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Stand Clear of the Closing doors Review

Stand Clear of the Closing doorsA fantastic and supremely realistic journey into the underworld of the subway and the nether world of the illegal alien.

Emerging Director Sam Fleischner is able to put his dozen-plus lenser creds to good use in this surrealistic yet grounded narrative of a boy lost in the New York subways. Winner of a Special Jury Mention for Best Narrative Feature at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, this film takes crafty advantage of a bowl of lemons and turns it into delicious lemonade.

The lemons came in the form of super-storm Sandy which hit the location like a sock in the jaw just as the film was nearing completion. Asperger’s Syndrome sufferer Ricky (Jesus Sanchez-Velez) has spent several days riding the rails of New York City’s fabled and fearsome MTA subway system. Somehow remaining unnoticed even in the midst of a massive manhunt for the missing boy, Ricky is kicked off the subway when it shuts down due to the hurricane force winds of Sandy.

For autistic spectrum children there is no such thing as a good day at school. Faced with distasteful medicine which he has to take every day, and a sister Carla (Azul Zorrilla) who loves him and hates him at the same time, Ricky runs away and seeks refuge in the noisy light show of noir adventure of the trains. Although Ricky has almost no money (and eats almost nothing during his several days on the trains) he is able to ride indefinitely by transferring trains. On the MTA, there is a single charge to get on, no charge to get off and no charge to transfer. With 468 stations and 232 miles of routes, if a person wants to get lost and stay lost in the subway, they can.

Ricky’s mother Marian (Andrea Suarez Paz) is panic stricken when she learns he has disappeared. She blames Carla who is frustrated to the hilt with a little brother who never gets close to normal behavior. Marian has kicked her husband out of the house and in so doing has incurred Carla’s wrath. With Ricky’s disappearance, the family is forced to take a closer look at itself and consider a truce to bring back the child that has a piece of each of their hearts.

This movie is an unmatched combination of an insider’s view of the true, unvarnished underbelly of the largest city in America and a gritty essay on the nearly impossible task facing an undocumented Mexican family raising an autistic child. The first half of the film contains the most realistic and authentic footage ever shot on the NYC subway. These are the real people of New York, the people living outside Manhattan. The Garcia’s home is in the Rockaways, a sand spit completely exposed to the landfall of hurricane Sandy, just south of JFK airport. Once a middle class enclave, the area was largely given over to projects in the last half of the 1900s.

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