Tag Archives: drama

Flight (2012) – Film Review

Flight stars Denzel Washington in a new live-action movie by Robert Zemeckis, which walks over all the sentimental tracks he’s known for. The film is a study of an alcoholic man and pilot, a ticking combination as it is: Whip Whitacker, constantly drinking, even while piloting 102 people on an airplane. Watching the man drive a car under the influence makes you think how easy it must be for him, though its no less illegal.

After he successfully lands an airplane doomed to fail by erroneous malfunction, he must battle the ensuing rage over his blood alcohol level that’s far off the legal level for even driving a vehicle. But he’s not taking on this battle sober. He’s a steady alcoholic, drowning away his alcohol problem with an alcohol problem.

Whip not only has to work through an alcohol problem through the course of the film, but a minor drug addiction as well. He, and his new girlfriend, who he meets in the hospital after she overdoses and he crashes, both need rehab. But Whip denies it, a process of self-loathing that ultimately leads to an ending characteristic of Hollywood.

John Goodman brings on his massive charisma as Whip’s ready-to-help drug dealer, and Don Cheadle stars as a Chicago lawyer working to save Whip from prison-time. Flight is a straight-forward, but effective morality tale, with enough reality to out-weigh the sparkly sensibilities.

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Arbitrage (2012)

Richard Gere stars in this engaging legal thriller, a pot-boiler of a film that takes a look through the arbitrary lens of Robert Miller, a hedge-fund magnate. Gere plows through the film in style, an assured actor with an even more assured character. Confidence is what’s important to Robert Miller, and he embodies it like a club owner, a talent scout, a man pronounced lower than what his age describes. But after an unexpected, self-caused tragedy occurs, a desperate cover-up ensues to protect the intricate life he’s created.

He is a man of several lives, with an adult family and an artistic mistress on the side. The movie has a coherent plot, but mainly it is a character study; during many points in the film, Robert Miller uses his power position as an excuse for what he’s done; that people are counting on him, his paychecks, his advice, and his continuity. There are several moments that reveal his true character, and at the beginning we are left in the dark, first stopping by a family gathering in celebration of his birthday, and then off to his late-night date, a rousing artist with an old man crush.

It’s hard not to like Robert, too. He’s a man who uses people at his disposal, a manipulating con-man whose tactics you can’t help but admire. He’s a free roaming form of Leonardo DiCaprio from ‘Catch Me If you Can’, but he’s evil and a deterrent to society and the values we stage. It’s always known when a man with well-backed finances is convicted of a crime: because the effects of it are so loud. And so, the men at the top are consistently guarded by politicians and other easily bribed figures; but one man, Det. Michael Bryer, is willing to get up on his toes and attempt to push Robert down. Det. Bryer is played by Tim Roth with a sort of Brooklyn go get em’ grit, and it is this hot head energy that ultimately postpones Robert’s demise.

The film boasts excellent performances from Richard Gere, and a much-needed character performance by Tim Roth; the intense energy of Roth’s role as detective Bryer prevents Arbitrage from becoming a grossly overwhelming study of a capitalist. Nate Parker has a side role also, as a young man who takes the fall for Robert’s circumstance, though I feel his acting is as disposable as his character. Too many gasps and clich√© notions of loyalty: when all things close, Arbitrage is a movie with definite intelligence, but a few dramatic gaps.

Shame

Steve Mcqueen follows up his rousing debut film Hunger with “Shame” a contemplative look at sex-addiction and family obligation. Starring Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a fairly successful man who works high-up in a corporation, office, glass, him, but we are not directly told what he does.¬† He lives a methodical existence we come to find out, though it is not highly constructive in the sense of reason; he is a raging sex-addict, who supplements through masturbating at work and at home, finding hookers and wowing girls at bars. But when his sister, Sissy, appears randomly in his apartment, he soon unwinds into chaotic desire, his foundation breaking with her annoyance. The point of the film is just that: to forget oneself for a second and understand others problems. Except, it seems to be a competition of errors between them, and in many different scenes they argue about how rough they have had it.

The film is genuine and realistic because of a top notch performance from Michael Fassbender. Though rated NC-17, it really lacks any passion in the sex, because McQueen works with the camera and actors in a sterile combination of need and obligation, the latter being what Brandon does not want with a woman. The film is not exciting, or filled with action, but mostly quiet scenes of emotional tension. The restaurant scene when Brandon takes a co-worker out is very memorable; she asks if he is nervous, but he is not: He just wants to get in and get out and to his apartment with her. He wants rich wine, and when the waiter says it is rich, he looks at him like he is really busting his balls. The topic of relationships is brought up, and in an honest moment Brandon says his longest relationship was four-months. How that could be a plan of seduction, he doesn’t know, but it certainly didn’t lighten her eyes up.

When Brandon goes to see his sister sing at a bar, his boss invites himself, and later does the same up to Brandon’s apartment. It is a challenge for Brandon: He tells Sissy that she cannot see his boss again. The brother-sister relationship is always strained for the sake of Brandon’s life, and he has as leverage that he lives a respectable one. Why do we need to be close If I didn’t choose for you to be alive, he says, and Fassbender displays here him almost alien-like vocal tones, raspy and filled with hatred. Shame is a tough journey through an adult man’s life, but one that is ultimately made with precision and focus.