A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, October 24, 2009

What I'm Watching

Revolutionary Road

Sometimes it's hard to put your finger on exactly why a film doesn't work for you. Here's a well-acted, skillfully designed movie that doesn't make the impact it should, given all the talent on display. It seems disjointed, as if pieces of the plot and keys to the characters are missing. There's no faulting the performances. DiCaprio's boyishness is just right for Frank, who hasn't yet figured out what it is to be a man. And Winslet delivers April's comparative maturity with her accustomed brilliance. To its credit, the film doesn't devolve into a look-how-far-we've-come commentary on the fifties -- it doesn't put the era down, the way "Mad Men" sometimes condescends to the era in which it's set. Frank and April are acutely aware of the social and emotional limitations of the age in which they're living, but they haven't figured out how to rise above them. I'm currently reading the novel, which has all the depth and all the connective tissue that the film lacks, but more on that later. And all that said, one should be grateful for a movie that exhibits such raw power as this scene, which earned Michael Shannon an Oscar nomination:

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