Thursday, September 30, 2010

Freakonomics: The Movie

I just finished watching Freakonomics the movie and the verdict is that it was ok.  Would I have liked it more had I not read the book first?  It's hard to say.  What I will tell you though is that the movie felt like a Cliff Notes version of the book.  While the movie was interesting, it simply didn't go into adequate depth on most of the topics discussed.  I continually found myself wanting more data after they had moved on to something else.  I suppose that this is a problem endemic to the movie format, making it not the best medium for the topic at hand.  That being said, if you prefer the quick and dirty version, then this is the film for you.  Completely standing on it's own merits, the film is adequate.  Each segment is directed by a renown documentary film maker, however due to my limited knowledge of documentary film makers, the only one I've heard of is Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me fame).

For those of you unfamiliar with Freakonomics, it is a "rogue economist exploring the hidden side of everything."  And by that it means that Steven Levitt applies economic principles to tease out the contributing factors to things that are not normally paid much attention.  For example, does giving your child a particularly ethnic sounding name like Deshawn have a negative impact on his or her future?  Does giving your child an unusual name have an impact, for example: did Robert Lane's sons Winner Lane and Loser Lane live up to their names?  Is the sport of sumo wrestling rife with cheating and fixed matches?  Can children be bribed to perform better in school?  The answers lie in the data and it's a pretty interesting ride getting there but ultimately lacks the depth I would prefer.

In other brief movie reviews, I recently watched Kick Ass which exceeded my expectations.  Perhaps it was the low expectation I had going in that made it easy to exceed, however I will admit to enjoying the movie.  It had a few twists and turns that I didn't see coming.  If you're bothered by the concept of an 11 year old girl who has the foul mouth of a sailor and kills people, then you're better off skipping this one. 

Also recently watched was Live!, the fictional tale of a sleazy network executive who tries to boost the flagging ratings by televising 6 people playing Russian roulette.  A lot of the characters were stereotypes and cliches, but I still enjoyed it.  I may have been influenced by the fact that I was dangerously low on sleep at the time I watched it (in the middle of the night while I couldn't sleep), and the fact that it starred Eva Mendes who in my humble opinion is one of the most attractive women in the world. 
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