Movie Madness: The Boys of ’36 & Losing Sight of Shore

I’ve heard great things about the book The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. When I saw that Netflix was streaming a documentary about the same team I thought American Experience: The Boys of ’36 fit perfectly in my action plan.

It’s a somber story that focuses on the unconventional backgrounds of this elite rowing team. I enjoyed the black and white footage of the team and that they interspersed the narration with newer footage to highlight techniques. I had never heard the term “swing” in regards to rowing, but it sounds like an amazing experience and makes me want to join a team!

The director doesn’t go into the background of each of the rowers but mostly focuses on the hardships that befell Rantz, Hume, and Moch. I would have loved more context on the other six rowers. There wasn’t enough gravitas in this film for such an epic story. The soundtrack was uninspired and the ending abrupt.

That’s what I get for trying to take the easy route. It’s still a moving story, so I plan on picking up the book at some point.

Since my first choice was a bust I perused Netflix and found Losing Sight of Shore. It’s amazing! I was immediately invested in these women and got goosebumps when they started their journey rowing under the Golden Gate bridge.

The cinematography and editing really connected me to the team. Their dejection at failure is your dejection and their elation when they hit milestones is your elation.

This movie has inspired me to attempt to row for 2 hours straight. I think on my next free Saturday I am going to row while watching this movie again. If I rowed for the whole movie I would still have another 28 mins to go to match one of their shifts. And I would need to do 1,541 more shifts to get across the Pacific. Even the math is daunting.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone with some free time today! Seriously, go watch it right now, and then share in the comments how much you loved it.

Movie Madness: Billions in Change

billions-in-change-official-film

This documentary focuses on how Manoj Bhargava, the creator of 5-hour Energy, is using 90% of his wealth to help change the world.

Billions in Change is a 40 minute movie that focuses on the work of Stage 2 Innovations. They are trying to dramatically improve the world’s access to sustainable energy, clean water, and health care. It is a fascinating overview of their most promising products and general ideas for implementation.

It’s short, sweet, and inspirational. Manoj sums it up nicely at the end, “if you’re given more, more is expected from you.” If only there were more people in the world concerned about lessening the suffering of other.

I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, especially since you can watch it for free online.

Please share any philanthropy movie recommendations you have in the comments below. I’d love to take in some more films.

Movie Madness: Spanish Films

I am a huge movie buff so I wanted to use films to improve my fluency in Spanish.

PP_YTuMamaTambien

Y Tu Mama Tambien (English Subtitled)

This Oscar nominated film is not my cup of tea. I made it to the pool scene where the two friends are masturbating together and gave up. The dialog was hard for me to follow even with English subtitles. They spoke very quickly, and there was a lot of voice over narration. I was only catching flashes of dialogue. I decided to go a different route in my second attempt.

 

PP_Hotel_Transylvania_2_posterHotel Transylvania 2

Since I had a hard time with a “real” Spanish film Clayton suggested that I watch Dora the Explorer instead. He thinks he’s very clever, but he did inspired me to watch an animated film dubbed in Spanish. Dubbed live-action movies are distracting because of the disparity between the voice and facial movements, but cartoons just approximate mouth movements. Diction is also much better with voice actors. Besides a kid’s movie is on par with my proficiency level.

Bonus Movies!

PP_AntMan PP_Avengers PP_Interstellar PP_RATF

When we were on our cruise the television in our room was set with Spanish subtitles. I read loud the Spanish translations of Ant-Man, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Interstellar, and Ricki and the Flash. Comic book movies are well suited to foreign language development. You get the benefit of new vocabulary words, idioms, and simple sentence structure with very few dramatic monologues.

Through trial and error I have found 2 new ways to help build my Spanish skills. There is a great selection of cartoons on Netflix that have been dubbed in Spanish, and if I watch a movie I’ve already seen I will add Spanish subtitles. When I am more fluent I would like to try watching a foreign film for native speakers again.

Please share your favorite Spanish movie in the comments so I can start a to-watch list.

PM Movies in SPACE!

NASA was an early adopter of modern project management methodologies, so it stands to reason that movies based on their organization would illustrate key principles of the discipline. Watching The Martian I had a lot of empathy for Teddy. He’s the director of NASA and pseudo project manager of the effort to bring Mark home. This thought prompted me to analyze other NASA movies that also demonstrate the fundamental aspects of project management.

SPOILER ALERT: I will not tell you who lives or dies, but I will be reviewing critical plot points of recent blockbuster films.

Image Source: IMDB
Image Source: IMDB

“…get a viable amount of human life off the planet.”
Interstellar

• Scope: Fixed
• Schedule: Variable
• Cost: Variable

Interstellar is the convoluted tale of saving the human race from an inhospitable earth. The schedule is variable because there isn’t a specific time table, and we’re just told at some point in the future the blight will destroy all the crops. The cost is never discussed in the movie. NASA has become a sort of shadow agency and appears to have unlimited resources. This leaves the scope of perpetuating the human race as the fixed constraint. They have multiple plans to achieve this goal, but never stray from that objective.

Image Source: IMDB
Image Source: IMDB

“I’ll start starving on SOL 584.”
The Martian

• Scope: Variable
• Schedule: Fixed
• Cost: Variable

In the Martian, NASA’s objective is to help Mark stay alive until he can be rescued. The schedule is fixed because Mark’s rations will last for a limited amount of time and there is an optimum launch window to send him more supplies. The schedule is so critical that they cut every ancillary step in the plan and add more people to the team to ensure they launch the resupply on time. There is an excellent scene on their risk analysis of shortening the timeline that I am sure left every Quality Assurance Analyst in the audience cringing.

Scope is a variable constraint because it changes throughout the movie. The initial scope is to get Mark a new supply of rations and equipment to keep him alive until the next planned mission to Mars. Eventually it changes all together as they analyze contingency plans. Cost is also variable because it is of no concern in the movie. Because the entire world is captivated by Mark’s struggle they have global resources available to them.

Image Source: IMDB
Image Source: IMDB

“Houston, in the blind…”
Gravity

• Scope: Variable
• Schedule: Variable
• Cost: Fixed

Gravity starts with 5 astronauts upgrading the Hubble Space Telescope. Implementation of the project work was originally scheduled to take a week, but minutes into the movie the mission is aborted and the new objective is survival. Mission Specialist Dr. Ryan Stone’s objectives change a number of times as she is reacting to a series unplanned issues which is why the scope as variable.

The movie covers approximately 3.5 hours of Ryan’s life, and while there are 2 very specific milestones the schedule is variable in relation to the objective of survival. That leaves cost as the fixed constraint. Once communication is lost with Houston and her crew Ryan’s resources are limited to her own capacity and the resources within her reach.

The projects I work on do not have life and death consequences, but these extreme examples show how even when everything seems critical it is essential to identify and manage the primary constraint. This will help to focus and prioritize your work efforts and ensure you meet your objective. It also makes for a compelling story!

What other professions crop up in certain movie genres? Please share your thoughts in the comments!