Susan Cagle, Jenn Dees, Jared Asato, Mark DiConzo, John Weisenburger, Jeremy Koerner, Molly Ryman
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
|Grade: A to A-
|Grade: B+ to B
|Grade: B- to C+
|Grade: C to C-
Would it surprise you if I said that "New York Lately" is a New York film?
"Obviously," you might say.
This statement could mean any number of things.
"New York Lately" could be a Scorsese style crime drama.
"New York Lately" could be a Woody Allen style relationship dramedy.
While the Allen connection could easily be deemed closer, the highest compliment I can give "New York Lately" is that it's a Gary King film.
What? You haven't heard of Gary King?
Relax. You will.
"New York Lately" might actually draw an even closer comparison to Paul Haggis' "Crash," with its interweaving storylines and connected sense of humanity.
The difference is that Gary King isn't necessarily trying to solve the problems of the world with "New York Lately," instead focusing his energy on the individuals who comprise his interweaving storylines.
Sure, King's characters are dealing with real life issues like relationships, work, sex, faithfulness, trust and honesty.
Okay. Okay. So these ARE big issues. In "New York Lately," they are big issues handled with intimacy and grace.
The storyline with which you most resonate in "New York Lately" is likely to be dependent upon your own particular place in life.
There's Elliott (Jeremy Koerner), a mystery writer who believes his wife, Julianne (Bridget Trama), is having an affair. He hires an investigator (Vanessa Streiff), and King authentically weaves Elliott's story through his relationship with his wife and, in short order, the burgeoning relationship with the investigator. While this could have easily proven fodder for histrionic filmmaking, King's steady focus keeps the story unfolding in ways that feel honest to the characters.
If you've ever suffered through a break-up from which you can't seem to recover, then you are most likely to resonate with the story of Mark (Mark DiConzo), a voice-over actor dumped by his girlfriend Andrea (Molly Ryman). As I watched Mark's scenes play out, I reflected briefly on the recent comedy "He's Just Not That Into You" and couldn't help but think "This is what would have happened had it not all been played for laughs."
The stories continue unfolding. An HR Manager (Jared Asato) struggles to deal with the stress of laying off people day after day, including determining the fate of one of his friends, Branden (John Weisenburger). Not so far away, two coffee shop employees (Jenn Dees and Susan Cagle) are simply struggling with life in the big city.
These are stories...everyday stories, big and small. Most importantly, they constantly feel like "real" stories largely due to King's exceptionally talented ensemble cast.
While Mark DiConzo and Jeremy Koerner give, arguably, the film's most emotionally satisfying performances, I found myself almost hypnotically drawn to the gentle, slow-rising relationship between the frustrated HR manager Jared and Truly, one of the two young women who works in the coffee shop. The two of them do this wondrously rich build into relationship and intimacy that feels completely and utterly honest and devoid of the forced relationship drama that so often accompanies this type of film.
Despite the film's low budget, the tech credits for "New York Lately" are top notch across the board including a wonderful musical score from Ben Romans and Jason Varner's excellent cinematography.
Intelligent, entertaining and thought-provoking, "New York Lately" is a remarkable achievement and a shining example of independent cinema at its finest.
Currently playing on the festival circuit, "New York Lately" is a film you should check out given the chance. For more information on the film, check out the film's website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic
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Richard Propes and Heart n' Sole Foundation