Sexy and sensitive, ‘New Twenty’ kicks off Out Takes Dallas XI
"Thirty is the new 20," says one of a group of 29-year-old friends who have stayed together since college in The New Twenty, a downbeat independent drama by Chris Mason Johnson. Maybe they should say, "29 is the new 99," because life as they know it is about to end.
"Thirty’s a milestone, therefore a crisis," adds Ben (Colin Fickes), the bearded, chubby gay man who lives alone. Andrew’s (Ryan Locke) response to the crisis is to announce his engagement to Julie (Nicole Bilderback). Tony (Andrew Wei Lin), Julie’s brother is upset that he didn’t hear about it first.
Tony’s gay but another of the old gang, his roommate Felix (Thomas Sadoski), is straight. Felix has a drug problem that, coupled with his fear of commitment and existential malaise, makes him the least likely of the group to make it to the big 3-0.
Perhaps "growing up" means letting money become more important than sex or drugs. Andrew hates his banking job, in part because he’s less successful at it than Julie. He’s still the alpha male of the group, but one day at the gym he meets a male who’s alpha-plus: Venture capitalist Louie (Terry Serpico), who gives Andrew a chance to start his own business.
Louie’s real role couldn’t be more obvious if he had horns and a red tail, but life goes on as the wedding date nears. Tony suffers some disappointments but meets Robert (Bill Sage), a professor he can get serious about — once he gets over being freaked out by his HIV status. Ben has more luck sharing files online than finding sex, and considers putting his linguistic skills to work for the Army.
While the situations are timeless they’re given currency by being set in a "post-gay" society where orientation doesn’t matter … except when it does. The New Twenty was filmed in New York, where there’s a better pool of acting talent to draw from than Los Angeles’ movie-star wannabes. The fine ensemble keeps things naturalistic, no matter how melodramatic the plot becomes.
Some of the sets look a bit sparse but the film overall has a gloss that belies its budget. It doesn’t break any new ground, but walks again over the old ground with skill and sensitivity.
Out Takes opens three-day festival Thursday
For the past year, during a period of reorganizing, Out Takes Dallas has presented a monthly celebration of gay-themed movies instead of a one-weekend-focused festival of film. But to kick off its 11th season, the intense three-day format is back. The festival — which this time takes place at Landmark’s Inwood Theater — begins Thursday with the short Martini the Movie (pictured) and the feature The New Twenty (reviewed above), then continues Friday with the double feature Then Came Lola and Training Rules, followed by the late screening of Hollywood, Je T’aime. Saturday begins with a matinee of Hannah Free at 1 p.m., followed at 3 by Mr. Right and the closing night film The Hanging Garden. And for Saturday’s late show? Why, it’s Pornography — the perfect way to end the festival.
All screenings at the Inwood Theater, 5448 W. Lovers Lane. $10. Opening night reception at 6 p.m.; screenings at 7:30 p.m.; Oct. 9 screenings at 7 and 10:30 p.m.; Oct. 10 screenings at 1, 3:30, 7 and 10: 30 p.m.; closing night mixer at the Inwood Lounge at 5:30 p.m. Outtakesdallas.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2009.