Combustible Celluloid
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With: Savannah Bailey, Hunter Gilmore, Kai Kellerman, Sienna Lampi, Natasha Lombardi, Joe McGee, Isaac Sanchez, Abby Stewart
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Chris Brown
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 02/10/2017

The Other Kids (2017)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Teens on Screen

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Typical teen movies usually deal with things like dating, the prom, going to college, parents, teachers, etc., but how many of them actually seem to get what a teen's life is really like? Chris Brown's new feature film The Other Kids meets the challenge.

The Other Kids follows eight high-schoolers during the final weeks of their senior year. They run the gamut from Isaac, an immigrant from Mexico, to Kai, who struggles with "cutting." Abby is an expert on the rifle range, and new kid in town Natasha (a.k.a. "Cricket") wears piercings and blue hair.

The dialogue and interactions are so honest and natural that it's difficult to guess where life ends and filmmaking begins. It's a little like the so-called "mumblecore" or "Dogme '95" movements, but with a step even further into reality. And though many of their stories are internal -- i.e. 'where do I go to college?' -- Brown manages to set up many visual sequences with group rituals and activities, giving each scene a sense of purpose and drive.

Brown based his story in the small town of Sonora, located about 150 miles east of San Francisco, in the foothills, with a population just shy of 5000. In full disclosure, this is the same small town in which I grew up, but I must say that Brown so carefully chose his locations and his angles that, had I not known the location going in, I would not have noticed. His camera setups are wonderfully composed, with lots of static shots and interesting arrangement of characters in the frame, in harmony/conflict with the backgrounds.

This is an extraordinary, non-judgmental work, a seamless blend of fiction and non-fiction that will screen twice during the San Francisco IndieFest, Feb. 12-13, 2017, at the Roxie Cinema.

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