Wednesday, February 05, 2014

"That Awkward Moment": silly romantic comedy, but some good points about the book promotion business

That Awkward Moment”, by Tom Gormican, is a rather silly, formulaic young adult sex comedy, but there’s some good stuff in it. 

Zac Efron plays Jason, and he really does look and act his personal summer solstice best.  Fast-talking, clever, muscular, energetic, and with the right amount of body plumage (long past his introduction as Sunnerland's Cameron Bale), he takes the lead.  He can live a Manhattan life style at age 26 by designing book covers.  That’s interesting. Of course, he’ll sleep with someone (Imogen Poots) who turns out to be an important author client.  But what’s interesting to me, as a self-published book author going through the publication process again, is how much money established authors and big publishers think writers should spend to promote their books.  They want their writers to succeed at the numbers game.  I’m dealing with now myself.  They made up some fictitious book titles, like “The Second Hand Wife’, which made me think of “The Wife of Bath” from “Canterbury Tales”.  I thought, what if the producers had wanted to use by iconic “Do Ask, Do Tell” book cover.  I’d have been game.  What an opportunity to promote my own work, the right kind of chance, on someone else’s entertainment concept. I actually did donate a copy of my first DADT book to be used as a prop for a small stage production of the play "The Crowded Bed" in Minneapolis in 1998. So, live in the shark tank, and don’t expect free fish.
The comedy is about, of course, getting to that moment in heterosexual dating where the partners have to decide how to go on.  Steve Harvey has been dealing with that question recently on his syndicated daytime reality show.  Jason has two buddies, Daniel (Miles Teller) and Mikey (Michael B. Jordan) in the same situation.  Mikey is a medical resident, and can attend to Daniel when he gets hit by a taxi near the end of the film, without serious injury.  Now Miles Teller looks much less “masculine” to the eye than Zac.  There’s even a scene in the middle where Jason and Daniel speculate what would happen, in a condom shop, if they were gay lovers.  But in the scenes of heterosexual bedroom farce, the camera avoids Dan's chest and legs, compared to how Jason is filmed. 
Near the end, Jason pretends to have written a novel himself about the relationships.  Oh, that’s dangerous, being on stage for your own novels and using real people.  But he’s just pretending to be a writer himself.

There's a sequence involving a brownstone on Gramercy Park (at around 21st St).  I once "dated" someone who owned a coop on Gramercy Park in the 70s, but I didn't recognize it.  Is the part about keys to a private part of the park true?  I doubt it.

There was a shot of Pete's Tavern, in the East Village, which I recognized.  And I thought that a bar scene looked like the inside of Shakespeare's, as I remember it from 1978.  I had another "boy friend" who played for tips there.  I couldn't find it online, but there is a Shakespeare's pub crawl (like the "World's End" movie). The movie has a line about East Village hookers, but the area has a large LGBT community, and the Ninth Street Center was located there until the early 1990s.  It would have been a cute idea to shoot at the Half King, Sebastian Junger's restaurant on 23rd in Chelsea, but that's way over on the far West Side.  If a director wants the best gay venue in NYC, try the Therapy (on two levels, with a skylight) in Hell's Kitchen. Of course, two village bars, Julius's and the Stonewall Inn, have appeared in some films.

The screen shots of social media sites appeared to be patterned after Google+, not Facebook. 
Also, this movie is supposed to take place in New York over a winter.  Where’s the snow? 
The official site is here. Curiously, imdb gives the language as Spanish. No, it’s English, and American “indie” film from Focus.

I saw this before a fair crowd this evening at the AMC Courthouse in Arlington.  One person in the row in front of me kept texting.

A companion film could be Jason Rosette's black and white documentary in 2000 "Book Wars" about NYC street used book vendors, which I saw at the University of Minnesota years ago.    

Picture: Battery Park, Jan. 2014 (mine).   

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