New York Cool: In this Issue
 
 
Listings:
 
dance
events
music
submit listings
   
New York Cool:
 
 









Film
What's Up For Today?

New York Cool - Ask Miss Wendy

 

 

 


Thom Fitzgerald’s
Cloudburst
Newfest
July 27-31, 2012
Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center

Written by Thom Fitzgerald.

Starring: Olympia Dukakis, Brenda Fricker, Ryan Doucette, Kristin Booth.

Mini-review by Frank J. Avella

Two Academy Award winners play a couple of elderly lesbian lovers in Thom Fitzgerald’s poignant and engrossing new feature, Cloudburst. Olympia Dukakis (in her best role since Steel Magnolias) portrays Stella, a gruff, cantankerous and outrageously profane bulldyke, as if she were born to the role. Brenda Fricker (not this good since My Left Foot) is her sweet, obliging partner, who happens to be blind. These two divine ditties embark on a twisted Thelma and Louise-esque adventure in order to stay together. Along their journey they pick up a gorgeous hitchhiker (sexy Ryan Doucette) who becomes a surrogate son of sorts.

Fitzgerald, who adapted the story from his own play, has a lot of important things to say about gay marriage, but the story is ultimately about the power of true love and how we should cherish our moments together when we find it.

Cloudburst is one of the best films playing at Qfest and Newfest. See it for Dukakis’s Oscar-worthy performance. See it for the delightful Brenda Fricker. See it for shirtless Doucette, who you’ll want to eat with a spoon. Or just see it because it’s so damn good.

Newfest runs July 27-31 at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

For tickets: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/newfest-2012

Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center | 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.




Joshua Sanchez’s
Four

Newfest
July 27-31, 2012
Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center

Written by Joshua Sanchez. Based on the play by Christopher Shinn.

Cast: Emory Cohen, Wendell Pierce, Aja Naomi King, E.J. Bonilla.

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Rarely does a film come along that truly tries to examine this inability we humans sometimes have to connect with others—whether we are unwilling or truly unable to. When a movie penetrates that invisible but powerful area of loneliness most people live in, seldom does it keep things sketchy and messy—the way life usually is.

Joshua Sanchez has managed all that in his provocative new film, Four. Most of the controversy that will more than likely engulf the film will come from the statutory rape portion of the plot and Sanchez refusing to judge his characters—but that is part of the truth inherent in this wonderful work.

Four is based on a celebrated stage play by Christopher Shinn and probes one night in the life of four characters. That night happens to fall on the 4th of July. The metaphors about emancipation can begin.

June (Emory Cohen), is a fifteen-year-old boy who hooks up with Joe (Wendell Pierce), a middle-aged black man he met online.

Meanwhile, Joe’s teen daughter Abigayle (Aja Naomi King) is home caring for her sick mother and thinking dad is on a business trip. Needing to get out for a bit she calls biracial Dexter (E.J. Bonilla) a boy who has been trying to get with her. He happily comes to pick her up.

More plot should not be revealed since so many joys can be found in watching the scenes naturally unfold.

There’s a desperation to these damaged characters that is both alienating and absorbing and Sanchez reveals just enough to keep us emotionally involved but never feels the necessity to overdue or overextend.

And there are nuances galore, from Joe’s leaving his clothes on during sex to June’s precociousness, behaving as if he’s an expert at seduction. But we are never given reasons for these things—thank God!

In addition, mom’s illness is never fully explained. All we know is that both Joe and Abigayle have been pretty messed up by it.

Wendell Pierce manages a carefully modulated performance. Joe is never seen as a predator (even though he should know better) but, instead, he is really trying to make some kind of contact with the boy—beyond the sex act—as well as trying to force him to feel and not be ashamed of who he is (one gets the feeling, the way he was growing up.)

Emory Cohen perfectly embodies the painfully confused, petulant teen. Sex is easy; everything else, not so much. It’s the opposite of the obvious and fake portrayals of teens we get in films like The Twilight Saga (and Kristin Stewart in particular.)

