Good Time ★★★★

What makes this frantic, unstoppably propulsive account of two brothers botching a bank robbery and the domino effect that results such an effective classicist thriller is that it adheres to the idea of traditional structure while constantly upending it. There's no indication in its first ten minutes of what sort of movie it's going to turn into, and you're never relaxed enough to predict the next crazed move it makes -- it's a curving road with an endless series of detours, and even as its total bastard of a hero (Robert Pattinson's Connie, more or less a grittier, poorer version of Tom Cruise in Rain Man) grows ever more frustrated and stymied through his procession of terrible, oafish decisions, your own satisfaction mounts because the tension is so exhilarating. It's not even that we want him to get away with his bungled crimes, but that the fact that he never seems to know what the fuck he's doing makes him -- like Cary Grant in North by Northwest -- effective as an audience vessel, eerily so given that he's clearly an abusive asshole and constantly taking advantage of / bringing harm to other people. The last new movie that made me feel so breathless was Nightcrawler, and that film had far less room for the traces of empathy and goodness that occasionally creep into this one, achieved mostly by giving every minor character something of a complete movie of their own, regardless of how much time we have with them. And while it's a bleak parade of reverse-Americana in its rusted-out hollow New York, eventually (as with Breaking Bad) the bad luck and pessimism have made it so far into the realm of irredeemable dread that you just have to laugh at it; it's one of the most fun depressing movies I've ever seen, and probably the closest approximation in recent cinema of what would happen to most of us if we tried to take on a life of crime.

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