Chop Shop Review, by John Anderson of Washington Post

The hook on Ramin Bahrani's feature "Chop Shop" is that the gifted young director has made a Third World movie in the shadow of Shea Stadium. It's no stage set: On the junk-scattered streets of Willets Point, Queens, is a society that could exist in Bangkok, Rio or Soweto. Bahrani's outer borough is a Babel, not just of languages, but of aspirations and ethics.

The most hopeful character around has to be Alejandro (the precocious Alejandro Polanco). He sells candy on the G train, the only New York subway that never reaches Manhattan. That's a tipoff that what we have here is not going to be your standard rags-to-riches menu with a Horatio Alger twist.

Few seem to work harder than Alejandro, who when not harassing subway riders is hustling customers for the auto shop where he sleeps, according to the goodwill of the shop's owner, Rob (the nonprofessional but thoroughly convincing Rob Sowulski). Like the hero of Bahrani's much-lauded debut, "Man Push Cart," Alejandro can work all he wants: His labors are like so much smoke, wafting out of a trash-can fire, floating out over the East River, and dissolving back into dreams.

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Chop Shop


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