IMDb > Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story (2002)

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Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story -- What made an ordinary plumber steal a tank one spring day in 1995? This gripping doc unveils the motives behind his bizarre crime.


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In May 1995, Shawn Nelson, a 35 year-old plumber from Clairemont, California, emerged from an eighteen... See more » | Add synopsis »
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Life imitates art? See more (5 total) »


Shawn Nelson ... Himself

Directed by
Garrett Scott 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ian Olds 
Garrett Scott 

Produced by
Garrett Scott .... producer
Cinematography by
Adrian Zaragoza 
Film Editing by
Ian Olds 
Sound Department
Eli Yerbury .... sound

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

55 min
Filming Locations:


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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
Life imitates art?, 22 June 2006
Author: mlstein from Rochester, New York

I'd say that these events were a strong influence on Philip K. Dick's "A Scanner Darkly," except that the book came out in 1977 and Shawn Nelson's tank ride took place 18 years later. The echos of Dick's great book are everywhere, though--the decaying California suburb, pervasive meth use, obsessive, pointless projects, and increasing paranoia. Scott's collage of news reports (including a hilarious on-the-spot sequence where the Talent does little except talk to his cameraman), industrial promo films from the heyday of San Diego's aerospace industry, and revealing interviews with Nelson's friends and family conveys the story with telling economy while placing it into the contexts of the marketing and disposal of a neighborhood and work force, the dependence of a city on the military-industrial complex and the drugs that came with it--methamphetamine having been developed for bomber pilots--and the personal disintegration of a nice, talented, regular guy. Moving and illuminating.

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