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        “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” -Eric Hoffer   “Global warming” is double entendre. The more immediate kind of global warming is not about climate change, it’s about the heat of a future Hades that moves closer with every new shooting and renewed hostilities between nations, religious groups, racial groups, or social classes. Every day I peruse the headlines and stories of major online newspapers. Not since I was very young and witnessed the race and anti-war riots of the ‘60s, do I recall such a tense mood. But it’s different this time; humanity itself is hot under

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The movie “The Infiltrator” finds actor Bryan Cranston in a milieu he knows, namely the illegal drug trade. Where this film departs from the Breaking Bad series that made his career is that he is one of the good guys, and the setting is earlier: the 1970s Era when Columbia was the center of the War on Drugs. The difference in this undercover role is that rather than follow the trail of drug-dealers to the kingpin, the agent chooses to “follow the money.” Infiltrator kept my attention, and because it was based on a true story, my interest. Yet some elements of the story cross paths with other stories that need to be told, namely the Iran Contra affair and the CIA involvement in money

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I’ve been reading books by John le Carre’ for at least thirty years, and every six or seven years, I reread most of them. So when they make a movie of one of his books, I will be there to watch. But because Lecarre’ is notorious for slower, more dramatic and complex plots, the movie adaptations aren’t for everyone. His themes, however, are relevant and universal.  Our Kind of Traitor, the most recent film, stars Evan MacGregor, Stellan Sarsgaard, and Naomi Harris. And once again, he pits the individual against a much larger and more powerful system. In this case, a hipster British couple are drawn into the “Vor,” the Russian brotherhood of thieves: the ones whose very stark and illicit histories are recounted on

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In a terrific independent film playing at the Downer Theater in Milwaukee, I got to watch Collin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Guy Pearce in a story about a golden age for publishing in the United States. The movie is called “Genius”and it focuses on Max Perkins, editor at Scribner & Sons who represented Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and for the purposes of this film Thomas Wolfe, author of”Look Homeward Angel.” Superbly acted and set splendidly amid the clothes, cars, and romance of the early 20th century, the plot centers around the discovery of Thomas Wolfe by Perkins. Wolfe (Jude Law) is a passionate and hyper-prolific writer, and Perkins (Colin Firth) is drawn to him personally and professionally despite the tragic and destructive nature he sees

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Most people want to talk about Brexit as a rogue event—like the appearance of a comet or a solar eclipse. It should be viewed, though, as an important point on a continuum that marks a transition point in a decades-long global swing toward economic and political integration. Since Reagan and Thatcher and the collapse of communism, we have seen nearly thirty years of increasingly free-market policies with regard to trade, regulation and taxes—this on a global scale. The effects have been to promote economic integration and the financialization of the world.  The financialization is important in that it promotes debt-fueled feudalism—again, on an individual and a national level: the Greeks are an example of how debt leaves a country in servitude to the paymasters; the

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The Lobster I had to drive some distance to see this film. It is very much a pity that the more rewarding film experiences are often the least accessible. While I admit that more “artistic” content has shifted toward home-viewing now—I insist that the ritual and experience of a theatre venue is more valid than the domestic one. The film was a surprise—even a shock—and it was worth the drive [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]If you choose to see this film, be prepared to talk about it after the credits roll. Consider yourself warned: everything is metaphor.[/pullquote] Colin Farrell and Rachel Weisz (among other name players) made for a strong cast, but in this film, their acting talents were put to use in

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Some actors draw me to a movie before I even read a review. For example, I would likely watch Russell Crowe do most anything. Ryan Gosling has also turned in a number of strong performances. And so I went to see The Nice Guys, the new action/comedy/noir/crime-drama set in 1970s LA. [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]I hope they both check that off their list before either goes into a “real” modern comedy where according to the last comedy plot mandate, they would, inevitably have to make terrible faces because some inanimate object has just been forced up their butt.[/pullquote] The retro fashions, cars, and music – and the lack of any Digital Era technology – make it a fun visit to what was

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In the Economics and Finance classes I teach, the most stimulating class session covers the topic of money. Students express a curious confusion when I introduce a specific riddle, a koan for them to mediate upon. I ask them to explain the statement: “The prices of food, oil, gold, and property often don’t rise at all.” [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”One year, for example, the price of gold is 1200 dollars per ounce,” I suggest. “And one year later gold is 1300 dollars per ounce.  If I tell you that gold did not go up, what else could possibly have happened?”[/pullquote] They wonder if I am joking and prepare to rebut my assertion with evidence of consistent increases in the prices of just about

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It was only coincidence, but I happened to watch the 2003 classic School of Rock on cable Friday night. That movie—which launched Jack Black’s career and held a box office record for the genre until 2015, was about kids whose lives were transformed by creating a good band. They get some mentoring of course, and viewers have to accept that they had more than a little studio help with regard to the quality of the sound, but the theme works–probably because we want so badly for it to work. [pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]For the price of admission, you get an extra pair of tickets: one to Dublin and another back in time to the era of Boy George, big hair, and Duran

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Movies

This little indie gem popped up out of nowhere; I didn’t even have it on my radar as I usually do from previews or the NYT movie reviews I get every week. Based on real events, Papa Hemingway in Cuba depicts a few years in the late 1950s when Ernest Hemingway lived in Havana with his wife Mary. These were no ordinary years. The Miami Globe reporter Ed Myers  meets and befriends the man who is his  idol as well as America’s most famous author.  There’s no lack of drama in this one. The events leading up to the Castro Revolution in Cuba, Hemingway’s battles (both internal and external), and the personal and professional adventures of a young journalist make this film compelling and dramatic.

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