Nicholas Jarecki cut his teeth working in documentaries, the same genre in which his brothers, Andrew and Eugene made their first and best-known marks. Andrew broke into narrative filmmaking last year with the lackluster Ryan Gosling-starring All Good Things, and now Nicholas follows his brother into fiction with Arbitrage. Taking its name from a financial practice that may only be familiar to econ majors and those who spend a lot of time watching CNBC, the film isn’t quite as dry as that title might suggest. The financial misdeeds of its primary character, played by Richard Gere, might be the spark for the plot, but there’s also a murder, a cover-up, and a police investigation led by Tim Roth, as well as Gere’s character’s difficulties keeping the details of his failing empire from his wife (Susan Sarandon) and CFO daughter (current indie darling Brit Marling). Early reviews have been largely positive, especially regarding Gere’s ability to garner sympathy for a hustling Wall Street one-percenter.
Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing, the directors of the Oscar-nominated Jesus Camp, turn their cameras on Ewing’s home city of Detroit for a poetic state-of-the-city film that showcases the indomitable spirit of its people, even as the ravages of the economy and the departure of much of the auto industry attempt to grind them down. Grady and Ewing don’t try to get into great policy detail about the road that has led the city to its dire situation, nor do they offer up solutions; this is documentary as observational portraiture. As such, they follow a diverse handful of Detroiters over a period of time, as they explore the ruins of the once booming city and attempt to adjust their lives to the stark realities of the present and the uncertainties of the future. The film is inspiring thanks to the unflagging spirit of its subjects, but also doesn’t shy away from the harsh and often depressing realities of modern Detroit.
For more about the film, be sure to check out yesterday’s interview with Grady, the co-director and a Washington native.over at Washingtonian.
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