Monday, October 8, 2024

Gold in them thar hills

Look no further for a perfect art house film than The King of California. Starring Evan Rachel Wood and Michael Douglas this story takes in the past and the present, buried treasure and the proliferation of modern civilization keeping said treasures hidden.
There's also a hint of magic realism American style that gives The King of California a bouncy attitude. Consider a scene early on where a bobcat hops up on Douglas' kitchen counter. The critter came in through the window and makes an exit the same way. Of course given the fact that Douglas was institutionalized for suicide and depression we first consider the possibility that the animal is a hallucination.
While in the sanitarium Douglas did extensive research on a book written by a 17th Century Spanish explorer (all the other patients were watching JAG). He's back on the street, and living with teen daughter Evan Rachel Wood (who keeps racking up better film roles than anyone else of her age). Using maps, GPS and decoding the Spanish text Douglas finds some pottery shards buried near a golf course. Next for discovery is buried gold, which according to Douglas lies beneath the cement floor of a suburban Costco. Soon Wood has a part time job at the store, they snag the master keys and break in at night to dig up a fortune. Only then do real obstacles threaten the nature of their quest.
There's plenty of room for satiric jabs at the middle class expansion over once fertile land. First time writer/director Mike Cahill weaves the story without letting the humor or absurdity lag. Producer Alexander Payne shepherded the project and it bears a little bit of his comic touch.
-michael bergeron


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