NAZ & MAALIK, the new Brooklyn-set film written and directed by Jay Dockendorf (shown below), certainly gives its two eponymous heroes plenty to contend with. Yet, instead of treating this rather full plate -- race, religion, sexuality and law enforcement harassment -- as something full of drama and/or melodrama, the filmmaker instead offers it up (with the rather embarrassing exception of how he handles the FBI surveillance) in a realistic, if somewhat romantic, documentary style.
Curtiss Cook, Jr. (below, left, as Maalik) and Kerwin Johnson, Jr. (below, right, as Naz) -- gives the movie what little juice it has, bringing us over to the side of these two young men and keeping us there, for awhile, at least. The movie begins with some promise: a blackmailing sister, its Bed-Sty background, and a probably mildly-illegal trade by the two boys who re-sell Lotto tickets on the street. One can appreciate Dockendorf's wish to engulf some realism, but he spends so much time with repetitive and finally not-so-enlightening Lotto-tickets episodes that we soon long to go elsewhere.
Wolfe Releasing and running 86 minutes, after a successful LGBT film festival exposure, the movie has its theatrical debut in New York City at the Cinema Village this Friday, January 22, with a DVD and digital release from Wolfe Video fast following on Tuesday, January 26.