California Dreaming (Nesfarsit) – Cristian Nemescu – 2007 Romania: Jamie Elman; Maria Dimilescu

California Dreaming (Nesfarsit) – Cristian Nemescu – 2007 Romania: Jamie Elman; Maria Dimilescu

Adrin Neatrour writes: The English title of the film points to a marketing idea. The Romanian title of the film points to the idea of time: but the film’s natural ambit is really: situation – the train that does not move.

California Dreaming (Nesfarsit) – Cristian Nemescu – 2007 Romania:  Jamie Elman; Maria Dimilescu
Viewed Tyneside Cinema July 31 08 Ticket price £6-80 

The English title of the film points to a marketing idea.  The Romanian title of the film points to the idea of time: but the film’s natural ambit is really:  situation – the train that does not move.

California Dreaming (CD) opens with a black and white time shift sequence that takes us back more than 50 years to the end of the WWll.  We witness the effects of a bombing raid on Bucharest from the interior of a tenement bock where the inhabitants flee in panic as the bombs are dropping. On its own terms it’s a stunning opening series of shots characterised by choreographed craning camera movement.   The awful reality of falling ordinance presents through an almost animation like realisation of the action, with its visual representation of an unexploded bomb, the menacing dull metallic sheen of its casing transfixing the eye,  smashing through the roof of the building and tumbling down the  building’s stairs in pursuit of a young boy.   It’s a helter-skelter sequence in which the bomb finally settles in its resting place without exploding.  Like a fat unfertilised egg the device sets up the idea of history as a time bomb:  an archaeologically layered event waiting to be dug up.   By something or some one.  This opening sequence sits in the film as an interwoven metaphor pervading the unravelling situation. As the film progresses its purpose is to interconnect the represented present to the past from which it has flowed. It is not just the waiting of the train that is endless; so too are the consequences of history: Endless.

Only it doesn’t work.  The metaphorical device of the bomb, stylishly realised though it is, is not meshed into the structure of the film.  In effect the body of the film comprises a situation that has as its mainspring its own powerful logic: immobility. The  insertion of  primal historical dimension adds nothing to this situation.  If any thing the time element undermines the integrity of the film by adding an irrelevant plane of immanence. In CD the time element is otiose.  The historical sequences are good looking cinema, a demonstration of set piece choreographic competence.  But layered  into the action it only serves as an exemplifier, a fashionable nod or acknowledgement of the workings of history, particularly in Eastern Europe.

The situation in CD is a simple proposition: in 1999 a military train in transit to Serbia as part of the NATO  engagement in the Balkan regional conflict, is refused passage through a section of the track by a relatively minor but powerful railway official who says that the train does not have the correct authorisation. Lacking the right clearance and stymied by the local bureaucrat, the train is shunted into a siding and decoupled from its locomotive.  With its complement of US and Roumanian guards the train waits in the sweltering heat for the necessary clearance from uninterested ministers in Bucharest who shuffle the papers from one office to another.  

CD posits a situation where a number of expressive oppositions are brought into play.  The moving and the still; the organic and the inorganic, the peasant and the urban, the military machine and the social matrix, male and female, power and powerlessness.  The interest in the situation lies in how the film exploits and develops the machinations latent in its oppositions and brings into play expressive exemplars of the forces that it has created.  I think CD is compromised by its overarching use of film clichés to express resolve and dissolve its prime elements. The consequence is that it is no more than a rehash and retread of familiar material. 

Nemescu’s script celebrates the infectious parochial pomposity of local politicians against the utilitarian outlook of the military; the obstinacy of the peasant opposing centralised bureaucracy.  But Nemescu is unable to do more than draw on a population of stock characters already well plumbed by directors of an earlier generation such as Milos Forman.  Nemescu’s failure is that he is unable to add any real further development to these oppositions.  He is content to set up narrative dynamics in which simple juxtapostioning of stereotypes types automatically releases tensions and milks the possibilities of  the humour of juxtaposition.  I think it is Nemescu’s inability to ring changes in stereotypes that comprises the film’s failure.  The US major in charge of the train squad, the mayor, the young girls, the US soldiers,  the striking workers amount to nothing more than stock characters.  The situation as it was set up has the potential for moving into veins of subjectivity that could have explored wilder counter intuitive veins of character. But these furrows have been left fallow.

They may have been left fallow because of the two key oppositions are selected to  dominate the film.  Firstly the love story.   The male and the female characters: the  opposition of the aspirations of the small town girl and the boredom of the foreign soldier, is milked for its evident commercial weight.  This short relationship instigated by Monica the local 17 year old beauty between herself and the soldier, comes out of a long line of East European films that celebrate the seductive power of dream relationships.  The subplot adds little if nothing to this genre of relationship, except that, shot in 2007 the sex scene leaves little to the imagination.  Otherwise it’s the tired story of: country girl seduces foreign soldier boy in pursuit of her desire to escape.   They fuck then go their separate ways: he returns to his real girl and she a little wiser and eventually back to the guy who really cares for her (as a person).  Wresting something new from this tired scenario requires special skills that are not evident here.

The other key opposition is between the railway official and the US major.  Which is where the time/historical factor rears up and interpenetrates the  film’s situational narrative.   The film, in this opposition invokes history as a causative device. CD wants to connect the minor official’s action in stopping the train to his hatred of Americans.  Because his father was killed in an American bombing raid on Bucharest at the end of WWll.  This mark on  the warp of history leads 50 years later to an act of revenge.  I think that as an a narrative idea this overdetermines history as a driving force.  After so much ‘history’ in Roumania the Communist coup,  the dictatorship of Ceausescu  the hardships of  the restoration of capitalism, to select for purposes of revenge, a Nato train half of whose guards are American, and  to delay it , feels ike weak linkage.   A limp wrested attempt to implicate history.  As a character it also demeans the role of the railway official, lessening his interest as an agent and reducing him to a pawn of psychological mechanisms. The implication of history doesn’t necessarily deepen character: it can render character the more opaque. If for instance the railway official had harboured a rage and a fury at NATO intervention in geographic zones where they understood nothing of history, then the character comes alive.  Screwing him into a reactive act of revenge deadens him and does little service to actual historical memory.

Lastly the film is laboriously overlong.  One of the reasons it felt so long was what starts in CD as a joke, the ritual of translation carried out with intentional misrepresentation, becomes a pedantic need of Nemescu’s to repeat ad infinitum. In the end it is an idea that only serves to extend the film long beyond its situational premise. In itself California Dreaming becomes: Endless.
adrin neatrour
adrinuk@yahoo.co.uk

    

 

California Dreaming (Nesfarsit) – Cristian Nemescu – 2007 Romania:  Jamie Elman; Maria Dimilescu
Viewed Tyneside Cinema July 31 08 Ticket price £6-80 

The English title of the film points to a marketing idea.  The Romanian title of the film points to the idea of time: but the film’s natural ambit is really:  situation – the train that does not move.

California Dreaming (CD) opens with a black and white time shift sequence that takes us back more than 50 years to the end of the WWll.  We witness the effects of a bombing raid on Bucharest from the interior of a tenement bock where the inhabitants flee in panic as the bombs are dropping. On its own terms it’s a stunning opening series of shots characterised by choreographed craning camera movement.   The awful reality of falling ordinance presents through an almost animation like realisation of the action, with its visual representation of an unexploded bomb, the menacing dull metallic sheen of its casing transfixing the eye,  smashing through the roof of the building and tumbling down the  building’s stairs in pursuit of a young boy.   It’s a helter-skelter sequence in which the bomb finally settles in its resting place without exploding.  Like a fat unfertilised egg the device sets up the idea of history as a time bomb:  an archaeologically layered event waiting to be dug up.   By something or some one.  This opening sequence sits in the film as an interwoven metaphor pervading the unravelling situation. As the film progresses its purpose is to interconnect the represented present to the past from which it has flowed. It is not just the waiting of the train that is endless; so too are the consequences of history: Endless.

Only it doesn’t work.  The metaphorical device of the bomb, stylishly realised though it is, is not meshed into the structure of the film.  In effect the body of the film comprises a situation that has as its mainspring its own powerful logic: immobility. The  insertion of  primal historical dimension adds nothing to this situation.  If any thing the time element undermines the integrity of the film by adding an irrelevant plane of immanence. In CD the time element is otiose.  The historical sequences are good looking cinema, a demonstration of set piece choreographic competence.  But layered  into the action it only serves as an exemplifier, a fashionable nod or acknowledgement of the workings of history, particularly in Eastern Europe.

The situation in CD is a simple proposition: in 1999 a military train in transit to Serbia as part of the NATO  engagement in the Balkan regional conflict, is refused passage through a section of the track by a relatively minor but powerful railway official who says that the train does not have the correct authorisation. Lacking the right clearance and stymied by the local bureaucrat, the train is shunted into a siding and decoupled from its locomotive.  With its complement of US and Roumanian guards the train waits in the sweltering heat for the necessary clearance from uninterested ministers in Bucharest who shuffle the papers from one office to another.  

CD posits a situation where a number of expressive oppositions are brought into play.  The moving and the still; the organic and the inorganic, the peasant and the urban, the military machine and the social matrix, male and female, power and powerlessness.  The interest in the situation lies in how the film exploits and develops the machinations latent in its oppositions and brings into play expressive exemplars of the forces that it has created.  I think CD is compromised by its overarching use of film clichés to express resolve and dissolve its prime elements. The consequence is that it is no more than a rehash and retread of familiar material. 

Nemescu’s script celebrates the infectious parochial pomposity of local politicians against the utilitarian outlook of the military; the obstinacy of the peasant opposing centralised bureaucracy.  But Nemescu is unable to do more than draw on a population of stock characters already well plumbed by directors of an earlier generation such as Milos Forman.  Nemescu’s failure is that he is unable to add any real further development to these oppositions.  He is content to set up narrative dynamics in which simple juxtapostioning of stereotypes types automatically releases tensions and milks the possibilities of  the humour of juxtaposition.  I think it is Nemescu’s inability to ring changes in stereotypes that comprises the film’s failure.  The US major in charge of the train squad, the mayor, the young girls, the US soldiers,  the striking workers amount to nothing more than stock characters.  The situation as it was set up has the potential for moving into veins of subjectivity that could have explored wilder counter intuitive veins of character. But these furrows have been left fallow.

They may have been left fallow because of the two key oppositions are selected to  dominate the film.  Firstly the love story.   The male and the female characters: the  opposition of the aspirations of the small town girl and the boredom of the foreign soldier, is milked for its evident commercial weight.  This short relationship instigated by Monica the local 17 year old beauty between herself and the soldier, comes out of a long line of East European films that celebrate the seductive power of dream relationships.  The subplot adds little if nothing to this genre of relationship, except that, shot in 2007 the sex scene leaves little to the imagination.  Otherwise it’s the tired story of: country girl seduces foreign soldier boy in pursuit of her desire to escape.   They fuck then go their separate ways: he returns to his real girl and she a little wiser and eventually back to the guy who really cares for her (as a person).  Wresting something new from this tired scenario requires special skills that are not evident here.

The other key opposition is between the railway official and the US major.  Which is where the time/historical factor rears up and interpenetrates the  film’s situational narrative.   The film, in this opposition invokes history as a causative device. CD wants to connect the minor official’s action in stopping the train to his hatred of Americans.  Because his father was killed in an American bombing raid on Bucharest at the end of WWll.  This mark on  the warp of history leads 50 years later to an act of revenge.  I think that as an a narrative idea this overdetermines history as a driving force.  After so much ‘history’ in Roumania the Communist coup,  the dictatorship of Ceausescu  the hardships of  the restoration of capitalism, to select for purposes of revenge, a Nato train half of whose guards are American, and  to delay it , feels ike weak linkage.   A limp wrested attempt to implicate history.  As a character it also demeans the role of the railway official, lessening his interest as an agent and reducing him to a pawn of psychological mechanisms. The implication of history doesn’t necessarily deepen character: it can render character the more opaque. If for instance the railway official had harboured a rage and a fury at NATO intervention in geographic zones where they understood nothing of history, then the character comes alive.  Screwing him into a reactive act of revenge deadens him and does little service to actual historical memory.

Lastly the film is laboriously overlong.  One of the reasons it felt so long was what starts in CD as a joke, the ritual of translation carried out with intentional misrepresentation, becomes a pedantic need of Nemescu’s to repeat ad infinitum. In the end it is an idea that only serves to extend the film long beyond its situational premise. In itself California Dreaming becomes: Endless.
adrin neatrour
adrinuk@yahoo.co.uk

    

 

California Dreaming (Nesfarsit) – Cristian Nemescu – 2007 Romania:  Jamie Elman; Maria Dimilescu
Viewed Tyneside Cinema July 31 08 Ticket price £6-80 

The English title of the film points to a marketing idea.  The Romanian title of the film points to the idea of time: but the film’s natural ambit is really:  situation – the train that does not move.

California Dreaming (CD) opens with a black and white time shift sequence that takes us back more than 50 years to the end of the WWll.  We witness the effects of a bombing raid on Bucharest from the interior of a tenement bock where the inhabitants flee in panic as the bombs are dropping. On its own terms it’s a stunning opening series of shots characterised by choreographed craning camera movement.   The awful reality of falling ordinance presents through an almost animation like realisation of the action, with its visual representation of an unexploded bomb, the menacing dull metallic sheen of its casing transfixing the eye,  smashing through the roof of the building and tumbling down the  building’s stairs in pursuit of a young boy.   It’s a helter-skelter sequence in which the bomb finally settles in its resting place without exploding.  Like a fat unfertilised egg the device sets up the idea of history as a time bomb:  an archaeologically layered event waiting to be dug up.   By something or some one.  This opening sequence sits in the film as an interwoven metaphor pervading the unravelling situation. As the film progresses its purpose is to interconnect the represented present to the past from which it has flowed. It is not just the waiting of the train that is endless; so too are the consequences of history: Endless.

Only it doesn’t work.  The metaphorical device of the bomb, stylishly realised though it is, is not meshed into the structure of the film.  In effect the body of the film comprises a situation that has as its mainspring its own powerful logic: immobility. The  insertion of  primal historical dimension adds nothing to this situation.  If any thing the time element undermines the integrity of the film by adding an irrelevant plane of immanence. In CD the time element is otiose.  The historical sequences are good looking cinema, a demonstration of set piece choreographic competence.  But layered  into the action it only serves as an exemplifier, a fashionable nod or acknowledgement of the workings of history, particularly in Eastern Europe.

The situation in CD is a simple proposition: in 1999 a military train in transit to Serbia as part of the NATO  engagement in the Balkan regional conflict, is refused passage through a section of the track by a relatively minor but powerful railway official who says that the train does not have the correct authorisation. Lacking the right clearance and stymied by the local bureaucrat, the train is shunted into a siding and decoupled from its locomotive.  With its complement of US and Roumanian guards the train waits in the sweltering heat for the necessary clearance from uninterested ministers in Bucharest who shuffle the papers from one office to another.  

CD posits a situation where a number of expressive oppositions are brought into play.  The moving and the still; the organic and the inorganic, the peasant and the urban, the military machine and the social matrix, male and female, power and powerlessness.  The interest in the situation lies in how the film exploits and develops the machinations latent in its oppositions and brings into play expressive exemplars of the forces that it has created.  I think CD is compromised by its overarching use of film clichés to express resolve and dissolve its prime elements. The consequence is that it is no more than a rehash and retread of familiar material. 

Nemescu’s script celebrates the infectious parochial pomposity of local politicians against the utilitarian outlook of the military; the obstinacy of the peasant opposing centralised bureaucracy.  But Nemescu is unable to do more than draw on a population of stock characters already well plumbed by directors of an earlier generation such as Milos Forman.  Nemescu’s failure is that he is unable to add any real further development to these oppositions.  He is content to set up narrative dynamics in which simple juxtapostioning of stereotypes types automatically releases tensions and milks the possibilities of  the humour of juxtaposition.  I think it is Nemescu’s inability to ring changes in stereotypes that comprises the film’s failure.  The US major in charge of the train squad, the mayor, the young girls, the US soldiers,  the striking workers amount to nothing more than stock characters.  The situation as it was set up has the potential for moving into veins of subjectivity that could have explored wilder counter intuitive veins of character. But these furrows have been left fallow.

They may have been left fallow because of the two key oppositions are selected to  dominate the film.  Firstly the love story.   The male and the female characters: the  opposition of the aspirations of the small town girl and the boredom of the foreign soldier, is milked for its evident commercial weight.  This short relationship instigated by Monica the local 17 year old beauty between herself and the soldier, comes out of a long line of East European films that celebrate the seductive power of dream relationships.  The subplot adds little if nothing to this genre of relationship, except that, shot in 2007 the sex scene leaves little to the imagination.  Otherwise it’s the tired story of: country girl seduces foreign soldier boy in pursuit of her desire to escape.   They fuck then go their separate ways: he returns to his real girl and she a little wiser and eventually back to the guy who really cares for her (as a person).  Wresting something new from this tired scenario requires special skills that are not evident here.

The other key opposition is between the railway official and the US major.  Which is where the time/historical factor rears up and interpenetrates the  film’s situational narrative.   The film, in this opposition invokes history as a causative device. CD wants to connect the minor official’s action in stopping the train to his hatred of Americans.  Because his father was killed in an American bombing raid on Bucharest at the end of WWll.  This mark on  the warp of history leads 50 years later to an act of revenge.  I think that as an a narrative idea this overdetermines history as a driving force.  After so much ‘history’ in Roumania the Communist coup,  the dictatorship of Ceausescu  the hardships of  the restoration of capitalism, to select for purposes of revenge, a Nato train half of whose guards are American, and  to delay it , feels ike weak linkage.   A limp wrested attempt to implicate history.  As a character it also demeans the role of the railway official, lessening his interest as an agent and reducing him to a pawn of psychological mechanisms. The implication of history doesn’t necessarily deepen character: it can render character the more opaque. If for instance the railway official had harboured a rage and a fury at NATO intervention in geographic zones where they understood nothing of history, then the character comes alive.  Screwing him into a reactive act of revenge deadens him and does little service to actual historical memory.

Lastly the film is laboriously overlong.  One of the reasons it felt so long was what starts in CD as a joke, the ritual of translation carried out with intentional misrepresentation, becomes a pedantic need of Nemescu’s to repeat ad infinitum. In the end it is an idea that only serves to extend the film long beyond its situational premise. In itself California Dreaming becomes: Endless.
adrin neatrour
adrinuk@yahoo.co.uk

    

 

California Dreaming (Nesfarsit) – Cristian Nemescu – 2007 Romania:  Jamie Elman; Maria Dimilescu
Viewed Tyneside Cinema July 31 08 Ticket price £6-80 

The English title of the film points to a marketing idea.  The Romanian title of the film points to the idea of time: but the film’s natural ambit is really:  situation – the train that does not move.

California Dreaming (CD) opens with a black and white time shift sequence that takes us back more than 50 years to the end of the WWll.  We witness the effects of a bombing raid on Bucharest from the interior of a tenement bock where the inhabitants flee in panic as the bombs are dropping. On its own terms it’s a stunning opening series of shots characterised by choreographed craning camera movement.   The awful reality of falling ordinance presents through an almost animation like realisation of the action, with its visual representation of an unexploded bomb, the menacing dull metallic sheen of its casing transfixing the eye,  smashing through the roof of the building and tumbling down the  building’s stairs in pursuit of a young boy.   It’s a helter-skelter sequence in which the bomb finally settles in its resting place without exploding.  Like a fat unfertilised egg the device sets up the idea of history as a time bomb:  an archaeologically layered event waiting to be dug up.   By something or some one.  This opening sequence sits in the film as an interwoven metaphor pervading the unravelling situation. As the film progresses its purpose is to interconnect the represented present to the past from which it has flowed. It is not just the waiting of the train that is endless; so too are the consequences of history: Endless.

Only it doesn’t work.  The metaphorical device of the bomb, stylishly realised though it is, is not meshed into the structure of the film.  In effect the body of the film comprises a situation that has as its mainspring its own powerful logic: immobility. The  insertion of  primal historical dimension adds nothing to this situation.  If any thing the time element undermines the integrity of the film by adding an irrelevant plane of immanence. In CD the time element is otiose.  The historical sequences are good looking cinema, a demonstration of set piece choreographic competence.  But layered  into the action it only serves as an exemplifier, a fashionable nod or acknowledgement of the workings of history, particularly in Eastern Europe.

