CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?

One of the movies that I enjoyed at the BFI London Film Festival was “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”. You may remember the story about an American biography writer who, was a fairly difficult person to be around. Most of us are aware of the difficulties in earning a living as a writer. Some do exceedingly well, most struggle to repeat the success of one or two notable works.

Lee Israel is one such author, having published a couple of biographies, writers block or creative inertia sets in. Inevitably the reality of paying bills becomes increasingly harder. Her management of stress (or lack of) resulted in having nobody to turn to for comfort or encouragement. Aside from a cat, social connections are as sparse as the flow of words on the blank page that stares back at her. She happens upon Jack Hock, (Richard E Grant) an Englishman surfing the bars and streets of New York. He becomes her only confidant and accomplice.

Solomons IFA review Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Finders Keepers?

Opportunity presents itself whilst doing research, she finds a letter hidden within the pages of a library book. Hoping nobody has noticed and applying “finders-keepers” she takes it. The letter is sold to pay her rent. The idea takes hold that personalised letters from deceased authors and actors are collectable. Israel has a genuine talent for understanding character and replicating their voice. She sets about forging letters and selling them to dealers, who invariably lack the motivation to have the letters authenticated. They appear to be what they probably could not be, yet money changes hands, because money talks. This eventually evolves into stealing genuine letters and replacing them with forgeries.

Research and Evidence 

Eventually the FBI close in on Israel, hence how her story is known. There is little to suggest that this is a criminal mastermind or indeed a particularly tenacious investigation by the FBI, who seem sufficiently inept as to tip her off that they will be examining her apartment, enabling Israel to dispose of all evidence of her wrongdoing.

Financial Fraud 

You may have a perspective on this sort of criminal act, forgery. Yet again, this is an example of what people will do under the wrong pressures. However, it is also evident that people are often persuaded by appearances and rarely look beneath. This is particularly pertinent in most financial fraud. The temptation of market beating returns or guarantees, when a closer inspection will reveal something altogether different. The regulator does its best to prevent financial fraud, but of course this is all part of the human condition, to play upon the duplicity or naivety of others. Fraud is something that we are constantly checking, but many are duped. As we are now in the season of keeping warm inside, if you or your friends are discussing the latest fantastic offering, please remember this – and ask for proper, regulated advice.

I enjoyed the movie, which stars Melissa McCarthy providing a really sharp portrayal of Lee Israel and Richard E Grant as Jack Hock. Here is the trailer.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

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CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME?2018-10-31T14:09:00+00:00

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

I have been enjoying several films at the BFI London Film Festival. One that stood out for me was “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” which is adapted from the book by Peter Turner. It tells of the unusual relationship between a young Peter Turner and former film noir femme fatale, who most are likely to have seen but perhaps not remember – Gloria Grahame.

Grahame’s career in film began with a small part in “It’s A Wonderful Life” you may recall how George Bailey gives Violet Bick funds to escape the small town and make a name for herself elsewhere. She won an OSCAR for her role on The Bad and the Beautiful and performed with some of the leading lights of the 1950s.

In A Lonely Place

The film is based on her encounter and 2-year relationship with Turner, who she initially meets in London whilst back treading the boards. Then in her mid-fifties, divorced 4 times and surrounded in scandal she begins a relationship with Turner, who at 27 wasn’t even born when Grahame had completed work on The Bad and the Beautiful. We are shown brief insights into her chaotic world and the scandals that inevitably ended her career in film. Her last husband, Anthony Ray, was her stepson (from her second husband) and the marriage lasted from 1960 until 1974 resulting in two children.

A Woman’s Secret

The film implies that Grahame was pretty much financially ruined, appearing to possess a mobile home / caravan on the Californian coastline. Perhaps because of 4 divorces or a career that was cut short, or even because of illness, but clearly the glamour and glitter of her star had burned out. (Spoiler) Ultimately her life is cut short due to a recurrence of cancer, though this is fairly evident as the likely outcome from the start of the film, so I’m not really spoiling it for you.

