Sam Mendes, a film director born in Reading, England, recently “Empire of Light” (a film nominated for an Oscar for Best Cinematography), a film far from action and suspended present in his last works to return to the predominant intimate drama period at the beginning of his life.
Democritus is a versatile modifier. Over the course of 24 years working in the Hollywood industry, he has touched various genres and used them to tell stories with great critical interest, which is why we invite you to accompany me on a journey through his filmography. Perhaps something will be found here.
9.- Specter (2015)
A direct sequel to “Skyfall” where we witness the consequences of each of James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) missions up to that time: the Casino Royale Poker tournament, the events in Bolivia initiated by a large group and the immediate attack of MI6 a. terrorist Silva (Javier Bardem); all planned by Ernst Stravo Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), leader of the Spectre, a secret organization whose mission is to dominate the world.
Sam Mendes comes from the best films of the British secret agent government, but here he fails only because he returns to the familiar tropes of these films: the unsteady pace, the opportunities of the narrative, the villains without personality and the megalomaniacs lacking in movement; forced romance and comedy. involuntary “The View” was meant to be a celebration of 007 and ended up being one more movie in the franchise.
8.- Empire of Light (2022).
The director’s latest film tells the story of two film crews, Hilary (Olivia Colman) and Stephen (Michael Ward) on the English coast in the 1980s: the best place to see romance grow, dreams come true and social problems contemplated. a turbulent age.
“Empire of Light” is probably the most problematic film in Sam Mendes’ filmography because the script (written only by the director himself) tries to touch on so many issues that in the end it is not clear where the film is going. Is it about the movie? Racism? A woman with mental problems? The film approaches each question like a pinball game where the ball first hits the film’s love, then romance, then returns to the film, the next hit is racism, four consecutive hits to sanity, and so on until the end. The performances are impeccable, the same can be said of the technical sections, including Roger Deakins’ photography, but the writing is basic and superficial.
7.- Jarhead (2005)
“Jarhead” is the term used in English for Marines, because of the haircut they use, and it is also the title of the third film directed by Sam Mende: a story about the mental and physical corruption of American soldiers. during the Gulf War as seen through the eyes of recruit Tony Swofford (Jake Gyllenhaal).
“Jarhead” is a criticism of the US army, the dehumanization of the military and the real policies after the war, but at the same time it feels quite repetitive to what has already been seen in films like “Full Metal Jacket” (in fact, they have almost been seen. The whole first act is a carbon copy of Kubrick’s screen) or ” Apocalypse Now”. This leaves us with a technically impeccable film, with excellent performances from the entire cast (accompanied by Jake Gyllenhaal, we have the presence of Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard), but whose argument can be made shorter: war is bad, it destroys people.
6.- We go (2009)
“Let’s Go” tells the story of a young couple formed by Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolfo), who are expecting a baby. When Burt’s parents learn that they will be living in Europe, the two embark on a road trip to visit their friends and family in search of a new place to settle and raise their family.
This is a lighter romantic comedy (shows Mendes’ talent for touching different genres) which simultaneously functions as a critique of traditional American families: each place Burt and Verona visit is intended to engage with them (the eccentric characters are similar to the protagonists of some of Benedict Anderson’s first films) and their way of life they want to lead: as children, the truth is that they do not care about the opinion of others. It’s funny at times, but the director may not be sure of the comedy.
5.- 1917 (2019)
During the moments of World War I, two British soldiers (played by George Mackay and Dean-Charles Chapman) have an important mission: they carry a message across the enemy’s borders to stop a decisive battle that costs thousands of lives. their brother
“1917” is perhaps the most complex technical deployment of the entire career of Sam Mendes: the film pretends to be shot in a continuous sequence with no visible cuts. To create this illusion, the director of photography, Roger Deakins, Dennis Gassner (“Blade Runner 2049”) once again produced for the editing plan, and Lee Smith (“Dunkirk”) for editing; They, together with their respective work, undertook the task of distorting the cuts of the camera movement and different levels. It is also a very personal story of the director as it is loosely based on the memories of his grandfather, a war veteran, and for that reason he decided to dedicate the film to him. Simple in its content but quite effective.
