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California Winter

USA 2012
produced by
Daniel Sollinger, Aimee Schoof, Isen Robbins, Odin Ozdil for Intrinsic Value Films, Ozmosis Productions
directed by Odin Ozdil
starring Elizabeth Dominguez, A Martinez, Eliana Alexander, Walter Perez, Laura Cerón, Erick Avari, Sean Patrick Murphy, Michael Ironside, Rutina Wesley, Kendell Johnson, Brian Leahy, Rod McLachlan, John Pirruccello, Amaris Dupree, Joseph A. Garcia, Louie Alegria, Gina Rodriguez, Lee Anne Moore, John Bolen, Justin Fair, Foster Wilson, Miguel Bocanegra, Alberto Carroll, John Bryant, Nadeya Ward, Josh Megdell, Jae Tracie
written by Odin Ozdil, music by Goliath Flores

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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It's 2005, and seemingly the best time to get into real estate business - at least for Clara (Elizabeth Dominguez) it seems that way, as she's pretty much selling houses by the dozen, and mostly to people who can't even afford them - but she puts them on refinancing plans that pretty much work as cure-all remedy for all financial worries one might have ... so when her mum (Eliana Alexander) suffers from a terminal illness and dad (A Martinez) can't afford the medical bills, she puts him on such a loan as well ...

Three years later, the real estate bubble bursts - and suddenly Clara finds out that the policies on her dad's loan have changed after being transferred from one bank to another a few too many times, and suddenly he's $30,000 in debt, money he doesn't have. Clara tries to hide this from her dad and find a way out of the mess, otherwise they would lose their house, but banks are pretty inflexible these days, despite the money that has already been pumped into them. Still, Clara finds a sympathetic bank representative, Carl (Walter Perez), who promises to work with her on that, as he is a little wheel in the system just like Clara is as the realtor having suggested the refinancing plans, and somehow he can reduce the debt - but still, the debt has to be paid, and soon, and thus Clara sees herself having to sell the land she once bought as an "investment" - and in today's climate, that's not as easy as it sounds, so she eventually has to use illegal tactics to sell it through the company she works at ... and she's fired for it.

She has since become a couple with sympathetic banker Carl, but that doesn't save her from him having to tell her that the debt has risen when she's about to pay up - it's really out of his hands though.

Having run out of options, there's only one route left for Clara and her dad shouldn't they want to give up their home: Fight it out to the last ...

Michael Ironside plays a sheriff who has begun to hate his job since he has started to pretty much work for the banks extradicting good homeowners who got screwed over.

 

A rather compelling film about a topic as dry as economics that shows that there are actual humans behind "the economy, stupid", that their fates matter, too, should matter more than to just keep the economy happy - but what really makes the movie work is that it doesn't just try to hammer its agenda home with a sledgehammer, but does shed more than one light on its major problem, keeps its story's protagonists ambiguous - to a point where it allows them to make wrong decisions and refuses to give them a moral high stand. This is of course achieved through clever writing that keeps one interested throughout, a directorial effort that stays away from sensationalism but gives the story room to breathe, and a first rate cast.

Recommended, actually, no matter what your take on the real estate bubble is.

 

 

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD