September 14, 2012, - 6:26 pm

Wknd Box Office: Arbitrage, Robot & Frank, Sleepwalk With Me, Detropia

By Debbie Schlussel

I didn’t dislike any of the new movies this weekend, which is rare.

* “Arbitrage“: There is a lot of Oscar buzz around this movie starring uber-lefties Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon. And, though the movie definitely has an Occupy Wall Street vibe to it and an Occupy ending, it’s a taut, well-done thriller that will engage you and keep you on the edge of your seat. There is also a Black-versus-White vibe to it, with the White guy as sort of the user in a “Driving Miss Daisy”-on-steroids kind of a way that I resented, since it’s manipulative and the same old, stale, liberal older-rich-White-dude-uses-younger-poor-Black-guy narrative we always get (and it’s never the other way around). Still, even with all of these strong caveats, I enjoyed it anyway because I know better and, as with any good thriller, I wanted to see what happens next. You will, too.

Gere is a Bernard Madoff-esque billionaire in Manhattan who is married to Susan Sarandon. He is celebrating his 60th birthday at the same time that he is desperately trying to avoid auditors finding a giant hole of missing funds (which he lost on a bad investment deal) that could sink him and his hedge fund. He’s trying to sell the company to save himself and his family, but the billionaire thinking of buying keeps putting him off. One of Gere’s rich friends has given him a massive amount of money as a “loan” to cover the whole, but he wants the money back now. Gere’s ethical, diligent daughter (Brit Marling), who is his company’s compliance officer, begins to notice accounting irregularities and starts asking questions. And at the same time all of this is happening, a much larger crisis emerges: something happens to Gere’s extramarital girlfriend (former supermodel Laetitia Casta), and he is now under investigation. All of these crises come to a head simultaneously, and Gere must do the impossible: fix them all at once and outsmart a Columbo-like detective (Tim Roth).

The script in this is tight and, unlike most Hollywood movies that root against the rich, this one is designed to make the audience root for Gere to extricate himself and get away with it all. He’s not one of these evil rich that Hollywood’s hypocritical class wars usually give us. He’s more nuanced and has a conscience, despite his cutting ethical corners all around. He wants to do the right thing, even if he’s a marital cheat, fudges numbers on the books, and lies to police about an accident. All of these things are definitely bad and wrong, but still, there is something redeeming about him that causes you to want him to make out okay in the end. And he’s not really like Madoff. He didn’t deliberately cheat his company or the government out of money. He just made bad investments and risky choices and is trying to fix it without stealing.

As I noted, I didn’t like the ending or some of the typical liberal narrative, but it’s still fun to watch, anyway. I like a good thriller, and this is that. And whether or not you like Gere’s politics (and I do NOT–particularly the U.S.-funded campaign commercials in which he appeared with Islamic terrorists and Jew-haters for the Palestinian elections), you cannot deny his acting chops. It’s a weak year at the movies, thus far, so I’ll bet he gets an Oscar nom for this role.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS (Would Be Three-and-a-half, But For the liberal-infused themes)

Watch the trailer . . .

* “Robot & Frank“: I like actor Frank Langella. Even when the movie is bad (which is rare for his projects), he’s always good. But this was a good movie, and he sparkles as usual. It’s a fun, light movie that takes place in the future. Cars haven’t changed much, but libraries are in the process of closing up shop (along with physical, bound books), and phone calls are on video. Also cellphones are transparent, and robots exist to help people as caretakers and companions.

Langella is a divorced, retired jewelry burglar whose memory is lapsing, as are his self-care skills and his homemaking. His son (James Marsden) buys him a robot to help take care of him and make him healthy. At first he is resentful, but soon he is planning a robbery with the robot. Langella’s daughter (Liv Tyler) is an anti-robot liberal who is touring the world on grant proposals to help the poor. Susan Sarandon also co-stars.

Funny, enjoyable, entertaining, and it has what I like in a good movie: a semi-ambiguous and cool sci-fi ending to an interesting futuristic movie.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Sleepwalk With Me“: At first I hated this movie and every single person in it. All of the characters were annoying and none of them was likeable. Plus the main characters are hipsters, and I hate hipsters . . . with a passion. But the movie finally got better and became more interesting once it delved into the sleepwalking dysfunction of the main character. And thankfully, the high-pitched Carol Kane made a quick exit.

