7 CHINESE BROTHERS - 7 Chinese Brothers to premiere at SXSW on March 15 in the Narrative Feature section. Jason Schwartzman slated to attend the Q & A.
Director/Screenwriter: Bob Byington
A man unaccustomed to telling the truth learns to at least describe it.
Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Tunde Adebimpe, Eleanore Pienta, Olympia Dukakis, Stephen Root (World Premiere)
LOVE IS STRANGE - Sight & Sound calls Love is Strange "simply one of the best films about a long-term gay relationship ever made">
Sight & Sound | 13 February 2015 | By Keith Uhlich
"Ira Sachs gives the comedy of remarriage a modern-day refresh with this warm, wise story of a newly vagrant gay couple in New York.
Writer-director Ira Sachs continues his semi-autobiographical streak after the career highlight of Keep the Lights On (2012). Love Is Strange is a perfectly poised 90-minute portrait of an ageing gay couple who find themselves not so much thrown out of their own apartment as thrown out of their own lives. Unlike the drug-addled obsessions of Keep the Lights On, however, this is a film you could take your grandparents to see, in the nicest possible sense of that proposition.
Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are a couple who have been together for decades. At the beginning of the film they get married, and it’s a communal and celebratory Manhattan affair: the reception at their modest apartment is full of love, with friends and family telling them what an inspiration they are.
But because of this public declaration, George finds that he has fallen foul of his conditions of employment at the conservative Catholic college where he is a music teacher, and is summarily sacked. He and Ben can no longer afford to live where they do. They sell up, get almost nothing in cash terms, and have to stay with different households.
There then follows a painful portrait of Ben living with his nephew and family, and George perching in the apartment of some gay cop neighbours, whose late-night socialising means he can’t go to bed on the couch. Forlorn telephone conversations follow. “Sometimes when you live with people you know them better than you care to,” observes Ben.
Lithgow and Molina have known each other for years, and fall easily into a sense of advanced brotherliness that is entirely convincing. But this is really Lithgow’s film and we dwell most in his company; his Ben is a penniless artist (apparently based on someone known to Sachs) with a good heart, albeit one riddled with cardiovascular disease.
His gentle mentoring of Joey, the teenager he is obliged to share a room with, is one of the film’s focus points; the boy is played by Charlie Tahan, who was Zac Efron’s ghostly brother in Charlie St Cloud (2010) and, more amusingly, Victor in Frankenweenie (2012). Joey is a grumpy teen who can spout a touch of unthinking homophobia – he hates Ben occupying his room; and he disapproves when Ben, returning to art as an escape and as an affirmation of who he is, paints a portrait of his friend Vlad on the roof.
The film’s colours are warm and summery, and the music plays a central part, from the Chopin piano at the start to the lessons conducted by George: one very precise scene in which he teaches a little girl seems to unlock his own voice – in voiceover he reads a letter about tolerance to the parents of the school. The editing is crisp and spare without being brutal, and serves best purpose, removing a whole skein of unnecessary detail without harming the emotional core of the story.
Interestingly, Sachs has talked about this film as a kind of comedy, and there are gently funny scenes, such as when the couple pretend to be Stonewall veterans and get free drinks in a bar; there’s a deft cinephile mix of the personal and a tribute to 1940s ‘married then separated’ movies such as The Philadelphia Story.
Sachs has also talked of it as a film about education “with a small ‘e’”. That seems most evident in the ultimately benign and helpful effect Ben has on George. Sachs, who has recently married his long-term partner and lives in Manhattan, has based some of the film on real-life characters – the gay cops, for example – and real places he has recently got to know, such as the city’s small public parks.
There are so many good things about this film. It’s a Manhattan romance. It’s a love letter to the rapidly vanishing bohemian and artistic milieu of New York, now priced out of town. It’s a wise description of the ‘make your own family’ culture of some modern lives. It’s a gentle anatomy of the horrors of outstaying your welcome, of being poor, sick and old. And it’s simply one of the best films about a long-term gay relationship ever made.