Aja Naomi King gives us a girl who is so much older than she should be. Her walls are already built so high that reaching her seems impossible.

And E.J. Bonilla plays a sweet talker who is so much more. He’s so hopeful and craves love with such desire that his last scene devastates.

Sanchez has a way of mosaically weaving these worlds together in a manner that feels invasive and, yet, poetic.

Will these encounters in any way make an impression on any of the characters? We are left wondering. And, it’s that sense of wonder that keeps most moviegoers in a state of bliss.

Newfest runs July 27-31 at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

For tickets: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/newfest-2012

Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center | 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.


 



Travis Mathews’s
I Want Your Love

Newfest
July 27-31, 2012
Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center

Written by Travis Mathews.

Cast: Jesse Metzger, Ben Jasper, Brontez Purtell, Ferrin Solano, Brendan Gregory.

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

There is a lot of sex in Travis Mathews’ first narrative feature, I Want Your Love—and it’s pretty hardcore, but it never feels like porn.

Mathews uses sex to explore character—a highly unusual yet quite effective device of sorts. While it will probably be compared to John Cameron Mitchell’s wonderful Shortbus, because of the raw sex, I Want Your Love has more in common with Andrew Haigh’s seminal Weekend—a film that taps into the intertwined and sometimes-unintertwined emotional/sexual connection between men.

A quite good Jesse Metzger portrays a young artist about to leave his friends and exes in San Francisco for Ohio. These friends gather together to throw Jesse a going away party. In between some semi-raunchy sex sequences, we are given a glimpse into a handful of these gay men as we watch them interact with one another. Mathews' frequent use of close-ups is an eerily effective way of penetrating (no pun intended, okay maybe a little pun) the inner worlds of his characters.

Jesse is a bit lost: “I’ve spent the last ten years of my life distracting myself from myself,” and in many respects represents today’s gay man—with no real agenda or purpose—floundering. It’s exactly such insights that make the film much more than just another gay movie.

My main complaint is that I would have liked more actual scenes--a bit more character development. At 70 minutes, I felt a bit cheated. No matter, kudos to Mathews for giving us a refreshingly ballsy look at gay identity via sex.

Newfest runs July 27-31 at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

For tickets: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/newfest-2012

Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center | 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.


 



Bavo Defurne’s
North Sea Texas (Noordzee, Texas)
Newfest
July 27-31, 2012
Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center

Written by Bavo Defurne & Yves Verbraeken.

Based on the novel by Andre’ Sollie.

Starring: Jelle Florizoone, Mathias Vergels, Eva van der Gucht, Nina Marie Kortekaas, Ben Van den Heuvel, Katelijne Damen, Luk Wyns, Thomas Coumans.

Belgium (In Dutch with English subtitles)

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

When we first meet Pim (Ben Van den Heuvel and, a few years later, Jelle Florizoone), the quiet, introspective protagonist of Bavo Defurne’s freshman feature effort, North Sea Texas, he’s barely a teen and he already seems to know more about who he is than most adults—dolling up in his mother’s clothes and donning lipstick as well as collecting certain items that remind him of certain boys.

His slightly slutty mother Yvette (Eva Van der Gucht having a delightful time) is more concerned with her social life than in mothering so Pim ends up spending a lot of time over at Marcella’s his surrogate-like mom (a moving Katelijne Damen). Marcella has two children, the shy Sabrina (Nina Marie Kortekaas) who crushes on Pim and the ruggedly handsome Gino (Mathias Vergels, playing up the swagger to great effect).

Pim and Gino enjoy fooling around with one another. A lot. Mutual masturbation leads to kissing leads to…well everything and by the time Pim is fifteen he has fallen hard. Gino, however, has just turned eighteen and feels he should move on to girls—devastating Pim, who now has his sights set on the gypsy tenant, Zoltan (Thomas Coumans). Zoltan has other ideas.

