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Arizona Dream
DVD disk
04.16.2010 By: Aaron the H
Arizona Dream order
Director:
Emir Kustarica

Actors:
Johnny Depp
Faye Dunaway
Jerry Lewis

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Young Axel Blackmar (Johnny Depp) is lured to Arizona to be the Best Man in his uncle (Jerry Lewis)’s wedding. While there, he shacks up with an older woman (Faye Dunaway) and her depressed daughter (Lily Taylor) and begins a weird love affair with the both of them.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Before I begin tearing apart this movie, I must preface it by mentioning that it has a respectable 7.3 rating on IMDb, and won a few awards at some fairly prestigious festivals, so there is a good chance that I just didn’t “get” the thing. But as a second preface, I consider myself an intelligent guy, with a degree in Film Theory, who has a particular fondness for indie films, so don’t think I’m about to rip on this film cuz it was too complex or not commercial enough for my tastes.

With all that said, let me explain why Arizona Dream was for me, much more of a nightmare. Released in 1993, well after all the fine actors involved had already established themselves, there’s a reason the DVD “menu” was just a blank screen that said “Use the >>l button on your remote to navigate through the movie at 10 minute intervals”. The opening of this film, a scene in the Arctic with a family of Inuits, is intriguing to say the least. Depp emerges next and gives his thoughts on life via the first of many heavy narrations, and you’re willing to see where this ride is going. But once he and his whacked-out cousin (Vincent Gallo) arrive in Arizona a few minutes later and Jerry Lewis enters, it soon becomes clear that there is no story in this film, just a smattering of scenes-where all characters seem to just act rather than react- sprawled out over two grueling hours that feel like five.

Faye Dunaway plays a woman who falls in love with Depp and tries to build flying machines to take to Papua New Guinea, Lily Taylor is her manic, suicide-obsessed daughter who plays an accordian to her pet turtles with a cigarette dangling from her mouth, and Vincent Gallo, in what is easily one of the most annoying roles of all time, plays a wannabe actor with an unexplained, obsessive hatred for one scene from North by Northwest and a penchant for…well I don’t even know what. Depp meanwhile seems to just change from scene to scene and be fascinated by whatever is going on at the moment.

Nothing ties together, people talk of dreams, act kooky, and live and die without any of us giving a damn. And that was this film’s biggest problem; I did not give one crap about any character in this film- in fact I downright didn’t like them, with the exception of Jerry Lewis, who is sorely underused. This all of course can be blamed on writer/director Emir Kustarica, who committed one of my greatest cinematic pet peeves with this film- making a movie for himself and not for the audience. I just didn’t get it, and because of the way Kustarica drew these characters, I didn’t even want to try.
THE EXTRAS
This puppy doesn't even have a menu, so don't expect any extras. Woulda been nice to at least have an interview with someone involved to try and explain this thing.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
This movie feels like a prequel to Depp’s vastly superior Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, only instead of the characters being hopped up on every drug under the sun, it was the filmmakers. If disconnected musings and dream-like narration is your thing, [maybe] give this a go. If you like story and logic in your movies, avoid this at all costs.
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