Review: ‘CHRISTMAS, AGAIN’ is a true NYC character study.

 Factory25Logo2.jpg

Presents
CHRISTMAS, AGAIN

Starring Kentucker Audley and Hannah Gross
Written, Produced & Directed by Charles Poekel

Christmas, Again poster

The holidays inevitably spark memories of both the good times and the bad. We often think of those we’ve lost, while trying desperately to cling to every last minute of holiday spirit. Some love the season. Some think it the worst time of the year. In Charles Poekel‘s CHRISTMAS, AGAIN, we are treated to both sides of the coin. Kentucker Audley Christmas againSynopsis:

For a fifth consecutive December, a heartbroken Noel returns to New York City to work the night shift at a sidewalk Christmas tree lot. Devoid of any holiday spirit, he struggles to stay awake during the long, chilly nights in his trailer, while the daytime traffic keeps him from getting any real rest. As he slowly spirals into despair, he comes to the aid of a mysterious young woman in the park. Her warming presence, matched with some colorful customers, help rescue him from self-destruction.

Hannah Gross Christmas againKentucker Audley owns every minute of screen time as Noel. This organically written character of Poekel‘s allows Audley to give a down-to-earth performance of a young man we all know to well. Tackling depression, loneliness, longing, and emotional survival, Christmas, Again is a such a success in it’s honest simplicity.There are no fancy car chases or explosions. The story is straight forward and beautifully quiet. Hannah Gross gives a lovely performance as Lydia. A little lost, a little sad, but very much a real person. The chemistry between the two characters is a slow and realistic build, again, thanks to Poekel. He never pushes too hard, there are no gimmicks or exploited moments we’re used to in a typical holiday blockbuster. This indie is fresh and easy. Combined with the calling card cinematography of Sean Price Williams (Listen Up Phillip, Queen of Earth), the film has a gorgeous added intimacy with it’s single handheld camera and use of close ups. All involved should  be extremely proud of their work. I applaud the departure in tone and style. While I certainly enjoy a good, old fashion Hollywood role call such as The Coopers, CHRISTMAS, AGAIN is a comforting film that has an incredible amount of heart and relatability.

FACTORY 25 will release CHRISTMAS, AGAIN at the MoMA in New York (and exclusive SVOD on Fandor) on Thursday, December 3rd, and  Los Angeles on Friday, December 11th.

Review: ‘QUEEN OF EARTH’ is stunning portrait of a maddening descent.

Queen of Earth PosterMelissa and I were privileged to be invited to a special screening and Q&A of Alex Ross Perry‘s fourth feature, QUEEN OF EARTH, a deeply unnerving psychological drama. The film traces the relationship between Catherine (Elisabeth Moss, MAD MEN) and Virginia (Katherine Waterston, INHERENT VICE), best friends who retreat to a lake house after Catherine’s father dies and her boyfriend leaves her. Desperately seeking rest and recovery, when Catherine arrives at the cabin, she’s overwhelmed with memories of time spent at that same house with her boyfriend the year before and finds herself unable to decompress. As Virginia begins spending increasing amounts of time with a local love interest, Rich (Patrick Fugit), what was once closeness between the two women pivots toward hostility and resentment, sending Catherine into a downward spiral of delusion and madness. Read More →