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Daydream Nation

Pop Art Americana
This movie was beautiful and surprisingly dark and potent. Basically a teenage girl, played by the slightly-too-old for the role Kat Dennings, arrives to a small town where kids keep getting killed, an industrial fire won't stop burning, and everyone does too many drugs. As someone who has spent time in some small American towns, I could relate to the feeling. Though obviously the director is playing with the conventions here and adding a layer of menace, melancholy and haze to the proceedings. So Kat's character decides to seduce her high school teacher, played by the under-rated Josh Lucas. They begin an affair and all is well, until he instructs her to pretend to date a boy her age so the local yokels won't become suspicious. Needless to say it's all a lot of fun--albeit dark fun--and things take some wild twists that suspend logic but are all the more enjoyable for it. I wish this movie had gotten the attention is deserves--was it even released?--because it's by far the best work Kat Dennings has done, and it's full of amazing images and sharp dialogue. Be advised: this movie is an art film disguised as a teen movie. It's probably too ambitious for its own good, and I can see why it might be passed over by many. But I think it'll be a cult classic and I was pleasantly surprised by the artistry that went into this little indie flick. Extra points for the powerful ending.


Eighties Camp At Its Best
This movie is great campy fun -- but elevated to art by the quality of the acting and the directing. It's almost Warholian in it's approach: gloss, camp, ultra-violence. Clearly the film is a parody/dissection/love-letter to those action films from the eighties where the heroes were cool and the plot twists were utterly obvious and the world was glossy and cheesy and strikingly soul-less, but also terribly attractive. The plot? Ryan Gosling drives a getaway car, falls for the lovely but under-used Carey Mulligan, and ends up in trouble after helping her troubled husband do one last heist. Oh yeah, it's predictable alright. But the direction is so assured and the acting is so fine that it's an absolute pleasure to watch things unfold. I wish there had been one or two more good twists, and the ending was disappointing. But how can anyone complain after a cinematic treat like this. Extra points for the spot-on soundtrack!

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