Bombay BeachClosed Captioning
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From Focus Features, the premiere global brand in original and daring cinema, comes Focus World. Charged with finding the most exciting voices in international and independent film, Focus World is proud to bring you Bombay Beach, winner of the Best Documentary prize at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival. Decades ago, the Salton Sea, two hours outside Los Angeles, was a tourist hotspot and a symbol of 1950s-era American optimism. Now, a victim of environmental decline, it stands mostly abandoned, its boomtown communities now decaying relics of a bygone era. Visionary filmmaker Alma Har'el investigates one such town – Bombay Beach – and weaves together the stories of its inhabitants with surreal poetry and beauty. Set to the music of Bob Dylan and Beirut, this is the story of a place where the American dream has faded, but where the dreams of those that stayed behind are alive and well.
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 34
- Fresh: 26
- Rotten: 8
- Average Rating: 7.4/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: Looks and feels like a fever dream about an alternate universe. Suffused with a sense of wonder, it hovers, dancing inside its own ethereal bubble.
Rotten: While stand-alone scenes leave strong impressions, the recurring strands simply aren't compelling
Fresh: More lyrical tone poem than straightforward documentary.
Fresh: You either like this kind of ambitious, brave, borderless experiment or you don't, and I think it's absolutely magical and tragic.
My favorite film of 2011!
What can I say about Bombay Beach?
I want to say it's a strange film, because it's a hybrid of about 80% documentary and 20% magical realism. But it's not strange. In fact, it's very familiar. In the way that finding family photos of strangers at a flea market feels familiar. It's a stunning look into the lives of people who would never have a film made about them in a million years if it wasn't for Alma's heart and enduring artistic vision.
It's an artistic ancestor of filmmakers like Harmony Korine, Werner Herzog or Terrence Malick, but without all the bleak nihilism. It's pretty. It's funny. It's sad. It's everything you want in a movie, plus it has a really stunning soundtrack with Bob Dylan and Beirut making contributions.
It's essentially the story of a forgotten people living in the desert, specifically a cute little over-diagnosed kid named Benny. But it's more than that. It's a story of what it means to be American living on the outskirts of civilization. Which, in today's American landscape, makes up for more of American than we're probably comfortable thinking about.
As a huge documentary buff, and general film geek, I'm so thrilled to see a movie like this getting released. It shows that a new type of film is possible. As the French New Wave was to the 60s, Bombay Beach, and other like-minded, adventurous, well crafted intimate indies will be to the 2010s. Mark my word!
I've seen Bombay Beach 4 times already...
...and I'm excited I can now purchase it!
'Bombay Beach' is unlike any portrayal of a decaying place on the edge of nowhere. It is more about the dreams of its residents and the future of this place, rather than what is left of its storied past. The reviews have focused on the choreography of non-dancers, the undeniably epic cinematography, and whether or not it is a documentary. But 'Bombay Beach' is so much more than dances, fragile beauty and a film category...to me, it is that story rooted in all of us. It's about our hopes, our fears, our lot in life, our secret dreams. 'Bombay Beach' documents its subjects and this place in the most pure and honest ways.
Once in a very rare while you come across something this special.
Amidst the chaos and the deprevation lies a searing humanity that touches you to the very core and reminds us that we are all here together , united under the stars.
Poetry in motion.