Sunday, November 12, 2017

Good Time for Whom?

Good Time (2017) - Safdie
Good Time
I understand what Josh and Benny Safdie are going for. From what I've seen and heard, their films are all about small moments - not narratively gregarious, concentrating on small encounters, naturalistic settings, characters in motion. And there are quite few of those moments in Good Time. When they work, they work great. But does the movie work as a whole? I'm not so sure. Good Time has many things going for it - solid performances by wide eyed Robert Pattinson, playing a small time crook taking charge over his mentally handicapped brother (Benny Safdie), heart pumping score, 16mm gritty cinematography... But it also is very unsatisfying especially when there is no one you can root for. Pattinson's Connie is a hard character to sympathize with, as he works his charm over various women and resort to violence when things get dire. I get that he cares for his retarded brother but there is no indication of his background or what his real motives for the bank robbery is - in short, who he is.

OK, so those moments. Loved the interaction btwn Pattinson and Safdie in the bathroom of Pizza Hut after their robbery has gone horribly wrong. Loved the teen black girl in the house in Queens where Connie invites himself into. It's very unlikely that a sassy, pot-smoking black teen would be hanging out with an older white stranger, but I let that go because their interactions are really great. Loved the idea of breaking into an amusement park at night. But that moment's also somewhat tampered by that Somali actor (Barkhad Abdi) who is in everything now- the treatment he gets (from Connie) was almost racist.

People stop comparing Good Times to 70s NY movies. The Safdies ain't no Lumet. Their aim is quite different- it's smaller and narrower. But it's as if they don't ever wanna bite off more than they can chew. If getting those couple of moments are their aim for two hour movie, that's fine. But I feel they are putting emphasis on the wrong things- for instance, extensive (and surely expensive) aerial shot of the city in the beginning and following Connie's car on the street from aerial view. Good Time feels like as if they are afraid to tackle something bigger, grander things. I don't know. I guess I don't like their timid ways.