One of the year's very best films — North Carolina indie filmmaker Ramin Bahrani's Goodbye Solo — has a strong Memphis connection in the form of Red West, the charter member of Elvis' "Memphis Mafia" and longtime character actor who delivers his first starring performance after 49 years in the business.
West moved to Biloxi, Mississippi, a couple of years ago, but will return to Memphis today to introduce the 7:25 screening at the Ridgeway Four. He will also stick around afterwards for a question-and-answer session.
In the film, which is set in Winston-Salem, West plays an aging Southern man who gets into a cab driven by a Senegalese immigrant (Souleymane Sy Savane, also terrific) and makes an odd request. Partly based on the classic Iranian art-cinema sensation Taste of Cherry, Goodbye Solo is warm, funny, and ultimately very moving. It has the feel of a more sincere, more accessible Jim Jarmusch film.
You can read my feature story on the film, including an interview with West, here. For a second opinion on the film, check out Roger Ebert's review. For more on West (and Savane), check out the Village Voice's profile on the film's two stars.
For a further taste of what to expect, here's the trailer:
And here's a clip from a scene that was largely improvised by West: