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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.

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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Business

Work-Life Balance in Your Life

It the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life

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Work-life balance (WLB) is the ability to experience a sense of control and to stay productive and competitive at work while maintaining a happy, healthy home-life with sufficient leisure. WLB, also referred to by some as work-life harmony, work-life shift, work-life blend, work-life effectiveness, or work-life integration, requires focus and awareness despite seemingly endless tasks and activities competing for our time and attention.

Work-life balance entails having what I call “breathing space” for yourself each day, feeling a sense of accomplishment while not being consumed by work, and having an enjoyable domestic life without short-changing career obligations. WLB is rooted in whatever fulfillment means to you within the course of a day and a week, and however many years you have left in your life.

Supporting Disciplines

Several disciplines support work-life balance though, individually, none are synonymous with work-life balance:

1) Self Management

Sufficiently managing one’s self can be challenging, particularly in getting proper sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Self-management is the recognition that effectively using the spaces in our lives is vital, and that life, time, and available resources are finite. It means becoming captain of our own ship; no one is coming to steer for us.

2) Time Management

Effective time management involves making optimal use of your day and the supporting resources that can be summoned – you can only keep pace when your resources match your challenges. Time management is enhanced through appropriate goals and discerning what is both important and urgent, versus important OR urgent. It entails understanding what you do best and when, and assembling the appropriate tools to accomplish specific tasks.

3) Stress Management

By nature, societies tend to become more complex over time. In the face of increasing complexity, stress on the individual is inevitable. More people, noise, and distractions, independent of one’s individual circumstances, require each of us to become more adept at maintaining tranquility and being able to work ourselves out of pressure-filled situations. Most forms of multi-tasking ultimately increase our stress, while focusing on one thing at a time helps decrease stress.

4) Change Management

In our fast-paced world, change is virtually the only constant. Continually adopting new methods, adapting old, and re-adapting all methods is vital to a successful career and a happy home life. Effective change management involves offering periodic and concerted efforts so that the volume and rate of change at work and at home does not overwhelm or defeat you.

5) Technology Management

Effectively managing technology requires ensuring that technology serves you, rather than abuses you. Technology has always been with us, since the first walking stick, spear, flint, and wheel. Today, the rate of technological change is accelerating, brought on by vendors seeking expanding market share. Often you have no choice but to keep up with the technological Joneses, but rule technology, don’t let it rule you.

6) Leisure Management

The most overlooked of the work-life balance supporting disciplines, leisure management acknowledges 1) the importance of rest and relaxation, 2) that “time off” is a vital component of the human experience, and 3) that one can’t indefinitely short-change leisure without repercussions. Curiously, too much of the same leisure activity, however enjoyable, can lead to monotony. Thus, effective leisure management requires varying one’s activities.

Entirely Achievable

Achieving work-life balance does not require radical changes in what you do. It is about developing fresh perspectives and sensible, actionable solutions that are appropriate for you. It is fully engaging in life with what you have, right where you are, smack dab in the ever-changing dynamics of your existence.

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Life

A World of Possibilities for Each Of Us

Let us be free to like what we like and not have others be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits

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I read a remarkable Letter to the Editor in a college newspaper, from a young black student. The point of his letter was so amazing and its insights so profound that it needs to be shared across the country for everyone, of all races.

This student wrote that, as a black male, it would inaccurate to make judgments about him without knowing him personally. He highlighted, for example, that while he likes some rap music, he much prefers traditional rock and roll, and even an occasional country song.

Is Your Bias Showing?

He wrote that if you think a black student should not like country music then your bias is showing. Why couldn’t a student, of any race or ethnicity, enjoy a particular type of music even if it’s not traditionally ascribed to his or her particular group? Who is in control here?

He likes historical novels, modern novels, biographies, and autobiographies. He was captivated by a biography about the Wright Brothers. He enjoys poetry and finds the poems from many writers to be relevant to him, from Maya Angelou to Carl Sandberg.

He suggests that there is a world of possibilities when it comes to entertainment, music, and literature. Why, he asks, must we be confined to the narrow band of choices that others, particularly within our own races and ethnicities, suggest that we adhere to? Who decides what is best for all members of a particular group? On what do they base their decisions?

Who Chooses?

Who determined that venturing outside of such restrictive limits is somehow being a traitor to one’s group? And what does it mean to even be a traitor when it comes to literature, history, music, and so on?

He pointed out in the most eloquent of terms that following the dictates of a small section of the populace and adhering to the stereotypes that prevail are extremely limiting to one’s personal freedom and an attack on one’s individuality and, potentially, creativity.

With so many experiences and possibilities that one can enjoy, he ponders, why limit yourself, especially at the age of 19, 20, or 21 to predefined, limiting confines?

No Free for All

I marveled at this young man’s wisdom which seems to transcend his years. I certainly was not as wise and perceptive myself at that age.

Over the next few days, I was eager to see if there would be any responses to his letter. Surely, he’s going to get some blowback. Someone of his own race will tell him that he needs to get “back in his lane.” Someone will tell him he’s “not acting black,” or not black enough. Somebody else will say that he’s been brainwashed, probably from an early age and he’s trying to capitulate to the predominant Caucasian culture. Someone might call him an “Uncle Tom.”

While I was monitoring the publication, actually nothing was said of his letter. I hoped maybe somebody else, or lots of somebody else’s, understood the man’s viewpoint. They could see the wisdom in his observations. I thought perhaps someone would comment in that direction, but that didn’t happen either.

Free to Choose

In the larger sense, it’s a shame that blacks and other minorities, as well as Caucasians, are supposed to act this way or that way. Hispanics are supposed to prefer this versus that. Asians are supposed to do this versus that. Why, exactly, do these illegitimate confines continue to rule the perceptions of vast numbers of our population?

Why can’t we be free to like what we like, to prefer what we prefer, and have others not be the gatekeepers of our intellectual pursuits?

I have no knowledge of this young man and how he has fared in his studies and overall life. I surmise that whatever he’s doing, whether it’s continuing in his education, landing a job, entering the military, volunteering, traveling, or simply taking time off, he will continue to pursue his interests and remain unique.

Bound for Success

Hopefully, he’ll continue to sidestep unwarranted, prevailing norms that dictate what he can like, think, and be. May we all strive to have such personal freedom.

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