”, a noun that is a software application that blocks banner ads from web sites, e-mails, and text messages; “Dark Web”, a noun to describe an part of an underground-type web that is accessible through special means that list web sites where one can sell or buy questionable goods (drugs, bombs, etc.) or getting access to other elements where the user remains untraceable; “Lumbersexual”, another noun to describe a male who sports a rugged outdoor lifestyle or image–such as a lumberjack, and “Sharing Economy”, a term where goods and/or services are offered for a limited time either for free or for a fee from private individuals mostly through internet based applications.
     There are the other other lists, such as for movies, TV shows, songs, and the like. Those lists tend to be based upon personal choices by the listmaker(s) in question. Indeed, there are a lot of great stuff out there, but it’s not for everyone! For instance, those that write about movies will post their “best ten” pix of the year. (The number that remain on these lists will vary, so ten is never its limit!) Many of these pictures posted on these “best” lists tend to be releases that came about after November 1st, proving that those list makers are influenced by features that are heavy in drama, plot, and of performances of actors that tend to be placed in end-of-year pictures! (Will Judy Dench be starring in a summertime blockbuster?) Those year end features may be great for the moment, but alas, are quickly forgotten after all of the movie awards are fobbed off, usually by March 1st. This writer won’t compile such a list, but will report on a film list as released by the Library of Congress on the twenty five titles placed in the LOC’s film registry for preservation. (That list will be posted in the next issue of ALOL!)
     So as 2015 winds down and out, many years will go by until this calendar year will be viewed as a part of nostalgia, wonder, or as udder confusion! Sure, there have been the good times, the not so good times, and the moments that were just “there”. Whatever the case and whatever the style, it’s just another motion where time marches on. Just don’t step on anything!
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                                             NEWS AND REVIEWS
     STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS (Disney/Lucasfilms) is the latest installment of the evergreen “Star Wars” series.
     The setting occurs some thirty years after Star Wars: Episode VI (aka Return of the Jedi) The plot involves a young scavenger Ray (Daisy Ridley) and a stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) who end up on a peril to seek a missing Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill). A fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) chalks up a clue to where he may be. Adding to the mix is a droid labeled BB-8 joining the massive search, while the dark(er) side makes its move
     This writer didn’t get into deep details on this picture’s plot, since by the time this review hits the streets (so to speak), its diehard fans have already seen this epic tale numinous times. Thus, these same fans know more about the plot points that this writer can muster up in just a few hundred words. But the story line (helpful at that) isn’t too much of the issue as the entire Star Wars experience is the real star here! (Pun?) One will see action, adventure, special effects (digital and analog), with all of the elements that made this franchise just what it is; A series that has come back from its previous “dark side” (the titles released in the late 1990’s and early-middle 2000’s) to its “force”–the releases from the 1970’s and 80’s, released back in the feature film era when popular movies can still be considered as fun without the massive dumbness that flicks of this ilk released nowadays tend to contain!
    Of course, many of the classic characters from those fun Star Wars titles have returned, from Carrie Fisher as Leia (not so much a princess anymore) Harrison Ford as Hans Solo, Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca, along with other cast members such as Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka, and the long list of other players continues. Lawrence Kasdan & director Jeffrey Jacob “J.J.” Abrams, along with Michael Arndt and George Lucas who developed the new roster of characters, creates a script that has everything one would expect to see in a Star Wars saga such as the above noted action stuff, doing their thing under a John William’s majestic music score! It’s a film that will please both the die hard fans as well as the curious groups alike.
     It’s been some years since the later editions to the Star Wars collection has mustered up this kind of excitement. This build up has not been witnessed since the 1980’s when going to the movies was still quite an experience, in spite of the fact that home video and cable TV was just beginning to make their mark. And in today’s media world where movies can be seen on just any device that sports a video screen, folks will still want to watch features the old fashioned way: In a movie theater located away from home while seated inside a huge darken room full of strangers that react to what’s going on the screen! (And the box office results prove these facts in droves!)
     Generally speaking, with all of the “gimmie-an-Oscar” films competing for attention right now, STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS has woken up to the world as big as it can get! And as one can guess, there are more installments that Lucasfilm’s new owners, The Walt Disney Company, plan to line up. The force will be with you indeed!
     The feature is rated “PG-13” for action violence. Now playing in standard movie screen format and in IMAX at all multiplexes everywhere.
 
     On a side note to the above review, many other guild and film critics groups already made an attempt to release their annual “best movie” lists of 2015. The current Star Wars flick wasn’t part of these lists due to the fact that voting members didn’t see this title at the time of voting. The other films scheduled to be released between December 15th through the 31st were viewed either through advanced screenings of by way of DVD screener copies sent to members–yours truly included! One group this writer belongs to, The Broadcast Film Critics Association  sent out a message to its members from its president asking if the Star Wars feature be added to their list (released on December 15th) of best movies of the year. As to this writer’s personal opinion, that would be fine as Star Wars was released in the 2015 calendar year, and it’s pretty decent for what it is! However, the only annual end of year film list that really matters to this same writer is reported upon in the article below. -Enjoy!
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     On December 16th, The Library of Congress’ National Film Preservation Board announced the twenty five film titles that will be entered as part of the LOC’s National Film Registry.
     Under the guise of the National Film Preservation Act, the LOC chooses twenty five titles that are  “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The films must be at least ten years old at the time of creation or public release. Any motion picture can be chosen as long as it meets those guidelines, and do not necessarily have to be commercial productions. (Amateur and home movies can be selected.)
     Each year, the LOC selects the titles are suggested by the LOC’s film preservation staff, moving image scholars, as well as the general public.
     Listed below are the twenty five titles along with its year of release/creation. A “#” in front of the title indicates that it is a non-feature length film. (Short subject, amateur film, etc.)

