What Are You Watching? is a weekly house for The A.V Membership’s employees and readers to share their ideas, observations, and opinions on films new and previous.
Learn on this what you’ll. I’ve a weak point for tales about self-destructive doofuses, poisonous household bonds, and small-time crooks, so naturally I dug the Safdie brothers’ grungy Good Time, wherein a Queens lowlife performed by Robert Pattinson goes on a night-long odyssey to get his brother out of Rikers Island, however retains being sidetracked by his personal impulsive scheming and two-bit hustling. It hits a loads of different spots, too. I’m keen on something with a temper of itching urgency and to films that plot themselves into tighter and tighter corners till they flip inside out into some sort of abstracted, claustrophobic illustration of the entire—the best way that the druggy, attention-deficient tunnel imaginative and prescient of the narrative ultimately rabbit-holes Pattinson’s character right into a black-lit tunnel experience at a closed-down amusement park, the place he gropes for a drug supplier’s rumored stash alongside a stranger he initially mistook for his brother.
Plus Pattinson is a hoot to look at. I’m fascinated by his pores and skin, which seems puffy and irritated and usually dangerous. In The Rover and The Misplaced Metropolis Of Z, his characters are badly sunburned. I’m wondering if that’s his factor. After which there are all these commonalities with Steven Soderbergh’s caper divertissement Logan Fortunate, a film that couldn’t be extra totally different in tone and elegance—nocturnal vs. sunlit, an anxious digital camera vs. one which’s largely locked down, New Yawk snarls vs. West Virginia drawls, winter within the metropolis vs. summer season within the nation—however whose plot follows a really comparable define: A screw-up will get his brother with a incapacity concerned in a heist (a financial institution in Good Time, the money vault of North Carolina’s Charlotte Motor Speedway in Logan Fortunate), which lands mentioned brother in jail.
So okay, Jimmy Logan, the protagonist performed by Channing Tatum, isn’t anyplace close to as irresponsible as Pattinson’s Connie Nikas, and his one-handed veteran brother, Clyde, performed by Adam Driver, is in jail as a part of the heist plan. However the identical themes underlie each variations of this premise—a really primal confluence of desperation and guilt, the sibling as doppelgänger, and many others. That’s not even mentioning the financial anxieties and sophistication variations that fill out the plots and supporting casts of each films. And naturally Jimmy Logan is a swindler, too. Connie’s the sort of man who isn’t too brilliant, however takes benefit the second he figures he’s even a hair smarter than the individual sitting throughout from him. Jimmy, Clyde, and their sister and partner-in-crime, Mellie (Riley Keough), simply play different folks’s vainness and satisfaction to their benefit—a theme that solely turns into apparent looking back, when you begin mentally retracing the steps of their plan.
Deception is a pet topic of Soderbergh’s (e.g., the Ocean’s films, The Informant!, Facet Results), and he’s received a factor for decided heroes and anti-heroes who’re underestimated by everybody else, whether or not it’s the working-class protagonist of Erin Brockovich or the previous ex-con in The Limey. After all, there’s a component of projection to the latter and self-identification to the previous—that tried-and-true metaphorical equivalence between caper and craft, con artistry and artwork. There’s in all probability a few of that artist stand-in enterprise to Connie, too, who presses his means into different folks’s lives and exploits them. And it’s fairly clear that each the Nikas brothers and the Logans replicate the Americas they inhabit—extra overly in Logan Fortunate, although it’s debatable whether or not it’s actually the film with extra to say.
A thought crosses my thoughts: What’s it about America that lends itself to being characterised by means of tales about criminals, whether or not they’re tragically formidable mobsters or determined no-name hoodlums? Take into account how most of the canonical nice American films are about crime, or what number of movies which can be typically understood to convey the tenor of their period—traditional noir flicks, scuzzy New Hollywood films, and so forth—are about criminals. What number of tales which can be broadly understood to be “in regards to the American dream” are about schemers, cons, or doofuses considering they will pull a quick one on everybody else? Does it communicate to the strengths of crime as a topic—its ambiguity, its seductive qualities, or the best way it hits on each energy and guilt? Or does it say one thing about America?