Film Reviews 

For the week of March 31-April 6

Wednesday, Mar 29 2006

GO ADAM & STEVE A bad date can come back to haunt you, a phenomenon that may derail the blossoming romance between Adam (Craig Chester) and Steve (a fearless Malcolm Gets), two New Yorkers who’ve yet to recall that they shared a one-night stand back in 1987, an occasion that ended with Steve having a bodily-function accident so disgusting that John Waters would surely cackle with glee. Adam has a few skeletons of his own, not least his accident-prone family, on whom ceilings fall nightly, which accounts for the traction harness his mother (Julie Hagerty, aces) wears like a fashion accessory. For his debut as writer-director, Chester, who starred in the 1990s queer classics Swoon and Grief, has devised some funny running gags for his supporting cast, which includes Parker Posey and Chris Kattan. Their antics distract nicely from the fact that Adam and Steve never actually say anything interesting to each another. But then again, profundity has never been a requirement for heterosexual movie lovers either. Adam & Steve is uneven, but it’s a relief to see a gay romance that isn’t about ab-perfect 20-year-olds, and which features lovers played by two long out-of-the-closet actors. Wonder of wonders. (Sunset 5; One Colorado; Art Theater) (Chuck Wilson)

ATL His parents having recently been killed in a car crash, high school senior Rashad (rapper Tip “T.I.” Harris) lives with and looks out for his impressionable younger brother, Ant (Evan Ross), on Atlanta’s mean streets, where kids tend toward drug dealing instead of college for a shot at a future. As soon as we hear Rashad’s jaded voice-over accompanied by a menacing hip-hop beat during the opening credits, the story arc of this Dirty South Boyz N the Hood is a foregone conclusion, but veteran rap-video director Chris Robinson gives his feature debut such energy and good humor that, for a long while, ATL skates along on its slick camera movements and the exuberance of its young cast. When Robinson lets Rashad and his posse pal around, hook up and have a few laughs, he evokes a sense of how good kids in bad neighborhoods nonchalantly face constant self-destructive temptations as a part of their daily routine. But eventually, Hollywood plot machinations rear their ugly heads, dictating a generic Romeo-and-Juliet love story and an even staler cautionary tale about the evils of drugs that completely stifle the film’s laid-back appeal. What starts out as a lively reconsidering of the thug-life mentality ends up having as much depth as, well, one of Robinson’s videos. (Citywide) (Tim Grierson)

GO AWESOME: I FUCKIN’ SHOT THAT This Beastie Boys concert film is billed as “an authorized bootleg,” a tag derived from the group’s decision to hand video cameras to 50 fans just before an October 2004 Madison Square Garden concert, with instructions to shoot whatever the fans wanted. The resulting footage was then sampled by director “Nathaniel Hornblower” (actually Beastie Adam Yauch) and stitched into this feature-length documentary. But while the creative driver’s seat is shared with fans, it’s clear from the start that Awesome is kissed with patented Beastie cheekiness: It opens with a non sequitur text scroll that’s played just for laughs, after which the viewer is catapulted into a sea of grainy, shaky images (at times, the film almost engenders motion sickness) that are nevertheless delicately braced with professionalism. The sound mix is gloriously pristine, catching every keyboard warble and turntable scratch, and Yauch’s precision editing simultaneously captures both fan hysteria and the energetic rush of the concert. While the joy that the Beasties have in performing is palpable, some of Awesome’s biggest highlights are snapshots of fan rapture — mosh-pit frenzy, air-guitar accompaniment and hyped mouthing along to lyrics. Keep an eye out for Ben Stiller in B-boy drag and fan-boy mode. Only hardcore aficionados will have the stamina to endure the full-on assault — the movie starts to drag near the end and feels longer than its 90 minutes — but that’s cool. It’s a love letter to the faithful in the first place. (Nuart) (Ernest Hardy)

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