Revolutionary Road

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6260
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:36 am

Big Magilla wrote:Apples and oranges. Lots of interesting choices for supporting actor year, few for supporting actress.

I don't know I agree with this. In supporting actor, you have a wholly uncharacteristic performance (Downey's) getting pushed, two more gerrymandered in (Hoffman and Patel), and add-on performers like Franco being promoted for Milk, despite mixed opinions about his work. Meantime, supporting actress is crowded enough that at least one of Adams, Dewitt, Henson or Tomei is probably going to be omitted. There are years where the disparity between the two categories is vast ('06 a recent one), but I don't see this as one. (Of course, I'm going by buzz, not having seen all the movies yet)

BJ, you and I see to be in about the same place on the film. About Mendes' contribution: I was having a thought about him in the early portion of the film. Unlike some here, I've valued his work as director. Whatever my problems with his source material over the years, I've always found his shooting impressive -- even in Jarhead, which I'd consider his weakest work. Here, right from that opening shot of NY by nighttime, I felt in the hands of an accomplished director.

Yet...after a while a director has to be held responsible for his choice of projects, and the fact that his own work always feels superior to the material on which it's lavished becomes a problem. I'm reminded of a great piece the baseball writer Bill James did on player Juan Samuel some years back. He acknowledged that Samuel -- a one-time Phillie/Met/etc. -- appeared to be a gifted athlete, but wherever people put him (outfield, second base), he never seemed to quite do the job hoped for, and teams always ended up trading him. James compared him to Walter Matthau, who seemed a capable enough actor, but who, by the latter portion of his career, never seemed to make movies you much wanted to see. James' conclusion was, yeah, he may be talented, but if he doesn't fit an overall scheme, what are you supposed to do with him? I wonder if Mendes is someone in that category as well.

All that said...I do find the film is sticking with me more than most things I've seen this year. Sometimes strong elements (like the super-charged arguments DiCaprio and Winslet have, including one daringly placed prior to the title card) are enough to make a film memorable even when it's riddled with flaws.




Edited By Mister Tee on 1230655076

The Original BJ
Emeritus
Posts: 4062
Joined: Mon Apr 28, 2003 8:49 pm

Postby The Original BJ » Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:02 am

I'm willing to call '08 the year the writers really dropped the ball, forcing the directors and actors to pick up the slack. That's certainly how I feel about Revolutionary Road, a rather beautifully visualized (kudos also to Deakins's photography) drama with a pair of terrific performances...that sometimes seems all dressed up without anywhere to go. The material feels a little familiar (not simply because those involved have mined this subject matter before, Mendes in American Beauty, Winslet in Little Children) but also because, especially over the last few years, the exposing-the-hollowness-of-American-suburbia subject has been practically mined to death, and I confess I'm not much interested in seeing many more films on this topic.

All of which might sound like I didn't enjoy Revolutionary Road, which isn't entirely the case. As far as prestige dramas go, it's surprisingly brutal, both in the candor between protagonists as well as the plot developments in the third act. It certainly feels much more electrifying than stuff like Doubt and The Reader, which think they're probing tough issues but really aren't. But I did find a lot of the film lacking in subtext, and think the explicitness of a lot of the picture's themes (Suburbanites feel trapped! The American Dream is a lie! The insane person is the only one who can see through it all!) contributes to the feeling that there isn't enough lurking beneath the surface as one might like.

But Mendes certainly elevates the material -- there's a curious archness to the direction that I think really works. The film sometimes feels oddly embalmed, beautiful but stiff, as if the characters are attempting to live out picture-perfect lives they don't particularly feel comfortable enduring.

And the actors are splendid. Leonardo DiCaprio better be nominated -- this is such a forceful, powerful turn, and yet an utterly charming one; you can see why April was drawn to Frank in the first place. (I can't fathom anyone nominating Jenkins or Eastwood, or even Pitt over DiCaprio...why isn't he more of a sure thing?) I'm torn between whether or not Winslet is better in this or The Reader, but think, as Tee says, in the second part of the film, she takes over and does typically superb work. I still think she's the frontrunner for Best Actress -- an actress as overdue as she is gives two great performances in prestige pics in a year where support hasn't coalesced around one frontrunner...doesn't she seem like the most likely choice? (Though you could have said the same words about Julianne Moore in '02.)

