Celluloid Notes

It’s fun to watch movie stars age along with you.  Last night the wife and I caught a showing of Revolutionary Road and I was pleased to see that Kate Winslet and Leonardo diCaprio (both about my age) are showing the same kinds of lines, the same crow’s feet around the eyes, etc., that I am.  It’s an odd comfort between strangers: we’re all in this together, I guess. 

The movie itself was about as bleak and devastating, and stylishly achieved, as one would expect from Sam Mendes (dir. American Beauty), with strong performances all around but especially from Ms Winslet, who is my Great Film Heroine these days.  Yes, she got a Best Actress nomination for The Reader, which I haven’t seen yet, but Winslet was snubbed by the Academy when she didn’t get a nod for this one too.  Michael Shannon got one for his supporting role as the mentally disturbed grown son of the Wheelers’ realtor (he’s a dead ringer for Robert Lowell circa 1955).  But I find it strange that Mendes, a Brit, should spend so much of his creative energies on the mores and domestic tribulations of middle-class Americans.  I wonder if he’s just pulling a Christina Stead. Stead, of course, was the gifted Australian novelist who set her semi-autobiographical masterpiece, The Man Who Loved Children, in the U.S. so that, one supposes, she’d have more luck cashing in on it.

Overall I’ve done a poor job of keeping up with Oscar-bait films this year.  Sure, I enjoyed Slumdog Millionaire (except for the disfiguring-children scenes) and if Man on Wire doesn’t win for best documentary, I’m going to break something.  But I’m polishing a grudge against Darren Aronofsky and so I’ve delayed seeing The Wrestler, despite all the praise it’s getting.  Aronofsky’s last, The Fountain, was such an abortion of a film and such a waste of a perfectly good Rachel Weisz that I’m still sore about it.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Celluloid Notes

  1. Mendes does seem preoccupied with exurbanite Americans, doesn’t he? American Beauty made such an impression that I’m deeply hesitant to revisit his vision, but it sounds like this one might be worth overcoming my hesitation. Like you, I’m a bonafide Winslet nut (second only to Cate Blanchett) and have seen her do such incredible work in a wide range of films that she has won my permanent admiration.

    Have to agree with you on Aronofsky. Hey, here’s an idea for a movie: the characters should cry ALL THE TIME.

  2. Ian Woolcott

    Cate vs Kate. I’ll take the latter. Blanchett is capable of more than your average actor, I think, but I don’t feel she’s as strong in the end – even considering her worthy performance in I’m Not There – which made the film for me. Close, but not quite.

    God, I hope there’s not that much crying in The Wrestler. Although I wouldn’t mind seeing Marisa Tomei weep a little.

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