A girl walks into a movie theater, intent on seeing Little Women, but just as I veer towards the men’s group at any Super Bowl party, the minute I heard a woman say how Little Women dripped a little too much maudlin, I spun and drove for a power lay up back into Uncut Gems.
Before the opening jump shot, I had second row ‘court seats’. With two hipsters behind me, I struck up a conversation with one after his pal went to retrieve some popcorn. I had heard them jiving Safdie and turned to agree on how tremendous Good Time is/was. Like the enthusiastic school marm I’ll always be, I cheered, ‘buckle up’ in delicious anticipation.
While I harangue bad movie behavior, this viewing entailed a magic moment where out of the corner of my eye during the last 10 minutes of the film, the two hipsters were LITERALLY on the edge of their seats, as if they, too, were at game 7 with the bet of their lives at stake.
THIS is what movies are for, the vicarious thrill and off the planet escape that brings such joy.
My second viewing was better than the first. I laughed harder at the Sandlerisms, his “NO” to his flirty mistress, his grabbing a pillow out of his office filing cabinet in order to sleep on the couch, his calling his son, over the top excited to be wearing Garnett’s NBA championship ring. THIS MOVIE WILL ROCK YOU in a far different way than my muscial allusion to Bohemian Rhapsody, but equally fun.
I can now place the Safdie full length narrative film Iron Man medallion around my neck after watching “Heaven Knows What” from 2014. Here’s some tried and true Safdie-isms based on the fill complement of narratives (Daddy Longlegs, Good Time, Heaven Knows What, and Uncut Gems):
1. eerie soundtrack music with a mixture of futuristic organ, baroque, hard rock and classical numbers
2. a begging forgiveness or love scene between lovers
3. shocking brutality and sadness at the conclusion with an added ending scene that scales back with an understanding that we are only specks in the universe and/or the everyday world moves on with or without you
“Heaven Knows What” is the darkest and roughest of the quad of Safdie narratives and deals with the real life story of a New York City homeless junkie. Reminiscent of Midnight Cowboy, the couple attempt to bus to Florida and while no one dies on the bus this time, there certainly are some plot twists. Arielle Holmes, not only wrote the book about her lover, Ilya, she stars as herself in the film.
A poignant, but gritty portrayal of the NYC homeless drug addled populace.
Daddy Longlegs is an early film from 2009 by brothers Benny and Josh Safdie, along with Ronald Bronstein who also stars as ‘the Dad’.
Much like Good Time, the movie Daddy Longlegs is well done and simultaneously difficult to watch. Like going on a roller coaster that might make you ill, you ride along with the Safdie’s knowing the quality is worth the discomfort. A.O Scott called this film “lovely and hair raising” which suits my analogy to a T.
Set in NYC, this movie is especially for divorced parents trying to juggle jobs and family responsibilities. Based partly on their upbringing this semi autobiographical film opens with a written font-like tribute to the Safdie dad.
Two connections I made to this film were with an autobiographical sketch in the Rolling Stone of Robert Downey Jr’s upbringing where his father sits at the breakfast table, stirring his screwdriver with a hammer. Acting (and screenwriting geniuses) often come from creative and chaotic childhoods.
Connection two comes from Rachle Cusk‘s book Outline which I mentioned in my previous Ingrid Goes West blog. Cusk’s books offers so many pearls from such a gorgeously deep reservoir. This quote is intimately intertwined with the father (acted brilliantly by co-writer Ronald Bronstein) in Daddy Longlegs in the push pull of his loving his sons with his desire for freedom.
“My mother once admitted she used to be desperate for us to leave the house for school but that once we’d gone, she had no idea what to do with herself and wished we would come back.” (Cusk, Rachel. Outline. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2014.)
Much like their film Good Time where the brothers’ love for each other was both gorgeous and destructive, intimacy whether it be sibling to sibling or parent to child is one of life’s many challenges.
Definitely worth a local library search. I am grateful to the Selby Library for their tremendous inventory.