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Entries in Sam Mendes (7)

Monday
Apr072014

Stage Door: Michelle Williams in "Cabaret"

Jose here. I have a confession to make that might make me very unpopular around here: I don’t get Michelle Williams. I understand the reasons why she’s beloved and acclaimed and why she’s earned three Academy Award nominations so far, but I can’t bring myself to declare myself as part of her fanclub. The reason behind this is that I can’t fully fathom her as a true sexual being, yet time after time she’s asked to portray characters for whom sex is an essential trait. For instance, as much as she aced the moves, comedic timing and picaresque tone of Marilyn Monroe in My Week with Marilyn, she played the most famous sexual icon of all time as a timid porcelain doll, whose internal turmoils kept her from having an emotional life. What is the point of having Marilyn onscreen if you’re not having at least mildly naughty thoughts about her?

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
May292013

Sky Falling For A Second Time

JA from MNPP here, with the word that Sam Mendes is back in talks to direct another James Bond movie, after having removed himself from the conversation back in March. I found the news that he wasn't doing it earlier this year more surprising than this news today that he is - Skyfall was the biggest moneymaking Bond ever, not to mention scoring the franchise its first Oscar since 1965, and it seemed pretty cut and dry that he'd want to help Daniel Craig back into his blue trunks for another go-round (wouldn't we all). 

 

Personally I had sort of a weird reaction to Skyfall - I loved it the first time I saw it, only to sense a precipitous decline with subsequent viewings - it didn't hold up for me at all, once that initial thrill wore off. But it sure was beautiful to look at, the cast was great, and with it ending right where the first Bond movie Dr. No began maybe Mendes can make a slightly less bloated, less self-serious movie this time. And maybe give the terrific Naomie Harris something real, besides Daniel Craig, to chew on!

 

On the real down-side, I totally want Kate Winslet to be a Bond girl, and I don't think it's going to happen with Mendes leading the charge (I don't care what their pr people tell me - nobody's post-marital relations are that good). What do we think about Mendes heading back into Bond waters? are we sad that Nicolas Winding Refn isn't happening?
.
Tuesday
Nov202012

The Link is Not Enough

Thompson on Hollywood 5 things you won't learn about the making of Psycho from Hitchcock
Animation Mag GKids, that indie distributor who is bringing us great foreign animated Oscar contenders has even better news for 2013: A 25th anniversary rerelease of Grave of the Fireflies. You MUST see this movie.
I Need My Fix the motion poster for Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Fancy.
Variety ohmygod Pedro Almodovar wants to make a sci-fi movie. I'm living for this. Please do. 

The Playlist seems as if Sam Mendes might do another Bond picture post Skyfall
NY Post on exciting BluRay news for Gypsy, and many other classics
Anna Kendrick proves to her fans that she's tweeting 
Pajiba is very unhappy with Barbara Walters '10 Most Fascinating People' list. Particularly with the selection of our new Oscar host and this memorable bit on EL James of "Fifty Shades of Grey" fame:

I am sick of the way that criticism about this book has somehow morphed into derisively calling it mommy porn... My problem is the same problem I have with Twilight: the national obsession with terrible fucking writing interspersed with a cursory at best and hungrily timid notion of sex.

BadAss Digest the Marvel Studios "Phase One" box set has new features. I read through them and there's no full length documentary of Chris Evans training shirtless to get Captain America's body so there's no way I'm paying $220!
NY Post Watchmen -- you haven't heard that title in awhile, have you -- is getting a collector's edition with a super long cut and more Dr. Manhattan nudity. Too bad the movie is so stiff.
Vanity Fair Amanda Seyfried in couture... and on her relationship with Hugh Jackman in Les Miz and Dominic Cooper's eight-pack. No really.

 Off Cinema
Huffington Post Fiona Apple cancels the South American leg of her tour due to her dying dog. This is so incredibly sad and Fiona Apple is so awesome. Fact.
Gawker Anderson Cooper gets catty with a obnoxious twitter follower 

Happy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and big Oscar contenders are celebrating with connections both very real and carved (haha) out of thin air. Here's a Happy Thanksgiving from Dreamworks Lincoln 

 

...and one from Fox Searchlight's Hitchcock which you can e-mail to friends and family here.

I'm really disappointed that in this day and age of abundant web animations -- I mean even I can make little animated gifs of my drawings! -- this card didn't have movement. Hitch actually stabbing the turkey would have been sickening.

 

Monday
Nov122012

Review: "Skyfall"

This review was originally published in my column at Towleroad

Skyfall arrived on US screens Friday with such multiplex flattening hype that you'd be forgiven for thinking the title literal. The Cubby Broccoli estate, which controls the adventures of the super spy, was pulling no stops for the 50th anniversary installment of the granddaddy of film franchises. We've been inundated with Bond Mania for months now. So you'd think at this point that the actual film would be an afterthought. Not so.

