Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ike Willis and the Pojama People: Keeping the Legend Alive in 2009

           As I walked up the ramp to a delivery door in back of the Red Fox Tavern, I couldn’t help notice the silhouette of an Afro lurking in the shadows. Out into the street lights appears a black man in his sixties, clad in black and hefting a guitar amp out of a van. “Man, I’m too old for this!”, he cries as he drags the amp up the ramp. As he limps into the room, it is apparent that this”roadie” is actually Ike Willis, the voice and guitar behind legendary Frank Zappa. “Hey, man, I just rolled in. I have got a back ache and a abscessed tooth, so let me get a pain reliever and set up, then we can do the interview.” Two hours later, after enduring the feedback and squeaks on stage and the uncomfortable wooden high stools they called chairs, I shimmied over to the bar and hung out with the man.
Ike Willis and the Pojama People

DG: “What was it like working with what some refer to as the greatest composer of the twentieth century?” Ike: “He was a genius, he was great! We had a really good time. It was great, basically, a lot of fun. We laughed most of the time. He worked us hard, but I didn’t mind. I learned a lot, and, as you can see, I am still using it.”
 DG: “You were the vocalist, guitarist and musical director?” Ike: “Well, kind of, sort of, at one point during the rehearsals of the last show, I was assistant musical director and stuff like that. On his last tour, he had me on lead guitar, rhythm guitar, lead vocals, bass, synthesizer and percussion.” DG: “Where did you meet Frank?” Ike: “I met Frank when I was in college. I just got one of my classmates to put me on the vocal crew so that I could take notes, and stuff like that. We ended up meeting at a sound check. We made eye contact and started talking. He basically threw his guitar at me and made me play some stuff, then, told me he wanted me to audition for the band.” DG: “Great. So, how did you meet these folks from Portland (Pojama People) and how did you get together with them?” Ike: “Glen Leonard (the leader of the band) was a drummer for my main project, Project Object. Well, I had 14 Zappa tribute bands all over the world, but, it is down to 10 right now. Let’s see, we met Alley, his wife, in the middle of a Project Object tour. Our bass player, Ryan. (Jesus!) I have known him for almost twenty years because I used to live in Portland for almost seventeen years starting after the 88 Zappa tour. Ted (drummer) is also from Portland, so, that is how I know these guys.”

 DG: “I would like to read you a couple of Frank’s quotes and get your opinions. Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. ” Ike: “Ha, ha, ha. Pretty much! DG “Stupidity is the basic building block of the Universe.” Ike: “The stupider, the better!” DG : “The people of your country no longer require composers. They are as useful to a person in a jogging suit as a dinosaur turd in the middle of his runway. Do you think that’s a slam on Rap Music?” Ike: “Well, that’s the thing. Actual composers don’t get cut any slack these days. Just about anything passes for music.” DG: “It’s amazing, because he fought for civil liberties and the Fifth Amendment!” Ike: “He was a Libertarian just up until the day he died. We were going to run him for President and the Libertarian Party picked him for their ticket and everything.” : “He might have won! I mean, if they are gonna run Ralph (Nader) , Frank was just as good a candidate.” Ike: “Yeah, YOU know what I’m saying ! I think better, especially since what has happened in the last eight years. America has been dumbed down, and that is which is insane. That is why this insanity has been going on.”

 DG: “His earlier works such as Ruben and the Jets, seem to influence and call back to an age of innocence and Doo Wop.
Do you feel that essence with you and your vocals?” Ike: “Yeah. Yeah. Yeah! That was his heart, his life! He actually had the largest Doo Wop collection I have ever seen, wall to wall, floor to ceiling. He had all the groups; the boy groups, the girl groups, the bird groups, the cat groups, the dog groups, he had all of them!” DG: “And I imagine they were all immaculate.” Ike: “Oh, yes, pristine! He had a guy that would come in whenever he would find old original copies and he would bring them in personally from New York.”

“One last quote from Frank. The creation and destruction of harmonic and statistical tensions is essential to the compositional drama. Consonant compositions equals good guy movies or eating cottage cheese. “ Ike: “ Yeah, yeah, yeah! There you go! The man had a way with words., but it is all pretty true! His sense of composition was pretty immaculate. Nobody pays any attention to composition anymore. That is one of the main reasons, besides the fact that he asked me to do it, that I play his music. Unless it continues to be played, nobody will hear it!
He’s already been gone for fifteen years, which is real scary! The fact that just keeping it alive any way I can kinda helps toward that end. People still play Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninov” and all that stuff. I consider him in the same category and one of the most important composers of the 20th Century. No doubt about it. He deserves to have his music played over the years of time just as much as anybody else does. So, there you have it!”

