People have almost turned blue, holding their breath to see if acclaimed movie director Sam Mendes has done it again. Mendes has directed “American Beauty,” “Road to Perdition,” “Jarhead,” “Skyfall” and “Specter.” I think the latter two movies can claim places near the top of the very long list of James Bond films. In total, films directed by Mr. Mendes have earned 23 Academy Award nominations and nine wins. And as a producer, he made the very innovative and entertaining TV tingler “Penny Dreadful.” He also produced “1917,” giving him the writer/director/producer trifecta.
People want to see what he does this time. Curious moviegoers stuffed the performance that I attended.
Mendes co-wrote the script with Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who also wrote material for “Penny Dreadful,” to great success.
Dean-Charles Chapman (“Game of Thrones”) heroically plays a soldier tasked with preventing the destruction of two British battalions. His own brother serves among the endangered soldiers. His mate, played by George MacKay, goes with him on the mission. Two very famous names provide support in smaller roles, Colin Firth and Benedict Cumberbatch but MacKay holds every frame of the film. In fact, from start to finish he exists in every bit of film.
This entire film has only a single shot. It has no cutaways. We do not have scenes that end with new scenes starting up. We have no flashbacks or skips forward. None of that. One-shot. Never mind the technical magic to make this happen, the single shot gives us in the seats a very intense viewing experience. In normal practice, we have a scene with some emotional impact and then a pause to let the audience regroup. Not this time. We go from some aspect of the dangerous mission and then pitch right into the unknown, along with the actors. Just as the real soldier would not have a break from lurking danger, neither do we.
This changes movie viewing, perhaps forever.
Producer Sam Mendes allowed director Sam Mendes $90 million to make “1917.” It runs one minute shy of two hours. This spectacular film carries a well deserved hard R rating, but deserves every one of the four saw blades. The Golden Globes awarded “1917” Best Picture, often a harbinger of the more famous Oscar. We will see.
Fun Fact: Last year star George MacKay played Ned Kelly, the famous Australian outlaw. Mick Jagger also played the bad man in the 1970 film “Ned Kelly.”