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California Dreamin' (2010)

Armand Assante , Jamie Elman , Cristian Nemescu  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Armand Assante, Jamie Elman, Ion Sapdaru
  • Directors: Cristian Nemescu
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dubbed, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: May 4, 2010
  • Run Time: 155 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0036U0B00
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,561 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Based On A True Incident
Romania, 1999: As the Kosovo conflict rages, a no-nonsense U.S. military officer (a career performance by Armand Assante) leads a platoon of Marines and a shipment of top-secret communications equipment towards a NATO outpost. But when a corrupt stationmaster halts their train, the soldiers find themselves the unexpected guests of an impoverished village filled with stubborn bureaucracy, beguiling young women and odd pop culture celebrations. In a time of war, what hopes, dreams and resentments does the arrival of America truly bring to the world outside? Jamie Elman (AMERICAN DREAMS) and Ion Sapdaru (4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS & TWO DAYS) co-star in the first and only film by award-winning 27-year-old Romanian writer/director Cristian Nemescu, tragically killed in a car crash shortly after completing one of the most internationally acclaimed socio-political satires of our time.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Long Overdue in the U.S. February 15, 2010
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a great East European (Romanian) movie from 2007 based on actual events centered around a 1999 NATO mission in the Balkans. It has been available for years only as non-US DVD format.
A train containing American Radar equipment is stopped in a small Romanian village due to missing paperwork. The beauty of the film in my opinion is the inclusion of flashbacks to the period shortly after WW2, when many disillusioned Romanians were eagerly awaiting the Americans to save them - a dream that never materialized during the existence of the iron curtain. It offers great insight into the mindsets of East Europeans, and their fascinations and disappointments with America.
I like this movie even better than other successful Romanian movies, such as "4 Months 3 Weeks 2 Days" (which was voted the #1 movie of 2007 by Sight and Sound - considered by many the greatest authority on moviemaking), "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu", or "12:08 East of Bucharest".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By fCh
In addition to the comic dimension, well captured so far by the other reviews, there are a few more lessons in here. This film shows the difference between the perceptions of time in two places in the world. The typical Americans transiting Romania had no clue there had been at least one episode of common history, which was still running for (some on) the other side. This differential in awareness, together with a breakdown in assumptions/communication, developed at the regular people's levels, takes the events to yet another one-sided episode of loss and tragedy.

The story is highly allegorical, and some may wish it went on faster. War time memory of family and wealth loss, the aftermath of socialism, social and institutional breakdown, general lack of direction/vision, and a young generation with aspirations for western uniformity/conformity as a way to escape its place and time, are the contextual elements of the hosts. The Americans are most typical, unassuming, genuine until they can pragmatically move on with their agenda, and teflon-like relative to the complexities of the host place. A love story and mini-tragedy are brewing; hit play, sit back and take it all in, for laughs and reflection, alike!

Actors play well and seem appropriately distributed. Editing would have probably been an area the late director might have chosen to work in, had he caught another day. No extras, yet too many ads for other films--too bad, a film like this needs a little context, for there is more than comedy to it. All in all, this is yet another gem from a national cinema of which little is known outside Romania.

I'd not be surprised if the US military has been experiencing similar episodes elsewhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very unusual movie May 14, 2011
By dskrvk
Format:Amazon Instant Video
Like all good movies, it's hard to classify this one. The story is comedian, but the humor is subtle and there are elements of drama too. The filming style is casual, but this in my opinion adds realism to what's happening on the screen, rather than being a sign of poor editing, as some of the reviewers noted. Although the run time is 2.5 hours, I didn't feel bored and besides, it's really necessary in order to convey the story well. There is room for thinking too as there are no strictly good or bad guys and the story can be interpreted in different ways.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something happened on the way to Kosovo . . . May 14, 2010
Entertaining political satire in the spirit of Peter Sellers' "The Mouse That Roared." A train full of US Marines en route to Kosovo in 1999 gets stopped at a village train station in rural Romania, and lacking papers for the cargo onboard find themselves waiting five days until the red tape is untangled. Five days are enough to tangle a lot more than red tape, as the soldiers get romantically involved with the local girls and the ambitions of the town's mayor and a bunch of striking workers from a local factory complicate matters further. Meanwhile, there is time for a village celebration with an Elvis impersonator, the belated explosion of some WWII ordinance takes down the town's electrical grid, and some of the soldiers are treated to a Transylvanian girlie show.

At the center of it all are the CO of the troop of soldiers and his second in command, a young sergeant who gets attached to one of the local girls, though neither of them knows a word of the other's language. Her nicely performed rebellion and eventual escape from the provincial environment she hates is a through-line from scene one to the end. There are probably a few too many subplots in this 2.5-hour movie for the whole thing to hang together coherently. But there's so much energy in the camera-work and the performances that the slow parts don't last long before you are swept along again in the comic absurdities of the overall story.

The original film is in both English and Romanian, and viewers may prefer that version to a dubbed one, especially as much of the comedy involves the difficulties and misunderstandings that result from language barriers. Armand Assante is fine as the crusty and barely self-contained CO embroiled in complications with locals he can't threaten, bribe, or shoot his way out of. Great fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a fine mess of a film, wonderful! March 29, 2011
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
The Amazon reviewers for this film have made so many valuable observations that I will only add a few brief ones of my own: first, its a film that wants to be everything, dramatic and poignant, deliriously absurd and satirical, politically astute, a tender "love story" and a tutorial on the bloated nightmare that are socialist bureaucracies. Its the film of a young director/writer, apparently the only one he lived long enough to make. And that is a terrible thing to discover; perhaps it allows us to see the potential and not just the 'doing too much' syndrome, as if he were aware he would never have another 20 films to try out all his ideas? It was just 'awful' when it needed it to be, (really, a whorehouse a la Dracula???) and quite touching whenever the young men and women were shown caught in the cultural crossfire of what they need and what they think they want. The young woman who plays the daughter of the train station master was the heartbeat of the whole film.

As for Assante, I disagree with the one reviewer as to it not being one of his better performances. I think it takes a consummate professional to know when they will have to carry the entire movie almost single handedly (ie. Gotti, Mambo Kings, Looking for an Echo, etc) and when they are part of a director's vision, a tapestry if you will, of many characters and voices. If anyone can dominate a film it would be Assante, fortunately for those whom he works with, from supporting cast to his directors, he also knows when to play the role he is given and not over reach, disrupt and otherwise savage the equilibrium of effects that a director may foolishly think they get to control!
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