Saturday, October 29, 2011
Sean Baker made a movie -- Take Out -- that opened up to viewers the world of Chinese illegals working in New York City in the restaurant trade. Now Baker's back with a new film that does something similar for an African emigre who is not only illegal in America but who works in a trade -- the grey market for fashion knock-offs -- that is as illegal as he is. And once again, Mr Baker envelopes us in the lives of characters who seem very real and quite worth our time. And he does this -- glory, glory -- with remarkably few clichés and via camerawork and editing (both done by the filmmaker himself) that are hands-on, up-close, and wonderfully intimate and immediate.
Aiden Noesi, shown above and below), who surely can't have been more than one or two years old when the film was shot. He shares the role of title character, along with his "maybe" dad, and they're both, in their way, "Princes" of Broadway -- that Manhattan boulevard, around the neighborhood of 27th and 28th Streets, in which the older Prince (played by newcomer Prince Adu, at right, below) plies his trade. The little Prince, sheer delight to view, is a scene-stealer whom Baker has managed to capture without the kid ever seeming to know that the camera exists.
Karren Karagulian, below), a surprisingly decent guy with family problems of his own.
As well-done, as downright enjoyable as the film is, there is also the sense that we're seeing a bit too much of the "good" side of things. Child-rearing, even under the best of circumstances, is difficult, problematic and sometimes very hard to handle. We get little of that here.
Still, the performances are spectacularly good in terms of moment-to-moment reality. According to the end credits, the cast improvised from the filmmaker's original scenario -- and they did a fine job of it.
Flatiron Film Company - New Video Group, made its DVD debut last week and is available now for rental, purchase or download.