Odds Against Tomorrow

There are some broad financial lessons here. The audience laughter at a scene where two pints of beer are ordered for 90 pence, was probably the loudest in a film that clearly isn’t designed to be funny; but the long-term impact of inflation is not really the most obvious lesson here. Fame that brings financial success can be very short-lived. Life as an actor can be very harsh. Divorce is financially expensive, but of course the toll on emotional reserves may also be overwhelming. Love and tenderness are often found in unexpected places and whilst care costs, it may not have a monetary price. In a world of appearances many are in danger of making similar “mistakes” or having similar experiences.

The Cobweb

Financial protection is a modern-day (or should that be post-modern?) wonder for those without capital – providing financial stability in the event of life presenting “challenges”. Running out of money isn’t as bad as running out of time, but it’s probably a pretty close race. A proper financial plan will help reveal where your resources are and what you can do to sure them up. It enables you to take a look at the future and make some adjustments in advance if you don’t like the prospects.

Here’s the trailer for the movie, which reunites Jamie Bell and Julie Walters, this time as mother and son, whilst Annette Bening gives a great performance as Gloria Grahame.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Email me to get in touch
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool2017-10-13T11:22:47+01:00

Are you living in La La Land?

Are you living in La La Land?

So the BFI London Film Festival is here again – celebrating its 60th yet retaining a considerable fresh approach to film which this year even includes a very good temporary cinema in Embankment Gardens… thankfully it is an indoor cinema!

La La Land is the latest film from Damien Chazelle (who Directed “Whiplash”) it’s a charming love letter to Hollywood. With all the ranting and sheer stupidity displayed in American politics (we aren’t much better) it is worth remembering what the US does best – storytelling and entertainment. Of course there are many, many things that are done incredibly well in the US, but these, to my mind stand out.

Dreams and Tension

This latest film is a musical about how difficult it can be to hold onto your dreams, particularly when so many others appear to share the same dream and perhaps have an advantage or two. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have a fantastic chemistry and remind us that despite appearing similar, timing is everything and holding the tension of a relationship and a single-minded focus on your dream can be a lonely and exclusive experience (as also explored in Whiplash).

movie poster, piano keys for La La Land

Lifestyles and styled lives

In years gone by, financial advisers were much more obviously” selling dreams”, in fact I might suggest that many were simply selling fantasies. Providing descriptions of a future version of you – helping you to imagine yourself in that yacht, with that house, driving that car… essentially marketing a lifestyle to you to consume. Today things have changed. Today a financial planner is not there to prescribe, but to help digest, encourage and help verbalise what it is that you truly want so that a plan can be crafted to help you achieve it. Sometimes significant behaviours need to change in order to have the future that you want, but in truth this is fairly rare. However, it is worth pointing out that getting a couple to think about their future does on occasion mean reflecting on whether they want one together.

Baggage that matches…

The truth can be rather difficult to swallow, sometimes uncovering aspects of a relationship that are difficult (how we handle money, why and what for). It should be obvious that a financial planner, is not a marriage counsellor, yet on occasion the conversation can lead in a direction for which a financial planner has no training at all, merely life experience. How a couple talk about money, but more importantly their goals for the future is not always easy to manage. We all bring the baggage of our experiences, values and expectations, some will be helpful, but some will not. How your own parents handled money is often just below the surface, there can often be an echo of the past in the present relationship and this can form a significant element of “how things are done” today. Let us not forget that Relate cite finances as one of the most stress-inducing aspects of a relationship, so many will simply ignore the problem hoping it will eventually go away…

And all that Jazz…

As in the movie, (which is a real homage to Hollywood musicals, the place and jazz) whilst there is a very valuable element of recognising and preserving the originals, those were ground-breaking and new, so to simply maintain is to fail to understand a key dynamic. We all need to forge our own path, which may be informed by the past but not governed by it. The difficulty is figuring out the path you want to take and whether it is one you both want… which brings its natural challenges and given voice in the romantic melancholic song “City of Stars” which you may be whistling or humming to yourself by the end.

