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Showing posts from October, 2020

Film Review of Beautiful Boy (2018)

Most of my short film reviews look at great classic films. This movie is different in that it received a mixed reception when it was released in 2018. On Rotten Tomatoes , the aggregated rating for Beautiful Boy is only 67% and some of the reviews are scathing.  The low score for this movie is something of a puzzle. The film offers good acting by rising star Timothee Chalamet , reliable Steve Carell , and excellent supporting actors such as Maura Tierney and Amy Ryan . It is well-made and has moments of poignancy and intensity. Beautiful Boy is based on separate memoirs written by David Sheff , the father in the story and Nic Sheff , the son. The film reflects some of the limitations of personal memoirs written at a young age or a narrow point of view, but within the given framework the film is well-written. Beautiful Boy tells the story of a father-son relationship during a time when son Nic (Timothy Chalamet) is in his late teens and early twenties and addicted to drugs. They are cl

Easy ways to bank like a pro

Most Canadians do banking exactly the way they are told by the bankers. This a mistake. Let’s do better. Here’s why. “No Soup for You!” Years ago, I was working at a bank branch one sunny summer afternoon. A man came in with a couple of wriggly, little kids in tow. He filled out one of those withdrawal slips that oldtimers may remember. The young father waited patiently in line while struggling to maintain order, gradually making his way up to our bank teller. Finally, he arrived and exchanged the usual pleasantries to the smiling teller. He presented his withdrawal slip. The teller began doing some banking magic on the computer terminal. There was a hesitation and then a frown. Then a polite, nervous smile. The manager was called. The manager did a little more magic on the computer terminal. Now the branch manager was frowning. Everyone was frowning, even the two small children who had been busy with other business were frowning. Finally, the verdict was brought in. There was a probl

Review of Film 'They Came to Play'

  This is a quiet, beautiful documentary film (2008) about some nice people who like to play the piano. From various places in the United States and a few other parts of the world, these adults enter an amateur Piano Competition sponsored by the Van Cliburn Foundation in 2007. The film patiently introduces us to a number of the contestants in their homes as they prepare. We meet their families, see their lives and work, and hear their great love for music. Predictably, most belong to the comfortable social classes. Two are physicians. Drew Mays is a handsome Birmingham, Alabama ophthalmologist with a charming accent, a beautiful home, and a delightful and supportive family. His small children are wonderful. Henri Robert Delbeau is a more complex character and an internal medicine specialist from Long Island. Not all the characters in the film are from the comfortable classes. One is a recovering addict and another is an AIDS patient, but mostly these are people who appear to live p

Gambling that a vaccine will be discovered before the money runs out

  We should be deeply disappointed at the feeble political response to Covid. Little payments here and there (adding up to many billions in aggregate) do little but temporarily prevent people from being turned into the streets and starving. What we urgently need is a wartime economy, intended to last until a vaccine is widely distributed: close non-essential services, repatriate essential industries (back to Canada), transition people into new ways of life and lines of work, and infrastructure projects that absorb displaced workers. Most of the middle class still enjoy the rivers of money that flow from government and corporate accounts. So our politicians and bureaucrats don't feel an urgency for making large-scale change. Will these rivers of money run dry if things continue as they are? Our leaders are gambling that the poor can be ignored and the middle and upper classes can be placated until good times return.

Getting the best mortgage financing for your first home

Most Canadians do not give this much of a thought. They go down to their local bank branch, apply, and are pleased when they are approved for a mortgage. The Canadian retail banking system is designed to make you feel safe and comfortable.   You can do better. For example, the default setting is a five-year mortgage term. This might be right for you. Or it might not be. You could belong to a large percentage of people who will need to make changes in less than five years. This could involve expensive penalties. On the other hand, you might choose a one year term. You will need to requalify for a renewal or new mortgage at the end of the year. This might not be convenient if your employment circumstances change. A standardized approach works if you live a standardized life. Speak to a mortgage broker . This person probably has more experience than you do or the person who is waiting to greet you down at the bank branch. Usually, the mortgage broker’s service is free to you. There are ma