Spectre (2015)

Spectre
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Jez Butterworth
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royal, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall
Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Monica Bellucci, Dave Bautista, Andrew Scott, Rory Kinnear, Judi Dench
Seen on: 10.11.2015

Plot:
The 00 program is still reeling from recent (forced) restructures. Now M (Ralph Fiennes) has to fight to keep it going at all as C (Andrew Scott) tries to establish a more technological data gathering approach to spying. Meanwhile, James Bond (Daniel Craig) is on a mission. A mysterious message from the old M (Judi Dench) reaches him, sending him to a funeral in Italy and with it right in the middle of Spectre – a secret organization that seems to have its hand in every major global event.

I’m not a huge Bond fan – which is probably why I enjoyed the most recent efforts in the franchise (well, apart from Quantom of Solace) as it seemed a step away from the worst of Bond’s inherent sexism. Plus, they were good actions films. Spectre, unfortunately, is a jump back into the 70s and with it, into all the Bond-pitfalls that the Craig-Bond-era has at least partly avoided. I was disappointed.

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: David Greig (book), Marc Shaiman (music and lyrics), Scott Wittman (lyrics)
Based on: Roald Dahl‘s novel
Cast: Joe Butler-Smith, Noah Crump, Johnny Evans-Hutchison, Zachary Loonie, Jonathan Slinger, Barry James
Seen on: 23.10.2015

Plot:
Charlie (either Joe Butler-Smith, Noah Crump, Johnny Evans-Hutchison or Zachary Loonie) lives with his parents and two sets of grandparents in a small house in the shadow of the huge Wonka chocolate factory. The factory has been closed to people for years, although chocolate is being produced, and nobody has seen the eccentric owner Willy Wonka (Jonathan Slinger) in just as long. But then exciting news is announced: Wonka will hide five golden tickets in his chocolate bars and whoever gets them can visit the factory on a guided tour. Charlie hopes that the one chocolate bar he gets for his birthday every year will be the lucky one. But as ticket after ticket is found, his chances dwindle.

I love Roald Dahl and since we saw the charming Matilda production in London last year, I was happy to give Charlie a try as well. Unfortunately the show doesn’t quite reach the heights it could have, although it is fun, entertaining and – no pun intended – sweet.

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King Lear

King Lear
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Simon Russell Beale, Adrian Scarborough, Anna Maxwell Martin, Olivia Vinall, Kate Fleetwood, Sam Troughton, Tom Brooke, Stanley Townsend

Plot:
King Lear (Simon Russell Beale) is growing old and maybe even feels dementia approaching, so he decides to divide his kingdom between his three daughters and their husbands. But he expects a certain amount of flattery for it, which his youngest (and up to this point favorite) daughter Cordelia (Olivia Vinall) is unwilling to give him. Lear takes this as a sign that she doesn’t love him and banishes her. But a feeble king is the opportunity for all kinds of power struggles and soon there is trouble stirring all over.

This production of King Lear practically lives off the monumental performance by Simon Russell Beale. Though the rest isn’t bad either, he just takes center stage and completely dominates it. And maybe he should do that more often because the result is awesome.

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Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall
Director: Sam Mendes
Writer: Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan
Based on: Ian Fleming‘s James Bond novels
Sequel to: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace
Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Ben Whishaw, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory

Plot:
James Bond’s (Daniel Craig) mission is to protect a computer drive that contains the identities of several agents. But things go very wrong, Bond loses the drive and is shot by fellow agent Eve (Naomie Harris) – at the orders of M (Judi Dench). Believed dead, Bond disappears. But M has to face a lot of criticism for her actions and losing the list. When the MI6 HQ is bombed, Bond returns from his supposed death and he and M both have to face their pasts to clear this matter up.

I had heard only good things about Skyfall before seeing it and that might have made me expect a little too much. It was still a very good film, it just wasn’t as great as I had expected.

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Away We Go (2009)

Away We Go is the newest movie by Sam Mendes, written by Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida starring John Krasinski, Maya Rudolph, Catherine O’Hara, Jeff Daniels, Allison Janney, Jim Gaffigan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chris Messina and Melanie Lynskey.

Plot:
Burt (John Krasinski) and Verona (Maya Rudolph) are a happy couple, even if they have financial difficulties and rather crappy jobs. When they discover that Verona is pregnant and that Burt’s parents (Catherine O’Hara and Jeff Daniels) are moving away, they decide to start life anew and go on a (road) trip through the US, visiting friends and relatives to decide where that new life should happen.

Away We Go is another one of those movies where somebody somewhere decided that it is not fit for marketing. Oh, and what a bad choice again. It’s a wonderful, funny and heart-warming movie with a great soundtrack that I can only recommend. Over and over again.

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Revolutionary Road (2008)

Revolutionary Road is the film adaptation of Richard Yatesnovel of the same title. It stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and is directed by Sam Mendes. I haven’t read the novel [yet], but if you’re looking for a comparison between the two, I thought this article very enlightening [includes spoilers].

Plot:
April (Kate Winslet) and Frank Wheeler (Leonardo DiCaprio) are living the Suburban Dream(tm). But both are really unhappy, having imagined a different life for themselves, with great accomplishments. Slowly, they make their lives a living hell for each other until April’s suggestion to move to Paris seems to liberate both.

It’s a wonderful movie from start to finish. Very sad, very interesting and deep [I mean that in the good sense], perfectly acted and set in scene.

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[SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS]

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