New York Kids

12 Sep 2013: Chop Shop (DVD, 2007, Ramin Bahrani)

An exemplar of contemporary Sundance/”indie” filmfare in its literally and thus figuratively shaky cinematography – by now, due to ubiquity of its usage and of its user upstarts, an assertion of artifice more than honesty – and its scrappy but cheery cute-kid underclass underdogs wholly inoffensive to middle-class “liberal” sensibilities (they’re dirt-poor and cheated, but they’ve got loads of colorful friends and they’re always working hard to make their way out – see also Gimme the Loot and Beasts and the Southern Wild, for two). The characters are fine and nice but ultimately as bland and indescriptive as each of those commonplace adjectives – it’s not especially unpleasant to be in their company for an hour and a half but it’s not especially enriching either. A looseness in either story or atmosphere or personalities or aesthetics or intellect can readily be compensated for by some tightness or insight in one or more of the other arenas, but films which are loose in all categories quite expectedly have no staying power, only the fleeting sensation of a light brush across the skin of a garment falling to the ground.

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