Sunday, April 20, 2014

Movie Week - Arbitrage

Since last week saw the three late night shows that I watch all airing repeats, I decided that I’d finally get around to watching the movies that I regularly add to my various queues.  Despite my free time I never really find myself willing to invest my time in movies. 

That’s why I’ve done the AMC Best Picture Showcase for the past four years.  That’s also why I did my Recommended Movie Marathon and last year’s Movie Week.  Well, this year’s Movie Week starts with Arbitrage. 

I’d heard lots of good things about this film.  I remember that Richard Gere’s performance was singled out and if I recall correctly, got a hint of Oscar buzz.   Of course that never panned out.  But the film did benefit from being topical in that it focused on the bad guy du jour, the corporate criminal. 

Basically Arbitrage is about a hedge fund manager who tries his best to keep people from finding out about the crimes he’s committed.  It’s all about façades and appearances.   It’s a thrilling drama where you don’t know if you’re rooting for or against the lead. 

Gere does a stellar job portraying someone who just wants to cross the finish line, while an increasingly number of hurdles are placed in his path.  He remarkably conveys desperation without the usual panic that’s associated with that feeling.  It’s because of that cool exterior that his brief out of control moment register all the more. 

On every level Arbitrage speaks to the adage “it’s not about the crime, it’s about the cover up.”  Robert Miller makes a mistake and covers it up.  When he’s finally about to get to a place where he can move beyond the initial mistake and cover up, he’s involved in a different and equally horrible mistake, which he covers up again, to preserve the initial cover up.  And of course there are other cover ups as well.  

Gere is joined by Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Nate Parker and Stuart Margolin.  Being The Rockford Files fan that I am, I geeked out to see Stuart Margolin again, as Angel Martin is one of my all time favorite tv characters.  Everyone plays their part and plays it well. 

For me the strongest performance, after Gere, is Nate Parker.  He brings an authenticity to every scene that he’s in.  If don’t know if they’ve locked up the cast for the upcoming Netflix/Marvel project, but they might want to consider Nate for Luke Cage.  Just a thought. 

What’s really a trip is that, according to IMDB, apparently Robert Miller was supposed to be played by Al Pacino and Nate Parker stepped in when Drake dropped out of the project.  While I’m curious what Drake would have done, I’m glad Parker played the role.  I have no doubt that Pacino would have chewed up the scenery beyond recognition. 

If you haven’t check out Arbitrage and you’re interested in a nice little thriller, check it out.  The performances are top notch and the actual story is a compelling, if conflicted, one. 

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