OK, I know there’s been a Michael Mann forum created somewhere on this site, but I felt compelled to drive it home. Can someone tell me how Michael Bay can get two of his films into the Criterion Collection, while Michael Mann is left out? Though Mann recycles his material, there is no denying the style he created with Thief in 1981 isn’t worthy of critique. His taut scripting, fast-paced, suspense-filled storylines combined with dazzling shots of glimmering nocturnal cityscapes and action sequences viewed through reflections in windows create an atmosphere making for intense viewing pleasure. Anyone else want to chime in on what makes Mann’s films significant and worthy of preservation in the film registry?
A lot of what goes onto Criterion depends on different factors. Some films might not be available to them. I doubt they searched out the Michael Bay films-I would think they were offered them for some reason-that’s what happened to the Wes Anderson films.
I like Michael Mann(Except for the disappointing Miami Vice) and some of his films could benefit from a Criterion release-Last of the Mohicans esp calls out for a blu ray.
Mann is prone to constantly re-cutting versions of his film, apparently many of the DVD releases for his films are not the theatrical cuts. This would be cool for a criterion release because it can include all of the different versions of any of his films. A criterion of the Insider would be cool in addition to Thief, there were no features on either of those dvds, but I could do with another edition of Heat.
to paraphrase Chris who yelled at Scorcese in the Sopranos re Kundun……. I LIKED Miami Vice!
a very misunderstood film I think….
Thanks for the shout to the original thread; it’s here:http://www.theauteurs.com/topics/693/comments
I agree about Miami Vice being misunderstood (and I would extend that even to being underrated), and I think that both it and The Insider are the two films most desrerving of Criterion prints (although, I think that all of his films have merit enough to be part of the Collection).
In general, to revise my thoughts on Mann, I think that if Mann were to focus on his literary/contentual ambition (most notably because of Joe’s observation of a certail level of familiarity and idea recycling) in addition to keeping his stylistics high, I would put him in within the pantheon of the Great directors (given his almost monopolistic dominance over his niche).
I would also consider him to be a modern-American spiritual successor to Melville, given certain similarties such as American influence, stylistically distinctive, a certain level of precisionism. But as far as specifics of stylistics, the analogy disappears as Mann and Melville come from different schools of direction and purpose. (The most notable difference being the tendencies towards realism and minimalism, respectively). As someone who is also interested in crime, Mann’s films have a unique quality of a level of technical accuracy; his cime sequences may not have the iconic status of the heist in Rififi but they do have the same attention to detail.
Mann, curiously enough, has probably the best sense of “cutting edge” in any director I’ve ever seen; all of his films reflect a technological up-to-date quality, both in front of the camera (e.g. use of cell phones in Heat or the use of the cell-phone jammers in Miami Vice ), and itself ( Collateral being the first feature shot in HD DV, and also the DV shots in Ali ).
Matthias…. nice link with Melville. I’m sure Mann considers he makes ‘policeurs’ too? (pardon my crap French)… I know The general public didn’t know what to make of MV, too slow for them and not enough action or pink jackets, but really…. it’s a fine film, I viewed it after the fuss died down and knowing it was a Mann film, I knew what to expect. I liked it.
I agree with Matthias on the Mann and Melville parallels. I certainly don’t think Heat needs another version, seeing as how it’s got a two disc special edition that looks pretty good by my eyes, I’d like to see a Criterion version of Thief, and maybe The Keep. Both of those require some significant changes to the current DVD releases.
Its funny you start off bringing up Michael Bay . I like many of his films but I a am shocked that Criterion found them ground breaking or not worthy enough. Can a Criterion Tranformers be far off?
Theif, Manhunter and the Keep are in my opion great films. I loved Ali and even liked Heat….
Thief sorely needs a remaster. That Tangerine Dream score would sound rather ill in hi-def. I can’t always handle the Michael Mann style, but Thief and Manhunter surely are excellent movies.
Also, The Insider.
Again, nice job linking Mann and Melville. Mann has such an exquisite feel for men at work. There is a real physicality to his work which I love, as there is a real talent to creating moments within scenes. Though he may sometimes be too schematic, he is free of alot of bullshit conceptual baggage. He brings such a strong feeling of vitality to his filmmaking, and rigor, a quality one doesn’t see much of in American directors, and why is that?
American directors (current) think they are all hip and want to break molds with visuals and almost always miss. It seems to me they forget that if you are good at the craft you’ll stand out and you will not need tricks to be remembered.
For me Miami Vice suffered from being to large in scope, I thought the story Mann wanted to tell was too large spanning from the florida keys to cuba. I think it would have benefitted from just being set in one location, like Heat. Add to that, the fact that Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx had no chemistry together, I didn’t really buy them as partners and the fact that the production was marred with so many technical difficulties like a hurricane which sent them over budget. However, the digital look for the movie was great, the viper camera was utilized well it had an interesting look.
I’m wondering what peoples feelings are about collateral? I’m a big fan myself.
