Combustible Celluloid
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With: Jon Norman Schneider, Patrick Epino, Brian Rivera, Josephine de Jesus, L.A. Renigren, Theresa Navarro, Sohr Picart, Amelia Anima, Anne Ishida, Corey Jackson, Ryan Morales, Safiya Fredericks, Vint Carmona
Written by: H.P. Mendoza
Directed by: H.P. Mendoza
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 110
Date: 12/07/2018

Bitter Melon (2018)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Melon' Felons

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

San Francisco filmmaker H.P. Mendoza — a writer, composer, and actor on the terrific Colma: The Musical — delivers this deceptive comedy-drama about a Filipino-American family Christmas. Two sons return home: younger Declan (Jon Norman Schneider) is gay and comes from New York, and older Moe (Brian Rivera) comes from Philadelphia; Moe is married to an African-American woman but has left her behind so as not to upset his conservative family. Unfortunately middle brother Troy (Patrick Epino) still lives at home and rules through his abusive behavior toward his wife (Theresa Navarro) and mother (Amelie Anima). The newly arrived sons try to spend as much time out as they can, but it's not long before they realize that the world would be better off without Troy. A plan to kill him is suggested, briefly laughed at, and then taken seriously. Mendoza balances humor and darkness with amazing deftness, and spends enough time with each character so that they move beyond their one-line descriptions.

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