Go Matthew Wilkas!

Matthew has a very small part in The New Twenty (he’s in the first steam room scene, in which he leaves, disgusted by “Louie’s” homophobic rant). He’s a terrific actor and a very nice guy, so we’re happy to celebrate his success at Outfest in LA this summer, where he’s appearing in two short films. Greg in Hollywood writes about him.

Matthew Wilkas

Derek Lui comments on Andrew Wei Lin and on The New Twenty

Hi Mr Johnson,

My name is Derek and I am an actor. I saw your movie “the New Twenty” twice, once in Los Angeles, once in Hong Kong and really liked it. I recommended many of my friends to see it. I was especially impressed by Andrew Wei Lin’s performance and felt very excited to see an Asian actor being cast in a non-stereotypical role. I was very sad when I learnt that he passed away earlier last year. Last week, I wrote about your movie and my thoughts on Andrew’s performance at my monthly column published at “Backstage”. And I would really like to share the link with you. My article is located under my name Derek Lui.

I really want to thank you for casting him and his work will always be my inspiration. And thank you for making this movie . I really enjoyed it.

Derek Lui

Viewer Review from Matthew Montgomery

A nice message (Facebook) from a new fan, Matthew, who just watched The New Twenty:

Hi Chris,

You don’t know me. I’m an actor and producer. But I believe we have some mutual friends/acquaintances. I actually found out about you because I met up with Chuck Wilson who reviewed The New Twenty in the LA Weekly a while back. He suggested your film to me and said that I should work with you someday. I had no idea exactly what he meant by that until I saw your film – The New Twenty. It’s friggin’ UNBELIEVABLE. I loved it so much, and was absolutely riveted to the very end. The rawness you captured both visually and through the actual storyline was nothing short of brilliant to watch. You have an amazing eye and impeccable direction. Even the ending of the film was so richly satisfying, which seems to be rather infrequently achieved in films lately. I just really loved it.


Here you go – a list of all the songs in THE NEW TWENTY. Many people have requested this, and I am at long last posting it. Some of the songs, like “Swing Set” and “Fall”, are heard more than once in the movie. Lucy plays “Fall” for Felix in her apt., for example, and then the whole song also follows “Station Approach” over the closing credits. I only list the songs once here, tho, the first time they appear in the movie. If any of you want more info and you have Netflix, you can watch THE NEW TWENTY instantly and see all the song/album/publisher info in the closing credits. Or of course, you could buy the DVD. 😉
…which includes, by the way, a music video by Matt Alber for his “End of the World”

In the meanwhile, HERE IS THE LIST:

song: “Swing Set” – artist: Jamie Block
song: “God Bless Us Anyway” – artist: Collider
song: “One Sweet Fix” – artist: Sanama
song: “Nothin’ To Lose” – artist: Kelley McRae
song: “The Tanbark Is Hot Lava” – artist: dredg
song: “Break Us” – artist: Kelley McRae
song: “Molly Malone” – artist: Jamie Block
song: “Tanatoe” – artist: Sanama
song: “Vampire Movie” – artist: Jamie Barnes
song: “Beautiful” – artist: Mark Geary
song: “The Sound” – artist: El Camino
song: “Fall” – artist: Kelley McRae
song: “Black Alice” – artist: Wes Charlton
song: “I Fell” – artist: Mark Geary
song: “End of the World” – artist: Matt Alber
song: “Radio Religion” – artist: The Old Ceremony
song: “Una Noche” – artist: Sanama
song: “Do You Know the Way” – artist: Jamie Block
song: “Lawd Have Mercy” – artist: El Camino
song: “Lonesome” – artist: El Camino
song: “Poison Pen” – artist: The Old Ceremony
song: “Station Approach” – artist: Elbow

DVD of THE NEW TWENTY hits the street today!

DVD of THE NEW TWENTY is now available and includes some nice extras: a music video by Matt Alber, deleted scenes, and director’s commentary. You can order thru the homepage of this website, or on Amazon and the other usual suspects; or you can rent it thru iTunes, Netflix, or thru cable OnDemand if you have any of these carriers in the U.S. or Canada: Comcast, Time Warner, Cogeco, COX, Echostar, Rogers, Sakstel, Shaw, Telus, TVN. For international fans: it will be coming soon via iTunes to over 10 countries, including China, Korea and Japan!

NYTimes: Gay/Straight Male Friendships Hit the Mainstream

The NYTimes Style Section has a three page spread on the “normalization” of gay/straight male friendships. Looks like THE NEW TWENTY is tapped into the zeitgeist in a big way.

Andrew Wei Lin, rest in peace

Andrew Wei Lin took his own life on Friday, June 12, 2009. It is a shock to all of us who worked with him on this project and became his friend beyond that. He is deeply missed. Andrew was a brilliant, charismatic, intelligent, humorous and hugely talented young man. He was twenty-eight years old. Whatever demons he struggled with cannot hurt him any longer. Rest in peace, dark angel.

Andrew Wei Lin rests between takes...

Andrew Wei Lin rests between takes...

