Valley Girl
Michelle O¹Marah
Feature Video 115:00 2002 Midwest Premiere

³Two questions: (1) Why are most films shown in the gallery or museum context so expensive and so pukoid? (2) In the shadow of the Hollywood sign, what is the difference between an appropriation and a remake, given that the remake is an industry standard, for better (Douglas Sirk’s daunting Imitation of Life) or worse (Jim McBride’s anemic Breathless), producing indifference (Steven Soderbergh’s empty Ocean’s II) or grandiose inanity (Cameron Crowe’s chiasmatic Vanilla Sky)? Rechanneling both trends, Michele O’Marah’s feature-length video Valley Girl captures and intensifies the heart and soul of Martha Coolidge’s original 1983 crossover hit that launched Nicholas Cage, starred Deborah Foreman, and gave the always fascinating Elizabeth Dailey a nice turn as the sad, slightly slutty Loryn. Casting friends and providing them with savvy costuming, satisfying yet no-frills props, and punk-riot grrrl chutzpah, O’Marah has created a guerrilla tour de force and a heady meditation on the simple act of

doing something again.

If Coolidge is the mother muse for this project, then Jack Smith and Ed Wood provide avuncular inspiration and methodology–what might be called Valley Girl’s antinatural naturalism. To mistake O’Marah’s mode as lazy, cynical, or you’d have to ignore her exuberant attention to the material and to the specificity of her own vision. Unlike Laura Cottingham’s art-world driven Anita Pallenberg Story, 1999, which, with its strident nostalgia, never surpassed karaoke redux, Valley Girl doesn’t exist only to be cool. The artist created something much more prepossessing than a critique of Hollywood by, loopy as it might sound, believing in what she believes: that reshooting, with almost no budget, a sweet oddball progirl Hollywood

indie film might be a way to make art.² – Bruce Hainley, Artforum


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