Joshua Tree, 1951: A Portrait of James Dean (2012)

MATTHEW MISHORY

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB.  USA, 2012.   Iconoclastic Features, Jay-X Entertainment, MGDB Productions.   Screenplay by .   Cinematography by .   Produced by , .   Music by , .   Production Design by .   Costume Design by .   Film Editing by .   

This cross between experimental art house cinema and Hollywood Babylon exploitation likely tells its version of the James Dean myth from the memoirs of William Bast, the actors’ roommate who claimed they had an affair. The Dean of this film, played with pretty-boy perfection by , is an icon of desire who beds any male or female in his path while trying to make a legend out of himself against the backdrop of the pristinely filmed black and white Hollywood of the fifties. Director Matthew Mishory has created a film whose look is impressively haunting: every crisp image really does seem like an old studio publicity shot come to life. His dialogue is dead in the water, however, and the characterizations could not possibly be more uninspiring. Even if all the suppositions of the film were true, the secret sex lives of the stars hardly manage to raise an eyebrow these days (we learned enough about Dean from two paragraphs in Scotty Bowers’ recent tell-all expose of his years in the business), so Mishory would have benefited from a lot more personal conflict in the story…or at least some personality. Watch it if you want to gaze at the photography or few scenes of steamy sex, but don’t expect much.

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