Arbitrage

   Director: Nicholas Jarecki, Madman Entertainment, Rated MA, 100 mins

As seen in the classic movie Wall Street, deceptive financial dealings appear to go hand in hand with power as does the saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
   Such is the storyline in Nicholas Jarecki’s first film featuring award winning actor Richard Gere (Chicago) as the lead character Robert Miller, an unscrupulous hedge fund billionaire whose failed investment forces him to defraud his company of millions of dollars, deceiving his wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon - Dead Man Walking) and daughter Brooke (Brit Marling - Sound of My Voice) - who is also her father’s chief financial controller.
Arbitrage
   To make matters worse Miller’s affair with attractive art dealer Julie (Laetitia Castal - Gainsbourg) is brought to light after leaving the scene of an accident in which Julie is killed resulting in a Columbo like character, New York detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth from the TV series Lie to Me) being assigned to investigate the fatality which ultimately leads him to Miller.
   Just as Miller manages to get a buyer for his company that will get him out of his financial predicament he discovers his wife Ellen demanding a divorce, telling her husband that she will withdraw her alibi (that he was with her on the night of the accident) if she doesn’t get her way.
   With time running out and detective Bryer in hot pursuit, Miller is left with only a couple of choices which are left “up in the air” in the concluding scenes.
   Jarecki has done a reasonable job in his directorial debut besides writing the script for Arbitrage (which is a financial term that implies “double dealing”) but it is the performances of Gere, especially Roth, and Sarandon that make this financial thriller an entertaining experience.
VIC'S VERDICT:         3 Rubber Stamps


Looper

   Director: Rian Johnson, Tri-Star Pictures, Rated MA, 118 mins

After directing The Brothers Bloom in 2008, Rian Johnson returns with his tantalising take on time travel which forms the premise for his latest movie about an assassin who terminates those sent back in time from the future.
   The setting takes place in two time periods - 2042 and 2072 - and features Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt - The Dark Knight Rises) as an assassin or “looper” who is shown in the opening scenes standing beside a mat in an open field and then shooting the sudden appearance of a person with a bag over his head before taking the silver bars off his back and speeding away.   After each hit, Joe’s life reverts to having fun with girls at clubs (as well as taking drugs) until the day that an older Joe (Bruce Willis - Die Hard series) appears on the scene but before Joe has the chance to shoot him, Joe senior breaks away from him.
Looper
   Joe junior is later told by his older self that the mob’s head honcho in 2072 is causing colossal chaos in that time period and that Joe senior’s aim is to find him as a child in 2042 and kill him before he assumes his powerful position.
   For letting Joe senior escape, the younger Joe is forced to run away from the present mob, headed by Abe (Jeff Daniels - State of Play), coming across a farm where Sara (Emily Blunt - The Adjustment Bureau) lives with her strange son Cid (played by child actor Pierce Ganon - The Way Home).
   Soon the present and future Joe come together in a thrilling conclusion that will either see the young Cid live or die.
   Johnson’s Looper is a smart, sci-fi thriller with an original script (also written by Johnson) and a well chosen cast, not to mention the highly enjoyable performances from Willis, Gordon-Levitt and Blunt.
   With his latest release Johnson has demonstrated that he is a talented filmmaker who has added a refreshing storyline to the sci-fi genre.

VIC'S VERDICT:         4 Rubber Stamps

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