Lincoln is another Steven Spielberg classic, not entirely unlike Saving Private Ryan, where he chronicles the unsung and humble heroics of the WWII soldier. Only here he chronicles the much heralded and still humble heroics of Abraham Lincoln. Both films show the human toll of war on individual men. We can feel Tom Hank’s hand shake and we can feel Daniel Day Lewis’ bone-weary premature aging brought on by the burdens of command on a man of conscience and conviction. But that is where they part. Hanks just wants the war to end, but Lincoln will not let the war end without serving the greater mission of complete and final abolition of the injustice of slavery. Spielberg shows his penchant for complexity by reminding us that abolishing slavery while continuing disenfranchisement of negroes and women is about tolerating injustice while dismantling it piece by piece.
Daniel Day Lewis is a great and serious actor and is thus not just a perfectly suited visual portrayer of Lincoln, but we sense that one must have a man of gravitas play a man of this magnitude who shouldered the bloodiest and most rancorous war in our national history. Unexpectedly, Sally Fields was an equally perfect Molly and Tommy Lee Jones was an effective Pennsylvania politician of great moral turpitude and savvy political wile.
The interesting thought I had was that this all happened only 90 years before my birth and yet the wigs and casual security of Lincoln’s carriage rides and entry to the White House imply an age much more ancient. How hard it would be to run the country without texting and video replay. It makes one remember what the age of information has done. And like in trading markets, sometimes speed of Information and high frequency execution capability is not as good a thing as we think. Human cognition (as opposed to AI) takes processing time and even reflection to get things right. Watching Lincoln deliberate and pause to change a crucial telegraph message reminds us that ready, fire aim can be fun, but it may also undermine good judgement.
I liked this film and I especially liked the morality affirming aspects of it..
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] T [/dropcap] inTin is Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson’s rendition of the classic 1929 comic book by the Belgian artist known as Herge. This is hardly the first attempt to remake The Adventures of TinTin…it has taken form in magazines, books, several TV series and even a video game. It is a simple child’s adventure story about an inquisitive boy and his dog (Snowy) who get caught up with and chase bad guys around the globe. Unlike the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew, TinTin is actually put in harms way and gets shot at and shoots back. This must be the difference between early 20th Century European reality versus American innocence. I imagine today Euro TinTin would have the innocence of Euro sovereign debt holders and try and diplomatically and socialistically reason his way out of his jam where American TinTin would be dressed in Afghan desert camouflage and sporting advanced digital weaponry like a true vulture capitalist.
The star of this film is the high quality animation, which makes this almost real….but with just enough big noses and too-smart of a dog to indeed be anything but a cartoon. Unfortunately, if TinTin does not enjoy a special spot in your heart from your youth, this wonderful animation will wear thin after a half hour (as it did for me) and you will find yourself sitting in a dark theater wondering why you are sitting through a childish adventure story. This is Pirates of the Caribbean without Captain Jack Sparrow or a Clive Cussler adventure story without Dirk Pitt. It really is more Scooby Doo except “rotsa ruck” getting Snowy to not take himself too seriously.
I am truly struck more by the analogy that TinTin represents to our current worldly circumstance. Europe is way overdone and has geared up it’s lifestyle to disastrous and unaffordable proportions. TinTin is diving in way over his peaked little carrot-top head. He needs to stop freelancing and galavanting around chasing old sailor stories and needs to get a job, or two, or three and start paying the rent on time. Europe and TinTin need a dose of reality and to stop thinking that Angela Merkel will bail out his overextended Belgian dentist, sovereign debt holding ass.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] W [/dropcap] ar Horse is this year’s Christmas movie of choice. The lines started forming in mid-afternoon despite the call of Christmas dinner. Thus is the magic of Spielberg. I doubt many have read the children’s book it is based upon, nor have many seen the play at
Lincoln Center (this being San Diego, not NYC this holiday season). But the mixture of Saving Private Ryan, Lassie Come Home, Gallipoli, Secretariat and a touch of Gone With The Wind at the end make this an irresistible film cocktail.
While the star is really Joey the horse, Jeremy Irvine and Emily Watson are the human cast the carry the day. Irvine is a young Chris O’Donnell with that fresh and emotive Irish face. Watson is the perfect mom to Irvine since she has a pained and sorrowful look on her face at the best of times …. She is a poster child for the potato famine if there ever was one.
So here is another in a recent string of movies focused on WWI and the world-changing economic anthropology that it invoked. No more good times, no more cavalry to save the day, this is the harsh light of a post-war day. Why does this resonate today? Our market trench warfare has left us equally changed forever and on our economic heads. Do not underestimate this phenomenon. It may be with us for quite a while.
What redeems this movie and gives us our strongest advice is the kindness of strangers and the importance of humanity during these difficult times. Joey runs into one kind person after another and Spielberg makes sure to make it universal…..officers and enlisted, Germans and Brits, old and young….we can all be kind and we can all have the heart of a War Horse to see us through the challenges we all face. This is what ultimately makes this a good Holiday movie…..go see it with an open heart and an eye for the similarity in the times we face today.
[dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"] I [/dropcap] just re-watched Super Eight on my iPad and felt that given it’s parentage with Steven Spielberg as Producer and J.J. Abrams as Director, I needed to review it for the new site. Let’s be clear about the obvious right from the start, this is a sort-of modern day version of ET. Why do I say that? Well, the basic story is about a young empathetic boy who encounters a lonely and scared alien who just wants to go home and has to fight off the overprotective and misdirected government forces that fear the alien. The struggle to go home sets up e conflict and, of course, there are parallel interpersonal conflicts, all of which get resolved simultaneously with the fulfillment of the mission. It only qualifies as “sort-of” because this alien is certainly more menacing than ET, the boy is post-pubescent and thus has a minor love interest (sort of like War Games)…. and it is set in a slightly earlier period to connect to our Area 51 lore.
My first watching had me thinking it was a total ET rip-off and I was disappointed in Spielberg for falling back on his old formula. My second viewing was not so harsh. Other than Elle Fanning, there were no known actors of note and thus, like ET, the quality of the fundamental story of understanding and kindness combined with sheer production value (the oft repeated Holy Grail of the young filmmaker who causes all the dynamic tension) have to carry the day. And that is the positive thing I CAN say about this film….it holds up as an entertaining if somewhat formulaic piece that repeats a solid theme for the cosmos….that we should all live and let live.
Hedge fund managers, like bankers before them, are human and fall prey to the notion that they can and should be involved somehow in the big business of making movies. Certainly there are arbitrage risks out there greater than making a movie, but how does it EVER fit into an investment formt, much less a hedge able investment format. I guess if I were looking for a way, it would be to take a proven formula and a proven filmmaker and keep the casting budget low and the production value high……and voila! ….you have Super Eight …… and you have a solid and strategically hedged movie investment. I don’t recommend it and I don’t think it is at all repeatable and thus indicative of true alpha generation rather than a good, punt, but that is at least how it could happen if it had to. And when a manager gets bored and has to do it….start looking for a new manager.