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Movie Review: California Dreamin'

Alternate Title: Culture Clash

Story: Had 27 year old first time director and writer Cristian Nemescu not died in a car accident during the editing portion of this film I am sure that it would have been 10 times better than it is in its present form. Its 155 minute length does not do it justice. That said, if you have the patience to sit through the rambling parts you will find much to appreciate.

It is 1999 during the Kosovo War. In a small Romanian village, 'that is stuck in the fold of a map,' a NATO train transporting secret military equipment gets waylaid by a corrupt, stubborn station master who holds a long time grudge against Americans. The two American officers lack official documents for their journey and due to a combination of bumbling, often funny events, they ultimately have to spend five days in the town .

The arrival of this small group of Marines dramatically changes everything in the town. The film has dozens of characters and most have back stories of general interest. The young girls in the town go wild with desire to be with these Marines and needless to say, the young boys in the town are not happy.

The film is often funny, and I repeat that had an hour of the flab been edited out, it would have rated several more Lobo Howls.

Watch the trailer (sorry I could not find one with English subtitles) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rue1ACodeo

Acting: Armand Assante as Capt. Doug Jones, does a fine job in his role as Captain of the unit. Jamie Elman as Sgt. David McLaren, could have a career ahead of him. Razvan Vasilescu as Doiaru, the corrupt station master is perfect as is his angry sullen young daughter, Maria Dinulescu as Monica.

Trivia: For a small country there have been some impressive films coming out of Romania, including: 12:08 East of Bucharest, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

Predilection: This film won an award at Cannes and I like to see award winning foreign films.

Critters: Lots and lots of livestock, cats and dogs.

Food: Cabbage, ham, potatoes.

Sex Spectrum: The young town girls cannot wait to bed down with the Marines and some sure do oblige.

Opening Titles: An explanation of the time and place and a notice about the directors death.

Theater Audience: Packed

Weather: The summer is hot in Romania.

Drift Factor: I looked at my watch often.

Predictability Level: The film takes a violent surprising turn towards the end of the film.

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: No

Big Screen or Rental: Rental would be fine.

Length: 155 long minutes.