Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Buddy Duress, Taliah Webster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Peter Verby, Barkhad Abdi, Gladys Mathon, Necro
Written by: Josh Safdie, Ronald Bronstein
Directed by: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, violence, drug use and sexual content
Running Time: 100
Date: 08/11/2017

Good Time (2017)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Dog Day 'Time'

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directing brothers Ben Safdie and Joshua Safdie have created an ode to hardcore, 1970s New York crime cinema, but with their own vivid, confined close-up take, bathed in artificial, carnival colors.

In Good Time, Nick (Ben Safdie) is being interviewed by a therapist, attempting to get to the bottom of his cognitive disability, when his brother Connie (Robert Pattinson) bursts in and takes him away. They have planned a bank robbery and it's time to go. The robbery seems to go well, and they walk out with a bag of money, but the dye packs go off, staining their clothes and faces.

As they attempt to escape, Nick crashes through a glass door. He is arrested and sent to hospital. Connie tries to raise money to bail him out, but the dyed cash is no good, and his girlfriend's credit card doesn't work, so he plans to break his brother out. Over the course of a long, complex New York night, he meets several strange people, concocts a plan to retrieve some hidden acid and sell it, and tries to stay a step ahead of the law.

More than just an homage, Good Time feels bracingly fresh, rooted in honest-to-goodness desperation. (The brother characters share a wounded past that's unspoken, but powerful.) Good Time doesn't necessarily transcend its genre limitations, but within those limitations, it's superb. The movie's unexpected backgrounds, such as a shut-down amusement part at nighttime, or a stranger's apartment, spring up as a result of the characters, rather than as empty decoration. Its great, ominous, wailing score adds more unspoken tension.

Better still, the characters, such as a whacked-out, drunken, would-be drug dealer, a young girl staying up too late, or a frazzled security guard (Oscar-nominee Barkhad Abdi), feel like they actually live in the corners of the story; they seem to have been there long before it began.

Jennifer Jason Leigh is great in a small role as Connie's harried, distracted girlfriend, and Ben Safdie is astounding as the slow-witted brother Nick. But it's Robert Pattinson, shaking off the last of his Twilight-drenched past, who gives a Pacino-worthy performance full of street smarts and fast talk, yet with a human soul. Iggy Pop's shockingly gorgeous closing song sums it all up perfectly.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray release does justice to a movie that seems to cry out for the format; its very tight angles and bold colors are perfectly represented here, as well as its grinding, intense soundtrack. The brothers Safdie provide a commentary track with some guests, but they do most of the talking, and even talk over each other in their enthusiasm. There's a 20-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, a seriously creepy music video for the great Iggy Pop song, and trailers for other A24/Lionsgate releases.

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