TWO LOVERS at BAM Last Night

by tully
February 11, 2009 6:20 AM
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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!

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  • The Playlist | August 29, 2011 8:15 AMReply

    Hi Michael, Rodrigo over at The Playlist, one of your IndieWIRE compatriots. You didn't record the Q&A or know anyone who did, did you? Really wanted to go and then totally spaced out and forgot.

    theplaylist AT gmail DOT com

  • nat sanders | February 19, 2009 8:34 AMReply

    and i obviously respect yours, but man - i think i laughed more in this film than i did in just about any other in 2008! sadly, it was all unintentional on the filmmaker's part, of course.

    maybe i'll give it another shot, though. maybe...

  • tully | February 19, 2009 6:00 AMReply

    i obviously respect your opinion, Nat, but damn this movie is sooooo fuggin' scrumptious!

  • nat sanders | February 19, 2009 4:12 AMReply

    i would love to hear his answer to that question, or why he decided to have his two leads act like straightup 14 year olds. (one could easily play a drinking game to every time gwyneth says, "i'll text you," and by the end of the film be properly wasted.)

    man, some of the most bizarre choices i've ever seen...

  • tully | February 19, 2009 2:53 AMReply

    i had a grin on my face throughout too, which i would simply attribute to being an accidental spice added to an already yummy meal! intentional or unintentional doesn't matter in this case, though i also believe that Gray was certainly aware of it. i wanted to ask him that specific question at the BAM Q&A but they never got around to me.

  • Jessica | February 12, 2009 4:12 AMReply

    I was apparently way off the mark on this one because I'm hearing great stuff, but I thought it looked AWFUL. Maybe the whole thing was tainted for me because of how much I hate the title. Anyway, I'll def, check it out now. Thanks!

  • c mason wells | February 12, 2009 4:10 AMReply

    Friday can't get here soon enough. Although I don't know if it'll be half as good as last night's JP Letterman appearance.

  • nat sanders | February 12, 2009 1:55 AMReply

    "For some, it might all seem implausible and hokey."

    count me as being in that boat and then some!

  • ivana | February 11, 2009 8:56 AMReply

    I hope Casey Affleck got a shot of the homemade studio, etc. for the documentary. Sounds like good stuff! Time for Joaquin to train some carrier pigeons, so he can use them for basic communication instead of the telephone system -- they worked great in WWI. Let's hope this puts an end to all the wild speculation and rash comments. The guy is going to stick with music until he gets the sound he wants, the production he wants and the audience he wants. Then, and only -- if then -- will he be interested in films again, and not just acting, but the soup-to-nuts of it: writing, directing, filming, producing -- the documentary is just a phase of this learning experience for Joaquin. He's not bored with life, he's just bored with JUST ACTING. He has mastered that, so who can blame him? He just wants more empowerment and he was a big enough guy to empower HIMSELF without having to wait for anybody else to do anything. I think it is terrific and he is terrific. The world can do without alot of thing before it can do without Joaquin Phoenix, and this is far from the last total makeover of his character that he is likely to undergo -- far from the last indeed. Casey Affleck, you deserve an award for being the Best Friend of 2008, and Summer Phoenix, you deserve an award for being the most kind-hearted, understanding wife and sister Of All Time. With a support system like this, it is no wonder Joaquin is on track with his life. The rest of us can assess our lives and take a lesson, get rid of the garbage, the past, our inhibitions -- and do what our hearts tell us to do. There is always a way to renew our lives, and putting yourself out there is the first step. Imagine, someone throwing ICE at Joaquin Phoenix! And he took it in stride. I would say he and his family have got it all together. Good on you.