Posthumous (2014)

US, Germany / 94 minutes / color / Flying Box, Getaway, Arden, Cine Plus Dir & Scr: Lulu Wang Pr: Bernadette Bürgi Cine: Stefan Ciupek Cast: Jack Huston, Brit Marling, Lambert Wilson, Alexander Fehling, Tom Schilling, Nikolai Kinski, Pamela Knaack, Harald Siebler, Isabelle Redfern, Morice Marcone.

Posthumous - 0 opener

An interesting movie that takes a noirish premise and makes of it something really quite different. It’s tempting to call it a romantic comedy, but really it isn’t a comedy, despite some amusing and/or wry moments; it’s a tale concerned (a) with the relationship between art and life, (b) with the need to try not so much to make an artwork out of one’s life (yawn) as to approach it with creative artistry in mind, and (c) with the destructive tyranny of pragmatism.

Posthumous - 1 Liam throws a tantrum at the gallery

Liam (Jack Huston) throws a tantrum at the gallery.

Liam Price (Huston) is a stereotype: the penniless, hard-drinking, obsessed creative genius—the sort that crowds out every art college in the world. He used to have a certain amount of popularity, but his last exhibition was a disaster, not least because influential collector Arman Rubell (Siebler) dumped a load of Liam’s stuff onto the market not long beforehand, thereby driving prices down. Now the Berlin gallery run by his friend Daniel S. Volpe (Wilson) is holding an exhibition of eyesore installation art by one Kaleb Moo (Kinski). A booze-fueled Liam turns up at the premiere to destroy as much of his own work as he can find in the gallery basement. With a cry of “I might as well kill myself,” he vanishes into the night.

Posthumous - 3 Pages from Liam's workbook

Pages from Liam’s workbook.

As he sleeps things off in a pedestrian underpass, a bum (Marcone) steals his shoulderbag, containing his workbook. The next morning the bum is found dead, having either fallen or jumped under a train. Everyone assumes the corpse is Liam’s, especially after Continue reading

East, The (2013)

US, UK / 116 minutes / color with some bw / Scott Free, Dune, Fox Searchlight Dir: Zal Batmanglij, Brit Marling Pr: Michael Costigan, Jocelyn Hayes, Brit Marling, Ridley Scott Scr: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij Cine: Roman Vasyanov Cast: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, Aldis Hodge, Danielle Macdonald, Hillary Baack, Patricia Clarkson, Jason Ritter, Julia Ormond, Billy Magnussen, Wilbur T. Fitzgerald, Jamey Sheridan.

Ex-FBI agent Jane Owen (Marling), now working for the security operation Hiller–Brood, which contracts to various corporations, goes undercover as Sarah Moss to penetrate an ecoterrorism group called The East, whose mission is, one corporation at a time, to bring home to CEOs and other powers that be the meaning of their crimes by inflicting upon them a measure of the same suffering that they’ve happily meted out to others. She finds The East to be a small group spearheaded by Benji (Skarsgård), Izzy (Page)—the nickname’s short for Isabella Duncan, although Izzy’s real name is Katie Cannon—and Doc (Kebbell), a physician who’s dying because of a contaminated antibiotic.

The East has promised that it will commit three “jams”—acts of retribution—over the next six months. Sarah/Jane is roped in for the first of these, and begins slowly to be won over to The East’s cause. That first jam involves infiltrating the party being thrown by pharmaceuticals company McCabe–Gray to celebrate the contract the firm has just received to supply the US military with its “miracle drug” Dinoxin. Attending as wait-staff or guests, The East’s members lace the champagne with Dinoxin and, sure enough, over the next few days and weeks the company’s bigwigs fall ill from ingesting the drug.

East, The - Richard Cannon (Sheridan) discovers the hard way about the water his company's polluting

Richard Cannon (Jamey Sheridan) discovers the hard way about the water his company has been polluting.

The second jam involves Izzy’s father Richard Cannon (Sheridan), an industrialist whose company, Hawkstone, has been insouciantly polluting water supplies, with nary a care for the consequent death toll. After The East has hurled him and a colleague into one of their own polluted ponds to discover how they like it, the group is Continue reading

Company You Keep, The (2013)

US / 122 minutes / color (with brief bw in the form of archive and faux-archive footage) / Voltage, Wildwood, Brightlight, Kingsgate, TCYK, Sony Dir: Robert Redford Pr: Nicolas Chartier, Robert Redford, Bill Holderman Scr: Lem Dobbs Story: The Company You Keep (2003) by Neil Gordon Cine: Adriano Goldman Cast: Robert Redford, Shia LaBeouf, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Anna Kendrick, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Sam Elliott, Stephen Root, Jacqueline Evancho, Gabrielle Rose.

Decades ago, during the horrific height of the Vietnam War, the Weathermen, or Weather Underground, were at the cutting edge of domestic protest against it; they were classified by the authorities as terrorists, although later judgement of their activities tends to be kinder. According to the backstory of this movie, one of their crimes was a bank robbery in which a security guard was shot dead; the perpetrators have been on the run ever since.

The movie starts with the arrest by the FBI of one of those perpetrators, Sharon Solarz (Sarandon), now the respected pillar-of-the-community mother of teenage kids; she has in fact been on her way to NYC to give herself up, but the FBI, having caught wind of this through wiretaps, decided to seek kudos by pre-empting her. Her friend from the old radical days, Billy Cusimano (Root), tries to enlist public-spirited lawyer Jim Grant (Redford) for her defense, but he declines, pleading that, recently widowed, he has to focus on rearing his 11-year-old daughter, Isobel “Izzy” (Evancho).

Izzy (Jacqueline Evancho) and her Uncle Daniel (Chris Cooper) confronted by the FBI.

Into the picture stumbles brattish local journalist Ben Shepard (LaBeouf) of the Albany Sun–Times, eager to make a name for himself. He manages to dig out evidence that “Jim Grant” is in fact Nick Sloan, wanted by the FBI as Continue reading

Arbitrage (2012)

US / 107 minutes / color / Roadside Attractions, Green Room, TreeHouse, Parlay, LB, Artina, Alvernia, Lucky Monkey, Lionsgate Dir & Scr: Nicholas Jarecki Pr: Laura Bickford, Kevin Turen, Justin Nappi, Robert Salerno Cine: Yorick Le Saux Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Nate Parker, Stuart Margolin, Curtiss Cook, Reg E. Cathey.

A borderline noir set in the world of high finance, where high-flyer Robert Miller (Gere) has been cooking the books at Miller Investments to guarantee ‑‑ he hopes ‑‑ the company’s sale to another. When he crashes the car in which he’s driving with artist mistress Julie Côte (Casta), killing her, he makes off, enlisting the help of Jimmy Grant (Parker), son of an old friend, to get him home, where wife Ellen (Sarandon) apparently believes he’s been sleeping beside her all night save for a brief excursion to buy ice cream. But the cops, in the shape of Det. Michael Bryer (Roth), aren’t as stupid as Robert thinks they are, and neither are Ellen nor their daughter Brooke (Marling), Robert’s heir apparent at the company. With all aspects of his life unraveling around him as he descends into the noir abyss, Robert must do whatever it takes to survive.

Gere delivers one of his better performances and is offered strong support from the rest of the cast, notably Parker as the Harlem youth who, though he has some criminal form in his past, proves to have several times the integrity of his supposed social superiors, Det. Bryer included. The movie’s conclusion achieves a small masterpiece of cynicism.

 

On Amazon.com: Arbitrage and Arbitrage