Tag Archive: susan sarandon

Dir. Nicholas Jarecki
(2012, R, 100 minutes)

Without intending to, Arbitrage plays like the story of two white men in authority who nearly wreck the life of a young, well-meaning black man in Harlem. I don’t mean to attribute any racial animus to the writer-director, Nicholas Jarecki, or even to the white characters, but there’s an under-explored theme in the film about how the struggle of two opposing forces causes undue strife for a more vulnerable man caught in the middle. That character, Jimmy Grant (Nate Parker), isn’t the central figure in the story, but I couldn’t help but imagine it from his point of view; giving someone a ride hasn’t caused a black man this much trouble since Collateral.

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Dir. Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass
(2012, R, 83 min)

Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, the sibling directors who emerged from the “mumblecore” movement of ultra-low-budget indie filmmaking, have a knack for wrapping sweetly low-key human stories in seemingly conventional comedy packages. Or perhaps it’s the marketers of their films who are good at making it seem that way. The ads for Jeff, Who Lives at Home and their previous film, Cyrus, were designed to appeal more to the fans of their stars – Jason Segel and Ed Helms in this case, John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill in Cyrus – than to fans of ultra-low-budget indie filmmaking.

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Dir. Tim Blake Nelson
(2010, R, 105 min)
★ ★

Leaves of Grass is a tremendously interesting film that is also tremendously frustrating. Written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson, who is better known for his work as a character actor, it takes a page from the Coen Brothers, whom Nelson thanks in the credits and for whom he co-starred in 2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? Aiming to be a kind of Okie Fargo, it explores themes of nihilism and chaos the Coens’ also considered in their films No Country for Old Men (which I loved) and A Serious Man (which I hated), and the result is just as inconsistent for Nelson as it has been for the Coens … Read the rest of my review at Culturazzi.org.

Dir. Brian Koppelman and David Levien
(2010, R, 90 min)
★ ★ ★

Solitary Man is a more minor achievement than its credits would suggest. Its cast is filled top to bottom with actors I admire: Jenna Fischer, Mary-Louise Parker, Richard Schiff, Susan Sarandon, Jesse Eisenberg, and Danny DeVito — and that’s the supporting cast. Its star is Michael Douglas, who gives a very good performance as a disgraced car salesman in a mid-life crisis. Suddenly struck with fear of his mortality, he makes drastic changes in his life, none of them for the better.

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Dir. Barry Levinson
(2010, Not Rated, 134 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

The fascinating legal issue at play in You Don’t Know Jack comes down to the splitting of hairs. The courts, as they are shown by the film, deal with Dr. Jack Kevorkian based on reactionary whims. One prosecutor is dogged in his pursuit, driven by religious conviction that God is the sole arbiter of life and death. His successor doesn’t want to spend any more taxpayer money on a failed case and allows Kevorkian to go about his business. But then Kevorkian crosses the line.

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