Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dr. "OH NO"...Mendes in Talks to Direct Bond 23

I'm not usually one to judge a directors choice to branch out into new territory.  In fact, I usually applaud directors for leaving the confines of their own comfort level.  Sometimes these endeavors can be great, and sometimes they can fail.  The latest example however leaves me with a strange taste in my mouth, a doubt, perhaps unfair, but in my mind appropriate.  Sam Mendes, director of such depressing (yet good) fare as American Beauty, Jarhead, and Revolutionary Road is in negotiations to direct...wait for it...the 23rd installment of the James Bond franchise.  After the jump, a look at why, to me, this may not be the best choice.

Mendes is a very competent director.  American Beauty is a film that inspired me at a young age to strive for aesthetic depth in my filmmaking, and to this day remains a favorite.  Mendes films however are known for characters that convey qualities that are quite contrary to the most famous British spy EVER in pop-culture.  Look at four of the protagonists from Mendes' film catalog.  Lester Burnham from American Beauty, a self loathing mid-life crisis stereotype seemingly trapped in a mundane suburban life, forever striving to break free (but failing).  Anthony Swofford from Jarhead, an American soldier trapped in a war thousands of miles from home, crippled by suspicions of a cheating girlfriend, confined by the walls of duty and paranoia.  Finally, Frank and April Wheeler from Revolutionary Road, a couple trapping each other in a false facade of suburban angst much like Burnham from American Beauty.  What do these characters all have in common?  They are all trapped within the confines of their own creation.

Mendes latest film, Away We Go, somewhat escapes this premise, by following a couple trying desperately to escape a life they themselves find mundane.  While here we have escape rather than the the trappings of life, the characters are so smug and self-absorbed in their quirks that they too seem trapped in their own personalities.  So what does all of this have to do with James Bond?  Well, look at Bond.  No matter who plays him, he remains the same character, a suave, freewheeling agent who is officially bound by duty, yet unofficially refuses to be bound by anything.  He is constantly breaking the rules and always doing what he wants.  Bond is spontaneous and free, the complete opposite of all of the above mentioned characters.  So my question becomes, can a director known specifically for his catalog of inwardly trapped protagonists genuinely direct the most outwardly free character in film?  Or will Mendes provide Bond with a mid-life angst that cripples him into the solitude of the darkened streets of London?  What's your take?

The Movie MacGuffin is Tony Nunes

No comments:

Post a Comment