Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Directors/New Films: Person to Person

Dustin Guy Defa's Person to Person started as a short film by the same name, a pungently detailed portrait of a certain slice of pre-gentrified New York in which Bene Coopersmith played more or less himself as a quietly charismatic Brooklyn record-store owner. The feature film is a collection of interwoven, sometimes overlapping character studies that encompass a wider swath of characters and locations with varying degrees of success.

Like an extended episode of High Maintenance, Person to Person is a vehicle for an exploration of New York City and a handful of its interesting inhabitants. And like that series, the film is strongest when it's at its most granular and specific. That may mean catching a character at a particularly good or bad moment, like the tragicomical dilemma that Bene's friend, Ray (George Sample II), creates for himself, or diving into one of New York's more obscure subcultures, like the vulnerability of buying and selling classic vinyl, which is exposed by a scam pulled on Bene.

Bene's segments constitute a mini detective story, complete with intrigue (he figures out that the Charlie Parker LP he just bought is a fake), humor (in a ludicrously long, low-impact chase, he bikes through the city at exactly the same speed as the thief he's pursuing), and revenge (he gets his money back, plus a bonus he tacks on as punishment). In a sweet subplot, Bene and his lovely girlfriend (Eleonore Hendricks) cross a romantic Rubicon with a little help from her young son, shyly acknowledging their love for each other. Read the rest in Slant Magazine

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