Green Zone (2010) – My Review

I keep myself low on the rough ground as I’m badly wounded. I’m surrounded by several corpses of dead soldiers. A grenade has just landed near me; my movement is being watched by a sniper. As I lay here, I tell myself – This is one hell of a game!

Games like Call of Duty give the feeling that you have been plopped into a World War-II film. You are exposed to different weapons like M4A1, P90, Uzi, M21, RPG-7, Desert Eagle etc; you know who a sniper is, where he is likely to be positioned and how to bring him down. To me, watching war films are similar to playing PS3 as the action, locations and sound effects are almost identical.

Well I’m not going to talk about Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or any of the other games in this genre. This post is about Matt Damon’s Green Zone, a war film set up in Baghdad. Another war film also based in Iraq that I had recently watched was – The Hurt Locker. Sadly I learnt of its existence only after it won 6 Oscar Awards in 2010.

In Green Zone, Damon plays Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, head of a WMD-finding unit in Baghdad. Their mission is to find Weapons of Mass Destruction at alleged sites, but they always find the sites empty. After repeated failures, Miller smells a rat and at a debriefing session he raises the point that the majority of the intel given to his team was inaccurate. However, senior officers debunk his theory saying that the intel is well vetted and cannot be wrong.

After the debriefing, Miller meets a CIA official Martin Brown (Brendan Gleeson) who tells him that the next site he is going to investigate is also empty, as a team had already searched there some months ago. Brown informs that the intel given is part of a cover-up and Millers investigation was just a formality to mislead the people.

Miller goes on a task to trace the original source of the faulty leads. He is assisted by an Iraqi citizen who becomes Miller’s translator known as “Freddy”, he also leads Miller to the hideout of General Al-Rawi.

Earlier in the film, the character of General Al-Rawi, the right-hand of Saddam Hussein was introduced. A meeting takes place in one of his safe-houses in Baghdad, to discuss the invasion of Iraq. Many of his comrades propose fighting other Iraqi and American forces; however Al-Rawi suggests that they should wait until the Americans make the Iraqi army an offer to join their forces.

Another important character in the film is Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear) the man responsible for the US Invasion of Iraq. Poundstone’s ‘inside man’ known as “Magellan” had given him the information about WMD’s  presence in Iraq in a meeting that was held in Jordan before the invasion.

We also have Lawrie Dayne (Amy Ryan) a corrupt foreign correspondent of Wall Street Journal who keeps repeating the US Government’s claims about WMD rather than investigating it’s authenticity. This throws light on how sometimes media works in order to increase their readership.

The only character that I liked in the film was Freddy (Khalid Abdalla) – the same guy we saw in The Kite Runner. He gives us a glimpse of what was going through the mind of a regular Iraqi guy during the US invasion and the amount of frustration and insanity the war had brought to their country.

Director of Green Zone Paul Greengrass, also known for directing –  The Bourne Supremacy (2004) & The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) offers his typical shaky-cam technique in the film. To sum it up, the movie is about – Corrupt Government officials, nowhere to be found WMD’s, soldier on a look-out for more work than just his mission, finding Magellan, emotional good guy Freddy, fat running Al-Rawi and corrupt journalist.

My Rating: 3/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

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Cop Out (2010) – My Review

I remember watching a number of ‘buddy cop’ films where you have two conflicting personalities working together to solve a crime – one serious cop accompanied by a wilder, dimwit or cartoonish cop.

Some of them that I remember are: National Security (remember Martin Lawrence saying “Why, ’cause I’m black guy?”) Bad Boys, Rush Hour, Men in Black and Wild Wild West

Cop Out is the latest entrant to this subgenre starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. It also stars Seann William Scott, a small-time crook with ‘Spiderman Skills’ i.e. wall climbing skills, who acts as their assistant from time to time.

Jimmy (Willis) and Paul (Morgan) are detectives with NYPD celebrating their ninth anniversary as partners. Jimmy’s daughter is getting married and he promises to pay for his daughter’s big fat wedding no matter how pricey the ceremony is. He refuses to accept financial aid from his ex-wife’s second husband Roy (Jason Lee – the weird guy in Alvin and the Chipmunks)

Jimmy plans to pay for the wedding by selling his rare baseball card. Unfortunately,  the card gets stolen and gets in the hands of a Mexican Drug Mafia who has a liking for antique sport collectables. Together, the two cops set out to recover the card from the mafia.

Cop Out has both action and hilarious jokes. There are a couple of funny moments, like the interrogation by Paul in the beginning and parts where Paul gets worried that his wife is cheating on him. The film however fails to offer anything different in the genre, but it sure made me laugh out loud!

My Rating: 2/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Can Social Media replace Traditional Media?

It’s being said everywhere that social media if used wisely can replace traditional media. By now, most of us will have the benefits of social media at our fingertips – it is cost effective with high returns, helps build relationship through customer service and feedback, increases visibility, builds awareness etc

With all the hype, I hear many saying that they are gradually shifting focus towards social media. But I believe that there are still many limitations and challenges. Social media marketing is still not fully understood, is a little risky and is not that cheap.

If we focus only on social media we miss out the powerful combination of social media marketing and traditional media marketing. Both of them can work together to strengthen a brand. The point is that everyone can benefit from social media and it should be a part of the marketing or public relations strategy. However, it should not be the only focus as we cannot afford to ignore traditional media completely.

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Public Relations Interview Techniques: Dodging Uncomfortable Questions

I started off my PR career as Executive Strategy and Planning with a well-known PR agency. My department conducted 2-3 media trainings per month and I was responsible for preparing the module, simulation and mock interview questions, researching information relevant to the industry etc. During my tenure, I attended almost all the trainings that were conducted by the agency.

I observed that you may be the CEO of the company, an expert in your field but when it comes to facing the media you will consider hiring a media trainer.

After entering Corporate Communication, I experimented with the module a bit, customized it as per my organization and started conducting media training workshops.

There are many write-ups on preparing for a television, print or telephonic interview. They tell us to find out about the interview topic, agenda and the format; be prepared with your messages, company information – the business, achievements, awards and recognitions; they also tell us to keep the answers short; what to wear and of course to brush our teeth.

Keeping all the above in mind, the spokesperson goes to the interview all prepared and confident, ready with the company messages. Now the journalist is someone you cannot take for granted, they might have shared details of the topics to be covered during the interview, but they have their own agenda and already have their story visualized. They know exactly what to extract from the company spokesperson.

You may have your points or set of company specific messages ready but you will observe the journalist moving away from them to more controversial and uncomfortable topics. You obviously cannot answer those questions as they may open further questions that you may not be allowed to disclose.

Now dodging those questions may get a little difficult in front of the camera. Below are some statements that can be used to safely move away from those painful topics to the talk points you came prepared with:

“You are raising a very important issue here BUT you must first consider….”

“To some degree, but the point here is…”

“Not really and even more important…”

“There’s another part of the mix you must look at…”

“I really don’t see that as an issue, but what I do see…”

“I don’t know. But what I do know is…”

“However the real concern is…”

“That’s not my area of expertise, but I think the audience would be more interested to kow…”

“Let me answer you by saying that…”

“The solution here is…”

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

Fast Five: Toretto and Brian back on track (2011)

It’s been time that I start looking forward to another sequel from the Fast and the Furious stable. The last sequel in 2009 made it big for Universal Studios at the box office. Many Fast & Furious fans remember Brian and Mia racing to free Toretto in the last installment.

Great news for them all – its official, the team of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and director Justin Lin have all signed for what is to be called — Fast Five, to release on June 10, 2011.

Vin Diesel himself made the announcement to his 7,678,055 and rising fans on facebook that read…

Had a meeting with Justin Lin today regarding the Fast saga… some daring but fascinating thoughts in terms of action set pieces… and relationships, old and new.

