Crazy Rich Asians

This wasn’t as good as it was cracked up to be (Best Picture, Comedy or Musical, at the Golden Globes?), but it made for fine airplane fare. It was fun, and mostly witty and nice to look at. Lots of attractive people, clothes and cars and baubles and all that… it passed the time.

Sour Grapes

How much is that bottle of wine? Where did you get it? Check the label, carefully. And the foil. And the glass. And also the contents…

Fascinating account of a wine savant gone rogue. It’s juicy, but something doesn’t smell right…

Minimalism

As someone who owns 18 chairs (paired down from 20), I might be considered the target audience for this film. There’s something to be said for rejecting consumer culture, and the constant lust for buying something new.

There was no mention of Marie Kondo, but her philosophy seems less extreme, more balanced, than that of the Minimalist guys, who seem to live out of backpacks, with 4 shirts and pants and socks, and little else. Yes, their goal is happiness, but might that not include things that bring joy to one’s life?

What about objects that have real meaning, or real utility. Art? A painting or a sculpture in my home… is that okay? Things that were handed down to me by my parents or grandparents, a ring or a book or a pocket knife – can I keep those?

As always, balance…

The Seven Five

In an era when dash cams and citizens with cell phones record the worst kind of police brutality and abuse of power, this story may seem like a quaint piece of history, but in his day… there was police corruption, and then there was Michael Dowd. Wow. This guy was epic, with his cash grabs and protection of dealers, etc.

However, in his testimony, as well as in the filmed interviews, he comes across as a pretty stand-up guy. And the fact that he refused to implicate any other of his fellow officers raises him in my estimation. I don’t think he ever shot anybody without justifiable cause…

The Big Short

What’s the saying? “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.” Well a lot of people were not paying attention to the mortgage crisis of 2007-08, brought about by the packaging by the big banks of mortgage-backed securities that were anything but secure…

This is a deft telling of that tale, made palatable by the cast and the screenplay. Definitely worth a watch.

Justin Bieber: Believe

He’s not the cute, innocent kid he was in the earlier film, Never Say Never. I liked that doc, and I enjoyed this one too. It’s a somewhat sanitized version of his story since the previous film, or maybe it was completed before his latest escapades, but there is no question that Bieber is quickly becoming a major asshole.

Regardless, the story is interesting, at least in the sense of how he got to be the person he is. And I disagree with those who say he is without talent – both musical talent, and the kind of force of personality that enables some to become stars while others crumble or fade away. Plus, this is probably the closest I’ll ever come to seeing him live, and it is a good show…

 

Hot Coffee

In addition to being a pretty good primer on how our civil justice system works, this film is also a reminder that it really is best to get both sides of the story before making a judgement.

And so it turns out that that woman who spilled hot coffee from McDonald’s in her lap may very well have been justified in suing them.

But, the millions that the jury awarded her were not paid, as there was a cap in place on civil suit awards where this incident happened. I think that the amount she received was basically enough to cover her medical expenses – which included multiple surgeries, as the burns were extensive and severe.

I learned a lot in watching this, and I now oppose tort reform…

 

Inequality for All

More blood-boiling descriptions of the ways in which the system is rigged against the 99%. What hope would we have, without people like Robert Reich to raise hell?

The Wolf of Wall Street

Kind of like Spring Breakers shot on Wall Street. Lots and lots and lots of drugs and boobs. And screaming. DiCaprio was pretty good, I guess, but I think it’s okay that no Oscars were awarded here…