 Frank Vincent Zappa was born 21 Dec 1940, Baltimore MD) began to play drums at the age of 12, and was playing in R & B groups by high school, switching to guitar at 18. After narrowly graduating from high school, and then dropping out of Junior College (where he met his first wife, Kay Sherman), Zappa worked in such jobs as window dresser, copywriter, and door-to-door salesperson. With the money he earned from scoring Run Home Slow, a B rated Western (1965), Zappa purchased a recording studio. Zappa was not only a brilliant rock guitarist, but an orchestral composer, innovative filmmaker, music producer, businessperson, iconoclast, and perceptive political and social commentator.
Pojama People 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Midnight Movie Madness!

LinkLinkThe information age leaped out of our hands into our throats. The Rumpled Critic is now on video in a series for Access Television
"Midnight Movie Madness".
Now you can view videos and full Linklength features on Access Humboldt 12 or online at
Here is a sample of the program from my own You Tube Channel DAYVEE TV

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Appollo 18-Ground Control to Major Blah!

Apollo 18 – Ground Control to Major Blah!

David Giarrizzo

The premise of this movie is a double entendre, a conspiracy theory for anti-conspiracy theorists concerning a conspiracy theory. It’s all too convoluted to explain, so let me set the scene. Old footage from NASA's abandoned Apollo 18 mission is found where two American astronauts were sent on a secret expedition reveals the reason the U.S. has never returned to the moon. There are under budgeted movie producers living there ready to suck our money and brain matter to substitute a real plot with believability and great camera work. But seriously, folks, this film does very little for justifying support for the Arts. With a shoe string cast of three; Warren Christie, Lloyd Owen and Ryan Robbins , it uses a documentary format to attempt credibility. The character development was predictable and a cliche, focusing mainly on the one Astronauts and his family. Ground Control to Major Blah! He has a cassette player in space playing a song written by the band Yes more than three years later than when the mission supposedly occurred. The other characters are even more two dimensional, your typical play by the rule guy and your run of the mill rebel without a pause.

Was there ever really an Apollo 18? When the Apollo program began, there were plans for an Apollo 18, Apollo 19, and Apollo 20 mission to land on the moon. These were canceled in 1970, and the hardware built for those missions was scrapped, re-purposed or donated to museums. I know this for a fact as my father worked on Apollo 17 and was hired by Lockheed shortly after the closing of the space program. I was able to tour the NASA facility at Moffett Field where I saw an assembly of rocket boosters and landing gear, presumably for unmanned missions. The period of History, however, was of great interest. Did Russia really have a lunar lander? Yes, it was called the Lunniy Korabl (LK, for short), developed in the late 1960s and tested on three occasions from 1970 to 1971. Due to the failure of several N1 rocket launches, the LK was never used for a proper lunar mission. Interestingly enough, the LK was initially designed to be piloted solo, but it could accommodate a crew of two cosmonauts. Fact: When moving around on the moon, the astronauts do not appear to be affected by the lighter gravity. They walk normally, even shuffling their feet at times. Fact: While on the "dark side of the moon" it is stated that side never sees sunlight when in fact it does. The far side of the moon is covered by the sun about once a month.

Director Gonzalo López-Gallego takes a multitude of shaky, poor lit and often too conveniently located camera shots “journalizing” the space expedition. The film begins with a typed preface stating the films were taken in Super 8, however, the video camera was invented by then, and I noticed that many of the shots were a combination of old video, super 8 and 35 mm. I recall monolithic VCR s existing in the Office of Education in 1970 where my mother worked as an educator.

Writers Brian Miller (screenplay), and Cory Goodman take this Ron Howard like plot, mixed it in with just about every Suspense Thriller you have ever seen, and capped it off with a distinctive vague ending that has become so popular lately. I don’t want to be a spoiler, but the mere possibility of the tapes/films would survive in space, let alone be returned into re-entry without crisping to a chard. There is also some plot errors (which I won’t divulge) left me scratching my dome at the end.

