Posted October 3, 2007 in

If you listen to the residents of Bombay Beach—a hardscrabble bunch with a love of Hawaiian prints and beer—their beloved (if catastrophic) Salton Sea was created by either the Colorado River, irrigation overflow, or Mexican sewage. Its fish, which die in the millions each hot summer day, are either toxic or safe enough for sashimi, and in 10 years, their beachfront land just south of Palm Springs will be worthless or worth millions. Misinformation, gloom, and hope buzz like the flies around the tilapia bones that line this 35-by-15-mile accidental sea. Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer’s documentary is equally confused: is it an environmental call-to-arms, or a portrait of some desert kooks? Blending both, it’s a watery mishmash of tones from which emerges Sonny Bono as the fallen hero and kitsch champion John Waters as the Hermes of this “toxic margarita,” as he describes it, “where utopia and the apocalypse dance a dirty tango.” But while the doc flounders as a coherent story of human folly, it’s a cheeky travelmercial guaranteed to get the curious to make the road trip to this near-abandoned resort. (Amy Nicholson)


Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea has its IE debut at Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Rd., Palm Springs, (760) 325-6565; Ends June 14.




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