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Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

July 4, 2017 by  



“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is a fascinating film and possibly one of the best performances in Richard Gere’s career.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2016 Oppenheimer Strategies, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE: Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

YEAR OF FILM: 2016

DURATION: 110 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English, English SDH – Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional), French

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Classics

RATED: R (Some Language)

AVAILABLE ON: July 11, 2017


Directed by Joseph Cedar

Written by Joseph Cedar

Produced by Miranda Bailey, Lawrence Inglee, David Mandil, Oren Moverman, Eyal Rimmon, Gideo Tadmor

Executive Produced by Michael Graidy, Caroline Kaplan, Jim Kaufman, Amanda Marshall

Co-Producer: Luca Borghese, Carrie Fix

Associate Producer: Racheli Sternberg

Music by Jun Miyake

Cinematography by Yaron Scharf

Edited by Brian A. Kates

Casting by Jodi Angstreich, Laura Rosenthal, Hila Yuval

Production Design by Kalina Ivanov, Arad Sawat

Art Direction by Barbara Matis

Set Decoration by Joanne Ling

Art Direction by Barbara Matis

Costume Design by Michelle Matland


Starring:

Richard Gere as Norman Oppenheimer

Lior Ashkenazi as Micha Eshel

Michael Sheen as Philip Cohen

Charlotte Gainsbourg as Alex Green

Dan Stevens as Bill Kavish

Steve Buscemi as Rabbi Blumenthal

Jonathan Avigdori as Lior Keshet

Yehuda Almagor as Duvy

Caitlin O’Connell as Sister Agnes

Hank Azaria as Srul Katz

Harris Yulin as Jo Wilf


Norman Oppenheimer (Richard Gere) lives a lonely life in the margins of New York City power and money, and strives to be everyone’s friend. His incessant networking leads him nowhere until he ends up befriending a young but charismatic politician, Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi), at a low point in his life. Three years later, the politician becomes the Prime Minister of Israel. Norman uses Eshel’s name to leverage his biggest deal ever: a series of quid pro quo transactions linking the Prime Minister to Norman’s nephew (Michael Sheen), a rabbi (Steve Buscemi), a mogul (Harris Yulin), his assistant (Dan Stevens) and a treasury official from the Ivory Coast. Norman’s plans soon go awry, creating the potential for an international catastrophe he must struggle to prevent. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is a comedic and compassionate drama of a man whose downfall is rooted in a human frailty all too easy to forgive—a need to matter.


Have you ever met a person, seems like they know everyone, seems like they are very well connected but in truth, they probably are not.

This is the premise of director/writer Joseph Cedar’s “Norman”.  Cedar, best known for films such as “Footnote”, “Beaufort” and “Campfire” has crafted a fascinating film which stars Richard Gere (“Pretty Woman”, “Days of Heaven”, “Hachi”, “Primal Fear”), Lior Ashkenazi (“Big Bad Wolves”, “Walk on Water”, “Footnote”), Michael Sheen (“Kingdom of Heaven”, “Midnight in Paris”, “Underworld”), Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Nymphomaniac” films, “Melancholia”, “Antichrist”), Dan Stevens (“Downton Abbey”, “The Guest”, “Beauty and the Beast”), Steve Buscemi (“Fargo”, “Armageddon”, “Reservoir Dogs”), Jonathan Avigdori (“The Blacklist”, “Elementary”, “The Unit”) and Hank Azaria (“The Simpsons”, “, “The Smurfs”, “Godzilla”).

And now “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” will be available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The film revolves around a man named Norman Oppenheimer (portrayed by Richard Gere), a persistent consultant who claims to know everyone important, name drops consistently and always offers to introduce a person to major players in the city.

But does Norman really know these people and do they really know him?

We often see Norman talking with people but the only one he truly has conversations with is with his nephew, Wall Street lawyer Philip Cohen (portrayed by Michael Sheen).

But with everyone else, Norman talks as if he has known people for many years, knows when to take advantage of opportunities but when asked of how he knows these individuals, he clams up and becomes vague.

In truth, Norman is a person who networks to know end, wanting to be part of an important circle, wanting to be important.  And Norman would get the opportunity when he meets an Israeli politician named Micha Eshel (portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi), who happens to be visiting New York.  Seeing the man as great potential to further his networking abilities, Norman offers to pay for expensive Lanvin shoes that Eshel was lookinga t.

Remembering the generosity of Norman, three years later, Micha Eshel has become the Israel Prime Minister.  And because of that generosity that Norman gave to him three years ago, Eshel introduces Norman to the political elites, to the chagrin of Eshel’s political aides.

Seeing this as a way to use his contacts, Norman begins to make promises to New York’s Jewish community, including rabbi Blumenthal (portrayed by Steve Buscemi) and the more exaggerations that Norman creates, especially towards an investigator Alex Green (portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg), the more problems he creates for himself as he is unable to keep those promises.  Or can he?


VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Audio Description Track 5.1 Dolby Digital.

Picture quality is as good as one can expect on DVD and I didn’t notice any major artifacts or problems with video. Dialogue is primarily dialogue-driven with surround channels is primarily used for ambiance.  But for the most part, picture and audio quality on DVD is very good.

Subtitles are presented in English, English SDH, Chinese (Traditional) and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” comes with the following special features:

  • Making the Connection: Norman on the Red Carpet – (4:35) The cast and crew discuss working on the film and interviews on the red carpet.
  • An Evening with Norman – (22:48) A post-screening Q&A with director Joseph Cedar and actor, Richard Gere.
  • Theatrical Trailer

I think that many people have met a person like “Norman” in their lifetime, in fact there are those who probably have that generous side of “Norman” within them.  Wanting to help people, making promises that they may or may not keep and happen to know a lot of people.

Having worked in the political and also the entertainment industry, meeting people like Norman is commonplace.  Doing things that Norman would do is commonplace ala “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” mentality of giving favors and expecting a favor back.

That’s all good and normal but in the case of Norman Oppenheimer, we have a man who lives his life consistently meeting people, networking with people, claiming to know everyone, trying to connect anyone with those people.  They are fueled by it, they are consumed by it and they make promises and never think of the ramifications of what if it doesn’t pan out?

Filmmaker Joseph Cedar has managed to create a great character study of Norman Oppenheimer but what makes this film work is the wonderful acting performance of Richard Gere.

Norman is a man that is persistent.  Finding ways to get invited to top politicians parties (or just showing up and getting inside their homes), knowing the routines of politicians or leaders when they are on their morning jog or just knowing when to strike when the opportunity is hot.  He’s out there, he knows his role and for the most part, Norman does a great job of meeting people and name dropping.  But when he is asked how he knows certain individuals, he clams up.  He doesn’t know what to say, so he plays naive, as if he’s a man that doesn’t want to reveal anything but in truth, he doesn’t know much about the person and vice versa.

And life for Norman changes dramatically when he helps a politician from Israel, Micha Eschel (portrayed by Lior Ashkenazi) by buying him expensive shoes.  It was a major risk but the generosity is remembered by Michael three years later once he becomes the Israel Prime Minister and all of a sudden, Norman is jettisoned into Eschel’s inner circle and meeting key politicians, leaders.

Problem is…he then starts to use these contacts to make promises towards his fellow Jewish community leaders.  And even worse, he starts spouting exaggerations to an investigator named Alex Green (portrayed by Charlotte Gainsbourg) who specializes in political corruption.

Needless to say, Norman is not aware of how his exaggerations are causing problems nor does he know how badly he has screwed up.  Or has he?

It’s a fascinating and fresh film that you don’t usually see all that much but writer/director Joseph Cedar did a solid job in crafting this film.

The DVD looks great but if you want the best quality, you definitely will want to watch this film on Blu-ray.  The DVD also comes with a few special features as well including a Q&A with Cedar and Richard Gere.

Overall, “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” is a fascinating film and possibly one of the best performances in Richard Gere’s career.  Recommended!







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