Indie Focus: In the moment with ‘Ingrid Goes West,’ ‘Good Time’ and ‘Whose Streets?’
Hello! I’m Mark Olsen, and welcome to another edition of your regular field guide to a world of Only Good Movies.
Bertrand Bonello’s “Nocturama” has been a flashpoint of controversy and conversation ever since it first premiered last year. A movie of unnerving precision and free-floating anxieties, the film follows a group of Parisian youth as they carry out a series of bomb attacks around the city and they hide out in an empty department store.
The film has opened for a theatrical run in New York City, but in Los Angeles for now it is getting only a single screening at Acropolis Cinema on Aug. 15. Playing along with Bonello’s 2016 short film “Sarah Winchester, Ghost Opera,” this is an essential event to attend.
We hope to have information on more upcoming screening events soon. To find out more and for updates on future events, go to events.latimes.com.
‘Ingrid Goes West’
A sharp satire with an unexpected sense of emotional generosity toward its characters, “Ingrid Goes West” is about a troubled young woman named Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza in an inspired performance) who moves to Los Angeles to stalk another woman (Elizabeth Olsen) she found on Instagram. The feature debut for director Matt Spicer, the movie also stars O’Shea Jackson Jr, Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen and Pom Klementieff.
Jen Yamato reviewed the movie for The Times, noting “This is the real ‘Emoji Movie,’ a true horror story for our digital times,” before adding, “Ingrid might be a sociopathic selfie-snapping answer to the talented Mr. Ripley, but there’s more of her in us than we’d like to admit.”
I interviewed Plaza, who also produced the film, which with the recent “The Little Hours” and on TV’s “Legion,” put her at a career crossroads.
“I saw the movie in my mind when I read it,” she said of “Ingrid.” “I was, like, ‘I know what this can be and as a producer I can help it get to that place.’ As an actor, I can only give my opinion and hope that someone cares.”
At Vulture, Emily Yoshida wrote, “Every generation gets the ‘Single White Female’ it deserves, and some are bound to age better than others.… Enough of Ingrid’s’ millennial shots hit their mark to make it feel like a cultural time capsule, at the very least.”
We are longtime admirers of filmmakers Josh and Benny Safdie, so it was particularly exciting when their new film “Good Time” premiered as part of the main competition at Cannes this year. The movie scrounges through the outer edges of life in New York City, as a young hustler named Connie (Robert Pattinson) tries to pull together bail money for his brother (Benny Safdie) in one night.
In his review for The Times, Justin Chang wrote that the Safdies “certainly want you to enjoy yourself. But they’ve made the rare genre piece that refuses to equate entertainment with an escape from reality, or to turn a tale of foolish men into a celebration of stupidity. The greatness of Pattinson’s performance makes it awfully hard not to root for Connie Nikas, but that’s no reason to mistake him for the hero.”
Steven Zeitchik spoke to the Safdie brothers about the way their movies teem with a lively energy, seemingly drawn from the city and the odd people that seem drawn to them.
“Weird characters are always just orbiting around,” Benny said. “We really don’t know how they find us.”
In a more critical take at the New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote, “The story doesn’t twist and turn so much as squirm and jump like an eel in the bottom of a rowboat. The biggest surprises confirm what an unbelievable slimeball Connie is. He’s about as hard to root for as any movie outlaw you can think of.”
At BuzzFeed, Alison Willmore added, “The film belongs to Connie, and to Pattinson, who lives and breathes the young man’s poisonous desperation. It’s the kind of performance that sticks with you, like a layer of grime that needs to be washed off.”
This past week marked the third anniversary of the death of Michael Brown and the long days and nights of civil unrest in Ferguson, Mo., that followed. Directed by Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, the documentary “Whose Streets?” takes a look at those events from the perspective of the people of Ferguson.
Reviewing the film for The Times, Sheri Linden called the film an “on-the-ground, from-the-heart documentary.” She added that the film “communicates that urgency from the inside out — not as news story or social theory, but as communal experience and awakening.”
For The Times, Tre’vell Anderson spoke to the filmmakers and Brittany Ferrell, one of the films subjects. As Davis said, the film “is not somebody speaking for us or speaking to us, it’s us speaking. That was the main thing for me, how these people will be represented, because that’s how I will be represented.”
Reviewing the film for the New York Times, Glenn Kenny said the film “is choppy, sometimes unfocused, and in every respect the opposite of slick. Its directors, Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, are novice filmmakers, true; but I also suspect this movie’s form is deliberate, part of its message. This is direct and frequently powerful filmmaking that doesn’t much care about meeting my aesthetic standards.”
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