A pink glow reflects on Connie’s freshly bleached hair and neon blue spills out of an open refrigerator. Gritty, shocking, and spellbinding. 80’s nostalgia set against a New York City backdrop. Good Time: it’s the film that makes every minute more captivating than the last.
To quote Stanley Kubrick, « A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.” This was Good Time for me. A progression of moods and feelings but intermingled with bank robbery and water bottles of LSD.
When I walked out of the theater I felt the familiar clash that every great movie makes me feel; creatively adrenalized yet emotionally wrecked. So on the way home, a single resolve took its place at the forefront of my mind- I needed to learn everything I could about the people responsible for leaving me so conflicted.
Josh and Ben Safdie not only wrote and directed Good Time, but Ben also gave a heart wrenching performance as Nick, the mentally handicapped brother.
They began their filmmaking careers at a young age, collaborating with each other from the start. They cite their childhood spent in front of their father’s camera as one of the strongest currents that steered them to the careers they have built for themselves.
They have strong independent roots, with early budgets bending close to an estimated $800. For years, the brothers evaded large production companies, set on staying true to their vision- indie filmmakers if there ever were any. However, after receiving a blind email from Robert Pattinson, a new mission was set into motion. Robert had seen a single still of their previous movie, and he explained in his email that he wasn’t sure on what exactly, but he knew he wanted to work with the two brothers. Thus, the road to Good Time began.
I’ve noticed a reoccurring theme in their works, one of originality and unconventional thinking. Their $800 budget for their 2006 short “If You See Something Say Something,” and their reputation for street casting has shown that they are powerful visionaries who believe in themselves. Josh once said, « We can have $20m to make a film, but we’re still going to approach it like we have 40 bucks because that’s how we’re wired to make something and I don’t think that will ever change.” This is the grit that is evident when you see their work. It’s a purely creative experience that is rare – one where the story that was set out to be told was never compromised. It resonates with people, as shown by the six minute standing ovation they received at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival after Good Time.
In high school, Josh developed a talent for meeting odd and interesting strangers that would later prove to be useful. Josh describes spending evenings on joy rides with strangers he’d just met, and in luxury cars they definitely didn’t own.
That outgoing nature came in handy when the brothers began their third feature film, Heaven Knows What. It depicts a story of a young girl struggling with a heroin addiction, who acts in desperation to appease her boyfriend (Caleb Landry Jones). The film is based on the life of Arielle Holmes, who the brothers met on the streets of NYC, and who also plays the leading role of Harley.
The stories they choose to tell are authentic and raw, taking advantage of the belief that truth is stranger than fiction. It is one of the reasons I suspect these two will have no shortage of stories to share with us for years to come.