Revisiting the success of ‘CSI’

The one that started it all, acclaimed TV series “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” finished its celebrated run in late 2015. Its worldwide renown has led to spin-offs “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: NY,” and “CSI: Cyber.” But the original is still the bar by which gripping forensic science narratives are measured. Here are some of the reasons for its unprecedented success.

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Image source: cbs.com

Firstly, unlike some of its contemporary, similar-themed shows, “CSI” always abided by the “no red shirts” rule. In movie parlance, this means that new characters added to the show will always have an important role to play and not just cameo as non-playing characters or NPCs. The show prides itself on developing depth in characterization. For example, consider Greg Saunders (played by Eric Szmanda), who went from being a seemingly minor role as a lab tech to the full-fledged investigator.

Secondly, it started the so-called “CSI effect,” which helped casual viewers greatly appreciate and understand the inner workings of crime investigations. Things like the need to secure the crime scene, avoiding evidence tampering, being meticulous about fingerprints, and looking for gun residue suddenly became household concepts. More importantly, it drew younger fans into wanting to pursue forensics as a career.

Another great thing about the series is that we are never forced to invest so much in the personal dramas of the characters as in the plot itself. Though the actors’ roles are extremely fleshed-out, there are no ’80s-style “Dynasty” moments in this show. We relate to them yes, but mostly because of the work they do, not their love lives and petty quarrels, among other things. Solving crimes precede everything in “CSI.”

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Image source: tvguide.com

Hi there, my name is David Berkowitz, your resident TV and movie fanatic from Chicago. For similar reads, drop by this blog.

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The most important Wes Anderson movies to date

Wes Anderson is one of the quirkiest, most eccentric directors in recent memory. He has produced films of exquisite cinematic beauty peopled with imperfect, broken, and confused creatures. On the surface, the almost obsessive visual symmetry that his movies are known for and the distinct, unmistakably Andersonian palette seem to jar the senses when coupled with his incongruous characters. In the end, the marriage makes perfect sense. The imagination soars in Anderson’s world, and no one is prevented from reaching that realization. Here are some of the most important Wes Anderson films:

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Image source: flickr.com

The Grand Budapest Hotel

This movie is one of the finest examples of the consistency of Anderson’s cinematic vision, featuring a lot of his visual structure but also big on the emotional and psychological landscape of his filmic style. It might look it was just about a concierge trying to prove he wasn’t a murderer, but this comedy mystery is a poignant film about nostalgia, beauty, and loss.

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two kids who ran away from home without accounting for the fact that they live on an island. The story presents so many layers that go beyond the fact that it is really a love story. The coming-of-age genre can be abused on so many levels, but this one is surely one of the best stories about children realizing the ways of the world.

Fantastic Mr. Fox

This stop-motion film is arguably the most human of all his works, and that says a lot because it is practically populated by anthropomorphic creatures. The excellent animation is, of course, just the outer layer of this brilliant exploration of acceptance and love.

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Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

Hi! I’m David Berkowitz. I am a production designer for an independent film production company specializing in horror and light fantasy films. Growing up in Chicago, I’ve always been interested in knowing how the magic in the big screen is actually made in the studio. To learn more about the movies I love, follow me on Facebook.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe and its CGI powers

From the franchises of the MCU’s different protagonists, one can see that their CGI powers are amazing. Being owned by Disney, Marvel movies have access to the best and latest CGI technology available for filmmaking. From de-aging and making its heroes look like weaklings, the MCU has got some expensive tricks up its sleeves.

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Image source: screenrant.com

The scene where Robert Downey Jr. or Tony Stark was made into a teenaged Tony was unbelievably great. The technique has been used by Marvel quite a few times already, as Hayley Atwell was made into an older version of Peggy in “Ant-Man” and “Winter Soldier” and the young version of Kurt Russell in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

Marvel gives great attention to detail, may it be in solo scenes of the characters or an ensemble like the Avengers. Fight scenes in different Marvel movies give you the chills as you see everything unfold before your eyes, especially the ones that have to do with another realm, like with “Thor” films and “Doctor Strange.” The “Guardians of the Galaxy” franchise doesn’t even give you the slightest doubt that what you see is unreal, as its CGI looks extremely realistic.

Actors may look funny when their scenes are shot and seen without the CGI. But once everything is put together, fans can live in another world and enjoy the excitement Marvel has to offer. I can’t even remember the last time a person commented on MCU’s CGI. They may try to find things in these movies to criticize, but CGI won’t be one for sure.

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Image source: screenrant.com

Hi there! David Berkowitz here, a production designer for indie films. I’ve always been interested in getting to know the magic that happens behind the big screen. Subscribe to my blog for more updates.

All Star Wars Movies Ranked

Star Wars is the most iconic film franchise of all-time. The franchise’s fanbase is so diverse it doesn’t even need to market its movies. They just need to know the date of the release and fans will flock the cinemas in droves. With the 9th installment of the franchise showing this December, it’s only fitting we rank the movies from worst to best.

Image source: wikimedia.org

Many of you will agree to this list but if you disagree, let me know in the comments section.

8. Episode I: The Phantom Menace

7. Episode II – Attack of the Clones

6. Episode III – Revenge of the Sith

5. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Episode VII)

3. Episode VI – Return of the Jedi

2. Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back

1. Episode IV – A New Hope

There’s no doubt the first three movies (episodes 4-6) were the best of the bunch. The special effects at the time were out of this world. And the whole world was put in commotion in the reveal of the Darth Vader’s relationship with Luke Skywalker.

Image source: oust-france.fr

The worst were episodes 1-3. They weren’t bad per se, but the casting and acting weren’t as good as the first three movies. The two new movies, Rogue One and episode 7 are great.

Hi, my name’s David Berkowitz. I’m a production designer for indie films. I’m a huge Star Wars fan with a huge toy collection to show for it. Visit my page to know more.

Five Leadership Lessons From ‘Star Wars’

The “Star Wars” universe has plenty to teach when it comes to leadership, its pitfalls and challenges. For one, what are the mistakes committed by the Emperor and Darth Vader during their time as leaders of the Galactic Empire? Here are five leadership lessons straight from the Jedi, according to Forbes.

Image source: CSN Chicago

Let go of your fear

Yoda once uttered these words: Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose. There’s great truth on this, as being loss averse is a major factor in the decision-making process. According to studies, people would actually prefer avoiding a loss than acquiring a gain.

Approach tasks with success in mind

Remember Yoda’s more famous words – “Do or do not. There is no try” – and how it emphasizes the truth that you cannot expect to be successful at all times? It proves beneficial, however, to approach tasks with a confident mindset and good expectations for yourself.

Be mindful of the present

Distraction comes so easy these days with technology, but it is important to work hard to ignore them and focus on the tasks ahead of you as a leader.

Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment

Do not ignore your emotions, Vulcan-style. They can guide you in your mission, but can also get the best of you and cloud your judgment. Act based on the best available data, and constantly seek feedback from people who matter.

Image source: New York Times

Believe in your cause

Data and experience may not always suffice when you’re embarking on a new journey, such as a new brand or venture. What Obi-Wan Kenobi told Luke Skywalker is this: let go of the conscious self and act on instinct. Trust that you can do it.

David Berkowitz of Chicago is a certified film buff and lists ‘Star Wars’ as one of his favorite films. For more big-screen gems, check out this page.

We all Need Totoro for a Neighbor

Nowadays, it’s no surprise that anime has such a huge following. But the road to its success is paved by classics in the genre like Akira and Hayao Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro.

Though casual Hollywood buffs would probably be more familiar with the Japanese director

Image source: simonandschuster.com

’s other award-winning films like Spirited Away and Grave of the Fireflies, Totoro has become the face of Studio Ghibli, the director’s film outfit.

But what makes My Neighbor Totoro so appealing and loved by those who’ve seen it? One easy answer is that, while the narrative is driven by the fantastic, it offers a very human, realist take on family values, as well as tackles concepts like sibling rivalry, loyalty, devotion, and hope.

The plot revolves around sisters Mei and Satsuki, who moves to the country with their dad, a university professor in Tokyo. Soon Mei encounters the guardian of the forest near their new house, Totoro. The huge, cuddly, and magical creature proceeds to help the sisters cope with their situation and solve their problems, burdens which otherwise might be too great for children to bear.

This film is very poignant; while we might be wondering where their mother is, the film takes its time to give

Image source: koobazaur.com

us the reveal. It plays up its central themes of innocence and coming of age very well, leaving us haunted at the end.

My Neighbor Totoro is a must-watch, not only for fans of anime, but for the family and maybe even the entire neighborhood.

Hello! David Berkowitz here. I am a production designer for an independent film production company in Los Angeles, California. This job has been one of my wildest dreams since childhood. Do check out my Facebook page..

Chicago’s Finest: Best Movies Filmed in the Windy City

Chicago has provided numerous movies a great backdrop and setting for their story. Even the late director John Hughes made a career out of writing and directing many of his films in this great city.

Here are some of the best movies that were filmed in Chicago:

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Image source: liveforfilm.com

This 1986 classic told the story of a high school student named Ferris Bueller who decided to skip school to spend a day with his friends in downtown Chicago. The movie gave us great shots of Chicago’s iconic landmarks, such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Wrigley Field, Sears (now Willis) Tower, Lake Shore Drive, and many more.

Scarface

This 1932 film is different from the Al Pacino starrer most of us already know, although the latter is actually based on this movie. Scarface is a story about the rise and fall of an American Gangster during the time when Chicago’s very own Al Capone rose to fame for his exploits in the city. The movie also reenacted the infamous Saint Valentine’s Day massacre, which had just happened three years before the movie’s production.

Image source: altscreen.com

The Blues Brothers

An homage to the great city, the musical crime comedy film starred Chicago native John Belushi, together with another great comedian Dan Aykroyd. The movie showed the wonderful sights of city, authentic Chicago accents, and a soundtrack that featured the likes of Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and James Brown.

