Tag Archives: Susan Sarandon

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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Arbitrage: In finance. the simultaneous purchase and sale of the same securities, commodities, or foreign exchange in different markets to profit from unequal prices.

Robert Miller (played by Richard Gere) has always been an astute and successful entrepreneur, money just seems to be attracted to him. He is now a high profile New York businessman and he and his wife Ellen (by Susan Sarandon) are much admired philanthropists amongst New York society. From the outside, the world sees he has a stable and very happy family and his company is a rock solid operation, with his daughter Brooke (by Brit Marling) employed as the Chief Finance Officer, to manage day to day funds management functions. Unfortunately, the house of cards starts to crumble when a huge loan comes due that relies on a now shaky-looking high risk deal, then Robert’s extra marital life is at risk of exposure after he is involved in a car accident with a beautiful French art dealer, Julie Cote (by Letitia Casta). Detective Michael Bryer (by Tim Roth) starts to sniff around and shake up Robert’s life. Time is running out and he can’t risk any publicity until he seals the deal, or he will lose everything ……

This is a good contemporary drama with a strong cast. The timing is done well and the story unfolds nicely. I’d have liked to see more of Susan Sarandon’s character, wife Ellen, but she does come into her own in the closing stages of the movie. Tim Roth and Richard Gere are both great, but for me the best performance is by Nate Parker who plays Jimmy Grant, a young guy caught up in Miller’s high stakes games. In 2012, Parker was nominated for a Black Reel Award as best supporting actor for this performance. Richard Gere was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance here too – this role with such confidence, arrogance and courage of conviction is perfect for him. Well done, a good piece.

Made in 2012. Directed by Nicholas Jarecki

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Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Movies


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Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

In the heady days of the early 1990’s in the heart of the financial world – Wall Street, Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) is a mover and a shaker – one of the most successful and ruthless of financial market traders ever to operate out of “The Street”. But this comes to a stunning end when he is found guilty of insider trading and money laundering, then spends the next eight years in prison to consider his mistakes and contemplate his future. In 2001, Gordon is released a “changed man” but by 2008, his daughter Winnie (by Carey Mulligan) is estranged from him. She is a political activist journalist in NYC and is engaged to ambitious junior trader Jake Moore (by Shia Labeouf). Jake hopes Winnie and her father will reconcile, so he contacts Gordon while he is promoting the book he wrote (“Is Greed Good?”) after his release from prison. The global economy is on the brink of crisis and Gordon foretells this while he is speaking on the book circuit. But Gordon’s standing is tarnished, both in the eyes of the financial community and with his own daughter, so his life has a lonely edge these days. To make life a challenge, Jake’s firm collapses during the financial crisis – with the help of rival banker Bretton James (by Josh Brolin) – who also happens to be an old adversary of Gekko’s. So ensues a “tit for tat” story where each man sets out for revenge for the wrongs done to them by the others and become top dog of The Street … no, The World.

This movie is the sequel to the 1987 stunner movie “Wall Street” where we first heard Gordon Gekko utter those famous words – “Greed … is good”.  I understand that reviewers generally feel this sequel is not nearly as good as the original “Wall Street”. Perhaps that’s true, but it is still a good movie. There are several references to the original story throughout the movie, which is fine – and appropriate – and often quite fun. Best of all is the cameo by a key character in the original “Wall Street”, Bud Fox (by Charlie Sheen). There are great performances here – Michael Douglas totally owns the role of Gordon Gekko and I am pleased to say he reprises him in all his cold, heartless and ruthless glory for some sections of the movie, which is marvellous – he shines from the screen in these scenes. His earlier, “Gordon’s found a heart and a conscience” persona is not quite as compelling, but it’s interesting and almost endearing all the same. For me, the other characters are mostly peripheral, but Winnie is performed beautifully by Carey Mulligan. The two other key actors, Josh Brolin and Shia Labeouf play their characters Bretton James and Jake Moore as they need to – and Brolin’s is definitely the stronger of the two performances. Their interractions are fine and their story is easily watchable, but that’s all. Susan Sarandon appears as Jake’s mother, which is a nice touch. All in all, this movie is pretty good and it belongs to Michael Douglas – just as it should.

Made in 2010. Directed by Oliver Stone

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Posted by on May 24, 2012 in Movies


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The Lovely Bones

Susie Salmon (played by Saoirse Ronan) is fourteen and is growing up in small town Pennsylvania. She is having all the typical teenage first-time experiences of school, first love and family. On her way home from school one day she is viciously murdered by her neighbor George Harvey (by Stanley Tucci), whose ordinary appearance and demeanour disguises a frighteningly cruel man.  As her family struggles to make sense of their sudden loss, the trauma causes them to drift apart. Susie enters an “afterlife”, which at first is confusing for her and she finds settling-in quite difficult. From this place, Susie looks down on her traumatised family and watches as her mother (by Rachel Weisz) leaves the family and her father (by Mark Wahlberg) slowly goes to pieces. Grandma Lynn (by Susan Sarandon) soon arrives to help care for the fracturing family. Susie then realises that Mr. Harvey is so bouyed by the confidence that he’s got away with her murder that he has started to focus on his next victim, her younger sister Lindsey (by Rose McIver) whose jogging route happens to lead her regularly past his home ….

This movie is a dramatisation of the novel “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold. It is well directed by New Zealander Peter Jackson, who brought us the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “King Kong”. There is clear evidence of his work here in the animation sequences that depict Susie’s afterlife – it is not overdone though. I liked the movie, the integration of special effects and real life is well done and the entire movie is very well made. It is not overly fanciful or sentimental. For me, the real gem in the movie is Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of the chillingly frightening Mr Harvey. Other characters’ performances are also excellent – Mark Wahlberg and Susan Sarandon particularly.  I was reminded of this movie when I recently saw “Hanna” because Saoirse Ronan is so good and she clearly has a great acting future ahead of her. 

(Made: 2009)

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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Movies


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