Tag Archives: Zoe Kazan

Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road

Sam Mendes’s Revolutionary Road is a film set in the 1950’s and decidedly so, but that is just happenstance because the story it tells could happen anywhere, in any time period. The setting, though elaborately, meticulously and unobtrusively staged, is just the gilding on this suburban tragedy of restlessness, shaky ideals and marriage at levels of disintegration that prove combustible.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet join forces again as Frank and April Wheeler, a seemingly harmonious white picket fence family who have achieved the American Dream. Cute little house in a sunny neighbourhood, two adorable children, he has a rat race office job while she plays homemaker. Idyllic, right? Anything but. These two are monumentally unhappy in ways that prove complex enough to haunt the viewer later on. She’s unwilling to hammer down that last corner of settled life and give up on further dreams, he simultaneously hates and depends on his worker bee employment like a security blanket. They make plans. Life, and the both of them get in the way. It’s kind of a vague premise to just read about in a review or synopsis and you have to watch the thing to get its rhythm and timbre, but what it has to say is important, heartbreaking and timeless.

Leo and Kate follow up their sweet, innocent tragedy of Titanic with a love story eons removed, a bitter tale of two people who’d love each other if they didn’t hate each other so much, and hate each other if they didn’t love each other so much. It’s a tricky, multilayered pair of performances to nail in tandem but they’re there in synergistic equilibrium and both give what might be their finest work. Suburbia is populated by supporting characters who revolve around them cautiously but never get fully sucked in to their destructive orbit. They’re played by the sterling likes of Kathy Bates, David Harbour, Kathryn Hahn, Dylan Baker, Jay O. Sanders, Max Baker and Michael Shannon in a fierce cameo as a sort of Greek Chorus type individual who comments on this couple’s plight with acidic abandon. Mendes chooses locations over a soundstage which is always tricky, but the level of authenticity you get once that is pulled off can’t be compared. 1050’s suburbia seems to come alive as we feel each breeze come in through an open window, see the tree lined street just beyond the borders of a real house they’re shooting in and watch the automobiles actually wind their way down a street. Thomas Newman provides a score that doesn’t cloy or manipulate but follows along dutifully while humming away in the wings to let Leo and Kate sing for themselves.

Not an easy film to watch, it’s essentially two people in a collective downward spiral observed in an intimate fly-on-the-wall fashion and that can become downright uncomfortable at its lowest points. But this is important stuff, a microcosm of two individuals that asks you to step outside what’s considered norm in society and examine exactly what exactly is expected of each man and woman and how that affects their actions throughout life. Brilliant film.

-Nate Hill

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Gregory Hoblit’s Fracture

The judicial system has never been played so hard as it has by Anthony Hopkins in Gregory Hoblit’s Fracture, a thriller that’s written, acted and directed to high heavens but scored into oblivion. I’m not kidding, a hotshot courtroom gig of this caliber should sound great but the musical composition here by the Brothers Danna makes it sound like a TV movie and really doesn’t do it any favours. Odd, when you consider the fact that they are Oscar winners for previous scoring work. Hopkins is the murderous rich prick who shoots his wife (an underused Embeth Davidz) in the face when he finds out she’s having an affair with a cop (Billy Burke). Then in a spectacularly nasty move, he sets it up so the detective is first on scene to find her just so the old bastard can see the look on his face. After that, no one seems to be able to make the case stick to him, and it’s passed off to young hotshot prosecutor Ryan Gosling, who underestimates the sheer diabolical resolve of Hopkins and sails straight into his net. It’s pretty preposterous and overblown in terms of what’s allowed, not allowed and plausible in events surrounding such a high profile court case (why would they let him so close to his comatose wife right after such a suspicious acquittal?), but employ suspension of disbelief and this vicious little narrative is a lot of fun. Hopkins has a ball with this role, relishing the moment every time he royally fucks someone over and cooking up a stinging blend of laconic sociopathy and bubbling mirth. Hoblit gathers an impressive supporting cast including perennial silver-fox David Strathairn, Bob Gunton, Fiona Shaw, Cliff Curtis, Xander Berkeley, Zoe Kazan and slinky Rosamund Pike as a love interest from a rival firm. It’s a bit of a shame because the script, performances and story are all very well orchestrated, but the score and certain details just seem glossed over when there could have been more grit and depth. Those lacking elements give it an airy feeling of incompleteness where it should have been deeper and tighter drawn.

-Nate Hill

Joss Whedon’s In Your Eyes: A Review by Nate Hill 

JOSS WHEDON ALERT
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about In Your Eyes, a lovely little romantic/fantasy/drama written by the J Man, concerning a boy and girl who have shared a strange psychic bond over hundreds of miles since they were kids, despite never having met. 

  Its a slightly unconventional romance, a charming, breezy little piece that took me by surprise, having known nothing about it going in except Whedon’s involvment. It starts with his lovely script, laying down the bones for two adorable leads (Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl David) to go to work. Dylan and Rebecca have never met. They live on opposite sides of the US, and lead considerably different lives. They would have nothing in common if it weren’t for an odd metaphysical connection. They can periodically (and often at inconvenient times) see into each others lives like a perceptive window, complete with senses like smell, taste and touch. When they are growing up its confusing and stunted, but I imagine it blossoms along with every other attribute, and suddenly they’ve discovered they’re not both crazy, and that there’s a real person on the other end of this bewitching mutual conduit. Soon they are communicating, much to the puzzlement of everyone else in their lives, who just observes them talking to themselves like loons. Romance isn’t far off, as we can well guess, and soon they are deeply in love in spite of their differences and the great gulf of distance between them. He’s a troubled fellow with a criminal past, a lenghthy RAP sheet and a nosy parole officer (Steve Harris). She’s a mild mannered, fragile girl married to a prissy control freak of a Doctor (Mark Fuerstein). Both of their lives are continuously disrupted by their relationship until they’re at the brink of crisis, and it seems the only way out is to find one a other in person. The almost supernatural aspect of their connection  is treated frankly, like more of a biological anomaly as opposed to ghostly gimmicks. It can be seen as Whedon exploring the nature of love in our world, finding “the one” who is always out there, somewhere, waiting. Or are they? The real hero is his incredibly down to earth script, an easy going, hilarious and poignant piece of writing. The cast is from all walks of Hollywood and includes Nikki Reed, Shameless’s Steve Howey, Richard Rhiele and a priceless cameo from Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey, who is starting to look like a character from Desperate Housewives. Kazan and David are just the cutest, most earnest couple I’ve seen in a romantic film of late. She’s unsure, passionate and intuitive, he’s a scrappy patchwork teddy bear and together they’re perfect, capturing the essence of the relationship in a single very unique sex scene, nestled in with all of their “spiritual Skype” bonding, and eventual face to face meeting. Whedon loves his characters, right down to the bit parts and it shows. His writing is never short of sterling, and this one is another winner for him. 

Joss Whedon’s In Your Eyes: A Review by Nate Hill 

JOSS WHEDON ALERT
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about In Your Eyes, a lovely little romantic/fantasy/drama written by the J Man, concerning a boy and girl who have shared a strange psychic bond over hundreds of miles since they were kids, despite never having met. 

  Its a slightly unconventional romance, a charming, breezy little piece that took me by surprise, having known nothing about it going in except Whedon’s involvment. It starts with his lovely script, laying down the bones for two adorable leads (Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl David) to go to work. Dylan and Rebecca have never met. They live on opposite sides of the US, and lead considerably different lives. They would have nothing in common if it weren’t for an odd metaphysical connection. They can periodically (and often at inconvenient times) see into each others lives like a perceptive window, complete with senses like smell, taste and touch. When they are growing up its confusing and stunted, but I imagine it blossoms along with every other attribute, and suddenly they’ve discovered they’re not both crazy, and that there’s a real person on the other end of this bewitching mutual conduit. Soon they are communicating, much to the puzzlement of everyone else in their lives, who just observes them talking to themselves like loons. Romance isn’t far off, as we can well guess, and soon they are deeply in love in spite of their differences and the great gulf of distance between them. He’s a troubled fellow with a criminal past, a lenghthy RAP sheet and a nosy parole officer (Steve Harris). She’s a mild mannered, fragile girl married to a prissy control freak of a Doctor (Mark Fuerstein). Both of their lives are continuously disrupted by their relationship until they’re at the brink of crisis, and it seems the only way out is to find one a other in person. The almost supernatural aspect of their connection  is treated frankly, like more of a biological anomaly as opposed to ghostly gimmicks. It can be seen as Whedon exploring the nature of love in our world, finding “the one” who is always out there, somewhere, waiting. Or are they? The real hero is his incredibly down to earth script, an easy going, hilarious and poignant piece of writing. The cast is from all walks of Hollywood and includes Nikki Reed, Shameless’s Steve Howey, Richard Rhiele and a priceless cameo from Dirty Dancing’s Jennifer Grey, who is starting to look like a character from Desperate Housewives. Kazan and David are just the cutest, most earnest couple I’ve seen in a romantic film of late. She’s unsure, passionate and intuitive, he’s a scrappy patchwork teddy bear and together they’re perfect, capturing the essence of the relationship in a single very unique sex scene, nestled in with all of their “spiritual Skype” bonding, and eventual face to face meeting. Whedon loves his characters, right down to the bit parts and it shows. His writing is never short of sterling, and this one is another winner for him.