Hello, I’m David Berkowitz, a movie buff from Chicago. If you want to read more articles about films, subscribe to this blog.

The man who shaped New Hollywood: Some interesting facts about Francis Ford Copolla

It is hard to examine the persona of Francis Ford Copolla and not tremble at the echo that accompanies the name, spanning a reputation for excellence in the art of filmmaking. Known for his sensitivities towards the cutting subtleties in real life, and how he is able to strike a chord in the hearts of many through a brilliant transference into film, FFC is truly a man who has been exposed to such realities. Here are some interesting facts about him.

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Image source: liberatum.org

1. Francis Ford Coppola is a native of Detroit, Michigan, but he grew up in the suburbs of New York.

2. He contracted polio at a young age. The lack of mobility during his quarantine gave him time to let his ideas brew, as he practiced puppetry and spent time watching movies.

3. After getting a drama degree from Hofstra University, the young and mentally energetic Copolla went on to receive an MFA in Film Production in UCLA in 1967.

4. Francis Ford Coppolla is one of the pillars of the vaunted New Hollywood wave of filmmaking, which includes names like Scorsese, Kubrick, Nichols, Spielberg, Polanski and Lucas. These filmmakers raised the bar high up in Hollywood.

5. He belongs to a family of filmmakers and actors who have made solid names for themselves. Among them are Nicolas Cage, Jason Schwartzman, and Sofia Copolla.

6. He is the owner of a very famous winery, simply named after himself, Francis Ford Copolla.

7. Hollywood legend has it that the character of Han Solo in George Lucas’ Star Wars is based on the persona of Francis Ford Copolla.

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Image source: tasteofcinema.com

Hello, David Berkowitz here. I am a production designer for an indie film production company. To learn more about film, follow me on Facebook.

The Best Air Jordan Models Of All Time

Michael Jordan was the face and the symbol of the NBA. He was considered one of the best basketball players who walked the face of the earth, and giving him a shoe line was just a simple form of acknowledging that fact. A few decades later, the Air Jordan remains a locker room staple. Here are the best (and perhaps, most coveted) Air Jordan models of all time.

Air Jordan I: Before the Air Jordan came into the picture, the NBA had a rule that players should only wear white basketball shoes. These colorful sneakers gave basketball a new twist and changed the game forever. Mike was fined $5,000 every time he wore these iconic kicks to the game.

Image source: rantsports.com
Image source: rantsports.com

Air Jordan II: Mike wore these sneaks after winning his first Slam Dunk competition. It was also the first Nike sneaker that did not have its logo. Cool, right?

Air Jordan XIII: This pair has great cushioning, which works well for those tired feet. It had a cool hologram and was used by Mike during his final season in the NBA.

Air Jordan III: This pair is known to be MJ’s favorite pair out of the whole line. Air Jordan III was the first pair designed by Tinker Hatfield and was the first Jordans to feature the Jumpman logo.

 

Image source: sneakernews.com
Image source: sneakernews.com

Air Jordan XI: These stylish, shiny, and classy sneakers are the first to showcase patent leather. MJ wore it after returning from his first retirement from the NBA.

Hi there, I’m David Berkowitz; a Chicago Bulls fan and indie film production designer. Check out my blog for more on MJ, film, and basketball.

‘King Of Pigs:’ Why More People Should See This Underrated Korean Anime

In 2011, a short Korean anime called King of Pigs was released. It gained popularity in the local scene and was awarded several international awards for its gritty commentary on school life and bullying. Unfortunately, it never really hit the global market and has generally been unknown by Western moviegoers for some years now.

Image Source: hollywoodreporter.com

However, with the growing problem of political unrest and troubled teenagers, more people are turning to cartoons not only as a means of escape but also as a way to vicariously understand other people’s lives. One beautiful aspect of cartoons is that there is a sense of detachment. Most moviegoers see the film with the understanding that it is not real – even if the subject is relevant today. This is further exemplified in anime, where most scenes are exaggerated either through drawing or movement. Yet, anime can talk about topics that would otherwise be unpalatable in a real-life motion picture.

The “King of Pigs” is an excellent example of this. There are no big effects here, and the topic itself is quite disturbing. However, because it is a cartoon, moviegoers are not immediately turned off by it. At the end of the film, though, it does raise very serious questions about how people treat each other and the cumulative effects of interpersonal relationships. The movie provides an escape from the real world by delving into the mindset of a group of disturbed people. It sounds like a paradox, but there is a sense of catharsis in seeing other people’s lives and then applying it to one’s experiences.

It must be stressed that the “King of Pigs” is not a children’s film nor is the topic light and funny. Even on a visceral level, its entertainment value is one of violence and paranoia. Yet it is a wonderfully-made film and should be watched for what it shows of the human nature.

Image Source: liveforfilms.com

Hello, David Berkowitz here, Chicago Bulls fan and huge movie aficionado. Working in a film production company allows me to live out my passion for movies. I love to watch films, regardless of genre. Join me on a Twitter as I share my insights on various films (and sometimes basketball).