Thursday, February 19, 2009

PIFF Day 10

Okay, so on Tuesday night I saw the worst film I've ever seen at a film festival--"Cape No. 7" (Taiwan). It was so bad I think the screening committee should have kept it out! Although, to be fair to them, it took the grand prize at the Taipei Film Festival and is a box office hit in Taiwan. Ugh! It stars popular singers from Taiwan and Japan, so the only thing I can think is that it must be the equivalent of some teen dream singer starring in a film here--instant box office adoration, regardless of quality. The story was incoherent, with loose threads running everywhere, the music was terribly schmaltzy, and the film seemed to drag on forever. Avoid this! (1)

The better film of the night was "Goodbye Solo" (U.S.), whose director, Ramin Bahrani, also directed a film I admired very much earlier this year called "Chop Shop." Both that film and this focus on very particular stories of outsiders, revealing a close-in view of lives we don't normally see depicted on film. Solo is a somewhat aggressively friendly Senegalese taxi driver in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. One night a curmudgeonly passenger, William, asks him to pick him up in two weeks and take him to Blowing Rock, a cliff-top viewpoint. Ignoring William's resistance, Solo befriends him and, before long, they are roommates. Solo increasingly suspects that William intends to commit suicide and thinks he can save the older man--but both of them end of being surprised by their effect on each other. We are talking small but significant changes here, so don't expect Hollywood drama. But I found both these characters, and Solo's world, an interesting and worthwhile place to visit. (7)

1 comment:

Roadside Attractions said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed 'Goodbye Solo.' It opens in theaters on March 27th. Roger Ebert calls it "a force of nature" and The New York Times' A.O. Scott says it has "an uncanny ability to enlarge your perception of the world." You can check out the trailer and theater listings at