Posts Tagged ‘America’

Dreams Go To Die On “Revolutionary Road”

January 19, 2009

R, 119 minutes, Dreamworks/Paramount Vantage

I have not read the 1961 Richard Yates novel by which Sam Mendes’ new film, Revolutionary Road, is based, but after last night’s viewing of the movie one thing is for certain; it must be the very next book on my list. It is almost always counted on for the book by which a film is based to be even better than its moving picture adaptation, no matter how good and/or faithful the film is. This is easy to understand, given that print has so much more space to let its subjects and themes breathe, whereas films are pressured into condensing a story down to a running time suitable enough for audience entertainment. If the novel does indeed follow the usually inevitable trend of being superior to its cinematic re-creator, then I might have found my favorite book of all-time. I’d like to think that over the course of this decade I have developed a sense for what separates the good films from the bad ones, the great films from the good ones, and the simply masterful ones from the great ones. This is a film that hit me in ways only a handful have, and it must be included among the best I have ever seen, a favorite prefered even above some of the films I adore to great lengths. Special territory has been reached with this one.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet became inseparable friends while filming Titanic, the movie that made them both instant stars; and in the eleven years since they have given us countless performances that show convincing reason to how they did indeed deserve such vast acclaim and swift promotion for their talent. Finally finding themselves back together on screen, the two bring the central-focused couple of Revolutionary Road, Frank and April Wheeler, to life with startling realism. Mendes and screenwriter Just Haythe waste no time throwing us into the lifestyle of these two people, as we meet them at their initial meeting point, gazing at each other amidst a sea of people at a cocktail party, never to be seen apart from that point forward. There is brief time spent at the yougner, child-free period in their life, as they talk avidly about their shared ambitions and expectations in life, vowing to never succomb to the standard trap that most Americans allow themselves to be “comfortable” in, no matter how secure it may be. They fall in love the way most of us do, through an attraction that eventually leads to an apparent inseparation; but there just seems to be something different about the Wheeler’s, which is a feeling shared by everyone who has ever been around them, and especially to themselves. Sure, they move into a nice suburban Connecticut home with clean furnishings and bright shutters, raising two kids and Frank working at a dime-a-dozen job, but this is a couple that can break free in favor of their dreams for a better life at any given moment, at their discretion, nothing to prevent it. This is what they thought was true.

Set in the 1950’s, when cigarettes, martinis, and disguided dysfunction were as common as breathing, Sam Mendes’ film hits every single devastating note with blatant, brutal truth, and gets every piece of emotion through the wringer with his actors. There has already been mixed talk about the film, some saying it is too serious, downtrodden, and bleak to deserve any kind of high acclaim or awards. In a year where there has been such a steady amount of terrific films but no one that stands up above all and makes a profoundly masterful statement, here is the one that finally does it…and I fear that it will become neglected (especially the performance by DiCaprio) other than the resounding praise for Winslet as April. There have been a lot of films that focus on the material fences put up by families that attempt to mask what lies beneath the surface, some about the misunderstanding of one love to another over the course of a long period of time, but Revolutionary Road is paved with countless things that prevent it from being compared to any film I can think of. It’s standing alone on its own tower. This is the film of the year, one of the most important films of the decade, and over time should be seriously considered as one of the most searing portraits of a timeless message to Americans ever created.

4 STARS

Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio
Kate Winslet
Kathy Bates
Michael Shannon
David Harbour
Kathryn Hahn
Zoe Gazan
Jay O. Sanders
Dylan Baker

Based On The Novel By
Richard Yates

Screenplay Adapted By
Justin Haythe

Produced & Directed By
Sam Mendes

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Some New Films

July 10, 2008

Yeah, I know, I haven’t had much to say lately…but I haven’t exactly been lazy, and as proof I am going to be unveiling a number of new video projects that I’ve recently finished producing/editing. I will post them both on the official Neckbrace Substitute page, and here. Please watch if you have some free moments. See you soon.

