Archives for film



Aliens and Cat-Food Monopolies

In the movie District 9, the aliens (“prawns”) have developed a tremendous addiction to cat food. A Nigerian gangster lives in the prawns’ preserve and has a monopoly on the sale of cat food to the prawns. How can he maintain his monopoly and what barriers are there to entry by other sellers? Read More »



Interviewing Americans

You can learn a lot about the world just by asking questions of people that normally don’t get asked. That’s why we do a Q&A series here, and why you may like David Lynch‘s Interview Project; Alex Chadwick‘s Interviews: 50 Cents; and Our Time, a revealing documentary on American youth directed by Matt Heineman and Matt Wiggins, and co-screenwritten by Freakonomics research assistant Ryan Hagen. Read More »



Better Bus Rides, Please

The Tri-State Transportation Campaign makes a case for improving the Hudson River bus crossings connecting New Jersey and Manhattan using a combination of animation and statistics, such as Read More »



Smile Pinki Premieres Tonight

Levitt was floored by the documentary Smile Pinki, about two children in India who receive free surgery to repair their cleft lips. The documentary, which won an Oscar last year, gets its television premier tonight on HBO at 7 p.m. You can watch the trailer, here. Read More »



Coming Soon to a Multiplex Near You?

You know that sensation when you’re reading an article in your morning newspaper and, about three grafs in, you start imagining the movie version and you can practically hear the Hollywood studios scrambling to get hold of the writer and the subject in order to lock up their life rights? Read More »



What Do Our Indian Readers Think of Slumdog Millionaire?

I rarely have occasion these days to see new movies in theaters, but I had the good fortune recently to see two of the Oscar-nominated best films, Frost/Nixon and Slumdog Millionaire, within 24 hours. It was a strange coincidence that both of them were time-jumping stories built around TV shows. Read More »



Smile Pinki

I recently saw a remarkable short documentary entitled Smile Pinki. It tells the story of two poverty-stricken young children (one a girl named Pinki) in India who are born with clefts and have the opportunity to receive free surgery to fix their condition. It is incredibly moving. I’m not the only one who feels that […] Read More »



Roland Fryer on The Colbert Report

I’m a bit late getting to this, but I just saw that my friend Roland Fryer appeared on The Colbert Report on Monday. He was — officially — talking about his current experiments with providing incentives for kids to get better grades. While it is pretty hard to look good next to Colbert, Roland pulled […] Read More »