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The Movie Page

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On this page we aim to collate the many movie reviews that are sent in to Daily Spec by our readers, or added by our contributors. Some of the recommendations, but certainly not all, relate to the Markets.

Scott Brooks recommends the Recently Released Charlotte's Web

We have a system in our home for discipline whereby if one of the kids does something wrong, they get an X on their discipline chart. They get 3 free X's a week, then privileges start getting X'ed out and they lose whatever is X'ed out until Saturday midnite.

If one of the kids does not lose a privilege all week (gets 3 or less X's) they get rewarded.

Last week we had a first. My 8 year old son Hunter (aka "Boosh") went the whole week without an X!

So he got to pick his reward. He picked a date nite with Dad! I was quite touched at his choice.

We went out tonite and decided to go to a place called "Tilt". A video game arcade. Except when we got there, I realized I didn't have any cash....and they didn't take credit cards. So we had to improvise and overcome!

We went down the mall the movie theatre and I let Boosh pick a movie. He chose Charlotte's Web.

I haven't read the book nor seen the movie in over 30+ years, but it seemed to follow the gist of the story. It was live actors and animals with human voice overs. There was some pretty cool animation of the animals that seemed to give them the necessary anthropomorphic human qualities so as to look cute and cuddly. The voice overs were a star packed mix; Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, Robert Redford, Oprah Winfrey, and many more.

I thought the movie was ok. It was slow too often for the young kids. Not enough humor and shenanigans to keep their attention. Several groups of moms (I think I was the only dad in the place) spent most of the movie corraling restless children. There were a few funny scenes, but most of those involved odor or the emission of odor, which of course caused lots of giggles and I have to admit that Boosh and I laughed pretty hard too (okay, I'm a guy, I still get a kick out of gas).

The movie was pretty slow for the adults too. Just not enough to keep my attention...well almost not enough...there was something that was pretty neat about it.

Hunter was enthralled by the movie. I caught myself watching him watch the movie on more than one occasion. The whole movie, he just sat there next to me, holding my hand or leaning his head against my shoulder.

I sat there just enjoying the moment...and reminiscing. I thought about how I was about Boosh's age when the first Charlotte's Web movie came out, and how I just enjoyed it so much...just like Boosh was enjoying it right there next to me.

I remember how sad I was and cried when Charlotte died. When that part came in the movie, I felt the resurgence of those same emotions...but instead of tears, they brought a smile. When I looked over at Boosh when Charlotte was dying, I could see him wiping his eyes and trying futily to hold back the tears. I leaned in and gave him a kiss on his head and told him it was ok to cry.

He wiped a finger at his eye and said, "I'm not crying, I've got popcorn in my eye"...I just smiled at him and helped him wipe the popcorn out of his eye as he tried to hold back the emotional tears from Charlotte's death.

As we walked out of the theatre with our arms around each other, I felt that warm sensation of love, satisfaction, and fond remembrance of youth...but mostly I felt good to be here with my wonderful son!

So lets get back to the review portion...

It's not a movie for younger kids as I doubt it will hold their attention. I doubt any kids much past 10 or 12 would enjoy sitting through it as it's slow in many parts.

But it would be a great movie to take that special child too, one on one, and snuggle up to them.

Prudish Dad review:

There was nothing in this movie that I found objectionable. There is clear references to life and death and the slaughtering of animals, and even animals being taken away with a human with an axe in hand. But there is no blood whatsoever. Since my children are already exposed to the life and death of animals on a regular basis (heck, Boosh shot a deer a week ago), I'm not worried about these things. There is a very sweet little first crush and boyfriend for Fern (don't remember that from the book) but it is totally innocent and handled very nicely.

This movie could have been made very PC with an overbearing animal rights message. But that didn't happen. Even the talking anthropomorophic animals knew their place in the world.

Scott Brooks suggests Finding Neverland

I was flipping channels tonight and saw that Finding Neverland was about to come on. I usually don't like Johnny Depp movies, but for some reason, I decided to watch.

Before I knew it, I was sucked into the movie and was completely hooked.

If you want to watch a very good show, one that leaves you with a warm feeling inside, then you owe it to yourself to see Finding Neverland.

