Welcome to What We've Been Reading, the AccountingWEB editors’ weekly round up of the stories that have caught their attention.
The editorial team must have forgotten the title of this feature, as they are more interested in the silver screen rather than words on the page. Instead of the usual literary musings, this week the team are discussing cinematic classics such as Hitchcock’s Vertigo and, erm, The Rock’s action-comedy flick, Central Intelligence.
And spare a thought for our business editor Francois who is reading about death. Actually, it’s not as morbid as you think. He’s set to dispel a common belief about ancient societies.
Before you read on don’t forget to let us know if you’ve read anything interesting.
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As an extremely indecisive person, I’ve always hated questions that start with “what is your favourite…” Unfortunately for me, as I have a background in film studies I thought the question “what is your favourite film” would be a recurrent one. So for practical reasons, I decided to make an exception and take a stand for once: My favourite film would be Vertigo.
But far from feeling like I am betraying other films by saying Vertigo is my favourite, I see Hitchcock’s masterpiece as a model of what films should be like: a mix of suspense, mystery and an unexpected ending.
I have now watched Vertigo many times and I still find new nuances and links to modern films that have included some of its most recognisable elements in their stories. That is the case, for instance, of La La Land and the decision of its director, Damien Chazelle to light the protagonist’s apartment with green lighting as in the famous transformation scene in Vertigo.
2018 marks the 60th anniversary of Vertigo and some theatres are bringing it back to the big screen, so if you have the chance to see it, do it. And maybe read Hitchcock’s explanation beforehand. Even if you’ve seen it before, you might find that it’s a completely different story this time.
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I hear some variation of this joke often: An unmarried thirty-something says, “If I were living in old times I’d have been old granny by now!”
The joke refers to the widely held belief that everyone died young in ancient societies. This belief is utter nonsense. The life expectancy was certainly lower – but that figure was skewed by the high infant mortality.
“Mortality rates in traditional populations are high during infancy, before decreasing sharply to remain constant till about 40 years, then mortality rises to peak at about 70,” writes Christine Cave.
“Most individuals remain healthy and vigorous right through their 60s or beyond, until senescence sets in, which is the physical decline where if one cause fails to kill, another will soon strike the mortal blow.”
I suppose it’s part of our odd tendency to view our ancestors as somehow unlike us. There’s them and us, and we exist outside of history and its forces. But actually we’re just like them.
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Richard: Central Intelligence
As an aficionado of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s cinematic oeuvre, I couldn’t pass on the chance to talk about what I’ve been watching on a popular streaming site this week, rather than what I’ve been reading (for those interested, its Atwood’s Blind Assassin).
Hollywood rarely casts accountants as the ass-kicking heroes. Case in point: out of the muscle-bound Johnson and diminutive Kevin Hart, guess which one plays the accountant in the enjoyable Central Intelligence?
When we first meet Hart’s character he's being honoured at high school as the student ‘most likely to succeed’. But many years later, he's a dejected shell of his more assured younger self. You can already guess his profession. Yep, he is an accountant; a forensic accountant, to be more precise.
Overlooked for a promotion and with his marriage therapist-bound, our dispirited accountant’s life is saved from the drudgery after he accepts a Facebook friend request from an old school chum. But instead of the overweight bully-fodder that he was sympathetic towards at school, his old school friend is the tank-like Johnson.
But it’s not your typical “I’ve achieved nothing since school” catch up. Johnson’s needs Hart’s super smart accounting skills to decipher some suspect transactions from an auction. You see, Johnson did not just spend the intervening years clanging and banging dumbbells, he also became a CIA agent (a rogue one at that!).
From here there is a bunch of punchy-punchy and runny-runny action with our accountant doing what movie accountants do best – screaming for his life.
Of course, you can argue Ben Affleck’s smashing-your-head-against-a-door boring film The Accountant bucks the wimpy accountant trend. But this was not the most gun-toting portrayal of an accountant. That award goes to the Polish accountant in 2017’s Twin Peaks revival. The Zawaski Accounting’s accountant unleashed a glock 18 Automatic fury on two Tarrantino-inspired crooks because they refused to shift their van from his driveway.
By the end of Central Intelligence though, Kevin Hart’s accountant is a changed man. And all it took was for me to buddy up with The Rock.
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Contributions from the AccountingWEB.co.uk editorial team.