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Very Brief Movie Reviews

Ten current movies, each with merit

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Here is a sprinkling of current movies, several of which have received Oscar nominations:

Promising Young Woman

With Carey Mulligan, in an Oscar worthy turn, this movie represents a new step in her acting career. Without giving away any of the plot, it is both compelling and lingering. Produced by Margot Robbie, who seems to have a knack for the zeitgiest, you really can’t forget this movie.

The Trial of the Chicago Seven

Although it take liberties with the actual events, this is a reasonably good movie with many excellent supporting cast members, good pacing, and humor, and is worth viewing. Afterward, look up the fact and fiction within the film.

Sound of Metal

An inside and gripping portrayal of what it’s like to go deaf, as experienced by a drummer for a heavy metal band. Rapper and now actor, Riz Ahmed, in the lead role, offers moments of denial, rebellion, and poignancy.

The Marksman

Starring Liam Neeson, this is a fairly watchable story, but not quite up to par for Neeson who has carved out an unmistakable persona as the loan-wolf symbol of justice in the world. The very scary Mexican cartel guys, who chase him at length, perform aptly.

News of the World

Tom Hanks, overlooked for an Oscar, proves once again that he is among the best actors in the world, as he carries you through a somewhat routine story, with a rather routine plot, and nevertheless holds your attention the whole way through. Also, the child actor from Germany holds her own.

I Care a Lot

Also over-looked for an Oscar nomination, Rosamund Pike is in stride and makes you want to scream about the injustice that her character perpetrates. However, that is the genius of her acting skills, much like she conveyed in Gone Girl. As a megalomaniac, intent on being super-wealthy and willing to die trying. I was positive (and wrong) that super ‘woke’ Hollywood crowd would reward any and all such negative portrayals of capitalism.

Run Hide Fight

Here is a refreshing change from the ‘politically correct’ movies of the last two decades. A female high school student makes a stand against school shooters bent on destruction and massive media attention. Eli Brown is notable as the deranged, articulate mass murdering classmate.

Mank

Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried star in this biopic about Hollywood screenwriter Frank Mankiewicz (grandfather of TCM’s Ben Mankiewicz). Strattling the 1930s and 40s, while penning Citizen Kane, ‘Mank’ has a fondness for alcohol and for saying whatever he thinks. Charles Dance, as the preeminent but affable William Randolph Hearst is notable. This is an insider’s movie for the thankfully shrinking number of people who know or care about Hollywood.

Crisis

Gary Oldman, Armie Hammer, and Evangeline Lilly each do well in this alluring tale of how fentanyl has a stranglehold our society. This is a grim film, but well worth viewing.

Adverse

Thomas Ian Nicholas scores notably as a conflicted Uber driver, on parole, trying to make a home and take care of his younger, drug-crazed, half-sister, amidst a violent and murderous loan sharking enterprise headed by Mickey Rourke, who plays it brilliantly.

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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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Faith

Reducing Stress Through Prayer, and More

Taking a few minutes out of a hectic day can spell the difference between frenzy and tranquility

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Prayer has been an effective method for soothing the soul since people first believed in God. For some people, the payoff comes with sitting still, and being quiet. Many feel a direct connection with God which, in itself, is calming. Those who attend a place of worship every Sunday find that praying with others is comforting. Reverence to God, fellowship, and familiar chants and hymns can all aid in reducing stress and bringing inner contentment.

If you haven’t prayed in a while, in addition to the religious aspects, the stress reduction can be magnificent. Even if you never attend a formal prayer service, informal prayer, by your bedside, in a comfortable chair, or somewhere in nature can work as well. Some of the most accomplished and admirable people who have ever walked this earth have been deeply religious and have found great comfort in prayer.

Other Options

In our rush-rush society, your ability to take a few minutes out of a hectic day can spell the difference between frenzy and tranquility. The majority of stress we experience is a result of the daily deluge of information and communication we come in contact with on top of the amount of tasks we need to accomplish. If you have been experiencing severe stress, it might mean the difference between a long life and a shortened one.

People have long used drugs (prescribed and otherwise!) and medications to achieve certain effects. I’m not knocking all of these substances – some of them probably live up to their mystique; however, there is no need to engage in drugs, considering there are so many other ways to effectively reduce stress.

Amidst the flurry of reports from medical researchers, many people also rely on a glass or two of wine each day to relax. If this is your habit, and it works for you, you’re probably on reasonably safe ground. The latest research, however, paints a less rosy picture about wine’s beneficial effects. I’m concerned, as well, about the long-term effects of having two glasses of wine, 365 days a year, for 10 or 20 years.

Change for Real

It often seems like people around you are enamored by some techniques such as meditation or yoga, but in reality, most people who practice these or other techniques do so only a handful of times. Then, they revert back to what they did previously.

The changes that you implement need to come without too much pain, to be subtle, even natural and easy. Otherwise, you probably won’t stick with them. Lasting and effective change can come from small incremental change. So, keep in mind that not every technique will strike your fancy. Enough of them will fit your lifestyle, and will work for you enough of the time for you to stay with them and to ultimately exercise control in ways that you have always wanted.

