Yardeni Research

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Latest Movie Review
Star Trek Beyond (+) is a great movie for Trekkies. My wife is one of them, so we had to go see it. The Enterprise crash-lands on a mysterious planet as a result of a surprise attack in outer space. The attack is led by Krall, a lizard-like dictator who derives his energy by sucking the life out of his victims. I sure hope that isn’t where the US is heading after January 20, 2017. Donald Trump has certainly taken the Republican party where no one has gone before.
2016 Movie Reviews
Born To Be Blue (+ +) is a finely crafted semi-fictional movie about jazz trumpeter Chet Baker's life in the 1960s. Ethan Hawke provides an intense performance of the musician, who had a self-destructive streak that got him addicted to heroine. Next, I want to see Don Cheadle in "Miles Ahead" about Miles Davis, another great jazz trumpeter who also had some personal issues. It seems that many creative people have lots of problems. I'm glad I gave up playing the saxophone after I graduated from high school. There's been less jazz in my life, which might explain why I am inclined to be a rosy optimist rather than a blue pessimist.
Eye in the Sky (+ +) is a morally complex movie about the rules of engagement in the war on terrorism. It stars Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman as British military commanders aiming to wipe out a terrorist cell in Kenya with a hellfire missile that is mounted on a drone. They both are stymied by legal and political government officials who debate whether to approve the attack. The problem is that a young girl selling bread near the terrorists’ unsafe home will almost certainly be seriously injured if not killed. Meanwhile, the evil doers are strapping on suicide vests.
Elvis & Nixon (+ + +) is a very funny film about Elvis Presley’s decision to volunteer to be a deep undercover agent for the US Bureau of Narcotics. He was very upset about all the drugs that kids were taking and believed that Communist-inspired rock bands were promoting drug addiction in the US. So he flew out to Washington, DC and showed up at the White House unannounced to offer his services to President Richard M. Nixon. At first, the President declined to meet with Elvis, but then relented after his daughter pressed him to meet with “The King” and get his autograph. The dialogue of the meeting is straight out of Nixon’s secret tape recordings, and is hilarious.
Hail, Caesar! (- - -) I honestly can review only the first hour of this comic film because my wife and I walked out after we turned to each other and agreed that it was really boring. It’s too bad because we usually enjoy movies by the Coen Brothers. This one is about Eddie Mannix, a Hollywood studio fixer, whose job it was to keep the actors in line and to cover up any scandals during the 1920s through the 1940s. The movie would have been more interesting if it more seriously portrayed Eddie’s exploits, which included arranging a rumored mafia hit on George Reeves, the star of the Adventures of Superman television series. The legend is that Eddie wasn’t upset that George was having an affair with his wife, but mad when Superman hurt her by dumping her for another woman.
In the Heart of the Sea (+ +) is a whale of a tale directed and produced by Ron Howard. According to the movie, which is based on a 2000 non-fiction book of the same name, the sinking of the American whaling ship Essex in 1820 inspired Herman Melville to write his novel Moby Dick. Early industrial societies used whale oil widely in oil lamps and to make soap and margarine. It’s easy to sympathize with a whale intent on killing those who are killing his mates for their blubber. Fortunately, the killing stopped with the commercial development of substitutes such as kerosene and vegetable oils.
The Infiltrator (+ + +) stars Bryan Cranston as a US Customs agent who infiltrates the money-laundering operation of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. It is based on a true story. The agent winds up running the biggest such operation in the US, though one of Escobar’s lieutenants claims that the Federal Reserve actually laundered more by accepting dollars deposited by Columbia’s central bank without asking any questions. At the end, the sting led to the arrest of about 100 bankers at BCCI, the world’s seventh-largest bank, which facilitated the money laundering. In addition, several of Escobar’s associates in Florida were arrested.
Joy (+) stars Jennifer Lawrence as the title character, who established a very profitable business by inventing better household products (like the self-wringing mop). She did so despite a very chaotic situation in her own household. It is all based on an inspirational true story showing that entrepreneurs can overcome lots of both personal and professional challenges to become wildly successful.
The Man Who Knew Infinity (+ +) is an excellent biopic about brilliant East Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan (Dev Patel), who traveled in 1913 to Trinity College in England to work with professor G.H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons). The math wiz isn’t accepted by most of the other math professors partly because he is a foreigner and mostly because he presents his remarkable conclusions without providing the theorem proofs, because they come to him directly from God. Eventually, he does provide them and is proven right after all. Too bad that so many economists pretend that their theories and forecasts are divinely derived.
Money Monster (+) is entertaining. However, it is mostly a familiar caricature of Wall Street and lots of other movies that caricature and disparage Wall Street. It’s another one of Hollywood’s odes to the common (mostly uneducated) man who has been shafted by the capitalist system’s flimflam artists. The latter are greedy manipulators who take advantage of innocent people, many of whom are just as greedy, betting that they’ll strike it rich by putting all their eggs in one basket. George Clooney does a bad imitation of Jim Cramer.
Papa Hemingway in Cuba (+ +) is a remarkable movie about a remarkable man near the end of his life, when he focused more on his regrets than on his accomplishments. Hemingway lived in Cuba at the time when Castro and his comrades were beginning to foment their revolution. By then, writing no longer came easily for the great author. However, he could still down 16 martinis in an evening. He began to contemplate suicide as he had a harder time controlling his demons. There must have been some geniuses in the past who didn’t suffer as much as those who become the subjects of movies like this. By the way, the movie was actually filmed in Cuba and at Hemingway’s home there, which is now a museum.
Race (+ +) is a well-executed biopic about Jessie Owens, who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Owens, who was black, faced plenty of discrimination at home. His victory in Germany countered the Nazi propaganda promoting concepts of “Aryan racial superiority” and depicting others as inferior. Owens was a great American sports hero. While the movie reviews have been mixed, I found it to be a very balanced retelling of a truly extraordinary story.
Remember (+ +) is about remembering the atrocity committed by a Nazi commander in Auschwitz and seeking to avenge his crime many years later by finding and killing him. With help from a fellow Holocaust survivor played by Martin Landau, a widower, played by Christopher Plummer, who struggles with dementia, embarks on a cross-country odyssey to find the former Nazi responsible for the deaths of their family members. There are quite a few plot twists along the way. Don’t read any other reviews that might give them away.
The Revenant (+ +) features an Oscar-worthy performance by Leo DiCaprio as Hugh Glass, a scout for a group of fur trappers during the 1820s. The film is grizzly and a bit tedious, as the protagonist hunts down one of the other trappers who abandoned him for dead while he was still breathing in a shallow grave after he was mauled by a grizzly bear. His nearly fatal encounter with the mother bear was intensely graphic. It brought back painful memories for me of this past week in the stock market, when the bear took big bites out of the bull.
Room (+ +) is a very intense movie with outstanding performances by Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay, who play a young mother and her five-year-old son. She was kidnapped as a teenager and kept locked up in the tool shed of a neighborhood predator. They escape about half way through the movie and then must adapt to the world, which the young boy never knew existed. Larson deserves to win the Academy Award for Best Actress. The kid wasn’t nominated, but he certainly deserves an Oscar for his performance.
Star Trek Beyond (+) is a great movie for Trekkies. My wife is one of them, so we had to go see it. The Enterprise crash-lands on a mysterious planet as a result of a surprise attack in outer space. The attack is led by Krall, a lizard-like dictator who derives his energy by sucking the life out of his victims. I sure hope that isn’t where the US is heading after January 20, 2017. Donald Trump has certainly taken the Republican party where no one has gone before.