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Selma

Selma film posterSynopsis

About Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) and the civil rights struggles in 1965 in Selma Alabama.  King organizes a march for the right to vote.  About the persecution of black people by southern whites led by George Wallace (Tim Roth).  Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom wilkinson) tries to put off civil rights to a later date.  FBI chief Hoover (Dylan Baker) tries to slander King.  Malcolm X (Nigel Thatch) is the scarier alternative to King’s non violence. Carmen Ejogo plays Coretta Scott King.

Review

Selma commendably avoids the sentimental trap of epiphanous moments on the self congratulatory road to liberal democratic heaven.  There is no ambushing of the film by a white film star (as there might have been until recently).  David Oyelowo avoids the sort of statuesque dignity which would turn King into a black Lincoln.  He has affairs and is humanly flawed yet is a powerful presence.  His funeral and political ovations are musical and stirring.  His decision to ‘retreat’ after the second march on the Edmond Pettus bridge is all the more impressive for its subtle selflessness.  The focal scene in Selma is the march on the bridge, its role as a symbol is obvious.  In numerous films bridges have been critical meeting points and the reality of that is bloodily illustrated in Selma.  Malcolm X is there to act as a reminder that radical opinion might view non violence as an Uncle Tom tactic, that martyrdom was a useless gesture in the face of white power, speaking of which, Lyndon Johnston does look as cynically self serving as any politician condescendingly acknowledging that civil rights is morally fine but not an immediate priority.  J Edgar Hoover looks like a well groomed rat and behaves like one.  Carmen Ejogo as Coretta Scott King also avoids the stereotype of purse lipped dignity foisted on so many black actors in these sort of films.  The Kings have to deal with the simplified image of the good man of poetic rheetoric and the reality of a middle class couple caught up in the terrors of civil rights and the emotional torments of marital infidelity.  There is a memorable scene at the beginning of Selma in which Oprah Winfrey is asked to prove her eligibility in registering for the vote.  She’s undone by the simple malice of institutionalised injustice.  A triumphant film.

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in At the cinema, Film Reviews

 

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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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