Friday, July 11, 2008

Auto Body: Chop Shop

The most realistic film I have seen for a long time features a cast of amateur actors and is extremely compelling, to such a point it has you on the edge of your seat in worry for the young hero (Alejandro Polanco, who is top-notch in his debut). He lives above an auto shop in Queens (near Shea Stadium) where he works hard for Rob (Rob Sowulski), who runs it. He has a sister named Isamar (Isamar Gonzales) who he accidentally finds out is a prostitute and who is less in control of things than he is. The plan: to take a van ride down to Florida and for Ale to get tuition there, as he has never gone to school and she didn't make it past tenth grade. Anyways, this movie is basically his life and times in the shady neighborhood where he toils day after day. He is an expert mechanic at a young age, but he sometimes uses his expertise in the black market of chop shops and other shady joints. He makes a lot of money, but he depends on his sister for a lot of it. He might need to watch the same money hiding tutorial that Jim Sturgess' gambling idiot from 21 has to watch. He is, at one point, driven to steal the handbag of an unsuspecting woman at the US Open, because he has to pay for more work on his van. He also steals from his sister, too. So life in his area has driven the smart Ale to steal tons of cash from a lot of people. I guess what you would call the climax is when he finds his sister prostituting and she is mad that she embarrassed herself in front of him. Then the film ends on a strange note, as the two are treated to a pigeon show outside their dwelling as tons of pigeons flock to get seed and are scared away by Isamar. Anyways, simple plot, complicated story. Ramin Bahrani, director previously of "Man Push Cart", another film like this one. That one pushed itself onto the 2006 Top Ten list of Roger Ebert. This one may not have gotten the same honors, but it more than definitely deserved them. This film is definitively and outrightly amazing. It does so much with so little, using 10 sets or less (estimating). It features fantastic acting, cinematography, and directing, and is deserved of many awards. No tune-ups necessary. A

Chop Shop has violence, and might be disturbing because of its very realistic nature.

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