#Highland Park – Tasty Slices of Latino Urban Pie

Review

Don’t confuse #Highland Park – The Digital Comedy, with Highland Park, the TV series. They are two very different animals.  #Highland Park – The Digital Comedy is the comedic brainchild of writer, director, actor, Jeremiah Ocañas. #Highland Park is an eclectic collection of urban vignettes. It’s tasty slices of a rich, cultural pie situated in the diverse landscape of Los Angeles.

Most of the short stories center around the lives of Latinos. In one episode titled Basketball Diaries, two young Chicano men meditate humorously on everything from world affairs to their problems with Latina women while shooting a pick-up game of hoops. The dialog is often salty, and sexually charged, but authentic and doesn’t come across as gratuitous or just for shock value. It’s the way real people talk in the real world.

Writer, directorOcañas also cleverly employs magical realism and fantasy sequences to enhance the stories. During a walk in the park, a young couple encounters a mythical Mexican character who gives them some sage, if somewhat funny, advice. In another piece, an out-of-towner from Texas goes to a party and has a ‘60’s-like psychedelic experience that evokes a similar, chemically-induced trip in the classic film, Easy Rider.

Most of the stories feature the talented Latino cast that often has Ocañas himself, in the cast. However, my favorite episode is one titled Child Support starring African-American actor, Kevin Jason.

Nattily dressed in a suit, tie, sporty cap and holding a small jug of liquor, Jason, looking straight into the camera, conducts a walking, slightly drunken soliloquy on his life prior and since child support. Director Ocañas underscores Jason’s lament with a bluesy musical score as he weaves his way through the streets making his case.

Jason’s character is not particularly bitter or angry. His basic question is “how the hell did I get here?” It was choices, bad choices, that put the kibosh on his dreams and ambitions. He rails against the so-called “system” that has worked against him. Offering a boozy, philosophical bit of advice to young men thinking of having children, he warns: “It’s a student loan on an education that will bite you on the ass.”

Jason’s character is clearly a morally conflicted guy. He’s trying to figure out what his purpose in life is now that he is being defined by child support and all the baggage that goes with it. It’s hard not to like this character. You may not agree with his point of view, but he is searching for answers and despite the liquor, he’s affable and articulate.

He acknowledges that paying child support is his responsibility, but questions the fairness of it all.

It’s a very well-written, thoughtful and insightful piece by Ocañas. It’s also worth pointing out that Child Support is the longest episode of #Highland Park. Ocañas’’ digital comedy is a series of hip, street-smart, colorful snapshots of inner-city Chicano life. The humor arises naturally out of the realistic way Ocañas captures the flavor and wit of his character’s speech patterns. The opening soundtrack and dance sequence tunes you in to the energy and ethnic beauty of #Highland Park – The Digital Comedy.

Catch all episodes of #Highland Park on LatinHeatCinema.com

#Highland Park – The digital Comedy

Writer, director: Jeremiah Ocama

Cast: Jeremiah Ocamas, Cheryl Umana Bonilla, Maricela Guardadov

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