Yardeni Research

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Latest Movie Review
Captain America (-) is one of the better films in the superhero genre, which I find increasingly boring with every sequel. However, they do make lots of money, suggesting that the public desperately wants some superheroes to fix the world’s problems. In this movie, the evildoers, running an organization called "Hydra," decide that we all will be better off with more stability, provided by them, and less freedom, which leads to too much instability. So they devise a Big Data algorithm to determine who might be opposed to this new world order based on such factors as voting records and web-cruising history. These 20 million people are marked for summary execution from giant airborne drones. Captain America (like Mighty Mouse) saves the day. If Michael Lewis succeeds in putting high-frequency traders out of business, might they find employment with a new Hydra to get their revenge? Beware of unintended consequences.
2014 Movie Reviews
All Is Lost (+) is Robert Redford’s version of Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea." In this wordless film, he provides a fine performance as a man stranded at sea alone, fighting for survival on a sinking sailboat. The question is what an old man is doing in a small boat all by himself 1,700 miles off the coast of Sumatra.
American Hustle (+ +) is loosely based on the FBI’s ABSCAM operation during the late 1970s and early 1980s--which led to the conviction of a US senator; six members of the House of Representatives; one member of the New Jersey State Senate; members of the Philadelphia City Council; the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey; and an inspector for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The performances of the ensemble cast are great. Jennifer Lawrence is especially funny.
August Osage County (+ +) is a film that will make you appreciate your own dysfunctional family more because it can’t be as bad as the one presided over by the matriarch played so brilliantly by Meryl Streep.
Captain America (-) is one of the better films in the superhero genre, which I find increasingly boring with every sequel. However, they do make lots of money, suggesting that the public desperately wants some superheroes to fix the world’s problems. In this movie, the evildoers, running an organization called "Hydra," decide that we all will be better off with more stability, provided by them, and less freedom, which leads to too much instability. So they devise a Big Data algorithm to determine who might be opposed to this new world order based on such factors as voting records and web-cruising history. These 20 million people are marked for summary execution from giant airborne drones. Captain America (like Mighty Mouse) saves the day. If Michael Lewis succeeds in putting high-frequency traders out of business, might they find employment with a new Hydra to get their revenge? Beware of unintended consequences.
Divergent (+) is the latest movie in a new genre about teenage rebels with a cause, namely to rebel against an authoritarian regime that has created a nightmarish Dystopian society. In this one, the government’s mantra is “faction before blood.” Human nature is bad so the regime must change it to maintain peace even if that means killing anyone who is a Divergent. Like “Hunger Games,” the theme is remarkably conservative: Big Government, not human nature, is bad. Schools should make these movies required viewing and incorporate them into social studies course discussions.
The Invisible Woman (+) is about Charles Dickens, who at the age of 45, met an 18-year-old aspiring actress, Ellen "Nelly" Ternan. He aspired to have a secret affair with her, which he did over the rest of his life. He was bored with his wife after she bore him 10 children. Ralph Fiennes plays Dickens. It seems that Nelly was more in love with the great author than the man, who wasn’t so great. Don’t come to the film with any great expectations because the plot is a bit slow paced and fairly conventional by the standards of the French presidency.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (- - -) is a film with one of the worst plots and most badly written scripts I’ve sat through in a long time. It is a totally un-thrilling spy thriller. Jack Ryan, played by Chris Pine, is a Chief Compliance Officer by day on Wall Street and a spy by night in Moscow, breaking into the bad guy’s office to download data from his computer to stop him from causing a global financial meltdown. That’s followed by the obligatory car chase scene.
The Lunchbox (+ +) is a nicely crafted Indian movie about love, marriage, friendship, work, aging, and death. In other words, it covers a lot of ground including unexpected opportunities as well as missed ones. The cast is great. Mumbai is very crowded. Lunch can be quite an elaborate and appetizing ritual over there. After watching it, my wife and I headed to dinner at our favorite Indian restaurant.
The Monuments Men (- - -) is a very badly made film about the mostly successful efforts by a small unit of the Allied forces during World War II to recover and return art stolen by the Nazis from their victims. They had to scramble to do so before German troops destroyed the art, as they were ordered to do if Hitler died, and before the Russians absconded with the loot. It’s a good story that isn’t told very well or accurately by the movie, with an all-star cast that provides uniformly wooden performances.
Nebraska (+ +) is a bittersweet comedy about getting old, but never giving up hope of winning the lottery. The real insight is that we may have won the lottery by simply having children who still care about us despite our flaws, especially when we start forgetting their names. Bruce Dern performs admirably as a dazed and confused senior citizen, though he may not be acting. June Squibb is hysterically funny as his wife doing her best to cope with her husband’s senior moments and drunken stupor.
Noah (- - -) was better than “Waterworld,” which was one of the worst movies ever made, but not much better. The acting and the dialogue were uniformly awful. The special effects weren’t so special. Noah and his children are the sole living descendants of Seth. He is portrayed as a Green, while everyone else on the planet is a sinful industrialist descended from Cain. All but Noah and his immediate family are doomed to death by drowning. I did like the ark. It was actually built to biblical scale in a private preserve five minutes from our house. It was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, but was repaired in time to finish the movie. However, many members of the production crew with houses on Long Island suffered lots of flood damage to their homes.
Non-Stop (+) is an entertaining movie with a really bad plot, which isn’t obviously bad until near the end of the movie. The action is non-stop, with Liam Neeson playing a federal Marshal assigned to protect a passenger plane from bad guys. The bad guys are also really bad characters, but again that’s not obvious until near the end of the film. The producers were quite clever to keep the audience entertained by the suspense until they spoiled it with a remarkably lame ending.
The Wolf of Wall Street (+ +) is a very entertaining and over-the-top film about scoundrel Jordan Belfort and his firm Stratton Oakmont. It’s not really about a typical Wall Street firm, but rather a pump-and-dump boiler room operation. Nevertheless, the greed-is-good mentality has been a persistent problem on Wall Street, especially after many of the partnerships went public during the 1980s. I was on Wall Street from 1979 to 2004. I heard about some of the excesses, but didn’t participate. That’s what happens when you are a family man and an economist, I suppose. I was surprised to learn from the film that during the Wolf’s glory days, before he went to jail, he lived in Old Brookville, NY, a few minutes from our home office.