Most of all it’s a film about love – love that’s a little frayed around the edges sometimes but straightforward, funny and true.
ra Sachs borrows heavily from his own life experiences for Love Is Strange, merging the influences of Ozu and Woody Allen to paint a gentle character study of a gay couple whose lives are thrown into turmoil when they decide to get married after almost 40 years together.
LOVE IS STRANGE - Financial Times Review - 4 STARS - Alfred Molina and John Lithgow are superb as a gay couple forced out of their apartment >
Financial Times | 12 Feb 2015 | by Nigel Andrews
"In a week when Valentine’s Day goes viral at the cinema (see also Love Is All ), here is a bittersweet charmer from American indie filmmaker Ira Sachs. You could call it Fifty Shades of Gay. Love comes to — indeed long ago came to — two ageing New Yorkers newly forced out of their apartment. Their blissful but belated wedding has been followed by a mortgage-imperilling job loss. With choirmaster George (Alfred Molina) fired from his Catholic school, painter companion Ben (John Lithgow) patiently packs his things. Off the two go into the cold.
It’s a King Lear for the post-Stonewall era: touching, funny, wise, and wryly suggesting that though gays may never have had it so good, they could still have it better. For one dispossessed monarch pinballed round early Britain, read two human butterflies forlornly flitting across Manhattan in forced separation. Ben takes the lower bunk in a nephew’s son’s bedroom. By day he exasperates with his loose-ends chatter the nephew’s writer wife (Marisa Tomei). George grabs a berth with two gay cop friends. Parties every night for a man long past his party-loving days.
When two is company, even two and a half is a crowd. The stress fractures stretch from guests to hosts: personal crises and household quarrels are both suddenly in the eavesdroppers’ domain. What happened to privacy? Writer-director Sachs (Keep the Lights On) is a gifted, Chekhovian miniaturist. He perfects every tic and tock of his two heroes’ lives, as they gaze at the clock of their existence, robbed of the togetherness that made minutes, hours, days worthwhile. Molina and Lithgow are both superb: two crusty romantics searching for crumbs in a world, however well-meaning, that is too busy for love unless it comes tidy, manageable and vexation-free.
LOVE IS STRANGE - Love Is Strange Guardian Review - 4 STARS - A same-sex marriage sucker-punched by catastrophe >
The Guardian | Thursday 12 February 2015 | by Peter Bradshaw
"There is such unassuming artistry and maturity in this sweet, sad, wise movie by Ira Sachs, who has shown a flair for relationship nuance in films such as Keep the Lights On (2012) and his noir drama Married Life (2007). This is his best work yet: a wonderfully acted study in intimacy and the mystery of how much of our identity is invested in coupledom, especially in the long haul of marriage. Love is strange, says the title. Perhaps it gets stranger the longer you stay in love.
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, a gay couple in late middle age who live in New York City. Ben is an artist who is the financially dependent one; George is a music teacher at a Catholic school who pays the bills on the apartment they have recently bought. After living together for 40 years, Ben and George take advantage of recent changes in state law and get married. The exuberant reception at their place for a wide, loving circle of friends and relatives is a happy affair, more an anniversary party than a wedding. It reminded me, perhaps oddly, of the family parties in Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), in which the characters played by Lloyd Nolan and Maureen O’Sullivan start singing boozily – but those traces of melancholy and regret are absent here. Later, Ben amiably says he spent the afternoon at the cinema, seeing a revival of Busby Berkeley’s The Gang’s All Here. Another very Woody Allen moment.
All the guests had themselves made a kind of commitment: to redouble their friendship and love for the happy couple. But no one could have imagined how soon they would be expected to redeem this pledge. George is fired from his job by church authorities who disapprove of the gay wedding, though they were happy enough with the deniable hypocrisy of his merely having a roommate. Unable to meet their mortgage payments, these two men suffer an unthinkable catastrophe: in what they imagined to be the comfortable evening of their lives, they become homeless refugees, having to split up temporarily and live separately with two sets of friends who, with strained generosity, take them in.
