Focus (2015)

The story follows Nicky (Will Smith) a veteran thief who meets a grifter, Jess (Margot Robbie). This is a very clever fun comedy packed with action and unexpected twists. They meet in a hotel bar while she is playing a damsel in distress asking to be rescued from a date that has gone sour. After he obliges they end up talking for hours and she invites him to her room. The whole room situation gets heated but not in the way that you'd expect. Bottom line is that she is a minor league player looking for a mentor and he plays the role very well. Click on the title to read the full review.

Fact Fullness (Hans Rosling)

When asked simple questions about global trends- what percentage of the world's population lives in poverty; why the world population is increasing; how many girls finish school- we systematically get the answers wrong" (Rosling). As an economist, I found this book to be quite refreshing and optimistic about our present and the future. The author employs some elements of behavioral economics to explain human bias towards negative thinking. Rosling provides some rules of thumb to retrain our brains to think differently and challenge the unconscious bias that leads to poor decision making. He goes as far as to say that the most educated people are the ones who hold the most incorrect assumptions about the world. Definitely a must read for managers and executives making decisions on behalf of large corporations as wrong perceptions can lead to a loss in market opportunities. Click on the title to read the full review.

Russian Doll- (2019)

The plot centers around Nadia, who seems like a typical New Yorker, working as a software developer, and living a life of excess. It's her 36th birthday, and while it would be normal for her to feel happy that her friends are throwing her a party, she seems quite disengaged. Something is not right from the beginning. Nadia starts off the night by bailing from her own party to spend the night with a stranger, only to end up dying... again and again. Click on the title to read the full review.

The Art of Happiness (His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler)

This book makes an important distinction between happiness and joy indicating that the latter creates a more positive state of mind than the former. This is the example used by his holiness: "The feeling of happiness is similar to a high, that can be felt during an event or when achieving a specific goal that we are pursuing, and therefore, happiness can feel like it is constantly eluding us. Thus the search for happiness can lead to long periods of resentment, frustration and low self esteem." Click on the title to read the full review.

Joker (2019)

This movie introduces a political dimension to the character of the Joker. In a way, he represents the underdog, those who have been forgotten by society and politicians. The feeling of disenfranchisement is the binding element between the audience and the character. Poverty hits Arthur and his family in many ways and it seems to be partly responsible for his descend into madness. Resentment begins to built up and it drives him mad. So he resorts to living in a world of fantasy, where he can escape the unbearable pain that he is experiencing. The script describes a step by step journey from mild disability into severe mental illness when someone lacks support. Click on the title to read the full review.

Big Mouth (2017-2020)

This show looks like a teenager sex ed animated comedy. However, the writing is peppered with layers of complexity. It has quickly grown to be one of my favorite shows on Netflix. While I agree with my friend's assessment that the show is "Sex Positive," I also think that is a lot more than that, sort of overall emotion positive. Somehow, the writers managed to sneak in the topic of mental illnesses and even politics into the story while making us laugh and reflect about our own hang ups. Click on the title to read the full review.

Parasite (2019)

What is true wealth? Money, assets or connections? This is a very dark and complex drama that touches upon life perception from poverty and wealth extremes. A story about class told like never before. Although it would seem like the poor people act as parasites of the rich, it is unclear who the parasite is in this movie. Click on the title to read the full review

Misbehaving (Richard H. Thaler)

This book is an excellent read for anyone desiring to become smarter about money and decision making in general. It is also a must read for social scientists, especially those interested in formulating effective public policy. Click on the title to read the full review.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Although the book is considered literary nonsense, I think that Charles Dodgson conveys the very familiar feeling of disconcert that we all experience while going through different life stages. The book was written in 1865 but somehow managed to remain timeless when it comes to describing the struggle between societal pressures and a coming of age. Click on the title to read the full article.

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