   1. Being There (1979)
   2. #Black and Tan (1929)
   3. Dracula (Spanish language version) (1931)
   4. #Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906)
   5. Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (1975)
   6. #Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze (1894)
   7. A Fool There Was (1915)
   8. Ghostbusters (1984)
   9. Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)
  10. Humoresque (1920)
  11. Imitation of Life (1959)
  12. #The Inner World of Aphasia (1968)
  13. #John Henry and the Inky-Poo (1946)
  14. L.A. Confidential (1997)
  15. The Mark of Zorro (1920)
  16. #The Old Mill (1937)
  17. Our Daily Bread (1934)
  18. Portrait of Jason (1967)
  19. Seconds (1966)
  20. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
  21. Sink or Swim (1990)
  22. #The Story of Menstruation (1946)
  23. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One (1968)
  24. Top Gun (1986)
  25. Winchester ’73 (1950)

    For more details on the above titles including titles of other films on the registry as well as how to vote for the 2016 selection, visit the LOC’s  National Film Preservation Board web site at http://www.loc.gov/film
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     ANOMALISA (Paramount) tells the saga of a motivational author and speaker named Michael Stone (David Thewlis) who arrives in Cincinnati to make a speech to a group of business people that’s based upon a book he wrote entitled “How May I Help You Help Them?” that deals with customer service. Arriving at his hotel, he appears to have his own difficulties. He’s in an unhappy marriage feeling distant from his spouse. He calls her on the phone speaking to her and his ten year old boy with minimal emotion. While wandering around the hotel grounds, he meets Lisa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) a woman who comes into town from her job in Akron to hear Michael speak. The two have some kind of spark relationship, down to eventually spending the night together. Michael feels that Lisa may be the real love of his life, only to have his emotional being crumble within himself. The relationship they experienced, although holding a vague promise of becoming a new beginning towards these two, just winds up as a one night stand as Michael returns back to his home and family, while Lisa returns to Akron to remain in customer service.
     If the above scenario reads as an outline for a 25 minute short subject, one may be correct on this matter! This movie takes this plot and stretches it to feature length status. Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson directed this film with screenplay by Kaufman, first developed as a stage play written by Kaufman under the pen name “Francis Fregoli”. For starters, there are some unique elements that make this film, well, unique! It was created using stop motion animation–the same kind of animation that made Art Clokey and George Pal pioneers in animation. Unlike Clokey and Pal whose animated shorts were charming, witty, and a delight for all ages to view, this film is slow, boring, and for adults only! This is an animated film NOT for kids! In fact, this is the first non-porno animated film to show full frontal nudity, as well as a animated feature that has a scene that takes place in a porno shop complete with sex toys about! In addition, there are moments in this feature where the scenes get strange, but not really in a good way! (These scenes are depicted as too series to be funny, and not comical enough to be appreciated!) Adding insult to injury is that beside the two players, David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh, performing the voices of their characters Michael and Lisa, Tom Noonan provides the voices for everyone else, including the female characters without even changing his voice! (A woman will sound like a man!) What’s worse, the end song–the one played over the end credits–sounds downright awful, reminiscent to hearing somebody sing a song during two-for-one night at the local karaoke bar! (Vocals by Tom Noonan himself!) Cater Burwell provides the music score that sounds as sleepy as this movie’s overall tone.
     The only saving factor that this film has is its animation. However, that is its only positive notation as the rest of this film is one long soap opera full of small-talk dialogue! (Used to stretch out this film to feature length status!) However, it’s best to view this movie not in a theater, but through those screener copies sent to movie award voting members! (Disclaimer: This writer belongs to a guild that presents movie merit awards, and receive those same DVD screener copies!) Since there are a lot of lulls in this picture, one can watch this film while doing something else, from playing with a laptop/phone/pad/e-reader device, or doing some other mundane task, from clipping one’s toenails, to making dinner, or even “doing it”! But that’s another plot point as that stands! (Sequel perhaps??)
     PS…although a lot of people were involved in the creation of this film, that amount doesn’t beat the number of folks who funded this movie via Kickstarter! Don’t believe this writer? Stay through the end credits and read off each name as they are all listed! However, one must sit through the closing song!
     This film is rated “R” for cussing and sexual related situations. Opening on December 30th in New York and Los Angeles, and in January everywhere else!
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     This edition will be the final issue of Accessibly Live Off-Line for the 2015 calendar year. We will be taking our first and only break of the season, returning with Vol. 21. No. 1 during the week of January 4th, 2016.
     On behalf of the staff and management of Accessibly Live Off-Line, we with each and every one of you a great holiday period, and a happier new year.
     See you in ‘16!
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