Isen Robbins

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Brother To Brother Review


OK
Perry (Anthony Mackie) has a lot going on. He's young, black, and gay, and studying hard at Columbia while also working at a homeless shelter and trying to get noticed as a painter. Disowned by his homophobic parents, he's looking for love, meaning, purpose... all that good stuff. "There's a war inside me," he thinks to himself.

So can he end the war in the course of a 90-minute movie? Brother to Brother tackles so many issues that there's no way Perry will find all his answers, but he does make a good start with the help of the elderly Bruce Nugent (Roger Robinson), a minor figure in the Harlem Renaissance whom Perry encounters on the street and later at the shelter. Nugent, who's also gay, takes Perry back to the days of wild Harlem through a series of black-and-white flashbacks. It's there that we meet the young Bruce (Duane Boutte) along with the superstars of the era: Langston Hughes (Daniel Sunjata), Zora Neale Hurston (Aunjanue Ellis), and Wallace Thurman (Ray Ford). By listening to Nugent's stories, Perry realizes that all the prejudices he's fighting -- black vs. white, gay vs. straight, light-skinned vs. dark-skinned -- are nothing new.

Continue reading: Brother To Brother Review

Anything But Love Review


Good
The production values in Anything But Love are primitive, the story is derivative, performances are sometimes awkward and, yet, there's a reason it did well in eight festivals. This courageous film takes itself completely seriously and expresses an ardent vision of its subject: the music and styles of the '50s.

Though it's too limited in scope and budget to be -- as the ad copy would have it -- a celebration of the "style and sensibility of Technicolor musicals," co-writers Robert Cary and Isabel Rose have put together a fairytale story line with a Sweet Home Alabama dilemma: Their heroine has to choose between the rich guy and the dedicated, artistic type; between financial independence and a hazardous career.

Continue reading: Anything But Love Review

Besotted Review


OK
This exceptionally strange romantic drama masquerades as a supernatural comedy, but at heart it's another hyper-realistic story of mature romance (as opposed to the usual teen rom-com). Director Holly Hardman plays a witch of sorts who gets tapped to aid in a case of unrequited love that local town drunk Shep (Jim Chiros) has for lady lobster fisher and ex-lover Vicky (Susan Gibney). Hardman moves statuettes around a magic chessboard of sorts for 90 minutes, with unpredictable, yet not terribly compelling results. Strangely, the DVD case describes this as "an illuminating experiment with the creative process," but there's nothing experimental on the screen. Besotted comes across as just another indie romantic drama that didn't really go anywhere. (If something kooky is happening behind the scenes -- like they shot the movie without a script or something -- I'm clueless about it.)
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