Tag Archives: Robert Redford

All is Lost

A lone sailor (played by Robert Redford) is at sea off Sumatra when his craft is in a collision with a cargo container dropped from a passing freighter. He must use his determination and ingenuity to address the damage to his vessel so that it remains seaworthy. Time passes and little things start to compound – he finds himself in a series of difficult situations that he must resolve to ensure he survives his voyage.

This is a fascinating and compelling movie. Robert Redford’s performance is masterful – he hardly utters a word throughout this drama, but he doesn’t need to. His thoughts are quite clear from his behaviour and actions. Also, often I found myself experiencing this drama right along with him. The utter futility of a man’s efforts against the force of nature is presented very well here and as I watched it, I found myself wondering what I would do in the same situations. The lone sailor is presented with a series of challenges and one of the surprising things is the way he finds the motivation in himself to keep trying and keep having ideas to resolve his issues. In some places, particularly during the storms, I found it hard to follow the drama and what was happening, but not during the calm scenes. It’s very good and would have been exhausting to make, I’m sure. I also would bet this one is completely overlooked in the upcoming 2014 Academy Award (Oscar) season – although I do note it has been nominated for sound editing. Well done everyone.

Made in 2013. Directed by J. C. Chandor

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Posted by on October 12, 2014 in Movies


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The Company You Keep

Jim Grant (played by Robert Redford) cares for his young daughter on his own since his wife’s death in a car accident. They live in a small town where Jim is a lawyer. In his heady younger days, Jim was an activist in the radical group Weather Underground. They were opposed to the Vietnam War and demonstrated this in actions that sometimes became violent. A fellow member, Sharon Solarz (by Susan Sarandon) has turned herself in, after thirty years in hiding and Jim realises he and his daughter are in danger, after the FBI refresh their search for the group members to bring them to trial. Ben Shepard (by Shia LaBeouf) is an ambitious and inquisitive local journalist who gets onto this story for his small town newspaper and he starts to piece together the crime and intrigue from decades ago. The FBI and the reporter follow a trail of clues to pursue the real story and try to find Jim Grant, now on the run …

This is a nicely made movie with a magnificent cast. Robert Redford is okay, but not great. Anna Kendrick’s character is superfluous really and once again, Stanley Tucci is good but understated – same goes for Richard Jenkins. Overall, I found it “not quite enough for me”. There’s something of a young Russell Crowe about Shia LeBeouf and he’s fine. It’s great to see Julie Christie again – I haven’t seen much of her since Dr Zhivago. Others … Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper and Sam Elliott are good to see. Redford tries to create a thriller, but to me it’s a little pedestrian and those strong performers just seem to be going through the motions. Another, Susan Sarandon, is there but nothing much is really made of her character either – maybe I missed something? The movie won two awards at the Venice Film Festival in 2012 and it is based on a novel by Neil Gordon. Perhaps it would have had more impact for me if I had been aware of the real story in history.

Made in 2012. Directed by Robert Redford.

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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Movies


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Lions for Lambs

Professor Stephen Malley (played by Robert Redford) is a college professor of Political Science with a profound belief in doing what’s right and a deep conscience. He is an Vietnam Veteran and since his return he has endeavoured to educate all around him about the senselessness of war. One day he meets with one of his most promising students Todd Hayes (by Andrew Garfield) after Hayes shows signs of burnout and lack of motivation in class. The Professor and his student discuss a range of life issues – Malley uses this as a way to engender a spark of enthusiasm in Hayes. Along the way we learn of two other of Malley’s students who were so significantly moved by their learnings in his classes that they took action on their deep conviction to do what’s right. In a parallel story, we view the ongoing action of US troops in Afghanistan, carrying out dangerous manoeuvres to further the War on Terror. One action results in the potential ambush of two wounded and stricken US soldiers by Afghani insurgents and we watch as this perilous situation unfolds. Back in Washington DC, we also meet Senator Jasper Irving (by Tom Cruise) who wants to “move and shake” the War on Terror by instigating his own strategy. He meets with the long experienced journalist Janine Roth (by Meryl Streep) who he has called upon to report and promote his intentions to the voting public.

This movie promises much, but unfortunately is a little insipid in its delivery. The structure of the movie presents the viewers with three parallel scenarios and this is well done – it keeps the movie interesting, but much of it (apart from the military action) is merely a talk-fest. Having said that however, the performances are good – Redford and Cruise are strong, but also predictable. Meryl Streep’s character has a lot of potential but only finishes up as average – she starts off as a strong female character but unfortunately by the end the audience is left thinking of her as just another a jaded reporter. The most interesting story is of the two stricken US troops in Afghanistan; the best performance is from Andrew Garfield who at least injects a bit of colour and interest into his scenario. The stories do come together somewhat at the conclusion. As entertainment, it is okay at best, but it does have some interesting messages and you may well find yourself mulling over these for some time afterwards.

Made in 2007. Directed by Robert Redford

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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Movies


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Out of Africa

Danish Baroness Karen Blixen [also known as Isak Dinesen] (played by Meryl Streep) is living in Denmark in 1914. She has married Baron Bor Blixen-Flecke (by Klaus Maria Brandauer) for convenience and after seeing a business opportunity, the Baron decides to relocate himself and his wife, Karen, to operate a coffee plantation in Kenya, Africa. Once the arduous journey to Africa is over and they settle on the plantation, Bor Blixen starts to spend more and more time away, either on business or womanising. Karen is left to run the plantation on her own, to deal with a series of challenges and to improve relations with the local natives who staff and work the plantation. She works particularly closely with Farah (by Malick Bowens) and Kamate (by Joseph Thiaka). On a visit to town she encounters Denys Finch-Hatton (by Robert Redford) and his best friend Berkley (Michael Kitchen) and they become friends. Finch-Hatton, a ruggedly handsome and enigmatic man, is aloof but fascinating and although they both pride themselves on their independence, Karen is enthralled by him and a tentative relationship follows. After a very happy time spent together at the plantation and on safari, Karen wants more for her life than Denys is prepared to give – he still wants his freedom – so their relationship becomes difficult and starts to falter. In 1931, Karen decides to return to Denmark, but she has gained a solid understanding and huge regard for Africa and its culture along the way.

I think this is the most beautifully made movie I have ever seen. The cinematography captures the wonderful colours, broad landscapes and endless sky of Africa in all its stunning glory, the original music makes your heart soar and if you have never heard Mozart before, its exquisite use in this movie will make you seek out more. To go alongside all this, the pace of the film is perfectly measured and the performances are strong. Meryl Streep is particularly good – she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress.  Redford is good as the offhand, aloof and enigmatic Finch-Hatton and Michael Kitchen is also very good. Klaus Maria Brandauer was also nominated for an Oscar for his support role.  In all the movie was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won seven. The movie is based on the writings of Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen.

This is just a marvellous movie and one of my all time favourites.

Made in 1985. Directed by Sydney Pollack.

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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in Uncategorized


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The Conspirator

In the last days of the American Civil War in Washington, Mary Surratt (played by Robin Wright) is a single mother who runs a boarding house to earn enough to support her family. One night, President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated and the Vice-President and the Secretary of State are both badly wounded. John Wilkes Booth is the identified assassin and the entire city of Washington is doggedly determined to avenge the life of their President with the capture, trial and punishment of those involved. For several days prior to the shooting, Booth is known to have regularly met with his associates (assumed to be planning the shootings) in the city – at the boarding house run by Mary. Booth has since left town, but in the frenzy to find those responsible, several of his associates are arrested and charged with conspiracy to assassinate the President. Because Mary’s son John was one of Booth’s associates (and he has also deserted), Mary is arrested and charged. Captain Frederick Aiken (played by James McAvoy) is a Civil War hero and a recently graduated lawyer. Frederick strongly believes she is guilty, but his boss Reverdy Johnson (by Tom Wilkinson) believes she deserves a fair trial and he appoints Frederick to defend Mary in the military tribunal. As the trial unfolds, Frederick comes to realise two key things; first – that Mary may actually be innocent and second – that the power players in Washington, including Edwin Stanton (by Kevin Kline) will do anything to ensure the military tribunal convicts the prisoners and they be hanged, whether they are guilty or not.
This is a fascinating movie. It is a well made drama and beautifully directed piece of cinematography. The mood consistently brings the tension and futility to the senses and the characters eloquently portray the injustice of the proceedings at every turn. As a bonus, the broader issues bring the true fascination for me … firstly that Frederick Aiken had to accept Mary’s right to a fair trial and put his own beliefs aside to do that successfully; secondly that Mary could be tried as an associate of the guilty party, even though there was a high probability she was not involved; and thirdly that as a result of these proceedings, legislation in the US was introduced to ensure all parties who were arrested for a crime were given the benefit of a fair trial. As with most courtroom dramas, much of the action centres around the politics, legal issues and the determination that justice be served – it is fascinating and enjoyable.
Made in 2010. Directed by Robert Redford
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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in Movies


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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman) and the Sundance Kid (by Robert Redford) are co-leaders of the notorious “Hole-in-the-Wall” Gang. They are wanted across the country for a string of armed hold-ups. These two make a great pair – Butch is the “ideas” man who is always coming up with the next grand scheme and Sundance is the “gung-ho action” man who gets things happening (with some nifty skills to back it all up). Everything goes well and the Gang have a string of successes. They even manage to stay one step ahead of the law, until they get a little greedy and rob one too many cash-laden trains. The bank and the law get sick of it and put together a special posse to track the Gang down and put them behind bars once and for all. The posse is lead by the best tracker in the west and he will never give up. They run, they try every trick in the book to shake off their pursuers, they keep running over all terrains, but they just can’t shake them off. Through a lucky break, they finally manage to escape, then Butch has another idea – his best yet …”We should go to Bolivia, we’ll be safe there!” … and so the two make their way to South America – and try to settle in the back blocks of Bolivia … but are they even safe there?

This is one of my most favourite movies ever.  The banter between this pair is witty and entertaining throughout the movie.  They are a wonderful pair, perfect for these roles.  The action sequences are fun, there is enough sex and romance in it to keep it interesting (with the lead female role of Etta Place played by Katherine Ross) and you’ve just gotta love these two larrikin outlaws! 

(Made: 1970)

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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Movies


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