Friday, October 29, 2010

There is an "Upside" and "Downside" to Everything!

This review is from: Up in the Air (DVD)

"Up In The Air" is a reality check for individuals who have chosen professional and material success over family obligations and mainstream sentimentalities. Yes, Ryan Bingham (George Clooney) has made great sacrifices that seem unconventional, but does not conventionalism come with its own price? "Up In The Air" reconciles unorthodox reasoning with collective thinking. At one point in the movie when it appears that Bingham will become a relic of the past, he is redeemed. It's a man versus machine moment when corporate heads decide to disband its new technology of contractually terminating employees through teleconferencing in favor of face-to-face relations. In an altered reality, the boilerplate would have Bingham losing his job; due to the changing work environment and lamenting about the personal relationships he sacrificed to be a corporate dweller. Fortunately, this doesn't happen, which is a "thumbs up" for personal choice.

In the end, the clear message is that life is filled with choices that have an "upside" and a "downside" attached. As one undergoes a "Cost-Benefit Analysis," it is important to take the long view of a myriad of decisions. There are no moral absolutes! Rather, happiness is a culmination of core choices surrounding individual contentment.

"Up In The Air" is a great movie for individuals on both sides of the equation--those who have abandoned personal relationships for professional success and those who have abandoned self actualization for familial responsibilities.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Charisma, Government and Other Businesses: Measuring Outcomes

This review is from: Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government (Paperback)

"Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government" isn't a page turner. In fact, you're more apt to read a few pages and put it down. Not because of its profundity, but because of its tedium. But, building the foundation to any business for long term sustainability requires a degree of monotony. Kelly and Rivenbark's "Performance Budgeting..." is about power and the inner workings of state and local governments tasked with measuring services to the public.

As a master degree candidate, this book was a requirement for a course of the same title. While it's only 8 chapters, readers are left with a greater appreciation for taxes and how it greases the wheels that keep governments operating. While you can read another type of business book, "Performance Budgeting..." shows you how the private sector has largely influenced governmental operations. While, the government isn't quite as efficient, "Performance Budgeting for State and Local Government" spends a long time attempting to make its case.

As performance review is important, it becomes increasingly difficult to make the same case for the public sector as the private sector. In fact, "Performance Budgeting..." fails to make a compelling case, because certain departments within city government are immeasurable based on the nature of the services.

Whether you're a student of politics, government or business, this book is a helpful tool for aligning programs with outcomes and objectives, albeit limitations. For one who teaches on charisma, measuring service deliverables is essential.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Coco is Charismatic

Audrey Tautou in "Coco Before Chanel" is compelling and has charisma galore. Coco was self-empowered and smashed the rules of proper etiquette for women far before it became fashionable. Her indomitable spirit leaps off the screen with very little movement. Charismatic personalities can make reading from a telephone book an awe-inspiring experience. Throughout the movie, viewers witness Tautou's penetrating stare as an observer of the people around her. What is she observing? She sees the masks they wear; Women overly adorning themselves in an attempt to fit into high society when their true selves cry out for simplicity. Coco saw it all and captured it with fashion. She wasn't merely dressing women, she was leading a crusade.

A French movie with sub titles provides an air of authenticity that would have been lost in English. To those who dear to dream and who pay the price for success, watch this movie.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Charisma of Knowing It All

This review is from: Sherlock Holmes (DVD)

"Sherlock Holmes" portrays the downside of the "Renaissance Man." Imagine being able to outthink, outwit and outfight most people and then become trapped in a cocoon of self-misery based on these facts alone. The genius and lamentations of Sherlock Holmes is excellently played by Robert Downey, Jr. While one usually would need to be an anglophile or at least appreciate the backdrop of England (circa) 1880's--1900's, Downey and Jude Law make it fun. The intellectualism of the characters is a breath of fresh air from the mindless, hackneyed movies normally on the modern day roster.

"Sherlock Holmes" is an odyssey through human nature and the need for illusions, whether it is the need to believe in the dead or delusions of grandeur based on self importance. "Sherlock Holmes" shows the upside and downside of human nature and the vagaries in between.

I highly recommend this movie for the comedic erudite.