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Charlie takes an odyssey through grief during a fall weekend in New York City. His encounters are planned and chance: with a homeless man who sleeps by his building, with a friend who's dying, with the couple who lives (and noisily loves) in the flat above him, with a bartender and a one-night-stand he follows home, and with a tattooed stranger whom he seeks out and befriends. Along the way, Charlie inhabits a city full of moments of violence and of stories and legends: a kidney thief, a microwaved poodle, a rat in a hot dog bun, a baby left on a car top, a tourist's toothbrush, needles in public-phone change slots. Charlie lives and tells his own stories. What caused his melancholy? Written by
Good films I will see two or three times in the theatre. Really good films, like Urbania, I will watch several more times on video. God bless the advent of video and DVD for cinephiles like myself. This is one work, as someone else noted, that begs for multiple viewings. Not only for it's entertainment value, but because it allows one to see just how cleverly this film keeps its secret until it's the right time to reveal itself. It also gives one the chance to see a beautiful and complex performance by Dan Futterman.
But there is one scene with Futterman and Alan Cummings which shines like a tiny diamond in the center of Urbania. While the scene fits neatly and contributes to the flow of the story, it is so well written and acted that it feels to me almost like a separate entity. Alan Cumming packs so much subtextual information into the turn of a phrase and a facial expression that it's breathtaking.
While it's not an easy film to watch due to the subject matter, it is intriguing. Oh yes, and also remarkable is Lothaire Bluteau's (Bent, I Shot Andy Warhol, Being at home with Claude) moving portrayal of a homeless man.
Urbania is highly recommended.
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