CVIndependent

Sun09242017

Last updateFri, 16 Sep 2016 12pm

Richard Gere delivers one of his very best performances as the titular Norman, a New York “businessman” who doesn’t really have a business or a job.

He’s a mysterious, earbud-wearing, graying man riding the trains and grabbing crackers for dinner at the local synagogue—with big aspirations. A self-professed “good swimmer” fighting to stay afloat, Norman finds himself in the company of an up-and-coming Israeli politician (an excellent Lior Ashkenazi), and in a moment of generosity/desperateness, Norman buys the man a pair of shoes. That gesture earns him good favor—as the politician becomes the Israeli prime minister. With big friends comes more notoriety, and Norman finds himself involved in political intrigue and rising responsibility within the New York City Jewish community.

Gere, who basically shrinks himself under a sun cap and trench coat here, sparkles in the role, making Norman a memorable, likable and appropriately annoying character.

Supporting performances from Dan Stevens, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Steve Buscemi round out an excellent cast. Director Joseph Cedar presents the story in a surprisingly layered, often-funny fashion, with definite tragedy at its center.

Gere’s work here is some of the year’s best so far.

Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is now playing at the Regal Palm Springs Stadium 9 (789 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs; 844-462-7342) and the Century Theatres at The River (71800 Highway 111, Rancho Mirage; 760-836-1940).

Published in Reviews

Quentin Tarantino called Big Bad Wolves the best film of 2013. While I wouldn’t go that far, I will declare it last year’s best horror film—and a tremendous filmmaking feat from directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. They figured out how to wring laughter out of a movie that features child abductions and murders, extreme torture and police beatings.

When a girl goes missing and is eventually murdered, a cop turned vigilante, Micki (Lior Ashkenazi), and the girl’s father, Gidi (Tzahi Grad), wind up taking matters into their own hands with a suspect, Dror (Rotem Keinan).

The three partake in a grueling session of psychological and physical torture aimed at revealing the murderer of Gidi’s daughter and other children. Dror, Gidi and Micki all become good, classic suspects in the child murders. Dror, a nebbish type with a young daughter of his own, seems too innocuous to be innocent. Gidi, a former member of the Lebanese army, is a little too sick in his torture methods to be completely exonerated. Micki, although he seems good-natured and perhaps moral, has a sadistic side for sure.

The whole film wouldn’t work if any of these actors were off by one beat. Keinan is especially good at garnering sympathy while possibly depicting one of the worst kinds of people to ever walk the planet. This is a film in which the torturer who has lost his child and the cop trying to bring the murderer to justice are, more or less, the bad guys.

The film is available via various online sources, including iTunes and Amazon.com.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing