Shockingly, it turns out that there is a giant chunk of real estate in between New York and San Francisco. It’s a place they call Murka (sp?) and is populated by…well, mostly strippers and drug dealers, apparently. These “Murkan” people live in trailer parks like characters in a Talking Heads song, and they attempt to escape their drab lives by experimenting with drugs, exotic dancing, and homosexuality.
Chris Zylka, an actor who appeared in the TV series of 10 Things I Hate About You (did you even know that existed?) plays Kermit, a white trash badass just released from prison. He returns to his Nowheresville, Mississipi trailer park home with mom Faith Hill, who is really too young and attractive to be playing a trailer park mom. Kermit is vaguely planning to give up his life of crime, but first he falls in love with next-door-trailer girl Riley Keough, then his drug dealer criminal friends show up, and everything goes South. Riley Keough makes her stripper debut at the local titty bar, but doesn’t have to actually remove her clothes because that’s the way it works in independent cinema. Then Kermit goes off for One Last Job.
And you can guess what happens next.
Good acting turns by Chris Zylka, Riley Keough, and expecially Brad Carter as small town bigshot Larry Pretty. Points deducted for obviousness of story and miscast Faith Hill.
Glee’s alpha blonde Cheerio Dianna Agron plays Sarah Barton, sleepwalking through life in Nowheresville, Nevada. She’s clocking time at the local supermarket, dating a white trash dude played by Chris Zylka (!) and hanging out in a closed junk store that used to belong to her dead daddy. Suddenly trainwreck Paz de la Huerta waltzes into her life, and before long innocent Sarah is doing drugs and calling herself Sahara as she makes her stripper debut at the local titty bar, where she doesn’t have to actually remove her clothes because that’s the way it works in independent cinema. Sarah dabbles in peyote and lesbian sex, but when the druglords and the cops show up things get a little too real for the small town girl.
Agron is gorgeous and does a decent acting job, but Paz de la Huerta is too much of a basket case for this movie. Remember Angelina Jolie as the mysterious sexy drifter in Foxfire (1996)? That’s the kind of performance this movie needs, but doesn’t get from mumbling de la Huerta, who has too much plastic injected into her lips. And how about some more of underutilized Chris Zylka?
The Driftless Area
Pasty-faced Anton Yelchin accidentally comes across a duffel bag of cash in Nowheresville, Midwest America, and all sorts of bad things start to happen. He meets Zooey Deschanel, who unfortunately doesn’t make her stripper debut in the local titty bar, but seems to be some sort of Depressed Pixie Dream Girl. The white trash baddies who deal meth and run a car rental agency (?) come after Yelchin to get their money back. There are flashbacks and dream sequences, and small parts for actors Frank Langella and Aubrey Plaza who should probably be getting lead roles in movies like this.
It’s a decent enough movie, but the whole is-it-real-or-a-dream-or-a-flashback thing gets tired after a while. Plus the realistic bad guys are just lots more fun than the dreamy leads. John Hawkes in particular turns in a great lunatic criminal performance that brings to mind Robert Carlyle as Begbie from Trainspotting (1996). And would it have killed them to put Chris Zylka in the movie?
Final Verdict: It’s your move – in spite of name actors, these movies are far more likely to end up in the iTunes store or on Netflix than in your local theater. The Driftless Area is the most ambitious, but Dixieland is probably the best executed. Bare gets bonus points if you are a lesbian or have a crush on Dianna Agron, which pretty much covers everybody.
And now I have to go back to the trailer park to cook up some meth. My girlfriend is making her stripper debut tonight…