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Cocoa and Caffeine Hollywood Travels

This is an ever-evolving story of a girl writer and her two greatest loves, the movies and travel. As she hikes the trenches of Hollywood, you're brought along for the ride.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

In Light Of The Recent Sony Hacking Scandal

In light of the recent Sony hacking scandal, I have to say that I'm not entirely surprised. Corporate cyber attacks have been increasing at an alarming rate in the past few years. Traditionally, hackers have been after databases and personal information that can be used primarily for financial gain. The attack on Sony went far beyond goals of pure financial gain. Its aim appears to be a politically motivated attack to cripple a major corporation into compliance by exposing not only company records but personal email correspondence between Sony executives-- correspondence that has proven to be embarrassing and in several cases, potentially career-ending. Additionally, the hack has exposed countless Sony employees and their families to identity theft. Many of these employees, we'll never know by name. I cannot imagine the frustration, anger, tension and fear they must have been feeling throughout this ordeal. That isn't to say it's over. No, the story doesn't end here. The vastness of this cyberattack is unprecedented in the film industry, make that any industry. (At least that I'm aware of.) As someone who works in the film business, I'm well aware that certain factors that make our industry unique also give way to a corporate culture that isn't necessarily professional at all times. The entertainment industry is a billion dollar industry that attracts people of all different personalities, egos, levels of expertise and talent (or lack of it.) Add to the mix, the long hours (often spent away from home, on-location), the high stress levels and the possibility of wealth and recognition in a well-known, highly competitive and prestigious industry. At the worst of it, you witness those who are jockeying for position for the greatest personal gain despite where that leaves the rest of the pack. If there's anything to be learned from the Sony hack, it's this: Be careful with what you say in any electronic format, even if it is your personal email. (And really, what's personal anymore anyway?) Anything you say can be taken the wrong way if seen by the eyes of the unintended. This has always been the case, but the Sony story exposing the inner workings of some of Hollywood's top-level executives proves that none of us are immune to the consequences of cyberhacking. The other lesson learned from this whole fiasco is that film is more than mere entertainment. Both film and television are powerful mediums. They can be used to disseminate propaganda, to make social commentaries, to change (or inform) public opinion about potentially controversial subject matter. Whether we like it or not, films are cultural phenomenon. What we put out there reflects back on us and informs how we're seen on the international stage. This is an incredibly important concept to understand. I personally won't miss "The Interview." I don't think any of us will. But the greater intrigue will be witnessing the far-reaching consequences of the film in the months (and years) to come. And whether or not a precedent has been made that will make it more difficult for films to be openly expressive without fearing retaliation and/or retribution. Copyright (c) 2014 by KLiedle/@Cococaffeine

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Observing Thanksgiving In The Company Of One

There was no turkey, no family hovering around the dinner table, no last minute prep.  On Thanksgiving, there was just me.  Not everyone has family.  Some people have family far away.  Others have circumstances that prevent them from getting out-of-town: the time, the expense, the hassle.  And then there are other people who choose to spend Thanksgiving by themselves.

I've done Thanksgiving by myself before.  There should be no shame in this;  it's not the end of the world.  In fact, spending the holiday alone allowed me to put my mind at rest, to appreciate (and be thankful for) the little things without the hustle and bustle of holiday stresses.  It allowed me to listen to my thoughts.  To spend some time getting to know myself better because it's rare that we take the time to know ourselves.  We have so little time...

I reached out to my family far away, to friends, the people I care about and those I'm thankful for having in my life.  Those are the important things.  That's what the day is for: to remember family, the significant people who have touched you, the ones you can't imagine not knowing... the people of your life.  Because this is your life and the majority of people in this world you will never have an opportunity to meet, much less know.

On Thanksgiving, it's not the meal that matters.  Or the turkey or whether or not the pumpkin pie was homemade or store-bought.  It's the people of your life, even if they're not seated around the dinner table with you.  Even if miles separate you from looking into their eyes on Thanksgiving Day or if they no longer exist in this world.  Even if those people are friends you've lost touch with or those who are no longer a part of your life even though maybe you'd like them to be.

It's the people who have made you smile and laugh, the ones who drive you insane (but you love them anyway), the people who have touched you in some way, those who have forever changed you, the ones you love, those you've loved and those who have allowed you to believe in love again, if you've ever lost faith.  And nearly all of us have at some point.  Be thankful for those people and for yourself for being here, for making it through another day, for contributing to the world.  For being significant in other peoples' lives in ways you may never know.

Spending Thanksgiving by yourself doesn't make you an orphan or a leftover.  In many ways, it allows you to reflect on the holiday in ways that might escape you if you were stressed by fixing the turkey or trying to get the table set just right.  Or if you were traversing state lines in a mad rush to make it home in time.

