California Dreams

Five unique individuals in pursuit of a big life change. Through auditions set up in small towns across Southern California, the film shows genuine characters with big Hollywood aspirations who, for various reasons, have never had the opportunity to pursue their dreams.


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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

  • ★★★★ review by Aniello De Angelis on Letterboxd

    at one point, the line between reality and fiction is so blurred that the lines disappear all together and the experience becomes a hallucinatory one. but did the fact vs fiction ever matter in the first place? we love film because it allows us to become lost in feelings and narrative, and this is such a great example of that.

  • ★★★★ review by bloodclay on Letterboxd

    Cory Zacharia is a damn star.

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