Saturday, August 9, 2014

Small is beautiful: In HOME, JAMES, Jonathan Rossetti & Julie Gearheard spotlight Oklahoma

One of those increasingly numerous movies that, if they're lucky, get a week's theatrical release in a theater in L.A. and/or NYC and then disappear into the woodwork, HOME, JAMES is one of the better examples of American independent cinema to have come our way this year. It's a sweet little movie, but not a simple one, as it tracks the love story that develops between a photographer -- who, to make a living, chauffeurs late-night drunks home in their car as a kind of paid, designated driver -- and the young woman he first chaffeurs and then falls for.

Beautifully acted by its two leads -- Jonathan Rossetti and Kerry Knuppe -- and written with an ear for region and detail that rings wondefully true by Mr. Rossetti (above, right) and Julie Gearheard (above, left), both of whom play major roles in the film). Rossetti also directed the movie, making him a talented triple threat.

The filmmakers and actors -- especially the two leads (above and below) -- are just right about the level to which they can go in terms of intimacy and honesty of their relationship as it develops. They keep us with them at each new step of the game.

Mr. Rossetti is quite good at suggesting the demons of distrust in his own talent that crowd around most artists, while Ms Knuppe is sadness incarnate as the woman with a drinking problem who would like to be able to rise above it but knows she probably won't.

Ms Gearheard (above) is not quite so successful acting-wise as she is in the writing of the role of the comedic best friend of Rossetti's photographer. She pushes a bit harder than necessary, but she's close enough to the target not to spoil things.

Expecially good in the role of the art gallery owner is Kathleen Rose Perkins (A Short History of Decay); ditto Marshall Bell (above) in the role of the owner of the photo development shop where Gearheard works and Rossetti uses as his darkroom.

What makes the movie particularly enjoyable and resonant -- in addition to the fact that it was shot in Tulsa, Oklahoma (a location we seldom get to see on film or video), is how very smart it is about everything from photography (above and below) to careers, friendship, passion -- and liquor (James Ponsoldt would be proud).

Home, James -- from Devolver Digital Films and running just 83 minutes --comes out via Digital VOD on August 12. Don't let it get by you unseen.

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