Saturday, 11 December 2010

Revolutionary Road

Thursday morning 12th February 2009 and it has snowed continuously since just after 9am. My first inclination had been had been to go out for the Daily Main British War Film DVD and a bacon roll and coffee breakfast, and then to the cinema and weekend shop, or shop and cinema. I hesitated and decision to check out My Space Blogs where a problem had developed uploading new postings and then reading and printing them. They were now scrolling sideways for a great width and then if printed only the first section was reproduced. Later I reported the problem which appeared to be a general problem and as such odd that something working perfectly had suddenly gone awry. Then the snow started and I considered abandoning the plan, staying in and catching up.
I wanted to recheck my posting on Google. Nine so far, a mixture of current Blogs and revisits after working on La Dolce Vita all day and evening yesterday, watching the film through and then watching every few seconds by few seconds checking dialogue, and then remembering that I had an English translation of the Italian script somewhere and then used this alongside the subtitles which only covered about fifty percent of what was beings aid. I do not recall ever devoting so much time to a film or theatre piece before but it was an interesting and rewarding activity although I am getting more and more behind in the planned work programme for the week. I decided to recheck the posting this morning and found several errors. This led me to checking the other posting and deciding on a different approach to printing out so that instead of the ongoing reel, I printed postings individually and although pleased with the outcome, time moved on and I suddenly realised I had not checked that both Doubt and Revolutionary Road were being shown next week--that is from Friday. Alas this was last day of Revolution Road at Bolden with the Empire Sunderland showing later evening. Moreover there was an 11.50 showing but by the time I got myself ready I would not get there in time especially with they roads as they were likely to be. I decided on the 2.40 showing and a lunch of pork chop, tinned new potatoes and peas followed by a banana, a hot cross bun and coffee. There was also time to check emails and respond to one, printing others and buying three lottery tickets for the Euro draw this Friday. I watched Bargain Hunt and you could tell it would be a disaster because the small auction room was not well filled with no telephones or internet showing. It was then time to brave the outside, apprehensively.

I was able to park close to the Tesco Supermarket entrance making use of the free car park to buy the Daily Mail and obtain the DVD and then continue along the Newcastle Road to the Tyne Tunnel Bolden Motorway which was bound to be in better condition than other routes, and from there it was just a couple of roundabouts to the cinema, restaurants and supermarket site. I do not usually take this entrance to the complex, although once familiar when I lived at Seaburn Sunderland and where I have had meals at the Story Book restaurant public house to one side of the entrance roadway It has boasted two for one meals with prices to match but now an additional sign has been added many main meals for £3.49, a development I will investigate on another visit. On Thursday I wanted to shop at the Wall-Mart before the film.

The countryside has looked pretty covered in snow but now on foot, protected by strong boots the slosh and slush was unpleasant especially as snow continued to fall. There were no more punched pockets in stock, I must check local store, At least I remembered to bring two of the reusable bags. I was after onions and tomatoes, and collected some prawns in shell on way to tinned veg where I need to restock and with tinned and packet soup. I had to ask an assistant where the apple sauce was located together with pickle, having passed the shelves getting something on the other side of the aisle. I would soon be out of olives and bought two large jars, one of Queen olives and one stuffed with pimento. I bought two jars of apple sauce and two small jars of chutney to eat on crackers for a tea or late evening/early hours snack. There was time to get some salad dressing and sauces for Stir Fry all to be used sparingly and not on every occasion. There was also time, regretfully to partake of the three for £2 sweet offer, some chocolate covered peanuts and toffee mixture which was to result in losing a filling the following day, an expensive toffee, quite apart from not making the kind of progress that I need in what I eat, and do not. There was also two packs of Hot Cross buns before getting the two packs of frozen roast potatoes, a bread and butter pudding a toffee cheesecake.

Everything was timed to perfection as I arrive at the cinema with a couple of minutes to spare before the programme commenced. I strode purposefully across the carpet and then on taking a step to the small strip of tiling before the ticket desks, I slipped and fell down but fortunately this only involved a loss of dignity, but emphasised the need for caution. Although I attempted to clean the bottom of the boots on the entrance mat they were obviously still wet.

On Friday I discovered that in fact the film continues to be shown with day time showings. I shared the experiences of Revolutionary Road with two sets of chatty couples within my generation, who ought to have known better, a solitary woman and a couple who brought their pre school child for the experience. That was interesting and I spent some of the film wondering what had attracted them and how they were reacting.

It is difficult to know who will find Revolutionary Road enjoyable!

The film is set in the mid 1950’s out city New York with scenes filmed in various locations in Connecticut as well as Grand Central Station and a city office block. It can be argued that the original novel by Richard Yates was intended as a major swipe not at conventionality as such but the conformity which had swept middle America, in part as a reaction to World war II. It is an odd fact that a nation of genuine individualists, anti government and anti communism should have developed the notion of creating suburbs full of similar looking houses with model couples and their two children, with the husbands expected to work hard during the week, doing DIY jobs, mowing the lawn, cleaning the car and taking the family to Church on Sundays. The female in the relationship was expected to stay home to look after the children, develop friends with other mothers through school and immediate neighbours

There is nothing wrong with such a life for those who are comfortable, merging their identity as a couple, family and neighbourhood and indeed society would become a much more difficulty place if there were not large numbers able to be satisfied with such a life, and it could be argued that much of the present ills are the result of more and more people finding this form of life unacceptable to them.