Finding Neverland is the story of how James Barrie found his muse that lead him to write Peter Pan.

What I liked best about the movie is that for a little while I was actually transformed back into a child. I literally bought into the "imagination" that was being sold, completely and totally sold, on screen.

It also filled the analytical side of me with a smile. I live on the left side of my brain and only take occasional journey's the right side. I don't understand the right side very well. I don't understand "the muse" that fills those that create the world of arts and entertainment....but I love that world. I am in awe at what the mind of man can create....I love great art, I love great acting, great writing, and musical talent.....but I don't understand it....why? I guess because I have no real talent in that arena.

I have never really understood what it is inside of me that loves great art....I've tried to understand and tap into it to see if it can enhance my personal "analytical muse".....I'm not sure I've ever been successful at accomplishing that ... but tonight I think I may have caught a glimpse of ... way in the corner of my eye.....the scene near the end where the home of the "muses" is transformed into Neverland and they really get to see it.

As I watched that scene, with my daughter Lydia curled up on my lap holding me tight, my analytical brain said that could never happen, they are really only in their house and are only imagining Neverland ... but at that moment I realized that, even though I knew I was sitting in my living room, and could see the living room in my peripheral vision, I was actually in Neverland ... I felt that child like feeling of joy, that sense of awe that children feel at the wonder of the world around them....at that exact moment I became completely aware of my 4 year old Lydia sitting in my lap, with her arms wrapped tight around me ...

As I held her tight, I felt a complete and total sense of contentment come over my body, a rush of warmth caused by whatever the hormone is the body releases in this situation surged thru my blood stream ...

Finding Neverland is definitely worth a watch. I've already told me wife that I want the older kids to watch it.

Even though it was a very good movie, I don't think the younger kids could sit thru it very long (Lydia was on my lap for only about 10 minutes by the time of the kiss).

Here's the Prudish Dad review portion:

I don't remember anything that was inappropriate for the kids. There is some adult themes involving death, marital strife, business stress, and even implications of rumors as to why James is hanging around 4 boys so much ... but it is all handled in a very appropriate manner. I recommend it as a family show. The only reservation I have is that it probably will not hold the attention of the younger kids.

Marion Dreyfus reviews:

Well, I saw (though would not buy a ticket for) “Borat,” and was astounded that throughout the film, Borat, when he is supposed to be speaking Kazakh (Russianish), was speaking Hebrew. Azamat, his fat foreign friend, was speaking what sounded like Kazakh, but he, Borat, always responded in Hebrew. What a joke that hardly a soul in the audience but me seemed to realize the absurdity of it.

The thing I had heard about, that the only two nice people in the film were two elderly Jews, is true--but also, some middle-Americans are also nice, though dim and flummoxed by him: If polite and shocked at his departure from delicatesse.

I must admit it was not uproarious, though some of the humor did evoke a smile or small laugh. Sometimes the humor was gross and not funny, and I simply cannot believe Bob Barr and such august persons did not see through him. The cowboys in the rodeo segment ended up booing him, it was nice to see, when his patriotism for K'z'kstan was too in-your-face. The crudeness was after all too much, and I was unhappy that it went through the film.

While it too was quite violent, I enjoyed the new Bond, “Casino Royale,” which is an entirely new take on the franchise. Starring a man who is just a step above a thug, though with an excellent physique and coordination. He is something out of the Cold War, and could be a featured killer in any Russian suspenser. The body-count is far higher than in the Brosnan or Connery Bonds. There are few clever devices or smart witticisms, focusing on derring-do and amazing pah-ku, a new art of finessing jumping from building to building. Judy Dench is great, as ever, and has more to do and say here than in her recent outings. The women are lovely and quite clever as well as dexterous and sturdy.

“Bobby” was enjoyable, melding as it does the historic --original clips-- and contemporary. Six stories wend through the last four days of the life of Bobby Kennedy, and the script is literate and enjoyable in its own right, though it does not adequately highlight the radical islamist, Sirhan Sirhan, who did the deed to the presidential candidate in 1968.

