TIME film

The Coca-Cola Bottle is Getting Its Own Documentary

Assorted Antique Bottle Caps
Blank Archives—Getty Images An assortment of American soda, juice, and beer bottle caps mostly from the 1950s and early 1960s. Some are flipped-over to show cork backing. (Photo by Blank Archives/Getty Images)

It's the bottle's 100th anniversary

A documentary about the classic Coca-Cola bottle? It’s about time.

Timed to its 100th anniversary, Matthew Miele will produce a documentary this year on the bottle’s history, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The film will focus on the bottle since its invention in 1915 and its influence on pop art, cinema and artists like Andy Warhol.

“When I can hold up a Coca-Cola bottle and ask, ‘is this art or is this commerce?’ and most commonly hear ‘it’s both,’ that sets the stage for an intriguing narrative,” said Miele, who intends to interview personalities and luminaries across various industries.

Coca-Cola has approved the project and will help pay for marketing.

[THR]

TIME Culture

‘Madam, I’m Adam': Meet the Reigning World Palindrome Champion

His name is actually Mark, though his brothers have been known to call him Kram

Eat poop tea.

When he was a kid, Mark Saltveit would sit in the car with his two young brothers, bored silly during 500-mile drives on family trips. Eventually he and his siblings turned to palindromes to pass the time. They had learned about these delightful strings of wordplay in school, a row of letters that read the same backwards as forwards. Poop, to the grade-school boys, was of course the consummate example. And when they worked out “Eat poop tea,” they felt like the Albert Einsteins of palindromy—until they realized that it didn’t quite work.

“We were crushed,” laughs Saltveit, now 53, as he recalls the cruel realization that the actual mirror image would be Eat poop tae. But during a bout of insomnia during his 20s, he remembered how he had filled the hours in the family car. Saltveit broke out the dictionary and embarked on what would become his life’s work. Within hours, he had written his first palindrome, at a length that most people couldn’t achieve in a month, or maybe ever. He called it “The Brag of the Vain Lawyer:”

Resoled in Saratoga, riveting in a wide wale suit, I use law, Ed. I, wan, ignite virago, tar a snide loser.

Within three decades, he would become the reigning world palindrome champion.

Saltveit is the star of a new documentary short that filmmaker Vince Clemente is hoping will inspire people to pay for making the feature-length version, as he follows the world’s leading palindromists up to their showdown at the next world championship in 2017. A Kickstarter campaign to fund the initial stages of A Man, a Plan, a Palindrome went live this week. The short debuted in March at—where else—the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, an annual gathering of people who like to debate whether puzzles are better solved using .3 mm or .7 mm lead in mechanical pencils.

“I am drawn to niche worlds. I feel that they need to be explored,” Clemente says. “If you are a palindromist, you are an artist and a genius. There is no doubt. The amount of skill that goes into each one is beyond calculation. Sure, when one is done anyone could look at it and say, ‘Duh, that was easy.’ And I think that is a sign of great artistry.”

Doc, note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.

In a rare cultural moment, some of the world’s greatest palindromists have just been given the Hollywood treatment — even if palindromes aren’t even mentioned in the film.

These men are the stars of The Imitation Game, which tells the story of the mathematicians who unraveled Nazi codes during World War II. Peter Hilton (Matthew Beard), plays a background character in a biopic that focuses on Alan Turing, but he is the stuff of palindrome legend. Taking a break from his work, Hilton puzzled out the above palindrome over five hours. The skills these men brought to code-breaking, says Saltveit—who may know more about the cultural history of palindromes than any other living person—are the same skills one needs to mentally run through all the possible letter combinations that might build out a grammatical, coherent sentence in opposite directions.

“The amazing thing about Peter Hilton is he did this all in his head,” Saltveit says. “But that was his gift. That’s why he was famous even among the code breakers, because he had that ability.”

