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Read more at http://www.comingsoon.net/movies/news/953375-sam-mendes-to-direct-1917-steven-spielbergs-amblin-to-produce#uss0FLBBfx0xvwXt.99
I'm very excited to see what Mendes will do next and this project sounds very interesting.
I feel that Mendes produced a genuine masterwork with Skyfall - we will likely never get quite as rich and layered a Bond film as SF. In contrast, SP was a bit more frothy and disposal. Nonetheless, a Sam Mendes World War I movie sounds tantalising. I'm glad to see that his next effort will see him continue to push himself out of his comfort zone.
Amen! Especially in the case of SF.
That‘s the good part for Sam Mendes. But he should never habe returned to do another one. I can‘t sit through SP at all anymore - still like the Mr. White and Q-scenes plus L‘americain though. The rest is ... a waste of time. It‘s clead all Mendes could say about Bond he did with Skyfall and in my opinion he ruinined his Bond director status with Spectre quite a lot.
When SF came out he was heralded for making a Bond film that was intelligent and entertaining. SF is endlessly rewatchable; the character arcs are interesting, the acting adn production values are first class. The movie is expertly put together and the motifs and themes are complex and well-explored. Also, he put together one of hte classiest casts ever for a Bond film.
I was someone who heavily advocated for Mendes to come back for SP. However, it was clear very early on that his heart wasn't in it. He indulged far too heavily on some of the less interesting inclinations he expressed in SF. In the end, the film was an ugly hodgepodge. Sure, SP was entertaining, but it wasn't half as rich or satisfying as SF.
Had he decided he wanted to do Bond 25, I'd have been disappointed. However, the more earnest and thematically rich Bond he bought to the series has been terrific.
Anyone, who thinks Mendes doesn't understand Bond, needs to read this interview. He has a very good idea of 007 and (in the most part) displayed this in his pair of films:
I like his first three movies a lot; American Beauty, Road To Perdition, Jarhead. I can take or leave Revolutionary Road and Away We Go. However, I think his best film in general is SF.
I'm a little concerned as his latest movie sounds like his attempt to replicate Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk. Remember, Mendes aped Nolan's style a lot and even took half his crew for SP.
Anyone who doesn't think Mendes is the real deal, needs to watch this:
I recently thought a lot about some posts concerning MI and Bourne, and how both series caught and passed Bond. I disagree, and I think we have Mendes to thank for that, in part. Before eyes roll, I should explain:
I think EON saw an opportunity between QoS and SF. Action films (and heroes) were moving in the direction of F&F: action and stunt and high octaane music over character. That's fine. But Bond shouldn't be that. Not at all. Critics dismissed QoS for this very reason.
What Mendes brought to the table with SF was what Ethan Hunt and Jason Bourne did not have: an action hero who is relatable. (in Bond films this happened with OHMSS and not really since.) No matter what some may think about SF and, especially, SP, the attempt must be applauded, even if flawed in some parts: it was a calculated risk, but well worth it, to make Bond more than just a blunt instrument. If people want to know why SF was such a smash, it was likely that one element that got added. Older audiences, in their 30s and up, got all the action but also became emotionally invested in the main character.
SF is a great film. SP not really. But give credit where credit is due. I hope Boyle continues to work on character development, to a degree. We do not need Bond to be patterned after Ethan Hunt.
Mendes has as much admitted himself that SF is indebted to The Dark Knight. You can clearly see parallels between the movie and Mendes's overall approach to Bond.
It was very popular to reinvent franchises as 'dark and gritty' at this time. Bond had already started down this road with CR and QOS, so it made sense for them to indulge in the introspection and self-doubt of The Dark Knight eventually. It was actually a result of the 'dark and gritty' reboot that the Marvel Cinematic Blossom blossomed as they defied it and churned out popcorn-friendly films. Now 'escapism' and 'shared universes' are the new trend.
Mendes brought a lot to the series. I've attempted to break them down below:
Style: After the more frenetic QOS, Mendes bought a more classical and stylised eye to Bond. His films are clearly two of the most beautiful and lavish productions of the series. Both Roger Deakins and Hoyte van Hoytema were key collaborators in creating two of the most elegant Bond films ever.
Subverting classic characters and tropes: This is something Mendes prided his era on. He would take classic characters we know and reinvent them in a profound way. Whether it be putting Bond through an existential mid-life crisis or having M contemplate her mortality. Mendes's subversive streak also stretched to the canon and taking other characters and re-exploring who they are. We got bold new takes on Moneypenny, Q, Mallory/M and Blofeld. He even ditched the 'Bond girl' in SF and gave Judi Dench the lead female role.
Bond's past: Bond as a character and his psychology are key to understanding the Mendes era. Sam was clearly very interested in Bond's childhood and how it shaped 007 into the man he is. Mendes made more emotional films were there was a personal threat to Bond as well as an external problem for him to solve.
Layered Action scenes: It became a trademark of the Mendes run that during action scenes there would always be cross-cutting stories being told. Therefore, the action sequence would often play out whilst we were seeing concurrent events moving the plot forward.
Flamboyance: Whilst the early Craig films were slightly more dour, Sam bought the 'fun' back to the series. He especially displayed his flair with the use of more flamboyant villains.
Oscar clout: The Craig era had already been trying to class it up a little with some of the appointments, but Mendes bought first-rate talent both behind and in front of the camera. The 'Sam Mendes factor' cannot be discounted when considering why prestige names such as Roger Deakins, Javier Bardem, Albert Finney, Adele, Christoph Waltz, etc agreed to sign on.
Relevancy and the fear of the 'new': This was a theme running through Sam's films. Are MI6 still relevant? Can we trust MI6? Are field agents obsolete? Is there a need for Bond in a modern world? Is Bond relevant - both practically and symbolically? Is Britain still relevant? Bond may have been Sam Mendes's mid-life crisis; his attempt to make cool popular movies, whilst exorcising his own demons concerning his own relevancy and possible worthlessness.
Also, I don't think it was the relatability or investment in the main character that made SF a success for most people. Rather, I think it was the central conflict between M and Silva which resonated, along with the themes of the 'old ways are best' as an allegory for Britain and more broadly, a West in decline etc. It connected & was presented in a credible and holistic fashion. One felt a sense of time catching up and also of consequences for past actions (good and bad).
@bondjames : agreed. all of those elements were factors, too.
Another aspect to Bond's "backstory" is that there are two: Bond the character and Bond the cinematic icon. Both of these come together in the final act of SF. The character's childhood home and the icon's vehicle are both smashed to pieces.
I do take exception with Mendes' negative view about Bond always having been "very, very heavy on plot, but he’s been very light on story. There is no real story, only plot, and that to me is not a satisfying movie." Plenty of Bond films, while not without character or "story" (as Mendes uses the term), have in fact placed emphasis on plot (and more to the point, thrills and spectacle), but I see nothing wrong with that. It just means their primary purpose was entertainment. Finding that unsatisfactory means, well, finding plenty of the cinematic Bond catalogue unsatisfactory, which isn't an ideal situation if you set out to make a Bond film. There's plenty of room for "story" in Bond --I, for one, find Spectre Bond's questioning of his life and profession (in a more mature and reflective way than in CR) to be a fine idea-- but Bond is not only, or even mainly, about that. There is more to the films than that.
Well said and I agree. The character elements are certainly interesting if and when incorporated in moderation. I too don't think they should become a dominating element however, because the impact can be lost due to oversaturation.
In the earlier days the viewers learned about Bond through little moments throughout the films. These little snippets informed the cinematic audience at large about his character, values and approach. Of course there were variations on account of the actor playing the part, but one felt that the film makers were playing the long game in terms of gentle character peelback, by allowing it to unfold over a period of time and numerous films slowly. It was subtle. Of late it has become more overt and deliberate, which is in line with other major franchises, particularly those in the comic book genre. The P&W era had a strong influence too I think, so I'm curious to see what happens now that they are reportedly out of the picture.
I personally believe it's time to go back to a primarily plot driven narrative "just for the sake of variety" (to quote Mallory). If they feel a need to continue with character aspects then I'd prefer if they engage that element via a supporting character rather than through Bond, which is what I think they did with SF via M's troubles.
Interestingly it is Bond who destroys his childhood home—the symbolic representation of delving into who he is as a more “human” character—claiming he never liked it much anyway. Whereas the villain, Silva, destroys his Aston Martin—the representation of iconic, stylized, filmic Bond—which is what does get Bond pissed off. And so, especially with Skyfall’s themes of “sometimes the old ways are the best” and reintroducing Moneypenny and a male M and the classic office, it would appear the film’s ultimate message is that film Bond doesn’t need a history or a backstory apart from the legacy that’s been growing since 1962 (or 1953 if you like). Spectre, however, makes me seriously question whether Mendes realized that was Skyfall’s message.
That's what left me so puzzled after SPECTRE - how much money did they offer him that he accepted and destroyed his own trademark on the Bond "franchise" ... he must have known he put ALL he had in mind for the character and world of James Bond into SF.
Mendes had something to prove with SF. People were sceptical if he could make an 'action film'. He was a prestige filmmaker, who others thought was diluting his brand making a 007 film.
Mendes had something to say. He wanted to dissect Bond as a cinematic icon, he wanted to subvert expectations, he wanted to talk about Britain and the decline of modern espionage. Finally, he wanted to make a rather poignant film about mothers and angry sons. (And he didn't do it in an overly po-faced way, SF was a fun Bond movie too).
However, SP just reheats the ideas of SF in a half-hearted way. Mendes had nothing to prove anymore, SP was just his victory lap. He knew how to make one of these films and just fancied having some fun. He really should have relaised that beyond the set-pieces, he had nothing 'new' to say.
'Fun' isn't a bad commodity to trade it. But the final film was disposal and disappointing, especially for a filmmaker like Mendes. I feel as though Mendes's 'feet weren't against the fire'. He had nothing to prove. So he had 'fun' and made a frothy film that was overly nostalgic. He probably did SP for the paycheck and it shows in the final product...
Meanwhile, the artistry in SF is top-notch.
Remember, how Bond and Silva are portrayed as Cain and Able figures both competing for their mother's attention? I adore how Mendes introduces this idea with both the character's introductory scenes which mirror one another. Silva is a 'fun-house' reflection of Bond.
There is a large use of mirrors in SF. Perhaps a metaphor for Bond having to confront himself - both internally and externally.
(I particularly like the last one, as there is something humorous about Bond being stuck in a waiting room and his inability to sit down)
Finally, I think SF is, at its heart, a movie about aging. Both M and Bond aren’t the power they once were and SF is there realisation of that. However, despite not being as potent a force as they once were, they aren’t wholly redundant – in this sense, the film is a comment on the Bond franchise, MI6 and Britain.
Yes. Mirrors, everywhere. And this symbolism actually began with CR, in the PTS. In a way, the mirrors reflect Jungian duality. There are three lines in SP that are hidden gems:
"Here we are, Mr. Bond, two dead men enjoying the evening." (As we know, they are not physically dead; they are theoretically dead. This alludes to the quote after the gun barrel.)
"There are two of you. Two Jameses." (Madeleine is seeing double; but it's a direct statement on the duality of Bond.)
And then this one: "I've been looking forward to this. All of us here together. A reunion. I'm so glad you came, too, dear Madeleine." (Who is the "all"? Evidently, he is not referring to Madeleine, who is an after thought, spoken in the final sentence. Is it himself, Bond, their parents? Are we all embodiments of past selves and present selves? Dead selves and living selves? Or is Blofeld simply off his rocker?)
SF though I really liked. I think the problem is it's a film you ruin if you rewatch it too much, because Silva's plan doesn't make much sense and the long moody shots get boring. But remember how good it was at the time. It's funny seeing posts from certain members slating it now because I remember a lot of those same members being as swept up in the hype as the rest of us (I know you've never liked it @Getafix). I think it was just the shot in the arm the series needed. Just a really good Bond film. Exciting, funny, great bad guy, beautifully made, brilliantly acted. The plot was a bit ropey but that's only really noticeable afterwards imo. If you don't watch it too often and just let yourself get swept up in the magic of it I think it still works.
And I know I'm in the minority here but I thought SP was even better. It fixed nearly every issue I had with SF and ticked most of the boxes on my personal fanboy wishlist too (Blofeld, massive henchman, etc). SP was basically the film I'd been waiting for since CR ended with "Bond, James Bond". No more origin story bollocks. They finally realised that you can have a fleshed out, human, real seeming James Bond and play with/subvert the tropes while still having a lot of fun and making a proper, old school Connery/Moore esque Bond film (and not one that thinks it's oh so much better than certain others like SF did, the pretentiousness was gone). It had interesting character stuff and Bond ejecting himself from his bespoke bulletproof Aston Martin after using the built in flamethrowers to distract the massive unit of a henchman chasing him. I hate the foster brother stuff and I actually find myself agreeing with most of the more critical members on this one. It's weird. I don't think SP is amazing, I know it's a very flawed film, but the end result just works really well for me.
I think SF is at the very least a top ten Bond film and SP would probably be in my top five. So Mendes did good imo.
I still think that the little Olympic movie with 007 and the Queen was the best advertisement ever for the series and Mendes installment did pick a lot of extra fruit because of it. That said it was easily the best Bond scene of the year. ;)
There are two ways of looking at Silva's plan.
First off, Silva is friggin' insane (and not without good reason). Like any good villain, give an evil genius a weapon (in this case, a computer), and anything is possible. I'm reminded of The Usual Suspects: "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist." In this case, the greatest trick Silva ever pulled was convincing the world he could do anything with a point and a click. To me, Silva's plan was simple: humiliate M on his terms (via network) and then kill her on her own turf (out in the field). It was his stubbornness with the latter that was his downfall.
