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Cherry Pop

'Reel Indies'
(DVD / NR / 2007 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: Reel Indies showcases award-winning features and documentaries from some of the industry's most talented, edgy and creative filmmakers. Below is just a sample of what they have to offer.

'Trona' - This film festival favorite follows a young businessman (disillusioned with his life) who leaves his wife and career for the stark beauty of the California desert. After someone steals almost all of his clothes, the man is left to wander in only his underwear and a mustache. After making his way back to civilization, and encountering a handful of local personalities, the man decides to abandon his former life and reinvent himself as the owner of a junkyard in a ghost town. It's an incandescent film, and yet it proceeds with a confidence of tone and sense of timing that would seem impossible for a young debutant filmmaker to fake. Slightly too-short at 63 minutes yet expansive in scale and complex in content, it's an almost-silent film full of gorgeous, tightly composed set pieces, and buttered with an seemingly endless supply of great visual jokes. David Fenster's beautifully photographed debut (also his CalArts thesis film) is an ode to loneliness as it centers on the man as he begins this new life as said junkyard owner in the middle of nowhere.

'Little Man' - Esentially, 'Little Man' (a 12-time best documentary winner), is the story of how a micro-preemie brought a family to its knees. But, in truth, it is way more than that as this film is both a moving experience and a learning experience. Originally intended to be a film about surrogacy; the stand-in birthing of a child, it morphed into a movie about the intense three year story of a lesbian couple seeking to create a second child for their growing, loving family. But, when Nicholas is born extremely premature with birth defects that will have far-reaching consequences for him and for those close to him, the film became an examination of how two loving individuals deal with the unusual stresses that come with the added responsibility of a disabled infant. One scene in particular is beyond amusing and moving; in which Nicholas gets glasses - and whilst he tries to adapt to the new-found brightness of the world, Nicole’s spouse Gwen herself succumbs to the silliness her child with those big bug eyes! In wrap, 'Little Man' is a story of two lesbian mothers and their two children, the delicious Gabrielle and the delightfully joyful Nicholas. And as it progresses, it shows us that if these four can surmount the worlds in which they dwell, no one should have trouble getting through their day.

'The Dogwalker' - This film is set against the colorful backdrop of the Los Angeles dog walking scene and follows the moving, transformational journey of Ellie Moore (Diane Gaidry), on the run from her latest abusive boyfriend. Down and out on the mean streets of L.A, rescue comes in the unlikely form of Betsy Wright (Pamela Gordon), a misanthropic Dogwalker in need of help with her business and struggling with her own dark past. Ellie, who has her own demons, bonds with Betsy and the dogs and in the process finds a piece of herself she thought was lost for good. Brought to us by the imagination of writer-director Jacques Thelemaque, 'The Dogwalker' is basically a surrogate mother/daughter relationship that develops / unfolds before our eyes. And while the picture occasionally glances on an interesting detail, there's nothing distinctive visually or emotionally. That said, please note that the ailing dog-walker Betsy Wright (Pamela Gordon) actually did sadly pass away in 2003.

Fellowship of the Dice - You were either one of them, still are one of them, or at least remember them from your high school cafeteria. The stacks of books, the funny looking dice, the esoteric babbling. They were not only odd, geeky, awkward and often times smelled funny, they were a total mystery. That is, until now. This is one of those mockumentaries where the acting is OK; but not realistic, the story has some holes in it, the camera too often reveals that what we are watching is scripted, and yet is quite hypnotizing of a project to watch! For the most part we are trapped (with the group) in a small apartment, watching this ensemble of friends play this game of imagination, which (in truth) would be a stretch as a subject for any documentary! Anyone who's ever watched someone else play a game can tell you how boring it is to be an observer instead of a participant. That doesn't change on film. After a few scenes of the game-playing, which is broken up by interviews with conventioneers talking about various topics surrounding the game that are reflected in the group's behavior, you'll probably either find yourself wanting to play some board games with you friends, or going outside in the pouring rain to cleanse yourself! Then again, maybe you'll be howling with laughter. Well, I did say maybe!

Also available in this Reel Indies series are: 'INTO THE AIR: A KITEBOARDING EXPERIENCE,' 'SHORTY,' 'MEND' and 'BOONE STYLE.'