After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through New York City’s underworld in an increasingly desperate-and dangerous-attempt to get his brother out of jail.
Good Time has gotten lots of buzz ever since it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May, but I was ultimately let down by what I got here. A24 is known for releasing masterful films with distinctive and creative styles, but the directors’ vision here didn’t work for me. Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Jason Leigh are both great in their roles and carry their scenes very well. Pattinson disappears in his role and Leigh is able to make her scenes interesting, but the overly shaky cinematography and choppy editing toolots of the interest out of the film. Some scenes are written well, and the movie is written as a nonstop ride of sorts, but the film never stops to show us why the characters are doing what they’re doing or why they’re in these situations. The film makes too many cuts throught scenes that could have been more interesting of the camerawork wasn’t so handheld and distracting. The retro score is also edited badly into the film and even annoying and unnecessary in some scenes. We are never given time to feel for our characters or understand why we should root for them, and some of these characters barely served a point. There are lots of scenes that are supposed to be human conversations to make us care for our characters more, but none of that really got me engaged. The intensity in the final act didn’t keep me thrilled at all, and the ending is extremely predictable. By the end, even as the credits roll over the final scene, we are left with nothing to think about or reflect on about what this movie offered. It starts out as a film about brotherhood, and by the end not even the writers know what it’s about. I love crime movies and I think this movie had lots of potential, but despite the critical acclaim, the great acting, and a few well-written scenes, Good Time was ultimately forgettable and failed to live up to the promise of its title.
In Kathryn Bieglow’s latest film, she takes on the 1967 Detroit riot that shook the city forever. Bigelow has done a great job taking on true stories before, like the Iraq War in The Hurt Locker and the assassination of bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty, both of which are great films that had me excited for this one. Here, Bigelow’s directing does not fail to stand out. She’s the most successful female director in Hollywood and it’s not hard to see why. The story is depicted mostly in the events of one night, in which the police raid of a motel generates horrible results. Although the setting is mostly small, these scenes are powerful and have lots of meaning in them. The cast is great, including Star Wars‘ John Boyega and especially Will Poulter as a ruthlessly racist white cop, but the real star is newcomer Algee Smith, who plays a musician who is emotionally scarred after the horrifying events of the film. He demonstrates lots of talent through his expression of fear and humanity in the movie. The first 45 minutes are slow and messy, as the historical concept is first introduced, and then we are given many characters to follow without any plot being brought forward until after this long first act. The directing was always great, but the writing in this first part could have been improved, and Barry Ackroyd’s style of quick cuts and handheld cam doesn’t quite work here. However, once the intensity kicked in, the writing became much more interesting and I was on the edge of my seat. The depiction of the excessive violence that the police unnecessarily used on the blacks in this time is painful to watch, and not just because you know it really happened, but because these situations still happen today and nothing his really changed since those violent and awful times. The scariest thing about Detroit is that the theme in the movie not only stands for the time period and the city it takes place in, but what is happening all over the country even today, and that change must be made. The ending is frustratingly realistic but has a point to prove and a state to make, one that will stay with you and hopefully inspire us all to move toward peace.
Kathryn Bigelow has made another great true story with Detroit, a difficult and realistic but moving feature that although not one of the best films of the year, it’s one of the most necessary. It takes on important themes like racism and violence, and is a moving history lesson that has a relevant message to both the past and the present.
The Big Sick is the true story of actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani, playing himself in the main role. He wrote the film with his wife Emily V. Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan in the film), and this tells the story of their relationship and how it was complicated by Emily’s sickness, as well as Kumail’s Pakistani culture.
Neither comedy nor romance are up there on the list of my favorite genres, although I’m not saying I don’t like those genres, because I really do. However, most films in those genres nowadays tend to feel recycled and often the same. However, movies like The Big Sick that try to reinvent the rom-com genre (or one of the genres alone) and stay way from the usual tropes, but still remain a film for the mainstream audience, really intrigue me. The rave reviews have gotten me interested and I sure wasn’t let down considering what this film had to offer. The story is touching and I was interested with the fact that Kumail starred in a film about himself and a story that was personally important to him. It’s not a groundbreaking true story in any way, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s just a smart story about love and relations between cultures. Its modern relevance and terrific humor make it a treat to watch from smart to finish. There was hardly a dull moment, and although a subplot involving Kumail’s stand-up career and his friends could have been developed slightly more and wasn’t as engaging as the rest of the film, I wasn’t really ever pulled out of the film during its 2-hour runtime. Kumail is hilarious and heartwarming and carries the film wonderfully. Of course someone can deliver a great performance as themselves, but he was able to bring something from himself that audiences can connect to and enjoy about his own personality. The way he tells his story is so much fun, and the script from him and his wife is sincere, humorous, and emotionally effective although light-hearted. Zoe Kazan is well-casted as Emily, Kumail’s wife, and she had great chemistry with him as well. An important scene with her character didn’t completely convince me like I hoped in terms of her acting, but most of the time she was able to bring some heart to the screen. There’s also some big names in the film: Ray Romano and Holly Hunter as Emily’s parents. Both of those actors are great, especially Romano, who is hilarious and a fun character to watch and connect with. Hunter is also impressive and the chemistry both the actors have with Kumail on screen is very well done, considering it’s a huge part of the film. By the end of the movie, I was left thinking about the small yet important story that managed to bring a smile on my face, even though the story doesn’t quite wrap up like expected, and this movie proved that you don’t need a huge budget or plot to have a great film that people can connect and have a good time with.
I overall loved the culturally relevant autobiographical true story The Big Sick had to offer, as well as the acting, humor, and terrific writing. This has something in store for all audiences, and one of the more touching films in theaters right now, if you’re looking for a great comedy that has something that will stick with you beyond the laughs.