Saturday, July 24, 2010


I'm getting spoiled with this internet thing as far as downloading and watching films goes. It's possible to get just about any title one wants and the Mrs and I have watched a good deal of them. Since we've run through all the Oscar winners and A lists, what we're doing now is picking our favorite actresses and actors and rummaging through their bodies of work.

I'm a fan of Kate Winslet's efforts, going all the way back to "Heavenly Creatures" back in 1994. Somehow I overlooked her "Revolutionary Road" with Leo DiCaprio from two years ago and since Sam Mendes was at the helm it was a cinch to spend some time with it. Call it Titanic 2 with Kathy Bates in it also.

If you've never seen RR be prepared for quite a treat if you decide to, especially if America's Rotten Underbelly is one of your favorite sub genres like it is mine. Leo and Kate are a married couple with two curtain monkeys living in Connecticut in the fifties. That was the decade laboratories first mass produced barbiturates, made expressly for bored, stay at home wives, but April Wheeler is determined not to be one of them. She has big dreams and almost convinces her husband to join her in pursuing them. The setup here is being torn between what Joseph Campbell called following your bliss, and the comfortable but stifling fifties suburban lifestyle. With this acceptance/rejection of bland white picket fence mentality comes angst and anger, boiling just beneath the seemingly tranquil surface.

Kate and Leo bounce great off each other, tearing up the screen with outstanding acting. In 2008 she won an Academy Award for her role in "The Reader" but I've come across several opinions that this was the work she should have been noted for, and juxtaposing a strong and willful temperament with a necessary vulnerable potential of having her dreams crushed took some real doing. As the troubles pile up the 'mentally disturbed' son of the couple's real estate agent adds to the mix, being the only person around willing to look truth square in the face, saying out loud the things everybody else is too afraid to put into words in the 1950s.

As a matter of fact Mendes makes the point over and over that in that era there were things you just didn't do and say. Life was supposed to be normal. It was so horrible to be honest that arguments suddenly and catastrophically escalated beyond reason as make believe tranquility ruptured with true feelings boiling through the fault lines. This was punctuated at the end as the real estate agent's husband sat listening to his wife disparage what used to be considered a wholesome, model family that succumbed to tragedy, as he reaches up and slowly turns his hearing aid off.


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