A short piece I contributed to the first issue of VHS Tracking, a new zine edited by Tristan Fidler which is in the spirit of those “We Recommend…” pamphlets you used to be able to pick up in video rental stores. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to grab a copy.
A Dollar for the Good Ones (2004)
Dir. Josh Lee
My recommendation comes from our own backyard.
In A Dollar for the Good Ones director Josh Lee observes a few days in the life of his childhood friend Luke, who has become a heroin addict. With his sidekick Jermaine in tow, Luke finances his habit by sneaking into the local golf course at night wearing a wetsuit, retrieving sunken balls from the lakes, bleaching them, and selling them back. The ones in good nick, as the title suggests, fetch a dollar. Set in and around the Perth suburb of Karawara where Lee grew up, the film presents images and sounds of a city that few of us will know. There are no cranes or cafés here; only rundown houses, overgrown yards, barking dogs, aimless and penniless people.
On paper the film sounds agonisingly grim but on screen its compassion, tenderness, and unexpected moments of humour, are what linger. Lee’s film is many things: an important record of a time and a place; a tribute to the resilience of the underclass, which taps into a century of documentary tradition; and a moving lament for a friend who lost his way, and who wasn’t as lucky as the rest of us.