"The GoodTimesKid was a title that I and the co-writer Gerardo Naranjo came up with while we were studying at AFI together," Azazel Jacobs told James van Maanen at GreenCine Daily last August. Benten Films releases it on DVD today and for Michael Atkinson, writing at IFC.com, it "reveals the dippy cinema world that Jacobs, son of alt-film grand poobah Ken Jacobs, built for himself before breaking out, more or less, with Momma's Man (2008), and it's a mopey, stone-faced, lackadaisical hoot, though it is rarely outright funny, and hardly ever tries to be."
"Awesome packaging, per usual, from Benten, but The GoodTimesKid is not for the faint of heart," finds Slant's Ed Gonzalez, for whom the experience is "not unlike watching hipsters wanting to bump uglies but not being able to because they've forgotten where their uglies are." James McNally's had a better time - "the melancholy is matched by a certain light-heartedness" - and gives it an 8 out of 10.
"As if the film itself weren't proof enough, the disc's supplemental materials should be taught in film schools everywhere as a lesson in production ingenuity and guilefulness (though one might not want to take things as far as literally stealing their film stock)," writes Michael Tully in a rave at Hammer to Nail.
Starting tomorrow, the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York will be screening Gerardo Naranjo's second and third features, Drama/Mex, which screened at Cannes in 2006 before seeing a limited release in the US in the summer of 2007, and I'm Gonna Explode, which screened at New York Film Festival last year. In February, Aaron Hillis interviewed Naranjo for GC Daily, and that podcast is still available to download.
I'll carry on collecting reviews here of all three films as they appear; so far, Keith Uhlich has written in Time Out New York of Explode, "The title of the film promises something revolutionary, but all we get, aesthetically and thematically, are second-gen hand-me-downs."
In other news: Jonathan Rosenbaum will have a book coming out in the fall of 2010, Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia, and here's a taste: "A la recherche de Luc Moullet: 25 Propositions"; for Artforum, Melissa Anderson previews next Tuesday's screening of Susan Sontag's 1974 film Promised Lands at Light Industry in NYC; viewing: shorts from Chacun son cinéma (To Each His Own Cinema): the Coens and David Lynch.
Image: The GoodTimesKid and I'm Gonna Explode.
Updates: "These are the sort of moments that stick out from The GoodTimesKid," writes Cullen Gallagher in the L Magazine: "shadow puppets on the wall of a boat while an ex-girlfriend stands outside yelling and banging on the door; late-night visits to diners; bar fights you know you're going to lose; watching your boyfriend sleep while a broken record of Gang of Four's 'Damaged Goods' spins on the turntable. What makes these scenes work is the film's courageous lack of resolution, which on the one hand only reaffirms the characters' aimlessness and desperation, but it also makes those sparse moments of joie de vivre all the sweeter."
"The city's streets, buses, boats and diners photographed with a shabby romanticism that's much less obtrusive than the excessively set-designed depictions seen in other recent LA-set quasi-romances," writes Karina Longworth at the SpoutBlog. "By the time that final scene rolls around, and Jacobs hands over authorial control to Gang of Four, the musical cue feels unusually well-earned. A film like 500 Days of Summer bends over backwards to convince you it takes place in a world where cultural totems of disaffection still mean something. The GoodTimesKid actually creates and takes place in such a world, without strain."
Updates, 12/8: "Curiously comedic and jarringly delightful, The GoodTimesKid is a nearly wordless Godard-esque romp directed by Azazel Jacobs, the mind behind Momma's Man and the lovely short film Let's Get Started which we posted recently," writes Graham at We Love You So.
J Hoberman in the Voice, where Anthony Kaufman talks with Naranjo, on I'm Gonna Explode: "Dense, funny, almost underground in its rawness (although shot in glamorous wide-screen), the movie opens with Roman's plaintive cri de coeur, 'fucking sons of bitches,' and ends - as it has to - in teenage obliteration."
Benjamin Mercer in the L Magazine: "Though the film is shamelessly derivative, it's thankfully not as if Naranjo has forgotten which New Wave he belongs to. Taking two fresh-faced, wild-haired Mexican Bright Eyes fans as his heedless lovers on the run, Naranjo generates a youthful charge of his own."