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Old 07-07-2009, 02:07 PM   #811
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Another long time coming: Pulp Fiction.

Same as Lebowski in expectation and execution.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:09 PM   #812
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So I finally got to see Tarsem Singh's The Fall, and damn if that's not one of the most staggering films I've ever seen. I'd heard that it was visually stunning and filmed all over the world, but that the story was lacking. I have to say I disagree, the leads were great (I'd only ever seen Lee Pace on Pushing Daisies, his dramatic work he really impressed me), and the weaving together of the story was really imaginative, and dark as hell, the story seems innocent but wow, quite the gutpunch, the climax of the story as he and Alexandria are fighting over the control of the story was just exhilarating. Complimentary and not distracting music as well. The one thing I didn't love was just how it ended, I suppose it shows her innocence is still somewhat intact, and the his life went on, but I thought following that sequence I was talking about, it kind of let the air out.

Talk about dedication to a vision as well, as he financed the whole thing himself, its just too bad no one saw it.
it seems either people like this a lot
or just pick it apart


I fall into the camp that things it is a very good film, for the reasons you mention.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:43 PM   #813
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Manhunter (a gem of an early effort, and my favorite portrayal of Lector, because he's unnervingly believable as a real person, and he's not the central character, the way the book intended. Whereas Hopkins' later performances were amazing for a screen-villain, but there's no way you'd ever believe there could be a person like that, and the screenwriters shifted too much of the focus on him.)


Thank you.
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Old 07-07-2009, 04:38 PM   #814
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So I finally got to see Tarsem Singh's The Fall, and damn if that's not one of the most staggering films I've ever seen. I'd heard that it was visually stunning and filmed all over the world, but that the story was lacking. I have to say I disagree, the leads were great (I'd only ever seen Lee Pace on Pushing Daisies, his dramatic work he really impressed me), and the weaving together of the story was really imaginative, and dark as hell, the story seems innocent but wow, quite the gutpunch, the climax of the story as he and Alexandria are fighting over the control of the story was just exhilarating. Complimentary and not distracting music as well. The one thing I didn't love was just how it ended, I suppose it shows her innocence is still somewhat intact, and the his life went on, but I thought following that sequence I was talking about, it kind of let the air out.

Talk about dedication to a vision as well, as he financed the whole thing himself, its just too bad no one saw it.
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it seems either people like this a lot
or just pick it apart


I fall into the camp that things it is a very good film, for the reasons you mention.
I fall into the camp that couldn't wait for it to be over. I tried...I really did...
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Old 07-07-2009, 05:31 PM   #815
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So now I want to watch more of Michael Mann's films. I've seen Heat, Miami Vice, and Collateral. I need to watch Collateral again since it's the only one I own (buy one, get two free previously viewed at a blockbuster a few years back). Since I'm reading Red Dragon now, I suppose Mannhunter will be next.
pssst, The Insider is amazing.
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Old 07-07-2009, 05:34 PM   #816
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Yep. The Insider is, as we say, 'the dog's bollocks'. Crowe, for one, has never been better.
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Old 07-07-2009, 05:44 PM   #817
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Yep. The Insider is, as we say, 'the dog's bollocks'. Crowe, for one, has never been better.
Which is why he got the make-up Oscar the year after.
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Old 07-07-2009, 05:46 PM   #818
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And well deserved it was too.
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Old 07-07-2009, 05:49 PM   #819
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And well deserved it was too.
Totally agree. Further proof that '99 was an incredible year for film.
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Old 07-08-2009, 01:06 AM   #820
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Has anyone seen The Underground Comedy Movie?