Constructing a palindrome starts with the middle, Saltveit explains. In the case of Hilton’s famous work, that was:

never prevents

That leaves a “ts” dangling on one end that must become “st” at the end of a word on the other. So one runs through all the words they can think of that end in “st”—last, vast, past, amast. When Hilton decides that a fast jibes well with never prevents he then knows he has to work with this:

a fast never prevents a fa

And on he goes, running through his mental Rolodex of words that being “fa,” until he has created the deceptively straightforward three-sentence masterpiece, without so much as a pencil or a piece of paper.

As an avid student of palindrome history, Saltveit was bequeathed rare copies of the journals of British mathematician and word-artist Leigh Mercer, who died in 1977. While people don’t generally know his name, they’re probably familiar with his most famous palindromic creation:

A man, a plan, a canal, Panama!

In the journals, it’s clear that he also worked from the middle outward. On one page, Saltveit says, is this revealing fragment:

Panama, a man a p

Saltveit, of course, used this same method when he took home the world’s first World Palindrome Championship title.

He and the other few but proud souls who can call themselves true palindromists (pronounced pal-IN-droh-MISTS) gathered in Brooklyn, New York in March 2012. Each was called to the front of a ballroom at the Marriott, in front of about 700 or so eager audience members, and given a choice of three challenges: write a palindrome that contains an x and a z; write a palindrome about someone who has been in the news in the past year; or write a palindrome about this competition.

They were given 75 minutes to craft up to three palindromes off-stage, as the audience was entertained with other wordplay. The winner was to be decided by audience vote. Each attendee had a little sign they could use to convey their approval or disapproval: It read “huh?” on one side and “wow!” on the other.

Saltveit, who is also a freelance writer, stand-up comedian and editor of the Palindromist magazine, was going up against the likes of cartoonist Jon Agee, who Saltveit describes as the only person to ever make money off this art. Agee was and is a formidable foe, a man who understands how to balance the ridiculous and sensical in just the right measure. He is the author of this book and its famed, eponymous palindrome:

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A great palindrome, in Saltveit’s estimation, is a little weird. It should be basically grammatical and follow some rules of natural language, but more important is telling a story or creating an absurd image in the reader’s head. Take this example, he says:

Enid and Edna dine.

“It’s a perfectly good palindrome. There’s nothing flawed with the English. It’s just boring,” he says. Now tweak it just a little bit, swap a verb and a name, and you’ve got this:

Dennis and Edna sinned.

That’s basically the same palindrome, he says, “but it’s a heck of a lot more interesting.” Much like this one:

Sit on a potato pan, Otis.

“There’s no such thing as a potato pan and nobody has ever told anybody to sit on a pan anyway. So the absurdity of it is its strength,” Saltveit explains. “You’re almost kind of showing off how far you had to jump to make this work, like you really had to push yourself to heroic bits of cleverness to pound your way through. And that’s the trade-off, versus being smooth. You can be too smooth.”

So when Saltveit sat down for his 75 minutes, he started with the already silly, vivid phrase trapeze part. Like other palindromists, he keeps his own “dictionary,” a collection of tens of thousands of mirror-image fragments that he encounters in daily life—reading every sign, advertisement and text message forwards and backwards. Sometimes, in fact, he so busy inverting letters that he neglects to read them forwards at all. It can become so distracting that he makes himself stop for a time.

When he emerged with the six other contestants, Saltveit revealed a palindrome that—in its charming, barely sensible senselessness—could not be beat:

Devil Kay fixes trapeze part; sex if yak lived.

The “wow!” signs sprung into the air. “The audience went for the dirty one, which is not surprising,” says Saltveit. “I threw in a y just to show off.”

Part of what Clemente’s documentary seeks to record is the training that Saltveit and other palindromists are already doing in advance of the 2017 championship, with about two years left on the clock. In Portland, Ore., Saltveit is already running himself through timed trials, asking his wife to throw him a topic—any topic—and seeing what he can come up with. (I asked him how she felt about this hobby of his. “I was completely open about my palindromy before the marriage.”) Unlike most palindromists, Saltveit also has a personal trainer who has crafted a regimen of progressive exercises designed to increase the blood flow to his brain.

