In the spirit of the indie heyday, when names like Alex Cox, Stephen Frears, Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch were the currency of cinema's promise, comes Azazel Jacobs, hopefully the new bearer of the long-smoldering punk cinema torch. The GoodTimesKid is a wonderfully observant and comical character study made with nothing but pocket change and a love of movies. In fact, this is obviously not just a labor of love but of friendship: Jacobs stars in the film with his co-writer and former classmate, Gerardo Naranjo, as well as his producer and real-life girlfriend Sara Diaz.
I'll refrain from saying too much about the movie's plot, not because there really is much of a plot but what small revelations the script does have in store would be that much nicer to discover in the theater. (Let's hope it makes to theaters!) Suffice to say that Naranjo's character receives a summons indicating that he had enlisted in the Army (truth is, he hadn't) and that the time to report for duty has come. He goes down to the enlistment office to explain the mistake and he winds up following another recruit home. That would be Jacob's character, an angry and disheveled journalist, who seems to be joining the Army only because he's given up on every other aspect of his life, especially his girlfriend, played by Diaz.
Naranjo, in a near-silent performance that, I swear to God, is downright Chaplin-esquire, makes friends with Diaz, the irony being that he knows that her boyfriend is busing off to join the military in the morning, and she doesn't. Jacobs isn't the strongest actor in the world but he certainly looks the part and exonerates himself well. Diaz is nothing but a delight, a young Shelly Duvall in Converse hi-tops, and she owns outright the movie's funniest scene, in which she dances a jig in an effort to pull Naranjo out of his chronic stupor.
There are all kinds of things that real people in real life might say to each other, and ways that they would behave, which the characters in The GoodTimesKid never do, but this is one of those movies which doesn't need literalism to feel authentic. Much like in Godard's romantic comedies (Masculin, Féminin comes to mind) the feelings are real and the inspired silliness only elevates it further.
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