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Arbitrage

Arbitrage film posterSynopsis

Stars Richard Gere as Robert Miller, a multimillionaire who is involved in a four hundred million dollar scam over the non deliverance of a deal on Russian copper.  He is married to Susan Sarandon as Ellen, his daughter Brooke (played by Brit Marling) works as his business partner.  Gere has a mistress, Julie, and he accidentally kills her and walks away. The detective is played by Tim Roth and he tries to nail Gere for the death of his mistress but Gere can cover his tracks.  Will he be found out by his wife and detective? What will his conscience do, and will there be justice?.

Review

The writer has had experience in the financial world.  It’s been criticised for its implausibilities with regard to finance but I don’t think that’s important here.  It’s a tense and thrilling film with a touch of film noir.  Gere is attractive even in his 60s (which can’t make him over popular) but I find him quite an accomplished actor.  He doesn’t have to display turbulent emotions, they break through the smarmy surface so you know he’s done a good job of hiding them.  He plays roles in which other actors would feel they have to look tortured, Gere lets the panic out in dangerous outbursts.  His suave appearance gives him that awful sense of entitlement that stokes up the drama.  Sometimes we will him to get caught out, and sometimes we want to see how he gets away with it, as he makes unlikeable people occasionally sympathetic.  In Pretty Woman he played a terrible role as a smug manipulator and would-be saviour of a prostitute.  Here his character leads a life of deception but then we learn that the detective is prepared to bend rules to get him, and that his wife (Susan Sarandon) at the end is prepared to blackmail him to keep funding her charities.  He is prepared to use someone else to cover for him but gives him a big pay off so that no-one comes out of this cleanly.  Gripping.

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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Film Reviews

 

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I’m Not There

I'm Not There poster

Todd Haynes’ 2007 film about Bob Dylan is not a biopic, it’s a montage of portrayals through several actors.  Significantly, the only really good performance is from Cate Blanchette playing Dylan in his most controversial mid sixties phase.  The other performances highlight how average Dylan was outside the mid sixties, from fictitious hobo and Woody Guthrie wannabee parasite to mysogynistic rocker. The comparison of Dylan with Rimbaud is grandiloquently absurd.  Haynes is meticulous on period details, to the point of parody (see Far from Heaven), so the film is superb on period details of Dylan’s strummer-turned surreal rocker from ’64 to ’67.

In parts, Blanchette’s performance eerily replicates the tetchy prima donna of the 1965 Don’t Look Back film, and we get accurate observations on the tacky hedonism of the Warhol period.  We also get Godard-type scenes where our hero follows a socialite to impress her with superstar nonsense.

The film cleverly guys the ’70s stovepipe-hatted cowboy mystic style, complete with surreal stereotypes from the Basement Tapes cover, poses courtesy of Jesse James, rock star as outlaw hero.

Dylan has not had a happy relationship with cinema .  His own appearances have been lamentable.  Don’t Look Back showed how amphetamined  middle brow chatter can cover for vacuity, and of his ’70s and’80s film appearances the less said the better.  The Edie Sedgwick film does not flatter either.

As for the man himself, Dylan’s supposed martyrdom by fame and easy success reminds me of that Peter Cooke joke about Greta Garbo disregardedly wandering down an empty street shouting ‘I want to be alone’ through a megaphone.  He backed into the limelight manufacturing a career out of being an ‘enigma’, not only does he complain when people then wonder what sort of enigma he is, he doesn’t realise it’s something the rest of us manage to be, without trying.  As for which of the Bob Dylan’s is the real one, does anyone really care?  The film shows us, albeit inadvertently, how overrated Dylan could be, outside his talent for media manipulation and impressing people with obscure phraseology wrapped in disparate imagery in songs lacking narrative development.  This film tells us a lot about Todd Haynes, like Oliver Stone he is obviously obsessed with the myths of the ’60s and ’70s and sees Dylan’s career as an excuse to raid the cliche wardrobe.  There is temporal cross cutting which does not cohere into a recognisable biography which was undoubtedly Haynes’s intention.  Perhaps he wanted the film to be an analogy of a Dylan song or story, driven by image rather than narrative.  There are justly cruel observations on Dylan’s manager, on Warhol groupies, on pampered Edie Sedgwick and Francoise Hardy types, on Ginsberg, and the’50s.  Haynes maybe parodying the rock biopics served with the usual stereotypes of Kennedy, Vietnam, the moon landings etc, just in case we don’t get what the 60’s was all about.

Haynes gives the Cate Blanchette persona an easy ride allowing his bathetic remarks  to stand unchallenged  and of course anybody not in with the Dylan psyches private jokes is nowhere. Haynes is also good on the fawning establishment’s pathetic attempts to be hip and to ride his bandwagon.

Perhaps Haynes is satirising aspects of the Dylan myth, but isn’t he also augmenting it?  It reminds me of those interviewers who would like to talk to Dylan but retreat into a distanced cool because afraid of a rebuff.  Anybody coming to Dylan for the first time through this film might wonder if they are being manipulated and fooled.  Haynes has made a clever film which manages to lionise and lampoon Dylan as it’s ultimately forgiving of his faults.  A patchily good film about an unsympathetic subject.

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Film Reviews, Independent films

 

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