It’s hard to imagine anyone who professes to love words not donating a few dollars to see what else these brains get up to—and whether Saltveit can defend his title. There is a rich history of palindromes to weave into the tapestry. Saltveit has traced their origins back to the Hellenistic era, when people stood in the shadow of the world’s first library and stumbled across these magical, symmetrical strings of letters that they believed must be the blessings of god and the curses of demons. As God tells Moses from the burning bush when a man dares to challenge his identity, in what is a word-unit palindrome in Hebrew: I am who I am.

“There’s so much more to explore and share,” says Clemente. To donate to the campaign, visit the Kickstarter page here.

TIME movies

Watch the Latest Trailer for Disney’s Tomorrowland

Frank (George Clooney) meets Casey (Britt Robertson) for the first time

Walt Disney Pictures has released the second trailer for Brad Bird’s upcoming sci-fi adventure film Tomorrowland, and this time we get to see a bit more of the mysterious world it portrays.

George Clooney plays a former boy-genius named Frank who has grown into a rather jaded old man, but when bright young teen Casey (Britt Robertson) finds a portal to the strange world in the form of a pin, the duo embark on a danger-filled adventure.

In the new trailer, Frank meets Casey for the first time, we see that an evil group is trying to stop the pair and we learn that bathtubs make great rockets.

Disney is still not giving away too many clues about the film but this new trailer is only making us want to find out more.

Tomorrowland hits cinemas May 22, 2015.

TIME movies

Fifty Shades Is on Track to Earn $500 Million

Sam Taylor-Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson and E.L. James pose for photographers upon arrival at the UK premiere of the film Fifty Shades of Grey in London, Feb. 12, 2015
Joel Ryan—Invision/AP Sam Taylor-Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Dakota Johnson and E.L. James pose for photographers upon arrival at the UK premiere of the film Fifty Shades of Grey in London, Feb. 12, 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey has earned $338.4 million from global box offices, becoming Universal Studios’ highest-grossing R-rated film internationally, and is fast approaching a combined domestic and international haul of $500 million.

The film has also been No. 1 for the third consecutive week in a row and is the best-selling film of the year so far.

Its $338.4 million overseas earnings now outrank those of Universal’s previous best-performing R-rated international hit, Ted, which earned $332.4 million. Domestic earnings of $147.8 million mean the film has earned $486 million so far.

The largest foreign market for the film has been the U.K., where it has earned $46.9 million.

[Deadline]

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 20

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Hollywood’s diversity problem goes beyond “Selma.” Asian and Latino stories and faces are missing.

By Jose Antonio Vargas and Janet Yang in the Los Angeles Times

2. Shifting the narrative away from religion is key to defeating ISIS.

By Dean Obeidallah in the Daily Beast

3. Innovation alone won’t fix social problems.

By Amanda Moore McBride and Eric Mlyn in the Chronicle of Higher Education

4. When the Ebola epidemic closed schools in Sierra Leone, radio stepped in to fill the void.

By Linda Poon at National Public Radio

5. The racial wealth gap we hardly talk about? Retirement.

By Jonnelle Marte in the Washington Post

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Hollywood

The Big Dollar Figures Behind Hollywood’s Biggest Night

Oscar statues on stage at Academy Awards
Adam Taylor—ABC via Getty Images

At this Sunday's Academy Awards, all the glitz and glamour of Hollywood will be on display—at a price, of course.

The 87th Academy Awards, being held on February 22, is heavy on film nominees that were made on (relatively) small budgets, with (relatively) meager box office grosses to match. Even so, like any Oscars, a small fortune will be spent on the buildup to this year’s awards ceremony, as well as the big night itself.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the big and small dollar amounts—OK, mostly BIG—behind the Academy Awards.

1: Number of 2015 Best Picture nominees to earn more than $100 million at the box office, in what’s shaping up as an especially blockbuster-light Oscars ceremony. Clint Eastwood’s war drama American Sniper walks away with the honor, but it hardly compares to Avatar, which earned a whopping $2.8 billion in 2010, the highest on record for any BP nominee. Ironically, Avatar lost out to The Hurt Locker, which is the lowest-grossing movie to win Best Picture, pulling in only $14.7 million at the box office before the awards.