I can sort of understand why Michael Shannon has been missing from the precursors. He's pretty BIG in that second scene (though usually awards bodies like that, but...).

I think this a memorable film, though one that's probably not rich enough to be a great one. Still, I prefer it to a lot of the year's top contenders.

Big Magilla
Site Admin
Posts: 15393
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 3:22 pm
Location: Jersey Shore

Postby Big Magilla » Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:44 pm

Mister Tee wrote:I'm lightly puzzled why Viola Davis seems to be being rewarded for the brevity of her role, while Shannon appears to be being penalized for his. There's no question he makes a major impression. It may be he'd have had a better shot at a nomination with only his first scene -- which is perfectly calibrated. The second goes a bit over the top in we're-going-to-speak-truths-and-upset-the-apple-cart mode. Still, I'd nominate him (along with Ledger) of the few actors I've seen so far.

Apples and oranges. Lots of interesting choices for supporting actor year, few for supporting actress.

Speaking of Doubt (again), it will likely become the first film since The Song of Bernadette 65 years ago in which four acting nominations go to a film about the religious life. Ironically the four characters are quite similar, though their circumstances are quite different - Amy Adams' innocent young nun to Jennifer Jones' innocent nun in training, Philip Seymour Hoffman to Charles Bickford's priest/authority figure and Meryl Streep to Gladys Cooper's haughty doubting nun with Viola Davis' poverty stricken mother filling in or Anne Revere's.

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6260
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Mon Dec 29, 2008 10:32 pm

I don't have time for a full reaction right now. I'm largely undecided whether this is a good movie, or a perfect imitation of a good one. Given how starved I've been for anything remotely cinematically exciting, I may let the latter pass for the former. There's certainly alot of impeccable work on display -- by actors, director, cinematographer -- but I'm not sure to how much it all adds up.

To answer Damien's question, this film clearly (and in a way deliberately) predates Mad Men: that wonderful show is clearly conceived with a from-the-new-millenium viewpoint. This is an adaptation of a novel from the period itself that stays true to the standards of the period. Of course, certain elements would have been sanitized had a film been made contemporaneously, so in that sense it's been updated slightly, but only around the edges. By and large, it stays true to its time. This has some virtues, but also failings -- notably a finale that would have been shockingly awful in 1961, but isn't exactly the worst thing you've seen on screen in the past year.

Since everyone will want to know about the actors: For a long while, I wondered why it was Winslet getting the heaviest awards heat, when the movie by and large was dominated by DiCaprio's character -- Winslet was splendid-as-always, but Leo was the film's clear focus and he had, if anything, the biggest scenes. But then, at about the 2/3 mark, Kate had a wonderful monologue at a road-house that gave her all the Oscar scene an actress (or wife) could request. It's not just that the camera stayed on her for minutes at a time (though that of course helped); it's that the monologue expressed in stark terms the film's plaint: the near-universal disappointment the educated class has in itself for failing to achieve the special-ness it's always craved. It's such a primal cry, she might as well be sining Over the Rainbow, or saying I coulda been a contender. From that moment on, I was in Winslet's power, and her latter scenes -- including her terrifyingly calm one -- are all superb.

DiCaprio is also as good as he's been since Gilbert Grape. I'm not saying I bought every moment, start-to-finish, but it's by far the most believable adult character he's ever created. From my vantage point, they ought to both be nominated.

Shannon certainly takes over in his two scenes as a modern-day variant on Lear's Fool. I'm lightly puzzled why Viola Davis seems to be being rewarded for the brevity of her role, while Shannon appears to be being penalized for his. There's no question he makes a major impression. It may be he'd have had a better shot at a nomination with only his first scene -- which is perfectly calibrated. The second goes a bit over the top in we're-going-to-speak-truths-and-upset-the-apple-cart mode. Still, I'd nominate him (along with Ledger) of the few actors I've seen so far.

I guess I've gone one a bit after all. More to say; I'll get to it later.

