Alex Sitaras: One of the films I’m most looking forward to this month is Good Time (dir. Ben and Josh Safdie). The film stars Robert Pattinson as a man who tries to get his brother out of jail after a bank robbery goes wrong. The story takes place in Queens, New York, the same location that the Safdie Brothers’ prior film Heaven Knows What took place. Robert Pattinson’s performance has been praised and he takes on a long-haired, raggedy look for the film. The film has earned comparisons to crime dramas like Taxi Driver.
Matt Schlee: Jennifer Jason Leigh co-stars in the film, and from my perspective she’s a fairly underappreciated actress who tends to out perform expectations. I’m not particularly familiar with this directing duo, but my interest has risen as the film’s positive reception has rolled in. I hadn’t heard the Taxi Driver comparison but of course I’m a big fan of that film so it adds to my interest in this one.
Alex: I don’t think I knew about the Safdie Brothers until it was announced that Good Time would compete for the Palme d’Or. Watching their press conference has me interested for the film though. They place characters at the center of their films and create detailed biographies of each major character from their moment of birth to the first moment of the movie. It’s a rather interesting way to create characters and should hopefully make viewing the film an immersive experience.
Matt: Steven Soderbergh has a new film coming out called Logan Lucky. The film is a crime comedy and returns to the heist genre which Soderbergh has visited frequently in his Oceans franchise. Rather than the sophisticated casino heist, this film takes on a heist during a NASCAR race, so perhaps you will get more of a blue collar spin on Soderbergh’s heist formula.
The movie has an extremely impressive cast list including Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig, Adam Driver, Riley Keough, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Hillary Swank, and more. I do think that this raises some flash over substance concerns but hopefully Soderbergh will prove me wrong.
I can’t say that I’ve been a tremendous fan of Soderbergh’s work personally, but he has had some success with ensemble films and he’s had some major audience pleasers throughout his career.
Alex: Logan Lucky (as does Good Time to an extent) just looks like a fun movie to watch. It seems to be a lighthearted way for Soderbergh to return to directing after he announced his ‘retirement’ a few years ago. He also reportedly just finished shooting a film using iPhones, so we might see even more Soderbergh in theaters soon as well.
Another film that I’m kind of curious about is Marjorie Prime (dir. Michael Almereyda). I wasn’t aware of this film until a few days ago when its trailer was released. The film stars Jon Hamm as the younger version- via a holographic projection- of an elderly woman’s deceased husband. The film stars Lois Smith as Marjorie. It’s loosely reminiscent of Her and looks to evoke many of the same emotions when viewing. The interesting thing about these kinds of films, for me at least, is how close we are to having these films not be science fiction, but rather drama. Amazon’s Alexa is one step closer to Samantha in Her and I have no doubt we’ll be able to create commonplace holographic projections of people (hello hologram Tupac) that can interact with us similar to real-life people. There’s the debate whether one should allow oneself to experience emotions in response to artificial intelligence and films like Her and Marjorie Prime attempt to address this idea as a theme in their stories. Marjorie Prime also features a soundtrack from Mica Levi (Under the Skin, Jackie).
Matt: I can definitely see the comparison to Her. It’s an important issue that is going to affect all of us in the 21st century. I have several Alexa enabled devices in my home and so the ethical and privacy implications of this technology is something that I think about pretty regularly. AI technology is advancing at a rapid pace and a lot of academics are exploring the kind of future that this technology could lead to. Marjorie Prime looks like a compelling exploration of these issues and I like that it addresses an older person trying to reach out to a person from their past rather than the more abstract premise of Her. Also, I have to say that I’m a big Jon Hamm fan and I like seeing him in promising roles like this. He’s done a lot of cutsie stuff since Mad Men ended but this looks like a serious role with a lot of potential.
Alex: It’s interesting, to say the least. Technology has came a long way since I was born and I’m not even out of college yet. It’s kind of sad, but stories about lost documents on floppy discs and Windows ME make myself seem ancient.
Matt: One final film that I’m looking forward to next month is Columbus. This is the directorial debut film for Kogonada who seems to have no major presence in the film industry prior to this, yet the trailer certainly has the professional look of an at least somewhat seasoned art house director. The film stars John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson and looks to be a Garden State-esque minimalist romance. I don’t have much to offer in terms of insight given the lack of background available on this director, but the trailer has me very intrigued.
Alex: The trailer is certainly aesthetically pleasing like you said. The plot also isn’t too far off from Lost In Translation either: two people, a new place, exploration, and maybe love. It seems like a very humanistic film as well as a good showcase for architecture within Columbus, Indiana, a place where one might not expect the beautiful architecture that the film features.
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