New Blog Review of THE NEW TWENTY, by George Heymont

from MyCulturalLandscapeBlogspot
Sunday, June 21, 2009

Set in 2006 (back in the days when wealth, capitalism and prosperity seemed to have no limits), Chris Mason Johnson’s first feature film, The New Twenty, glows with intelligence, craft, fine direction, and the work of an exceptionally strong acting ensemble. It has a keen sense of its precarious moment in history, the generation it represents, and each character’s complex emotional handicaps and motivations. As Johnson explains in his director’s statement:

“The New Twenty is an ensemble drama about five friends nearing 30 who’ve remained close since college. Their extended family has outlived its usefulness. It’s time to move on. The characters in The New Twenty are ready to move on and grow up, even if they don’t know it yet. But leaving that first circle of friends is like leaving family — it’s not always easy. As it happens, their ironic and somewhat tortured self-involvement coincides with what we now see as a particularly ugly chapter in America’s financial markets history.

For quite a while our country has encouraged its best and brightest to go into banking and that hasn’t turned out so well, to say the least. A title at the head of the film — 2006 — locates this narrative in the very recent but very different past. In The New Twenty my characters struggle with life choices that feel empty or cynical, but they either don’t have the courage to make a change or don’t realize they need to. Perhaps, luckily for them (in their fictional future), the whole financial edifice comes tumbling down just a couple short years after the story ends.”

The key characters in Johnson’s drama include:

* Julie Kim (Nicole Bilderback), a beautiful and intelligent young investment banker who is all too aware that the reason she keeps getting promoted is because having a high-ranking Asian American looks good for her employer’s diversity profile.
* Andrew Hatch (Ryan Locke), Julie’s fiancé, a wannabe alpha dog. A database programmer totally lacking in management skills, Andrew is a cocky, manipulative jerk who plays squash with Julie’s brother, Tony.
* Ben (Colin Fickes), a gay slacker who desperately wants to be included in the group’s activities but is rightfully regarded by them as a total loser.
* Tony (Andrew Wei Lin), Julie’s gay brother who works in advertising and shares an apartment with her best friend from college.
* Felix (Thomas Sadoski), Tony’s roommate who has a serious drug problem and can never seem to manage a relationship with a woman. Felix likes to claim that “we all suffer from a touch of existential malaise courtesy of late capitalism.”
* Robert (Bill Sage), a middle-aged professor who becomes Tony’s boyfriend after they meet in the sauna at the gym. Robert is very shy, HIV positive, doesn’t like to talk much, and is definitely not looking for a relationship.
* Louie (Terry Serpico), an alpha dog venture capitalist who plays squash at the same health club frequented by Andrew and Tony. Louie is a homophobic asshole who wastes no time going after Andrew’s fiancée, Julie.

There were many moments in The New Twenty that made me think of 1983’s The Big Chill as a once closely-knit group starts to come apart at the seams. Perhaps most impressive is how Johnson deals with issues of fidelity and male bonding. This may be one of the first movies to deal sensitively with the challenges of consciously entering into a relationship in which one partner is negative and the other is HIV positive. Straight and gay sensitivities do not clash so much as coexist in this film. As Johnson explains:

“In The New Twenty I depict gay/straight friendships between young men that are free of the homosexual panic jokes and unrequited love conflicts that usually dominate the screen. The fact is, gay/straight friendships (minus the drama) are more and more common for young adults, especially the urban and educated. We may not have reached a “post-gay” moment yet (Prop 8, anyone?) but we’re getting there. The casual attitude toward gay/straight bonding for characters like those in The New Twenty might be summed up as: what’s the big deal?

And yet, despite my insistence on the easygoing nature of this mix, I knew homophobia had to play into my story since our brave new world does have its share of it. Something that runs so deep must leave a trace, but what kind of trace? The answer came in two ways: first through my antagonist, Louie (the older venture capitalist who helps young alpha male Andrew launch his new career and who is blatantly if amusingly homophobic); the second through the more subtle dscomfort my male characters express without necessarily knowing it, through humor. In other words, homosexual panic used to lead to violence. Now it leads to jokes.”

The New Twenty took me by surprise with its strength, maturity, and honesty. Like Chéri, it captures a critical moment within a particular subset of society just before everything falls apart. It’s one of the few ensemble films I’ve seen in which the Gaysian male is the most level-headed character, the one most willing to take responsibility for his actions.

More Awards and Congratulations!

And a somewhat belated congratulations to our own Karen Olivo, who just won the Best Featured Actress Tony Award for playing “Anita” in WEST SIDE STORY on Broadway. Karen plays “Bethany” in THE NEW TWENTY and is terrific in the film. She has several short scenes, the best of which is a moment she shares with the late Andrew Wei Lin, in the third act. There’s a bit of improvisation here between Karen and Andrew, and it is funny and natural.

New Awards for The New Twenty

Congratulations to Colin Fickes who just won the Best Actor Award at the Calgary International Diversity Festival in Canada.

And contratulations to Ishmael Chawla and Chris Mason Johnson, who just won the Best Screenplay Award at FilmOut San Diego.