2 posts categorized "SAM MENDES"

Jan 22 2009
If Oscar Loves A Good Nazi Flick, How Much Must It Hate Tom Cruise? Comments (4)

WinsletThe Reader means Stepen Daldry's gotten nom'd for all 3 films he's made.

The full list of Oscar nominations is here, with expert opinion on them here. Talking points to make you look smart here.

My impressions:

OVERALL

I'm shocked that The Reader did so well! It raked in major nominations, including for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay, and yet it stands at a mere 60% on RottenTomatoes.com with 150 reviews counted. Could it be the least positively reviewed film to get a Best Picture nod since...Ghost?

Large_brolin-penn I would hazard a guess that its Nazi theme helped it with the Hollywood crowd. Anything about the Nazis—presuming it's good in the first place—gets an extra boost. Remember Adrien Brody's out-of-nowhere win for Best Actor? Not casting aspersions (I've been dying to see the movie), it's just an interesting trend to me. Hollywood also smiles upon movies with liberal social agendas, such as The Cider House Rules or Crash (realllly smiled upon it) or this year's Milk. It's not that they aren't good, it's that they're probably extra-favored for content as well as form.

425.Revolutionary.Road.DiCaprio.Winslet.082208 I'm a bit miffed that Revolutionary Road was overlooked. I loved it! But it's also quite interesting considering the film was directed for Oscar winner Sam Mendes and stars two beloved Hollywood actors. Maybe the Academy felt giving nods to Brangelina was enough red-carpet consideration.

The eight nominations for Milk show a genuine affection and respect for the film, even if I think it will only win for Best Original Screenplay. ("Only" he says—that would be an amazing award.)

The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button gets 13 nods, but I would guess it will lose most of those. It's such a BIG movie with so many potential nominees, but none jump out as sure-bet winners.

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Jan 01 2009
Are We Living Or Dying? Comments (5)

2008_revolutionary_road_009When life hands you lemons...

In 2007, Premiere Magazine offered its 20 Most Overrated Movies Of All Time list, with the Oscar-winning Sam Mendes drama American Beauty (1998) at the top. (Then Premiere died, so go figure.) Probably it deserves a spot on the list, if not at #1, but I kind of suspect his latest—the searing drama Revolutionary Road starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet—is likely to earn a place on some sort of Underrated Movies list thanks to its highly stylized feel and relentlessly bleak tone. I hope I'm wrong, because I loved this unique, hypnotic cautionary tale.

How you see the film might depend on your answer to the title of this post.

2008_revolutionary_road_001 Frank (DiCaprio) and April (Winslet) Wheeler are an intelligent, thrill-seeking young couple who find they have settled into '50s suburban somnambulant stasis almost without realizing it—Frank's a salesman for an early computer company and April is a homemaker, the mother of their two children, with aspirations of being an actress or...anything else at all.

Their fights call to mind Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? set in a Far From Heaven world where Frank commits adultery for lack of anything better to do and April brushes up on how to give herself an abortion when an unexpected pregnancy threatens to derail their impulsive plan to skip town and relocate in Paris to live—really live.

2008_revolutionary_road_023
The Campbells = The Wheelers Lite?

Complicating the Wheelers' plot is their tight if superficial friendship with their more conventional neighbors the Campbells (David Harbour & Kathryn Hahn) and Frank's accidental competence at his job. At first, they delight in all their friends' and co-workers' stunned reactions to their move, but Frank's cold feet leave April less stunned than disbelieving.

The brilliance of the film is that the Wheelers are not only representative of an average couple in the 1950s, but also of the elusive American Dream, which more often than not—due to its being steeped in conformity—is a bit of a nightmare.

2008_revolutionary_road_016
April glowers.

Winslet is Oscar-worthy as always, communicating the uncompromising urgency in April's wanderlust while simultaneously radiating movie-star beauty that makes sense in light of the Wheelers' somewhat 2008_revolutionary_road_011 cowed acquaintances. She is the coolest person they've ever met or even seen, and her entrance into and exit from their lives—more so than Frank's—will never be forgotten.

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