So, having a clear and shared focus about your future is, well… vital for your financial plan to be successful. The struggle will be to confront some truths about how in-sync you are and what you’d like to do to restore your rhythm. I won’t pretend that this is easy, but the secret to any great performance is the ability to rise from the knocks, learning, practising until it appears to be easy, but “effortless” it never is…. that’s for those that really are living in “la la land”.

Your challenge is to pick up the phone or send me an email to book a time to have the honest conversation about what you really want your future to look like. No matter how  polished the final result, there is plenty of work ahead. I didn’t say that honesy is always easy to deliver or to hear.

Here’s the trailer for the new film .

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Are you living in La La Land?2017-02-02T13:25:42+00:00

Delusion and Florence Foster Jenkins

Delusion and Florence Foster Jenkins

How we respond to money is explored in the new film by Stephen Frears “Florence Foster Jenkins”. The film recounts the true story of the wealthy musical benefactor played by Meryl Streep. Sadly she does not possess the singing talent that she so desperately craves, yet a doting and financially dependent husband (Bayfield) played by Hugh Grant, contrives to protect her in a bubble of innocence, a charming modern day PR man. In practice, this protected them both.

The delusion is maintained through some creative and tender manipulation of a largely uniformed social circle, who pass the entrance test of wealth, yet clearly have a lack of knowledge about music. In reality this exposes their own hunger for social standing and are caught by the inability to speak the truth for fear of being outcast. There is no malice in the contrivance, but reminds us again of the impact of crowds and fear of being different, something more like the Emperor’s new clothes.

Collusion in delusion

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film, it is warm, funny and moving. This, despite essentially being a story about the ultra-rich, living in denial of any form of reality and for whom success is bought. The strong character performances carried the suggestion that denial and delusion are arguably just as important as the truth, a sentiment that Shakespeare frequently conveyed. Perhaps in relationships denial of some realities (we all have flaws) is even a necessity.

I won’t spoil the film for you, do go and see it. As a financial planner, I would draw your attention to the briefcase and the lengths that people go to avoid the harsh confrontation with reality. The Q&A at the BFI last night with Hugh Grant, Stephen Frears and writer Nicholas Martin was also illuminating, ironically employing similar delusionary tactics to protect Florence, the audience and probably the box office. This is of course is the skill in great story-telling, how to edit and reassemble a story that shapes opinion, of course the political interpretation is ever present.

FFJ preview Q&A BFI 2016-05-04

So the question is, what are we in denial about? Some denials are probably healthy and serve our own interests, other – such as the truth about your own finances is rather more vitally exposed, not harshly, but so that reality can bring about a healthy perspective.

If you would like a financial reality check, you now simply need to get in touch – contact details all over the site. Here is the trailer for the new film.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email info@solomonsifa.co.uk

Delusion and Florence Foster Jenkins2017-02-02T13:32:43+00:00

Nothing bad happens when its sunny, right?

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Nothing bad happens when its sunny, right?

Last night I was at the UK premier of Parkland as one of the films in competition at the BFI London Film Festival. It is the story of the JFK assassination, which happened nearly 50 years ago on 22nd November 1953. Those over the age of 50 will almost certainly remember where they were when the heard the news of his death. This film is not about JFK himself, neither is it one for the conspiracy theorists. It is the story from the perspectives of locals who were there, in particular the medical staff at the Parkland hospital in Dallas, who attempted to save his life.

