Brother to Brother Rodney Evans. (unrated) Uneven and overearnest, this drama about a young, gay, black artist nevertheless offers plenty to like. There's the protagonist's self-respect, for one; there's also his smart-ass best friend (Larry Gilliard Jr.), who attempts to protect his buddy from both homophobes and white people. Perry (Anthony Mackie) is a lonely painter, rejected by his parents, searching for love in a society that isn't giving an inch. His black classmates don't want to hear about homosexuality; his (sexy) white friend sleeps with him just to get a taste of his "sweet black ass." Then Perry meets a homeless man (Roger Robinson) who turns out to be Bruce Nugent, an important figure from the Harlem Renaissance. Through tales of late-night literary inspiration and enfant-terrible carousal with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Wallace Thurman, Nugent weaves a story of how to be black and gay in America (or at least New York). The film tries too hard to be important, but Robinson's performance is lovely, as is the film's tribute to Nugent. Opens Friday, January 21, at the Tivoli. (Melissa Levine)
The Woodsman Nicole Kassell. (R) Opens Friday, January 21, at multiple locations. Reviewed in this issue.