Charlie searches new york city for a mysterious stranger who he believes holds the key to his very existence. He stumbles from one eerie encounter to another in his seemingly endless pursuit. Is this all part of charlies d... more »elusion or an elaborate urban legend which has taken over his life? Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 02/06/2007 Starring: Dan Futterman Matt Keeslar Run time: 104 minutes Rating: R« less
"I really dont care that 'You can count on me' was voted the Best Picture at Sundance in 2000. That honor, to me at least, was most deserved by Jon Shear's 'Urbania', and though it never won, it at least whipped up an audience and stirred commentary from various quarters, and any film that can do that is truly revolutionary.To say that 'Urbania' is gay-friendly would be naive. While this is predominantly a movie that deals with homophobia and the universal issue of acceptance and lack of, it becomes some sort of poster-boy for the neccessity of tolerance in our lives. It also goes on to show us that the greatest films are the ones least talked about. After I saw this movie, I was amazed at just how little attention it had received. Perhaps people aren't ready for such in-your-face storytelling. But I was, and have benefitted immensely in my personal life, from the lessons this film teaches us. 'Urbania' is one long lesson in enlightenment.The story is fairly simple. It starts off with our hero, as a sad wandering twenty-something searching for his special someone on the streets of New York, the city of the Urban Legend. Jon Shear goes on to show us that NYC really is the home of the tragic folk tale come true, and then proceeds to introduce us to the fact that the hero is gay. This comes not so much as a surprise as a casual unfolding of the story and fits in very nicely. However, the object of his obsession at the moment appears to be a straight man that most people would keep away from. Why the main character follows this man forms the rest of the tale, and I can't really give away more without revealing the ending and the mysteries between.Lets just say that this is a film with a shock at every turn. And not just for effect either. It has heart, and Charlie Futterman as our hero is anything but. I haven't seen such a powerful performance in ages. But the real star of the film is the director and his message. Jon Shear has the most interesting film-making style. I could compare him to Lars Von Trier, but Shear is more choppy and unrestrained in the use of the camera. He does have a lot of heart, though, and this shows, both in the intelligent script and in the amazing performances he extracts from his lead cast, including a spellbinding one from Matthew Keeslar.I have no idea where 'Urbania' will figure in the history of gay and lesbian cinema. But I can say that there has been no other film that has dealt with homophobia and bashing in such intelligent tones. This is not an easy work of cinema, but it must be seen. Its a pity that many audiences missed out on it when it was first released in theatres around the United States. I would therefore highly recommend the purchase of this item on DVD.And spread the word."
Reality Sets In -- the Deep Sadness of Urbania
NewModelGeisha | Portland ME | 04/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My first encounter with this movie was on the Independent Film Channel at 12 in the morning. I had no idea what it was about, who was in it -- nothing. 2 hours later, I was curled up in a ball crying my eyes out with feelings of intense sadness for the character(s) in Urbania. This movie has proved to me that film has the capability of changing one's perception of life.Without going into further detail about why I was crying (that would ruin the movie, yes?) , I will say that this film revolves around the gay main character Charlie (Dan Futterman, in a wonderfully believable performance) and his search for inner peace after a horrific experience leaves him lonely and traumatized. The key to begin healing, Charlie believes, is finding the man "that will make it all better". This man, Dean, played by Samuel Ball, is a rugged, handsome, heterosexual male. Dean has a snake/heart tattoo and smokes his cigarettes with seductive ease.The big question is:"What would Charlie, a depressed young gay male, want with a character like Dean?"That question gets answered in the final minutes of the movie, when everything is out in the open and HARSH reality sets in.This movie is set in the dark shadows of New York City -- entirely at night, which gives the movie a creepier feel than it would have had it been set in complete daylight.There are scenes in which urban legends are present -- in fact, this movie is encircled by a web of them -- the one night stand with AIDS, the woman who microwaved her dog in an effort to dry it.. they're all here. Their presence really has no point to the movie whatsoever, other than to show that sometimes even the most horrific urban legends are not nearly as terrible as real life can be.Matt Keeslar plays a beautiful role as Charlie's boyfriend, who is only seen in the movie through Charlie's flashbacks. I can honestly say that I feel Chris is a sweet soul, and his relationship with Charlie is one of the kindest and most loving I have ever seen on film, rivaling even the greatest and most convincing heterosexual relationships.Another actor in the movie worth mentioning is, the one and only Alan Cumming, who delivers a great performace once again (I can't tell you how much I love this guy -- ehh, but that's beside the point) Alan Cumming plays Charlie's AIDS stricken-friend Brett whom Charlie visits during his evening escapades.The plot of the movie is not dependent on the sexuality of its caracters completely -- this film, in fact, DESTROYS all myths that gay men are all about casual sex, drugs, and clubs (as seen in Party Monster and Queer as Folk). It also DESTROYS all myths that gay men are superficial, blatantly feminine, and stupid (as seen in The Birdcage). URBANIA focuses on true love between two people, and the loss that comes with it, and the overwhelming feeling to have revenge -- feelings that are universal and not dependent on sexuality.Urbania made my blood boil at the end. I was confronted with feelings of surprise, hate, sadness, anger, and awe. I would like to state up front that this movie HAS SCENES OF GRAPHIC, REAL, HATE-MOTIVATED VIOLENCE that, after viewing flashbacks and getting to know the characters, some may not be able to tolerate. I have watched this movie twice, and, upon the second viewing, I had to leave the room when the ending approached. Granted, Kill Bill is a very violent movie, but it also did not have the harsh reality that Urbania has. If you are someone who is offended by gay men or homosexuality in general, then I'm sorry, although I wish you would give this movie a chance -- maybe it would change your perceptions a bit?This movie is disturbing, but REAL (with the exceptions of the urban legends that crop up every now and then). The love is REAL, the pain is REAL, the emotion is REAL. And the saddest part is that all these feelings, all these actions are a part of every day life, and that some people have to live in Charlie's shoes.I STRONGLY recommend this movie because it is well done, simply put. It is well done, and a beautiful, sad, story. I must warn you, though, that the situations in this movie are very, VERY deep and hard to take. They're tough pills to swallow, to say the least. If you're very sensitive like I am, you may have a problem with a few scenes. Even still, I urge everyone and anyone to watch it for its depth of reality. (And do not get frustrated if during your first viewing you do not understand everything -- like Fight Club, Memento, and Donnie Darko, the movie Urbania may have to be watched more than once)Urbania is a powerful film that leaves an impact you won't forget. Check it out."
