Tag: Susan Sarandon

The Meddler

April 13th, 2016 — 7:28am

****Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 4.27.04 PM

The Meddler -sp

Writer-director, Lorene Scafaria has put together a dramedy (drama plus comedy) with which both young and old will identify. In a post-screening discussion with Ms. Scafaria, we learned that the story is a very close, realistic depiction of the writer’s own mother, who moved out to Los Angeles from the east coast after her husband died. The mother, Marnie (Susan Sarandon) who is on the screen for almost the entire film meddles or tries meddle in just about every aspect of her single daughter’s life, as well as in the lives of just about everyone else who she meets. Lori, the daughter (Rose Byrne) not surprisingly is a budding film maker, who as much as she tries, can’t get away from her mother’s love and over-attention, which of course she really needs. On one hand, we keep thinking that this mother character is exaggerated and way over the top. However, why then did she captivate our attention? The answer is that the film has captured the universal need and wish of most mothers to do just about everything and anything for their children at any age.

The dialogue and Sarandon’s characterization is near perfect. The screenwriter, who of course is really the daughter telling the story of her mom, has also added a romantic twist, which she acknowledges is her fantasy wish for her mother. This brings in a potential boyfriend for her mother in the person of a dashing, handsome, senior guy who rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle and raises chickens as pets. Unbelievable you say – just wait until you see Oscar winner J.K. Simmons take on this role.

This independent low-budget film has a lot going for it with a great script, two outstanding stars, a fine supporting cast and great execution by this young woman director. It also should have special appeal here in Los Angeles, where most of the film takes place from the scenes at the Grove, to glimpses of the entertainment industry in action and the beautiful west coast shoreline, as well as many characters who will remind you of people that you know.

This movie opens later this month across the country. We highly recommend it. (2016)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama


January 5th, 2013 — 9:06am


Arbitrage -nfimages-12

The wonderful thing about watching a movie on Netflix that has a good reputation but never made the awards, is   that all you need is an interesting subject, a good storyline and some excellent actors. In this case we start with Robert Miller (Richard Gere) hedge fund tycoon who is  about to sell his company. Unbeknown to the buyer and to his daughter Brooke ( Brit Marling) who is one of his closest executives in his  company, he has been cooking the books.. Would you believe he is doing this because Mr Genius business man invested most of his money in a copper mining scheme in Russia that didn’t work out. His wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) is mainly preoccupied with her husband’s promised 2 million dollar gift to her favorite charity but that will change. Mr. Miller is of course interested in his mistress (Laetitia Casta) But this is not half the story. Soon we meet a “Colombo like” NYPD homicide detective (Tim Roth) working a case which might make a good CSI plot. On top of this we bring forth Jimmy (Nate Parker) a black young man  who is the son  of the deceased loyal chauffer of Mr. Miller and is asked to keep quiet about what he did on a certain evening but possibly take a rap of 10-15 years. You may not like the character Gere portrays but you will feel his pain.  This is 25 year old screenwriter and director Nicloas Jarecki’s first feature film. (2012)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Mystery

Robot & Frank

July 20th, 2012 — 7:07am


Robot & Frank – sp   The setting of this movie is “some time in the near future.”  Frank(Frank Langella), an older man living alone,  who may be having some memory problems is visited by his son(James Marsden) who drops off a robot (voice by Peter Sarsgaard) to be his servant/companion. The robot cleans the house, cooks the meals and becomes a meaningful object in Frank’s life. As this very clever story begins to examine the relationship between man and machine, it also allows a look at a film load of life issues. There is the father/son thing especially when father has been away at his own doing for long periods of time and maybe wasn’t the best of dads. The searchlight is put on aging and how an old guy can get marginalized and might want to feel he still is in the game. Not only is there the question of will machines take on human personas in the future but we are reminded that we may be on a path where technology take away things like the intimacy of being able to read and share an actual paper book. All these themes and more are examined as our Don Quixote like character and his faithful Sancho Panza type robot tilt at  Frank’s windmills. The closest thing to a Dulcinea is the warm hearted librarian (Susan Sarandon) who has a good reason to have a special  spot in her heart for Frank. This is all a lot going on in a tender movie about a robot that originally started off as a short film as part of the NYU Film School  studies of C.D. Ford who expanded that project to this screen play along with his then classmate Jake Schreier who directs his first feature film.  They now have a really good movie with an award winning performance by Frank Langella. (2012)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Middle of Nowhere

September 7th, 2010 — 1:30am

Middle of Nowhere* * * *
Middle of Nowhere
– sp – This is a story about teenagers living in a small town who feel rejected by their parents for various reasons but are trying to figure out how to do something with their lives. This leads the two main characters to take up selling pot to make money in order to break free and become their own persons. The script was written by Michelle Morgan who grew up in Thousand Oaks in the San Fernando Valley in California but we suspect after meeting both of them at our film course, that many of the fine touches of this movie were added by Director John Stockwell. In any case, the result is a sensitive reading of young people which captures very well some of the struggles of this time of life. Susan Sarandon is, as usual, quite outstanding as the mother of the main character who is portrayed very well by her real life daughter Eva Amurri. Anton Yelchin portrays the 17 year old main male character and has a very moving scene in which he has tracked down his mother who abandoned him when she was 15 years old and tells him now that she feels no connection to him. (2009)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama

The Greatest

September 6th, 2010 — 8:23am

The Greatest* * * * *
The Greatest
– sp – Almost immediately after the movie opens you realize that this is a story about the painful grieving of a family. While in this case it is about the kind of grief most people should not have to experience, it touches upon emotions that everyone has either had or knows that that they can have tomorrow. The writer and first time director Shana Feste shared with us that she probably wrote this because her father had such a loss many years ago and only spoke once to her about it. She researched the subject and her own emotions quite well. She was able to get Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon to buy into this project and bring their maturity and great acting to this film. Then Ms. Fester and her duo of women producers Lynette Howell and Beau Marie St. Clair were able to find young Carey Mulligan, before she received her Oscar nomination for An Education, to play the centerpiece of the young woman who carried within her the essence of this film. All three stars brought to the screen a very palpable realism in their three different but yet very appealing characters, each of whom drew you in as you felt their pain. A trio of three young talented actors rounded out the outstanding cast. The movie has the haunting presence of what we recall from the 1980 Oscar winning film Ordinary People which incidentally had the same Director of Photography, John Bailey. Whereas the older classic showed the disintegration of a family, this one leaves you with the possibility of a rebirth. The experience is definitely worth going through (2010)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama, Romance

In the Valley of Elah

November 7th, 2009 — 8:48am

* * * *
In the Valley of Elah
– nf – This is a story based on an incident, which actually happened during the current Iraq war. It follows the story of the grieving father played extremely well by Tommy Lee Jones as he seeks to find out what really happened to his soldier son. You might say this is an excellent detective story but it is also an expose of the morality of the war and the psychological damage that it has inflicted on so many soldiers. There were wonderful supporting roles by Charliez Theron and Susan Sarandon. Several of the young actors who played soldiers were actually combat veterans, which added to the depicted realism. 2007

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Thriller, War

Back to top