Neophyte filmmaker Kevin DiNovis wrote, directed, edited, and stars in the 1998 black-and-white independent film Surrender Dorothy, a thoroughgoing auteur project exploring the path from social impotence to sexual domination. DiNovis plays a junkie who's hiding from his dealer at the loft of a drug buddy played by Peter Pryor. Pryor buses tables and washes dishes for a living, and he has a curious masturbation ritual wherein he brushes his teeth and gums with the dirty forks of female customers. Unable to make a connection with any woman, even a prostitute, Pryor begins to bully his deadbeat roommate, first demanding that DiNovis clean the apartment, then demanding that he do so in a dress. Before long, Pryor has leveraged DiNovis' addictions to heroin and to security into a masochistic sexual relationship in which both parties are debased. DiNovis once studied with absurdist playwright Edward Albee, which explains the similarity between the friendly-gesture-turns-dark scenarios of Surrender Dorothy and Albee's Zoo Story. DiNovis also taught literature and edited journals before making his feature debut, so there's a strong possibility that the film is a savage, allusive comment on the compromises of marriage, in a literary style. Whether the comment is worth the effort is another matter. Surrender Dorothy is memorable, but it's also grubby, harsh, and lacking in wit; once the two principals begin to acquiesce to each other's needs, the film progresses down a straight, dark road. It's also literally hard to watch, since the low budget led to limited sets and setups, and to a sound design that muffles some of the dialogue. The repeated shots of the same bare loft and the same two men trying to make the best of their respective situations recalls the poverty and desperation at the heart of Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight's relationship in Midnight Cowboy, but Surrender Dorothy doesn't possess the same humanity. It starts grim, gets grimmer, and ends grimmest of all.