(Ramin Bahrani, 2007)
Regarding this film, I kept reading comparisons to Pixote and Rosetta, which actually seem appropriate. Like those landmark films, Chop Shop looks at the lives of street children growing up too fast, but this film’s background is distinctly American, specifically Willets Point, Queens — in the shadow of Shea Stadium and the USTA National Tennis Center.
There’s something very earnest about these amateur actors shot in a documentary style. Alejandro Polanco, in his first feature as the young Ale, gives one of those nuanced performances that makes it feel as though he embodies the character, that he lives the life of the chop shop every day. The film rests on his shoulders and he delivers time and again.
Makes me want to see director Bahrani’s praised short film Man Push Cart, which also explores New York street life.