Molly's Game

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Netflix thought I'd like this. They weren't wrong; I stayed awake the entire time.

It's the story of Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain). She's not of Irish descent, as she makes clear when someone assumes she is. But she comes from a high-pressure family; her dad, especially, pushes her to become a world-class skiier, like her brother. That ambition is almost derailed when she undergoes surgery for serious scoliosis. But (through implied grit, pluck, and pressure) she nearly attains Olympic stature… until a freak accident derails her again! Darn!

So she decides to do something else. By sheer luck (whether that luck is good or bad is up in the air) she gets into the world of high-stakes barely-legal poker parties. Understandably, she wants to avoid illegality and complication. Just as understandably: she gets it anyway. No spoilers: an early scene in the movie shows her being arrested by the Feds, he assets seized via forfeiture. She appeals to a fancy lawyer (Idris Elba) for help, and gets it. Will she stay out of the clink?

Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, which is an announcement of "clever dialog upcoming".

Except—and this sounds like something other people may have noticed too—it's not exactly clever dialog. It's dialog the audience listens to and thinks I'm clever for understanding this. Not quite the same thing.

It's fine, good acting, marred by a truly stupid conclusion. Don't want to spoil it, but it involves a deus ex machina speech by a judge…

URLs du Jour


[Amazon Link]

  • I'm trying, and failing, to get all snarky and cynical about Proverbs 10:12:

    12 Hatred stirs up conflict,
        but love covers over all wrongs.

    This truly speaks to our time. Our time is in no mood to listen.

  • At Hot Air, Taylor Millard notes: The GOP’s Abandonment Of Free Speech Is Almost Complete. Whoa. How did that happen?

    The latest attack on free speech comes from Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Devin Nunes. The pair – adhering to the yearning of their leader at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – launched a multi-pronged attack on Twitter based on a Vice News report showing Twitter was shadow-banning conservatives i.e. not letting people find them in a search of Twitter. Social media sites have long been criticized for their failure to either crack down on fake accounts or the problems with their suspension process. But Gaetz now believes it’s time for the heavy-hand of government to ‘solve’ the problem by filing a complaint with the FEC.

    Democrats have always whined about corporate thumbs on the scales of "democracy". It's not surprising, but a little sad, to see Republicans start singing off that page of the demagogic hymnal when they think it can work to their advantage.

  • Kevin D. Williamson returns to the pages of National Review with a tutorial, in his inimitable style: Understanding Trade Deficits.

    A trade deficit is nothing like a budget deficit. Each year’s federal budget deficit adds to the total debt owed by the federal government. Trade deficits don’t do that, which is one reason why “trade deficit” is not a very useful term. A trade deficit is just a bookkeeping entry, not a debt that has to be paid. Countries don’t trade — people do. Americans are no more harmed by the trade deficit with Germany than you are by your trade deficit with Kroger.

    What people are "harmed" by—what they really don't like—is competition. Understandable. But griping about your competition seems whiny and selfish; how much more convenient to start babbling about a "trade deficit".

  • As long as we're talking about trade, Jeff Jacoby brings up another rhetorical issue: The insidious metaphor of trade as 'war'.

    Talk of trade wars is hardly new, but under Donald Trump, trade-war rhetoric has become ubiquitous. In speeches and on social media, he repeatedly approaches trade in terms suited to a grim international conflict — a struggle for dominance among nations in which there must be winners and losers.

    "When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win," Trump tweeted in March. Last month he put it even more sharply: "When you're almost 800 Billion Dollars a year down on Trade, you can't lose a Trade War! The U.S. has been ripped off by other countries for years on Trade.

    Jeff's punchline should be on a t-shirt: "Trade war is an insidious term. The metaphor notwithstanding, trade isn't war. It's peace."

    Or, as Bastiat didn't say (but could have): “When goods don’t cross borders, Soldiers will."

  • Andrew Branca, writing at Legal Insurrection looks at a recent example of MSM coverage of a legal topic, and finds it wanting: CNN Mangles “Stand-Your-Ground” Law Yet Again. It's an all-points takedown. The first sentence in CNN's article:

    Cases of self-defense aren't always simple -- especially in states with a "stand your ground" law.

    Branca rebuts:

    Actually, cases of self-defense are simpler in states with a “stand your ground” law, all other things being equal, because in those SYG states self-defense must be evaluated on only four elements–innocence, imminence, proportionality, and reasonableness–rather than five elements–the addition of the element of avoidance.

    Peruse The Entire Article to fully appreciate what a botch CNN made with its "expert" analysis.

    More info on the state of state Stand Your Ground laws here. Map, embedded from Wikipedia:

    Stand-your-ground law by US jurisdiction.svg
    By Terrorist96 - Own work | Smart Gun Laws, FindLaw, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

    New Hampshire, with full SYG protections, is a lonely green island in the northeast. (Apparently, Vermonters have zero SYG rights; you have a "duty to retreat" even within your own home.)

  • Writing in the Union Leader, Ross Connolly and Laura Spottiswood argue that we Extend worker freedom to all of New Hampshire. Which is the right to work without being forced to join a union:

    Right-to-work also reaffirms our state motto, “Live Free or Die,” and New Hampshire’s commitment to economic freedom. Besides the government, unions are the only other entity that can deduct dues directly from a worker’s wages without consent. This is wrong and goes completely against our state’s creed and values. We need to put power back in the hands of workers and ensure their freedoms are not being infringed upon.

    Interestingly, Wikipedia's RTW map is eerily similar to the SYG map: Right to Work states.svg
    By Scott5114 - This file was derived from: Right to work.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

    … except for New Hampshire. For now.

Last Modified 2018-07-30 11:09 AM EDT