Review: ‘Scared New World’

The dormlike communality of adults under one roof -- still routine in counterculture-shaped Berkeley -- may strike many viewers of "Scared New World" as exotic. The no-budget, vid-shot feature will quietly draw them in, nonetheless.

The dormlike communality of adults under one roof — still routine in counterculture-shaped Oakland — may strike many viewers of “Scared New World” as exotic. The no-budget, vid-shot feature will quietly draw them in, nonetheless. Ensemble drama is solidly in the tradition of pioneer indie pics like Cassavetes’ “Shadows,” as just-basic tech package trains its non-indulgent, actor-centric focus on tangled, ambiguous urban-hipster relationships. Small screen will suit pic best, but fests looking to showcase new Amerindie talent should take note.

Primary residents in a typical Oakland household are Vargas (scenarist yahn soon) and Alma (Lena Zee), from whose frigid noncommunication one can assume a broken romantic link exists. He’s a frustrated writer, while she’s a casual marijuana dealer sorely in need of an emotional/creative outlet beyond her slacker b.f. (Josh Millican). Vargas and Alma share ground as caretakers of her child Ricky (Zachary Schramm). Latter gets an additional mother figure in Alma’s cancer-sickened pot client Patricia (Harriet Schiffer-Scott), while everybody gets a new “child” in bisexually hapless French exchange student and housemate Penny (Fanny Ara-Herms). Naturalistic perfs and situations engross until impact-muffling epilogue.

Scared New World

Production

A John Balquist production in association with Filmsight Prods. Produced by yahn soon. Directed by Chris Brown. Screenplay, yahn soon.

Crew

Camera (color, vid), Brown; editor, soon; music, Kitundu. Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, Sept. 19, 2005. (In Mill Valley Film Festival.) Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Lena Zee, yahn soon, Fanny Ara-Herms, Zachary Schramm, Harriet Schiffer-Scott, Josh Millican, Meng Wei, Charlyn Johnson.
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