Good Time

Good Time ★★★★½

One of my least favorite lines in Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself comes when Andersen tries to emphasize how his native Los Angeles is less photogenic than Paris and New York. "In New York," he writes, "everything is sharp and in-focus, as if seen through a wide-angle lens. Any image from almost any corner of the city is immediately recognizable as a piece of New York." There are other lines in that film that bother me but this one stands out. It's not untrue, Andersen has excellent examples to back up his claim. New York, after all, is merely a couple of blocks in Manhattan when it comes to cinema. But those blocks are so overly represented that they rise like icons that leave the rest of the city in the dust.

Good Time, which has already been described as a "New York Movie", is the perfect counter to Andersen's claim. It has a specificity that speaks in part to his assertion, but also refutes it. The pillars of New York City iconography are nowhere to be found. Instead, a sense of place is established through things with associate with the generic. Sean Price Williams' camera seems desperate to turn any bit of lighting into a seizure-inducing nightclub, yet he mostly observes a world of chain restaurants. A Domino's and a White Castle are innocuous, if not unremarkable, spaces for a film and yet their textures are observed at a microscopic level here. The power of a film like this translates to one's experience immediately following it. It sounds corny to say a movie made me "more aware" of space after leaving it. When applying this to something as spatially disruptive as Good Time, it also doesn't make sense. Yet, I stepped out into the rain with much slower steps than usual. Perhaps that's because it extends the genre's expectation of "dramatic tension" into the realm of flat out anxiety. It takes time to recover from something like this.

**Side note: I feel like I should emphasize how the film strikes a perfect balance of being uncomfortable and fascinating. There's one scene here in which the entire audience audibly cringed. Maybe that's not an accomplishment to some, but a work needs to capture a certain level of attention to garner such a reaction without resorting to exploitative gross out tactics. I really can't state enough just how bizarre the act of Seeing This Movie felt.

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