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Of Vice and Men

"Good Time" is a rough one

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magine if Harmony Korine ("Gummo" & "Spring Breakers") and Gaspar Noé ("Enter the Void" & "Irreversible") decided they wanted to remake "Of Mice and Men," "Dog Day Afternoon" and "After Hours" during an acid trip at a rave in the 1970s, but then figured they would just combine them into one movie and have Edward from "Twilight" play the role that Pacino or De Niro would have played back when they gave a shit. Welcome to "Good Time."

Robert Pattinson plays Connie Nikas, a petty criminal who robs a bank with his mentally handicapped brother Nick (played by co-writer and co-director Benny Safdie). After a dye-pack explodes, covering the brothers in thick red dust, Nick is caught by the police as Connie gets away. In order to bail his brother out of Rikers Island prison, Connie needs to find $10,000 before the night is through—and he doesn't care who he has to rob, cheat or steal to make it happen.

Pattinson is the big draw here, giving a performance that's one part Eminem to two parts Juggalo. A lot of critics are calling Pattinson a "revelation," but he's always been a great character actor in the career of a terrible movie star. His work in "The Rover," "Cosmopolis" and "The Lost City of Z" was fearless. He's long since discarded vanity in order to climb inside some fascinatingly flawed folks. It's impossible to take your eyes off of him as Connie, but let's not forget that he's actually been really good for the last five years.


C

alling this movie "Good Time" is a beautiful blast of irony since there's really nothing fun about spending time with these characters. Don't get me wrong, the film is sometimes hypnotic, beautiful and downright rapturous, but watching it is about as rough as it gets. The anti-melodic score sounds like John Carpenter, Aphex Twin and Vangelis had an orgy while Tangerine Dream sat in the corner binge watching "Stranger Things." The music is so omnipresent and atonally upsetting that "Good Time" becomes more oppressive the closer it gets to its nail-biting finale.

The movie is also so blisteringly unpredictable that the momentum carries us far past a fever dream and deep into nightmare territory. There's definitely some bizarre and unsatisfying plotting, but that serves the film well thematically. "Good Time" never feels artificial for a moment and the Safdie Brothers are edging closer to making a NYC masterpiece along the lines of Cassavetes, Lumet or Friedkin.

Every frame is grimy, authentic and somehow beautiful. Even with some strangely un-cinematic directorial choices in the final act, the film still stuck to me like the smell of a forest fire two towns over. Whenever I close my eyes I see the vibrant reds and thick, dark blues that evoke "Blade Runner" and "Suspiria" without bundling the film up into feeling like a collection of the filmmakers' influences.

At any given moment, "Good Times" is akin to a gorgeously evocative poem written in blood on a prison wall. I loved it and hated it in equal measure. I respect the hell out of this little slice of nightmare, but am also certain I will never sit through it again.


Good Time

Dir. Josh & Benny Safdie

Grade: B

Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX


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