Wolfe announced this past week that Joey Kuhn, a cinematographer-turned-writer/director, will have his award-winning directorial debut, Those People, released to the DVD market place this coming June 14.
Lushly mounted — certainly as a result of Kuhn’s work behind the camera — Those People is a film presented with a sure hand (based on his on experiences) that easily reaches all audiences with its message — whether gay or straight — that in each life, “everyone has a Sebastian.”
That cryptic phrase refers to Charlie (Jonathan Gordon — God’s Pocket), the protagonist of the piece, and his secret love for his friend Sebastian (Jason Ralph — as Quentin in The Magicians television series, plus such films as Stereotypically You and A Most Violent Year). An obsession, if you will, that Sebastian is all too aware of and uses to his advantage when either necessary … or when it pleases him.
He’s the puppet master and Charlie’s strings are tied so very tight. A whole genre of films spins around similar relationships and that would be film noir — usually it’s some poor smuck who is blinded by the allures of a no good dame and is helpless to do much about it. The same holds true here.
Charlie and Sebastian are both of privilege, Manhattan Millennials, who socialize with their circle of friends … all equally self-important and adrift in Manhattan. And there our story would languish, a Gatsby – esque tale of manners, social standing and echo chamber reassurances, but Kuhn introduces an outsider to this cloistered mix and everything changes.
His name is Tim (Haaz Sleiman — who landed the role of Jesus in Killing Jesus, plus acclaim for his performance as Tarek in writer/director Tom McCarthy’s The Visitor) and Charlie is attracted to him. Of course that doesn’t please Sebastian, who has deeply guarded issues (financial dealings of his father, etc.) that are exposed — self-destructively so — when he feels his power over Charlie slipping away and his leadership of this Manhattan clique challenged.
Filmmaker Kuhn cleverly uses a visual metaphor — a skill that Charlie possesses — to show first his bondage to Sebastian and then his eventual growth and freedom. It worksexceedingly well within the structure of the story.
Those People, is well-produced, thoughtful and a more-than-worthy first effort from a filmmaker that we are sure to hear more about in the years ahead. Bonus features include deleted scenes and casting audition clips.