SXSW 2017: California Dreams
In California Dreams, we meet five different people who all aspire to be working actors in Hollywood. It’s clear from the moment any of them step in front of the camera that their dreams of stardom are not meant to be. Sure, they’re in a documentary about acting, but none of them have what it takes to make it. Their audition pieces make that quite clear.
Out of the five characters, we only really get to know Cory Zacharia. He’s our guide throughout the film. Cory is 28, out of work, and living at home with his mother. His story (like everyone’s, really) is just one of a kind of sad desperation. He wants to move to Europe to pursue his acting career, but he doesn’t have any money. He hasn’t worked in nearly eight years. You can tell he’s been through a lot in his relatively short life, but we’re not quite sure what it has been. He seems to be missing a lot of life-skills. He’s a very sweet person, but appears extremely vulnerable. It’s through his interviews with the other four we learn about their backstories. Each person’s a little sadder than the next.
The star here is the cinematography. Mike Gioulakis (It Follows, Split) manages to make the hell-hole that is Lancaster, California look absolutely gorgeous. Every shot was so beautifully framed, I found myself paying more attention to the look of the film than that of its content. Never a good thing for a film, documentary or no. The team of Gioulakis and Ott sure did make a fine, pretty picture to look at, I just wish the content was strong enough to match it.