Great art is often derived from tragedy so it makes perfect sense that the economic crisis has been the subject of so many recent movies. Arbitrage, the directorial debut of Nicholas Jarecki, is the latest in a continuing line of films concerning the troubled economy and one of the best yet.

Richard Gere plays Robert Miller, a billionaire CEO who is trying to sell his company. He’s also cheating on his wife (Susan Sarandon), deceiving his co-worker/daughter (Brit Marling), and he eventually gets wrapped up in police investigation run by Tim Roth.

It all sounds so cliche, but Jarecki’s script transcends that by giving his audience real issues to chew on and characters to learn from. Arbitrage had its world premiere at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and you can read more after the jump.

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Nicole Kidman‘s Blossom Films and Olympus Films have teamed up to acquire the movie rights for Kevin Wilson‘s bestselling book The Family Fang, which they plan to develop as a starring vehicle for Kidman. The two companies previously collaborated on Rabbit Hole, for which Kidman received a Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Wilson’s debut novel centers around a couple of performance artists who regularly incorporate their unwilling children into their bizarre acts. Years later, misfortune prompts the now-grown son and daughter to return home, where they find their parents gearing up for one final masterpiece. [Deadline]

After the jump, New Line pulls together an intriguing shortlist for Burt Wonderstone‘s female lead, and The East‘s terrorist organization gets one more member.

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Robert Redford‘s directorial effort The Company You Keep already boasts a top-notch cast, with Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Brit Marling, Shia LaBeouf, Stanley Tucci, Richard Jenkins, Stephen Root, and Redford himself all signed on. But apparently,there’s still room on the roster for more impressive talent. Anna Kendrick, Terrence Howard, Brendan Gleeson, and Sam Elliott have just boarded the cast of the political thriller, along with 11-year-old newcomer (and America’s Got Talent finalist) Jackie Evancho.

The Lem Dobbs-scripted adaptation of Neil Gordon‘s novel centers around Jim Grant (Redford), a former Weather Underground member who’s been on the FBI’s wanted list for the past three decades. When a determined young reporter uncovers the truth about his past, he’s forced to go on the run. With so many new actors joining up, there’s a lot of info to sort through, so hit the jump for more info on their roles.

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The more people get cast in Zal Batmanglij‘s The East, the more interesting it sounds. The latest addition is the always excellent Patricia Clarkson, who’ll play the boss of co-writer and star Brit Marling.

The thriller revolves around an agent (Marling) from a private security firm who is tasked with infiltrating a terrorist group called The East. Once she’s in, however, she finds herself falling for the group’s leader, probably because he looks exactly like Alexander Skarsgard. Other recent additions to the cast have been Ellen Page as Skarsgard’s ex and another member of the organization, and Toby Kebbell as a doctor who takes a tainted drug and develops Parkinson’s-like symptoms. [The Playlist]

After the jump, Octavia Spencer goes to Vegas and Michael Angarano goes home.

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M.C. Gainey, a.k.a. Mr. Friendly on Lost, has entered negotiations to star in Quentin Tarantino‘s Django Unchained as what sounds like one of the nastiest characters in a film filled with vile characters. Gainey is up for the part of Big John Brittle, an overseer at the Carrucan Plantation who sets the plot in motion by raping Django’s wife Broomhilda and branding Django’s cheek with the letter ‘R’ (for “runaway”). Django (Jamie Foxx) goes on to team up with Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), a German bounty hunter interested in the large reward on Big John, to free his wife from the clutches of villainous plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

Gerald McRaney, Dennis Christopher, and Laura Cayouette are also signed on to star in the “Southern-fried spaghetti Western,” while Kurt Russell is in talks to replace Kevin Costner as Candie’s right-hand man Ace Woody. Production is expected to begin next month for a Christmas 2012 release. [Variety]

After the jump, RocknRolla star Toby Kebbell goes East, while Rose McGowan heads to Napa.

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Ellen Page is in final negotiations to star with Brit Marling and Alexander Skarsgard in The East, Zal Batmanglij‘s thriller about a mysterious eco-terrorism organization called The East. Marling, who co-wrote the script with Batmanglij, leads as an undercover agent who infiltrates the group but then finds herself developing feelings for the group’s leader (Skarsgard). Page will play Izzy, a member of The East and Skarsgard’s ex, who becomes jealous of relationship between Marling and Skarsgard. Page replaces Felicity Jones, who had to drop out of the project due to press commitments for Like Crazy.

The addition of the Oscar-nominated Page should add even more buzz to a film that’s already been getting plenty of it. Marling and Batmanglij broke out at this year’s Sundance with Sound of my Voice, and True Blood star Skarsgard has a handful of interesting projects in the works. Page’s next big-screen appearance will be in next year’s Woody Allen-directed Bop Decameron, alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Penelope Cruz, and Alec Baldwin.

The East is set to begin shooting in Nashville in October. [Variety]

After the jump, Anthony Mackie dreams up a new project for himself and Tom Everett Scott pairs up with Marisa Tomei.

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Stanley Tucci and Chris Cooper have become the latest additions to Robert Redford‘s The Company You Keep, a thriller based on the novel by Neil Gordon. The film boasts quite a strong cast already — Julie Christie, Susan Sarandon, Nick Nolte, Brit Marling, Shia LaBeouf, and Redford himself are all set to star as well. The script, by Lem Dobbs, centers around a former Weather Underground member (Redford) who’s forced to go on the run when a determined reporter (LaBeouf) exposes his identity.

Tucci will take the part of LaBeouf’s editor. Cooper plays the brother of Redford’s character, who cares for his niece (Marling, perhaps) when her father disappears. [The Playlist]

After the jump, two Red State stars get very different roles: Nicholas Braun signs on for the sci-fi action comedy Neighborhood Watch, while Kerry Bishé gets deadly serious in Argo.

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Briefly: You can probably call this the constant lineup of actresses that will test or be wishlisted for a great many lead female roles over the next year. Variety reports that Joeseph Kosinski is testing Jessica Chastain, Olga Kurylenko, Brit Marling, Noomi Rapace and Olivia Wilde for the lead female role opposite Tom Cruise in his latest film. The movie has been called Oblivion, and at once point looked like it would be renamed Horizons. When it moved to Universal from Disney, Oblivion was the title in play once more, but it looks like they’re going back to Horizons for the time being.

Regardless, the plot is the same:”In a future where the Earth’s surface has been irradiated beyond recognition, the remnants of humanity live above the clouds, safe from the brutal alien Scavengers that stalk the ruins. But when surface drone repairman Jak discovers a mysterious woman in a crash-landed pod, it sets off an unstoppable chain of events that will force him to question everything he knows.” Karl Gajdusek‘s rewrote William Monahan‘s script, which in turn was based on the original story hatched by Joseph Kosinski and Arvid Nelson.

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