A Few Films from the Atlanta Film Festival

This past weekend, the Atlanta Film Festival wrapped up. Here are the reviews for the three films I was able to attend.

GOODBYE SOLO–This is the best film I’ve seen this year. Set in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, this movie tells the story of Solo, a Senegalese immigrant who drives a cab, and William, an older white Southern man who uses Solo’s services. At the beginning, William asks Solo in a few days time to drive him one way, two hours out of town to a mountain called Blowing Rock. Fearing that William is going to commit suicide, Solo starts an unlikely friendship with William in the hopes of changing his mind. Souleymane Sy Savane, an actor from the Ivory Coast, is excellent as Solo and infuses the character with an engaging and charming bravado. Director and co-writer Ramin Bahrani does an excellent job in focusing on William and Solo’s relationship and exploring what it means to be a true friend, all set against the backdrop of the trials and tribulations of a robust immigrant community you would never guess was existing in the heart RJR tobacco country.

THE PEOPLE SPEAK–Making its world debut, this film opened the film festival. Inspired by and based upon Howard Zinn’s book A People’s History of the United States, its a performance film of sorts chronicling the history of protest and dissent in the United States from the revolutionary war through to the present. The film features an array of actors performing readings of real people throughout history. Much of the footage was filmed in Boston where a number of actors including Ms. Washington, Viggo Mortensen, Jasmine Guy, Josh Brolin, Morgan Freeman, Marisa Tormei, etc., gave dramatic readings before a live audience. The film also features musicians such as Eddie Vedder, John Legend, Pink, and Bruce Springsteen performing various protest and other songs significant of the times. This is a powerful and poignant account of American history that can’t be missed. It is due to be aired on the History Channel in the near future.

RUDO & CURSI— This is a comedy from Mexico directed by Carlos Cuaron and stars Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal (both of y tu mama tambien) as two brothers who leave their poor rural lives on a banana plantation to pursue careers as professional soccer players in Mexico City. Giving into sibling rivalry and trying to outdo the other, the brothers soon find that life in the big city is not all its cracked up to be. Cursi is confounded by woman troubles and Rudo gives into gambling and drugs. Although the ride to fame and fortune is bumpy, they discover that their bond as brothers is the one thing they can rely on as their lives come full circle.

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