User avatar
Hollywood Z
Temp
Posts: 431
Joined: Tue Jan 14, 2003 1:07 am
Location: Kentucky
Contact:

Postby Hollywood Z » Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:22 am

For me, this was a film that was all about the performances. Other than that, the film was an odd hybrid of American Beauty and Little Children wrapped in a 50s Americana setting. The story is about how people who want to break out of the normal lifestyle of the 1950s are considered crazy and how easy (and heartbreaking) it can be to settle. Leonardo DiCaprio is very effective and very convincing as a man who feels the strain of not living up to his goals, but then realizes that he may not have any. And what can be said for Kate that hasn't already been said. This is a very risque role and one that showcases the range she possesses. What's even more interesting to watch is how only ten years ago, these two actors were simply the ill-fated, star-crossed lovers in Titanic. To watch them in this film is to marvel at just how far they've come in ten years as performers.

As for the awards, I'd say the only chance Road has outside of the two leads would be the cinematography and the costumes. Newman's score, while effective, is too echoy of his work on Beauty and Children (probably the reason why the film comes across as unoriginal). Mendes does a capable job here, allowing the actors enough space to perform and feel chafed with each other, but he's never quite reached the visual splendor he did with Beauty or even Road to Perdition. Perhaps the absense of the late Conrad L. Hall is the reason, but here, his stage background becomes too evident and not as cinematic as his earlier efforts.

Best Picture is right out. I would seriously love to see this movie with a die hard Titanic fan, you know, a pre-teen girl that had all the Leo/Kate posters when it first came out and simply watch the opening ten minutes of the film with them. The look on their face would be absolutely worth the repeated admission alone. But the idea of watching miserable people that don't reach any kind of catharsis or have anything enjoyable to watch just isn't a way that people will want to spend their time. Even George and Martha had a playfulness to their banter. And while the center of the film is misery, this surely won't be a good time for the theater and people that have become accustomed to Jack and Rose will certainly be in for a shock.
"You are what you love, not what loves you." - Nicholas Cage; Adaptation

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Postby Damien » Sat Dec 27, 2008 3:17 am

I have no plans to see Revolutionary Road as it was made by the silly man who directed the fatuous "American Beauty." But I am curious to hear from those who subjected themselves to this thing, how its treatment of early 60s suburbia compares to Mad Men's.
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

Sabin
Laureate
Posts: 7232
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 12:52 am
Contact:

Postby Sabin » Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:33 pm

Armond White weighs in. One of his better reviews this year.

Revolutionary Road
Sam Mendes, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio push American realism into glamour-plus-tears with Revolutionary Road
By Armond White

As The Wheelers, a perfect-seeming, golden-blond, white American middle-class married couple in Revolutionary Road, Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet press all the high-drama buttons, yet they don’t resemble anyone anybody actually knows. Their marital problems, based on each person’s sulky personality—Frank’s a restless philanderer, April’s a frustrated artist, they’re both jealous of each other—could fill an HBO mini-series. It’s cynical dramedy for people who pride themselves on being smart—that is, unsentimental.

But Leo and Kate’s first film together since Titanic is a commercial calculation, using the stars’ glamour for fashionable sentimentality—a dark look at the American Dream through its twin nightmares, marriage and suburbia—and its subsets, love and careerism. Frank and April Wheeler fail at everything, even hope. (“We shared the secret that we would be wonderful in the world.” That’s how rich smart folk flatter themselves.) The only cliché Revolutionary Road lacks is the word “American” in its title. Since 1961, novelist Richard Yates’ title Revolutionary Road began to stink of pretense; now Yates’ smart-cynical concept has gotten the director it deserves: super-slick, always-pretentious Sam Mendes.

Phony from the get-go, Revolutionary Road oozes artifice. Mendes recreates 1950s America with an alien’s miscomprehension. The Wheelers don’t inhabit a recognizable suburbia; everything’s surreally lush and clean and expensive—a New York Times Magazine–fabricated past. Yet, Mendes, Leo and Kate push emotional realism—glamour-plus-tears. Frank and April are so miserable and caustic that the film exults in American sadness—not like Trouble in Tahiti, Leonard Bernstein’s archly drawn opera about marital discord (which might have fit Mendes better), but like TV’s Mad Men.

One-third comedy and two-thirds tragedy, Revolutionary Road exemplifies today’s rampant self-hating nostalgia. It’s the antithesis of Spielberg’s Kingdom of the Crystal Skull where mid-20th century Americana was explored for its ambivalent attitudes (capitalism communism = the Cold War; individualism family = society) culminating in the fecund symbol of an atomic mushroom cloud rising out of the eerie, Howdy Doody–echoing, vacant suburbs. That was brilliant satire; but Revolutionary Road doesn’t establish historical antecedents; Mendes simply reverts to American Beauty snark. His big bang features a materialistic community (snooping realtor Kathy Bates); hostile, envious neighbors (nervous nearby young marrieds); plus colleagues and an outpatient psycho (Michael Shannon) who epitomize a casually racist, sexist, demented heritage. Mendes’ formula: Forgotten history the hateful present = America’s doomed future.

Mendes shrewdly endorses mainstream media’s Bush-era contempt that America’s promise rotted long ago. That post-beatnik notion of Yates’ has become middlebrow cant, inspiring Mendes’ immodest stereotypes about ’50s conformity. Fact is, ’50s American cinema already acknowledged social complexities in such memorable films as Home Before Dark (mental illness), Storm Center (political conspiracy), The Marrying Kind (domestic relations) and Some Came Running (sexual hypocrisy). Revolutionary Road overlooks those breakthroughs.

Ignorant about American life, Englishman Mendes offers theatrical conceit and high-pitched histrionics. April’s shriek, “No one forgets the truth, Frank. They just get better at lying,” is not itself a great truth; to say it so blithely somehow sanctions the lies Mendes presents. Leo and Kate resist a Catch Me If You Can good time; their rapport is cosmetic—like the affected way each one holds his cigarettes. The pervasive despair in their bickering and cheating is not just anti-sex, it’s faithless. But it’s showy. The stars do virtual cartwheels in their emotional turnabouts. Leo’s cad reveals the boy inside men, and Kate makes flashy soap opera out of women bullied into self-abnegation. It’s all sour and LaButian, lacking the eroticism and spirit that makes Ibsen, Strindberg and O’Neill the standard for marital/social insight.

Mendes comes from theater, but isn’t it time he finally made a movie about England, or something he really knows? Instead, he uses style—Roger Deakins’ neutral-then-bloody color scheme—to cover up his lame attempts at authenticity. In the plainly photographed 1973 film Alpha Beta, Albert Finney and Rachel Roberts conveyed scary details of a disintegrating British marriage. Revolutionary Road slanders marriage and America in one phony swipe.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver

FilmFan720
Tenured
Posts: 3402
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Postby FilmFan720 » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:30 pm

Plus, although I don't love his work, Sam Mendes has always seemed like an intelligent, educated director and I am sure he watched his Sirk before starting out on this film.
"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
- Minor Myers, Jr.

User avatar
Damien
Laureate
Posts: 6331
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 8:43 pm
Location: New York, New York
Contact:

Postby Damien » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:28 pm

FilmFan720 wrote:
OscarGuy wrote:The style of this film reminds me a great deal of Far From Heaven. Matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say that perhaps Sam Mendes did a little cribbing from Todd Haynes' far superior work.

Isn't that a little ironic, given that Haynes' film was a film that wore it's own cribbing on its sleeve. Shouldn't you say that the film was influenced by the work of Douglas Sirk?

I was going to say the same thing, Film Fan. Far From Heaven was just a pointless and mediocre pastiche of Sirk, so if Revolutionary Road is a crib of that thing there's even more reason not to see it besides the fact that it's by the guy who made American Beauty.

By the way, Dylan Baker goes to the same gym as I. I've seen him naked.




Edited By Damien on 1233362679
"Y'know, that's one of the things I like about Mitt Romney. He's been consistent since he changed his mind." -- Christine O'Donnell

FilmFan720
Tenured
Posts: 3402
Joined: Thu Jan 02, 2003 3:57 pm
Location: Illinois

Postby FilmFan720 » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:03 pm

OscarGuy wrote:The style of this film reminds me a great deal of Far From Heaven. Matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say that perhaps Sam Mendes did a little cribbing from Todd Haynes' far superior work.

Isn't that a little ironic, given that Haynes' film was a film that wore it's own cribbing on its sleeve. Shouldn't you say that the film was influenced by the work of Douglas Sirk?
"Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
- Minor Myers, Jr.