The 23rd official Bond film delivers… and not just the five mandatory goodies no Bond film is complete without: Action (Particularly the Opening Setpiece), Theme Song, International Villain, 007 Himself and the Bond Girl. Unlike most modern franchises, the Bond series favors stand-alone storylines with only the five-pronged Bond template uniting them. Even Bond himself changes though Skyfall happily sticks with Daniel Craig's impossible zombie handsomeness and dangerously erotic icy blues.

Five mandatory goodies and Daniel Craig's sexual pull AFTER THE JUMP...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Jul112012

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: "Road to Perdition" 

For this edition of Hit Me With Your Best Shot, TFE's signature series in which everyone playing along must choose one shot from a selected movie that they define as best, we're looking at Sam Mendes Oscar-winning Road to Perdition (2002) on the eve of its 10th anniversary. 

The film's sole Oscar win was a posthumous statue for the great cinematographer Conrad L Hall. He died in early January of 2003, just a few weeks before his tenth Oscar nomination was announced. Hall didn't have anything to prove this late in his career but Mendes sure did, given that it was his follow up to his Oscar winning debut American Beauty (1999). This crime drama is filled with frameable frames. It's majestic looking really, veritably dripping with prestige for better and worse, usually on account of both the lighting (one shudders to think how long Hall spent on each set up) and the intricate staging and compositions.

a terrific POV shot that doesn't cheat. That's so rare in the movies.

The bulk of the film's narrative spins dangerously from this eyewitness shot, a perfectly excellent choice for Best Shot -- I'm sure someone will choose it! -- if not (quite) mine. 

Michael Sullivan Jr (Tyler Hoechlin nine years prior to Teen Wolf fame) is our narrator and he's about to witness a murder that his father (Tom Hanks) has a hand in though it's the unstable Connor Rooney (Daniel Craig) pulling the trigger. Road to Perdition's title suggests that the movie is about irredeemable souls and it is to some degree. Mob boss John Rooney (Oscar nominated Paul Newman) says as much when he's screaming at Michael Sullivan Sr. (Tom Hanks) in the basement of a church -- "There are only murderers here" -- predicting that none of them will see heaven. But the truer topic is fathers and sons. There are three sets of them in this movie: The Sullivans, The Rooneys, and the closest of the lot, the non biological edition - the Sullivan/Rooney.

The introduction of Michael Sullivan Sr. He never turns to look at his son.

Sullivan Jr. and Sr as well as the Rooney Jr and Sr are often separated by great distances in the frame but note how Sullivan Sr and Rooney Sr are all tight in one of the film's most tender moments, a little piano duet at a wake.

That's all an elaborate set up to make my choice for Best Shot really hurt, to extend a little sympathy for the devil. The devil in Daniel Craig. In one of the film's least comfortable moments Connor glibly apologizes to the mafia bigwigs gathered about that murder that gets the film rolling. His angry father humiliates him right then and there. As the meeting adjourns Mendes and Hall's camera does a slow zoom in on Connor just as he's being abandoned by everyone visually. Connor goes out of focus the closer you get to him, the better to illuminate the father (Rooney Sr) and preferred virtual son (Sullivan Sr.) all chummy directly behind him.

Best Shot

The focus snaps back to Connor at this perfect shot's tail end. He's about to kill two more people as payback insuring tragedy for all (including himself). No, he's not going to heaven.

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because it mirrors the sudden focus shift in Connor's introduction earlier as he lays on a couch smoking.

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because Daniel Craig is a dangerous actor and the movie desperately needs his unique kind. Jude Law as the very sick photographer "Maguire" also manages but Tom Hanks, fatally miscast, is at a complete loss to convey it. Even his furrowed brow looks friendly --physiognomy as destiny. Sorry, Tom!

Or maybe I just love this shot so much because the next sharp cut (god bless Jill Bilcockfrom childish Connor seething with hate for daddy and adopted brother is to this:

 

"There are only murderers bloggers in this room"
Serious Film "blaze of glory"
F*** No, But There's a Poster "Meet Maguire"
Amiresque  best (gun)shot
Cinesnatch past, present and no future all in one image
Film Actually a father and son reunion
Encore Entertainment "when you raise a gun you get your own blood on your hands" 
Antagony & Ecstacy on one of the most beautiful pictures of the past quarter century 
Pussy Goes Grrr convergent diagonals, legible horizontals, phallic guns?
Okinawa Assault biking towards damnation, wading in crowds

I'm also happy to report that Rope of Silicon has joined the "Best Shot" party this week. Brad's series "Paused" which shares gorgeous screenshots from random movies will line up with ours here when we're both in the mood for the same movie. I'm sad I didn't think to do Alien when he covered it.

Next up on 'Hit Me':
07/18 PINK NARCISSUS (1971) *for adult audiences only*
07/25 THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001) Wes Anderson's masterpiece?
08/01 HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (1953) with Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall and Betty Grable.