A nervy look at people who eke out a living illegally collecting scrap on California desert military bombing ranges.
Stephen Wassmann’s raw only-in-America doc “Scrapper” displays nerve and a funky taste for oddities as it dwells with people who eke out a living illegally collecting scrap on California desert military bombing ranges. The collision of U.S. military prowess and the poorest of the poor is there for the viewer to consider — along with the filmmakers’ risks — amid the wild maneuvers between bombings. Ideal Slamdance material will win fans wherever it plays, in fests and alt venues.
Focusing on the same area (including a few subjects) as Alma Har’el’s Berlin-preem docu, “Bombay Beach,” “Scrapper” is far less artful but more grassroots in approach. Various “scrappers,” ranging from crafty vet Downey to down-on-his-luck Randy, drive onto the range after bombing runs to gather up metal fragments for recycling while keeping an eye out for the law. Old coot J.R., a character and a half, operates in a zone where no other scrappers venture. Narration by Adam Edwards is near-risible.