I give it a C minus. Please God, don’t let them make a sequel.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rise of the CGI Apes

Rise of the CGI Apes

By David Giarrizzo

Since the epic 1968 film “Planet of the Apes” directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and adapted by Micheal Wilson and Rod Serling from Piere Boulle’s novel (about an astronaut crew who crash land on a planet in the distant future where intelligent talking apes are the dominant species, and humans are the oppressed and enslaved) , most of the sequels have been a progression of violations of plot continuity and time continuum laws.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes”(1970),

“Escape from the Planet of the Apes”(1971) and “Conquest for the Planet of the Apes”(1972) worked on the premise that Mankind has obliterated itself with a Nuclear War, save a handful of mutants living underground. Where the Apes went while all this nuclear warfare is destroying life on Earth, one might ask. Another point would be “Why do the apes look like normal primates, and then suddenly in Conquest the apes are on hind legs walking around like Homo sapiens. “ All I know is prosthetic latex making up is a pain to apply and remove. “Battle for the Planet of the Apes’(1973) was the last of the sequels, followed shortly by a shoe string budget TV series ”Planet of the Apes” (1974)and an animated series “Return to the Planet of the Apes”( 1975). By then, all plot development had been exhausted, the marketing value was past its prime, and Slasher films were becoming the rage.

Tim Burton decided In 2001 to reanimate the corpse of Boulle, taking us into theTwilight Zone with a remake of “the Planet of the Apes” The script was noticeably different from the original, attempting to make the film a Tim Burton acquisition! Using extreme artistic license, he cast Mark Wahlberg , Helen Bonam Carter and Tim Roth in a film that can only be described as overtly Shakespearean filled with acrobatics and enough plot holes to fill the Albert Hall. Spoiler alert! Just like the original ending, the sole astronaut escapes back to slingshot his spacecraft back to the future, except this time he is greeted by a an alternate Earth with apes driving planes, trains, and automobiles in a fully technology aware world. The acting was a bit over the top, but it was worth it just to see Charlton Heston saying his famous line “Damn them! Damn them all to hell!” this time as an ape.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, also an original story set in present day San Francisco, where man's own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and, ultimately the beginning of the downfall of humanity. Directed by Rupert Wyatt (the co-founder of Picture Farm) . screenplay written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Phillips ( Hand that Rocks the Cradle, Relic), this story portrays a deep psychological character based story with heartwrenching moments generated, ironically enough, largely done by the apes who were all CGIs. A monumental film in itself as this was the first feature length film with its lead character played by a realistic CGI. The animators were numerous, and their work shows. The apes, Caesar especially, had such convincing mannerisms and expressions that the interactions with human actors seemed natural. The human factor is emphasized as this startling intelligent being learns concepts like slavery, anger management, loyalty, and compassion.

With a diverse cast of human and ape characters, this movie moves along smoothly. Best known for his breakthrough starring role on freaks and Geeks, James Franco plays Wil Rodman, a research scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Surprisingly convincing, Franco’s performance has echoes of James Dean with a dash of Dean Jones. Playing off of CGI characters is like shadow boxing. You can’t see your opponent, but you can imagine where he is and where his next move will be. His father, played by seasoned veteran of the screen John Lithgow is a touching portrayal of a person slipping in and out of lucidity, as an Alzheimer patient would. Freida Pinto plays a Veterinarian love interest Carolina Ahranha, a role that seemed secondary and poorly developed.

Nonetheless, she was an adequate female figure for young Caesar to look up to. David Oyelowo (Last King of Scotland) plays a corporate greedy boss who is caught up in the politics of research funding, while the cure for Alzheimer’s is right around the corner. Meanwhile, the comedy relief is supplied by Dr. Rodman’s co-worker, Robert Franklin who is played by TV actor Tyler Labine ( Reaper, Boston Legal, Mad Love)

After attempting to protect one of his human family, Caesar ( amazingly portrayed by Andy Serkis )is incarcerated by Animal Control where Dodge Landon (Tom Felton of Harry Potter) and another sadistic caretaker ( played by Richard Harris son, Jaime) treat the poor creatures like they were felons. Felton’s character sneaks in a line from the 1968 release. As Caesar grasps his arm in defiance, Landon shouts “Get your stinking paws off me, you dirty ape!” This is the moment Caesar speaks his first word, “NO!”

