Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Week of Sept. 14 thru Sept. 20 (Mann)

What’s on at the Tropic
by Phil Mann

ARBITRAGE leads the card this week, with Richard Gere as a morally compromised lion of Wall Street. He brings to mind a guy I knew whose very successful business was always a mystery to me. When I asked him what he did, the answer was always “arbitrage,” but I could never get him to explain any further. I’ve been to business school; I know what arbitrage is, and that it takes various forms. I eventually found out what form my friend was using. He was marketing for a Bernie Madoff-type. But he would never let me buy in. I didn’t have enough to make it worthwhile, I guess. As it turned out, he was a better friend than I thought.

Richard Miller (Gere) is a “master of the universe,” to borrow Tom Wolfe’s term, running a hedge fund that is the envy of Wall Street. He has a beautiful wife (Susan Sarandon); a smart, knockout daughter (Brit Marling); and even a luscious mistress (Laetitia Casta). Did I mention that he’s handsome and charming? He’s Richard Gere, for f__ s sake.

But as with my friend, and Madoff, everything is not quite as it appears with the firm. And then there’s a devastating accident (no spoiler; it’s in the trailer). And there’s a relentless, suspicious cop who has a thing about rich guys who get away with crimes. (Tim Roth).

“Slick and grown-up as Richard Gere himself, this intricate fiscal thriller takes a dead bead on extreme privilege .” (Michael Atkinson, Village Voice)

“a professional, morally thorny thriller” (Peter DeBruge, Variety)

“Gere's gripping performance is just as much physical as it is verbal…. This bastard, like so many before him, attracts people like moths to a flame, never thinking twice as he watches them burn.” (Glenn Heath, Jr., Slant Magazine)

SLEEPWALK WITH ME is lighter fare, essentially a very popular stand-up routine brilliantly spun out into a movie. The somewhat autobiographical Matt (Mike Birbiglia) has a wonderful understanding girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose) but he’s struggling with two problems: failure in his chosen profession of stand-up comedy, and self-endangering sleepwalking. We follow Matt as he finally scores some gigs at bottom-feeding venues and manages to build a routine. And we suffer, with pleasure, as he fights off threats, and threatens himself in active dreams.

It’s hard to describe this movie. Take my word. It’s delightful. Co-written and produced with Ira Glass from NPR’s This American Life, it “holds together as a story that, like a particularly good episode of This American Life, is both laugh-out-loud funny and somewhat melancholic.” (Drew Grant, New York Observer)

“A dream for fans of offbeat, well-written, subtly acted projects.” (Claudia Puig, USA Today)

If these aren’t what you want (though I can’t imagine why), there’s plenty more in the holdover movies.
 Frank Langella stars in ROBOT AND FRANK, a buddy comedy about an aging thief and his caregiving robot.
Jeremy Renner and Ed Norton continue the Bourne saga with THE BOURNE LEGACY.
Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in HOPE SPRINGS, a rom-com about a fading marriage.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, a tongue-in-cheek look at an eccentric inventor of a time-travel machine.

And last, but not least, Monday night brings the latest in the September Back to School series: SUMMER SCHOOL (1987), a comedy about an irresponsible teacher teaching a summer session of malcontents and dropouts.

Full schedules and info at or

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