I would have enjoyed Denzel in “Déjà vu” if any of the physics had made sense, but the film was spoiled for me by hanging threads of plot that made less than exceptional sense. There was an attempt to clothe the unlikely plot in the raiment of science, but it failed to clinch the deal. I was listening hard.

Moreover, the viewing was spoiled by the loss of a favorite glove that has accompanied me everywhere. Chile, Argentina, the Antarctic, China and Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. After all those latitudes and longitudes, it got lost in the movies on West 68th and Broadway.

Alston Mabry:

I had just been thinking about an old favorite, and how it contains interesting commentary for speculators: on deception, the role of luck, and taking risks, and how one's interpretation of random events can affect one's perception of self and world. We have List members from many places, including south Asia, and I hope they do not find this selection offensive (though if they do, I would very much appreciate an elucidation so that I might broaden my own understanding). The film is "The Man Who Would Be King", directed by John Huston and starring Sean Connery, Michael Caine and another favorite, Saeed Jaffrey.

Nigel Davies:

One very good one that I don't think has been mentioned before: 'Enemy at the Gates'.

Also, Dersu Uzala, directed by Akira Kurosawa

President of Old Speculator's Club:

The Godfather - mergers, hostile takeovers, diversification, the art of negotiation, the rewards of patience, lobbying, poison pills....etc.

Tom Ryan:

Lawrence of Arabia with Peter O'Toole: One man "challenging the laws of chance" Plenty of examples of smart risk taking counterbalanced with examples of stupid risk taking.

"Ouch that bloody well hurts! What is the trick then?"

"The trick is.... in not minding the hurt"

Also, I challenge anyone to deny the seeming prophetical part about how the Arab army handles the occupation of Damascus and not see the relationship to what we have going on today.

David Hillman:

House of Games. Far too many layers of deception to count.

Great Lines:

"Oh, you're a bad pony. And I'm not gonna' bet on you."

"What I'm talking about comes down to a more basic philosophical principle: Don't trust nobody."

"You say I acted atrociously. Yes. I did. I do it for a living."

And my personal favorite:

"You can't bluff someone who's not paying attention."

Writer/Director: David Mamet, Cast: Joe Mantegna, Lindsay Crouse, Ricky Jay, J.T. Walsh, et.al.

Scott Brooks:

One of my favorite all time movies is "The Usual Suspects".

One can see the risks associated with playing a high stakes game (just being involved with Keyser Sose). The consequences of playing a high stakes game and then running away (don't play with the big boys if you can't take the downside risk, ala Benicio Del Toro's character running away from the high stakes game).

Know the players in the game, verify facts, and make sure things are what they seem to be. Was Verbal really who he said he was? The lesson, was Enron, WorldCom, Global Crossing et. al. really who (or what) they said they were?

And last but not least...sometime the answer is right in front of you, maybe in your office and all the clues are hanging on your wall or staring back at you from the bottom of your coffee cup. Sometimes in trading the most obvious "tells" of the market are over looked because they are too simple and don't fit neatly into some PhD level quantifiable equation that only someone with an IQ north of 150 could understand. We over complicate things that don't need to be.

Another great movie is "Spies Like Us".

In this movie I learned to make sure that I'm not being used for someone else's purposes (the market is full of people willing to use you for their own ends, almost always to your detriment).

And you need to make sure to verify what someone really means:

Commie agent: "Every thirty seconds you do not tell me what I want to know, I cut off a finger!"

Chevy Chases Character: "Uh, one of yours or one of mine?"

For instance most analyst are great on the buy side, but disappear on the sell side. If you don't do the sell side right, you could lose a finger (ok, this whole analogy is a big stretch, but that is one of my favorite movie sequences and I just had to include it).

Gordon Haave:

I can't believe nobody has mentioned Glengarry Glen Ross, which could pretty much serve as the bio for your average Wall Street broker.

Favorite lines from Rounders:

"You can't lose what you don't put in the middle, but you
 can't win much either."

 "If you had it to do all over again, knowing what would
 happen, would you make the same choice?"

 "Why do you think the same five guys make it to the final
 table of the World Series of Poker every year? What, are they
 the luckiest guys in Las Vegas?"

 "It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money."

 "Always leave yourself outs."

