Good Time (2017) Apr 30, 2018 21:10:30 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Apr 30, 2018 21:10:30 GMT -5
Good Time (2017)
Directed by: Ben and Josh Safdie
Directed by: Ben and Josh Safdie
Robert Pattinson in Good Time.
As an exercise, I'm going to try and summarize the plot of Ben and Josh Safdie's latest film Good Time about as quickly as the film's 100 minutes flew by me on an unassuming Friday evening.
It begins with two men, Connie and his mentally challenged younger brother Nick. They successfully stick up a New York bank for about $60,000. In the midst of their getaway, a canister of red dye explodes and blinds both them and their driver. They flee on foot after crashing. They are stopped by two cops, causing Nick to panic and sprint away. Nick is arrested, Connie is still a free man. Nick gets thrown into Rikers, leaving Connie to secure bail. With the money he managed to preserve from the red dye, he still needs $10,000 to free his brother. His girlfriend (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is of no help.
Meanwhile, Nick gets beaten to a pulp in prison. Connie makes the move to break him out of the hospital. The two hide out with an elderly woman and her 16-year-old granddaughter. Connie comes to find out that the man he broke out isn't Nick. It's a man named Ray (Buddy Duress), a drug addict and alcoholic who has been released on parole. This realization comes after Connie attempts to make love to the granddaughter of the woman who so graciously put him and his "brother" up. You know a film moves fast when you barely have time to wince at the pedophilia on display because some other grotesque societal pox occurs in the meantime.
Good Time lives up to its name. There's a scene that takes place at an amusement park after hours that describes the experience of watching the film without saying a word. It's a thrill-ride of toxicity and pacing that's the equivalent of washing down a debilitating anxiety attack with benadryl and vodka and capping it off with a swig of lean. It's a pressure-cooker of a film that feels like a game of Mad-Libs gone awry; I'm glad I had the ability to pause the film, for I at least felt I was in some control during the experience.
Nick is played by co-editor, co-director Ben Safdie (who also helped conceived the story for the film). Connie is played by Robert Pattinson in a role that perfectly shows he's capable of taking his energy to the next level. Of all things that have happened to the post-Twilight culture, it's worth noting how Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have transcended their witless, wooden roles of that melodramatic mess into becoming two of the most enigmatic young actors working today. Stewart has embarked on a path of mysterious leading roles and complex supporting characters in films like Personal Shopper and Still Alice. Pattinson has become James Dean-lite with roles as rugged loners and menaces to society that flaunt his ability to go from charismatic to contemptible in record-time. Supporting performances in the way of rapper Necro playing a friend of Ray's as well as Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips) as a poor carnival security-guard-turned-victim-of-poor-circumstance are great as well.
One has to take into account the trickiness of even attempting to pull off the ambiguous idea of a "successful" performance given the kind of atmosphere the Safdie brothers have created for their characters. They lay hectic groundwork with a briskly paced narrative (co-written by Ronald Bronstein) that allows desperately few lines of dialog to be recited without characters hyperventilating or caught up in their own confusion. Cinematographer Sean Price Williams (The Color Wheel, Kate Plays Christine) does his part to earn every cent he made off the film by bathing his characters in a lush and intoxicating neon color-palette that evokes the brightly lit streets of Manhattan when necessary as well as the seamy-side. Take into consideration the way color and hue plays into the sequence at the amusement park, where Abdi's character lies motionless, bloodied after being savagely pummeled by Connie, with the white "SECURITY" patch on his beanie gleaming brightly as if it's being revealed by way of a police blacklight. Look at the way color adds to the film's character and blurs lines of attitude and atmosphere in a similar vein to Gaspar Noé's film Enter the Void; both films use the technique to create masculinized, hyper-stylized drug-trips that are less about meaning and more about erecting an experience for the audience.
A couple weeks ago, I watched After Hours, one Martin Scorsese's forgotten works, and before that, New York Stories, an anthology triptych with stories by Francis Ford Coppola, Scorsese, and Woody Allen. Within those two, technically four, works, New York was captured as a place that's very much in the eyes of the beholder. Some see a city lovelorn thanks to the human congestion and the business of Time Square's inhabitants, a city fighting to be romantic. Others see dirty, rat-infested streets with seedy characters that serve as the product of nightmares. Good Time echoes After Hours in the way it transforms the city into a sweat-soaked, multi-colored acid-trip that leaves the characters at the mercy of its inclusions while also recalling a fascinating time a few decades in the past where auteurs and directors weren't afraid to take the diverse locale and make it something artistically unique. Today there are far too many indie romances set in the Big Apple; not enough psychedelic nightmares or black comedies with a true eye for visuals.
It all amounts to a ride worth taking and an experience worth having in the end. Some will say Good Time is visceral and edgy. Others will say it's puerile and laborious. Both are correct in their own ways. Like most drugs, hard liquor, and adrenaline-pumping circumstances, what matters is your level of tolerance and knowledge of your limits. If you're willing, able, and either brave or foolish, take a hit, live a little. No one will blame you if you don't, however.
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Ben Safdie, Buddy Duress, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Barkhad Abdi, and Necro. Directed by: Ben and Josh Safdie.