Mike Birbiglia plays a comedian wannabe who is stuck in a dead-end job as a bartender. But soon he gets a gig on the road. He’s not funny but he keeps getting booked on gigs no one else wants and/or which have to be filled quickly. Suddenly, he is on the road non-stop, and comes out of his shell becoming funny once he begins ripping on his new fiancee (Lauren Ambrose) in his act. At the same time, his anxiety about getting married and being on the road in a tiring routine exacerbates his sleepwalking disorder. Birbiglia’s disorder gets so bad, he runs through hotels and jumps through windows while he is asleep. It’s interesting, but once we really get into it, it kind of collapses into the ending.

Not really sure I’d pay ten bucks for this. But I might rent it.


Watch the trailer . . .

* “Detropia“: While I enjoyed much of the cinematography in this documentary about the dying and death of Detroit–it has a retro cool vibe to it, there isn’t much new in it, especially if you live in and/or grew up in the Detroit area, as I did. You’ve seen similar footage around the internet, and we see it whenever we drive into or through Detroit: dilapidated, decayed, collapsing buildings that were once grand. A desolate city becoming ever more desolate by the day. The thing is, the movie doesn’t show the Marxist Third World Detroit City Council and its responsibility for much never getting done. There is no comment on the welfare state that has overtaken Black culture and, with it, Detroit. And constant commentary by a Cadillac-driving auto union official fails to really challenge the union’s contribution to the death of jobs and the auto industry here. On the other hand, it unintentionally shows that contribution when a union meeting results in militant workers refusing to take a pay cut. The plant closes as a result, and they all lose their jobs. But, again, there’s little new in this movie. Still, the visuals are well shot and it is entertaining from that perspective. The sadness of Detroit and the sense of the greatness it once was is well captured. As for the pretentious street theater in the movie, it’s just stupid (and, thankfully, limited).


Watch the trailer . . .

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15 Responses


Can you separately review ‘Innocence of Muslims’ as well? So that we don’t have to see it?

Infidel on September 15, 2012 at 2:15 am

    These days, all you need to know about a movie can be found in a trailer.

    You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll say “WTF?”

    It’s better not to give DS a stroke by having her watch that.

    The Reverend Jacques on September 15, 2012 at 3:45 am

    Infidel, here’s what I heard when I read your comment (and I intend this a purely constructive criticism, and not a personal attack):
    ” I want to have an opinion and form arguments on this subject, but I don’t actually want to bother with evidence– I’d rather have someone else do the thinking for me”
    It’s this type of willful ignorance that is getting us ALL in such a mess these days. For example, a large number of the film’s protesters haven’t even seen it, instead deferring to their imams and other “leaders” to tell them what they should think about it. Do you really want to fall into the same trap?
    Yes, this film is somewhat suspect as art (I have seen the portions available). However, I urge you to see it for yourself, make your own mind up, and review Debbie’s take on it to see how it aligns with yours. Without that, you have no moral right to take a stand on this film.
    Debbie Rocks!!!!!

    Jason on September 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm


CHICAGO intends to eclipse Detroit in 2012:

Nick Fury on September 15, 2012 at 4:52 am

Ah, there is Tim Roth! I wondered what happened to him. One of my favs!

I have never been a fan of that beady-eyed bastard Richard Gere! (I am more a fan of his Gerbil!) I’ve never seen “Pretty Women” and would consider it torture to have to endure it (“Dirty Dancing” is the bookend to that female foolish duo of flying estrogen!) but I would watch it (the NEW Gere film) to see Tim Roth again. He’s a very dynamic actor.

Rev, your post made me LOLOL! 😀

Skunky on September 15, 2012 at 9:26 am

    @Skunky Tim Roth may be a dynamic actor, however he is a Hollywood uber-liberal who declared that if he found any Republicans on the set of his movie he would show his contempt towards them.

    Rochelle on September 15, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Oh Rochelle that is so unfortunate. It also proves he’s a dope who is short on facts and long on bluster…like the rest of his ilk.

