Stand Clear of the Closing Doors (NR)
Drama 94 May 23, 2014
The story concerns an autistic teenager's days spent riding the trains in a daze as his family searches for him. Looming over all of this is an approaching storm -- while the great scenes of train-life capture what feels like this week, the film is set in October 2012, with Hurricane Sandy bearing down. For all that, director Sam Fleischner is mostly dedicated to showing us everything millions of people glance at each day but don't actually regard: the brilliant play of light and shadow on subway windows, and the way the headlamps, as you space out, seem to flatten to colored wafers.
"You're both so focused on your screens, you don't even notice there's no light!" the boy's mother carps to her kids in the opening moments. The same goes for the passengers slumped about Ricky (Jesus Sanchez-Velez) on his trek. That it's a thrill to watch humdrum train life through Ricky's eyes underscores one of the ironies of our age: Patient, observational film demands you surrender to it, that you keep your phone in your pocket, which means movie theaters now sometimes offer a more unmediated look at the world than life itself does.