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Archive for December 29th, 2008

 Revolutionary Road

by Allan Fish

(USA 2008 119m) DVD1/2

Where we keep the euphemism

p  Bobby Cohen, Larry Hart, Scott Rudin, Sam Mendes  d  Sam Mendes  w  Justine Haythe  novel  Richard Yates  ph  Roger Deakins  ed  Tariq Anwar  m  Thomas Newman  art  Kristi Zea  cos  Albert Wolsky

Leonardo DiCaprio (Frank Wheeler), Kate Winslet (April Wheeler), David Harbour (Shep Campbell), Kathryn Khan (Milly Campbell), Kathy Bates (Helen Givings), Richard Easton (Howard Givings), Michael Shannon (John Givings), Jay O.Sanders (Bart Pollock), Dylan Baker (Jack Ordway), Zoe Kazan (Maureen Grube),

So what does this film have to do with Who’s Afraid With Virginia Woolf?; aside from them both featuring warring marriages?  Nothing.  Yet that toss away line written by Edward Albee could not sum up Mendes’ film more accurately if it tried.  Revolutionary Road refers to the street where the couple at the centre of the film, the Wheelers’, live, and yet as Juliet said, “what’s in a name?”  Revolutionary Road is a euphemism – one used to describe a cul-de-sac or, as is perhaps more a propos in such a film, a roundabout which the couple are stuck on, the roundabout known in more succinct circles as conformity. 

            Take our couple; Frank Wheeler meets April in his twenties, sweeps her off her feet at an otherwise forgettable party, they marry, have two kids and move to suburbia.  So far, so ordinary, but that’s just it.  It’s sooooo ordinary, and both feel suffocation grasping them round the throat like a wrestler in an arm lock.  The problem is that this isn’t the free sixties, but the stifling, repressed fifties, so everyone around them thinks they’re nuts when they decide to leave for Paris to start afresh.  (more…)

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 casablanca-1-copy

by Allan Fish

(USA 1942 102m) DVD1/2

We’ll always have Paris

p  Hal B.Wallis  d  Michael Curtiz  w  Julius J.Epstein, Philip G.Epstein, Howard Koch  play  “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” by Murray Burnett, Joan Alison  ph  Arthur Edeson  ed  Owen Marks  montage  Don Siegel  m  Max Steiner  song  “As Time Goes By” by Herman Hupfeld  art  Carl Jules Weyl  cos  Orry Kelly

Humphrey Bogart (Rick Blaine), Ingrid Bergman (Ilse Lund-Laszlo), Paul Henreid (Victor Laszlo), Claude Rains (Capt.Louis Renault), Sydney Greenstreet (Signor Ferrari), Peter Lorre (Ugarte), Conrad Veidt (Maj.Heinrich Strasser), S.Z.Sakall (Carl), Dooley Wilson (Sam), Marcel Dalio (Emile, the Croupier), Leonid Kinskey (Sascha), Madeleine le Beau (Yvonne), John Qualen (Berger), Joy Page (Annina Brandel), Helmut Dantine (Jan Brandel), Dan Seymour (Abdul), Curt Bois (Pickpocket), Lou Marcelle (Narrator),

Casablanca is probably the cinema’s greatest movie legend, greater even than Gone With the Wind; idolised, revered, copied, cherished and, above all, reviewed with constant enthusiasm by millions of idolaters.  Films such as these fill you with trepidation, fear of perhaps not seeing what all the fuss was about.  In my case, I had no need to worry.  I love Casablanca as much as I did when I first saw it.  Indeed, like so many, I probably love it even more now, even though I can nearly recite each line before it’s spoken.  I mean, it’s even Hugh Hefner’s favourite movie.  “Here’s looking at you…” indeed. 

            It’s amazing to think it was so nearly so very different, planned to originally star – wait for it – Ronald Reagan, Ann Sheridan and Dennis Morgan (cue repulsed gasps).  It was enough to make you wonder what would have happened if another studio had made it; say RKO.  They’d probably have seen Casablanca as too sophisticated and rechristened it, and transferred the action to, Marrakech.  It would probably have starred Robert Young and Susan Hayward, which is enough to make even me nauseous.  Let’s move on.  (more…)

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