Bombay Beach (NC)

Starring: Benny Parrish, CeeJay Thompson

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The Independent Culture

The Israeli film-maker Alma Har'el melds documentary observation, dream and dance in her portrait of Bombay Beach, a forlorn backwater in the South Californian desert where the residents eke out a spartan, trailer-park existence that's part refuge from and part rebuke to the American Dream.

A trio of lives fade in and out of focus: an 80-year-old geezer, lost to his family decades ago, who makes a dime from bootleg cigarettes; a young black footballer who fled South Central LA after his cousin's gang-related murder; an eight-year-old boy stuffed with meds by parents who can't seem to handle his hyperactivity and mood swings. A soundtrack featuring Bob Dylan and Beirut gives a poetic lift to the visual desolation, while Har'el takes a determinedly upbeat line on this poor, tough, insular community.