Presented by Chicago Filmmakers, the 28th Reeling festival continues Thursday through Sunday, November 12 through 15, at Chicago Filmmakers, Columbia College Film Row Cinema, Landmark’s Century Centre, and the Music Box. Unless otherwise noted, tickets for all screenings are $10, $8 for matinees (before 4 PM); passes are available for $45 (five shows), $80 (ten shows), $125 (all shows, excepting special admissions), and $175 (all shows and events). Tickets can be purchased online at reelingfilmfestival. org, in person at Chicago Filmmakers, and at the venue prior to the show; for more information call 773-291-1447. Following are reviews for selected films; a complete schedule is available at reelingfilmfestival.org.
Just Say Love Former off-Loop actor Robert Mammana brings depth and credibility to this improbable drama, adapted by director Bill Humphreys and writer David J. Mauriello from Mauriello’s play. It charts the evolving relationship between two men: Guy (Matthew Jaeger), a gay painter who’s well read in philosophy, and Doug (Mammana), a macho construction worker with a pregnant girlfriend. What begins as an anonymous, one-sided sexual encounter (Doug allows Guy to blow him) develops into a complex—and contrived—conflict between platonic ideals and erotic desire. The stiltedness of Mauriello’s dialogue is underscored by the rigid compositions and deliberately stagy design. 75 min. —Albert Williams
Oy Vey! My Son Is Gay!! The title says it all. Evgeny Afineevsky’s directorial debut is a well-meaning but creaky comedy about a middle-aged Jewish couple (Lainie Kazan and Saul Rubinek) trying to come to terms with the fact that their 25-year-old accountant son (John Lloyd Young) is homosexual—and has an Italian lover, yet! The cast—including Jai Rodriguez as the lover, Vincent Pastore as his tough-guy Sicilian dad, Bruce Vilanch, Carmen Electra, and noted stage actor Eddie Levi Lee—breathes some life into the caricatures. But despite a few good laughs and a clever opening animation by Rinat Gazizov, the film feels 40 years out of date. Afineevsky wrote the cliched screenplay with “Joseph Goldman,” a pen name for veteran producer Menahem Golan. 90 min. —Albert Williams
Rivers Wash Over Me After his mother dies, a sensitive and bookish black teenager (newcomer Derrick L. Middleton) leaves his native Brooklyn and moves in with his aunt in rural Alabama. There he’s brutalized by bullies and raped by his closeted cousin, a high school basketball star, but also befriended by a white classmate (Elizabeth Dennis) and her gay brother (Aidan Schultz-Meyer). John G. Young directed this well-made but grim drama, coaxing expressive performances from his young actors; Darien Sills-Evans (Third Watch) cowrote the screenplay with Young and plays the hero’s uncle, a sheriff in a county where African-Americans’ political clout hasn’t translated into economic prosperity. 86 min. —Albert Williams