Sign up for our free newsletter
Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.
Filmed on location at the Tastee Diner in Laurel, Md., Rik Swartzwelder’s The Least of These follows two nights in the lives of the employees and customers of a late-night restaurant. Each evening, it’s the same weary faces, mind-numbing conversations, and bad coffee—until everyone’s routine existence is shattered by the arrival of a mysterious new customer. Will Woodrow’s performance as the wide-eyed stranger with a heart of gold (and permanent five o’clock shadow) feels appropriately out of place amongst his bleak surroundings, but Tom Wall’s portrayal of emotionally isolated diner owner Jim (pictured) and a strong supporting cast of late-night patrons, hookers, and employees steal the show. Though the production looks too colorful for its gritty subject matter and the “down-on-your-luck” musical score is inexcusably cliche, The Least of These remains genuinely touching without being overly dramatic. The film is showing with other shorts, including Ed Baxter’s When Roommates Go Bad, whose one-laugh revenge plot against an annoying ex-roommate runs about 4 minutes and 30 seconds too long; and Nini Hadjis’ Focus on Me, a 13-minute short about a girl searching for someone who will stop bitching long enough to listen to her own self-centered sob story. All three films (and one more) are presented as part of the 650 @ Visions program, which showcases local independent shorts each month. The show starts at 6:50 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, at Visions Cinema Bistro Lounge, 1927 Florida Ave. NW. $6.50. (202) 667-0090. (Matthew Borlik)