Hello everyone! Today is a very fun mix of movie’s I’ve watched recently: Home Again, The Tinder Swindler, and More Than Robots.
I am so behind on these movie updates since I already have another entire set of movies for another post! So let’s get straight into it! I’ll do a brief summary of each film that is mostly spoiler-free and then give my thoughts afterwards that will have spoilers!
The work movie club has sort of taken a pause as we are all so busy these days! But this was one of the picks awhile back! This one is on Netflix, and is a 2017 rom co. In it, Reese Witherspoon is a single mom to two girls, moving back to her deceased father’s home in LA as she is preparing for divorce. Her character is struggling to adjust to single mom life in a new area and starting a new business as well. After a night out with her friends, she invites three 20-something guys to live in her guest house as they try to get started in the film industry. Quickly, the 20-somethings integrate into her family, and a fun, chaotic household is formed.
It was such a sweet and fun movie! I really loved how the 20-somethings just all connected to the family. I especially thought the one 20-something (it’s been awhile so I don’t remember exact character names anymore) helped one of the daughters with her struggles with self-confidence. I also loved how the single mom was able to embrace her life and the potential of it rather than take her ex back and go back to a mediocre life. Of course, since it’s a rom com it was obvious she was going to pick the cool new life she was building, and it worked out beautifully! It was just a really lighthearted and cute film that I would totally recommend when you just need some smiles!
The Tinder Swindler
I watched this documentary when everyone else was, but of course I missed the boat on posting this in a timely manner. Whoops! Anyway, this documentary is on Netflix and features three women who were victims of a conman, Shimon Hayut, going by Simon Leviev. The scam was carried out via Tinder, which Hayut/Leviev would use to find victims.
The documentary stuck with calling the scammer Simon Leviev since that is what the women knew him as and would call him, but I prefer to use actual names so Shimon Hayut it is. Hayut was, of course, an infuriating and disgusting character but still made for a fascinating documentary. In efforts to maintain an expensive lifestyle Hayut would manipulate the women he was “dating” or “befriending” by creating horrible scenarios. Usually, Hayut would use his fake identity to claim he was related to a real Leviev family who own diamond minds. Hayut would fake attacks from fake “enemies” and would claim that the diamond business was so dangerous that he was always in danger. After laying the groundwork of fear, he would then demand cash and credit cards from the women so he could romance the next victim. While he had one woman stressing out about his safety and draining her account for him, he’d be spending the money on private jets and jewelry for another woman.
While it’s easy to blame the women for making the decision to give away their money and information for a guy, context is key. As one woman put it, she thought this man was her future husband! She had rented an apartment for the two of them to share as he had proposed already. None of them thought it would be a problem to get the money back, since Hayut had already tricked them into believing he was rich. They have also set up a fundraiser online to get their money back from people who viewed the show, since Hayut had run away after it was clear he was discovered.
I think the fact that this came out so close to Inventing Anna, which I also talked about here, there was a lot more attention that lingered for Hayut’s scam. This documentary came out first, so I do think the initial response for many was to blame the women featured, as they were the ones telling the story and I have to admit, it was frustrating to hear them talk about how they willingly gave away savings and acquired massive debt so quickly. By the time Inventing Anna came out, people were hungry for more scammers and Anna Sorkin became a star, who is supposedly trying to put on an art show and fighting deportation to Germany, while Shimon Hayut had to deactivate his Instagram but overall did not face any real consequences. The two situations are so interesting to compare and contrast. In the end, both scammers came out relatively without any real damage, which is always a pity, but at the end of the day, the money is long gone. It was nice that people were banding together to help out Hayut’s victims, although it seems like something should have been done to ensure Hayut would have real consequences for his scams.
More Than Robots
This was another documentary, this time on Disney+ and a lot more positive. More Than Robots follows three (or four, since one of them is technically two teams) FIRST robotics teams, as they prepare for the 2020 competition season. The documentary came out last month and I had been looking forward to it since it was announced. In my work with event management, I have worked on the FIRST Championship and I have posts from past years when I’ve travelled to work onsite at the Championship in Houston. During that time, I’ve come to really love FIRST and their entire structure. Their events are meant to replicate big sporting events, with all the crazy hype and energy being poured into robotics.
Being someone who knows so much about the event, in particular Championships, it was super cool to see and learn more about the event from the participant side! The teams are located out of Los Angeles, Japan, and Mexico, so the international aspect was really cool too. Plus, the teams out of Los Angeles were also very different. One LA team had a ton of resources and funding, while the other didn’t even have dedicated space and had to work in the hallways of their school. Each team had unique strengths and weaknesses, and it was so cool to see how each one overcame their challenges.
While FIRST events are ultimately competitive events, the teams still have to cooperate with each other too. At competitions, they are placed in alliances with random teams until they get to the finals, where they have to strategize and invite others to compete with them. Sometimes they are working with teams that don’t speak the same language and they have to find a way to make it work. Teams are also highly supportive of each other. I remember reading an article from years ago where a team realized a competitor’s robot had completely broken down before a match, so they lent them their practice robot to compete with. Other examples include sharing tools at events if another team needs something and so on. It’s truly a beautiful and unique competition.
Teams and students are also judged by non-robot focused activities, hence their motto that would lend itself to be the name of the documentary “more than robots”. Teams compete for the “Chairman’s Award” by showcasing their team’s contributions to their community. The teams have to meet certain criteria and show a certain amount of volunteer hours, present their project, and explain how they’ve impacted the people they’ve worked with as well as what they’ve learned. Something that wasn’t featured in the documentary is the “Dean’s List” students, which are students who have shown exceptional accomplishments academically and personally and are nominated by their mentors. If selected, they get a special lunch with the founder of FIRST, Dean Kamen (inventor of the Segway and multiple other cool things), which is a huge deal to the kids.
While the documentary was unable to show the Championship events due to the pandemic (which that year would have been in Houston and Detroit, this year it is only in Houston), it still finished strong. The documentary followed up with the students who had been heavily featured, and then added spotlights on even more students and teams who immediately pivoted from Championship prep to creating face masks, using their robot for makeshift ventilators, and more. It was such a beautiful end to what was a very disappointing end of the season for everyone.
For me, FIRST has been such an amazing part of my life and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to continue to support the FIRST community even if I won’t be onsite in the future. I do plan to watch at least some of the competition via the Twitch livestreams later this month. It’ll be crazy not to be in Houston for the event, but I am so glad I had those experiences in the past and I’m so excited for everyone who will be there to experience it this year and in years to come. As I always like to say, GO ROBOTS!
So that’s my thoughts on Home Again, The Tinder Swindler, and More Than Robots! Let me know if you’ve watched any of those and your thoughts if you have.
Thanks for reading!
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