Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ebert Thoughts ‘14—Goodbye Solo (2009) ****

R, 91 min.
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Writers: Ramin Bahrani, Bahareh Azimi
Staring: Souleymane Sy Savane, Red West, Diana Franco Galindo, Lane ‘Roc’ Williams, Mamadou Lam, Carmen Leyva

Usually when I attend Ebertfest in person, I try not to just write reviews of the movies I see. I often try to pick up on themes I see in the festival or comment on some incident I witness or people I meet there. One thing that has happened on a few occasions—only once at Ebertfest that I recall—is falling asleep during a screening. Now, I love watching movies, so this has only happened when I’ve been quite sleep deprived. I think that’s probably a common enough problem when attending a film festival.

This comes up because I fell asleep during my screening of “Goodbye Solo” the other night. This is no reflection of the film. I saw it in 2009, when it was originally released and enjoyed it thoroughly. It made my top ten list for the year. But when I went to revisit it, the sleep deprivation that comes along with a five week old child got the best of me. It’s a shame because the movie is such a great lesson in friendship, true deep meaningful friendship between two men who by all rights should never even know each other. One is trying to begin his life anew. The other is getting ready to end it. I finished it the next night, but it got me thinking about my history of falling asleep while watching good movies.

It isn’t a long history. It began in college during a screening of “Cry Freedom”. Our campus had a wonderful student run movie theater that played second run films and classics. “Cry Freedom” had been on my ‘to see’ list, but I’d been awake for about 32 hours when it started. Why? Because it was college and I was stupid. So, to this day, I still haven’t really seen “Cry Freedom”. In fact, I just now discovered that the running time is almost 2 hours and 40 minutes. No wonder I fell asleep.

The only other times I’ve had trouble staying awake in the theater were at Ebertfest. The only time it really got me was during the family matinee screening of “Paperhouse”. That was my first Ebertfest and they used to have four screenings for each of the full day programs. I hadn’t trained well enough to keep up that pace plus the panel discussions for three days straight.

Now, as I’ve grown older it has become harder and harder to keep my night owl hours that allow me to watch as many movies as I do. I now find myself falling asleep during a film once or twice a week. I’ve come to accept the practice of not getting through a film in one sitting if I’m alone in my living room lying down on my couch. I mostly blame the couch, which has always held this mystical power to put me to sleep at any time, no matter how much insomnia I’m experiencing at other sleeping spots. The truth is four children and a full time job outside of watching and reviewing films makes it quite difficult to keep up a pace like mine; but I love movies so much, I’m willing to sacrifice.

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