By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

James Schamus

“This mix of fiction and documentary is a notable feature of so much of what’s interesting in recent cinema, from all the big-budget films ‘based on a true story’ to the more independent works that in a variety of ways tackle the breaks, cracks, and fissures of the ‘fictional’ narrative structures that shape our actual existences. The first scene of the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time is exemplary in this light – no other scene I’ve watched in 2017 dealt so boldly with all these confusing and conflictual aesthetic and political conflicts. In it, a seething, developmentally disabled young man (played by the film’s co-director Benny Safdie) sits in the office of a psychiatrist (Peter Verby, in “real life” not a professional actor, but a criminal attorney), who is administering some kind of cognitive test meant to elicit from the young man some account of his own violent history and tendencies. Under the guise of soliciting therapeutic, healing self-knowledge, the psychiatrist cannot but help betray his performance to be in the service of the state and its institutional power. Shot primarily in extreme close ups, the scene first solicits our concern for the psychiatrist’s safety (Safdie’s performance is electrically on edge); but it is the state violence of the psychiatrist’s probing, and the intensity of that violence as it is revealed on Safdie’s tear-stained face, that alerts us to the film’s greater empathies, especially as the session is interrupted and the scene ended with the entrance of Nick’s brother Connie (Robert Pattinson), who, in the name of family, pulls his brother from the office (and into a woefully mis-executed crime). The Nikas family ‘organization,’ brought to life in the hybrid documentary-fiction language of the Safdies, never had a chance against the powers serving the crime family currently in the White House, but the reality of their resistance, as evidenced in Benny Safdie’s tears, is an eloquent reminder of what’s at stake in the current battles waged within the images we circulate, and the battles hardly visible but no less real.”
James Schamus

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“If there are theories about me, I’d rather not know. Astrophysics – now that’s fascinating. String theory, worm holes, the expanding universe, the Big Bang versus the Big Bounce – those are the kind of theories that make you feel like living and understanding the mystery of the world. Film theory is just a pain in the ass.”
~ Claire Denis

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~ Tiffany Haddish