Thursday, September 6, 2012

Robert Redford Keeps Good Company

Robert Redford The Company You Keep
(Venice, Italy)  Robert Redford is 76-years-old, and though he's got wrinkles on his face, his energy has not diminished. He has grown wise. Like fine-wine, he has aged to perfection, and is now a richer, deeper Robert Redford. 

Susan Sarandon
The Company You Keep, which Redford directed and stars in, answers the question: Where is the Weather Underground today? The Weather Underground was a group of white radical students in the late 60s, early 70s who decided to use violence to get the US government's attention because peaceful protests weren't working. It would be as if a radical sector of the Occupy Wall Street movement decided to start blowing up Goldman Sachs and Bank of America and Citibank because nothing was changing. Ordinary people do not usually start blowing things up unless they are enraged, and one thing the Weathermen were enraged about was being forced to go to Vietnam and fight a war that no one wanted.

Think about it: if your options are to be forced to go to war and kill innocent people, and/or die yourself, and/or come back without your legs -- as opposed to hitting the symbols that are forcing you to do such a thing -- if you are an American with certain principles being forced to take an extreme position against your will -- you might just decide to blow up the Department of State, or the Pentagon, or the Capitol. (Which is one reason why there is no draft today.)

I am from the school that thinks violence begets violence, so I don't go along with it. But that's just me.

From Wikipedia:

The bombing attacks mostly targeted government buildings, along with several banks. Most were preceded by evacuation warnings, along with communiqués identifying the particular matter that the attack was intended to protest. For the bombing of the United States Capitol on March 1, 1971, they issued a communiqué saying it was "in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos". For the bombing of the Pentagon on May 19, 1972, they stated it was "in retaliation for the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi". For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the United States Department of State building, they stated it was "in response to escalation in Vietnam."

From the production notes:

Jim Grant (Robert Redford) is a civil rights lawyer and single father raising his daughter in the tranquil suburbs of Albany, New York. His world is turned upside down when a brash young reporter named Ben Shepard (Shia LaBeouf) exposes Grant's true identity as a former 1970s antiwar radical fugitive wanted for murder. After living for more than 30 years underground as a lawyer, Grant must now go on the run. He is the center of a nationwide manhunt, and with the FBI in hot pursuit, he sets off on a cross-country journey to track down the one person that can clear his name.

During the press conference, Robert Redford said he was not part of the movement, and although he sympathized, he did not get involved with it. He said the movement felt that it was hypocritical for the United States government to claim to be for equal opportunity and freedom of speech if Americans did not have those rights themselves.

More from the production notes: "I was raising a family and starting a career, so I wasn't politically involved at the time. If there was politics in my life, it was all activism centered around the environment. On the other hand, I had a lot of friends who were involved. I saw what was happening; I could see what was the good of it. The reason people were so passionate was because there was a draft then... People didn't want to fight a war they didn't believe in and so they rebelled against it. I sympathized with that at the time, but I didn't get involved." 
Speaking about today's political climate, Redford said that back then, there wasn't such bipartisan extremism as there is today, and that the upcoming American election is about change. Obama's side accepts that change is inevitable, and wants to make it positive. The other side is afraid of change and will do anything to prevent it.

Julie Christie
It was great to see Julie Christie and Nick Nolte, who are both 71-years-old, back on the screen, along with the always-fabulous Susan Sarandon, who will be 66 in a few weeks. And 26-year-old Shia LaBeouf was terrific as the tenacious reporter in relentless pursuit of the story.

Here is the Hollywood Reporter review by David Rooney:

Shia LaBeouf
VENICE – Robert Redford does his most compelling work in some time as both actor and director in The Company You Keep, a tense yet admirably restrained thriller about a fugitive forced out of hiding after 30 years to prove his innocence. Adapted with clarity and intelligence by Lem Dobbs from Neil Gordon’s novel, and lent distinguishing heft by its roster of screen veterans, this gripping drama provides an absorbing reflection on the courage and cost of dissent.

Someone asked Redford that since he had a German wife, if he liked being in Europe. He said that he was very, very envious of Europe because of its culture and age. He said that the US was powerful because of its physical environment, but since it is only 200 years old, it is lacking in culture. Speaking of Venice, Redford said, "Just the fact that it is here is a miracle!" I quite agree.

Palazzo Ducale - More than 1000 years old
Ciao from Venezia,

(Robert Redford is on the Red Carpet right now as I type this, and he sure looks good:)

1 comment:

  1. Robert Redford is 76-years-old, and though he's got wrinkles on his face, his energy has not diminished. He has grown wise. Like fine-wine, he has aged to perfection, and is now a richer, deeper Robert Redford.