I highly recommend it.
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Old 07-08-2009, 04:58 AM   #821
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You can count on a characteristically long-winded review some time tomorrow, but I am high high high on Mann love right now. Higher than a kite. I'm so very happy to be in opposition to the reactionary consensus on Public Enemies right now. Love love looove it. Like, Miami Vice love it.
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Old 07-08-2009, 12:32 PM   #822
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That's unfortunate.
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Old 07-09-2009, 12:16 AM   #823
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So I just watched Mannhunter and found myself pretty disappointed. Perhaps it's due to the fact that I'm reading the book, too, but the characters just don't seem real enough to me. Especially Dolarhyde. And I can't stand Lecktor's voice. Although I haven't watched it in years (and should again), I like Red Dragon better. I'm sure that's blasphemy here, but that's how I feel. I liked Norton better than Peterson, Hopkins better than Cox (though I do understand Hopkins hams it up, I love that), and especially I like Keitel better than Farina, Seymour-Hoffman better than Lang, and Fiennes better than Noonan. Ah well. It was a fun watch nonetheless... just a disappointment after all the hype it got in here.
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Old 07-09-2009, 01:42 AM   #824
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Public Enemies

So I have to that guy this time around I guess. I'm with Jeff Wells and Manohla Dargis on this one, though I suspect I might have actually liked it even more than either of them. Might as well stick the needle in quick: This might be my favorite Michael Mann film. Let's revisit the list. A more vague tiered ranking this time -

Public Enemies/Miami Vice
------------------------------
The Insider/Heat
------------------------------
Collateral
------------------------------
Ali/Manhunter/Thief
------------------------------
Last of the Mohicans

Hmm. Where to start? My friend I saw this with didn't like it at all. He called it "distractingly messy." And I can't really fault him for it, because he on to something. I wouldn't call Mann's construction here "messy" and certainly not "distracting," but it is disorderly by a design. What's most stunning about this film is the great contradiction of Mann's visual aesthetic. He at once embraces the classical Warner Brothers gangster style of Golden Age Hollywood and captures it in modern crystal-clear HD handheld lenses. The result is something most critics and audiences seem to have found unappealing, but I think along side the many thematic folds this accents throughout the film, there's something remarkably beautiful about the whole thing. One reaction I read declared the film was akin to a staged play, only instead of watching from the theater seats, you're allowed up on stage with the players and lead by the hand to all the really interesting perspectives.

The story itself follows a man at the start of his inevitable downward decline. John Dillinger is talented at what he does, but he and we discover rather quickly that the world is fast outrunning him into a new era. When we first see him, breaking his comrades out of prison and courting the young coat-check girl, Dillinger quite effectively wants everything... now, as he puts it. And through careful cooperation with his gang and underground contacts, he lives one day at a time stealing his way to paradise. However, when we see him near the end of the film, having lost all his friends and even his favorite girl, he appears more a common man overshadowed by his celebrity who clearly only wants one modest thing and to be left alone.

The parallel subplot inverts this trajectory, following the blossoming of Hoover's new FBI, fronted here by G-Man Melvin Purvis. At the beginning of the picture, these are the good guys making due with humble resources, though by the end of the film Hoover's field men are frequently seen scheming in dark rooms, beating on suspects, and orchestrating missions Dillinger himself would be proud of. Though Dillinger doesn't achieve anything close to redemption, the role reversal is rather well established by the final act and does much to blur the lines between the lawful and criminal. Melvin Purvis in a fascinating character as we watch him struggle with losing his own soul to a continuously less admirable federal agency. And while not necessarily overt (though really nothing is overt here), one might draw explicit parallels between Purvis himself and Dillinger; two men facing the future, both pressed into the limelight as frontmen for their respective organizations and ideologies. Though either man might deal with their position differently, I think we can surmise that they were both aware of their fates from the beginning.

And showmanship is of key relevance to this pictures, one half of another important contradiction explored between either side's "true" identity and their performance-like public facade. I could probably go deeper into this, but I'd like to see the film a second time. However, it is interesting how this idea correlates beautifully into Mann's formal construction of the film, itself a peculiar contradiction. Much of the mise-en-scene and dialogue is pure classic genre material, and I adore the way Mann contorts it, pervades it, and ultimately transforms it with jarringly modern tools. Though I feel once this dichotomy is established the form and content turn into something organic and beautiful as many of the film's symmetries, dualities, and patterns become more apparent. A particular favorite of mine is the cross-fading modern orchestral score from Eliot Goldenthal (a criminally underappreciated composer) and period ballads that underline Dillinger's scene's with Billie.

