Archive for April 13th, 2010

by Joel Bocko

#55 in Best of the 21st Century?, a series counting down the most acclaimed films of the previous decade.

We’ve heard that love’s a bitch, and a battlefield, but in the 2004 Thai film Tropical Malady, writer/director Apichatpong Weerasethakul tells us it’s a tiger too. Or at least that’s one interpretation. Actually, at times it can be hard to know exactly what Apichatpong is after. As with the filmmaker’s later Syndromes and a Century (reviewed in a previous incarnation of this series), Tropical Malady divides neatly into two halves, but the way the halves relate to each other is different. In Syndromes, the different parts of the film are symmetrical, like parallel lines – they relate similar events in radically different surroundings. Malady on the other hand connects its first half and second half with a joint and then lets them spin in entirely different directions, until the thread connecting them seems stretched awful thin. The two halves are perpendicular rather than parallel – maybe they’re better considered as two separate films, but here they are presented together, their interconnections left for us to tease out. (more…)

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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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