Remember the Daze

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First Look International

There's a fine line between a film's attempting to depict a day in the lives of aimless high school students and it being aimless itself, and Jess Manafort's "Remember the Daze" crosses it with abandon.

Previously showcased at various festivals under the rather more accurate title "The Beautiful Ordinary" -- there's nary a bad-looking kid in this bunch -- the film has been retitled for its domestic release, presumably to evoke echoes of Richard Linklater's far better, thematically similar effort "Dazed and Confused."

The story is set in 1999, which happens to be around the time in which its young director-screenwriter herself graduated from high school. Set on the last day of the school year, it depicts the casual comings and goings of nearly two dozen mostly forgettable stock characters, many of whom engage in various romantic hookups and other such activities while under the influence of marijuana, mushrooms and alcohol. In a slightly disturbing bit of stereotyping, the sole Asian-American character (Charles Chen) spends much of the film's running time taking photographs.

Unfortunately, there's little of interest on display in terms of narrative, dialogue or characterization, and while the film authentically conveys its milieu, it's never particularly compelling nor is it entertaining.

Compensating factors include the mostly highly attractive ensemble of young performers, which includes such familiar television and screen actors as Alexa Vega, John Robinson, Douglas Smith, Amber Heard, Melonie Diaz and Leighton Meester; the gorgeous cinematography by Steve Gainer, who has dealt with similar territory shooting several of Larry Clark's films; and an impressive soundtrack of alt-rock tunes dating from the period.
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