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Blue Dream
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by Jay Seaver

"When your sleaze movie makes boobs boring, something's very wrong."
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 15: I spent a lot of my time watching "Blue Dream" feeling like I didn't know what was going on. That wasn't strictly the case - I could certainly recognize what was happening in a given scene and could see the bigger story that Gregory Hatanaka and his co-writer Tony Young were trying to tell, but the maze between these levels is just a pain to navigate and mostly not worth the effort.

The film opens in 1999, with Robert Harmon (James Duval) starting at a Los Angeles weekly newspaper edited by Ted Sellers (Richard Riehle), while at the same time George Weber (Sal Landi) is starting a blog. Harmon begins an affair with his editor Amanda (Pollyanna McIntosh), and while he's interested in crime - fascinated by a map kept by intern Gena (Dominique Swain) - he's eventually made film critic. When the paper is purchased by a wealthy family whose patriarch Lassie (Walter Koenig) and the sons he puts in charge know nothing about the business, he begins a relationship with daughter Tara (Kayden Kross). Between all of that, he's swept up in booze, drugs, sex, the usual.

At least, that's what seems to be going on. The movie feels like Hatanaka had a sort of vague idea about the decline of print, alter egos, serial killers, and corporate America but rather than build a story out of them, he decided to instead haphazardly connect them with a chemically-induced daze on the part of the protagonist and enough sex and violence to at least preserve the appearance of some sort of momentum. It's a frantic mess that is presented with just enough skill that the excuse that the seeming randomness is a reflection of Harmon's head can't be immediately discounted - it's the sort of chaos that tries to play as a deliberate rejection of order as opposed to sloppiness.

That feeling of chaos can work, but with Blue Dream, the sense is just that it never comes together. The serial-killer storyline never really goes anywhere - honestly, I'm not sure exactly why Dominique Swain's character is even in this movie other than to fill time; Gena is a contrast to Robert, but not an especially pointed one. The filmmakers establish both print and internet writers in the first scenes, but don't seem to have much to say about the differences between the two - or the corporatization of the media - outside of a few very tired jokes.

You've got to feel sorry for the actors stuck with those gags - mainly Richard Riehle going for old-school newspaperman and Walter Koenig as a buzzword-spouting tycoon whom he plays as a Prohibition-era New York gangster (this is, admittedly, a loopy-enough concept to at least be memorable and a metaphor I'd like to see a more focused filmmaker play with) - especially since the cast is actually pretty decent. James Duval makes for a passable protagonist, getting hints of personality and dulled ambition through a haze of "wow, what a weird situation!" Not bad for a nothing character without much visible that he's really good at other than maybe sleeping his way to the top, but since the sex scenes don't convey more than "nice breasts!", it's hard to tell. Speaking of, Kayden Kross may be best known for her adult work, but she's got a few good moments (I think; there are three or four fairly interchangeable blondes in this movie). Dominique Swain plays Gena with enough charm and perkiness that I'd like to see the movie where she's the main character.

The main problem is that Hatanaka never appears to have a grip on what's important and what's not. It's not just a matter of subplots being dropped, but making a point of having the audience focus on something that's never going to come to anything. Things which could give the audience some sort of insight into the characters or situation are glossed over. It's tremendously frustrating - the movie has everything it needs to tell its story, but feels like it doesn't, and also lacks the moment that ties everything together.

Of course, that may be an accurate portrayal of what it feels like to spend a decade abusing drugs and sleeping one's way through a dying industry; I wouldn't know. It's still a pretty bad sign when a movie of the same winds up this annoying and frankly boring, despite the liberal debauchery.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=24993&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/31/13 11:35:30
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2013 Boston Underground Film Festival For more in the 2013 Boston Underground Film Festival series, click here.

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