Published on: April 5, 2013
My thanks this week to the folks at the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association, which hosted me at its annual convention in Scottsdale, Arizona, for a talk about "The Big Picture: Essential Business Lessons from The Movies."
This is a group I'd never heard of before, but they're fascinating - essentially, they're the guys from Armageddon
, except that instead of drilling, they use cranes and rigs to lift stuff. Big stuff. Like cruise ships, submarines, bridge pilings. Like every business, the owners that make up this group are looking for ways to differentiate themselves and find a compelling narrative so they can better communicate with employees, business partners, clients and customers. And it continues to amaze and delight me the extent to which the message of "The Big Picture" cuts across so many industries.
Equally as exciting, at least to me, is the fact that "The Big Picture" continues to sell and people continue to enjoy its message. Along with MNB, it is just a great way to make a living.
I've said this before here, but if you have not watched "Justified" on FX, then you missing one of the best written, best-performed, most sophisticated TV shows being made today. And this week's season four finale was evidence that this show just gets better and better.
Based on a character created by the great Elmore Leonard, US Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens, who is sent back to Harlan County, Kentucky, as a kind of discipline after a questionable shooting of a Miami mobster; Givens is from Harlan, and his goal has been to escape his past.
Played by Timothy Olyphant with Gary Cooper-style cool and swagger, Givens essentially faced off with different major villains in each of the first three seasons, while simultaneously dealing with the relatives and friends who navigate either sides of the law. A major character in the series is Boyd Crowder, a childhood friend who walks on the dark side .... he is the flip side of Givens, and played as a kind of cool enigma by Walton Goggins.
In the just-concluded fourth seasons, there was no major criminal against whom Givens could battle. Rather, there were times when the episodes seemed a little meandering, but as the weeks went on, the writers, directors and producers slowly pulled on the threads, turning the series into a compelling and thoughtful meditation on choices, heritage and the difference between good and evil. Sometimes violent but never thoughtlessly so, "Justified" features some of the best dialogue on TV - which makes sense, since dialogue is what Elmore Leonard does best (though with a few exceptions, TV and the movies often have butchered adaptations of his work).
"Justified" is available on iTunes, Netflix and from Amazon ... and if you have not seen it, you need to rent or buy the first four seasons and catch up. Season five is on the way.
- the new Tina Fey-Paul Rudd romantic comedy - the other night, and came away with mixed emotions. On the upside, I'd never seen a movie before about the cutthroat world of the college admissions process, and I thought that the notion of forcing an admissions officer (Fey) who didn't think of applicants as flesh and blood people to consider the consequences of her decisions was a smart one.
But the path they chose - having her evaluate and influence the application of a young man who may be the child she gave up 18 years before after having him out of wedlock - to illustrate her dawning awareness doesn't entirely work. Fey is good, and Rudd - as a high school teacher mentoring the young man - is a good match for her. For me, the movie felt stylistically a lot like About A Boy
, which was co-directed by Paul Weitz, who also directed Admission
, but it does not blend the comedy and drama as well. Admission
is diverting, but it could have been much better.
I have no idea if you watch "The Voice" or not. I'm a total addict, though I'll concede I am a little chagrined to be hooked on the show. It is literally the only bit of "reality television" I like, and I think it is because "The Voice" is essentially a positive experience. Many of these shows delight in demeaning the participants and catering to the lowest common denominator, but "The Voice" is about mentoring, encouraging, and celebrating talent.
And here's what has really caught me by surprise in the current season...
Two of the judges - Usher and Shakira - are new, joining Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. I'm going to be honest here - I sort of knew the name Shakira, but I don't think I've ever heard her sing nor have I ever seen her perform. But based just on the first few episodes on which she appears as a judge, I have a total crush on this woman - she is funny, charming, sweet and gorgeous. I can't wait to see how she does as a mentor to the singers on her team, and I hope she remains a fixture on "The Voice."
Two wines to recommend to you this week....
• the 2011 Willamette Valley Vineyards Dry Rose, which was absolutely wonderful the other night when I served it with steamers.
• the 2006 Captain's Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, rich and mouth-filling, and perfect with filet mignon.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.