Secondly, too many fans took Q at his word: that Silva had everything planned. I don't buy that at all. Some elements, yes. But Silva had no idea that Bond was survive Patrice, would survive the casino, would make it back to the Chimera. None of that. My take: once Bond was discovered on the Chimera, it set Silva's plan in motion. The only thing he knew would happen (eventually) is that he would be captured. Then, he would get to humiliate M further and kill her. He had no idea that Bond would follow him. The train detonation was NOT planned for Bond; it was planned to create a diversion in London (again, working M's turf). That Bond ended up there made it all the more delightful for Silva.
So because of a poorly constructed script and story, but is is beautiful filmed!, the general audience missed all that and you did not. Mendes sure goes for the elite of fans to understand him.
Or the man just did something he could not make clear to the general audience which makes him not such a hot director.
For me the dodgy writing and not very convincing plotting took me out of the film on the very first viewing.
Actually, it wasn't poorly constructed at all. But SF takes two or three screenings to get. There is little to nothing "superfluous" in it. And all of the clues to Silva's state of mind are in the film.
Here's an example: if Silva's aim was to kill M, then why didn't he do it with the explosion? You might say that that's bad writing. But instead, it's terrific writing that reveals character and motive.
Another: notice the difference between the Silva we see on the island (in control, decisive) and the one we see at the hearing and at Skyfall (befuddled and indecisive). Bad writing? Or, again, terrific writing that reveals character?
One more: why did Silva hire Patrice to steal the list? Chances are, Silva could get the list via hack. Is that a function of bad writing? Or is it good writing that reveals motive?
And yet one more: when meeting Bond, what were the two things that Silva most harped on about MI6? He made fun of Q branch and made fun of running around (Your knees must be killing you). Why? Just because? Or is it good writing that further reveals character and motive?
As for Silva's plan, I agree with your overall point that it is sound, though I'd like to expound on a couple of things. I don't know how much of this is obvious but I think it's worth mentioning/repeating:
- Silva's plan was in motion well before capturing Bond. It began with the stealing of the list to make the MI6 go after Silva, followed by the explosion at MI6 HQ to make them move underground (where Silva would have a escape route). This is what Q is talking about when he says it was all planned. Then all Silva had to do was just wait until the MI6 captured him. (So I agree none of the stuff with Patrice and the gambling chip was planned-- Silva would have had to be even more of a master strategist than Kronsteen to plan that, and it wasn't at all necessary to do so.) Anyway, Silva then executed his escape from the cell; after that, as you rightfully point out, he derailed the train as a distraction; and finally, he proceeded to confront M. I suppose the fact Silva was brought to MI6 (and his laptop accessed to) on the same day M had to attend the hearing is something of a dramatically appropriate coincidence, something that demands a certain suspension of disbelief, but there's a grey area there where we don't know how Silva planned things, so it's alright.
- As you mention, Silva wanted to humilliate M before killing her --not only through the robbery of the list, but through the act of letting himself be captured by her and then escaping to murder her in public, just as she was trying to defend her work. This is key to understanding the elaborate nature of Silva's plan. If he'd just wanted to kill M, his plan would've been much simpler. So I think the plan does make sense.
My own problem with Skyfall's plot had always been the decision to go to Skyfall after the attack, but now I even accept that because it's a decision motivated by M's need to avoid involving more people in Silva's capture, at the risk of getting them killed. So I think the overall plot of the film is in fact sound.
I should watch a movie two or three times to get it?- That is really poor and shoddy directing, but only from a money person objective it would be a good story in that case.
If you need to see a movie so often to understand it there will be something else at work too, the need to make sense of it and then the m ind starts filling in blanks for the director scriptwriter which clearly happens to you.
I generally do not mind plotholes of anything else like that which happens galore in the 007 series, but other directors have made a movie far more cohesive than Mendes tried in two movies. And SF is not the best shot movie either, it does have it moments.
Craig was best served with CR in his reign and the Forster /Mendes era clearly reeks so much it is a Barbara grap for acceptance of the 007 series as something serious. Which it already was anyhow.
I do hope that with Boyle we get something back from the brilliance of CR because the belly button gazing and emo Bond is not my cup of tea. If it is a continuation of said crappy and uninteresting stuff, I can only be glad with Mission Impossible who do the same only far better than any 007 movie since CR.
You get the prize for comedy comment of the week.
Loving the way you hold out these examples where the writing doesn’t appear to hold together and flip it on its head and claim it’s actually brilliant writing .... with zero explanation behind your argument.
Let me try it out.
Some claim that the invisible car and Jinx character in DAD are sloppy, poorly conceived examples of bad writing at their worst. I say they just underline what a genius piece of character and narrative exposition DAD really is!
There you go. Case proven!