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URBANIA (R)
Unixpix
Official Site


Director: Jon Shear

Producers: Stephanie Golden, J. Todd Harris, Meta Puttkammer, Douglas Hunter, Jon Shear

Written By : Jon Shear, Daniel Reitz

Cast: Dan Futterman, Alan Cumming, Matt Keeslar, Josh Hamilton, Lothaire Bluteau, Bill Sage, Samuel Ball, Barbara Sukowa, Paige Turco, Megan Dodds, Gabriel Olds

Rating: ----

The communications explosion that is the Internet has brought the wide world into our homes. It has also provided an outlet for merry pranksters, such as those who promulgate urban legends. Who hasnít heard theseóthe guy who wakes up in an icy tub with a kidney missing and a lipstick message on the mirror to dial 911; the gangbangers who drive without lights after dark, and choose the unlucky soul who flashes his or her lights to remind them as their next victim; that wackos are putting HIV-infected needles in the return change slots of pay phones.

Charlie (Futterman) has heard them all, and now he asks us, "Heard any good stories lately?" One night, when leaving a party at Brettís (Cumming), he and his lover, Chris (Keeslar) are brutally attacked, an episode that shatters their relationship and their lives.

As Charlie moves through one long, tormented night, reliving the assault, reliving moments from when he and Chris were falling in love, and roaming the streets of NYC, searching for a man named Dean (Ball), it becomes increasingly difficult to tell whatís happening here and now, what happened in the past, and what happened only inside Charlieís head.

Charlieís story seems to be the focus, but as I watched the side stories (including a woman who has a sudden brainwave about how to dry off her poodle), I had to ask myself, "Is any of this happening?" Is Charlieís story in fact just another urban legend, with its teller to be revealed later?

As to what Charlieís story is, well, you can see it coming almost from the very beginning, and then itís here, and itís not quite what you thought.

URBANIA really pulled me in and made me anxious for Charlie, partly due to the exceptional performance of Dan Futterman, who made pain, grief, and nervous daring palpable. Josh Hamilton, as Matt the bartender with a tale of his own, was also a stand-out.

Jon Shear and Co. had a fine idea here, and while URBANIA worked on me quite effectively, I just canít commit. Maybe I see too many movies. So many filmmakers tell their tales out of sequence that itís robbed the device of its power, even for films with a really good reason to be told this way, such as URBANIA.

Letís just say, recommended for those who crave non-mainstream fare and for big-time moviegoers. Othersóyou pays your money, you takes your chances.

—Roxanne Bogucka, an Action Grrl!


HYBRID Ratings Guide:

- Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

- Itís worth a full-price ticket.

- Itís worth a matinee ticket.

- Wait for video rental.

- Check out the video from the library, if you must.

- While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...



Mike Doughty



none now
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