4.- Skyfall (2012)
If “Casino Royale” was the movie that more humanized James Bond then “Skyfall” is the perfect contradiction of the character: the most famous British spy in history apparently dies in a botched mission and MI6 almost collapses with a direct attack by the cyberterrorist Silva (Javier Bardem), a former member of the regime who he knows all the movements, protocols and bases of the British government. All of this inhibits M and Bond and forces them to take an introspective journey into their respective pasts.
“Skyfall” is a film that questions the need to have secret agents in our time, when it puts on the table a big question: do we still need James Bond? To answer, he reveals the man’s flaws: technology has overtaken him, psychological trauma has been resolved, he is old and therefore slow. No longer fit for duty, he nevertheless faced the invisible threats lurking in the darkness of the modern world. James Bond is back with a unique style, time and complex film.
3.- Revolutionary Road (2008) |
“Revolutionary Road” is the opposite of “We’re Gone”: a gritty drama about the problems, dreams and desires of the seemingly perfect young couple Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) and April (Kate Winslet). Frank hates his job and fears his father, while April lives every day with the futility of not getting an agent’s career off the ground; time, deceptions, infidelities, appearance and life in general weighing more and more on each person, who will be the first to explode?
“The way of the revolution” behaved very well: for those hoping for a reunion between DiCaprio and Winslet, after the failed romance in “Titanic”, they will be surprised that both of them are torn apart by the various confrontations of the characters in the film. The script by Justin Haythe and Richard Vates makes the characters more complex through their actions and decisions, so that they feel real, everything is enhanced by the direction of Mendetis, who criticizes the “American dream” and can be frightened into sleep. The film is difficult to watch, but the ending is impressive and sad.
2.- Road to Perdition (2002)
to Perdition” is the redemption story of the honest Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) who must run to protect his son, who is the only survivor of an attack directed at his family, from his former boss and father figure John Rooney (Paul Newman).) in the States The Great Depression of the United States.
In this film we have a huge cast with actors like Daniel Craig, Judas Law, Stanley Tucci, Ciarán Cerve and Dylan Baker leading different characters who enter and leave the scene leaving you impressed with performances, it is also interesting to see Tom Hanks in a role outside the good guys that he almost always involves . On the other hand, Mendes’ direction shines and makes many signs of the cinema of the 40s, the Oscar-winning cinematography by Conrad L. Hall is extraordinary and perfectly conveys the emotions of his characters. There is also space for the show and the film has two terrifying sequences filled with Hitchcockish suspense. An outstanding second film in the career of a rising director.
1.- American Beauty (1999)
“American Beauty” tells us about the last days of the life of Lester (Kevin Spacey), an ordinary and “boring” American, in his own words, who lives with his wife Carolyn (Annette Bening) and their daughter Joan (Thora. Birch). Lester’s life changes when he meets Angela (Mena Suvari), his daughter’s best friend and with whom he develops an obsession that triggers a series of irreversible events.
“American Beauty” was controversial at the time of its release, and left viewers in the United States uncomfortable as the film criticized all aspects of American society: the monotony of life in the suburbs, the attitude and tear of marriage; about the big universities and their ways of working, the real estate system, the educational system, the army, the species, the sale of weapons and drugs, masculinity, in the “American Dream”, of little importance to mental health and the long term, etc. Through Lester, a very pathetic character and the main protagonist of the film, we witness a quasi-mechanical way of life, where things no longer work but how they should be according to society. The empty characters act out of inertia, and when they are out of that mold created by the community, chaos and deadly outcomes break out.
“American Beauty” was the debut that hit the industry hard and earned the director an Oscar for best director. To date it is still an excellent film and a great study for different readings.