Kate Winslet and Leonardo De Caprio effectively destroy the notion of never ending romantic love created with the Titanic, also directed by Kate’s husband, Sam Mendes. The couple met at a party, and Kate an aspiring actress college student finds Leo, also a college student but post World War II wartime experience the most interesting man she has ever met.
The film opens several years later when the couple have settled in a suburb with their two children. Leo works for the same firm as his father who was an office machine salesman with Leo working in Headquarters Administration. Leo attends an amateur production of a poor play, with a poor cast at which Kate is also not very good. She is angry with herself and as is common in normal relationships she takes it out on him on the return journey home, but in part out of kindness and in part because she is being unfair he cannot fit in with her mood and reacts at the unfairness of how she is treating him. The interaction becomes more destructive.

This has not been the first exchange of this nature between the couple but it precipitates change. Leo plays a character who is prepared to settle for what he has despite his basic discontent. He hates his job remembering both the fear and the excitement of going into battle and visiting Paris when everyone was living for the present. His experience reminded me immediately of when in my first work at the age of sixteen I was attached to a section of six men, one who had served in the First World War and had lost part of a leg and the other five all served in Second, two were airmen, one naval and two army. It was during evenings in which they worked to obtain a tea and dinner allowance, writing motor vehicle licence renewals that they revealed their dis-satisfaction with their post war existence and future prospects, encouraging me to do something different.

Kate also admits her problem in that she only felt “alive” the first time they had sex, Kate decides that they will go to Paris. She will get a well paid secretarial job at a European institution and he will have time to find out what he really wants to do with the rest of his life. The children are young enough to adapt although the daughter expresses anxiety at losing her fiends and not being able to take her major toys with her. Everything is planned, including sailings to take place after the summer in September. They find passion together again and Leo becomes more confident, gate happy, while Kate enjoys the idea of the change, and shocking friends with the news. The closest neighbour someone who introduced Kate to the property and who has a son who has become a resident in a psychiatric hospital. She asks Kate to assist by meeting him and in the first of two catalytic scenes they find the young a speaker of surgical truth fully in tune with their predicament and thrilled that they have found a way of escape
But then four developments change everything. Leo fires off an idea to a branch of the company which so impresses that his work is drawn to the attention of a senior Director planning to set up a new company to promote the use of computers, then large glorified adding machines and primitive data base systems, reminding of my own experience trying to sell Olivetti manual adding machines, the summa 45, as a junior office salesman in 1959. He is offered more money and bright future. To celebrate this development and his birthday he takes a secretary from the pool out to lunch, gets her drunk and into her bed. Returning home full of guilt he finds his wife children with a surprise birthday party. Then Kate misses her periods and delays telling him, planning to try and abort the child if the pregnancy is confirmed. She still wants to go but realises Leo does not. She has sex with the husband of their best friends, he admits to being in love with her but for Kate it is an act designed to confirm that she no longer loves her husband or wishes to be with him.

The second social event with the son of their neighbour fills their open wounds with salt and vinegar as truth upon truth shatters the last remnants of self deception and the slimiest of bond holding them together, and Kate goes off and will not be brought back with Leo fearing the relationship have severed beyond repair. However in the morning she is in the kitchen having prepared his favourite breakfast and appears to have reconciled to her new situation. While Leo is at the office accepting the new job He accepts the job offered by one of the Executives and the offer of the secretarial pool girl to have sex again, Kate tries to abort the child and dies.

Leo makes a success of his new job and becomes a model father of the two children outside of working hours. The husband of their former friends tells his wife that he does not want to talk about them again after she starts to gossip with their new friends who have taken over the property. Similarly the woman who introduced them to the neighbourhood is redefining her opinion while her husband turns off his hearing aid.

The film is a brilliantly accurate description of the dilemmas and conflicts experienced by all mature educated individualists during their marriages when family life comes to dominate and overwhelm, whether either or both partners are satisfied with their occupational activity or attracted by others. It does not appeal to the High School, Iron Man, Friday the 13th audience. It will not appeal to the majority of married couples unless they have experienced and resolved their particular difficulties. It could be the experience which destroys some relationships which brings me back to the young couple and their pre school child. Why were they there and what impact did the film have on their lives?.

In the evening I watched the next episode in the travels of Piers Merchant to places full of wealth and power. This time is to Hollywood where he has become part of The current British import joining Sharon Osborn as Mr Nasty in America has got talent. He goes out to her new home with a giant pool and glorious views over to mountains and countryside to escape the paparazzi since their former home burnt down. She admits to the head and face work, the new teeth and breasts, the latter she does not like and the rest essential if she is to remain on TV. Piers does the round of other Brits from the Actor who stared in the Horatio Hornblower TV films but who us yet to be given a part along with his successful English wife, similarly a successful British TV series actor who also has not worked in TV or USA made films but and earns his living arranging moves to Hollywood for other Brits. Then there is The British would be actor who made it big as an interior designer, charging $100000 up front plus percentage of subsequent expenditure and who is now staring in popular soap as an interior designer to the stars. And so he went the rounds including Vinnie Jones. There was said to be 500000 actors scriptwriters and other film maker all trying to make the big time in Hollywood and one port of call was the successful British publicist who was able to showed the photos taken of when Piers met up with Sharon Vinnie and others for lunch and was immediately filmed by the Paparazzi and where the photos appears on the internet all over the world with the question what is going on, what project are they up to? Is no one happy with what they do and how they are out there?

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