My favourite movie from the 2010 Calgary International Film Festival was Daydream Nation by a long shot and not just because Thurston, played by Reece Thompson, is the type of damaged and adorable male character that I love — Nick Hornby and Douglas Coupland also do a good job of this — but because the movie had a strange surreal feeling to it.
The director of Daydream Nation was on hand at the CIFF screening to answer questions and explained what he had in mind for the film. He talked about how he had wanted it to seem eerie and like the title suggests a daydream. At the time it seemed like a neat idea and it made sense to me.
The director seemed like a really interesting guy and joked about how the partying and drug use was something he imagine but that Andie MacDowell and other members of the cast from small towns said it wasn’t far off and that after casting a handful of American actors he had reached his quota and cast actors from Degrassi to fill the rest — this joke is funnier now that I have watched a little bit of Degrassi and can identify the different cast members — Landon Liboiron does a great job as carefree stoner Paul. He said he was satisfied with how the film turned out and gave some great details about the production of the film.
What makes Daydream Nation good is that director Michael Goldbach had a vision for how it should work and it played out perfectly. Seeing it a second time you can see how the entire movie builds up bit by bit towards a certain point, how certain elements reoccur — white flashes of light — to reenforce the message, how things are framed and shot, the use of montages and the effect of moving from realistic to surreal.
The movie is going somewhere the whole time and you have to pay attention along the way. When the movie ends you walk out with a strange but satisfied feeling. If you don’t have the chance to hear the director’s insights hopefully you can make sense of the movie anyways.