Are the Safdie brothers, otherwise known as Josh and Benny Safdie, the cure to the cretaive drought of modern Hollywood, or are we simply dealing in needless hyperbole? Whichever way you look at it, it’s clear that the brothers efficiently bridge the gap between classic Hollywood and the frenetic pace of the contemporary industry, having released Good Time and Uncut Gems to great critical and commercial acclaim.
Born from the stylistic influence of classic American directors Martin Scorsese and the Coen brothers, with a significant European inspiration galvanising their characters and stories, Josh and Benny Safdie are helping to carve out a new identity for modern independent cinema.
Revitalising the career of Adam Sandler as an eccentric American living on a constant knife-edge and loving every minute of it in their 2019 movie Uncut Gems, the Safdie brothers are riding at the very brink of the industry’s innovation. Becoming cult favourites of cinema lovers at the very same time, Josh and Benny are purveyors of classic cinema often noting their love of both classic films and modern releases.
Recalling the first time they saw the Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction, the Safdie brothers revealed their young impression of the film in an interview with Criterion in their Adventures in Moviegoing series.
“I remember going to see Pulp Fiction with him [their father] in the movie theater, it was 1994 so I was 10,” Josh Safdie hilariously recalls, with both him and his brother being several years below the given age rating.
As always with Safdie brothers interviews, the brotherly duo talk over each other as if they were one creative vessel, recalling their childhood when their dad blasted the Pulp Fiction soundtrack on “full volume”, so by the time they got to the cinema, they both recognised many of the story beats. “I remember being in the theater being like ‘oh I know this from what I heard,’” Josh states, adding that he had “that concept of like the consumerist idea of movies and promotion”.
At the end of the movie, the lights came up and the rest of the crowd and suddenly Josh and Benny, who were children at the time, were revealed to the audience, whereupon people started “throwing popcorn” at their dad in disgrace. Unphased by their father’s actions, they made an excuse for him by saying, “in his mind it was like a necessity, like ‘I need to take them with me because I have to see this movie’”.
Comparing their father’s decision to take them to see the R-rated movie to the thought process of their fictional protagonist in the 2009 movie Daddy Long Legs, Benny Safdie concluded the conversation by admitting, “there was there was a lot in there that we shouldn’t have seen”.
Take a listen to the full clip featuring the Safdie brothers and Criterion, below.