Every week, the folks at iTunes find a movie they like and make it available to rent for the low, low price of $0.99. I’m here to tell you whether that film is worth your hard-earned dollar.
This week, Robert Pattinson skeezes his way through New York after dark in the propulsive crime drama Good Time.
I Think Something Very Important is Happening
Connie (Pattinson) and Nick (Benny Safdie) are looking to put together enough cash to leave New York for a quiet life in Virginia. But when their bank heist goes bad, it’s the mentally challenged Nick that gets picked up by the NYPD. Desperate to keep his brother away from the troubles of Rikers Island, Connie sets out on a desperate, late-night dash to raise the bail money, but the smooth talking New Yorker’s best laid plans quickly begin to fall apart. Will Connie be able to save his brother from imprisonment? Will he be able to save himself? Can R-Patz handle all that drama and a New York accent? Find out in The Safdie Brothers frantic, fever dream of a crime flick, Good Time.
You’re Incredible, Do You Understand?
Right now, you might be thinking, “Just what the world needs, another low-rent criminal movie set on the mean streets of New York.” In principle, I’m in total agreement. With filmmakers collectively revisiting those streets a dozen times a year since Scorsese claimed them with his 1973 classic, the NY crime drama genre is perpetually teetering on the verge of becoming redundant and reductive. But cinema – especially New York cinema – is nothing if not full of little surprises, and just when it felt like there were no more stories to tell in the naked city, Josh and Benny Safdie turn up with the electrifying, neon-soaked confection that is Good Time. Possessed of a raw, kinetic energy and a tragic, penetrating sense of immediacy, Good Time doesn’t just feel like a welcome addition to the NY crime drama oeuvre, it feels like a rebirth of the genre itself.
If you’ve been tracking the careers of Josh and Benny Safdie, that’ll come as no surprise. The duo has spent the bulk of their careers to date exploring the back alleys and tenement buildings they grew up around, not to mention the wildly eclectic cast of characters that inhabit them. It only makes sense that they’d continue to examine life on the fringes of New York with their latest film, but the city’s brooding underworld has never felt as alive in all of its abundant opportunities and inherent dangers as it does in Good Time.
The Safdie’s incisive scripting is largely to thank for that. Like their previous efforts (The Pleasure of Being Robbed, Heaven Knows What), the pair eschew traditional narrative with Good Time, instead fashioning Connie’s nightmarish journey with a fiercely naturalistic approach that both subverts traditional plotting while also sort of supporting it. In doing so, they create a plot-driven narrative where the plot is propelled forward by whatever character or obstacle happens to present itself to Connie from one moment to the next. In the context of Good Time‘s overarching narrative, characters are free to come and go at will, tones shift like tectonic plates, and as the film progresses, it begins to feel more like an existential anxiety attack than a gritty crime flick. One that’s heightened by a frenzied, synth-heavy score from Oneohtrix Point Never and the claustrophobic, expressionistic photography of Sean Price Williams.
Of course, all of that style and energy might’ve gone for naught if not for the work of Good Time star Robert Pattinson. Yes, that Robert Pattinson. The one time Twilight heartthrob has been on a mission in recent years to rid himself of the dreaded “teen-idol” label. After compelling turns in indie flicks The Childhood of a Leader and The Lost City of Z, he’s certainly been on the right track of late. His towering performance in Good Time should kill that heartthrob image once and for all. What can we say about Pattinson’s turn as the scheming Connie Nikas except that the actor is barely recognizable in the role, that he brings down to earth sleaze to the character which makes his every act repulsive even in its nobility, and that you won’t be able to take your eyes off him for even a second. As such, you won’t be able take your eyes off Good Time either.
Oh hell yes. Good Time was widely regarded as one of the best films of 2017. It actually slotted into the #2 spot on my own personal list. Quite frankly, I was shocked that the film (and particularly Robert Pattinson’s performance) didn’t get any attention from the Oscars this year. Oh well, The Academy’s loss is certain to be your gain. Drop that dollar without fear this week, and understand that getting to watch a movie like Good Time for just a buck is akin to stealing, but you won’t have to worry about raising any bail money. Just as an FYI to Amazon Prime Video subscribers, Good Time just hit the streaming service, so you it won’t cost you anything but time to watch it. And if you happen to be a diehard Netflixer, one of The Safdie’s earlier works, Heaven Knows What, is currently amongst the streaming giant’s catalogue … and it’s well worth a look.