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Ultra-Brief Movie Reviews

A very brief look at several current movies

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Here is a very brief look at several current movies, including one that is an under-seen gem:

Nobody

This is a movie with a protagonist and plot reminiscent of Keanu Reeves in John Wick. The good guy, a retired, reluctant human-killing machine, is compelled to get back into action against today’s ‘go to villains’ — cutthroat Russians Americans. Miraculously, he dodges several thousand bullets. If you’re 18 go see it, otherwise you can safely save your money.

P.S. It might be useful, not as a movie, but as a type of cathartic experience instead of, say, chucking things at the screen to symbolically hit the domestic terrorists destroying our cities.

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The Courier

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, this is a Cold War era spy movie, par excellence, a bit reminiscent of the German film, The Lives of Others. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you know that I rarely call a movie great.

Completely overlooked by the ridiculously woke AMPAS, and probably way too subtle, The Courier is a great movie, easily among the best five pictures of the year, if not the best. One friend said, “Loved The Courier.”

“It deserves consideration especially with the unpatriotic events unfolding.” And I replied, “but woke Hollywood would object to the subservient wives and to no minorities in the film. So it has no chance for an Oscar.”

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Here is a look at previously reviewed films:

Judas and the Black Messiah

Starring the British Daniel Kaluuya, and Lakeith Stanfield, both of whom who have excellent futures in the movies, Judas and the Black Messiah is a pleasant surprise despite the ultra-clunky title. I was expecting a heavy philosophical overlay of how the Black Panthers’ experience then, somehow translates to Black Lives Matter today.

Indeed, 300+ movie reviewers fervently want to connect the two experiences but they differ vastly: 50 to 55 years ago the FBI, Chicago Police, and other police departments were verifiably hostile to black people. Today, the FBI knowingly and blatantly shields Black Live Matters crimes, be it rioting, looting, mayhem, and even murder.

While a handful of regrettable “death by cop” cases arise each year, in general, police are not out to get black people, who are given more leeway and understanding than anyone from the 1960s could presume. And minority officers now represent 40% or more of many city police departments.

As Kaluuya is emerging as the new generation’s Denzel Washington, Martin Sheen hits a new low, not helped by the makeup director, playing an unconvincing J. Edgar Hoover.

Also, I wish someone had told me prior to my watching the movie that Fred Hampton is 18 years old, whereas Kaluuya at the time of filming is 30 years old; a major disconnect between the actor’s portrayal and the reality of the times.

The Father

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman, and Olivia Williams, The Father is a 93-minute movie that is 63 minutes too long. You could watch the first 15 minutes and the last 15 minutes and be no less informed.

We should all be thankful if our parents, or our future selves, do not suffer from the level of dementia portrayed here: He can’t recall what happened yesterday, sometimes an hour ago, and sometimes minutes ago.

The saving grace of the film is that it shows reality from the father’s perspective, which is a constant jangle of dates, times, people, situations, and places; and the reality of those around him who have to deal with his constant ramblings, false assertions, obstinance, proud declarations, and outright inaccuracies.

The set decorations are simple and monotonous: one apartment, one stroll outside, and one nursing care facility. That’s it. Sorry to seem terse, but this movie represents a strong statement for euthanasia — what is this point of lingering on for years in a mental state of total disarray? Save time, watch the trailer and read a long review.

Nomadland

Starring Frances McDormand, Nomadland offers a view of the American west and people who choose to no longer have permanent roots. The film presents one brief encounter after another, moving to the next scene, and the next.

It does impart the sense of loneliness and in some cases emptiness of the people who have chosen this lifestyle and so is somewhat engaging while watching it, but otherwise totally skippable.

McDormand has been nominated for an Oscar, however, this is not among her best. The film itself is regarded as profound by many reviewers, but then so was The Shape of Water and Roma (!).

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Jeff Davidson is the world's only holder of the title "The Work-Life Balance Expert®" as awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is the premier thought leader on work-life balance, integration, and harmony. Jeff speaks to organizations that seek to enhance their overall productivity by improving the effectiveness of their people. He is the author of Breathing Space, Simpler Living, Dial it Down, and Everyday Project Management. Visit www.BreathingSpace.com for more information on Jeff's keynote speeches and seminars, including: Managing the Pace with Grace® * Achieving Work-Life Balance™ * Managing Information and Communication Overload®



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Life

130 Things for Which to Be Grateful

Whether it’s a person, object, form of entertainment, place, or concept, everyone can be grateful for many things

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I asked around and learned some of the things for which people express gratitude. Whether it’s a person, object, form of entertainment, place, or concept, everyone can be grateful for many things.

