Great reviews for IN A DREAM


Including this one from The Stranger:

* In a Dream
80 min. | Dir. Jeremiah Zagar | Rated NR
I’m going to be honest. The idea of a documentary about a septuagenarian artist who creates mosaic murals around his Philadelphia neighborhood sets off my folksy-charm-dar AND my old-people-have-the-darndest-resigned-melancholia alert AND my early-ZZZZZ-detection warning system. But false alarm! False alarm, folks. Go about your business. In a Dream deserves none of those dismissals. It begins as the story of the aforementioned eccentric artist Isaiah Zagar, living out his semi-idyllic twilight years with his tirelessly supportive wife Julia. The couple buy derelict buildings in Philadelphia (warehouses, apartment blocks) then Isaiah mosaics every surface with broken mirrors, fragments of pottery, bottles, bicycle wheels, junk. Julia looms immense in Isaiah’s work. He has done thousands of portraits of her, he says, some several stories tall. Her face is everywhere, and when he speaks of her and how she loves him it’s with a guileless, silly exuberance. “He can’t function, you know, too well in this world. He’s kind of a rare flower. A thistle, maybe,” Julia says. “I was his reality base, and he was my bird. He flew around.” Documentaries made by family members (In a Dream was filmed by Isaiah and Julia’s son, Jeremiah) can suffer from a toothless idealism—glossing over the rough patches. But in this case, the familial intimacy makes the film. About halfway through, Julia notes that Isaiah is becoming more and more detached from actual life. Then, almost off-hand, at a coffee shop, Isaiah mentions on camera that he’s having an affair and the film transforms into the disintegration of a love—one that is physically manifested all over Philadelphia. The camera is there when the Zagars pick up their older son from rehab, as he senses something is wrong, as they attempt to talk around the elephant in the room. It’s there when Julia releases her rage in a frightening screech; and when Isaiah later does the same, realizing he just lost everything. It’s exhilarating and very, very sad. By Lindy West

And this from the Seattle Weekly:

In a Dream
“I’m fascinated by giganticness,” reveals Santa-bearded mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar, whose compulsive, nearly-half-century-long mission to create candy-colored mazes of fractured tiles, mirror shards, paint, and bric-a-brac has covered tens of thousands of Philadelphia’s square feet, including the home Zagar shares with wife, Julia. An inwardly distressed, self-absorbed eccentric who is unafraid to expose himself, both physically and emotionally, Isaiah bluntly admits that he was molested as a boy and attempted suicide in his twenties, and, midway through the film’s production, tells Julia on-camera that he’s been sleeping with his assistant. Where most documentarians would rest on the laurels of a great subject and riveting present-tense drama, director Jeremiah Zagar has observed too much of his father’s creative logic to cheat us with artless hagiography. In dreamily paced tracking shots, macro close-ups, time-lapse glimpses of Isaiah’s processes (the raking together of paint and cement is especially satisfying), archival footage, and animation, In a Dream exhibits as much beauty and sensuality as Isaiah’s work, while the unabashedly personal nature of the filmmaker-subject dynamic is as candid about familial madness as Tarnation, and captures more insight than those Friedmans did. — Aaron Hillis

Showtimes & tickets available here.

**Update – another great review just in from the Seattle Times:
“This highly personal film speaks to all of us in the universal languages of art and love.”
More here.



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