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Chop Shop

Chop Shop

Director:Ramin Bahrani
Cast:Alejandro Polanco, Isamar Gonzales, Ahmad Razvi, Carlos Zapata, Rob Sowulski
Release Date:2008

By Lee Gardner | Posted 5/14/2008

Manhattan's skyline, familiar from so many films, is but a glittering, almost miragelike background to one shot in Chop Shop. The neighborhood director/co-writer Ramin Bahrani brings vivid life to here is workaday Willets Point, Queens, in particular a strip of grimy body shops and tire stores where 12-year-old Ale (Alejandro Polanco) spends his days and nights, sleeping in the garage where he works and hustling up extra money selling candy and bootleg DVDs whenever he can. He's thrilled when his older sister Isamar (Isamar Gonzales) moves into his plywood-walled room, but her presence ultimately gives him more to worry about as he scrapes to save enough for their own American dream: a broken-down catering truck. By some miracle, Bahrani and his amateur cast never put a foot wrong, embodying Ale and Isamar as the kids they are--grown up too soon but not hardened--and keeping the challenges they face realistic but heartbreakingly difficult just the same. Unexpected, unpredictable, nearly perfect.

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