The Bye Bye Man
The Bye Bye Man is the kind of film that is so boring and bereft of anything of possible interest that it becomes infuriating.
Those who leave their native land and immigrate to another are often, almost by definition, the boldest and most capable, able to imagine a new life for themselves. Arriving in a new land without language or connections, they are likely to be shuttled into low-paying jobs and scorned by the lucky citizens who are already on board. They earn their living by seizing opportunities.
Consider the puppeteer (Jose Rabelo) who is one of the subjects of David Riker's "The City" ("La Ciudad"). He lives in a station wagon with his daughter (Stephanie Viruet). He supports them both by performing Punch and Judy shows for city kids, whose video games must make this entertainment look quaint. His daughter loves to read, is bright and wants to go to school. He tries everything to get her accepted. Every child is guaranteed a place in school, he has been told, but there is a hitch: He needs a receipt for rent or telephone to show where he lives. And of course he lives in a car.
His story is one of four in "The City," a direct, spare, touching film developed by Riker during six years of acting workshops with immigrants in New York City. His characters come from the Spanish-speaking lands to the south, have arrived in New York filled with hope and now are exploited as cheap labor.
The first of his stories, 'Bricks,' is about day laborers. They're hired a truckload at a time to be carted out to a work site, where they're promised $50 a day, only to find out that is a theoretical sum and the job is piecework--15 cents for every brick they chip clean of mortar. A man (Ricardo Cuevas) wants to bring along his boy (Anthony Rivera). "This isn't a day care center," growls the foreman. But if the man is to work, is the boy to wait alone on the streets? There is an accident at the construction site, and we see how expendable these day workers are.