Robert Salerno

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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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We Need To Talk About Kevin Review

Scottish filmmaker Ramsay takes an astonishingly visceral approach to Lionel Shriver's notorious novel. And combined with Swinton's internalised performance, the experience of watching this dark, disturbing film is almost unbearably moving.

Eva (Swinton) is a shell of her former self, living in isolation as the target of anger from an entire community. She clearly blames herself for an act of violence unleashed by her 15-year-old son Kevin (Miller), and misses her husband (Reilly) and daughter (Gerasimovich). But as she finds a job and starts to put her life together, the memories won't stop swirling in her mind. Does she even deserve to have survived such a horrific event? Can she ever make peace with the grieving, enraged people around her?

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A Single Man Review

As you'd expect from a designer, every frame in this film is visual perfection, capturing settings and characters with artistry that packs a real wallop. And if the overall film feels a little icy, it's also remarkably involving.

In 1962 Los Angeles, George (Firth) is a university professor whose boyfriend (Goode) has died in a car crash. Unable to cope with his grief, or to show it to anyone, he tries to go through his day as usual. His next lecture derails into a message about fear in society, and he decides to put his life in order before committing suicide. But a last evening with his boozy best friend Charlotte (Moore) and the attentions of a Spanish hunk (Kortajarena) and a bright-eyed student (Hoult) test his resolve.

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Delirious Review

I have seen Steve Buscemi in person, and he is not particularly ratlike -- he's actually a bit dapper, almost handsome. But on screen, Buscemi persists in embodying the most rodentlike of characters -- twitchy, scraggly, often lurking in the shadows. His voicing of Templeton the (actual) rat in the live-action Charlotte's Web seemed less perfect casting than foregone conclusion.

Buscemi's character in Tom DiCillo's Delirious is Les Galantine, a "licensed professional" photographer who is undistinguished even by paparazzi standards and ratlike even by Buscemi standards. An irritable loner, Les roams alleys and back entrances with a pack of similar-minded (but slightly less desperate) shutterbugs, grasping for shots of stars like pop sensation D'Harma (Alison Lohman). It's at one of these melees that he bumps into the genially homeless Toby (Michael Pitt); soon Toby has a reluctant, unstable ally and a place to stay. Les, in turn, has someone to listen to his rants and delusions, and to accompany him on sad visits to his elderly parents -- unimpressed, of course, with his published pictures.

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21 Grams Review

Following the funeral of his son-in-law, a father empathizes with his daughter by relating how he moved past the death of his wife, her mother. He reassures her that in spite of the hard times ahead, "life goes on." She retorts, "That's a lie. Life doesn't go on."

Welcome to everyone's life. Death is a ubiquitous occurrence, dumped upon us daily by CNN and more occasionally - yet still inevitably - in our own intimate moments. But when death strikes our lives, it invariably shatters our psyches and changes us for the darker, no matter how we try to prepare to accept it.

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All The Pretty Horses Review

All the Pretty Horses reminds me of a bad comedian telling a joke. He begins with an awful set-up and takes forever introducing the characters. If you're lucky, he stumbles into the narrative within five minutes. By the time he's arrived at the punch line, you don't care. You've forgotten the setup altogether.

Billy Bob Thornton's latest film, which examines a Texas cowboy trying to find his dreams in 1949 Mexico, is a tale I might have been interested in. But like that lousy comedian, Thornton's delivery positively stinks. And, what's worse, I couldn't find the punch line anywhere.

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Belly Review

Rappers shouldn't act, and actors shouldn't rap. Belly has plenty of both, making this predictable, ultra-violent, insulting story of gangland drug dealers as bad as movies get. Avoid at all costs.

Waking Up In Reno Review

There are bad movies, and there are awful movies. And then there is Waking Up in Reno, one of the worst films ever made, so bad it had to be delayed theatrically at least a couple of times before finally grossing about $260,000 in theaters.

Swept Away more than doubled that.

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