Caesar realizes that the shelter is a death camp for animals, so he manages to procure the solution and genetically modifies himself further and his cell mates to an intelligence level high enough to orchestrate an “Ape Escape” through picturesque San Francisco. I think my favorite shot was the apes riding a cable car to the top of Lombard, purveying the city in defiance. They eventually seek refuge in the Redwood forest just North of San Francisco. There is a small patch of Redwoods remaining nearby SFU, but merely a handful and definitely not a grove. Sadly enough, one must travel through Mendocino Northward to find any substantial growth, and that too is dwindling.

With the final exodus of the apes, a sub plot is introduced explaining the cause for the beginning of the end for humanity. Go see the film if you want to know why, no more spoiler alerts. I’m outta here!

Too many Cowboys, Not Enough Aliens

Too Many Cowboys, Not Enough Aliens!

David Giarrizzo

A stranger with amnesia and a strange shackle on his wrist (Daniel Craig aka James Bond) stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution In 1873 in the Arizona territory. Before he can get there, he has to contend with all the venomous creatures on bellies and on horseback. The Claiborne clan try to get the drop on him, eldest Wes (played by veteran actor Buck Taylor of Gunsmoke) and sons who give him a great old fashioned shoot out, disastrous, of course for the boys and Dad. The stranger wanders into a young bully terrorizing the locals, to whom he teaches manners. Unfortunately, this youth is the local rich kid, lone heir to the Dolarhyde ranch, the local cattle land owners who also own the town. The cocky youth shoots a deputy and is locked up, much to Big Daddy Dolarhyde’s dismay.

Eventually, someone (cause Absolution is such a Mecca!) recognizes him as Jake Lonergan ,a rustler strong-arm , which lands him in Meacham’s(Clancy Brown of Highlander, Shawshank Redemption) jail cell where he tries to remove the strange shackle, where he is stuck in a cell next to the young Turk. . By all normal appearances this would be your typical Gold Boom Town, but this stranger soon finds out they have a secret that has eluded even the town Cattle Baron , Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) . Then, all hell breaks loose.

The town’s people hear a roar and look skyward to see lights like from “First Encounters of the Third Kind” appear deploying smaller jet like crafts. To the horror of the town’s people, the stealth bullet shaped crafts swoop the town, roping humans like cattle, dragging them up to the mouth of the Mother Ship. The stranger’s shackle begins glowing and he makes his escape from the jail house while all this pandemonium ensues.

Faced with numerous loved ones ( including the Sherriff) snatched into the air by these alien rustlers, Lonergan and Dolarhyde must join forces with the assistance of the local Doctor, an Indian Stepson of Dolarhyde, and a Gunslinging mysterious girl next door,

Ella Swenson( Olivia Wilde).

Like all Westerns, there is a formula which involves an anti-hero, a formidable foe alliance, a weak character, a love interest, and a mutual enemy to defeat. In this case, the enemy was virtually unseen. Visuals of the creature were as fleeting as the monsters from “ALIEN” with a “Predator” look, shown only in flashback scenes and shabbily drawn running CGI images. If the director’s (Jon Favreau of Iron Man )intention was to create more of a suspense with the lack of the creature on screen, it was poorly overdone. The alien’s absence only made the under budgeted visuals more evident. The character development seemed to dominate the story, even though the protagonist seems to be a bit unsympathetic to us, we still find ourselves routing for us stupid humans. It did have elements of Indiana Jones, especially the constant hat retrieval of Lonergan and the gratuitous explosions and gunfire.

Cast for his resemblance to Steve McQueen “The Magnificent Seven”, Craig has the cool calm which gives him a nice contrast to Harrison Ford’s gruff John Wayne impression. With the assistance of Speilber
g, we see Ford and a former James Bond on screen together again (Ford as Indianna Jones and Connery as his Dad) creating a complex combination that works well.

