Archive for the ‘Richard Gere’ Category

MOVIE: Arbitrage (2012)

January 12, 2013

I actually saw this movie months and months ago — while it was out in theaters, it was also available for streaming via Amazon, and my husband and I rented it one night when we suddenly found ourselves — wonder of wonders! — home together AT  THE SAME TIME!  (An election season MIRACLE that all spouses of political reporters can surely relate to.)

It’s about a billionaire named Robert Miller (Richard Gere) who manages a hedge fund along with his eldest daughter Brooke.  On the surface, he seems to have the perfect life — heck, he’s even married to Susan Motherfrakkin’ Sarandon, for pity’s sake (Note: that’s not her real middle name, BUT IT SHOULD BE).  Underneath that idyllic exterior, though — well, not so much with the idyll.

As it turns out, you see, Miller’s been desperately trying to sell off that hedge fund, not so he can retire, as he keeps telling his family, but so he can get as far away from it as possible before anybody figures out he committed fraud a few years back to cover a loss he thought would be temporary (like that ever works out, you hedge fund knuckleheads).

Things go from bad to worse, though, the night Miller and his young mistress Julie decide to go for a drive and end up in a terrible car crash that leaves Miller all bruised up and Julie dead in the seat next to him.  Rather than calling the cops to report the accident, Miller moves Julie to the driver’s seat (it’s her car) and flees the scene, afraid the scandal will cost him the sale of the hedge fund he so desperately needs.

Tim Roth plays the detective called out to the accident scene, and can quickly tell the body’s placement in the car doesn’t add up (because he’s an expert on body language, dead or alive, ever since starring on that show Lie to Me, duh).  As with most movie detectives, he hates rich people, so when he hears a rumor Miller had a connection to the victim, he immediately goes after him like my kitten Otis with a ball of yarn.  No surface left unstringed, and no stopping until there is no string left to strung.  Or something more grammatically correct than that.

This movie doesn’t have a lot of originality in terms of storyline, but it’s still very compelling, and what drives that the most, in my opinion, is the complexity of Miller’s character.  Described here, he sounds like a total bastard, right?  He’s ripped people off to make a profit for himself, committed fraud, and left his dead girlfriend behind in a car in the middle of a freezing cold night, simply to avoid putting a crimp in his business style.  What an asshole!

The thing is, though, the more the movie progressed, the more I felt terrible for Miller instead of angry at him.  The scene in which Brooke confronts him about the fraud, after prepping the books for the sale of the fund and finding evidence of her father’s cookery, was an intensely powerful and painful one, and Gere’s performance was spot-on flawless.  He’s sort of playing a bad guy who doesn’t know he’s a bad guy, really.  He’s a man taken down by hubris, rather than simply by greed or conscious evil-doing, which makes him a much more interesting character than, say, Bernie Madoff.  He’s conflicted and complicated — and so is our reaction to him.

Arbitrage isn’t a movie that stands out all that much, I wouldn’t say.   It’s not one I’m likely to take the time to watch again, for example.  But it was a nice little surprise, well-written and strongly acted, and it’s one definitely worth a rental now that it’s out on DVD.  Recommended!

[Prequeue it at Netflix | Watch it now via Amazon]

Genre:  Drama
Cast:  Tim Roth, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, William Friedkin, Brit Marling, Monica Raymund

MOVIE: Amelia (2009)

March 31, 2010

Riddle me this, my friends — how does a movie about such a fascinating person (Amelia Earhart) that is also a veritable ex-Boyfriendapalooza (Richard GereEwan McGregorChristopher Eccleston!) still end up being THIS INCREDIBLY DULL?

I have no answers.  Well, okay, I might have a few answers.  Read on.

I’ve been intrigued by the story of Amelia Earhart since I first learned about her in grade school.  Who hasn’t, really?  Despite that interest, though, I’d never really pursued my curiosity about her.  Never read any books.  Never watched any films.   She was a great feminist hero and then she crashed.  That was about all I had.  And about all I needed, I guess.

But when I heard they were making a movie about her, starring Hilary Swank in the title role (my Dad says she’s the spittin’ image, by the way, and since he’s a pilot himself, I trust his judgment on that one), my interest in learning more was kicked into gear.  I knew very little about what led up to Earhart’s dramatic flight(s) and the mystery of her disappearance/death, and I was eager to find out at last.

I rented this one with Mom a couple of months ago, and, not surprisingly, the details of Amelia’s rise to American aviation heroism were as incredible as expected.   Watching her courage and tenacity zoom circles around her male peers as she gradually made the move from the back of the plane to the front was pretty awesome, in the most authentic sense of the term.  She may have had the freckles of a little girl, but she had the balls of a big brass gorilla, so to speak, and she knew it too.

Someone else who knew it was her husband,  famous New York publisher G. P. Putnam (Gere, whose crinkly eyes are still the best crinkly eyes of all time, I might add), and I found the tale of their marriage likewise fascinating.  His role in publicizing her career was instrumental in her success, but not once did their working relationship get in the way of their obvious, passionate adoration for each other.  It was a beautiful thing to see, to be honest.  I was expecting more turmoil in that storyline, the way there always seems to be in movies/TV shows depicting the romantic relationships of strong, independent, professional women.  Instead, I was surprised to find that yes, yes, she was a role model for us there as well, in many ways.  Right there in her marriage too.  In making her marriage work.  Ups and downs, sure.  But still always somehow leveling back out to even coasting.  I dig.  You dig?

