Tuesday, February 5, 2013

2012 Catch Up (Arbitrage / Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Arbitrage (2012)

Director: Nicholas Jarecki
Writer: Nicholas Jarecki (screenplay)
Stars: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling

Richard Gere was born to play to role of the sleazy, scheming businessman and he really does carry this film. The screenplay is just "ok" and the plot is hit-and-miss with some genuinely tense moments but also quite a few contrived twists. I wouldn't go so far as to call any aspect of this movie "bad," but none of it lives up to the performances that Gere and Roth give. Their interaction is easily the best part of the movie and elevates an overall unremarkable film into "barely above average" territory.

Score: 5 / 10

Director: Benh Zeitlin
Writers: Lucy Alibar (stage play "Juicy and Delicious" and screenplay) and Benh Zeitlin (screenplay)
Stars: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly

The opening sequence is easily the most memorable, making a place as awful as "the Bathtub" look like paradise - great cinematography. There are a lot of interesting ideas here, with the coming-of-age story of having to face down the apocalypse (both in reality and in childhood fantasy) in parallel with facing a parent's passing. But the story (what little there is) is too scattered, too loosely constructed to drive the themes home. What we're left with is a beautifully shot hellhole and two impressive pieces of acting from non-actors. An intriguing film, no doubt; but performances and cinematography alone do not a masterpiece make.

Score: 6 / 10

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