User avatar
OscarGuy
Site Admin
Posts: 12431
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 12:22 am
Location: Springfield, MO
Contact:

Postby OscarGuy » Sun Dec 21, 2008 11:01 pm

The style of this film reminds me a great deal of Far From Heaven. Matter of fact, I'd go so far as to say that perhaps Sam Mendes did a little cribbing from Todd Haynes' far superior work. It's a good movie saved mostly by the performances. Leo and Kate are at the top of their game, Kathy bates was wonderful as always and even much of the supporting cast was above their game. The two performances I had a problem with were Dylan Baker who seemed to be going out of his way to be a bit over the top and Michael Shannon who simply annoyed the fuck out of me.
Wesley Lovell
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." - Benjamin Franklin

User avatar
flipp525
Laureate
Posts: 5769
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2003 7:44 am

Postby flipp525 » Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:04 am

Just a warning to folks unfamiliar with the novel: I've read a couple reviews out there that give away crucial plot points about the ending. Also, there's an interview with DiCaprio in which he, quite cavalierly, gives it away as well. If you'd like to remain unspoiled, I'd stay away from them.



Edited By flipp525 on 1229440400
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."

-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

User avatar
flipp525
Laureate
Posts: 5769
Joined: Thu Jan 09, 2003 7:44 am

Postby flipp525 » Tue Nov 18, 2008 2:05 pm

April Wheeler is such a juicy role on the page, I guess I'm having difficulty imagining Winslet not totally shining in this. She even has the "actress-within-an-actress" component to her character that Oscar always likes. April's arc is quite riveting. I'd love to say more, but I'd have to give away crucial plot points in order to do so.

Also, it's too bad that the Shep Campbell role in the film presumably hasn't been expanded to match what's in the book. On the page, he seems like the less obvious, yet equally compelling, character to nominate in support. Nice to hear some good notices for Michael Shannon though. He was insane in Bug.

After reading the McCarthy review, I'm disappointed to discover that the subtext of the novel gets lost in translation. Alternately, another Winslet-led picture, Little Children, was able to perfectly captured the essence and grim, yet comic, cynicism of Tom Perrota's novel.

Edit: Just looking at the imdb page, I see that my friend Kristen Connelly from college is playing "Mrs. Brace"!




Edited By flipp525 on 1227040792
"The mantle of spinsterhood was definitely in her shoulders. She was twenty five and looked it."



-Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

User avatar
Eric
Tenured
Posts: 2722
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 11:18 pm
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Contact:

Postby Eric » Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:28 pm

Mister Tee wrote:(My own opinion obviously colors this. I know many like her performance more than I do. I honestly find it less impressive than most of her other nominations, and think the win falls into the Wow-no-makeup category)

Count me in that vociferous "Penn outacted Sarandon" clan, but this in retrospect seems to me one of those comparatively rare Oscar wins where a good-not-great performance was actually lifted by the overall strength of the picture housing it (a la Adrian Brody).

Mister Tee
Laureate
Posts: 6260
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2003 2:57 pm
Location: NYC
Contact:

Postby Mister Tee » Tue Nov 18, 2008 1:20 pm

Honestly, these reviews are about what I expected for the film (given Honeycutt's tendency to not reflect my opinions, his being the main nay-sayer is of little consequence to me). I see no reason to revise expectation about nominations for the lead actors, and Shannon apparently becomes a prime alternative to Ledger in support. I can imagine critics' groups, trying to avoid the obvious big bopper, going for Shannon in a big way.

As for Winslet's best actress chances...BJ made the comparison to Sarandon in '95, and it might be worth pointing out, for those not around at the time, that Sarandon wasn't an instant "this is the role/this is her year" choice back then. She didn't even show up in the voting of the NY critics, where Jennifer Jason Leigh won, with Elisabeth Shue running close, and even Emma Thompson and Nicole Kidman getting more ink. It wasn't till the Globe nominations came out that it was clear Sarandon and Penn were making their marks. Also recall, Sarandon didn't win the Globe (it went to Sharon Stone), and didn't score her first victory till SAG.

Even that, and her ultimate Oscar win, were more a matter of lack of consensus elsewhere than some overwhelming decision this performance was so special -- I'd say without the career points, she wouldn't have taken the prize. (My own opinion obviously colors this. I know many like her performance more than I do. I honestly find it less impressive than most of her other nominations, and think the win falls into the Wow-no-makeup category)

Anyway, just saying Winslet doesn't need to get career-best notices if the film manages serious impact and no hard consensus forms around some other performance (or if said performance -- if it's Scott-Thomas -- is in French and in a movie hardly anyone saw). Winslet's accumulated credits could push her over the top for the win.


Return to “2008”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest