Friday, June 13, 2014

Chris Mason Johnson's TEST--about dance and life and AIDS and connection--opens in theaters

Below is TrustMovies' coverage of a film first seen at last year's GLBT festival at the FSLC. As it opens theatrically today in several cities, I'm running that coverage once again. For anyone interested in modern dance, GLBT issues, or simply well-made movies, this is a film worth seeing.

written and directed by

After 2008's The New Twenty, one of the best ensemble movies of the past decade, filmmaker Johnson now turns his attention to a period piece. But of a special period: San Francisco in the mid 80s, as AIDS was ravaging a portion of society and a "test" for the infection/disease was just now becoming available. TrustMovies didn't realize, until he saw this film and then did a little research, that Mr. Johnson began his career as a ballet and modern dancer. Most of the men in this movie are dancers, as well, as the dancing we see here is pretty damned good, particularly that of the lead actor/dancer, Scott Marlowe, who creates a rather indelible character in this, his first film role. 

This is such a different kind of movie from Johnson's earlier one that I doubt most film-goers would realize that the same man directed both. Test concentrates very much on Mr. Marlowe's character, Frankie, and his growth and change as both a dancer and a gay man. The rest of the ensemble is very good -- Johnson knows how to cast and then draw fine performances all around -- but this is Marlowe's movie. 

The young man (above) is indeed a fine dancer, riveting to watch when he lets go. As an actor, he also knows how to keep his character close to the vest so that we hang on each expression and word, as Frankie negotiates friendship, sex, solo work and maybe even a little "love."

At 90 minutes, Test is just long enough to work as an interesting character study; a look at a lost, fraught period in gay history; and as a paean to dance and dancers. I can't wait to see what Mr. Johnson turns his hand to next. 

Meanwhile, Test opens today, Friday, June 13, in Atlanta, Key West, Los Angeles and New York. Check your local listings for the theater nearest you -- or click here for currently scheduled playdates, including cities and theaters. Additional note: Test is now available (as of June 17, 2014) on DVD. Click this link for more info.

No comments: