In Lackawanna Blues, a jumping juke joint of a film, Rachel ”Nanny” Crosby (S. Epatha Merkerson) is bolder than the va-va-voom dresses and flashy cars on display. She opens her boarding house to a hodgepodge of misfits (Delroy Lindo and Jeffrey Wright among them) and, most notably, a boy named Junior (Marcus Carl Franklin). Ruben Santiago-Hudson — the real Junior, adapting his 2001 Off Broadway play for the screen — is so busy idolizing Nanny that the other characters get short shrift. Still, what Lackawanna lacks in depth it makes up for in vibrancy.
EXTRAS In an eloquent commentary, Santiago-Hudson expands upon his childhood memories and director George C. Wolfe explains his ”control-freak” tendencies (like handpicking all the extras for their Southern-looking faces). One meaty deleted scene fleshes out Louis Gossett Jr.’s too brief story arc, and in a featurette rife with sound bites, Franklin remarks precociously, ”These people are like windows. Each one, you can see a different path.”