Their humiliation is complete as we realise that each man is with the wrong host: hard-working George is billeted with a laid-back couple of gay cops who like noisy parties and get-togethers in the evening; after a hard day teaching private pupils, George comes back wanting peace and gets none. He would have been better off with Kate (Marisa Tomei) and Elliot (Darren Burrows), whose ordered but strained family life is put under further stress by genial Ben, who has the bunk bed in their teenage son’s room and does nothing all day but hang around getting under Kate’s feet. Their chaotic situation would be amusingly suited to bohemian foreign-exchange students; for grown, ageing men, it is almost shocking.
What is even more disquieting for each is the revelation that, agonising though the situation is, it can work – after a fashion. They can get by. Their love is real enough, but they can function as individuals, as single people. It is as if they are young again – messy and troublesome kids living with their parents, meeting up for dates and illicit sex, yet what they are concealing is not their sexuality but the fear of disaster, the fear of ending their days in poverty and failure, with the relationship that they thought was the bedrock of their existence shattered, almost casually.
Yet Ben and George are vouchsafed something long-term couples rarely have: a vision of what remains of them as individuals, a demonstration of the fact that individuals are what they inevitably are, and not some platonic fusion. It is a guide, of sorts, to how they might function without each other – and how, indeed, they will one day have to do this.
This is a film of great gentleness and subtlety. Sachs arguably sucker-punches us at the end by omitting one key scene, and yet when the truth about this omission dawns on the audience, it confers retrospective power on what has gone before. Lithgow and Molina give excellent performances in a film composed in a reflective minor key."
LOVE IS STRANGE - Love is Strange releases in the UK today>
Find out where it's playing: http://on.fb.me/1IU5BRg
For tickets and further details visit: http://bit.ly/1BSuMdX
QUEEN OF EARTH - The Match Factory Picks Up Alex Ross Perry’s ‘Queen of Earth’ >
Variety | Feb 5, 2015 | Leo Barraclough, John Hopewell
"The Match Factory has picked up Alex Ross Perry’s “Queen of Earth,” which premieres in Berlinale Forum.
The film stars Katherine Waterston (“Steve Jobs,” “Inherent Vice,” “Michael Clayton”) and Elisabeth Moss, who appeared in the director’s previous film, “Listen Up Philip.”
“Queen of Earth” centers on best friends Catherine and Virginia, who escape to the lakeside cabin of Virginia’s parents while they hash out their issues.
Joe Swanberg of Forager Film Co. and Christos V. Konstantakopoulos of Faliro House Prods. produced the film.
The Match Factory also handled “Listen Up Philip.” Michael Weber, managing director of the Match Factory, said: “We are very happy to work again with Alex Ross Perry on such a promising film like ‘Queen of Earth.’ Alex’s unique way of storytelling and original style make us proud to represent his new film.”"
LOVE IS STRANGE - Love is Strange in the London tube. Opens today at the Curzon Soho and on Feb. 13 across the UK>
QUEEN OF EARTH - Alex Ross Perry's 'Queen of Earth,' Starring Elisabeth Moss, Will World Premiere at Berlinale 2015>
indiewire | Ryan Lattanzio | 15 Jan 2015
Alex Ross Perry's 'Queen of Earth,' Starring Elisabeth Moss, Will World Premiere at Berlinale 2015.
"Moss was transcendently good in Perry's critics' darling "Philip." So good, in fact, that we picked one of her scenes as one of the 10 best of the year. Chalk this project, which shows Perry entering thriller territory and with a steadier camera for the first time, up with Herzog's "Queen of the Desert" and Malick's "Knight of Cups" as one of the most exciting Berlinale entries."