September 9, 2009

Goodbye Solo

Also this week: Crank: High Voltage, Homicide, Everlasting Moments, Menace II Society

Highlight of the Week

Goodbye Solo (E1) Like his much-lauded previous films Chop Shop and Man Push Cart, Ramin Bahrani’s latest is an intimate character study of outcasts in America. Displaced from Senegal all the way to the Deep South, Solo now works as a cabbie. It’s in his car that the film opens on him in mid-conversation with an old and dejected man who wants Solo to chauffeur him to a nearby mountaintop so he can plunge to his suicide. If any of this sounds familiar, you may recall 1997 Palm d’Or winner A Taste of Cherry, which features a vaguely similar template set in Tehran. Both films hold their own as masterworks by their respective directors, and Goodbye Solo feels especially invigorating bearing in mind the current state of US independent cinema. Extras: superb commentary with Bahrani (guy teaches film at Columbia, after all) and DP Michael Simmonds.

Also Available

Crank: High Voltage (Maple) Nixing the “It’s Speed, but instead of a bus it’s a guy” premise, Jason Statham must now repeatedly electrocute himself (mostly his crotch — because why not?) to preserve his mechanical heart so that he can rescue his own from hired goons. Presumably this is intended as perverse satire, but the film is merely interested in raping our senses with increasingly boisterous meta-obnoxiousness. There’s zero nuance in this 96-minute shitshow, yet by some miracle it remains an oddly engaging train wreck. Extras: crank’d out commentary, cranktastic making-of, more crank. 

Homicide (Criterion) Featuring some of the most iconic verbiage in David Mamet’s arsenal of Mametisms, this 1991 cop drama finally sees the light of day owing to a long overdue restoration. Mamet vet Joe Mantegna stars as a Jewish detective who, along with partner William H. Macy, is hunting down a murderer (Ving Rhames) whose crimes lead to a group of Zionists imploring Mantegna to take action. Extras: commentary with Mamet and Macy, interviews with numerous Mamet thesps, gag reel, essay. 

Everlasting Moments (E1) Jan Troell (the other Swedish filmmaker to frequently cast Max von Sydow in his films) continues his long-standing practice of depicting expansive historical currents with a graceful stroke of human compassion. Critics adore Troell, who on top of directing also co-writes and photographs nearly all his films. Extras: just the trailer.

Menace II Society (New Line) The Hughes Brothers made their debut 16 years ago with this South-Central LA drama that holds up surprisingly well. Not to be confused with this week’s featured Lowlight noteurs’ ghetto-sploitation spoof Don’t Be a Menace To South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Extras: extended cut, cast ’n’ crew commentary, featurette entitled "Gangsta Vision," Hughes interviews.