California Dreams

A look at how the American Dream and Hollywood affect those they touch.

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  • ★★★★½ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd

    Sure to go down

    as a massively

    misconstrued film.

  • ★★★★ review by Jason Bailey on Letterboxd

    Director Mike Ott works in a deliberately blurry style, putting real people into aesthetically staged scenes that mirror their own lives, loosely organized around the idea of regular people who want, in one way or another, to make it big in the movies. The title is evocative; most of them already live in California, but in lives so far removed from the Hollywood they imagine that they might as well be in Kansas. It would be easy for a film like this to look down on the would-be actors, writers, and stars at its center, or present their situation as poverty porn. Ott’s not into that at all, though; he looks at his subjects and listens — really listens — to them, allowing us to develop affection, sympathy, and understanding. The result is a true original, a living, breathing portrait of loneliness, aimlessness, delusion, poverty, and optimism.

  • ★★★★½ review by arlin on Letterboxd

    i'm not exactly sure what i just watched but i think i kinda liked it a lot. blockbuster cameo in the final scene i cant spoil for you but like man, enjoyable, opaque and untrustworthy but enjoyable

  • ★★★½ review by Sandra on Letterboxd

    Camera was fantastic!

  • ★★★★ review by Tdrk on Letterboxd

    I had the chance to watch this film in Berlin Critics' Week (aka Woche der Kritik). It is a touching film about people with bright dreams and pale lives. It is ironic that the empty Californian landscape works in two contradicting manners. It allows you to dream about the tremendous potential of an unknown world in which anything can happen, but its sublime vastness also makes you feel so belittled, alone, insignificant. Especially in these days where a lot of people are left behind because (or despite) of the globalization process and the subsequent supposed death of the American dream, it is a powerful reminder to see other side of the glamourous life of Hollywood, of California, of America.

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