Yardeni Research

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Latest Movie Review
House of Clinton (+ + +) is the yet-to-be-made movie loosely based on actual people and events. As it opens, Madam Secretary of State is the newly elected President of the United States. She won despite a series of scandals involving a home server used for her emails, which she mostly deleted, and a family charitable trust rife with conflicts of interest. Major spy agencies around the world downloaded her emails, having hacked into her unprotected server before she scurried to erase them. Some of their governments were major contributors to the family charity, and also paid her husband, a former President, more than anyone has ever been paid for a speech. The movie exposes how those governments are able to leverage what they know about the First Family to wield influence over the White House without investing another dime. Conspiracy theories always make for good theater.
2015 Movie Reviews
American Sniper (+ +) is an intense movie based on the extraordinary true story of Chris Kyle, a US Navy SEAL who served four tours in Iraq as a lethal sniper committed to protecting his comrades-in-arms. He is commendably played by Bradley Cooper, who produced the film, which was well directed by Clint Eastwood.
Birdman (+) received nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Director. In addition, Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, and Emma Stone all earned acting nods for Best Actor, Supporting Actor, and Supporting Actress. Keaton plays a washed-up actor, who once played an iconic superhero, i.e., Birdman. He attempts to make a comeback in a Broadway play. The movie is a bit off-beat, and not as awesome as suggested by all the nominations. But I can see why the Hollywood crowd might love this self-absorbed movie since many of them are self-absorbed and fear being washed up. Keaton’s career stalled after he played Batman (1989 and 1992).
Effie Gray (+) is a Victorian-era film about the scandalous love triangle between art critic John Ruskin, his teenage bride Effie Gray, and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. It’s a bit slow, but then there aren’t too many fast-paced movies about the Victorian era. The script was written by Emma Thompson, who also has a small role in the film. This famous Victorian love triangle has been dramatized in plays, films, and an opera. I hope that’s the end of it.
Foxcatcher(-) is based on a true crime story. It is also truly slow, bordering on boring. Nevertheless, the film was nominated for five Oscars at the 2015 Academy Awards. In 1986, multimillionaire and wrestling enthusiast John E. du Pont recruited the 1984 US Olympic gold medalist wrestlers (and brothers) Dave and Mark Schultz to help coach US wrestlers for national and world competitions. Steve Carell plays du Pont as a cocaine-addicted and maniacally deranged control freak. It’s a good performance, though bordering on boring like the film.
House of Clinton (+ + +) is the yet-to-be-made movie loosely based on actual people and events. As it opens, Madam Secretary of State is the newly elected President of the United States. She won despite a series of scandals involving a home server used for her emails, which she mostly deleted, and a family charitable trust rife with conflicts of interest. Major spy agencies around the world downloaded her emails, having hacked into her unprotected server before she scurried to erase them. Some of their governments were major contributors to the family charity, and also paid her husband, a former President, more than anyone has ever been paid for a speech. The movie exposes how those governments are able to leverage what they know about the First Family to wield influence over the White House without investing another dime. Conspiracy theories always make for good theater.
The Imitation Game (+ + +) is a truly extraordinary true story about how math whiz Alan Turing, who was recruited by MI6, cracked the Nazis' secret code, which was code-named “Enigma.” He essentially invented the first computer in order to do so. Benedict Cumberbatch delivers an outstanding performance as the socially challenged professor whose accomplishment shortened World War II by two years, by some estimates.
Leviathan (+ + +) received an Oscar nomination for best foreign-language film, but lost to “Ida,” a Polish contender. Both are top-notch. This movie is a cinematic version of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” It’s a scathing attack on corruption among both the political and church elite in Russia. It’s a tale of a Job-like common man crushed by the omnipotent corrupt state. Russia's Ministry of Culture, which helped fund the movie, has threatened to impose new rules to impede the production of such films. State television decided not to broadcast the Oscars live this year. The movie includes a key scene during which a picture of smirking Vladimir Putin is visible behind the shoulder of the corrupt mayor, who is the villain of the movie. Late on Friday, Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov was murdered on the street in Moscow. Reuters reported: “National investigators who answer to Putin say they are pursuing several lines of inquiry, including the possibility that Nemtsov, a Jew, was killed by radical Islamists or that the opposition killed him to blacken the president's name.” We live in Orwellian times. Leviathan is bigger than ever everywhere.
Taken 3 (- -) is the third action movie in this thriller franchise starring Liam Neeson. The action is boring. It’s not thrilling. Neeson is clearly in it for the money and not the acting challenge. The original was entertaining. The second was less so. The third will keep me from going to the fourth and so on. In a similar fashion, the Greek drama is getting tiresome. The other members of the Eurozone aren’t likely to be taken by the Greeks' latest attempt to walk away from their debts.
Timbuktu (+ + +) is an extraordinary flick. Abderrahmane Sissako, who happens to be a Muslim, is the director of Mauritania's Oscar-nominated film. It dramatizes the stifling fascism imposed on daily life in the Malian city of Timbuktu by jihadists who occupied it in 2012. The director said, “I try to explain that Islam was kidnapped by a few people with a very short vision of the world. Nobody comes (into) life with a Kalashnikov or beard.” The movie is reminiscent of another excellent one titled, “Osama” (2003), made in Afghanistan by Siddiq Barmak. The film follows a pre-teen girl, living in Afghanistan under the oppressive Taliban regime, who disguises herself as a boy, Osama, to support her family.
Unbroken (+ +) is based on the true story of an American Olympic athlete whose bomber was shot down over the Pacific Ocean during WWII. After 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen, he was caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Very well directed by Angelina Jolie and written by the Coen Brothers, the movie received three Oscar nominations including cinematography, which was also well done. Jolie should have been nominated as well, but the film might have been too patriotic for the politically correct crowd in Hollywood.
Wild (+ + +) is a gripping movie about a woman's 1,100-mile solo trek on the Pacific Crest Trail. Reese Witherspoon is outstanding in the starring role. It is based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed, who went on the long walk to clear her head after a catastrophic loss in her life. If Charles Evan's catastrophe scenario for the Fed plays out, we all may need to take a hike.
Woman in Gold (++) is based on a very interesting true story. In 1998, Maria Altmann, a Viennese-born resident of Los Angeles, battled the Austrian authorities for ownership of the eponymous Klimt painting, stolen from her Jewish family by the Nazis. The attorney who helped her was the grandson of the Austrian composer Arnold Schoenberg. Helen Mirren shines in the lead role, as does the painting, which is on permanent exhibit at the Neue Galerie in NYC.