Decide for yourself
Mark Gibson | San Francisco, CA United States | 04/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Urbania is one of the best, and most affecting movies I have seen in the past several years. Director Jon Shear takes chances with how to use the medium, and how to tell a story, and the risks pay off. I look forward to his next work, and to future films with Dan Futterman, who delivers an Oscar-worthy perfomance.One of the things that makes this film unique is its intimate and realistic portrait of love (not just sex, not just puppy love) between two of the male characters. This has made the film very popular with gay audiences and no doubt prevented it from achieving wider success when it was released in late 2000.Too bad... in a year where the best indpendent movies were either exquisitely polished masterpieces (Crouching Tiger), or else flashy and memorable variations on formulas that have now been used a million times (Amor Es Porras), this disturbing and hopeful movie charted completely new territory -- bringing to film the immediacy and impact of the stage. It deserves a wider audience."
joe goggins | Lennox, Mass | 04/29/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie affected me more than any other movie this year, though the last half hour of Dancer in the Dark was pretty awesome as well. Urbania (neat title that) is funny, scary, and moving. While it's sometimes difficult to know exactly what's going on, it ultimately fills in its secrets in a whoosh that made me want to cry and go "Wow" all at the same time. It's like the ending of Usual Suspects crossed with the emotional undertow of Sixth Sense, while always occupying an unsettling zone all its own. The unsettledness seems to be the point. We're in the mind of a man who's lost his anchor, his love, and with him, we're trying to get our bearings. The movie seemed to present the varied ways we can respond to a catastrophe: despair, revenge, redemption. I've read in the other reviews a tussle over whether this is an agenda movie. I think it's not, because with an agenda movie if you remove it's message, there's nothing left. Here, if you take out the homophobia and gay desire of the film, it's still a compelling ride into the mind of a character who's been victimized and wants to get back in the driver's seat. So, how can it be an agenda film? It's a multi-layered, visionary film about someone who's different from me, and I appreciated that. Though it made me a little uncomfortable at times, that didn't make me feel it wasn't made for me. It felt like it was testing my ability to see the world through someone else's eyes. I look forward to watching it again and how often can you say that?"
Edgy, perceptive and original
Matthew Horner | USA | 05/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Urbania" is an intense and disturbing movie that takes place mainly during one freakish night on the streets of New York. What leads to the events that take place is shown in flashbacks. Its conclusion is quite powerful, especially for those like myself who don't quite figure out what's going on until near the end. A second viewing allows one to appreciate the clues contained throughout the film.I can't say only so much about the plot without using spoilers. The protagonist, Charlie [Dan Futterman], is obviously very disturb by something that recently occurred. We see him in flashbacks with his lover, Chris [Matt Keeslar]. They seem to have a very loving relationship. In the present, we watch him call Chris several times and leave messages on Chris' answer machine. They seem to have broken up, but how and why? Or is it something more? We watch Charlie prowls the streets looking for something or someone. He charms, then shocks a young stud and his bimbo girlfriend. He goes to visit an old friend. In the flashbacks the friend is lively and vibrant. He gives wild parties. In the present, the friend is sick and alone. The encounter is tense and sad. Charlie befriends a bartender and gives him $50 to be on the lookout for an alcoholic, over the hill hustler [Samuel Ball]. What could he want with this sleazy character? Dan Futterman gives an astonishing performance - edgy, tinged with a wealth of emotions from grief to rage. He is in every scene. Keeslar is suitably pretty and charming. Beyond his smiling face there is a decided sadness. Samuel Ball is frighteningly authentic as the hustler, one of those street-smart people whose aura is one of havoc and violence. This is a gay-themed movie that breaks the mold. Charlie is a real character, not some by-the-numbers stereotype. He interacts with the straight world with a cynical ease. And, best of all, it's both a serious character study and a great psychological thriller, with far more in common with "The Sixth Sense" than "The Birdcage". Director Jon Shear is a filmmaker to keep an eye on."