The Company You Keep (2012)

The Company You Keep
Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Lem Dobbs
Based on: Neil Gordon’s novel
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

Plot:
30 years ago, The Weather Underground robbed a bank and shot a guard. Nobody was arrested. Now the FBI managed to arrest Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon). Her arrest has journalist Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) digging into the story. He talks to lawyer Jim Grant (Robert Redford) who turns out to have been one of the Weathermen, Nick Sloan. Grant/Sloan goes on the run, but there seems to be more to the story than that.

The Weather Underground are certainly a topic that deserves discussion and cinematic treatment. Unfortunately this movie skirts the interesting bits and ends up being boring, unrealistic and self-congratulatory.

company_you_keep

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The East (2013)

The East
Director: Zal Batmanglij
Writer: Brit Marling, Zal Batmanglij
Cast: Brit Marling, Alexander Skarsgård, Ellen Page, Toby Kebbell, Shiloh Fernandez, Aldis Hodge, Danielle Macdonald, Hillary BaackJason Ritter, Julia Ormond, Patricia Clarkson

Plot:
Sarah (Brit Marling) works for a private security company. Their newest client is worried about ecoterrorist group The East, so Sarah gets the assignment from her boss (Patricia Clarkson) to infiltrate them. After a long search, Sarah meets Luca (Shiloh Fernandez) who brings her into the group which is (unofficially) led by Benji (Alexander Skarsgard). Even though it isn’t easy to get in at first, Sarah quickly finds herself in deeper than she ever thought.

The East is exciting, interesting and well acted. It asks many smart questions and though the way it ultimately resolves those questions was a little unfortunate, especially since it tries not to resolve anything too clearly for the first 112 minutes (runtime: 116 min). But it is still excellent.

the-east

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Arbitrage (2012)

Arbitrage
Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Writer: Nicholas Jarecki
Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta, Nate Parker, Monica Raymund (for a few seconds)

Plot:
Robert Miller (Richard Gere) is a generally successful business owner, though he has encountered some troubles in the past and is now trying to sell his company as quickly as possible. He and his daughter Brooke (Brit Marling) are also already negotiating a deal and all seems to be going well. Robert’s wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) doesn’t know about the problems, and she also doesn’t know about Robert’s affair with the young artist Julie (Laetitia Casta). But then Robert gets into a car accident while driving with Julie and Julie is killed. Since he wants to avoid the scandal, Robert calls Jimmy (Nate Parker), a poor, young guy who owes Robert a debt through his (Jimmy’s) father to pick him up. But when Det. Bryer (Tim Roth) gets involved, things seem to slip Robert’s control.

Arbitrage is a frustrating film, on two levels: one, it is so close to being great, but it just doesn’t manage the last bit to actually get there. Two, the ending wants to be frustrating (because the world is frustrating when it comes to powerful people) and Jarecki absolutely succeeds with that.

Arbitrage

[Slight SPOILERS]

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Another Earth (2011)

Another Earth
Director: Mike Cahill
Writer: Brit Marling, Mike Cahill
Cast: Brit Marling, William Mapother

Plot:
One night a new planet is discovered in the sky that is the exact duplicate of earth. That very night, the young student Rhoda (Brit Marling) drives drunk, causes an accident and kills a young boy and his mother, leaving the father alive. Four years later, Rhoda is released from prison and starts working as a cleaner in the local high school. She seeks out the surviving father, John (William Mapother). Initially just to apologize, but then she loses her nerve and instead offers her cleaning services. While Earth 2 become more tangible and contact is established, their relationship develops, too.

Another Earth is so incredibly indie and artsy, it doesn’t really get any purer than that. Surprisingly, I still thought it was okay. But it’s not my genre and that film certainly didn’t change my mind.

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