While some items on the list might not apply to you, most are items for which we can all be grateful at one time or another in our lives:

People & Relationships

Family
Friends
Good teachers
Role models
My boyfriend
My girlfriend

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My parents
My children
Babies
Siblings and cousins
Coaches
Mentors

Family reunions
Engagements and weddings
Pets
Nice wait staff
A kind landlord
High school reunion

Health

Generally good health
The ability to walk
Breathing
My genes
Good hearing and eyesight
A Sound Mind

Safety and Security

Police and Fire Departments
U.S. Military
National Weather Service
Freedom of the press
Freedom of religion
Domestic Privacy

Modern Luxuries

Clean water
Mouth wash
Cars
Public transportation
Air conditioning
Clothes that fit

Washers and dryers
Work at home jobs
Being employed
Book publishers
Financial aid
The ability to own property

Technology

GPS
DVR
Pandora
Computers
Smartphones
The Internet

iTunes
Powerpoint
Photographs

Entertainment

Movies
Broadway shows
ESPN and ESPN2
TV news
Learning Channel
History Channel

Fashion
“Retail therapy”
Xbox, Gameboy
Books
Concerts
Art

Sports

Running
Skiing
Rowing
College basketball
Tennis
Skating rinks

NHL
MLB
NBA
WNBA
Olympics
NFL

Foods

Good food
Mexican food
Sushi
Pizza Fruit
Ice cream
Crunchy peanut butter

Cream cheese
Beer
Tea
Chocolate
Asparagus
Miso soup

Places

The USA
National and state parks
Social scenes
Bars
Whole Foods, Earth Fair, and Trader Joe’s
Costco and Sam’s Club

Coffee shops
Public schools and universities
Swimming pools
The beach and mountains
Shopping malls
Cruise ships

Arboretums
Vancouver
Niagra Falls
NYC

Nature

Pretty weather
The arrival of spring
The arrival of fall
Thanksgiving
Freshly cut flowers
First snow

Concepts

Learning
Formal education
Lessons learned
Experiences
Respect
Ability to change

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Life

Authors Who Avoid Hasty Conclusions

Much of the information that we encounter, especially via the internet, is only partially true, if not completely bogus

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So much of the information that we encounter today, especially via the internet, is only partially true, if not completely bogus. As such, I admire the work of selected authors over the past few decades. They remind me to check out what seems to be common knowledge, for the truth the lies beyond it:

Self-help author Denis Waitley observed Albert Einstein always scored quite well in math and science. Some “historians” noted that his top grade of six on a scale of one to six dropped to a level of one from one year to the next, and they arbitrarily assumed he had started to flunk those courses. The school had reversed its grading system, however, to make the highest grade a one instead of a six.

For decades, no one had bothered to examine the original “evidence” leading to the proclamation that Einstein was an academic failure.

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Pop Trends

In her book, Backlash, author Susan Faludi told how “pop” market forecasters made a fortune by reviewing popular media, such as newspapers, television, movies and so forth, and then concluding what trends are looming in America. The extreme fallacy with this method of forecasting, Faludi noted, is that it tends to promulgate that which only a handful of editors, publishers and directors believe or perpetrate. No hard data supports the “forecasts.”

One such forecaster was credited with coining the term “cocooning” for the 1980s, where working men and women, particularly women, decided to spend more time in the household. Faludi shows that the assertion has no relationship to U.S. Department Bureau of Labor Statistics that indicated an increase in the number of women in the workforce and in the time each spent outside the home.

Nevertheless, corporations paid hefty sums to be told where we were all headed next. Because many other factors can obscure results, if the predicted “trend” then doesn’t help the corporate customer, it is rarely linked back to the forecaster. Such companies would do better, observed Faludi, to simply consult the U.S. Bureau of the Census, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and other sources that independently collect data, presumably with no bias.

Dastardly Dads?

Faludi also uncovered this: The “fact” that an epidemic of divorced fathers refused to pay child care, which is a falsehood that distorted reality for decades. According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, the great majority of fathers with joint custody of their children – nearly 90% – paid their entire support obligation, in full and on time. Some 80% of fathers with visitation privileges, but not joint custody, paid regularly. Only when the courts deprive fathers of both custody and access do support levels drop to under 50%, the figure mistakenly attributed to all fathers.

Despite the strong correlation between a man’s ability to have joint custody or visitation with his children and his willingness to make regular support payments, most legislators and judges didn’t seem to see it. Their automatic and immediate response in cases of nonpayment was to blame the male, instead of enforcing the man’s right to visit his children and encouraging father-child relationships.

By continuing to make the majority of child custody awards to women, the courts systematically disregarded the role fathers played and all but ensured that the children would have adjustment problems. Even if a man legally wins visitation rights, his ability to visit his kids isn’t guaranteed. Judges don’t often put uncooperative mothers in jail. So, fathers end up going to court repeatedly – a costly venture. Sometimes after many attempts to visit their children, some fathers withhold support payments to force what the courts will not.

The media, charging to no one’s rescue and in search of thirty second sound bites, label such fathers as deadbeat, or worse. Hence, the widespread misconception about the true nature of what’s going on in this critical arena continues even to this day.

Abounded Influence

In his acclaimed 1990 book, Agents of Influence, author Pat Choate debunked the myth that the Japanese, as a whole, significantly contributed to the development of innovation and technology as evidenced by their annual lead in the number of U.S. patents they had filed and obtained. As Choate explained, the Japanese tilted the economic playing field, via the ruthless art of “patent flooding.”

When a U.S. firm, for example, applied for a patent representing an innovation on which the Japanese wanted to capitalize, Japanese firms issued a flurry of patent applications that surrounded the technology at hand. Thus, the original developer or inventor could not market his invention  without getting clearance from the Japanese, who could tie up an invention in the courts simply because they held nuisance patents for a component or contributing element to the major patent.

After decades of such tactics, and with China included as a leading culprit, the U.S. government still has failed to install comprehensive, necessary protections to safeguard the toil and genius of the original American patent applicant. As such, our government has unwittingly contributed to the redistribution of billions of dollars in royalties and revenues to others.

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