The Sleeper Film of the Year
Two men from very different cultures—one a white man from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the other an African immigrant—interact in unexpected ways in the masterful film Goodbye Solo (available August 25 on DVD). The quiet, suspenseful tale tells the story of friendship between William, a 70-year-old Southerner with thoughts of suicide, and Solo, the cheerful cab driver tasked with driving him to his destination for the act. Roger Ebert called 34-year-old Ramin Bahrani “the great new American director” and White Tiger author Aravind Adiga described Goodbye Solo as “the little film that could,” noting that Bahrani resorts to “simple, direct, and classical storytelling” to take risks and give viewers two disparate ideas about the American Dream to think about. During the lazy last few days of summer, it’s time to commit to a heartwarming—and potentially devastating—tale that is one of the hidden gems of this year.
A Ravenous Food Critic Revealed
Frank Bruni, the previously unseen restaurant critic for The New York Times, gets incredibly personal this week with the release of his cheekily titled memoir Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater. Bruni went incognito for his enviable job until his move to a regular columnist position was announced a few months ago. Now, with the publication of his memoir recounting his weight struggles and obsession with food, longtime readers finally get a glimpse at the man who has recommended so much for their palates. Alternately touching and hilarious, Born Round, which Bruni called “cathartic and interesting” to write, paints a portrait of a man who, since he was young, knew exactly what he was born to do.
Diane Birch’s Music Is a Revelation
The Internet has been buzzing about the young singer Diane Birch all summer and her performance a few weeks ago on David Letterman finally brought her music to millions of Americans homes. Birch is more 1979 than 2009—her voice recalls Carole King, Laura Nyro, Karen Carpenter—and her debut CD, Bible Belt, is as catchy as it is accomplished. The title comes from Birch's status as preacher's daughter—and who doesn’t love a good, churchgoing girl who breaks out of her mold (she has said that religion was "restraining and constricting") to start rocking instead?