Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Naz & Maalik

Naz and Maalik are a couple of extremely likable teenage Muslim boys who have been inseparable best friends for years and are now trying coming to terms with both their sexuality and the fact that their relationship has now evolved into something more romantic and physical. After their night of passion together, we follow how this all continues developing the whole of the next day in this engaging wee drama from newbie filmmaker Jay Dockendorf which takes place as the boys cram a lot in on the streets of the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn which is very much their ‘hood.’ 
 
After school they hit up two convenience stores to stock up on lottery tickets and scents which they then hustle on the streets to make some money.  But before they can get started on that they heed the call to pray at their local mosque, and although neither of them are fervent about their faith, they do respect it especially how important it is to their parents. In fact one of the less successful story strands (out of many) is a sub plot concerning the boys attempts to give Naz’s mother a birthday gift of a traditional halal chicken for which they intend to kill themselves.
 
At one point the boys are approached by an undercover policeman with a pretext of selling them a gun and as they don’t balk at the idea, he reports back to his superior, a rookie FBI Agent who is trying to establish if all the local Muslims are terrorists. It is a slightly cliched plot twist but it is executed here with compassion and quite a light touch, and the two boys are far more concerned that the Officer will expose them as being gay, rather any sort of militant which they certainly are not.
 
Dockerdorf does in fact mix in a lot of the daily issues that the boys must face in this volatile cultural climate and he throws in a whole cast of colorful characters that interact with them at rather a manic pace throughout the 24 hours. Most of it is a diversion from the fact that the boys are skirting around talking about their feelings for each other and about accepting their awakening sexuality.  It may get a tad emotional at time, but it never ever goes very deep on really any of the issues, which strangely enough, is quite a mixed blessing for a change.  It makes for an un-challenging drama which focuses on the rather disarming charm of these two youngsters.
 
Curtiss Cook Jr. and Kerwin Johnson Jr. making their acting debuts have an infectious sensibility and a great on-screen chemistry together that make this inviting tour of their Brooklyn a treat to watch, and their coming of age story a sheer joy.
 
 

Posted by queerguru  at  02:23

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Genres:  coming of age, drama

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