The team is on their way to Brazil this evening, to scout, and to see what selection of cars there are.

P.s. Will be talking to DT next week, maybe he can let me show some concept art of Riddick… Peace.

Now the question is where will ‘Fast Five’ take place —  Brazil or Europe are the hints given at this time.

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

And the Oscar goes to…


The Hurt Locker won in the following categories —  Best Picture; Directing; Film Editing; Sound Editing; Sound Mixing; Writing (Original Screenplay)
Avatar won the Oscar for — Art Direction; Cinematography; Visual Effects
Precious for : Actress in a Supporting Role; Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

List of Winners — Oscar 2010

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker

Actor in a Leading Role: Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)

Actress in a Leading Role: Sandra Bullock (The Blind Side)

Actor in a Supporting Role: Christoph Waltz 9 (Inglourious Basterds)

Actress in a Supporting Role: Mo’Nique (Precious)

Directing: The Hurt Locker (Kathryn Bigelow)

Animated Feature Film: Up (Pete Docter)

Art Direction: Avatar (Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg (Art Direction); Kim Sinclair (Set Decoration)

Cinematography: Avatar (Mauro Fiore)

Costume Design: The Young Victoria (Sandy Powell)

Documentary Feature: The Cove (Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens)

Documentary Short: (Music by Prudence (Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett)

Film Editing: The Hurt Locker (Bob Murawski and Chris Innis)

Foreign Language Film: The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentina)

Makeup: Star Trek (Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow)

Music (Original Score): Up (Michael Giacchino)

Music (Original Song): Crazy Heart “The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)”

Short Film (Animated): Logorama (Nicolas Schmerkin)

Sound Editing: The Hurt Locker (Paul N.J. Ottosson)

Sound Mixing: The Hurt Locker (Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett)

Visual Effects: Avatar (Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones)

Writing (Adapted Screenplay): Precious – Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire

(Screenplay by Geoffrey Fletcher)

Writing (Original Screenplay): The Hurt Locker (Written by Mark Boal)

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com

From Paris with Love (2010) – My Review

Pierre Morel who earlier brought us — The Transporter, District 13 and Taken now offers — From Paris with Love

The misleading title gave me the impression that it was a romantic comedy set in Paris, until I heard the loose cannon, special agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta) say “Do I look like I play board games?”

James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is the personal assistant to the U.S. Ambassador in France. Along with his diplomatic post, James has a side job i.e., of a low level agent with the CIA and has a dream to become one of the top-notch agents with the agency. That’s not all, this guy has everything going his way as he also has a beautiful French girlfriend. While celebrating a great evening with his girlfriend, James gets a call from the CIA offering him his first senior level assignment. His first job is to go to the airport to help his partner, stuck at the customs.

His partner happens to be trigger-pulling, hell-raising, wise-cracking, Royal Burger loving, crazy undercover special agent Charlie Wax, sent to France to stop a terrorist attack. Travolta gets better and better with every movie, he has a shaven-headed, bearded look in the film. His argument at the airport with the custom staff was hilarious. Together Charlie Wax and his sidekick James Reece go on a shooting spree hunting mafias and terrorists through the Parisian underworld leaving piles of bodies wherever they go.

Charlie Wax discovers that James is wired and the terrorists have been keeping track of his movements by the help of someone very close to him. Soon after that James who is in total shock (Think John Mayers song – Assassin, suits the moment perfectly) learns that the terrorist are targeting the US summit and a suicide bomber has already reached the place.

The film has mostly received negative reviews; some say it’s a racist brainless flick with no substance, while others say its absolute nonsense but great fun.

Agree that the film is brainless and full of murder & mayhem, but it’s a brilliant late-Friday-night action blast that one would definitely enjoy with friends over a couple of beers.

Favorite Part: When Travolta shoots Nichole in the head (Damn!!!)

Fav Quote: Do I look like I play board games?

My Rating: 2.5/5

Kenneth Peter — kennethpeter.com