      I never knew that about him (thanks for the info). I love movies and the art of acting but these days it’s so disappointing to know how foolish these peeps are…and I reckon in their field they wouldn’t be anything else.

      And Samuel L. Jackson is another good example of it. He is one of my favourite actors to watch but in real life he’s a dopey no-hoper. The dichotomy between the worlds is vast.

      I wondered what happened to him as it been some time since I’d seen him tear it up and unfortunately it was that horrible POS film “Funny Games” (which made me angry and I hated it passionately). Maybe he was chillin’ with the smelly OWS crowd.

      As they say “familiarity breeds contempt” and these days I really hate learning about the every-day life of these actors. It just ruins it. I just try to enjoy the craft.

      Skunky on September 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    I saw Tim Roth in “Youth Without Youth” – an American-Romanian fantasy film awhile ago…. superb – it deals with the effects upon our memory and what happens as we change in getting along with the years.

    His best role definitely is that of Erik Jan Hanussen – a Weimar era con man, mystic and magician – directed by the incomparable Werner Herzog. There is a Jewish connection to the story – I won’t give too much away about “Invincible” but its riveting story-telling at its finest and you never really want it to end.

    This what entertainment should be!

    NormanF on September 16, 2012 at 2:11 am

Saw Arbitrage last night and it was pretty good. I wouldn’t have considered seeing it if I hadn’t read Debbie’s review which was very accurate. Thanks, Debbie!

DS_ROCKS! on September 15, 2012 at 1:49 pm

These days, one can substitute Madoff for Corzine.

P. Aaron on September 15, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Personally, I don’t give a flying hockey puck about an actor’s political preference, sexual preference, dietary preference or any other kind of inclination.

The only thing that really matters is the ability to get the job done right. That means possessing the ability to suspend disbelief for an extended period of time.

IMO, Tim Roth rocked in “Reservoir Dogs” and “Pulp Fiction” and “Lie to Me”.

Having been in the fine arts myself, I know it’s hard work to keep people entertained and interested. And y’all know where my politics stand.

The Reverend Jacques on September 16, 2012 at 4:48 am

I saw “Arbitrage” Friday night — a superb and well-plotted film. And a lesson to us all: If you’re a wealthy man, never get involved with a temperamental, high-maintenance French mistress.

As for the Detroit documentary, I think Debbie mixes up causes and effect in her review. It’s isn’t that the welfare state that has overtaken the blacks so much as the other way around: The blacks have overtaken the welfare state and expanded it to a corrupt, jumbo-sized Leviathan. I’ll know that Detroit’s comeback is well underway when most of its blacks are gone, movin’ on.

Seek on September 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm

What have you found out about this alleged “movie,” The Innocence of Muslims? Seems like maybe ten people in the world have actually seen the whole thing (if it truly exists at all), at a single screening somewhere in the Middle East back in June, but nowhere is it available or accessible (other than the trailers on YouTube). Is the whole thing a hoax? That this is the basis of the latest uprising all over the Middle East is utterly ludicrous (the inspiration is strictly organized Islamofascist terrorism, and the various Imams working up their “congregations” into a frenzy — not a hard thing to do, obviously). But, after you’re back on Wednesday, let us know what you’ve come across on this entire fakacta mishegass (pardon any of my Yiddish mis-spellings!). Thanks, and enjoy Rosh Hashanah!

jc15 on September 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm

i bet most people find this movie good for either one or two reasons:
1.Most “Rich” people relate to corporate criminal activity, because for there
to be such utterly wealth white jewish people, there has to be extremely poor
black people.
2. To bask in the glory to see a movie where a “black” man gets &ucked over through out the entire movie by a rich jewish defrauder!

but no where do you see any advertisement of the black actor that was at the center of the entire movie..not even “1” second of him in the entire trailer.

Kind of reminds me of how whites loved jazz in the 30’s & 40’s, but the “negro” (thats what they were calling us back them) had to use the back door to get in to entertain them…In freaking CREDIBLE!
as good as the suspense, i never left a movie feeling totally used and abused!

dont matter on September 18, 2012 at 3:17 am

Thank you for the good writeup. It in fact was a enjoyment account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! However, how could we keep up a correspondence?

OWKRKOQDTODUOFHJLEM on September 3, 2018 at 9:50 pm

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