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Posts Tagged ‘Josh Charles’

Richard Gere

“NORMAN”  My rating: B

118 minutes | |MPAA rating: R

You don’t have to like Norman Oppenheimer, the fast-talking character played by Richard Gere in “Norman,” to appreciate his energy and drive.

Norman is a hustler and a schmoozer, an arm twister and a facile liar. When necessary he can be a party crasher and a stalker.

He appears to be a businessman (his card vaguely reads “Oppenheimer Strategies”) who specializes in putting together deals. More accurately, he puts together people far more capable than himself who can put together deals. With luck Norman gets a cut of the action.

One of the wonders of Gere’s performance (just when did he become such a terrific actor?) is that even while Norman remains a mystery, a cypher, he’s strangely compelling.

(The movie has a secondary title: “The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.” That right there tells you what we can look forward to.)

In the early scenes we see Norman pestering casual acquaintances and heavy hitters on the New York financial scene (among the players are Michael Sheen, Dan Stevens, Josh Charles and Harris Yulin). Outwardly Norman oozes confidence and professionalism. He’s impeccably dressed and groomed.

But beneath that show of casual affluence you get a whiff of angst from a minor player desperate to be part of the big game. Norman is usually broke; he pops Tic Tacs in lieu of meals. He can’t afford an office, conducting all his business over his cell phone.

Writer/director Joseph Cedar’s film turns on Norman’s courting of an Israeli deputy minister visiting the Big Apple for a conference. Eshel (an excellent Lior Ashkenazi) is a bureaucratic  nobody grateful that this apparent go-getter of an American wants to befriend him. Norman even treats him to the city’s most expensive pair of men’s shoes.

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Julianne Moore, Ellen Page

Julianne Moore, Ellen Page

 

“FREEHELD” My rating: B-

103 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

A great tale trumps — just barely — mediocre delivery in “Freeheld,” a fictional version of the same story told in the 2007 Oscar-winning documentary of the same name.

Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is a police detective in Ocean County, NJ. She’s a tough, creative and much-honored cop, admired by her peers and especially her womanizing (so we’re told) partner, Dane Wells (Michael Shannon).

Laurel is also a closeted lesbian, so worried that her career will stall if her sexual orientation becomes public that she has virtually no personal life.

Then she meets tomboyish Stacie Andree (Ellen Page).  Love blossoms, although the very out Stacie has a hard time dealing with Laurel’s secretive ways.

When Laurel is diagnosed with late stage cancer, she goes public with her sexuality by asking the Ocean County Board of Freeholders (basically the county commission, which runs the local police) to assign her pension benefits to her partner Stacie, who will at least be able to keep the house they have purchased and rennovated.

But all this takes place a decade ago, at a time when local pols weren’t about to set a precedent by giving a gay employee rights normally reserved for married heterosexuals.  So begins a long and painful legal and public relations process as Laurel becomes ever more frail.

 

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