starring Katie Findlay, James Sweeney, Randall Park, Betsy Brandt
written and directed by James Sweeney
by Walter Chaw James Sweeney's hyphenate debut Straight Up is a dense, screwball, and occasionally irritating though ultimately rewarding wall of words swirling around and between erstwhile lovers Rory (Katie Findlay) and Todd (Sweeney, a triple-threat here) as they negotiate standard relationship stuff like dating and cohabitation--and not-so-standard romcom fare like Todd's apparent asexuality (which is possibly homosexuality). In its antic vibe and its characters' strategy of obscuring their feelings behind shoals of patter, Straight Up most reminds of Hal Hartley's work. Todd has a thing about fluids, considers sex embarrassing and/or disgusting, and has interests obscure enough--and opinions abrasive enough--that he's having trouble finding someone who will tolerate him, let alone like him. Enter Rory, who, while enjoying sex fine, thank you, talks the same way, thinks the same way, and finds most of Todd's peccadillos to be charming.