Leadership Lessons From Hipster Central

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According to one estimate there are about 11,000 business books published every year. Many sell well and some sell millions: business advice is very big business. Companies and entrepreneurs – the active ingredients of capitalism – seem to be weirdly desperate to find out how to operate the machinery of capitalism. Leadership, teamwork and organizing are all in the mix, but what they really want to know usually boils down to this: how do you run an efficient organization?

First published on CapX: read more here

Drone Drama Comes Of Age

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Now the terrorists are on the screen in front of you, live, just as it happens. Their bombs are primed and ready for use, today. Their automatic weapons are loaded. Yet all the while above the jihadi house a Reaper drone circles at 20,000 feet, its missiles locked on to the very room where the suicide attack is being assembled. Out in the street civilians pass. Just feet from the bomb factory a young girl sells bread from a stall. Do you fire the missile?

First published on CapX: read more here

The Propaganda Game: Inside North Korea’s Dreamworld

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The Propaganda Game is a documentary film made inside North Korea that attempts to take that mysterious country’s version of reality at face value. Set mostly in the capital Pyongyang it shows North Koreans eating ice cream in the street, skateboarding in the park, and generally larking about during what seems to be a perpetual sunny Sunday afternoon. And strangely enough this approach ends up telling us more than any number of hard-edged news reports. Invited to tell their own story on their own terms the North Koreans reveal more than they intended.

First published on CapX: read more here

The Oscars: A Gambler’s Guide

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Heads up: the Oscars ceremony is on the last Sunday in February. By the end of the evening you can expect some serious surprises and some cruelly overlooked losers, accompanied by public emotions that will certainly be profuse and may even be real. By far the biggest deal of the night is the award for ‘Best Picture’. This is the only award that all the 6,000 or so Academy members can vote on, and it is also the award that has the biggest impact on current box office and future productions. Here’s the CapX guide to who might win Best Picture and why.

First published on CapX: read more here

Spotlight Deserves Several Oscars

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So far it is shaping up to be a big year for Oscar-nominated ‘true life’ stories in the cinema. This weekend following hard behind The Big Short comes Spotlight, a film about two great American institutions – the big city newspaper and the Catholic church. Spotlight is the name of the investigative desk at The Boston Globe, and the story is the almost incredible one of the highly organized involvement of the church hierarchy in concealing, even facilitating, the sexual abuse of hundreds of children over many years, and the work of the Globe’s team in uncovering the story. Almost incredible, except that it is now known to be true.

First published on CapX: read more here

Chinese Money On Sunset Boulevard

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Wang Jianlin is China’s richest man. With a personal fortune of over $30 billion, he owns businesses that range from department stores to commercial property, from e-commerce to media to tourism. But that is not enough for Wang Jianlin: in the past he has made no secret of the fact he also wants to be a Hollywood film mogul. And this year his dream has been fulfilled.

First published on CapX: read more here

Review: The Big Short

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Successful investors are lucky. With the kind of timing that most PR people can only ever dream of, Paramount Pictures has chosen a week when stock markets around the world have been in freefall for the UK release of The Big Short, which is a film about the last time that stock markets around the world were in freefall. Film-making itself is a form of high risk financial gambling, and to get that kind of result from your bet you need luck in abnormal quantities. The schedulers at Paramount have been so lucky that if you made a film about it, no one would believe your story.

First published on CapX: read more here

The Franchise Awakens

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The astonishing global success of Star Wars is a partly inexplicable phenomenon. Why is this sometimes entertaining but always derivative space opera the most valuable piece of intellectual property the world has ever seen? That mystery is now part of its success. Decade in and decade out audiences queue and queue again, as if to repeat the question. Too often they come away miserably traduced by yet another cynical marketing manoeuvre – and of course the mystery of Star Wars only deepens. Now with The Force Awakens we have the latest instalment of the ‘franchise’. Fans and anti-fans the world over are in their different ways braced for disaster. Just how bad can it get?

First published on CapX: read more here

Junk Bond

james-bond-1400x788You approach a new James Bond film with finely blended expectations of excitement and concern and dread. Excitement at the prospect of the second most expensive action film ever produced, concern at the health of a venerated British institution, and dread at the prospect of yet another prime turkey in the turkey-infested realm of the Bond franchise. So before we go any further let us address the turkey in the room: Spectre, the twenty-fourth film in the sequence, is a turkey. It is not an enormous great clucking monster turkey. It is just an ordinary medium turkey, the kind of turkey a middle-aged couple might order for a quiet Christmas at home without the children. How it managed to cost $300 million is anyone’s guess, but at that price it is certainly the most disappointing dinner for two in history.

First published on CapX: read more here