There was no turkey, no family hovering around the dinner table, no last minute prep.  On Thanksgiving, there was just me, a big bowl of buttered popcorn and my chosen movie friend of the evening: Planes, Trains and Automobiles.  Because movies can be our friends, too.  And I'm thankful for movies as well as many other things in my life.

[Note: Today I'm also thankful for other peoples' Thanksgiving leftovers (that I'm getting to enjoy for the first time today.)  One person's turkey leftovers are another person's turkey "first-overs."
Happy Thanksgiving Saturday!]

Copyright © 2014 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine


Sunday, November 23, 2014

There Are Times I Could Walk Forever

Nature and I have an understanding.  No matter what I'm going through in my life, the outdoors always brings me peace.  There are times I could walk forever until I forgot myself and everything that brought me to that moment.  I would climb trees high above my parent's house, watch the sky as the clouds roll by and listen to the rustling of cornstalks on a windy day.  Things like that always brings me closer to knowing myself.   For that reason and many others, I'm really looking forward to seeing WILD

KL

Post / Copyright ©2014 by Kendra Liedle/@cococaffeine


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Strange Sighting Spotted On The Road

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Ugliness And Questions Of Morality Arise in 'Nightcrawler'

When I was in journalism school, we talked about journalistic integrity and we read books by Katherine Graham  and Walter Cronkite .  I was required to take classes like Communications Law and study Supreme Court cases related to journalism.  Things like copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.

This was when the internet was still in its infancy.  E-mail was a new concept and "going online" was more a novelty than a necessity.  Although he didn't live to see the rise and proliferation of social media, Walter Cronkite, anchorman of CBS News and the grandfather titan of broadcast journalism, foresaw where the internet might lead.  In response, he expressed concern that people would be less likely to tune into hard news to keep up with current events.  More likely, he predicted, news and entertainment would morph into one entity-- something he coined "infotainment."

It's happened.  And it's getting worse.  The intense hunger for celebrity gossip and entertainment content have given rise to reality shows and made paparazzi even more cut-throat in their pursuit of snagging a high-roller photo or capturing a spectacle on tape.  Everyone's a filmmaker.  Everyone's got a camera.  And we've all got cameras with us all the time.  Conveniently located in the palm of our hands.

This is the background that sets the stage for Nightcrawler, a film written and directed by Dan Gilroy.  Jack Gyllenhaal is excellently creepy as Lou Bloom, a sociopathic loner who's schooled himself about everything purely from what he's gleaned from the internet.  His bug-eyed appearance, stringy hair, and the speediness at which he rattles off sound bites give the immediate impression of a stereotypical "sleazy car salesman."  But he's not.  As Lou drives the dark streets of Los Angeles one night, he discovers something that changes his life (and the lives of many others) :

All you need to make some quick cash is a camera, a police scanner, and a lack of conscience.  

This is the world of crime journalism.  Lou quickly bullies his way in and starts work as a freelance, amateur videographer.   Before long, he's capturing the goriest of urban crime,  twisted car crashes, fires, and other spectacular scenes on tape.  He immediately attempts to hawk his footage to news organizations, most of whom turn him down.  BUT he finds a buyer with the News Director of KWLA, a low-rated news station desperate to turn their ratings around at seemingly any cost.  From the get-go, Lou's gritty and intrusive footage puts news organizations like KWLA into a quandary.

This is questionable territory.  Where do we draw the line?  If a news station is just "reporting the news," at what point does it crossover into "profiting from other people's tragedies"?  How does a news organization justify broadcasting graphic and horrific images just for the sake of getting viewers?

These are the kind of questions and the underlying social commentary that Nightcrawler presents to us.  Where are we going?  Where have we been?  When we see things on-screen we deem so graphic and horrific and intrusive that they're  the absolute opposite of everything we believe in, why can't we look away?  Why are we drawn to the darkness?

Nightcrawler forces us to ask some hard questions about human nature while examining answers that don't come easy. And these are only a few of the moral questions the film presents.

At the heart of it all is Lou, who, in his reminiscence of Norman Bates, also happens to have all the characteristics of a sociopath.  He's superficially charming, intelligent, pathologically egocentric and antisocial.  On top of it all, he lacks remorse and is incapable of love.  And Lou is desperate for glory and recognition.  It's all a dangerous combination.  The extremes to which Lou takes his work, make my skin crawl.  Much like the people he captures on film, I felt violated.  It's a horribly uncomfortable feeling. But a very good film.

FOR MORE:

The Gory Truth Of 'Nightcrawler'
The Society Of Professional Journalists = Code Of Ethics
The Paparazzi Reform Initiative
Media Ethics And Society

Copyright © 2014 by KLiedle/@cococaffeine

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Howdy From The Hippie

Occasionally while I'm location scouting, something will catch my eye and make me smile.  This peace-loving hippie sculpture was one of those things.

He's probably been saying "Howdy" to passing drivers for quite awhile...

Roadside Attraction
"Peace-loving Hippie"
Topanga CA

-KL