Urbania (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Excellent independent film, written, performed, and directed with real subtlety.

It is a mystery that reveals its secrets very slowly, but once they are known they make perfect sense in the context of what you have seen.

It is a difficult film to understand in that the lead player is "acting out" pain from a recent tragedy he has experienced, and we don't know the difference between what is in his head and what is really on the streets. I like this kind of film where the audience is not let in on the secrets.


I read that there was nudity in this film, but I never actually saw any.
What was his loss? Are any of these events really happening, or not? In most cases, they are not. Most of the film takes place in the protagonists's imagination. We see his memories, his fantasies, his dreams ... as he wanders through the streets of lower Manhattan, looking for a certain guy that he describes as a hunk. (He is gay.) For example, at one point our narrator enters a room full of people laughing and singing - but it seems that occured years ago - the reality of the room is a lonely man dying. (Touching scene with the talented Alan Cumming).

Then our hero confronts people with great belligerence, far beyond what might be called for from the offense they have given him. Then he talks to the lover he lost. How can all this be?

He finally finds the "hunk" and hangs out with him. The hunky guy also turns out to be one of those homophobic guys whose hatred for gay guys masks his own self-loathing and his own homosexual tendencies (which he cannot accept, and he can therefore only experience male/male contact in the context of a "hate play").

To tell you the truth, I'm still not sure how much of the evening was real, but it doesn't matter. The film delivers the same impact without spelling out the details. What we see is placed in the context of Urban Legends "psst ... did you hear the one about". Our protagonist's own story is kind of a believable Urban Legend, but we aren't quite sure what it is until the end. How is all this connected? I can't say more, because discovery is what makes the film delicious.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Will be available March 13

Now a word of caution. If you like to see male romance, then you have a win-win situation here, because it is a good little indie flick which also includes various all-male sexual situations of all types, masturbatory, brutal, and tender. If you are a straight male, but tolerant, you may still enjoy it because it's a clever movie. If you are one of those people that will become sick at the very sight of two guys in their underpants kissing each other, then you must avoid this because the cycle theme of homosexual/homophobic is pervasive throughout the film.

The Critics Vote

  • Berardinelli 3/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 8.4, which is off the chart - same as Saving Private Ryan, Goodfellas, Lawrence of Arabia, Silence of the Lambs, and Paths of Glory! High enough to place in the top 25 of all time if it had enough votes.
  • With their dollars ... a million dollars domestic gross, peaking at 43 screens. Obviously, a specialty flick.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a B-. "B" must be the right rating, because I enjoyed the movie even though I'm not in the target audience. Of course, if you just can't stand the thought of seeing men together, don't watch it.

Return to the Movie House home page