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Bombay Beach (2011)

Alma Har'el  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Bombay Beach + Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea + Past Pleasures at the Salton Sea
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Product Details

  • Directors: Alma Har'el
  • Format: NTSC, Dolby, Digital Sound
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Entertainment One
  • DVD Release Date: January 17, 2012
  • Run Time: 76 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,312 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Visionary director Alma Har el presents a beautiful and moving portrait of a forgotten California tourist town, weaving together the stories of its inhabitants with surreal poetry and beauty.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
The unusual and visually arresting documentary "Bombay Beach" offers a unique slice-of-life approach to its subjects that makes for an intimacy and immediacy that is quite unexpected. As the Salton Sea area of California evolved from an upscale tourist resort in the fifties to near desolation sixty years later, I anticipated that this was to be a document of that downward transitioning. It's not, however. So anyone expecting a traditional documentary feature about the area and its history is sure to be disappointed. But that's not to say that the film is a complete write-off, far from it. It just may not meet your initial expectations, but offers something even more rewarding. It showcases a world of isolationism, poverty, and decay that is haunting, disturbing, and undeniably memorable. The citizens that still inhabit the area are an eclectic group. Many might be considered societal misfits, some are just struggling to rebuild their lives, and some are striving for success and opportunity beyond the Salton Sea.

"Bombay Beach" follows three residents (or families) that live in the area. One family has lived on the fringes of society for many years, coming up on the wrong side of the law and child welfare services as often as not. They, however, are attempting a new leaf. One participant is an elderly hard-living gentleman who thrives in this impoverished community--reflecting back on his early years, but relishing every day he has left. He is very popular as a purveyor of convenient smokes. And the third subject is a high school student who escaped the gangland dangers of Los Angeles to have a more solid and safer start. He dreams of utilizing his experiences as the star of the small local football team to capture NFL glory.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Mary
Format:Amazon Instant Video
This won best doc at TRIBECA FILM FEST. It's a stunning, warm and heartbreaking documentary that follows a group of unique people - each with their own dreams - living at The Salton Sea. Wonderfully inventive, beautifully shot and a portrait of people you won't soon forget. Really worth a watch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Salton Sea Not So Much February 12, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video|Verified Purchase
All Salton Sea documentaries are more inhabitant centric but this one more than most
focuses on less area and really delves into a couple of specific families. It's not a bad
sideline for those with interest in SS but not exactly what I was hoping for.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best documentary of the year. November 29, 2011
By duy718
"Bombay Beach" is that rare film that attempts to be something truly new. And it succeeds. The documentary genre is an important one, but it tends to take itself too seriously these days. Whether it's the muckraking of Michael Moore or the We-Know-What's-Good-For-Your patronizing of Frontline, documentary films have become cliches that too often play it safe with conventional shooting, editing, and storytelling. "Bombay Beach" is poetic and lyrical and all the things that naysayers will condemn it for being. But, in my opinion, that's a good thing. Some of the most meaningful non-fiction stories come in the form of poems and songs and dances. This film deftly combines the best of many artistic genres into a compelling, stunning story of real people in a real town dealing with real problems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Based on the title and description, I thought that this would be an informative documentary, but really it was one of the most pointless movies I have ever seen. It gives about 30 seconds of history of the Salton Sea, and then goes into different character snapshots with absolutely no narration. Viewers have no idea what is going on and about half of the people are impossible to understand. The story gives no details as to why these people were selected, how big the community is, what life in Bombay Beach is like, etc. Because everything is out of context, it is really hard to get into. This is a selection of various stories - there isn't a specific theme and everything seems haphazard; I kept waiting for a main theme or a focused train of thought, but was sorely disappointed. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone - it is a waste of time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't hold my attention... February 1, 2013
There are very few dvd's I've watched that I could not finish and this was one of them. I give the film high marks for visuals and technique but I found the film surreal and contrived. I was particularly disappointed that the residents of the Salton Sea community were asked to "perform". It's as if they are just following a script and the result is somewhat wooden and contrived. The waltz scene made me uncomfortable. I did appreciate, however, the director's intent to make the Salton Sea community a poetic commentary but I don't think the objective was obtained.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By wilson
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This award-winning documentary is based around a few principal characters who live in or near Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. It's an interesting story about these characters, but doesn't deal with the history of Bombay Beach and the Salton Sea (which is the story that most interests me), so I was disappointed. However, this is an interesting story of a few of life's underprivileged who live in BB.

If you're interested in a DVD documentary on the history of BB and SS, Plagues and Pleasures of the Salton Sea by Chris Metzler is strongly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately, true stories.
The ugly truth is that although there is a lot of haunting natural and unnatural beauty at the Salton Sea, you won't find it at Bombay Beach. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Jerrica Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible
One of the most artful and inspiring documentaries of our time. Some reviews here state it didn't hold the viewer's attention. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ZACK ZOOK
3.0 out of 5 stars Not a very broad view
This movie had the perspective of 3 families near the salton sea, but it felt very staged and narrow minded
Published 3 months ago by stephanie A
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and uneducational
You learn nothing about the Salton Sea area. It is not about the sea and the communities, it is about a boring family that lives there. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Jerry L. Dixon
1.0 out of 5 stars Wretched Movie
If I could return it I would, but it's an instant video. Exploiting this family is shameful. This family doesn't need a videographer poking about, they need to get a clue on how to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Holly Lamb
3.0 out of 5 stars DVD out-takes better than movie
Bombay Beach is an art-school cinema exercise / reality show about a marginal community of down-and-outers in the remote desert of the Salton Sea in California. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Doctor.Generosity
1.0 out of 5 stars A pointless road to nowhere
An un-interesting collection of random scenes of a few underprivileged people living near the Salton Sea. There is no narration - just some comments by the people in the film. Read more
Published on March 10, 2012 by Kim Minuzzo
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly original and unique Documentary!
This is a must see documentary that will stick with you for a long time. I have seen the film 4 times now and every time I watch it I pick up on something new
and it only... Read more
Published on December 2, 2011 by Batman24
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