Azazel Jacobs, son of Ken, is awfully sweet on Echo Park, where he shot his doodle of a second feature The GoodTimesKid. A day in the lives of an Olive Oyl Latina (Sara Diaz), her punk boyfriend Rodolfo (Jacobs), and a second Rodolfo (Gerardo Naranjo) who lives inside a boat, the film claims to be “a story about stolen love and stolen identities shot on stolen film,” though we could also apply to it Inland Empire‘s own promotional description of itself: “a story of a mystery…a mystery inside worlds within worlds…unfolding around a woman…a woman in love and in trouble.” But that’s not a recommendation, really. Jacobs Jr. gives us a film perched somewhere between the realistic solipsism of Mutual Appreciation and the insufferable quirk of Garden State, and the film is such that characters ask stupid questions that no one answers (possibly because they go unheard) and a brawl between two people is implied using only one actor; it’s not unlike watching hipsters wanting to bump uglies but not being able to because they’ve forgotten where their uglies are. Shortly before the film ends, Rodolfo II boards a bus toward a future in the army. This is meant as a sign of sacrifice on his part, but the film, in spite of some sweet DIY visual textures and transitions, does not give us reason to care for Diaz or either of the two Rodolfos, all of whom are cardboard signs of disaffection. Props, though, for giving us a hell of a great one-liner: Take it easy (pronounced, lovingly by Naranjo, as “Tayket eecie”).
On the disc's commentary track, Gerardo Naranjo states his appreciation for the film's beautiful colors, and this transfer from the boys at Benten does right by them: It's a handsome presentation, with solid color levels as well as top-notch skin tones and deep blacks. I noticed some jagginess in spots around people and objects, but nothing too distracting; more noticeable are the flecks, but they only work to remind us that The GoodTimesKid has its roots on actual film. There's a perpetual hiss on the soundtrack, but you can practically get rid of it by turning down the volume without compromising the well-modulated dialogue.
The commentary track by Azazel Jacobs, Naranjo, and Sara Diaz is almost as inexplicable as the film: Naranjo, when not commenting on his broken English and ingestion of Nyquil during a trip to Vegas, provides the most insight into the film's theme (nihilism, apparently) and aesthetic; Jacobs mostly dishes out production anecdotes (like, why he has a farmer's tan in the opening scene), while a comatose Diaz occasionally chimes in with weirdo, largely incoherent remembrances about "doing the thing" (translation: clapping the slate), drinking Zinfandel and "doing a lot of acting," and wishing she could be doing "little bigger films." Also included here: some deleted scenes, a photo gallery, an original trailer, Ken Jacobs's short The Whirled (an obvious influence on this film), Jacobs Jr.'s short Let's Get Started (in which a girl chases a bicycle wheel), and a thoughtful essay by critic Glenn Kenny.
Awesome packaging, per usual, from Benten, but The GoodTimesKid is not for the faint of heart-only connoisseurs of Zooey Deschanel and skinny jeans.