Andre-Just rewatched Collateral last week .I’m quite fond of it myself. A few plot holes. I’m not a big fan of Tom Cruise but he was fine in this.
Robert-Don’t blame only American directors-I’ve seen the same tendancies in directors from other countries. Very prevalent in Asian action films. Unfortunately directors who don’t use flashy visuals are often criticized for it. Eastwood for one who directs in the old fashioned Don Siegel style.
STEVE- Dont you feel that the Asian Films seem to be suited for this type of camera work? In the end i think that “old fashioned Don Siegel” style films are what will hold up and not seem dated. I just watched the Furies the other day and i cant imagine in 20 more years it will be less impressive. As i loved Ridley Scotts Legend (still do) but now the direction feels dated.
AndreCollateral is one of my personal favorite films, as it is in some ways an American response to Le Samourai; the hitman is transported from Melville’s France to the more affluent, stylized, essentially more American milieu, conducting himself in a more archetypal American way (a contracted official himself contracting another for something he himself could not do, whereas Melville’s hitman is played to be more self-reliant [the men whose services he uses aren’t characters so much as they are devices]).
Regarding American form of direction and Mann, as I noted before Mann has, I think, a more temporal “cutting edge” sense which has the potential to leave his films feeling like they are of their time. However, what elevates his films is the presence of a unique and distinct visual style and technical quality that, in a way, transcends this of-the-time aspect because, as KJ noted, their base is about men working. It’s Mann’s presence as a true auteur that make his films both distinguishable/identifiable but also greater works (at least in my opinion).
Take for example the use of flashyness and distinct camerawork/“look” of the film: Michael Bay may make identifiable movies, but (taking them solely visually), they’re not really comprehensible; there’s no higher aesthetic at work there as there is that quality in Mann’s films. Or take the flashy camerawork of the Asian cinema mentioned (if I may, I’ll single out John Woo as he’s a useful example). Woo also has a certain lack of aesthetic ambition or almost purpose behind his images. Woo may be distinctive, but they’re mainly flash for the sake of flash.
Ultimately what it comes down to is the visual style suiting the content (excluding the idea that for any medium style is a form of substance, especially if done with purpose). For Eastwood, I have found that the more classical visual style of his films suits them; if Eastwood went flashier with Million Dollar Baby it would have detracted from the purpose of picture. The worlds and stories in which Mann works usually lend themselves to a certain level of style, specifically crime. Crime is an easy subject matter of film to stylize because it’s usually not close to the audience. The Godfather could romanticize and tell a great story of the mafia because the person watching it won’t know whether or not that’s really how those things are done. But Mann, for his part, tends not to stylize with his content (any making-ofs for most of his films, especially Last of the Mohicans will demonstrate his meticulous attention to detail and other minutiae), instead doing so with its look.
Look: Another Michael Mann thread
Where’s Micheal Mann
Just watched a release print of THIEF last night, and the DVD I had watched earlier this year, as good as the transfer was, gave an inadequate impression of how much the cinematography looks like a Hong Kong movie from the mid 90s.
he excells both in compelling drama and spectacular action scenes, his work with actors only matched by that of Martin Scorsese. absolutely one the greatest modern filmmakers.
“Public Enemies” and “Miami Vice” are compelling dramas? Mann seems to have forgotten that spectacular action scenes mean nothing without compelling drama/characters. Absolutely not one of the greatest modern filmmakers. He’s barely a cut above your average director of summer blockbusters.
I think it takes a quite skillful director to make a corporate drama like the Insider thrilling, exciting and action packed without a single action scene. reason why his last two films failed on that field is cause he didn’t work
on script with his frequent collaborator Eric Roth. he can also make scenes deeply moving without any dialogue
like when Dillinger dies, Russel Crowe sitts in hotel room while walls around him become all that he lost.
when fans of Muhammad Ali in Zaire take him to see graffitis, or when he delivers final blows to George Foreman.
I would give ten Ozu for one Michael Mann.
He’s skillful — to an extent. I bet Mann wouldn’t even give himself for one Ozu.
the Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Ali and the Insider showcase his greatness.
in hands of another director Collateral would be another average dreck. skillfull director is all I
need for a good film. movies like Shutter Island and Brooklyn’s Finest have their problems but it is still good
I think “Shutter Island” was a horrible product, full of cliches. “Ali” was terrible as a biopic. “Collateral” is as forgettable as a film can be. “Heat”, however, is something unique and interesting that will stand the test of time.
you forgot to mention how horrible was Brooklyn’s Finest to you. or you’re one of those
film snobs that refuse to see it?
No, I haven’t seen that or “The Insider” or “Last of the Mohicans” either. I’m no film snob. I don’t refuse to see anything. But as can be guessed by the fact of my presence on this website, I tend to prefer almost anything to mainstream Hollywood pictures.
then everyone is.
I admire Mann’s films, but with most everything readily available, I don’t see much need for Criterion-ationism.