American Beauty

Mendes directs this as though it were a serious film (half an ass is better than one), and his American production answers him back the same way.

The unfortunate signature is the dead hero’s resemblance to Jack Lemmon. If DreamWorks fell for that, how far behind could Forrest Gump Academy be?

One can’t be a studio tea boy or work for the BBC, one has to pay one’s dues somehow.

The experience is a good one all around.


Road to Perdition

The opening shot, which recurs at the end, recalls Dali at the Age of Six, When He Thought He Was a Girl, Lifting the Skin of the Water to See a Dog Sleeping in the Shade of the Sea (and ultimately Hallucinogenic Toreador), in view of the drama.

The structure is derived from Peckinpah’s The Killer Elite and constitutes a significant analysis of that film, which is very badly misunderstood in critical quarters. Peckinpah utilizes a geopolitical formulation that Mendes eschews, centering on the individual resolution of the theme.

With this striking clarity of form, Mendes largely leaves the picturemaking to his director of photography, modulated by dramaturgy to achieve the grand setup through the casino/speakeasy/bordello/office, for example, in which the revelation of the doorman’s character provides the synthesis (the shootout at the end of this demonstrates Mendes’ skill). The height of erudition is displayed at the Englewood Diner where, amid so many filtered strata out of The Godfather, Bonnie and Clyde, The Sting and Goodfellas, Mendes cultivates a sense of picture out of Lang or Griffith.

The beautiful theme parodying Weegee, who wouldn’t mind, as a hit man conclusively satirizes the sort of artist or promoter who “captures” his subject.