Laura Bickford

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Arbitrage Review


Richard Gere delivers such a charming, layered performance that he overcomes a contrived plot that piles too many financial and personal crises on the central character. But Gere is magnetic, and the film's themes resonate at a time of economic difficulty, most notably in the idea that all major world events revolve around money.

Gere plays 60-year-old financial mogul Robert, who lives the high life with a private jet, glamorous philanthropist wife Ellen (Sarandon) and sexy French art-dealer mistress Julie (Casta). He seduces the press with his intelligent wit, and has managed to conceal the fact that he's in severe money trouble. Everything hinges on selling his company, but the buyers are dragging their feet. Then he is involved in a fatal car crash that could undo everything. He turns to an estranged friend (Parker) for help, but a tenacious police detective (Roth) is beginning to piece it all together.

Having Gere in the central role makes all the difference here, because he is able to add the subtext and moral ambiguity that's lacking in the script and direction. Otherwise, it's shot like a too-obvious TV movie with close-up camerawork, a bland Cliff Martinez score and constant moralising about family values. By contrast, Gere is a shady character who is up to all kinds of unethical things and yet holds our sympathies because we can see that he's not all bad. Even so, the script puts him through the wringer, with a never-ending stream of personal and professional problems.

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Duplicity Review

It doesn't take much to make the life of a spy look great. The travel, expense account, sense of danger, all that role-playing -- it's catnip for most people, whose greatest investment in daily skullduggery tends to be making their boss believe they're actually working. In Duplicity, however, writer/director Tony Gilroy ups the ante by reveling in all of the above while throwing in a keen sense of fun and maybe even a dash of honest-to-god romance. It's a dashing and bright entertainment that aims to please without scraping the floor for your approval. In other words, about as different a world from Gilroy's Michael Clayton as could be imagined.

The film starts with a quick meet-cute at an American consulate 4th of July barbecue in Dubai, where MI-6 agent Ray Koval (Clive Owen) is flirting with Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts). He doesn't figure out that she's a CIA agent until much later, long after she absconded from his room with a parcel of secret documents and he has woken up from the drugs she knocked him out with. Years later, the two are thrown together again when Koval takes a private security job with Equikrom -- a Unilver-like corporate giant that produces everything from shampoo to diapers -- only to find Stenwick already in place as a deep-undercover operative working for rival firm Burkett & Randle, which is on the brink of a delivering a paradigm-busting new product that Equikrom wants badly.

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Che Review

Benicio Del Toro dons the insurrectionist garb and machetes his way through jungles and mud as the revolutionary icon Ernesto "Che" Guevara in Steven Soderbergh's massive biographical homage. Del Toro pulls out all the stops in portraying the revolutionary icon and, if anything, Che is a tribute to Del Toro's perseverance. But Soderbergh's version of Che is too good to be true: Movie Che is a towering idealist who just keeps on coming, but he lacks any sense of character. He is heartless, all computer chips and wires inside. He's the Revolutionator.

Soderbergh's relentlessly uncommercial enterprise logs in at 268 minutes and is split into two parts. Part One charts Che's involvement with Fidel Castro in overthrowing Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, concentrating on the popular grassroots campaign that began with 80 peasants. Part Two jumps to Guevara's final revolutionary sprint, the failed uprising in Bolivia, the antithesis of the Cuban campaign, where the Bolivian peasants abandon him and betray him to the Bolivian army. Che is then hunted down like a junkyard dog and murdered.

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AFI Film Festival 2008 - Che Premiere At Grauman's Chinese Theater - Arrivals

Guest Sunday 2nd November 2008 AFI Film Festival 2008 - Che premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theater - Arrivals Los Angeles, California


The 46th New York Film Festival - 'Che/Guerrilla' Premiere At The Ziegfeld Theater - Arrivals

Laura Bickford - Laura Bickford and guest New York City, USA - The 46th New York Film Festival - 'Che/Guerrilla' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater - Arrivals Tuesday 7th October 2008

Laura Bickford
Laura Bickford and Rodrigo Santoro
Laura Bickford and Demian Bichir
Laura Bickford
Laura Bickford and Sam Bottoms

The 2008 Cannes Film Festival - Day 12

Director Steve McQueen and Steve McQueen - Director Steve McQueen, recipient of the Camera d'Or award for Hunger Sunday 25th May 2008 at Cannes Film Festival Cannes, France

Director Steve McQueen and Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen

Fur: An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus Review

Diane Arbus made a name for herself by trying to make the normal look peculiar and vice versa. Many of her pictures detail "freaks" in very calm, classical poses and spaces. When Steven Shainberg got the notion to cook up a fictional story about how Arbus got her inspiration for her photographic portraits, this had to be on his mind. Somehow, this notion creates an inventive misfire.

Shainberg imagines Arbus, played by Nicole Kidman, as a faithful housewife, very self-conscious of her strange stares and off-putting manner. She's also a devoted assistant to Allan (a superb Ty Burr), her photographer husband who captures the poppy pastel colors of 1950s dresses and various appliances for catalogs. Her life gets a shock of electricity when she catches the eye of a strange neighbor named Lionel (Robert Downey Jr.). Lionel was featured in a freak show when he was younger as a dog boy, scientifically diagnosed as hypertrichosis. The relationship that builds between Arbus and her hairy friend accounts for her artistic awakening and liberation of feminine constraints.

Continue reading: Fur: An Imaginary Portrait Of Diane Arbus Review

Traffic Review

How do you fight a war when the people that you love are the enemy? When the conflict is in your own neighborhood, or your own house? Such is the dilemma in the exceptional new film about the drug trade in the United States and Mexico, Traffic.

A harrowing and thought-provoking film, Traffic revolves around three intertwining stories of cops, thugs, victims, enforcers, politicians, and the judicial system. The film is based on a British Channel 4 miniseries called Traffik, which traced a drug route from Pakistan through Europe and to Great Britain. Laura Bickford, one of the producers for Traffic, was attracted to the original miniseries because of the intersecting stories, the social commentary on drug usage, and the implication of The System itself being the major perpetrator of drug addiction.

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Bongwater Review

Unfortunately poorly realized, this tale of a pot dealer/artist (Luke Wilson) who ends up going all goofy for a local crazy (Alicia Witt) never really works -- throwing a pile of nutty character actors like Brittany Murphy, Andy Dick, and Jack Black at us in the hopes of making us forget there's no story here. That works from time to time, and Witt is always a charmer, but otherwise this one's a throwaway. Dig that video cover!

Playing God Review

Extremely uneven movie about a defrocked L.A. surgeon/drug addict (Duchovny) who falls in with a two-bit mobster (Hutton) and his gorgeous moll (Jolie). A curious premise and a strong antihero are wasted, though, because Playing God has virtually no plot to speak of, which, you know, can be a hindrance to a movie from time to time.
Laura Bickford

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