This morning I had the privilege of watching Josh Safdie’s “The Pleasure of Being Robbed”. I had read Tully’s blog about it last week and was a tad bit skeptical that it could live up to his enthusiasm for it. I was dead wrong.
Josh Safdie is not a mumblecore filmmaker, though it’s very tempting to call it that. He does have a sort of Andrew Bujalski style and wit to his dialog (and I really do mean Bujalski level of writing – not just some imitation) and the handheld camera work reinforces that. But there’s a kind of hyperrealism to the actions of the film, one that builds to a less realistic level the longer it goes on. The way the plot runs free makes “Robbed” a more magically cinematic experience, putting no constraints on itself by trying to directly copy actual life. Watching the film reminded of being twelve and sneaking into The Ritz in Philadelphia to see Riff Raff or Gummo or L’America. It’s from a school in which a movie can be both raw and edgy and independent and still escapist.
Much like Chris Eska in his film August Evening, Safdie is definitely working in the cinema of today, but brightly shows off his comprehensive knowledge of cinema history while blending it in perfectly as a kind of nonchalant joke. There’s a moment about two thirds of the way through that perfectly exemplifies what I’m talking where the protagonist finds a practicing trumpeter on her fire escape, straining to correctly play the first measure of "The Godfather" theme. In fact, for one reason or another, “Robbed” is filled with awesome details. That’s part of what makes it so special.
I’m gonna stop now because if I go any further, I’ll give too much away or get lost in my own rhetoric (both of which are kind of the antithesis of Safdie’s filmmaking). But, without overshooting, I will say that I’m honored and humbled that we are premiering in the same section, theater and festival as “The Pleasure of Being Robbed” and sincerely hope that it gets the attention it deserves.