God, I love Brooklyn. Where else could you go to your local movie theater on a Tuesday night and see a sneak preview of an incredible new(ish) movie followed by a post-film discussion with that incredible movie's writer/director? Last night, BAMcinematek returned from their recent hiatus with a pre-release screening of James Gray's Two Lovers. I saw Two Lovers on a DVD screener last fall and was blown away. It's funny (funny because it placed in the lower teens in my "Best of 2008" wrap-up), but after seeing it on the big screen last night, it might very well be my favorite theatrical release of 2009, more so than Silent Light even.
I'll be posting a full review of the film over at Hammer to Nail on Friday, so I don't want to waste more time writing about my reaction to it here, but suffice to say, this film is firmly rooted in the present while paying a great debt to the past. For some, it might all seem implausible and hokey. For me, it's one of the more sincere, heartfelt explorations of The Right Love vs. The Wrong Love that I have encountered in quite some time.
In the post-film Q&A, led by Fort Greene resident Andrew O'Hehir, Gray didn't disappoint (seriously, it felt like Bodganovich gone right). Getting the elephant out of the room right off the bat, O'Hehir asked Gray about Joaquin Phoenix's supposed retirement from acting in order to become a rapper. Gray explained that after Two Lovers had wrapped (no pun intended), Phoenix kept mumbling that he was exhausted and didn't want to do it anymore. Cut to months later, when his wife called him into the kitchen to show him the same article that most of us had read. Confused, he tried calling Phoenix, but his phone was disconnected. Instead, he drove to Phoenix's house and knocked on the door, but there was no answer. He walked inside, only to discover Phoenix wearing headphones in a home-made studio, shouting an approximation of rap music into the microphone. Gray stressed that Phoenix appeared to be clear-headed and sober. He also stressed that he hopes he gets it out of his system sooner than later and returns to his true calling in life.
Thanks, BAMcinematek. That was a really, really good one!