[Marxism] Stand Clear of the Closing Doors; A World Not Ours | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu May 22 17:13:02 MDT 2014

On 5/22/14 7:03 PM, DW wrote:
> HD Trailer of the film. Watch this yesterday and was enthralled:
> http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/standclearoftheclosingdoors/

I think that Stephen Holden of the NY Times got this right. New Yorkers 
should not miss this one or the Palestinian documentary:

A Boy Lost in the Underworld
‘Stand Clear of the Closing Doors,’ a Subway Odyssey
NYT Critics' Pick


“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors,” a small miracle of a film, captures 
the grass-roots swirl of New York City with an extraordinary sensory 
attuning to urban life. Set largely inside the city’s subway system, it 
observes the world through the eyes of Ricky (Jesus Sanchez-Velez), a 
bright but easily distracted 13-year-old boy with midrange autism who 
gets lost underground. Mr. Sanchez-Velez, the untrained actor who plays 
him, has Asperger’s syndrome and is a hauntingly plaintive screen presence.

Entranced by a dragon decal on a stranger’s jacket, Ricky follows him 
into the subway at Rockaway Beach, Queens, where he lives with his 
mother, Mariana (Andrea Suarez Paz), and 15-year-old sister, Carla (Azul 
Zorrilla). His father, Ricardo Sr., who is working upstate when Ricky 
disappears, is rarely at home but shows up late in the movie to help 
look for him.

Mariana is an illegal Mexican immigrant who works as a part-time 
housekeeper. Ricky wanders off and disappears when Carla neglects her 
daily task of walking him home from school, to go shopping. Mariana is 
furious. Even in ordinary times, Ricky is a handful for whom school 
officials lack the resources to devote the attention he requires.

As the movie jumps back and forth between mother and son, Mariana 
becomes increasingly panicked, while Ricky gradually crumples into 
himself, growing hungrier, his only sustenance a bag of potato chips he 
buys with his last four quarters and a banana given to him by a homeless 
man. He also becomes dirtier. After a futile search for an unlocked 
bathroom, he urinates in his seat, and other passengers comment and 
begin to avoid him. It isn’t clear how many days and nights he remains 

Throughout the movie, you are forcefully reminded that time spent on the 
subway may be the ultimate New York grounding experience. You feel the 
city’s collective pulse as the entire spectrum of humanity pours around 
you. The movie captures the complicated mixture of loneliness, 
exhilaration, fear and curiosity of subway travel, which even in the 
quietest of times can be a hallucinatory experience that seeps deep into 
your consciousness.

Directed by Sam Fleischner from a screenplay by Rose Lichter-Marck and 
Micah Bloomberg, the film has such an infallible ear for subway sounds, 
riders’ remarks and panhandlers’ spiels that it is next to impossible to 
distinguish overheard conversations by nonactors from scripted dialogue. 
It also finds an intense, gritty beauty in the patterns of tiles and 
pipes that Ricky studies fixedly as he rides from one end of the system 
to the other and back, stopping more than once at Times Square.

Ricky is an uncommonly imaginative artist with an entire notebook of 
drawings depicting dragons like the one on the stranger’s jacket. A more 
ethereal beauty is glimpsed in the subway lights and in reflections on 
car windows as the trains swoosh by one another. Now and then, the film 
pauses to study a colored image as though gazing through half-closed eyes.

“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” sharply distinguishes Ricky’s 
dreaminess with Mariana’s hard-edge desperation. The emergency forces 
Mariana out of her shell, and she befriends Carmen (Marsha Stephanie 
Blake), a saleswoman from a shoe store Ricky frequents who accompanies 
Mariana to a police station and helps her distribute fliers.

The movie was three-quarters of the way toward completion when Hurricane 
Sandy hammered the Rockaways. Mr. Fleischner’s home was destroyed, and 
the subway closed for over a week. He had to rethink the ending.

“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” is all the more impressive for not 
overreacting to the catastrophe and making it the main event. It stays 
with its characters to a wonderfully witty and understated ending.

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