Friday, June 26, 2009

The Triad's Two to watch instead of 'Transformers 2'

This weekend, Michael Bay has squeezed out a racist, metallic turd into theaters across the country.

And while most Americans wanting to see a brand new movie have few choices beyond the 'Fallen' Transformers sequel or the no less horrible-looking My Sister's Keeper, we Greensboro residents are actually quite lucky.

We got two new movies coming out today, and not only are they much better than Bay-formers 2, but they were both made by filmmakers from the Triad.

First up, we got Goodbye Solo.


Directed and co-written by Winston-Salem native Ramin Bahrani, the film was not only shot in and around his hometown, but unlike many of the films made in the Piedmont Triad area, the movie also takes place there as well.

Unlike most films set in the South, "Goodbye Solo" is one of the very few to acknowledge that our region has changed quite a lot since the days of Andy Griffith. Bahrani tells the story of Solo, a Senegalese cab driver and member of our thriving immigrant population who befriends a grizzled, older man named William. William might have been born in North Carolina, but it's clear he is more of an outsider than his immigrant friend.

The movie is centered around William's desire to end his life and Solo's attempt to change his mind. You could guess how this movie will end, but I promise you will be wrong. This is a subtle, touching drama that is neither cloying or patronizing, and anyone who wants to learn a thing or two about effective, low-budget filmmaking should look at Bahrani's film as the Bible.

As a bonus, there's probably a chance that most people will recognize at least one person in the film. For instance, the fellow selling bootleg DVD's to Solo and his stepdaughter actually worked the security desk with me during my summer break from college.

Many are calling Goodbye Solo one of the year's best films and I am certain that few films - if any - will unseat it from my top 5 list of 2009.

But in case you're in the mood for an action movie instead of a drama, another group of Triad filmmakers have you covered as well in Dogs of Chinatown.


Greensboro filmmakers Blake Faucette and Micah Moore had a smaller budget than Bahrani - and to be fair, smaller ambitions - but with a shoestring budget, they completed a far superior action film than Michael Bay did with Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. Slight praise, yes, so allow me to go a bit farther. In terms of films that were both locally made - and funded - I haven't seen a completed feature from Greensboro that tops Dogs of Chinatown.

Moore is a whiz at low-fi scene compositions, and the scenes enhanced by digital and coloration effects are top notch.

And not only will Dogs of Chinatown give you the chance to see local actors and actresses get punched, kicked and shot at, but the movie is a time capsule for our city with cameos by local buildings from two years ago that have been either renovated or completely demolished. The best part is, that if you see this film at the Carousel this week, you will be supporting the people who made it directly.

The choice is a simple one. You can either watch a boring, 2.5-hour exercise in racist android porn from a man who doesn't seem to care about humanity, let alone the Triad. Or you can watch the locally made Goodbye Solo or Dogs of Chinatown, both of which are superior films for different reasons.


Blogger Sherry said...

"Dogs of Chinatown" is a great action packed movie, suspense, a few laughs and great storyline. We went opening night.

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