British born director Sam Mendes is probably best known for his film American Beauty, his first feature length film released in 1999. Most directors don’t win vast amounts of recognition for their first film, let alone awards, but Mendes was nominated for eight Oscars and won five—not to mention eighty-three other film festival wins. His second movie, Road to Perdition (2002) also received a copious amount of attention; it was nominated for six Oscars, and won one. He then went on to create other extremely well known films such as Jarhead (2005), Revolutionary Road (2008) and, Away We Go (2009). American Beauty deals with a non-traditional look at a man, Lester Burnham, (Kevin Spacey) who is in the middle of a mid-life crisis and develops a crush on his daughter’s friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). After meeting Angela he completely turned his life around—he quit his job in sales and got a job, instead, at a fast food joint; he begins smoking marijuana; he starts to work out again, etc. etc. Spacey’s wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening) is a realtor obsessed with her job almost as much as beating Buddy Kane (Peter Gallagher) the supposed ‘Realtor King” whom she beings to have an affair with. Lester’s daughter, Jane, (Thora Birch) develops a relationship with one of the new neighbors, Ricky Fitts who smokes and sell marijuana. His father is a retired United States Marine Corps Colonel and abhors homosexuals, which plays a large role later on in the film. (Deschler) The opening scene is of Jane asking Ricky if he would kill her father for her. This shot was done on a handheld and was filmed by Ricky. The shot is in zoomed in all the way to show the emotion in Jane’s eye after she requested such an act. It then moves onto an establishing shot of the Lester’s neighbor with Spacey doing a melodramatic voiceover of his day to day life. The voiceover is also a trademark of Sam Mendes, and can be found in most of his films....
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