 "walking in here I can hardly remember how I built my
 bankroll, but I can't stop thinking how I lost it"

 "Amarillo Slim, the greatest proposition gambler of all time,
 held to his father's maxim: You can shear a sheep many times,
 but skin him only once"

 "you spot a man's tell, you don't say a word."

 "They're simply overmatched. We're not playing together, but
 we're not playing against each other, either. You don't see
 piranhas eating each other, do you? "

In the recent discussions of movies on the list, I feel compelled to mention that for most people, and perhaps even many spec-listers, the only winning move is not to play. Such is the lesson of the movie "War Games". Now it may or may not be that the only winning move in a nuclear showdown between the US and the Soviet Union was not to play. Certainly, however, those who pressed for the development of the B2, the railroad MX missiles, and the midgetman missiles were trying to at least tilt the balance.

However, in the stock market, for the vast majority of players the only winning move is not to play. Of course, I don't mean that one shouldn't have market exposure in order to pick up the 9% positive drift in the stock market. However, once that exposure is achieved through a broad based index fund, to further attempt to trade stocks is a negative-sum game for all participants. (It is a zero sum game in a frictionless world, but Wall Street is about as frictionless as coarse sandpaper in the lavatory).

James Morin:

Rounders is another good example, as there have been many comparisons between poker at a high level and trading. There are a number of scenes that deal with odds/percentages, bankroll, psychology and other important aspects of trading.

There is one scene in particular, that was set up with the viewer having a n understanding of what professionals can do to amateurs, in which there is a table full of "pros" at the Taj in Atlantic City, and one says something to the effect of:

"if we were just going to take each other's money we could have stayed in NYC"

I think the analogy is best described as follows:

Many amateurs try their hand at poker, only to have all of their money taken away by a pro (very similar to the markets) but there will be times where the pros are simply shifting their chips (profits) around the table to each other.

Kevin Depew:

I divide Speculative movies into categories, depending on what area of Wall Street one wants to discuss.

Research Analyst
"The Conversation"
Harry Caul does his homework... too well. Inside information leads to home

The Unwitting Guru
"Cool Hand Luke"
Luke. Poor, Luke. He just wants to get by. Instead, his prison mates turn him
into a Christ-like guru simply because he refuses to stay in prison or take a
punch and lose a fight gracefully.

Fiat Currency Regime
"The Manchurian Candidate"
The Fed has a dream.  So does Ben Marco.  A conspiratorial bubble bursts.

Black Swan Event
"The Killing"
Johnny Clay has a plan. The plan's execution is perfect. Everything falls into
place. Fat tail event at the airport ruins everything.

Momentum Trading
"The Maltese Falcon"
What is it?  A black statue?  Who knows?  Everybody else wants it so it must be

Value Investing
"My Left Foot"
Born with cerebral palsy, Christy Brown's father is unimpressed.  Mom knows
better, doesn't sell.

"Blue Velvet"
Innocent Jeffrey likes innocent Sandy... a lot, but scary Dorothy needs
Jefferey's help and before you know it Dean Stockwell is singing into a car
mechanic's lamp, Dennis Hopper is huffing nitrous and Detective Tom Gordon is
wearing his intestines for a necktie.

Commodities/Emerging Markets
"The Treasure of the Sierra Madre"
Dobbs is a gold bug. Winds up with a bag of sand in Mexico. Dang.

The Market Doesn't Care About you
Little Bill Daggett pleads, "I don't deserve this," to Bill Munny who is holding
a shotgun to his face.  Munny says, "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it," and
pulls the trigger.

Tom Larsen:

I recommend the movie "Pi" to traders who have investigated some of the more "cosmic" aspects of technical analysis, such as Elliott wave theory, Fibonnaci numbers, or Gann angles and such. This is an indie movie by Darren Aronofsky made in black and white about a mathematician who is slowing sinking into madness as he obsesses with his work. He believes his calculations are leading him to the secrets of the universe, and by the way, he uses them to profitably trade.

As he starts losing it (possibly from pounding clanging techno music), he becomes known to two groups of people who are very interested in obtaining his calculations. One group is a bunch of old school rabbis, who have studied the ancient texts for years and see his work as leading straight to a mystical contact with the Creator. The other group is (obviously) A Wall Street Firm Out To Make A Buck. Then stuff happens.