And yet — and yet! — much as I wanted to embrace this movie, much as I was fascinated by the individual story elements themselves, when they got put together. . . yawn, zzzzzz.  MAN, it was boring.  The movie is way too slowly paced, repetitive, and long.  Somehow, it manages to take all these incredible stories and sputter them dry of all verve.  I don’t know what was wrong with it, really.   I suppose part of the problem is that, for all the amazingness of her life, Amelia Earhart kind of lived a simple one.  No major dramas, just direction, dedication, and dreams pursued and fulfilled.

I wonder if maybe more of a focus on her final flight, maybe even something speculative?, might’ve rescued this film from its drabness?  I suppose that wouldn’t have been fair, really — making something up there at the end.  Her living happily ever after on a tropical island with a volleyball named Wilson, perhaps?  But it certainly would’ve been a lot more fun.

And so, my friends, my advice to you is to skip this one.  Let’s wait for another one instead.  The story of Amelia Earhart is out there, filmmakers — tell it to me again.  I’ll wait.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Drama
Cast:  Hilary Swank, Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Joe Anderson, Christopher Eccleston, Mia Wasikowska

MOVIE: Annapolis (2006)

August 26, 2007

We have the STARZ movie channel for free this weekend, and when I noticed this flick was playing on it, I decided to record it and give it a shot. It had been on my list of potentially-bad-movies-to-watch-anyway, and I figured if it was going to be free, there was no excuse for not finally getting down to it.

Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it. That is, though it was exactly what I suspected — An Officer and a Gentleman starring James Franco as Richard Gere — it was nowhere near as BAD as I expected. Franco plays Huard, a young man who has grown up in the shipyards across the water from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, dreaming his whole life of escaping his father’s career as a riveter and getting into the Academy instead. Though his grades were crappy, his application caught the attention of a lieutenant (Lt. Burton, played by the ubiquitous Donnie Wahlberg) and Burton pulled some strings to get him in at the last minute (eventually becoming a mentor to Huard when Huard finally learns an important lesson about the importance of asking for help).

The movie has absolutely nothing original to offer in any way — there’s the fat underdog kid who can’t get through the obstacle course and when he finally does, teaches us all an important lesson about heart; there’s the big African-American tough-guy superior (a Marine, naturally) who attempts to make Huard’s life a living hell and finally teaches him an important lesson about leadership; and there’s even a scene at the end featuring Huard’s estranged father (Brian Goodman — love him) looking just like Mr. Miyagi at the end of The Karate Kid, nodding in silent pride as his son stumbles out of the ring, and teaching us all an important lesson about “not giving up on your father even when he acts like an ass most of the time.”

Wait, “the ring”? Oh yeah, forgot to mention there’s a lot of boxing in this movie, too. Don’t ask, just go with it. At least it means you get to see James with his shirt off a lot, right?

What saves this movie from being a crappy rip-off of a much better film, though, is, in a phrase: James Franco. I’ve had my eye on James for years now, ever since he was in the great series Freaks and Geeks, but it wasn’t until about the last year or two that I really started to notice just how incredibly damn good he really is. Every movie I see him in these days just impresses the bejesus out of me (I also recently saw him in The Dead Girl and really enjoyed him in that as well), so watch for a Boyfriend write-up on him soon.

In any case, I’m glad I finally got a chance to see this movie, and if you are a fan of James, Donnie , or An Officer and a Gentleman, you too might find this flick surprisingly satisfying. It’s not a great film, but had I gone ahead and paid $4 to rent it, I wouldn’t have felt I’d just wasted any dough. ‘Nuff said.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre: Drama

Cast: James Franco, Donnie Wahlberg, Brian Goodman, Jordana Brewster, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Roger Fan.

MOVIE: Final Analysis (1992)

June 30, 2007

I can definitely see why this movie might’ve been pretty popular when it came out (I have no idea if it actually was, but my DVR gave it three stars, so it apparently knows something). Back in 1992, it might’ve seemed a lot more original than it does in 2007. The problem I had with it is that I’ve seen a WAY better Richard Gere movie with almost this exact same plot — 1996’s Primal Fear with Edward Norton.

This movie is about a psychiatrist (Gere) who is treating a beautiful but troubled young woman (played by Uma Thurman). His patient keeps encouraging him to talk to her sister so as to get the full story on her youth, because she claims she doesn’t remember her childhood at all. So, the psychiatrist agrees and almost immediately falls head-over-heels for said sister (played by Kim Basinger). But she’s not quite right herself — for one thing, anytime she has even a sip of alcohol, she flies into a crazy psychotic episode where she starts screaming and becomes violent and then remembers nothing. A few weeks later, she swigs some cough syrup, and the next thing they all know, she’s brutally murdered her abusive, mob-connected husband.

She’s taken to court and tried with murder, but her defense, temporary insanity brought on by “pathological intoxication” seems pretty plausible to everyone (including Gere’s character), given her medical history. The more he learns about her past, though, the more Gere’s character (sorry, too lazy to go look up all their names!) starts to wonder if she actually planned the whole thing all along. Is she an innocent victim? Or a conniving sociopath? You’ll figure that answer about about twenty minutes in, trust me.

In any case, it’s a LOT like Primal Fear, except that movie, starring Edward Norton as a kid who kills a priest and then tries an insanity defense based on multiple-personalities, is far better acted and much more believable. If I’d seen Final Analysis when it first came out, I might’ve enjoyed it more and found the ending less predictable. But after a decade of Law & Order and shows just like it, there’s not a whole lot that surprises me anymore when it comes to courtroom dramas.

In any case, Eric Roberts is great in this as the evil husband, and Gere is always fun to watch regardless of what he’s acting in. Basinger does fine, and Thurman is pretty entertaining as her sweet, or is it double-crossing?, sister. Definitely worth a rental if you like these types of things.

Genre: Thriller
Stars: Richard Gere, Eric Roberts, Uma Thurman, Kim Basinger