The Company You Keep
Well, good people, it’s time to stop and smell the cinematic roses, as Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep” is a fine film on multiple levels. To begin with, while you may have known that this intriguing drama stars both Mr. Redford and Shia LaBeouf, did you know that Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Chris Cooper, Richard Jenkins, Terrence Howard, Stanley Tucci, Anna Kendrick, Brendon Gleeson and Sam Elliott are also in this film? Isn’t that enough to pry you out of your malaise and get into the theater to see what this film is all about?
It centers on suspected members of the Weather Underground from the 1970s being arrested in New York 30 years after their alleged involvement in a bank robbery that resulted in a guard being killed. Susan Sarandon’s Sharon Solarz, the mother of two, was arrested in New York by the FBI while trying to turn herself in, and Robert Redford’s character is forced on the run as her suspected accomplice. Mr. Redford, playing the widowed father of a 12-year-old daughter, is at his laconic best as a lawyer trying to protect his past while not revealing the involvement of old friends.
Despite the fact that these old Vietnam War protesters have kept a tight bond despite hiding from public view for three decades, it comes unraveled with the work of a young newspaperman played by Mr. LaBeouf. Fighting to keep his job, he is the first one to track the intentions of Mr. Redford’s character as he flees to the Midwest. Is he trying to protect himself or simply others?
In the process, Mr. Redford’s Nick Sloan reunites with his old lover, Mimi, played by the still beautiful
Ms. Christie. How can you possibly save yourself if it involves sending someone forever etched on your soul to prison? Watching their characters confront each other is as mesmerizing as it is moving, and you end up reliving your reflections of both as actors as they relive their relationship as young protesters who were convinced they were fighting on the right side of justice.
The value of “The Company You Keep” extends beyond its entertainment as a film. Even if you are too young to have experienced the turmoil surrounding the Vietnam War debacle of the 1960s and 70s, you need to remember.
Tragically, Sloan’s young friends did the unthinkable by robbing a bank when their protest deepened. While certainly inexcusable, over 50,000 young American boys were to die in Vietnam while our government and others ignored the consequences. A 1969 college graduate, I, like many, continued peaceful protests. Yet how could we really condemn protests turning to violence after college kids were gunned down at Kent State in 1968?
Finally, if you want to see a brilliant film that plays upon the theme captured by Mr. Redford, then go see Sidney Lumet’s “Running on Empty” (1988). The late River Phoenix was unforgettable as a young kid constantly running for years with his parents and sister as a result of the bombing of a “Dow-like” building where a janitor was killed. With the help of old friends like that experienced by the characters of Mr. Redford, Ms. Sarandon and Ms. Christie, Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti were hunted parents who could never spend more than several months at any location. Like the characters of Redford and Sarandon, they had a child who had to be released into the real world, a move that would forever separate them from one another.
While “The Company You Keep” embraces cerebral themes as opposed to “Running on Empty’s” emotional foundation, they both help you understand the consequences of opposing your government’s perfidy in sending massive numbers of young Americans to an undeserved grave. Mistakes were made by parents in both movies when they were young and inspired, but the deaths they inadvertently caused did not compare to those lying in Vietnam’s ashes.
Who was really at fault and who was to blame? You tell me.
Star Trek Into Darkness
I find it safe to say that most of you will find J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness” to be a completely fun ride. While you don’t need to be a fan of the old TV series, the film won’t disappoint if you find yourself in that league.
While William Shatner certainly wishes he had Chris Pine’s penetrating blue eyes, they both are chips off the same Captain Kirk block. Arrogant yet caring and bullheaded to a fault, they will always find the ability to lead the Enterprise out of the cauldron they created.
Zachary Quinto is a young Mr. Spock, whose dedication to intellect over emotion frequently annoys his comrades, not to mention himself. While Spock and Kirk often battle, they would give their lives for the other.
Furthermore, Karl Urban strikes the right chord as the pugnacious Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy, and he helps you remember the fun brought to the screen by the late DeForest Kelley. In addition, Simon Pegg, the very funny Englishman who I hope you have seen in such scatological endearing films as “Paul” (2011), “Hot Fuzz” (2007), and “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), makes the neurotic Scotty a full-time treat.
But the film clicks due to a wonderful performance by Benedict Cumberbatch, here playing Khan, a human-looking ball of destruction. As a result of shedding the necessity of artificial makeup, Cumberbatch’s Khan has been able to survive the centuries for one specific purpose, namely to get even with everyone. He’s a great villain.
Finally, the success of the film centers on a group of friends rediscovering each other’s strengths while gradually rejecting their personal weaknesses. They all need to be reeled in at times, and Spock is helped immensely from the fact that he is in love with Uhura. Zoe Saldana is able to do a lot with very little, and her Uhura is able to pierce Spock’s heart in the same way her Neytiri did to Sam Worthington in “Avatar” (2009).
Climb aboard and blast off.•
Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis. When he is not in the courtroom or working diligently in his Pennsylvania Street office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters watching and preparing to review the latest films. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.