Tayur’s Eleven

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Ocean’s Eleven is a heist comedy film directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Ted Griffin. The first installment of the Ocean’s franchise, it is a remake of the 1960 Rat Pack film of the same name. It features George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy García, Bernie Mac and Julia Roberts. It grossed over $450 million on a budget of $85 million.

I highly recommend No Sudden Move, where Don Cheadle and Matt Damon star, along with Benicio Del Toro. It is very satisfying, with wonderful performances by all actors. The next Matt Damon movie I am looking forward to is Stillwater.

The best documentary that I have seen recently (and among the enjoyable ever) is Summer of Soul. Mahalia Jackson’s rendering live on stage of Take My Hand, Precious Lord (with Mavis Staples) was unbelievably stirring:

Of course, it was a treat to watch Nina Simone, especially as she performed Backlash Blues, a song that I had not heard before (my favorite two of hers are Sinnerman and I Put a Spell on You.)

I carry you with me was pretty good, and the movie concept is very interesting. It is not quite a documentary, although it features the actual pair of men whose story is being told, but their early youthful years are performed by other (younger) actors. I would add this to my top three LGBTQ+ movies, joining Bound and Blue is the Warmest Color.

Bound is a  neo-noir crime thriller film written and directed by the Wachowskis in their feature film directorial debut. Violet (Jennifer Tilly), who longs to escape her relationship with her mafioso boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano), enters into a clandestine affair with alluring ex-con Corky (Gina Gershon), and the two women hatch a scheme to steal $2 million of Mafia money.

Bound received positive reviews from film critics who praised the humor and style of the directors as well as the realistic portrayal of a lesbian relationship in a mainstream film.

Blue Is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d’Adèle – Chapitres 1 & 2) is a  romance film co-written, co-produced, and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, and starring Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos. The film follows Adèle (Exarchopoulos), a French teenager who discovers desire and freedom as an aspiring female painter Emma (Seydoux) enters her life. It charts their relationship from Adèle’s high school years to her early adult life and career as a school teacher. At the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, the film unanimously won the Palme d’Or from the official jury. It is the first film to have the Palme d’Or awarded to both the director and the lead actresses, with Seydoux and Exarchopoulos joining Jane Campion (The Piano).

Until this year, Jane Campion was the only woman director to win Palme d’Or. Just this past weekend, Julia Ducournau won it for Titane, becoming only the second woman to receive the Palme d’Or and the first female to win it alone. 

Spike Lee made a faux pas, as you have probably read about. Unrelated story: he was seated right in front of me, on a flight to Berlin, in First Class, in 2006. He was going to watch the World Cup Soccer finals, and I had timed my travel to that event but to sell SmartOps software. At one of the dinners with SmartOps team – we had an office in Berlin – at a fancy Italian restaurant, at the table next to us was Pele! Jasper W, our lead pre-sales consultant in Berlin, made eye contact, received permission to walk over, and got his autograph. Just a couple years earlier, in Chicago, after making a presentation, Randy C. (biz-dev at SmartOps) and I decided to go to a night club on Rush Street to celebrate the start of a sales cycle with Hewlett-Packard. Who comes and sits next to us? Derek Jeter! Randy got his autograph for AJ (who was in North Carolina leading our Caterpillar project) who was a very early SmartOps hire (and was a chief architect of the SAP partnership, which is what the Darden Case is about, that is redistributed by Harvard). 

Another movie based on a true story, Zola, that was originally written in a series of tweets (here is the NYTimes Magazine article that I had read prior to watching the film) while it was happening, was eye-opening, into the dark underworld of strip clubs and Backpage. What is particularly impressive is how trauma is narrated through humor

Black Widow exceeded expectations. Beyond the anticipated special effects and fight sequences, the film had narrative depth. Both Florence Pugh and Scarlett Johansson do a wonderful job, have good chemistry, with an added treat from Rachel Weisz.

The Tomorrow War could have been better, but its handling of time travel is quite sophisticated and worth appreciating.

Liam Neeson has been busy. Marksman is good, dealing with the theme of illegal (Mexican) border crossing, cartels and corrupt cops. The Ice Road takes us to our neighbors to the North; looks like Canadian CEO’s are also greedy capitalists cutting corners to make increased profits gambling the lives of the (low) wage mine workers. Predictable, but it does have some good cinematography. Both movies feature at least one interesting gun fight, well worth the price of the ticket and time spent. 

F9: The Fast Saga could have been better if it was 15-20 minutes shorter. Helen Mirren (80 years old in real life!) speeding through the streets of London (was it a McLaren?) is a treat. I have been a fan of hers for decades, beginning with Prime Suspect, and saw her perform on Broadway in The Audience (as I had previously written in O Broadway, Where Art Thou?). Her character in Red is one of my favorites. Can’t wait to see her next in The Duke.

The God Committee addressed many ethical, financial, religious and medical issues related to organ transplantation – that I found useful in my prelude to the post on my preparation (which I have updated to include my prepared comments) for NASEM Committee on Fair, Transparent and Cost-Effective Organ Transplantation – but the film could have greatly benefited from reducing the number of overlapping conflicts of interests. 

Gunpowder Milkshake was fun! Stylishly filmed, comic book style, it is Quentin Tarantino and John Wick inspired. Karen Gillan (also Nebula of Marvel Cinematic Universe) delivers a fine performance.

What are next set of movies I am looking forward to?

A Call to Spy. Snake Eyes. Stillwater. The Protégé. Respect. The Duke. 

I am at my office Tepper today, working on preparing our (with David Bernal, Elias Towe and Davide Venturelli) full-semester course — jointly taught between Tepper and ECE — this fall:

Quantum Integer Programming and Quantum Machine Learning.

As we finished our session, and I was about to finalize this post, I received this email (as a follow up of my Hedge Fund visit last week in NYC, that I discussed on KaRmA):

Dear Professor Tayur,

I would like to thank you for a very interesting and very entertaining presentation on quantum inspired computing. Hope this will lead to a long and fruitful collaboration.

I checked the calendar with Paul, our CEO, and this Wednesday evening would work for us. A friend of mine mentioned Gupshup as good option for Indian food. I have reserved a table for 6:15PM for this coming Wednesday (7/21). Please let me know if that would work for you.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Gupshup means chit-chat. 🤷🏽‍♂️

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