North Sea Texas isn’t afraid to show what little gay boys think about and do in the privacy of their rooms. Pim saves Gino’s undies, for instance and likes to draw sexy pictures of his beau. In addition, the film does not shy away from delving into teen sexuality. The movie also provides portrait of a single parent that is far too real, a woman who selfishly seeks out her own desires instead of caring for her child. I also appreciated Marcella’s attitude towards her son and Pim’s relationship. A mother always knows. Her last moment is priceless.

The film, set in a coastal Belgian town in the late 60s/early 70s, is beautifully shot and the ending is richly rewarding.

Defurne is to be applauded for not compromising and doing his first-gay-love- story justice. And the cast is to be commended for very real and touching performances—especially Jelle Florizoone as the older Pim who allows us just enough of a glimpse into Pim’s world to be intrigued, but never too much. After all it’s HIS world. And he’s allowed that. We all are.

Newfest runs July 27-31 at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

For tickets: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/newfest-2012

Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center | 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.




Ash Christian’s
Petunia
Newfest
July 27-31, 2012
Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center

Written by Ash Christian, Theresa Bennett.

Cast: Tobias Segal, Thora Birch, Christine Lahti, David Rasche, Michael Urie, Brittany Snow, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Jimmy Heck.

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Ash Christian (Fat Girls, Mangus!) has grown significantly as a director (and co-writer) with his new effort, Petunia, an eccentric, quirky, nasty and enveloping black comedy that has Wes Anderson undertones.

Petunia is the last name of the nutty, disturbed but, ultimately, loveable family the movie gives us a glimpse inside.

Charlie (Tobias Segal) is the neurotic, gay and celibate younger brother who is embarrassed by his family but loves them nonetheless. His older brother Michael (Eddie Kaye Thomas) has just married steely, hard-ass Vivian (Thora Birch), who happens to be sleeping with the hot, gruff sex-addict middle brother Adrian (Jimmy Heck, dead on good). Vivian discovers she is pregnant but isn’t certain who the father is, nor is she sure she wants to keep it.

That’s disheartening news to the Petunia parents (Christine Lahti & David Rasche), two sado-masochistic psychotherapists who are in desperate need of psychotherapy.

Charlie (who soon looks like the normal one of the brood) meets Vivian’s gay cousin George (Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie) and they embark on an affair (sexless at first), but Charlie soon finds out that George is married to Robin (Brittany Snow, irresistible), an anorexic hot mess.

Well, before you can say 'dysfunction,' demons are exorcised, babies are born, chastity bracelets are snapped and plates are broken.

Christian keeps the action moving swiftly and hilariously along, never condescending to his characters (the way Todd Solondz often does) but simply allowing them to jump off their respective cliffs knowing there’s a net there to catch them. That net is the familial bond—very strongly established early on.

Newcomer Tobias Segal anchors the film with a winning, delightfully amusing performance as Charlie—channeling Bud Cort in Harold and Maude and Timothy Bottoms in Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing. (Okay, maybe not that last one since no one has seen it, but it did remind me of him!)

Lahti, always good, is splendidly disturbed here. It’s a pleasure to see the feelings of fiftysomethings depicted honestly in a film—that fear they’re becoming old and irrelevant. Lahti is especially funny and poignant in a scene involving her post-plastic surgery.

Christian’s misfits, like most people, are simply trying to survive, and making tons of mistakes as they go along. But, at least they have each other.

Newfest runs July 27-31 at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

For tickets: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/newfest-2012

Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center | 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

 


Eytan Fox’s
Yossi
Newfest
July 27-31, 2012
Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center

Written by Itay Segal.

Starring: Ohad Knoller, Lior Ashkenazi, Oz Zehavi, Orly Silbersatz Banai, Ola Schur.

Israel (In Hebrew with English subtitles)

Review by Frank J. Avella

Yossi is Eytan Fox’s sequel to the groundbreaking 2002 Israeli film Yossi and Jagger, which depicted a romance between two male soldiers.

A decade has passed and Yossi (Ohad Knoller) hasn’t changed much in terms of accepting himself. He’s a cardiologist (irony) now who has let himself go physically and is still living in the closet—fending off advances from a nurse but never telling her why and playing ‘straight’ with a fellow doctor who keeps insisting what he needs is a woman.

