Tag Archives: Susan Sarandon

Robot and Frank

12 Oct

Synopsis: Set in the near future, Frank, a retired cat burglar, has two grown kids who are concerned he can no longer live alone. They are tempted to place him in a nursing home until Frank’s son chooses a different option: against the old man’s wishes, he buys Frank a walking, talking humanoid robot programmed to improve his physical and mental health. What follows is an often hilarious and somewhat heartbreaking story about finding friends and family in the most unexpected places.

Cast

Frank Langella……………………………………Frank

Susan Sarandon………………………………Jennifer

Liv Tyler………………………………………..Madison

James Marsden…………………………………Hunter

Peter Saarsgard………………………..Robot (voice)

Jeremy Sisto……………………………………..Sheriff

Jeremy Strong………………………………………Jake

Review: Jake Schieier directed this charming film using speculative fiction as his story telling device. For those uninitiated, speculative fiction takes what we already know exists in science and speculates what it would be like in the near future. Sort of not quite sci-fi but closer to scientific reality when applied.

The story centers around ex-cat burglar Frank, (Langella) who lives alone in his house, in a small suburban community. It is apparent he is beginning to lose his short term memory. His daily routine consists of going to the local library where he has a friendship with the librarian, Jennifer (Sarandon) then going to a local nick-knack store and swiping small things like soap shaped like a cat.

His son Hunter (Marsden) tolerates his father’s behavior but can’t let his father live alone. Hunter is particularly alarmed when Frank doesn’t remember him or his daughter Madison (Tyler). To remedy the situation Hunter, against his father’s wishes brings him a companion Robot. The Robot is specifically designed to challenge Frank’s mental abilities, keep Frank active in a positive way and cook Frank’s meals.  In short Hunter had the robot programmed to keep Frank out of trouble. The Robot even starts a vegetable garden in the backyard of the house.

We learn along the way Frank was indeed a convicted and did jail time on burglary charges. When Frank finds out a wealthy entrepreneur, Jake wants to convert the library into an interactive community space with no books just computers, he decides to start cat-burgling once again. He trains the Robot to help him case the rich Jake’s house in hopes of stealing a valuable diamond necklace owned by Jake’s wife. The Robot at first won’t comply, but sly Frank convinces the Robot that a burglary will be good to stimulate his mental faculties. The Robot acquiesces and the two of them go on a caper. The Robot/Frank bonding begins when Frank trains the Robot how to pick locks and avoid alarms.

We watch with a knowing smile as the relationship between Frank and the Robot turns to respect and friendship. When Frank’s daughter Madison suddenly appears to take care of Frank, she is against Robot technology, her shutting down the Robot causes Frank to freak-out as the heist date draws near.  When after some sly outmaneuvering by Frank, Robot gets turned back on and the heist goes as planned.

You wonder how far gone Frank really is when Jake and the town sheriff come to question him about the heist and the goods can’t be found in the house. The Robot shows the human sign of self-sacrifice when he suggests that Frank erases his memory so the police can’t access his memory of the heist.

The story is funny, heartwarming, quirky and a winner. Speculative fiction aside this is a fun movie with a great cast. Langella really knows how to maneuver between loss of memory and slyness. His performance was wonderful to watch.

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Arbitrage

12 Oct

Synopsis:  Nicholas Jarecki makes his directorial debut with this taut and alluring suspense thriller about love, loyalty, and high finance. Arbitrage buying low and selling high depends on a person’s ability to determine the true value of any given market. It’s a talent that has made billionaire hedge fund magnate Robert Miller the very portrait of success in American business. But on the eve of his sixtieth birthday, Miller finds himself desperately trying to sell his trading empire to a major bank before the extent of his fraud is discovered. When an unexpected bloody error challenges his perception of what things are worth, Miller finds that his business is not the only thing hanging in the balance.

CAST

Richard Gere……………………………………………………..Robert Miller

Susan Sarandon…………………………………………………….Ellen Miller

Brit Marling……………………………………………………….Brooke Miller

Tim Roth…………………………………………….Detective Michael Bryer

Laetitia Casta………………………………………………………….Julie Cote

Nate Parker………………………………………………………..Jimmy Grant

Review:  In his directorial debut Nicolas Jarecki puts together a tight, suspenseful, thriller.  The film is not only a throwback to the Hitchcock way of story telling but also reflects the Bernie Madoff’s of our modern society. The question becomes can billionaire investor Robert Miller, played by Richard Gere, get away with manipulating the books to make a 415 million dollar mistake disappear while not being accused for his involvement in an accidental murder on the eve of his corporation being sold?

The drama centers around the Robert Miller’s family run firm,  Miller’s daughter Brooke, played by Brit Marling is the firm’s chief accountant and the first to notice the 400 million dollar discrepancy in the books. Robert Miller of course has a second set of books and dismisses his daughter’s accusations by telling her this can’t be I’ll have to check in to this. The reason for the cooked books is to show the firm, which is about to buy him out, that everything is OK and they will pass all the Wall Street compliance rules.

Miller is also a philanderer, his much put upon wife, played by Susan Sarandon puts up with it by convincing herself this is just part of who her husband is. She is content to spearhead her charities  and live the life of mother and corporate housewife.  It is obvious that Robert Miller cares only for himself and his firm and has little feeling for his family or the consequence of his behavior.

Julie Cote, played by Laetitia Casta, Miller’s lover owns an art gallery set up by Miller Investments. She also lives in a corporate apartment owned by Miller’s firm.  On the eve of the corporate buy out  Miller and Cote have a tryst that ends up in a deadly car accident with Miller falling asleep at the wheel.  Not wanting to be caught, Miller leaves the scene of the accident with his dead girlfriend in the car. We see the car explode in flames as he walks to a pay phone, not wanting a trace on his cell, and calls a family friend to come and get him. The friend is Jimmy Grant the son of his former personal driver. Jimmy comes out of loyalty to Miller.

The police arrive and from the get-go Police Detective Michael Bryer, played by Tim Roth, is out to incarcerate Miller with any means at his disposal. Roth plays hard-boiled and frustrated to the hilt.

Gere is cold and calculating and plays the part with precision. Susan Sarandon plays her role with conviction, when she learns the facts, her disillusionment is real and telling.  Brit Marling plays the trusting daughter and her feelings of being betrayed are palpable. Marling has to navigate between love for her father and her duty to turn him in for fraud. Laetitia  Casta has very little to do here but serve the role as lover, which she does. Nate Parker is the breakout star here and plays Jimmy Grant the possible fall guy for Miller. He holds in his hands the confession that would convict Miller.

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