The situation in CD is a simple proposition: in 1999 a military train in transit to Serbia as part of the NATO  engagement in the Balkan regional conflict, is refused passage through a section of the track by a relatively minor but powerful railway official who says that the train does not have the correct authorisation. Lacking the right clearance and stymied by the local bureaucrat, the train is shunted into a siding and decoupled from its locomotive.  With its complement of US and Roumanian guards the train waits in the sweltering heat for the necessary clearance from uninterested ministers in Bucharest who shuffle the papers from one office to another.  

CD posits a situation where a number of expressive oppositions are brought into play.  The moving and the still; the organic and the inorganic, the peasant and the urban, the military machine and the social matrix, male and female, power and powerlessness.  The interest in the situation lies in how the film exploits and develops the machinations latent in its oppositions and brings into play expressive exemplars of the forces that it has created.  I think CD is compromised by its overarching use of film clichés to express resolve and dissolve its prime elements. The consequence is that it is no more than a rehash and retread of familiar material. 

Nemescu’s script celebrates the infectious parochial pomposity of local politicians against the utilitarian outlook of the military; the obstinacy of the peasant opposing centralised bureaucracy.  But Nemescu is unable to do more than draw on a population of stock characters already well plumbed by directors of an earlier generation such as Milos Forman.  Nemescu’s failure is that he is unable to add any real further development to these oppositions.  He is content to set up narrative dynamics in which simple juxtapostioning of stereotypes types automatically releases tensions and milks the possibilities of  the humour of juxtaposition.  I think it is Nemescu’s inability to ring changes in stereotypes that comprises the film’s failure.  The US major in charge of the train squad, the mayor, the young girls, the US soldiers,  the striking workers amount to nothing more than stock characters.  The situation as it was set up has the potential for moving into veins of subjectivity that could have explored wilder counter intuitive veins of character. But these furrows have been left fallow.

They may have been left fallow because of the two key oppositions are selected to  dominate the film.  Firstly the love story.   The male and the female characters: the  opposition of the aspirations of the small town girl and the boredom of the foreign soldier, is milked for its evident commercial weight.  This short relationship instigated by Monica the local 17 year old beauty between herself and the soldier, comes out of a long line of East European films that celebrate the seductive power of dream relationships.  The subplot adds little if nothing to this genre of relationship, except that, shot in 2007 the sex scene leaves little to the imagination.  Otherwise it’s the tired story of: country girl seduces foreign soldier boy in pursuit of her desire to escape.   They fuck then go their separate ways: he returns to his real girl and she a little wiser and eventually back to the guy who really cares for her (as a person).  Wresting something new from this tired scenario requires special skills that are not evident here.

The other key opposition is between the railway official and the US major.  Which is where the time/historical factor rears up and interpenetrates the  film’s situational narrative.   The film, in this opposition invokes history as a causative device. CD wants to connect the minor official’s action in stopping the train to his hatred of Americans.  Because his father was killed in an American bombing raid on Bucharest at the end of WWll.  This mark on  the warp of history leads 50 years later to an act of revenge.  I think that as an a narrative idea this overdetermines history as a driving force.  After so much ‘history’ in Roumania the Communist coup,  the dictatorship of Ceausescu  the hardships of  the restoration of capitalism, to select for purposes of revenge, a Nato train half of whose guards are American, and  to delay it , feels ike weak linkage.   A limp wrested attempt to implicate history.  As a character it also demeans the role of the railway official, lessening his interest as an agent and reducing him to a pawn of psychological mechanisms. The implication of history doesn’t necessarily deepen character: it can render character the more opaque. If for instance the railway official had harboured a rage and a fury at NATO intervention in geographic zones where they understood nothing of history, then the character comes alive.  Screwing him into a reactive act of revenge deadens him and does little service to actual historical memory.

Lastly the film is laboriously overlong.  One of the reasons it felt so long was what starts in CD as a joke, the ritual of translation carried out with intentional misrepresentation, becomes a pedantic need of Nemescu’s to repeat ad infinitum. In the end it is an idea that only serves to extend the film long beyond its situational premise. In itself California Dreaming becomes: Endless.
adrin neatrour
adrinuk@yahoo.co.uk

Author: Adrin Neatrour

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