Thursday, 10 January 2013

Cosmopolis and Arbitrage: Two billionaires and their cars

I am watching lots of films at year-end, but don’t have the time for long reviews, so watch for daily shorter reviews during the next week.


So there’s this young billionaire who drives around New York City in his limousine and talks to one person after another on his way to self-destruction.

David Cronenberg has made many unusual films, so one should not be surprised by this very bizarre dark comedy full of philosophical musings, a haphazard structure, a mad protagonist and a surreal almost post-apocalyptic New York City.

Based on a novel by Don DeLillo, Cosmopolis contains one absurd scene after another, but somewhere tries to address the issues of wealth and poverty.

I’m not sold on Robert Pattinson’s performance, but the actors who play the various people who come into his life do a good job (especially Paul Giamatti). I won’t describe who these people are because it would take an hour. This is a fascinating, almost mesmerizing, film to watch but whether it’s a good film is an open question. A second viewing is a must, though Ebert says you couldn’t pay him to see it again.

I will give Cosmopolis *** just for being so bizarre and intriguing and philosophical. My mug is up, but I’m not sure I want to do more than sip the contents.


So there’s this older billionaire who drives around New York City in his limousine and talks to one person after another on his way to self-destruction.

Hmmm. Wait a minute. This sounds vaguely familiar. 

There are indeed some eery similarities between the two films I watched at home this week. But in most ways they could not be less alike. Written and directed by first-timer Nicholas Jarecki, Arbitrage is very carefully structured with a simple but intelligent screenplay, a very carefully controlled protagonist (played well by Richard Gere) and a very normal and typical New York City.

Arbitrage is a thriller (not a comedy) about a man struggling to keep his life from imploding after crossing the line a few too many times and venturing from the unethical and probably illegal to the definitely illegal. We don’t know whether to sweat with him or to despise him, but I found his character fascinating and was engaged throughout. In the end, you can never really escape the consequences of your actions.

Susan Sarandon and Brit Marling provide good acting support as the wife and daughter and Tim Roth is good as the detective who wants to catch the big fish. Arbitrage also features an excellent score and great cinematography. An intelligent thriller with no action, it gets a solid ***+. My mug is up.

1 comment:

  1. Just saw Arbitrage on a plane. It was a good solid movie - perhaps a bit lacking in zing of some kind. Interesting that you said, "you can never really escape the consequences." I think I would nuance that a bit and say, "even when everything starts to fall apart it somehow seems to land better when you're filthy rich."