The Long-Awaited Collaboration Blog

June 19, 2008

For the past few months, my friend Elissa and I have talked about starting a blog that we could both participate in, a place where we could pool our thoughts together on whatever random things we wanted to talk about at any given time. What initially sparked such an idea is the fact that we are always talking about favorites lists we would make of albums, films, etc, always comparing our interests. The thought of a collaboration blog was always a good one, we just didn’t act on it as quick as we’d have liked to, but those days are over. A few days ago, Elissa officially created IS THE ONLY LOVE, the place that we’ll look to frequently deliver our random lists, poetry, rants, music talk, complaints, trend-bashings, comic book talk, and more nonsense that we could feel like spitting out. I hope you will take a look sometime. We promise we will try to make it interesting enough to wanna come back.

Father’s Day/Birthday

June 16, 2008

“If I was a Pagan, then I would be one happy motherfucker.”

A quote earlier today from my dad, Mark Ferguson, commenting on the coincidence of his birthday being on the same day as Father’s Day…and displaying, as he does so often, how much he refuses to believe in celebrating them. Or any holiday for that matter, excluding Thanksgiving.

You Don’t Need To Mess With Seeing “The Zohan”

June 15, 2008

PG-13, 113 minutes, Columbia Pictures

For whatever reason, there still seems to be something intriguing enough about Adam Sandler, something that convinces me to pay for a ticket to see his (mostly) mindless comedies. Maybe I’m still sort of paying respect to the guy, or more accurately, being patient with him because he has shown the ability to branch out and display true acting chops from time to time, most notably in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love. Still, there is no excuse for me continuing to put myself through idiotic messes, like The Waterboy, Little Nicky, Anger Management, etc. Every summer, he releases a comedy that always looks stupid and most of the time follows through with that promise. I thought 2006 would be the last year I would put myself through the hell of trying his dumb projects, at that time I had just come out of the terrible experience of Click, which was mind-bogglingly awful. I did well by not even considering last year’s I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, a film that I know could be nothing but bad and will never see. Little did I know, it only took one more year to pull me back into the trap of Sandler-itis, for yesterday I indeed went to see You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. I had two fair excuses for choosing to see this film, though – the main one being that Judd Apatow co-wrote it. The movie also got my pick because the competition at the multiplex was extremely slim this weekend.

Apatow worked on the script with Robert Smigel and Sandler himself, filling it with over-the-top bits that I bet had a lot of promise on paper, there’s no doubt, and although it doesn’t fall apart into a complete disaster once it was made into pictures, it’s certainly not a recommendable comedy by any means. That’s a sad thing really, because there are all the components for a guilty pleasure fun time to be had with Zohan, who is a virtually indestructible Israeli agent that is fed up with living the life of endless violence, so decides to fake his death and make his way to the New York City for a new life and a new profession – in hairstyling. The trio of writers do their very best at peppering the film with absolutely insane moments, and some of them work well, but the movie is reaching too far and is way, way too long and easily overstays its welcome. I became very restless toward the end of the film, when over-the-top is taken too far with a hackey sack tournament that features attendees like John McEnroe, Kevin James, and Mariah Carey. To say that this is one of the funniest films Sandler has released in a while, which it is, is still not saying enough to consider it a good film, just better than bad. The performance by Sandler is one of the things in the film to praise, for he is always amping up the energy with Zohan, sticking with the ridiculous tones set in place from the very beginning. I’m not sure if it is even right to applaud an actor for immersing himself in a film and role like this, but Sandler does lose himself entirely in Zohan and he’s the anchor for making the movie even remotely watchable.

Besides have a supporting cast of usuals from Sandler comedies, like John Turturro, the horrific Rob Schneider, Robert Smigel, and others, the film sports a cameo list that reaches a high number. There is a particularly good appearance in the movie by Chris Rock as a Jamaican taxi driver, making his short screen time memorable. Though completely different films, both this and the other movie I saw this weekend, The Happening, have similar focus when it comes to the American paranoia since 9/11. Zohan displays the end of the middle-eastern people’s struggles to get around a terrorist image, and in New York City no-less. It is played in a near slapstick manner of course, at times effectively (not to use this term so much) over-the-top. To watch this film frequently present promise of unique hilarity at times and then fail to do so, was a tragic disappointment, but I guess for it even to approach that level is something to marvel at. I certainly do hope that Apatow and Sandler decide to work together again, maybe on something Apatow himself decides to take on for directing. If they could find the right notes then this could be a good tandem for numerous projects to come…but that remains a big “if”.

6/10