The GoodTimesKid (2005) Poster

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Finally, a Movie of Comic Understatement
hypersquared14 November 2005
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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Shows great originality and craftsmanship without relying too much on dialog or plot.
StarsDown11 September 2009
A very challenging and interesting film The Good Times Kid is short on plot and narrative and instead it portrays mood and atmosphere to the viewer. When we follow these characters throughout the day we get the sense of their aimlessness adrift in this world. No one directly says it or there is no voice over to state this, the film lets the mise-en-scene say all of this to us. A lengthy scene of two characters sitting on bus looking lost and sad with accompanying music speaks more and louder to the viewer than a few minutes of dialog or plot points. One of the most impressive aspects of the film was its use of focus. Quite often objects will go in and out of focus as well as the actors themselves. We get the see the world around the characters as it loses its meaning and clarity. There are some moments that are quite truthful and pure. Sara Diaz dancing in the kitchen, Sara and Gerardo Naranjo sitting in a dark boat with flashlights making faces to each other while his lover tries to kick down the door or that wonderful long take to end the film with one character sleeping and the other sitting looking into the world like a dear in headlights.

Dialog is sparse and far between but when there is dialog it is very realistic and quite introspective to add an extra layer to the film. While it is very bleak it never loses a sense of humor. Characters actions or expressions are often a source of comedy as well as some scenes like where Azazel Jacobs puts on boxing gloves and a cape and jumps into a large group of bikers starting a fight. While The Good Times Kid is very raw it is part of its charm. The acting is not the strongest aspect of the film it fits in quite well with the overall feel and never takes away or becomes distracting. Sara Diaz is the best aspect of the acting who is photogenic and has lots of personality though delivery of her lines could use some work. With the use of the music, playfulness of the subject matter and importance of the editing and camera I can't help but feel a connection to the early films of Jean-Luc Godard expect with less dialog. I am quite dismayed and saddened by some of the negative reviews it has received here so far. Frankly if you find yourself stumbling on this film you should be equipped with enough cinematic knowledge to enjoy this film. Nowadays when people in indie film try to make an overly quirky dramedy or the next installment of a "mumblecore" film it is nice to see Azazel Jacobs stand out and show great originality and craftsmanship without relying too much on dialog or plot.
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A beautiful movie that escapes the tyranny of words
jorjny5 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Just saw this at the Brooklyn Film Festival. What a great film! Very entertaining. Unusual and unconventional as a film, but not because it is trying to be.

I don't know how this was shot on a small budget. It is visually near perfect. It's beautiful but not in a gratuitous way. The visual beauty of the film and the perfection of the shots are exactly in line with the story being told.

Another reviewer has mentioned that the people in this film seemingly fail to say or do things that one would expect them to say or do in real life. It is definitely true that the people in the film completely fail to say or do things that they would say or do in a typical movie. I'm not so sure about in real life. By the end of the movie you understand what has been happening, to some extent, in the hearts of the characters and this accounts for their not trying to fill in the gaps in the information held by each other. During the film you are expecting people to say things that they fail to say, but by the end of the movie you realize that it could have happened just like it was filmed. The dialog that does take place sounds exactly like unscripted everyday speech.

This movie certainly doesn't look or feel like a Terrence Malick film, but watching it reminded me of a review I read when Malick's "Days of Heaven" first came out. The review claimed that "Days of Heaven" was the first movie ever made that was truly a movie and in no way a book set to pictures. The words didn't come first, either as a storyline or later as dialog. The dialog in "Days of Heaven" fades in and out and sounds like eavesdropping most of the time. And any storyline would necessarily say only a fraction of what the movie says.

"The Goodtimes Kid" doesn't duplicate Malick's feat of simultaneously painting a portrait of individual human hearts and an entire era. (Probably only films set in the past can do that.) But it does succeed in the same way as a Malick film in being a work of art that escapes the left brain tyranny of the internal narrator. The characters are all at loose ends and driven by their emotions and so aren't trying to construct a logical life plan at this particular point in their lives. And the director doesn't intervene and impose an external structure for the sake of the audience.

The film has a plot, but the plot turns on completely visual events. By a completely visual event I mean something that you really need to see to catch the meaning of, and that the left brain would be completely at a loss to show, (although not to *describe*).

An example of this is one wonderful scene where the heroine of the movie performs a short impromptu dance (one of the best dance scenes you'll see in a recent movie). I won't spoil it by going into too much detail, but what the character is wearing and the type of music that is playing, and the type of dance she does all serve to cause a motive for another character's decision later in the film. And since we are standing in that other character's place, we feel the same motive, and understand.

By the way, by saying that the film has a plot, I hope I'm not providing a spoiler.. this isn't one of those aimless slice-of-life depictions of colorful characters. This movie tells a story.

Great soundtrack too, go see it if you can (hope it makes it to theaters) and give your right brain a treat. Entertaining because of the mastery of the visuals and the way it tells a story in so relentlessly nonverbal a way, but also because it has something to say to the human heart.
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Worst movie I have ever seen!
El_hangman3 February 2008
I am 34 years old and I have seen many, many movies. I have taken Creative Writing with a focus on script writing. This had to be the worst movie I had ever seen. The characters were not only under developed...they were flat and I could only understand half of what one of them were saying, not that there were many lines period. I was shocked that such garbage made it onto the festival and I felt taken I had to pay to watch this. If I had not read synopsis in the Festival magazine I would have had no idea of what it was about. One should not have to read about it before had to understand. The only funny part was how little story there actually was to the movie and that they got people to pay for it! Terrible, absolutely terrible. Azazel Jacobs, for those who love movies, GOOD movies, please find another job!
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