Bombay Beach (2011)
True to her roots as a photographer, video artist, and music video director, Alma Har'el crafts an adamantly atypical and artistically innovative film telling the story of of three protagonists: Benny Parrish, a young boy diagnosed with bipolar disorder whose troubled soul and vivid imagination create both suffering and joy for him and his complex and loving family. CeeJay Thompson, a black teenager and aspiring football player who has taken refuge in Bombay Beach hoping to avoid the same fate of his cousin who was murdered by a gang of youths in Los Angeles. And that of Red, an ancient survivor, once an oil field worker, living on the fumes of whiskey, cigarettes and an irrepressible love of life. -- (C) Official Site … More
as Benny Parrish
as Pamela Parrish
as Mike Parrish
as Doran "Red" Furgie
as Cedric Thompson
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Critic Reviews for Bombay Beach
"Bombay Beach" is an oasis of creativity in the documentary landscape.
Off the deep end of poverty porn, there seems little good to be had from this gritty tour of a destitute corner of America.
A compelling, highly self-conscious documentary, it's involving, mystifying, unpatronising and carefully orchestrated.
Har'el seems to tell us that nobody can be completely defeated, even by the most unfortunate circumstances.
Director Alma Har'el has fused the small-town documentary with a music video sensibility to create something breathtakingly original and genuinely beautiful.
Drifts in and out of reality and leaves your head somewhere in between.
While candidly exploring the hard lives of the characters and their families, the film earns an extra star from some inspired moments of magical realism, with one scene involving a child, a fire engine and a Bob Dylan tune that'll make your spine tingle.
It's a rich slice of Americana, and there's a great soundtrack from musicians including Bob Dylan.
This startling documentary explores a part of America few even want to admit exists: a place designed as a paradise that has instead become an almost apocalyptic wasteland populated by people who have fallen out of society.
The story tells itself, making plenty of room for an artistic flair and injection of sound that elevate the film from a simple documentary to an artistic exploration.
Har'el's film is at times bizarrely uplifting, at others crushingly sad...
The fact that Alma Har'el is still stuck in music video director mode makes for an interesting new breed of documentary.
Quirky, moving and unique, it's a haunting bedside view of the place the American Dream went to die.
Alma Har'el magical and poetical film Bombay Beach is an enchanting documentary hybrid, beautifully capturing the realities and the dreams of those intriguingly oddball folk who live in the faded and rather surreal California community by the Salton Sea.
That it documents rural poverty in the American West without exploiting or sanctifying its subjects would be cause enough for praise. But this doesn't begin to approach what Alma Har'el pulls off with her hybrid doc knockout Bombay Beach.
[T]he moody film is a compassionate portrait, [but] wanders around the mostly downtrodden too much, even with brief flashes of optimism.
...schemers and dreamers spend their days scrabbling, dancing and drifting in Alma Har'el's arresting, Dylan- and Beirut-scored art project of a documentary.
You either like this kind of ambitious, brave, borderless experiment or you don't, and I think it's absolutely magical and tragic.
Audience Reviews for Bombay Beach
Arty documentary focusing on three subjects---a troubled and over-medicated young boy, a football-playing teen transplant fleeing gang violence in L.A., and a crusty old cigarette bootlegger---in decaying Salton Sea, CA, an impoverished desert burg. Inconclusive but impressive chronicle of the lives of outcasts in one of the last places in America where it's still possible to live as an individual. The soundtrack by Beruit and Bob Dylan helps a lot.More
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