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中国 | china | 중국 初 | hygiene | 기본

ICYMI | 万一你错过了| 당신이 그것을 놓친 경우

Reading Time: 2 minutes

China’s Technology Transfer Strategy: How Chinese Investments in Emerging Technology Enable A Strategic Competitor to Access the Crown Jewels of U.S. Innovation Michael Brown and Pavneet Singh – China is executing a multi-decade plan to transfer technology to increase the size and value-add of its economy from its base as the world’s 2nd largest economy. By 2050, China will be 150% the size of the U.S.2​ (with the goal of being double the US economy by that time and decrease U.S.’ relevance globally)​.  This technology transfer to China occurs in part through increasing levels of investment and acquisitions of U.S. companies which are at record levels today. ​China participated in about 10% of all venture deals in 2015 up from a 5% average participation rate during 2010-2016. China is investing in the critical future technologies that will be foundational for future innovations across technology both for commercial and military applications: artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, augmented and virtual reality, financial technology and gene editing. ​The line demarcating products designed for commercial vs. military purposes is blurring in these new technologies. Investments are only one means of technology transfer which also occurs through the following licit and illicit vehicles ​where the cost of stolen intellectual property has been estimated at $300 billion per year. (PDF)

PwC hangs up on landlines in shift to ‘mobile first’ culture | Business | The Guardian – makes sense given the amount of under-used IP telephones that lie around in offices now

WhatsApp groups can now be restricted so only admins can send messages | VentureBeat – which could take out a lot of SMS gateway offerings for marketers, enterprises etc

M&C Saatchi beefs up presence in ‘influencer marketing’ | Financial Times – The rise of influencer marketing, which Mr Kershaw calls “performance marketing” because recommendations can have a direct and measurable impact on scales, complements traditional advertising (paywall)

Luxury Car Buys Want to Declutter & Human-Centric Design | auto connected car news – This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no esti­mate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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事件 | out and about | 종목 媒体与艺术 | culture | 미디어와 예술

Out and about: Sicario 2: Soldado

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I was a big fan of Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario. It conveyed the monotony and horror of the war on drugs really well. Taylor Sheridan crafted a taunt storyline, you had great actors in Emily Blunt, Josh Brolin and Jeffrey Donovan as Brolin’s foil. Alejandro Gillick as a character played really well to Benicio del Toro signature mix of pathos and violence. The music was the film’s unsung character that turned out a virtuoso performance. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s soundtrack carried a lot of the weight in the film with its dark dissonant ambience. It was in many respects a modern day spaghetti western in the grand tradition of Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci.

Sicario 2: Soldado had a lot to live up too. Denis Villeneuve handed over directorial reins to Stefano Sollima: one of Italy’s best crime film directors. Sollima kept close to Villeneuve’s style from the previous film. Jóhann Jóhannsson was replaced on soundtrack duties by Hildur Guðnadóttir. This wasn’t due to Jóhannsson’s deadly cocaine overdose in Berlin; but a decision by the director to recruit an entirely new team.

She went from playing cello on the first film soundtrack to taking over the composition and performance of Sicario 2. Guðnadóttir kept a similar formula in the soundtrack, all be it with an even harder edge to the film. Most of the main players are back the exception of the FBI agents from the first film. Given the ending of the first film where Gillick made it clear to the Emily Blunt character that she wasn’t morally flexible enough. Sheridan Taylor takes on writing duties again.

Plus points
  • Matt Craver (Josh Brolin) and Steve Forsing (Jeffrey Donovan) chewing the fat, in classic spaghetti western cornball dialogue; that reminds me a lot of the

Nice day for a drive ha?

Aww, beautiful day. Blue skies, large calibre weapons. I love getting out of the office.

  • The film starts with a grand vision that feels very zeitgeist with illegal immigration being front-and-centre
  • The film does action exceedingly well. The assassination, kidnapping, bombings and shootouts are all incredibly well choreographed
Minus points

The Plot, the plot and oh did I mention the plot? ***Spoilerish ahead***

  • At the beginning of the film it paints a big canvas as the film moves from the border, Kansas city, Somalia, Djibouti and Washington DC over the first half hour. This grant vision fizzles out
  • The plot lacks morality centred in one person like the first film and the director compressed with the story arc. So that leads to….
  • Character inconsistencies. del Toro’s character Alejandro Gillick kills a cartel leader, his wife and his kids at the dinner table at the height of the first film. In Sicario 2; the film hinges on him having a massive change of heart and going soft. Matt Craver’s ‘the end justifies the means’ viewpoint suddenly goes soft, when he is required to have a cartel leader’s child killed
  • Plot logic: they are obviously going after the head of the Reyes cartel, with a view to understanding the organisation structure and operational methods. They are keen to find key decision makers. They find one and then abruptly drop it. Maybe it was editing and what we are seeing is a film pared down into just over two hours in duration
  • A weak flip-flopping president who is concerned that the deaths of corrupt Mexican federal police officers will impact his standing amongst 50 million Hispanic voters. In sharp contrast to signing off on covert action just a short time before to combat foreign terrorists using people smuggling rat lines to get into the US. Chances are he’s probably already screwed by his law-and-order stance a la Trump
  • Injuries that should have caused nasty disfigurement, don’t
  • The weak ending that is obviously setting up a franchise a la Marvel. That’s if Marvel allowed itself to go as dark as say Garth Ennis’ interpretation of The Punisher

I felt divorced from this film rather than numb from the grimness of the original. It’s hard to maintain power and impact, but Sicario 2 had so many doors that it could have gone through with the start of the plot, that the last half of the film felt like a cop out.

In summary

Modern day narco spaghetti western Sicario 2: Soldado is faithful to the original. It has bags of style and the kind of kinetic experience that you’d forget. A worthy successor to the original film with the exception of a story line that fizzles out and then comes back at the end to set up a Marvel-type franchise. Sicario 2 won’t have me watching it several times in the way that the original film did. I just hope that this is the movie making equivalent of a difficult second album and Sicario 3 will raise the bar again. Maybe hand the reins back to Denis Villeneuve and support Taylor with a writing team that will collaborate and challenge him to do better with the story, rather than the reductive process that Sicario 2 seems to have gone through. Stefano Sollima’s admitted as much in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter

We condensed the script’s narrative arc in order to preserve and pronounce the soul of the movie. The script was a bit wider in scope at first. Then, we organically pit the two lead characters [played by Benicio del Toro, Josh Brolin] against each other, something that wasn’t present in the first draft. Story-wise, I felt it was a really important and interesting turning point