Having met more than a few people over the last 30 years who were "searching for the holy grail", I liked this movie because it tries to imagine what would happen to a person who discovered such a thing.

M. Cekin:

I have found a number of useful lessons depicting irony and unexpected outcomes embedded in many of the short stories of O. Henry. Much like Treasure of the Sierra Madre, many of the Klondike-related stories of Jack London have gripping illustrations of what lengths to which men will go, and the risks they will take, in order to extract wealth from the harsh wilderness.

But my all time favorite, and my inspiration for a career in financial services has got to be "The Bank Dick" starring W. C. Fields, screenplay by Mahatma. The following excerpt sums up most of the key tenets of successful investing:

Egbert Sous• (Fields):  I met a poor fellow who's in trouble. Something the
matter with his grandmother's paisley shawl. He has 5,000 shares in the
Beefsteak Mine and you can buy them for a handful of hay.

Og Oggilby:    Hay? And they're worth?

Egbert Sous•:   Ten cents a share. Telephone sold for five cents a share.
How would you like something better for ten cents a share? If five gets ya
ten, ten'll get ya twenty. A beautiful home in the country, upstairs and
down. Beer flowing through the estate over your grandmother's paisley shawl.

Og Oggilby:   Beer?

Egbert Sous•:   Beer! Fishing in the stream that runs under the arboreal
dell. A man comes up from the bar, dumps $3,500 in your lap for every nickel
invested. Says to you, 'Sign here on the dotted line.' And then he
disappears in the waving fields of alfalfa.

Og Oggilby:  Gosh! Do you think he was telling the truth?

Egbert Sous•:   You don't think a man would resort to terra-diddle, do you?
Why, he sounded like a child at the very thought of disposing of these
shares. How does the bank make its money?

Og Oggilby:   By investing.

Egbert Sous•:    That's the point. You don't want to work all your life.
Take a chance. Take it while you're young....My uncle, a balloon
ascensionist, Effingham Hoofnagle, took a chance. He was three miles and a
half up in the air. He jumped out of the basket of the balloon and took a
chance of landing on a load of hay.

Og Oggilby:   Golly! Did he make it?

Egbert Sous•:   Uh, no...He didn't. Had he been a younger man, he probably
would have made it. That's the point. Don't wait too long in life.

A Separate List: Movies About Men

A distinguished member of the Old Speculators Association assembled a list of films that seem to fall into the heroic/realistic category in their portrayals of men.

Some are so obviously candidates that you slap your forehead thinking "how could I have forgot that one": like Lonely Are the Brave, The Quiet Man and Patton. Others I have yet to see but look forward to seeing them. Some have already been mentioned above.


Director Starring
Breaker Morant Bruce Beresford Edward Woodward
Barry Lyndon Stanley Kubrick Ryan O'Neal
Defiant Ones, The (1958) Stanley Kramer Sidney Poitier
Tony Curtis
Gandhi Richard Attenborough Ben Kingsley
Good the Bad and the Ugly, The Sergio Leone Clint Eastwood
Inherit the Wind Stanley Kramer Spencer Tracy
Fredric March
Last Angry Man Daniel Mann Paul Muni
Lion in Winter, The Anthony Harvey Katharine Hepburn
Peter O'Toole
Lonely Are the Brave David Miller Kirk Douglas
Monty Walsh William A. Fraker Lee Marvin
Mission, The Roland Joffe Robert De Niro
Once Upon a Time in the West Sergio Leone Henry Fonda
Once Upon a Time in America Sergio Leone Robert De Niro
Pale Rider Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood
Patton Franklin J. Schaffner George C. Scott
Paths of Glory Stanley Kubrick Kirk Douglas
Quiet Man, The John Ford John Wayne
Ran Akira Kurosawa Mifune
Shane George Stevens Alan Ladd
Saving Private Ryan Steven Spielberg Tom Hanks
Tender Mercies Bruce Beresford Robert Duvall
Unforgiven Clint Eastwood Clint Eastwood
Untouchables Brian De Palma Kevin Costner
We Were Soldiers Randall Wallace Mel Gibson

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