Produced by sixteen names, including Steven Speilberg, Ron Howard and the writer Robert Orci, this strange blend of Western Drama and Science Fiction( from a comic book) seems to be a new genre that hasn’t had its day yet. I was impressed by the acting, the lighting, and the camera work. The wholesomeness would appeal to a family, but I wouldn’t recommend it for children under 13 years of age. The on ship scenes of experiments and the drooling alien fangs gave me a bad dream or two. The concept is great and the cast was incredible, however, too many cowboys and not enough aliens make for a poor box office seller.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Inglourious Basterds : Cinema for the Movies

Inglourious Basterds : Cinema for the Movies
By David Giarrizzo
Imagine yourself in Nazi-occupied France circa 1942; Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) has pulled together a team of Jewish soldiers to systematically annihilate as many German troops as possible, interrogating first, scalping them afterwards. “I got a word of warning for all you would-be warriors. When you join my command, you take on debit. A debit you owe me personally. Each and every man under my command owes me one hundred Nazi scalps. And I want my scalps. And all y'all will git me one hundred Nazi scalps, taken from the heads of one hundred dead Nazis. Or you will die tryin'. Working through the country killing Nazis and collecting intelligence, the “Basterds” find their way to spy Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger), who tips them off to a Third Reich film premiere to be held at a remote Paris Theater, the Le Gamarr owned by Shoshanna Dreyfus (Melanie Laurent), a young Jewish woman who witnessed the massacre of her family by “The Jew Hunter,” Nazi officer Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and is living incognito under a non-Jewish name. When word of the premiere reaches Raine, and the VIP list of Nazi officials including; Hitler (Martin Wuttke) himself, officer Col. Hans Landa, Fredrick Zoller (Daniel Brühl;, Joyeux Nouell), a German soldier and war hero who’s stars in the featured propaganda film and its director Joseph Goebbels himself (Sylvester Groth: The Reader), the plan is set into motion to access and blow up the theater.

Inspired by the 1978 Enzo Castellari film, “Inglorious Bastards,” the crudely re-titled “Inglorious Basterds” offers Tarantino a new film genre to taint with the Tarantino black humor. One can sense the vein-popping determination from the filmmaker to make sure every single frame of this film remains to his liking; it’s a picture of intricate cinematic details and cold, chilling responses. Tarantino uses men-on-a-mission plotting to spin off into wildly different directions, some richly theatrical, while others remain potently visual, gleefully imagined by a resourceful filmmaker who loves the electric charge of subversion.
Turning his twisted spin on Film Noir, “Basterds” falls in line with the rest of Tarantino’s un-orthodox cinema, returning stunning discourse, solid plot development, effective and unconventional soundtrack, and methodical performances to the screen. Perhaps not as tumultuous as the advertising suggests, “Basterds” goes elsewhere to find inspiration, finding the art of intimidation and espionage even more thrilling than straightaway slaughter. It’s a patient, layered, cinema graphic creation. Once again Tarantino has come to push the envelope of cinema, and the results are characteristically spectacular.

Basterds is so superior to much of Tarantino’s previous work because he’s not just being a smug geeky basterd himself here: all the corny movie jokes he deploys -- from the 1970s-era Universal logo that opens the film and the old-fashioned “guest starring” credits to the film-within-the-film to that final parting shot -- aren’t just nerd enhancing cinema. Unlikely many of his other films, this isn’t about feeding the inner geek: it’s about why and how movies can inspire such devotion in the first place. If many of Tarantino’s other films have been incestuous preaching to the masses where he and his fans get off on one another and how clever they all are, this film was made more as homage to the Movies themselves. A+

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Revolutionary Road, a Painfully Intimate Journey

Revolutionary Road, a Painfully Intimate Journey
by David Giarrizzo

Genre: Drama
Running Time: 119 min.
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Justin Haythe, Richard Yates
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet,
Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn,
David Harbour, Kathy Bates, Ty Simpkins,
Zoe Kazan, David Harbour, Ryan Simpkins

Mendes triumpant advent to his arduous style in “Revolutionary Road,”is an extraordinary motion picture that assimilates enthralling affective discharge and riveting aversion, using two of the most talented and captivating stars of today to bring to the screen a masterwork of domestic detachment. Directed with illustrious adeptness by Sam Mendes (American Beauty), who lures us into in the daunting Yates-faithful script by Justin Haythe, the film is a painfully intimate journey, but well worth the ticket. Camera genius Roger Deakins lights the "hopeless emptiness" on view with an aberrant allure. Like American Beauty, the grand zoom outs from uncomfortably intimate close-ups, and vice-versa, are a dead givaway. I went into the theater not knowing who the director was. By the time the opning credits rolled, I knew. One of my favorite scenes is shot at Grand Central Station amongst a sea of suits and fedoras, all walking in slow motion with dead facial expressions. It seemed like that scene was an homage to Ron Fricke of Godfrey Reggios' Koyaanisqatsi (1982).

