There’s not a lot to do in Brightwood, especially if you’re a kid. Businesses are closing and people are moving away, because when you live in Brightwood you have a better than average chance of dying of cancer. Jake (Jordan Dulieu) lost his dad that way two years ago, so now it’s just him, his rebellious older brother Mike (Harrison Saunders), and their mother Jennifer (Beth Champion). But things are about to change drastically, because the EPA has just ridden into town! Actually, they’ve sent Dr. Tansy (Christopher Gabardi), who’s just arrived with his daughter Abbie (Annabel Wolfe).
A few years ago, a filmmaker had a modest success with a documentary called Tilt, about the history of pinball and pinball championships. Now this filmmaker, Joseph Burns (Joseph Cross), is suffering from a sophomore slump as he struggles to finish his next documentary, Golden Age, about the myth of the “good old days” of the fifties. His wife Joanne (Alexia Rasmussen) is pregnant, and after having supported him by working as a nurse, she now wants to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. That means Joe has to step up, but that’s going about as well as the documentary.
Of all the difficult gigs there are in the entertainment world, one of the toughest has to be stand-up comedy. I once heard a comic making fun of his own profession (as many of them do), talking about how people usually don’t even know who’s performing at the local comedy club; they just go there because they want to go out. You hardly ever see people doing that with movies at the theatre. Granted, I did that once but those were special circumstances, and it really isn’t the norm.
In a rundown part of a city in China, a man named Yang Ba (Ni Dahong) struggles to support his family. He runs a tiny shop where he repairs mopeds, often getting paid in food rather than money, much to the annoyance of his wife, Hua. They have a teenage son, Bao, who’s about to take his all-important college exams. Getting into a top college is his only chance to find a much more prestigious job than his father’s, perhaps working at one of the big state-run firms, but that will take money Yang doesn’t have.