REVIEW: Uninspired Indies, Inert "Velocity of Gary" and Failed "Trick"
by Danny Lorber
"The Velocity of Gary," director Dan Ireland's follow up to his intriguing debut feature "The Whole Wide World" is an overwrought and pretty shallow new film from a filmmaker one assumed was worth paying attention to. Written by first-time screenwriter James Still, the movie is soap operatic, confronting bisexuality, AIDS and untraditional families. It takes place in a squalid Manhattan full of drugs and despair, but seems not to know anything about the atmosphere it portrays.
Obviously aspiring to the semi-heights of Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho," or a Warhol produced narrative feature, the film fails to offer the emotional and moody potency evident in those works.
Vincent D'Onofrio, who starred in the "The Whole Wide World,'' stars as Valentino, a longhaired porn king who juggles two demanding lovers and who spawns broken hearts as a result of his own arrogance.
"Velocity'' unfolds at the grimy Twin Donut Shop, where Valentino's energetic, over the top girlfriend Mary Carmen (Salma Hayek) works. Actually, she pretends to work while catching up on gossip, and sassing and flirting with her gossipy customers.
Gary (Thomas Jane), a hustler and phone-sex operator, hangs out at the Twin Donut too -- as do porn actress Veronica (Olivia d'Abo), black transvestites Coco and Venus (Shawn Michael Howard and Khalil Kain) and a young drag queen (Chad Lindberg) who loves Patsy Cline and has the seating chart of the Grand Ole Opry tattooed on his back.
Blatantly disorganized and tiring, the film is splashy and colorful and really quite shallow, though Hayek is fun and loose in her role and the other performers offer a particular thespian passion for the work they give, especially D'Onofrio, who gives the film an aura of substance that it probably doesn't deserve.
"The Velocity of Gary" is a meaningless, insignificant new work from a typical new filmmaker, someone who seems to have learned of life only from watching a lot of movies and certainly not from life itself.
Written by Jason Schafer and directed by Jim Fall, "Trick" is a notably unsophisticated boy-meets-boy love story that's set during a single night in New York City. Now playing, the indie film has nothing to offer audiences that they can't find in any Hollywood romantic comedy. I guess gay love is still sort of taboo in mainstream studio product, but "Runaway Bride" is frankly more challenging than this film, not to mention half of the other indie films playing theatrically at the moment.
In "Trick," Gabriel (Christian Campbell -- Neve's brother) is a struggling musical theater composer. His best friend Katherine (Tori Spelling) - a horribly cliched creation (she's a fag hag) - accompanies him on his lonely quest through life, the two get along perfectly well, like a couple of friendless old crones. After a horrible audition, Gabriel comforts himself by going to a bar. While there he spots Mark, (John Paul Pitoc) a sexy and silly stud, who through a series of events, journeys through romantic misadventures with Gabriel.
Desperate to find a place to have quick sex, deterrents prevail over the duo's need for consummation. These include a bitter drag queen, a straight roommate, a fat friend of Gabriel's, not to mention Katherine complaining about the whole situation. Soon, the duo finds out that not only do they want to screw like bunnies, but that they've also fallen in love. Blah, blah, blah. It's almost entertaining to witness every character that runs through the movie as an utter cliche. Gay stereotypes are perpetrated in a work like this and nothing is painted in a sophisticated light.
Superficially similar to Scorsese's "After Hours," the film, which closed last month's LA Gay and Lesbian film fest, Outfest, is not worth high profile play in a high profile fest. A banal, drab work, just like "The Velocity of Gary," "Trick" is really not worthy of further discussion. You know indie film is not living up to itself when the works themselves leave nothing to talk about.