Actor Buddy Duress was on the run from the police the entire time while filming this movie, got arrested the day after wrapping, and was in Rikers Island prison when it premiered. He got released just a few weeks prior before filming started for Good Time in February 2016. When Uncut Gems premiered in the fall of 2019, he was back in Rikers Island. Since the late 2000's, he's been sent there some 10 times on charges ranging from heroin possession, petty larceny, identity theft, charges of menacing and criminal possession of brass knuckles. See more »
In the scene after Ilya hitchhikes, he is seen dropping the paper surrounding his DayQuil bottle on the floor. In the next scene when he drinks from it again, the paper is still surrounding the bottle. See more »
You ain't gettin' rid of me, I ain't going nowhere.
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An above average drug movie with one interesting twist
I saw Good Time a couple of years ago, and to make a joke that absolutely everybody who saw and enjoyed it has already made: it was a good time. Tense, gritty, and excellently paced, it also piqued my interest in the Safdie brothers as filmmakers going forward. Uncut Gems has been on my radar for a while, and I'll finally have the opportunity to see it in a few days, but in the meantime went back into their filmography to see what else they had to offer. The interesting premise and critical acclaim of Heaven Knows What grabbed my attention, and so I gave it a watch last night.
Throughout much of the film, I thought it was pretty decent if not quite remarkable. It looked good and was shot well for an indie film, the music made me feel queasy in a good way, and the central performance from lead actress Arielle Holmes- who I did not recognise- was very good. I was surprised to learn once the movie was over that not only was this loosely based on a true story, but that it was indeed Holmes' story- she effectively played as version of herself throughout the movie. And this made me appreciate her performance even more- it was brave of her to relive such a traumatic story on screen, and even if she was acting situations close to what she experienced, the fact that this was her first time acting is still mightily impressive. I was under the impression while watching that she was just an unknown, freshly discovered actress, albeit a very good one. This semi-autobiographical, almost meta twist is definitely the most interesting and notable aspect of the film.
Besides that, is Heaven Knows What worth the 90-ish minutes of grit and potential trauma? I would say yes, but don't expect to see anything you haven't seen or heard already in most movies that depict drug addiction. It treads familiar ground but does so well, although by and large the acting from the rest of the cast isn't quite as strong as Holmes'. There is also a loose, not exactly propulsive unfolding of events that serve as a vague kind of story, so while this is somewhat frustrating, it's also almost definitely intentional. It depicts the flow and tedium of a life that's all about trying to score the next high; a life that is surely 99% frustrating, tedious, and stress-inducing. It doesn't make for a pleasant watch, but it does make for a mostly compelling one.
The treading of familiar ground and not excelling in anywhere but the casting of/performance of Holmes is the only thing that holds this back. The Safdie Brothers were likely still tweaking their craft that they'd essentially end up perfecting in Good Time, but this is a really solid effort, and worth watching if you either haven't seen many movies about drug addiction, or are okay with watching one that might not necessarily tell you anything new about the topic.
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