Talking to Someone

The mere act of talking to someone about issues confronting you can be stress reducing, and certainly more effective than mentally stewing over things alone. In The Psychological Society, author Martin L. Gross concluded that “the modern industry of psychology in America was no more effective in treating patients than witch doctors in Africa were in treating people who came to them.”

The key was whether or not the patient believed that the doctor had healing powers. Hence, if you believe that a witch doctor can help you, then a witch doctor can be as effective as a psychiatrist. A trusted friend or relative, with whom you can discuss your problems, can be equally effective.

The idea of talking to someone about what is stressing you is not so much that you will find a solution then and there, but that the mere physical act of discussing the stressor moves you closer to resolution, perhaps using one of the techniques discussed in this article.

Using Humor

Throughout the ages, humor has also been a primary tool in helping to reduce stress. Don’t discount the power of humor before trying it. If it’s been a while, or forever, since you’ve engaged in humor to reduce stress, you’re in for a treat. I’m not talking about jokes or side-splitting belly laughs, but rather a gleeful, playful acceptance of the inane and absurd situations that you encounter, and as a business owner you have your share of them.

The ability to laugh at yourself or to laugh at your situation might spell the fundamental difference between those who show resilience in the face of hard times, and those who face nervous breakdowns.

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Life

For High Productivity, Take a Nap

Naps are better than caffeine for improving verbal memory, motor skills, and perceptual learning

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A study by researchers Sara Mednick, Denise Cai, Jennifer Kanady, and Sean Drummond published in Behavioural Brain Research (2008) found that naps are better than caffeine for improving verbal memory, motor skills, and perceptual learning.

Many people avoid napping during the day to not interfere with a good night’s sleep. “Why should I sleep now,” they might ask, “if it’s only going to make me toss and turn in bed tonight?” Actually, naps can be helpful in recovering from sleep deprivation, refreshing your energy supply, and reducing stress. Naps can do more harm than good, however, when taken at the wrong time or for the wrong amount of time.

The “When” of Napping

So, when to nap? Health.com advises that the preferred time to experience deep sleep is between noon and 2 pm. Naps at other times of the day tend to not be as deep, and therefore will not be as refreshing.

Alternatively, according to Dr. Jack Eddiger at Duke University, the ideal time to take a nap is between 1 pm and 3 pm to 4 pm. These guidelines particularly apply to weekdays. Dr. Eddiger further suggests setting a timer to keep your nap to 20 minutes or less. In that time frame, you can awake refreshed, and more easily resume what you were doing. Longer than 20 minutes and you run the risk of entering into deeper REM sleep. Thereafter, you might need a while to return to where you need to be mentally.

Refreshed or Groggy? – Experts at the National Sleep Foundation concur that when you nap prior to 3 pm, you’re less likely to incur difficulties falling asleep that night. The journal Sleep published a study concurring that shorter naps can be more beneficial. A 10-minute nap both diminishes sleepiness and improves cognitive performance. A 30-minute nap or longer can result in lingering grogginess.

When napping, seek a dark, cool place, in any comfortable position. Once you find the perfect nap time for you, you’ll find that your mood, productivity, attitude, and energy increase. When you start experimenting with your nap hours and your nap lengths, don’t be surprised if you can succeed outside of the recommended guidelines.

Where oh, Where

When you do nap, choose a cot or a bed, versus a chair, in a location where you won’t be disturbed. If at home, hang a sign to tell others in advance. You’ll find that the quality of your nap is higher and the benefits to you will be apparent.

Forbes reports that some high-powered executives and CEOs, whose names are well known, are advocates of taking naps. Many have elaborate napping procedures, knowing that once they awake, they’re ready to jump back into the fray to do great work.

Beware: Naps are not to be used as a substitute for getting the right amount of sleep each night. They are a supplement. It is not ideal to be taking naps to make up for sleep that you missed during the night. In fact, that misses the point altogether.

Weekend Naps

What about napping on the weekend? Generally speaking, it’s okay, and you can loosen up on the time intervals and the length of the nap. Presumably, on the weekend, you have more flexibility. Nevertheless, don’t nap too late in the afternoon or approaching the early evening, if you intend to get to bed at a reasonable hour. You can let the 4 pm guideline slip, but don’t go much past five or six.

An exception is when you have a late night activity planned. For example, when you’re heading out to a social gathering at 9 pm or 10 pm, a nap as late as 7 pm could be to your advantage. You’ll have the alertness and energy to fully participate in the event, even if it extends past midnight.

Napping later in the afternoon or in the early evening is a useful strategy when you’re going to watch a television program that you know will run long. In the U.S., most major events, including the World Series, Academy Awards, Grammys, and NBA finals are scheduled to start at 9 pm on the east coast and 6 pm on the west coast. Hence, Californians have no real issues in finishing the telecast. East coasters, who want to watch the end, can benefit from a nap of a couple hours before a telecast begins.

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