Good Time(4 / 5)
This seedy, ‘70s-inspired crime thriller from the Safdie Brothers might equally be called “Bad Decisions”.
It’s certainly a bad decision for hustler Connie Nikas (Robert Pattinson) to yank his developmentally-disabled brother Nick (Ben Safdie) out of therapy and bring him along on a bank robbery. And, when Nick ends up in custody as a result, it’s a bad decision for Connie, himself on the run, to set about trying to get him out; one way or another.
Taking place on the streets of New York over the course of one night, Good Time is a harsh, occasionally nightmarish descent into poverty and criminality as Connie manipulates everyone around him – his needy, emotionally volatile older girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh); the unassuming granddaughter (Taliah Webster) of a Good Samaritan; a desperate, libertine parolee (Buddy Duress) – to his own ends.
Pattinson’s performance, deceptively intense and resolutely unglamorous, is unlikely to trouble The Academy, but should hopefully net him a few well-deserved indie awards. Sean Price Williams’ grainy, neon-lit lensing and Oneohtrix Point Never’s ambient, anxiety-inducing score engrain us in Good Time‘s depiction of fucked-up people who are looking to get by as best they can and maybe occasionally do good by others.
The Post(4 / 5)
Steven Spielberg does All the President’s Men: The Post is a tale about crusading reporters and a malfeasant government that, despite its period setting, could hardly seem timelier.
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep take the lead as Ben Bradlee, the combative, husky-voiced editor of the Washington Post, and Kay Graham, its new, first female owner, a socialite used to being side-lined by the men in business situations. But when the mighty New York Times is blocked from publishing classified documents that suggest the US government has kept the Vietnam War going for political ends, the Post, then a struggling second-stringer without resources, has to decide whether to risk it all and break the story for themselves.
The film may be set in 1971 – Nixon is President and hippies are protesting in the streets – but it all feels like set dressing. The film is an object lesson for the present day; an appeal for us all to do better in this age of “fake news”, to champion principle over prudence and not to compromise ourselves. It’s also a grand, old, populist entertainment with featured turns from a remarkable cast of first-rate character actors; like Bob Odenkirk, whose natural environment seems to be stood beside a payphone, fumbling for change, as well as Bruce Greenwood, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, and many others; all at the top of their game.
All the classic Spielbergisms are present: that iconic close-up of a face, lit as if in revelation, here by the glow of a photocopier; an elegant, evocative John Williams score; Janusz Kamiński’s crisp, stately cinematography. The Post may not be “the film we need right now”, but as expertly-made Oscar bait, it certainly had me hooked.