Bryant Botero’s documentary, which was shot in 2007 but is only now being released on DVD, focuses on a group of musical performers who eke out a living in New York City’s labyrinthine subway system. Their talents are obvious to anyone who stops and pays attention, though sometimes these singers, musicians and dancers attract the wrong attention – police officers who harass them and unbalanced individuals who heckle or, on occasion, physically assault them.
The film does not provide a great deal of depth into the lives of the entertainers, and it isn’t until the closing credits that we learn that one of the people on-screen – an elderly African American saxophone player – was a homeless man who reportedly lived in the subway station. And, unfortunately, too much screen time is given to a foul-mouthed steel guitarist and his salty anecdotes.
But when the performers are allowed to show off in their unlikely settings – particularly a spirited trio of hip-hop dancers somersaulting through subway cars and the aforementioned saxophonist bringing mellow sounds to a dingy subway tunnel – the film pulsates with a distinctive rhythm.