All the actors astonish also. DiCaprio is in his zone, peeling away layers of immersed emotion to a crestfallen man. And the splendiferous Winslet defines what makes a great actress, scintillating commitment to a character and the magnitude to make every nuance felt. Winslet's last scene, as April prepares breakfast for a husband who can't see the torment behind her smile, is emotionally devastating. This movie takes a piece out of you and spits it out. Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio, as her husband, Frank, could not be better in the roles of young marrieds who (shades of Mad Men) move from Manhattan to the suburbs, promising themselves it's all just temporary. To hear Kate Winslet, as April Wheeler, express her desire "to be wonderful in the world" is to be reminded of how individualism is like living free, at best a concept. She wants so desperately to be special, as if to feel unimportant if established in society. Hand over an award for Michael Shannon as John Givings, the institutionalized son of a gossipy realtor (the awe-inspiring Kathy Bates). Home on a visit, John splits no hairs with the truth " You say existence here is hopelessly pointless. I'm impressed. Most people get the emptiness, but few understand the hopeless part." Playing the role like a heat-seeking missile that targets hypocrisy, the eruptive Shannon blows the roof off the theater. Add two kids, thwarted ambitions, adultery — Frank with a secretary (a vivid Zoe Kazan) and April with a married neighbor (the excellent David Harbour) — plus April's unwanted third pregnancy.

Trying their best to conform to mid-1950’s standards of social grace and marital comfort, Frank and April Wheeler are coming apart at the seams. With years of growing unrest at home sending April into depression and Frank to infidelity, the couple decides to shake up their life by moving to Paris, to start over with renewed vows of devotion. April hatches a very feasible plan in which the couple could be happy once again and quickly Frank jumps on-board. But as is the case with any dream that goes against the grain of what society expects, the longer the couple waits to hatch their plan, the more it falls apart. Think about that great movie or screenplay idea you had and how excited you were by the prospect. Then think about how day by day, hour by hour “real life” or friends calling you crazy got in the way and quashed out your spark. If you know what I’m talking about, you’ll understand all too well what’s happening as the wheels fall of for the aptly named Wheelers. Spreading the news to friends (David Harbour, Kathryn Hahn) and acquaintances (Kathy Bates), the couple perceives the hesitation of congratulations, amplified when Frank receives a promotion at work and April discovers she’s pregnant. With the window of opportunity closing on their European dream, Frank and April turn on each other, powerless to confront and amend their dissatisfaction and fear.

The true test of “Road” is the range of melodrama that exists within. Adapted from the beloved novel by Richard Yates and knowing Mendes’s predilection for polished hysteria, it makes perfect sense for the film to dwell on the bubbling pot of emotive poison spattering Frank and April, with an eye toward grandstanding professions of marital bile. However, “Road” never goes to a shrill place of obviousness, nor doesn’t it attempt to spell out the misery with wild performances and on-the-nose screenwriting. Instead the film is a gorgeously mounted voyage of discomfort, observing the widening dividing line between two people who’ve lost interest in open communication, forced to preserve a decomposing lifestyle and status in the name of matrimony.

The cruelty which pulls Frank and Alice apart is where “Road” hits the hardest. Playing with steadfast gender roles and suburban complacency, “Road” elects the slow burn route, generously exhibiting the erosion of spirit within the two lead characters. Frank and April were brought together by cocktail-hour flirtation and broken promises and now, left to deal with the mess of life, they’ve declared war, using April’s pregnancy and Frank’s possible new position at a company he loathes as ammo to unleash horrible diatribes against each other. “Road” is teeming with blistering argumentative situations, but Mendes doesn’t allow the unhappiness to blur into white noise. Instead “Road” grips tighter with every row, deepening the characterization as Frank and April confront their boundaries for the first time, coming to the realization that kids, a house in a WASPy neighborhood, and predetermined domestic roles have transformed them into rats trapped inside a cage.

As “Road” tightens with anguish, lies, and acts of emotional revenge, Mendes positions the film beautifully to best consume the painful road ahead for Frank and April. With a cast this tight, production credits that evoke a 50’s mood with both obvious and subtle characteristics (think cigarettes and internalization aplenty with copius martinis), and a directorial job that can manage the displeasure of marital disagreement and loathing without submerging the intended pitch of sorrow, “Revolutionary Road” reaches a summit of dramatic gratification and pure emotional mutilation that’s absolutely riveting.

Watch the trailer: