The Company You Keep

discs header what maisie knew

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. What Maisie Knew Maisie (Onata Aprile) is stuck in an all too familiar place as her parents, Susanna (Julianne Moore) and Beale (Steve Coogan), fight their way through a bitter divorce and custody battle. She’s shuttled between the two, often left in the care of her mom’s boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard) or dad’s girlfriend (Joanna Vanderham), but when she does get time with her parents it’s too frequently as a prop or tool in their ongoing fight. The future does not look bright from Maisie’s knee-high perspective. There’s a beautiful simplicity in Scott McGehee and David Siegel‘s fifth feature that sneaks in unobtrusively between the bouts of yelling, laughter, small victories and near-constant disappointment, and the result is a movie that compels you to watch and root for the little girl at the center of a terrible situation well outside her control. Viewers are privy only to what Maisie knows, we never see what happens behind closed doors or in lawyers’ offices, and while this forced perspective could have easily turned into a gimmick, it instead feels perfectly natural and necessary here. Acting is fantastic across the board, with newcomer Aprile being a true standout, and you really shouldn’t let the fact that Rex Reed is quoted on both the front and back of the Blu/DVD turn you away from this amazing little movie. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Deleted scenes, commentary]

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Company

Shia LaBeouf has already quite effectively shrugged off his adolescent persona as a Disney kid (admittedly, though, he was always a bit of a weird one, he certainly wasn’t going to ever star in his own version of High School Musical) with a series of big blockbusters and big public bust-ups, but the actor still seems to be searching for an appropriate niche to serve his undeniable (though sometimes overshadowed) talents. Fortunately for everyone involved, LaBeouf hits his stride in Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep, a smart and serious slice of hard-boiled drama that’s long been absent from the local multiplex. LaBeouf stars as Ben Shepard, a go-getter cub reporter in upstate New York who stumbles upon the biggest story of his young career, one that unexpectedly pops up practically in his own backyard. When Sharon Solarz (Susan Sarandon) is captured by the FBI at a random gas station in New York state for a crime committed decades before, it kicks off a renewed interest in her case. A former member of the Weather Underground, Sharon and three other pals knocked over a bank back in their heyday, killing an innocent guard in the process. One of her cohorts was captured long ago, but two remain on the run, even decades later. If Sharon could hide out and live a seemingly normal life (nice husband, nice kids, nice house), who’s to say what happened to Nick Sloan and Mimi Lurie?

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The Company You Keep

Robert Redford’s Jim Grant speaks a poignant line in his latest film, The Company You Keep, stating, “Secrets are dangerous things. We all think we want to know them, but if you’ve ever kept one yourself then you understand to do so is not just knowing something about someone else, it’s discovering something about yourself.” As the film’s ominous title suggests, The Company You Keep is about uncovering secrets and what doing so can mean for the people keeping them and those desperate to reveal them. Driven by dynamic performances from an all-star cast, The Company You Keep is as much about what is said as what is not said, all underscored by a restrained, but moving score from Cliff Martinez. Martinez’s rock band roots have made him no stranger to electrifying his scores and pushing the boundaries of standard orchestration. Unlike the thriller pulse Martinez created for last year’s Arbitrage (another story about a man who is not everything he first seems), he takes a different approach to The Company You Keep relying heavily on the use of one of his go-to instruments, the baschet cristal, to create music that hovers in the background like an unwanted thought, dissonant while still being memorable.

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The Company You Keep

The sheer amount of acting prowess in The Company You Keep is staggering. It’s a veritable Expendables of adult drama, complete with the sure hand of Robert Redford on the director’s wheel (which may or may not be a thing I just made up). The story focuses on a young journalist (Shia LaBeouf) who exposes a former Weather Underground member (Redford) who has to go on the run from the law again. Beyond the director and Lem Dobbs (Dark City, The Limey) pulling screenwriting duty, the lineup includes: Sam Elliot, Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Brendan Gleeson, Brit Marling, Terrence Howard, Anna Kendrick, Nick Nolte, Stanley Tucci and Chris Cooper among others. Obviously they financed the film by melting down the award statues of the cast. Plus, the promise of the project seems fulfilled by a compelling trailer. Check it out for yourself:

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Robert Redford in The Company You Keep

The latest directorial effort from screen legend Robert Redford, The Company You Keep, was all set to make a big splash and impress distributors at the upcoming deal-making feeding grounds that are the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, but a new development is making it look like the film’s screenings at those fests are going to come off as something of an afterthought. If you’ve got a used car that you need to get rid of, or maybe some old exercise equipment lying around that you’ve been thinking of putting on eBay, then maybe you should think of having Redford write the ad copy for you, because it seems that he’s something of a salesman. THR is reporting that the director, along with his fellow producers Nicolas Chartier and Bill Holderman, have already struck a deal with Sony Pictures Classics to handle all U.S. distributions rights for the film. Based on a book by Neil Gordon, The Company You Keep stars Redford himself as a former Weather Underground militant, wanted for bank robbery and murder, who gets exposed decades after his crimes by a meddling young reporter (as played by Shia LaBeouf).

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