Almost Salinas

This first feature by writer-director Terry Green begins a bit archly and ends with numerous loose ends tied in Hollywood bows, but in the middle section, when what we know about the central characters isn’t nailed down, I was moved by the economy of the writing and ensemble playing and the sweet mysteries they generated. Near the spot where James Dean had his fatal road accident, a remote diner gets taken over for a few days by a movie crew shooting a Dean biopic, and all the localsthe owner (John Mahoney), the cook (Ian Gomez), a couple of waitresses (Virginia Madsen and Amanda Pitera), and a tourist guide (Nathan Davis)are affected. Lindsay Crouse has a wonderful cameo as the owner’s ex-wife, and Linda Emond isn’t bad as a visiting journalist. 94 min. (JR)

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