Once Upon a Time…in Cambridge

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I landed in Boston, to attend the 2019 INFORMS HealthCare Conference, at MIT Sloan, that starts tomorrow. 

It is a beautiful day. The views from my room are great. Now that I am in Boston, I have two main goals:

  1. See The Farewell, a Chinese film that is getting rave reviews (most likely at Kendall Cinema).
  2. See Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood, the new Quentin Tarantino movie that opens today.

And yes, attend the conference, where I am a presenter (or a co-author) in five talks.

I decided to prioritize Quentin’s movie over the Chinese film. 

Of course, I got a ticket at the Chestnut Superlux, one of the nicest movie theaters to enjoy a film in. Yes, the seats recline well. More importantly, they serve food and drinks at the movie, and have a good menu. In particular, they have Vesper.

Today, however, I decided to go low on alcohol content – it was a 4pm show, after all, and I wanted to pace myself – and chose a Pinot Grigio.

As I was booking my ticket online, I saw an email from a reporter from USA Today, requesting a call to discuss Trump’s tariffs on China. 

As you know, I am a supply chain expert, and I opine on all things supply chain, from counterfeiting, to automation, to combating child labor to impact of Trump’s tariffs. 

Real world stuff.

Why limit oneself to supply chains?  Indeed, I spoke to BBC yesterday on self-organized drones and precision farming, and that article will be out in a couple of weeks. 

Sometime ago, I also opined on Trump and healthcare that was in the Washington Post.

Here is the USA Today article:

An iPhone made in America? Why building Apple’s smartphone in the USA is a ‘pipe dream’

Back to Quentin Tarantino.

Once Upon a Time..in Hollwood was decent, but not his best. 

My favorites: Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, Inglorious Basterds.

It reminded me of Everybody Knows by Asghar Farhadi, my favorite contemporary non-American director (A Separation, About Elly..).

Why?

You could see flashes of brilliance, but it looked like he was holding back.

Like Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps purposely slowing down in the Olympics. They know, you know, they can do more, but just decided to slack off. Almost a form of showing off….like conspicuous leisure of Veblen, this is conspicuous slacking (my invention).

Everybody Knows has Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem. Decent movie, but could have been way more intense.

But Asghar restrains himself. Why?

So, you know it can get crazy…like Vicky Cristina Barcelona. That had Scarlett Johannson, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. (That was Woody Allen as Director.)

I like Penelope Cruz. I saw her in her debut film, Jamon Jamon.

Then I saw her in Vanilla Sky, with Cameron Diaz. (And Tom Cruise.)

Oh, don’t get me started on Caemron Diaz. I saw her in person in Minneapolis airport – I was there selling SmartOps software to Medtronic and few other companies about 10 years ago – and we walked into the United Lounge around the same time. That is a story for a different time.

Back to Penelope Cruz.

I saw her in person in Telluride in 2005 (or was it 2006?) when she won an award there. I was surprised how petite she was. She was also very casual: wearing red T-shirt and jeans, and mingling with the crowd.

A more exciting sighting in Telluride then was Forest Whitaker, as the The Last King of Scotland was premiering there. (He went on win the Academy Award for Best Actor).

In 2014, I went to Tenerife, for a vacation, mainly because TiE Global – I am a Charter Member of The Indus Entrepreneurs, TiE — was having its annual retreat there.

As I sat down for breakfast in the private beach, with my kids, who troops in and takes a table one over from us?

Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and one kid. She is also pregnant with their second.

Small world.

Back to Quentin.

In a few places in this Quentin movie, it is difficult not to laugh out loud. A Bruce Lee scene is just too funny. The ending is also quite surprising and Quentin-worthy. Of course, there is mayhem that matches Quentin-level expectations. Not quite Kill Bill or Pulp Fiction, but still vintage Quentin. But 3 hours? As I said: conspicuous slacking.

So, after the movie, as the USA Today link became live, I decided to get another drink, a Hendrick’s Gin martini, at Alibi (Liberty Hotel), one of my favorite spots in Boston, and read the NYTimes review of the movie.

The review is a bit too positive: in my view, Quentin gave Roman Polansky a pass, could have done more with other characters, like Steve McQueen (played by Damian Lewis). Even the scene in the Playboy Mansion could have been more interesting. Margot Robbie, as always, dazzled. But, she was highly constrained by the script. Maybe that was the point. (She played Sharon Tate.)

Back to the real world.

Looking forward to the INFORMS Healthcare conference tomorrow.

Two or the talks, scheduled at the same time (11:10 am) tomorrow, that I am involved in are:

SB01. Personalized Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder.

SB09. REACH: A New Strategy for Prioritizing HCC Patients on the liver transplant waitlist.

Update: I did see The Farewell (at Kendall Square Cinema): Overrated.

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