Tuesday 20 August 2019

Movie reviews: Good Time, Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, In the Name of Peace

Good Time (15A, 102mins) ***

Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool (15A, 105mins) ***

In The Name Of Peace (PG, 90mins) ****

Tough times: Robert Pattinson in Good Time
Tough times: Robert Pattinson in Good Time
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

It seems like Robert Pattinson has been around forever and it comes as a shock to discover he's only 31. In recent years he's been trying, like his very ex-girlfriend Kristen Stewart, to emerge from the shadow of the Twilight franchise. He's not as interesting an actor as she is, but in Good Time he conclusively proves he's a pretty good one.

A flashy crime drama from the Sadfie brothers that's ultimately more style than substance, Good Time certainly has its moments and Pattinson is very good indeed playing a minor criminal with delusions of competence.

Connie Nikas is devoted to his intellectually challenged brother Nick (Ben Sadfie), and plans a bank job that will set them up for life. But the heist goes wrong, Nick is arrested, and Connie's decision to spring his brother from prison will cause more problems than it solves.

Connie is a curious and not entirely convincing blend of kindness and ruthlessness, and Jennifer Jason Leigh makes an amusing appearance as a histrionic older girlfriend he's clearly using for her money. There are some grittily effective set pieces, the deliberately underwhelming bank raid, for instance, and a very mannerly home invasion. But Good TIme is less original and more derivative than it initially seems, and an intrusive synth soundtrack becomes more and more grating.

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In the 1940s and 50s, Gloria Grahame's pouting lips and simmering screen charisma made her an icon across the world. The star of films like The Big Heat, Oklahoma and In A Lonely Place, she won an Oscar for her performance in Vincente Minnelli's Bad And The Beautiful but was dropped like a stone by the studios as she neared the age of 40. Gloria kept on working and in the late 1970s, washed up in the UK where she appeared in stage plays as her health began to fade.

Film Stars Don't Die In Liverpool is based on the true story of her touching encounter with a much younger man. Peter Turner (Jamie Bell) is a young Liverpool actor struggling to make it in London when he becomes curious about the glamorous American woman who has a room at his lodgings. She is Gloria (Annette Bening), and Peter has to talk to his parents before he realises just how big a star she once was. He's in his 20s, she's in her mid-50s, but they hit it off and a love affair begins.

It will take them to New York and California before ending in confusion, but when Gloria returns to England and Peter finds out she's terminally ill, he takes her to his parents' house, where he knows she'll be treated well. Julie Walters plays Peter's no-nonsense mother, and the film makes much of the juxtaposition of Hollywood glamour and a Liverpool council house, but the story is told a little clunkily and blunders clumsily back and forth in time. It's enjoyable for all that, however, and Bening is excellent as the woman Hollywood threw away.

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While Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Ian Paisley and other doves of peace lined up to take the credit for the end of conflict in Northern Ireland, we all know who the most important driver of reconciliation was. A campaigning civil rights activist who always steadfastly rejected the path of violence, John Hume realised early on that involving America in Northern Irish affairs was vital to a lasting resolution.

In The Name Of Peace tells the story of how Hume used the movers and shakers of the Irish diaspora in America to fundamentally change the dynamic in Northern Ireland and lay the foundations of peace. Tony Blair, Bertie Ahern, Bill Clinton, David Trimble, Jimmy Carter, Enda Kenny, Michael Lillis, Jean Kennedy Smith and Bono are among the documentary's distinguished interviewees, who provide an insight into just how tirelessly Hume worked to resolve the North's seemingly intractable problems.

Irish Independent

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