Expected to attend (June 18 only): Director Tom E. Brown, Producer Richard LaGravenese, Producer Chris Martin, Producer Ian Reinhard, Cinematographer Frazer Bradshaw, Actor James Roday, Actor Robin Weigert, Actor Khandi Alexander
In what may be a comedy first, San Francisco writer-director Tom E. Brown shakes together some unlikely ingredients—healthcare bureaucracy, a gentrifying city, and the tribulations of being a longtime HIV survivor—and serves up an effervescent, quirky cocktail of pathos and black humor in his delightful feature debut.
At the center of the outstanding ensemble cast is James Roday (TV’s Psych) as HIV-positive writer and bouncer Dan Schauble. When a bureaucratic snafu makes it impossible for him to get his prescriptions refilled, he quietly panics that even a short disruption of his pharmaceutical regimen could have disastrous consequences. But as he navigates a comically Kafkaesque insurance labyrinth, this cockeyed optimist is just as concerned about the emotional wellbeing of his lonely roommate, Paula (Robin Weigert), and of his recently separated boss, Bob (Danny Glover). Dan also finds welcome distraction in Mike (Tom Riley), a cute British painter. Brown (whose comic short Tradesman’s Exit was a Frameline39 hit) makes acute observations about a healthcare system that puts lives at risk with arbitrary rules, but his film is deceptively light, leavened not just by its often absurd humor but also by its strong relationships and its authentic local feel. Pushing Dead is in some ways a valentine to San Francisco’s traditional, all-inclusive nature, which welcomes artists and dreamers like Dan and allows them to flourish in makeshift families such as the one he’s created with Paula, Bob, and Bob’s wife, Dot (Khandi Alexander). The entire ensemble is terrific, led by Roday’s amiable performance as the generous, gentle soul at the heart of a film that is as warm as it is funny.
— Pam Grady
AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F127
Pomeroy Recreation & Rehabilitation Center
San Francisco IndieFest