The Salton Sea

Excuse me. I don't mean to impose, but I am the Ocean.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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Mixing genres is very difficult to pull off, but movies like the Matrix prove with the right balance, it can work very well. The Salton Sea also proves that mixing genres, in this case drugs and mystery, can work well in dramas as well as action movies. Salton Sea was an $18 million dollar sleeper that only showed on two dozen screens in the US, so you probably never heard of it. If you can handle a bit of blood and drug use, it is a wonderful film.

Half way through the film, Sea takes a very strange turn. We follow the last moments of our hero, Danny Parker, as he goes over the more recent events of his life. We start with tweaking. The lifestyle, the details of the use of crank, the business transactions, and the relationships one tweaker has with another. We see a red-haired Val Kilmer stair at droplets of a spilled beer bottle, then cower like a vampire when he opens the door to realize it's 12 noon, not 12 midnight. Then the movie changes. We see Danny go through a ritual without understanding why. He grasps to the dying roots of a past life, a life without crank. Then the mystery begins to unfold. We are privvy to some wonderful characters. Poo-bear, the dealer who did so much crank that his nose had to be cut off, replays the assassination of JFK with pigeons and bb guns. Danny's only friend, Bobby, asks who JFK was and what happened to him. When Danny tells him, he replys "Thanks for not laughing at me". Touching moment among tweakers.

The DVD of Salton Sea includes a 16x9 enhanced 1.85 to 1 transfer and a solid Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The DVD is rather sparse, only containing a short documentary. There is no DTS track and no directors commentary.

Movies like Salton Sea are wonderful to find. Like a pearl in an oyster, they stay hidden from us until a conversation or two sentence blurb in a newsgroup clues us in. When we watch them, we are amazed that such a good film is seen by so few, and when it takes a financial loss as bad as Sea seemed to take we can only be sad that we will have one less Sea and one more Godzilla next year. A definite rental, don't miss it.