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Chadwick: The One "Bright Spot" For Me

We all know that the economic statistics for the next few months are going to be lousy at best, but there is a bright spot in our economy right now and that is in the movie houses.

This realization came to me during the week after Christmas as I went nowhere (deliberately) and spent my time making soup, reading books I received for Christmas, venturing out for a daily three mile walk in what ranged from snow and sleet to 60° gorgeous sunshine, curling up with newspapers, and catching up on movie reviews, that after nearly a year of what seemed to me to be totally vapid movie offerings, there was suddenly an entire year’s worth of movies that appealed to me.

So for the last five days, I have gone to a movie a day and what a great and uplifting time it was. "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button", despite its nearly three hours in length, was not a minute too long for me. The cinematography was stunning, the music divine and the acting brilliant. There were many occasions for both laughter and tears.

Next came "Slumdog Millionaire." Admittedly, having spent time in India made the movie even more poignant, and except for some violence (which I watched through my fingers), it was a marvelously uplifting two hours. We went as a family, with our 14 year old children, and they loved it as well.

On day three I went alone to see "Milk." If Sean Penn does not get the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role, I will be shocked, and Gus Van Sant’s directing is phenomenal. Bring your tissues – you will need them. Very likely most of the audience will not remember that day in 1978 when Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were gunned down. But seeing the movie was an uplifting reminder of how far we have come from the dark days just 30 years ago of rampant homophobia. That is something for which to be grateful.

Then I saw "Doubt." I am not sure I would have seen it, had I already seen the staged version, but fortunately in this case, I missed the Broadway production. Are there two greater character actors today than Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman? The story is wrenching, the acting extraordinary, and I hope to see much more of Viola Davis (Mrs. Miller) in the future.

Just yesterday afternoon, I saw "The Reader." I did not have a clue what it was about, but when I saw it was playing at the Paris Cinema in New York, I knew it was my kind of movie. And I was not disappointed. It was the final production of Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella, both of whom died before it was completed. Perhaps they would have shortened it a bit, and that would have been good. It moves slowly, but it is powerful. It is not for children and it may offend some adults as well, but the story is riveting and the acting superb.

There are a few more movies on my list – "Last Chance Harvey" and "Frost/Nixon" being at the top.

So before the doom and gloom of the economy gets too oppressive, let me encourage you to get out of the house, go to the movies (it’s still a reasonably inexpensive form of entertainment, even if you must have the cholesterol ladened popcorn) and lift your spirits, escape the bad stuff, contribute to the economy without damaging your pocketbook too much and realize that there is lots of talent and ingenuity – much of it American.

I promise to find more positive things to say about the economy in my next blog.

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Patricia W. Chadwick has had more than 35 years of investment experience. She is the founder and president of Ravengate Partners LLC, a consulting firm that provides advice on financial markets and global economics.