Like I said, that's just one example among dozens, and I don't think anyone wants me to go through all of them. Plus I'd like to see the film again before really digging in further. But I guess I should address some more clinical matters as well. I don't think it's fair to say this isn't a particularly performance-reliant film, but it's clear there isn't any legendary turn here like James Caan, Pacino, Crowe, or Farrell in their respective Mann films. The ensemble here is directed to play it all pretty close to the chest, and it all works. A film more about observation than exposition, Bale's and Depp's roles suit their strengths rather well here. Each actor shines beyond their talents in the moments that require them to communicate deeply internal rhythms. However, I will say that I love Crudup's small turn as the slimy JE Hoover, and fell head-over-heels for Cotillard's presence here, another astonishingly physical performance not unlike Gong Li's in Miami Vice.

I've heard the film described in terms of a number of great sequences strewn throughout an otherwise middling film. I think I've made it clear I don't have any problems with the bulk of the film; in fact I don't think there's a single frame without purpose or careful design. But those "great sequences" really do deserve special mention if I were to pick the film apart at the seams. Personally, I think the Little Bohemia sequence completely trounces its counterpart centerpiece in Heat. And I think the final 15 minutes of this film are far and away the finest 15 Mann has ever directed. Only the finale of Heat and opening montage of Ali come close. Mann manages to elevate his bizarre creation into something truly transcendent by the end, really blowing out his visual artistry into something abstract, surreal and stunningly gorgeous; as this sequence (I'm talking about Depp's stroll through the police station, which incidentally is probably my favorite scene in the film, through to the final shots of Billie and Stephen Lang's federal agent) brings to a head all those aforementioned thematic and formal preoccupations in spectacular near-silent fashion, excusing a few key spoken lines and Goldenthal's majestic work. I could really dive into all the narrative symmetries and new-icon building images in this final bit alone, but I'll spare you with what has already become a far more long-winded review than I promised.

But yeah, I love Public Enemies more than anything I've seen in a movie theater in years. So fuck you.
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Old 07-09-2009, 04:06 AM   #825
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Personally, I think the Little Bohemia sequence completely trounces its counterpart centerpiece in Heat.
No fucking way. I guess I found it somewhat cool, but it was also a bit of an incoherent mess, and not helped by the fact that we barely got to know any of the people involved--there really didn't feel like there was much at stake. By contrast, even when a minor character like Dennis Haysbert bites it in Heat, there's some weight to it. Plus, while PE's shootout may be unique because of the low lighting, it's not nearly as thrilling as seeing a daytime bank robbery spill out onto the streets of downtown Los Angeles, and how realistically such an event is choreographed and depicted.

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And I think the final 15 minutes of this film are far and away the finest 15 Mann has ever directed. Only the finale of Heat and opening montage of Ali come close.
This section of the film is what saved it for me, and left me leaving with an overall positive feeling (with reservations).

However, I doubt that scene with Dillinger in the police station is taken from actual history, and if it isn't, it comes off as a hell of a contrivance. And Mann is someone who seems rather detail oriented; it would be a shame if he had to resort to this kind of trick just to get a late rise of the audience, even if there's a thematic point being made. It's a bit of an eye-roller.

It should also be mentioned that Baby Face Nelson did not die at Little Bohemia, and was not only killed over six months later, but AFTER Dillinger's death. Same thing with Pretty Boy Floyd, who is shown being killed by Purvis at the BEGINNING of Public Enemies!! WTF? You can talk all you want about having to condense history, but that is just fucking sloppy.

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But yeah, I love Public Enemies more than anything I've seen in a movie theater in years. So fuck you.
I was talking with a friend today and we were comparing this to Soderbergh's Che, which we felt were similar projects. Both directors are considered to be somewhat cold and distant in their directorial approach. Both films are about controversial public figures. And of course, both are able to use the digital format to find new and more intimate ways of expressing ideas and emotions through their imagery.

My point is that Public Enemies isn't even in the same ballpark as the majesty of Che, and not just because of Del Toro's brilliant performance. I understand that PE is meant to be a much more mainstream enterprise, but there is just so much more going on in Soderbergh's film, on every level. And if you can't see that, I don't know what to tell you.
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