samedi 13 mai 2017

'Good Time': The Safdie Brothers Talk about 'Good Time' & Rob with Les Cahiers du Cinéma (France)

'Good Time': Les Frères Safdie Parlent de 'Good Time' & de Rob avec Les Cahiers du Cinéma


Numéro de Mai 2017 Speciale Cannes actuellement dans les kiosques
May 2017 Cannes Special issue now on sale


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Translation after the cut




(Mad Love in New York is the French title for Heaven Knows What)


The New Yorkers make their first steps in competition with Good Time.

The Safdie brothers are practically cinematically born in Cannes. In 2008, The pleasure of being robbed, first movie by Josh, was presented as the closing film for La Quinzaine des réalisateurs with a short movie by Benny shown before. The next year, La Quinzaine presented their movie Lenny and the Kids (Original title: Go Get Some Rosemary). They are now in competition with Good Time written and edited with their forever partner Ronald Bronstein, the story of two brothers, an escape night, the oldest one played by Robert Pattinson and the youngest one, disabled, by Benny. We didn't see Good Time yet, but here is an open discussion, a month before the official presentation.

LCDC: We are one month away from the festival: is the film complete?

Josh: Almost: Oneohtrix Point Never made the music, and for the end they wanted a song en interaction with the film. We asked Iggy Pop, and he sings an incredible song in the style of Johnny Cash. Do you know how I learned we were in competition? Six months ago I was in Los Angeles at Robert Pattinson's house. He has Japanese toilet that blows hot air. I had never experienced such a thing ... I loved it so much that Robert said to me: if we go in competition, I buy you the same. And we were invited out of competition. Six hours before the press conference, we had a meeting to find out if we were really out of competition, because at the same time we were invited to La Quinzaine, and Rob was trying to contact me over and over again, but i was at this meeting, and suddenly he sent me a text message with a photo of the toilet! Thierry Frémaux had just announced him we were in competition. I was extremely surprised! It was extraordinary.

LCDC: Is the film hard to finance, even with a star like Robert Pattinson?

Josh: Yes, very hard. It is a genre film, but we didn't want typical actors of genre films, we wanted people in particular, we wanted them to be related to real life. This is the film on which we spent the most time. Ten months for editing. We had to re-shoot some scenes, we added an entire section with Jennifer Jason Leigh. It was our biggest budget, but we didn't have enough money.
Benny: And the shooting was difficult! At first it was a 26 days shoot, in the end we shot 33 or 34 days. We spent long days in the cold, it's a nocturnal movie since the hero is a fugitive criminal. Afterwards, we remember the best moments, but they are buried under so much effort, work and difficulties! In addition, my son is born two weeks before the beggining, we shooted 16 hours a day, and when I went home I changed the nappies... I hardly slept. It was a very intense period and I think you can feel it on the screen.

LCDC: What's the difference with your previous movies?

Benny: In Lenny Cooke, our documentary about the basketball player, and in Mad Love in New York, we had to stick to reality because we were filming people really involved, we had to be faithful to the story of these people and their feelings. While in a pure fiction like Good Time, even if it's inspired by things and ideas of life, we could invent everything, change everything. It's the best thing about cinema, it's like playing, when you can become someone else. We went all over Queens, Brooklyn, and we had to mix up all of these, connect the places, as if we were catching the reality of New York in a net.
Josh: It takes place in only one night. We wanted to make it clear where each character was at each moment. It's a film like a dream, like a nightmare. In Mad Love in New York, there is the same obsession with living in the present, but they don't have a story and that is the tragedy of their lives. For this film I was obsessed with books like The Executioner's Song by Norman Mailer, on Gary Gilmore, and In the Belly of the Beast by Jack Henry Abbott. This man obsession for freedom. The title of the film comes from an American expression: if you behave well in prison, you can be released on your good time.

LCDC: This is the first time you work with a star.

Josh: Pattinson is English, and the actors around him come from the world of the film. He spent five months working on his character. He doesn't have the experience of this life. I wrote him a biography from the day he was born to the first minutes of the film. We wanted to shoot into the streets, but wherever we went, people wanted to take a picture of him. We developed the appearance of his character so that nobody recognizes him. But he is so professional! He is never complaining. It's him who contacted us. He had seen a picture of Mad Love in New York on the Internet, he asked to see the movie, he saw it, and told us: whatever you want me to do, I will do it.

LCDC: It's a story about two brothers. Is this a film about fraternity? Were you an inspiration for Robert Pattinson?

Josh: Sometimes he asked me how I would play a scene. The character desperately wants to connect to his brother who is unable to connect, and he wants to do as if they were connected. So it's very different from my relationship with my brother: we have a very strong connection!
Benny: It became a film about fraternity, we realized it while editing. It came naturally because we are brothers, and Ronnie is like a third brother. It is the story of a man who tries to save his brother, and who is willing to do everything, including denying his principles. It's a universal story, and we try to work on it with emotion and heart. If the public manages to feel the power of this bond between the two brothers, the bet will be won.

LCDC: Benny, in Good Time, you are directing and you're acting too.

Benny: As we developed Good Time's story, we tried to find someone who could play Nick, the disabled brother. But it was very complicated to find a handicapped actor, and we felt like it was unfair to make someone act without understanding what it was to act, we would feel like using him. Years ago, after Lenny and the kids (Go Get Some Rosemary) we had a project with Ronnie in which I should have played a disabled character. It never happened but I learned to talk with a different elocution. For another project, which also didn't happen, I was about to play a boxer and I trained a lot, i took some weight and became buff. Therefore I could play someone knowing his strength and the danger he could represent. It’s a character who doesn't accept when someone stop him from getting what he wants. He feels things but he can't express his feelings. As an actor, it was the hardest to play, make people realize we feel something without expressing it, and without expressing it for the character. Because I know much more than he does. If something sad happens, me, the actor, I will be affected while the character is maybe not aware of it. He is a character not caring about what happens around him. It’s what his brother loves about him, this kind of freedom. It is really interesting because my goodwill towards Robert Pattinson, which is a normal goodwill between a director and an actor, was questioned the moment we acted together and it influenced the acting a lot. Especially since I was staying in my role of a disabled character! The first day of filming, people on set didn't know I was playing and wondered if I really was the co-director of the movie. 

LCDC: It is not the first time you go to Cannes. What kind of memories do you have of it?

Benny: I remember everything. The smell of the soap at the Palais Stephanie, it’s like a Proust madeleine. It was nine years ago, and in between I had a little boy who is now one and two months old. 2008 was an amazing year at La Quinzaine, Our Beloved month of August, Tony Manero… It was my first festival, I had never seen movies that way before, and we could discuss with filmmakers. Nevertheless, I have never succeed to find a ticket for a movie at the Theatre Lumière!
Josh: Cannes, it’s like the Champs Elysées, the place where gods live. Look at Martin Scorsese, he went to La Quinzaine for Mean Streets, and two years later he won the Palme d’or for Taxi Driver maybe our all time favorite movie. It's surreal. I remember kissing Miguel Gomes after Our Beloved month of August. And then in 2009 I jumped on Benny’s shoulders to present Lenny and the kids (Go Get Some Rosemary). At the end, I saw Vincent Gallo applauding in the theatre, I told myself everything was fine! But for now I don’t have a tuxedo … And to be honest I am heading to do shopping right now. But it's amazing to wonder what I should wear. This means a lot about the movie respect. It’s glorious. I am very afraid of the Theatre Lumière! 

Interview by phone on April 25 

Translation by Pattinson Art Work 

1 commentaire:

  1. Awww, that's a really cute story. Thank you for the translation :)

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