$400: The surprisingly low estimate for what one of the Oscar statuettes is actually worth. Mind you, an Oscar isn’t solid gold but is merely gold-plated. Besides, the real value comes with the name connected to the statue: Joan Crawford’s only Oscar, which she received for her performance in Mildred Pierce, sold at auction for $426,732 in 2012, while Orson Welles’ Best Screenplay Oscar for Citizen Kane sold for $861,542 at auction in 2011.

$25,000 – $30,000: The cost of the much-hyped 16,500-square-foot red carpet that Hollywood stars stroll down before the Oscars, according to Red Carpet Systems in Los Angeles. (Installation’s included in the figure.)

$85,000: The per-ticket price scalpers were trying to command by selling seats to the awards show in 2008. Since attendees sign a contract that prohibits them from selling or even giving away their seats, scalped Oscar tickets are all but unheard of today.

$125,000: The value of the swag bag given to Academy Award nominees in 2015. Besides lavish vacations and accessories, this year’s bag includes a $20,000 gift certificate to have Olessia Kantor, the founder of Enigma Life, meet with the nominees to discuss their 2015 horoscopes, analyze their dreams and teach them… mind control techniques.

$500,000 vs. $3.9 million: Hollywood agents estimate that winning an Oscar results in a pay increase of about 20% for the performer’s next project. However, much like in the real world, there’s reportedly a notable gender wage gap. Actors can expect a $3.9 million increase, on average, while actresses may only take home an extra $500,000.

$1.9 million: The cost of a 30-second commercial airing during this year’s TV broadcast of the awards ceremony.

$3 million: The average bump in earnings at the box office for an Oscar-winning film. It’s impressive, but nothing compared to the Golden Globes, where a win can supposedly help pull in an extra $14.2 million in ticket sales.

$18.1 million: The cost of Cate Blanchett’s ensemble at the 2014 Oscars, the most expensive of the night. Her Armani Prive gown was valued at $100,000, while Blanchett wore some $18 million worth of jewelry. More “normal” designer gowns worn at the Oscars run anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, and celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch estimates that jewelry completing the outfit can easily hit $750,000.

$100 million+: The amount spent collectively by Hollywood for the purpose of campaigning for Oscars during awards season. Studios often pay Academy PR consultants $10,000 to $15,000 to run their campaigns; in 2013, Harvey Weinstein actually hired President Obama’s former deputy campaign manager to push Silver Linings Playbook. Meanwhile, the going rate to advertise your film in the Hollywood Reporter during Oscar season is $72,000. It all adds up, and the average campaign for a Best Picture winner costs $10 million on its own.

$130 million: Filmmakers and Hollywood stars aren’t the only winners during the Oscars. Greater Los Angeles is the beneficiary of an economic boost of $130 million thanks to increased spending on everything from florists to limo drivers.

$1 billion: The estimated value, in terms of equivalent advertising dollars, of Ellen DeGeneres’ famous A-list selfie taken during the 2014 Academy Awards.

TIME film

Drive-In Movie Theater Shows Fifty Shades of Grey, Causes Traffic Jam

Universal

Parents were less than pleased

Traffic piled up on Sacramento, Calif.’s Highway 50 this weekend after unsuspecting motorists got an eyeful of Fifty Shades of Grey, which was playing at a nearby drive-in movie theater, Good Morning America reports.

Parents were not pleased that their curious children were treated to some sexy scenes when driving into the theater.

“We just drove in and these two- he’s 12 and he’s 10- were very interested watching it coming in,” John Schmidt, who came to the theater with his family to celebrate his son’s 10th birthday, told a local Fox affiliate.

The Spongebob Movie was playing on a different screen.

Schmidt continued, “I’d think it’s a safety issue; people trying to sneak a peek as they are going 70 miles-an-hour down the freeway and looking not where they are supposed to be going, but looking at the movie.”

Whoops.

Read next: 7 Totally Unexpected ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Products

TIME movies

Watch the First Trailer for Guy Ritchie’s Reboot of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

For once, America and Russia are teaming up

Warner Bros. has just released the first trailer for Guy Ritchie’s big-screen reboot of the 1960s TV series The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Set at the height of the Cold War, the film follows CIA agent Napoleon Solo (played by Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) as they form an unlikely team to stop a mysterious international criminal organization.

