Goodbye Solo

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You might assume that over the course of his forty-some year acting career, Al Pacino has probably won enough Oscars to stock a whole trophy room, but actually he’s only won once. It was for his performance as a blind, pissed-off, ex-military man with plans to kill himself after indulging in a weekend of fine food and fine escorts in Scent of a Woman. The movie was kind of a big deal back in the early 90s, getting nominated for a bunch of awards and winning everybody’s grandma and grandpa’s hearts in the theaters. Plus, Pacino had a catchphrase in the movie – “hoo-ah!” – which got referenced and quoted (to an annoying degree) for years after. In 2009, Ramin Bahrani made a movie about a similarly pissed off old white guy who has made a conscious decision and an appointment to kill himself called Goodbye Solo. It didn’t have any name actors like an Al Pacino, and it didn’t manage to win any awards that you’ve ever heard of, but it was really good anyway. So much so that I think it’s a shame that it never got any play with anyone outside of the movie snob crowd.

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Over the last few years Ramin Bahrani has slowly become one of my favorite working filmmakers, and just with the release of three features. I thought his 2005 effort Man Push Cart was an interesting story that showed a lot of style and managed to accomplish quite a bit while still taking a minimal approach to filmmaking; but it didn’t quite connect with me on a deeper level. In his second feature, when Bahrani took his unique form of small, anti-cinematic character study and pointed it at the young Alejandro in 2007’s Chop Shop, I found myself to be deeply affected by the characters introduced and the naturalist way that Bahrani is able to build emotion and intrigue by doing very little, and create beautiful imagery without being in the least bit showy. 2008’s Goodbye Solo was even better, a filmgoing experience that I found to be truly sublime. So what the heck is this micro budget indie filmmaker doing casting Zac Efron and Dennis Quaid in his next movie? Up to this point everything he has done has employed mostly unknowns, so seeing these two Hollywood names get attached to something he’s doing comes as a pretty big shock. Quaid I can kind of accept. If Bahrani is dipping his toe into the waters of making studio films, then Quaid is a performer who I can see him going after. Despite the fact that he makes a lot of crap, like The Day After Tomorrow, Legion, and G.I. Joe, […]

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In the last month of the past decade, we put our readership through the ringer. We unleashed list after list of our favorites of the decade and the year. And if you can suffer through one more round of awesomeness, it will all be over. For now.

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The man who Ebert has called the “next great American filmmaker” took some time out of a busy schedule to talk about his latest movie, Goodbye Solo, the importance of showing the bad parts of life, and a giant pile of trash floating around in the Pacific.

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Rob Hunter loves movies. He also loves working as the owner of a Hank Moody’s neighborhood liquor store. These two joys come together in the form of cash money payments that he receives every week and immediately uses to buy more DVDs. This week we have Adventureland, Californication, The Informers, and more!

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The latest film from director Ramin Bahrani is the powerful, deeply moving story of an unexpected friendship.

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On the lonely roads of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, two men from very different worlds forge an improbable friendship that will change both of their lives forever.

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