Movies Like California Dreamin' (Nesfarsit) (Endless)

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California Dreamin' (Nesfarsit) (Endless) Reviews

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Ross C

Super Reviewer

July 11, 2008
Reviews make this movie sound like a Romanian Kusturica movie, but the truth is that this story about bureaucracy is every bit as dull as its subject: "An astonishing debut feature, Nemescu's bold and brilliant satire has modern-day Romania and US foreign policy firmly in its sights. In 1999, a secret NATO train filled with US Marines is halted by a bolshy local station master-cum-black marketeer. What follows is a rambunctious Balkan farce that shades inexorably into tragedy as the soldiers and the townspeople try to fraternise. A happy outcome was never possible and, as the town implodes, the Americans move blithely on to Kosovo, unaware of the violence they have unleashed. Sadly, this will be Nemescu's only feature, as both he and his sound editor were killed in a car crash while still working on the film." That last sentence may well explain the lack of editing, and sound for that matter...
gor41
gor41

Super Reviewer

September 10, 2008
Interesting tale of culture clash at a Romanian train station linked to historical events. Similar themes to the WWII 'Americans oversexed and overhere' films of the 80's.
arashxak
arashxak

Super Reviewer

December 16, 2007
An unfinished excellent movie that has nothing less than a finished excellent movie
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

March 7, 2011
It is 1999, and Captain Doug Jones(Armand Assante) is leading a joint NATO taskforce through Romania to bring telecommunications equipment to aid in the bombing in Kosovo. As luck would have it, they only make it as far as a small village where they are held up by Doiaru(Razvan Vasilescu), the station master, for lack of customs papers. The mayor(Ion Sapdaru) can do nothing to aid their progress. It's a shame because Doiaru's teenaged daughter Monica(Maria Dinulescu) was hoping to ride the train to escape to Bucharest but is brought back by her father's men, with a platoon of marines looking on helplessly. She's not the only person in town who hates her father as Nae(Gabriel Spahiu) has to take a number with his work stoppage.

"California Dreamin'" is a decent enough tragicomedy and satirical allegory of both Romania's relationship to the world and America's effects on everybody else. It might seem a little odd that very few people in the village can speak English(yet, they can find an Elvis impersonator) in a post-Communist world but not so much that the Americans can only speak English.(Although, Romanian might make for a obscure choice in any case.) At the same time, despite their military might, a single stationmaster can bring everything to a halt. That's okay. Sometimes, a day off can do the world of good.(I really do sympathize with being stuck on a stopped train for a prolonged amount of time.) However, a lot of this feels forced with a slight "Romeo and Juliet" story line thrown in for good measure. For the record, absurd situations in Eastern Europe have been the stuff of fiction for a long time, but usually with no explanations given which is kind of the point.
mvieaddict
mvieaddict

Super Reviewer

March 13, 2010
California Dreaming was too long. For me the movie had multiple-personality disorder, meaning it was a comedy, a love story, then a touching story, suddenly a shocking, violent war drama. Not that these elements could not be combined in one movie, but it should fit together and felt like one story, or presented as separate stories. instead, everything was mashed together in weird way where it felt like each scene had a different director.I wasn't sure what the point of the movie was. Perhaps some scenes in the movie helped build up to the ending, but some didn't seem to fit with that story line at all.
Robert F

Super Reviewer

July 22, 2008
MIFF '08: Because the director died at some point during production, this film was released without an ending. I can't imagine what else they planned to tack on as a finale - it already had a running time of two and a half hours, which was far too long in my opinion. But anyway, I liked what they had as an ending. It was ambiguous, but it wrapped things up quite nicely for Monica (who I saw as the main character in a cast of thousands) - although the fact that her body was seemingly an electrical conductor remains a mystery to me. There was a nice balance between comedy and drama - the black and white scenes dispersed throughout the film were especially epic and unsettling. It was just the length that got to me in the end. A lot could been cut out without damaging the story, I think.
March 4, 2012
Futile drama, thoroughly disappointing and undisciplined narrative ruins it. The director simply should have made it a love story - instead he rambles on and on endlessly, untiringly.
November 16, 2011
This Romanian movie is a from the outside looking in commentary on the military role that the US has played and the unintended consequences that have followed.
Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

March 7, 2011
It is 1999, and Captain Doug Jones(Armand Assante) is leading a joint NATO taskforce through Romania to bring telecommunications equipment to aid in the bombing in Kosovo. As luck would have it, they only make it as far as a small village where they are held up by Doiaru(Razvan Vasilescu), the station master, for lack of customs papers. The mayor(Ion Sapdaru) can do nothing to aid their progress. It's a shame because Doiaru's teenaged daughter Monica(Maria Dinulescu) was hoping to ride the train to escape to Bucharest but is brought back by her father's men, with a platoon of marines looking on helplessly. She's not the only person in town who hates her father as Nae(Gabriel Spahiu) has to take a number with his work stoppage.