Other stars to watch out for are Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant, Jared Harris, Elizabeth Debicki and there’s even a rumor that David Beckham will make an appearance.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is set to hit U.S. theaters on Aug. 14.

TIME On Our Radar

Go Inside the Unexpected Lives of Contemporary Photographers

In Reely and Truly, Tyrone Lebon offers an unorthodox, behind-the-scenes take on photography

Tyrone Lebon‘s short documentary film Reely and Truly succinctly describes itself as a “visual poem on contemporary photographers and their practices.” Shot on all the available analogue, celluloid formats (65mm, 35mm, Super 16mm and Super 8mm) the film’s cinéma-vérité approach reveals as much about the individual, independent photographers it features, as it does about their distinct and disparate work.

The son of an unorthodox and ground-breaking fashion photographer and filmmaker, Lebon grew up in London—during the 1990s—within a creatively stimulating environment of collaboratively-minded practitioners and independent publications. His father Mark Lebon (an early and regular contributor to i-D magazine and a member of the influential West London collective, Buffalo) has clearly been a massive influence, and fittingly the documentary is, playfully and somewhat unconventionally, introduced by him—as the younger Lebon states, from his personal perspective, “if this is a film about photography it should start with him.”

The film features candid vignettes of 20 photographers, including Nobuyoshi Araki, Nigel Shafran, Sean Vegezzi and a number of segments on Juergen Teller—a photographer who, Lebon says, stood out for him in his formative years. “Through my teens I would pick up magazines when the most successful photography was the shiny school of fashion photography—which to me couldn’t be more soul-less and uninteresting—so Juergen’s work stood out as honest. I felt emotion and stories in his pictures and was drawn to that.”

Lebon orginally planned to make a full-length film piece dedicated to Teller, who—although initially reticent to being filmed—ultimately gave Lebon incredible access. The two met regularly over a six-month period, filming in London and traveling together to Germany and India—to document the photographer both at work, and play.

The results, as with the other featured photographers, are often unexpected and revealing—and give insight to the process and personalities of those involved.

The 29 minutes and 17 seconds of Reely and Truly serve as a brief socio-anthropological study of contemporary independent photography, which informed by Lebon’s own influences and experiences—his family and upbringing, his education (he has an MA in social anthropology) and his own perspective as a photographer—produce an intimate and raw mash up of material, that ultimately feels like a sketch for a bigger piece. Which is exactly what it is. Lebon’s ambitions for the project are many-fold and include plans to make a book of photographs with an accompanying series of short portrait films for each of his subjects.

In the meantime, Reely and Truly is being screened within the context of a traveling exhibition, “a lie about a lie; a truth about The truth”, that includes work from the photographers featured in the film and extends to a wider community of image makers —both established and emerging—who contribute to Lebon’s online platform DoBeDo.

The documentary film, Reely and Truly and accompanying exhibition “a lie about a lie; a truth about The truth” will be on show at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto, Canada until Feb. 28.

Phil Bicker is a senior photo editor at TIME.

TIME movies

Movie Studios Join Forces to Help Out Kodak Film

2012 International Consumer Electronics Show
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images An Eastman Kodak Co. logo hangs above the company's booth at the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012.

You’re welcome, hipsters

Six major Hollywood film studios have gotten together to help Kodak remain in the movie business.

Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures and Warner Bros. have all signed deals on advance purchases of Kodak’s film stock, which will help keep the company’s production plants operational.

Kodak is the last company to make motion picture film, which some filmmakers prefer for aesthetic reasons.

“We were very close to the difficult decision of having to stop manufacturing film,” said Jeff Clarke, Kodak’s chief executive, according to the Wall Street Journal. “Now with the cooperation of major studios and filmmakers, we’ll be able to keep it going.”

Kodak has fallen on extraordinarily hard times during the past decade as more movie studios ditch traditional film formats for digital. From 2006 to 2014, Kodak’s motion-picture film sales nosedived by 96%.

[WSJ]

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