In a particularly painful scene, Yossi chats up a hunk online and sends a photo of himself when he was much younger and thinner. Upon meeting, the egotistical, well-muscled hunk face-to-face, he is admonished for sending out a false photo. It’s a very realistic, very painful scene ending in humiliation.

Yossi still hasn’t gotten over the loss of Lior (Jagger), who died in his arms and when Lior’s mom comes in for routine tests, Yossi makes a cathartic move—after procrastinating for too long a time. He then decides to take a vacation and encounters a group of young, silly and carefree soldiers who are on holiday. Yossi gives them a ride to their resort hotel and is surprised and intrigued by Tom (Oz Zehavi), who has no problem being openly gay and is accepted by his fellow soldiers.

A sweet and odd courtship follows and in an absolutely beautiful scene, a long-needed additional catharsis is achieved as Tom shows Yossi that not every gay male out there is an arrogant, superficial cad.

I’m not quite sure how well Yossi stands on it’s own, but as a sequel it’s a tender, loving portrait of a very damaged man finally healing and accepting himself. Thomas Mann’s Death in Venice is alluded to in the film and there are themes in that novel (and the Visconti film) that are touched on here as well. Yossi can be seen as a modern Gustav, so the tragedy is no longer necessary. Director Eytan Fox even uses music from the film (Mahler—which becomes Yossi’s nickname).

Fox is a smart and sensitive director, knowing just where to begin and end scenes and he gets remarkable work out of his actors.

Orly Silbersatz Banai is excellent as Lior’s mom, trying to understand Yossi’s revelation and why he felt it was necessary to say anything.

The uber-adorable Oz Zehavi is so natural, coy and pleasant as Tom that one can easily understand why Yossi is so taken with him

But the film succeeds because of Ohad Knoller’s deliberately understated, incredibly accomplished turn as the title character. A devastated and done man in the early scenes, Knoller’s slowly chips away at the self-esteem issues that have plagued him and by the film’s conclusion we can actually feel Yossi moving on…slowly…but surely. Kudos to screenwriter Itay Segal for keeping his hero in a fragile state.

I look forward to a revisit in 2022.

Yossi will play at the JCC Mahattan.

Newfest runs July 27-31 at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

For tickets: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/newfest-2012

Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center | 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.



Coley Sohn’s
Sassy Pants

Newfest
July 27-31, 2012
Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center

Written by Coley Sohn.

Starring: Anna Gunn, Ashley Rickards, Haley Joel Osment, Diedrich Bader, Jenny O’Hara

Reviewed by Frank J. Avella

Coley Sohn has assembled a terrific cast for her oddball tale of an awkward teen’s desperate attempt to escape the clutches of her horrifically overbearing mother.

Bethany (Ashley Rickards) is a socially awkward eighteen-year-old who has been homeschooled by her freakishly protective mother (Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn) so she flees to her gay dad—who is a selfish mess in his own right and is shacked up with a boytoy aptly named Chip (a grown up and refreshingly scary Haley Joel Osment). Bethany wants to be a fashion designer but the only person who supports her is Chip.

Sassy Pants, Sohn’s debut film, wants to be a satire but isn’t insightful enough. The script suffers from characters that aren’t fully dimensional. And each gay character is a ridiculous stereotype. It’s up to the actors to flesh them out as best they can, and, for the most part, they rise to the occasion. Jenny O’Hara, in particular, is hilarious and makes us care about grandma. And Martin Spanjers excels as Bethany’s goth-wannabe brother.

Sohn shows directorial promise and I appreciated the story she puts forth. I just wish the realization was more palpable and less cliché.

Newfest runs July 27-31 at Walter Reade Theater, 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.

For tickets: http://www.filmlinc.com/films/series/newfest-2012

Walter Reade Theater | Lincoln Center | 165 W. 65th Street, NYC.


 

 


 


© New York Cool 2004-2014