"California Dreamin'" is a decent enough tragicomedy and satirical allegory of both Romania's relationship to the world and America's effects on everybody else. It might seem a little odd that very few people in the village can speak English(yet, they can find an Elvis impersonator) in a post-Communist world but not so much that the Americans can only speak English.(Although, Romanian might make for a obscure choice in any case.) At the same time, despite their military might, a single stationmaster can bring everything to a halt. That's okay. Sometimes, a day off can do the world of good.(I really do sympathize with being stuck on a stopped train for a prolonged amount of time.) However, a lot of this feels forced with a slight "Romeo and Juliet" story line thrown in for good measure. For the record, absurd situations in Eastern Europe have been the stuff of fiction for a long time, but usually with no explanations given which is kind of the point.
HauntedFlowerReviews.com
May 8, 2010
"California Dreamin'" is an independent movie written and directed by Cristian Nemescu with the writing of Catherine Linstrum and Tudor Voican. Based on a true story, a U.S. military officer Doug Jones played by Armand Assante leads a train full of Marines and equipment on the way to a NATO outpost when they are delayed in a village stuffed with bureaucracy, strange pop culture traditions, and romance. Said to be "one of the best films about how American is perceived abroad ever made" by the Washington Post, this socio-political satire tries to illustrate that truth can be more absurd than fiction.

Right away this "comedy" begins on a downer with a reminder that the film is a tribute to the director who died in a tragic car accident. Then the film opens in the 1940s as a bombing is taking place in a residential area. Then it flashes forward to May 1999 where a platoon of American Marines has arrived in Romania with a military radar shipment to be deployed near the Serbian border to aid NATO air raids. While passing through a town on train, they are stopped by the locals and citing paperwork requirements manage to keep them there for several days.

All the characters have different objectives working against each other. The major of the village wants the Americans' stay to be as pleasant as possible so sets up a village celebration to try to drum up interest in investing in their local budget with lots of red, white, and blue flags and even an Elvis impersonator. One of my favorite moments is when a Romanian decides to play "Achy Breaky Heart" on the radio to warm those American hearts (and wallets). The teacher in a classroom attempts to educate the children about the country of the United States and he brings up of points of interest like, "Washington is the capital even though it isn't the largest city." The women are hoping to bag a U.S. soldier so they try to master the art of seduction quickly. There are factory workers on strike who want to buy the factory themselves to secure their children's future. And of course, the Americans just want to continue on their mission as quickly as possible and get out of there and clumsily offer bribes that aren't taken.

After over two hours watcher time and five days movie time of stalemate between the Americans and the Romanians, a giant fight breaks out seemingly out of nowhere with bats and some people including a main character are bludgeoned to death (not involving the Americans). The comedy stops here. It feels like an abrupt end to a long, wordy movie.

If you enjoyed "In the Loop" for its satire, you'll enjoy the tone here. What I enjoyed about "In the Loop" was mainly the many creative ways the characters insulted each other, but the humor here is mainly in the way other countries view America and how the Romanians try to use their knowledge of the country to relate and appeal to the Marines. At one point the Captain gives a huge rallying speech to the people where he wants them all to unite together for one purpose and while it was part of his larger character arc, it just didn't hook the way it normally would because it didn't seem to fit in this movie. The movie was in the process of being edited when its director died and as a tribute, no one else touched what he had put together so some issues like the length of the movie and scenes that didn't quite fit well enough may have been cut in retrospect but we'll never know. If you decide to check this one out, be prepared to leave the subtitles on with all the switching between English and Romanian and even a bit of Spanish.

DVD Extras:

A trailer. Woot! The movie itself is over two and a half hours long, I'm spent.
Hayden W.
April 28, 2010
I really enjoyed this film. Its got an original story, with funny and sad moments, and great characters and acting. One thing - the director died before the film could be properly edited so its quite long - a bit too long for me. Don't let that put you off though. Truly original and entertaining.
viletone
November 15, 2009
This review could be quite biased in nature......my best friend recommended me to watch it......and after spending time with Romanian soldiers in Afghanistan....this movie was hillarious......but that might be due to the experience I had between watching American soldiers and watching Romanian soldiers. The movie is full of suttle laughs.....and the interactions between all the characters are as real as it can get.....in my opinion...California dreaming is a well made film and delivers to the audience a different topic then what they are typically use to....this movie runs on dialog.....not action....so those who need something to happen instead of being happy with just vieing the relationships between all the characters.....you may be disappointed......but me, I laughed a lot!
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