Is the conspiracy theory right in the new JFK film Parkland?financial planning - investment theory

It’s an interesting film, and reveals some rather strange conversations between Lee Harvey Oswald, his mother and brother, however it does not really reveal anything new about a conspiracy theory. The director, Peter Landesman introduced the film. He made some interesting observations about “iconic moments in history” that get revisited, often in the hope that the ending will somehow alter. He also observed that many “bad things” happen out of the blue… indeed on a bright blue sky day, a day when surely nothing could go wrong. It was a reminder that of course, “bad” things happen all the time – the time, place and weather are largely an irrelevance. However looking to the sky for signs that things are going to be good (or bad) in life is little more than a rather primitive approach – unless of course you are simply attempting to predict the weather for the day.

What signs should investors look for?

Investors would do well to take heed of the warning not to read too much into “the signs” about stockmarkets or indeed anything that impacts our economies. I reckon that I have now heard most theories in relation to investor euphoria or depression, ranging from the price of corn to the number of coffee shops, goals scored or skirt length as “indicating signs”. The reality, is that life is full of risk, full of the unknown, frankly that is what makes it life and “fun”. Knowing the future is really more of a curse if you stop to think about it. So please beware of those holding themselves out to be foreseers of economic doom/oblivion/meteoric rise, they are simply guessing. There are ways to have a successful investment experience that do not involve guessing or living in fear of what may (or may not) happen. Yes, unforeseen “major events” do occur, but in reality a long-term perspective encompasses these. The real conspiracy is that few understand that they don’t need to play the fear and greed game.

Parkland will soon be available at UK cinemas, with the expected release date to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination on 22 November.

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

Nothing bad happens when its sunny, right?2017-01-06T14:39:44+00:00

The Red Carpet Effect

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Red Carpet Experience

The demands of a voracious media upon celebrities are significant. Attending the BFI London Film Festival is one of my now annual indulgences – being able to see some great new movies and enjoy the experience of the razzmatazz. It is interesting to observe the stars, the media and the public who all play their parts in the red carpet experience. The moment is fleeting and slightly surreal. I wonder how celebrities put up with the constant attention and deal with the inevitable experience at some point of not being the centre of attention. I have to say that all those that I bumped into (some literally) along the red carpet appeared to be comfortable with the attention and I was struck by how calm their demeanour – no small feat when hundreds of people are shouting and demanding your gaze.

"Labor Day" - Mayfair Gala European Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals: 57th BFI London Film FestivalLabor Day

Last night I saw yet another good Kate Winslet film. This time “Labor Day” (yes American). It is a moving story about a escaped convict that seeks shelter in the depressed home of divorcee Adele (Kate Winslet) who lives with her son Henry who does his best to help her struggle through the day. Both lack confidence and need a shot of inspiration which arrives in the unexpected form of Frank Chambers (Josh Brolin). I won’t divulge the story any further, but it is a reminder that in life there are often people that lift us and inspire us. I think that for me this is often the role that art, in its many forms often plays in my own life. That is not to say that inspiration always comes from a perfect or purist place, but rather, true inspiration is invariably grounded in the difficulty of real life.

 A Passionate and Connected Life

For all the gloss of financial services, the reality is that great financial planning is grounded in real life, in your hopes and experiences. It is not a wish-making factory, though I can certainly see how this can appear to be the case. I work hard with clients to help them verbalise the life that they want. We might call this a lifestyle, which can sound like a glamorous term, in practice it invariably means a life where thought has been placed into how personal values are outworked. I cannot think of a single client for whom relationships, connection to others is not one of their driving motivations. It isn’t really about the toys, but a sense of being known. Money merely provides choices, it’s a resource, my clients reflect on how they wish to use it in order to reflect their own values. This is easier said than done in a world that honours and basks in the glitz, which can be a lot of fun, but can be a lonely place, where being oneself is increasingly difficult. What I find clients are really bothered by, is a very real, passionate and connected life, themes touched on in the film – hence the blog.

The BFI Film Festival continues until Sunday 20th October.BFI FFposter2013

Dominic Thomas: Solomons IFA

The Red Carpet Effect2017-01-06T14:39:44+00:00
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