I also don’t agree with Mann’s sensuality. I think that compared to guys like W.K.W and Denis he still comes off ‘crude’, for lack of a better word.
The attempts at sensuality don’t work for me. e.g the shower scene with Farrell and Li. It just felt so contrived.
I don’t agree with his sensuality either, or his romanticism. It’s there peeking out from the edges of the frame but his films aren’t about that.
Romantic capital R:
I’d have to agree with you that the man-woman thing is generally not a strength in his films. Although, the Miami Vice scene Joks mentioned is I think intentionally de-dramatized. But we mean “sensual” in regard to Mann not as “sexy,” but more along the lines of offering a new (that is to say beyond that of ordinary realistic photography) look and feel to the sensory world (sort of akin to what I was talking about as “texture” earlier.
“Watch other films from those genres, then watch Mann’s. If you cant see the difference, provided clearly through stills many have posted throughout this thread, then I’m sorry.”
Mann is my favorite director and there’s no denying he brings a very high level of artistry and authenticity (odd combination but he makes it work) to the mainstream genres he tackles but “daring” is just not a word that comes to mind when I think about his films. They’re visually exquisite, character driven, emotionally powerful and catharsis-inducing but daring? I guess they can be considered daring within the context of their genres but are they daring compared to films by Von Trier, Almodovar or Haneke? I don’t think so. This is not a knock on Mann as a film maker, like I said he’s my favorite director and I love his films for the qualities I listed but I don’t think we should praise them for being something they’re not.
Heat in my opinion is the peak of Mann style, he could never go beyond what he did there, complemented in a big way by 2 very good actors. It was a great action movie and a very good one at that may be the best in the genre.
“are they daring compared to films by Von Trier, Almodovar or Haneke?”
What’s daring about any of those three?
Yes, I think he does more for the medium than any of those three. A lot more.
Liked the way Collateral was shot but I think he got sloppy with Miami Vice and Public Enemies. Some of the more straight-forward shots in those films are just terribly composed.
“Yes, I think he does more for the medium than any of those three. A lot more.”
Technology is NOT enough. Kar Wai has soul, Almodovar too, Von Trier used to but he withered. The same will happen with the first two but Mann has lost his soul a long time ago, probably after The Insider.
Von trier: working across genres, the theatricality of the unfinished trilogy( daring b/c it could alienate his audience)
Haneke: poking finger in eye of society, asking people to think
“What’s daring about any of those three?”
The Seventh Continent > The whole of Mann’s career(in terms of daring).
“But we mean “sensual” in regard to Mann not as “sexy,” but more along the lines of offering a new "
sure, but i disagree that scene is meant to be de-dramatized. it looks softer than the rest of the film, and the glances are supposed to be ‘meaningful’. It’s a moment of ‘tenderness’ in between the storm of their lives. and it’s a complete failure imo.
i agree he is different from W.K.W, but i’m not crazy about him either.
except for 2046, ironically enough.
“alienate his audience” . . . “poking finger in eye of society, asking people to think”
So, in terms of narrative?—that’s what I was getting at.
“the glances are supposed to be ‘meaningful’”
In retrospect “de-dramatized” was not the right word. But the performances in the film, as I recall it, suggest the “performance” (in the world of the film) that undercover requires. Meaningful? Look at the change in the register of Crockett’s facial expression from the top frame to the bottom. To me it’s definitely intended to register as “out of the moment.”
Also, remember that Isabella’s entrace is phrased in familiar (and decidedly unsexy) terms:
Also, this scene is intended as a contrast to the earlier scene with Tubbs and Trudie.
. . . which is intended to work more in the way you’re describing, I think.
“I recall it, suggest the “performance” (in the world of the film) that undercover requires. Meaningful? Look at the change in the register of Crockett’s facial expression from the top frame to the bottom. To me it’s definitely intended to register as “out of the moment.”
but there is a suggestion that it’s not just about performance though right? think of how Farrell relates to li’s character later on in the film.
I think they both drop their guard in the shower sequences, to a certain extent, but not fully. just enough for us to notice.
at least to me anyway.
either way, i rewatched this film recently and it just didn’t grab me, even though it was slightly better than i remembered.
Hanake: “Every film is manipulative, raping the viewer. So the question is: Why do I rape the viewer?”
Now, that’s daring.
Per Josh Ryan:
In direct opposition to the Hollywood style of quick cuts and dramatic camera movements, Haneke’s modernist style of fragmentation and distanciation immediately requires the spectator to consider the meaning of what is happening on screen, since so very little of it is didactic plot.
As Adam Bingham states, “What is achieved is an extra-textual underlining of the theme of modern alienation … of the essential unknowability of anyone in the modern world. Just as there is a barrier between the characters within the film, so one exists between those characters and the audience.”
^ Who the hell is this Josh Ryan guy, anyway? ;)
To add to the Mann discussion, I thought the relationship between Farrell and Li was forced, added in to serve the purpose of getting female viewers in the seats, with the overall story not really being supported by it much. Or maybe I just wanted a different movie—in any case, my recollection of it is that it wasn’t all that effective.
The Insider, however, is a fantastic film and a good record of the real events that transpired during those years. Christopher Plummer’s portrayal of Mike Wallace is especially fun, and this is Crowe’s best role to date for me.
That being said (along with a professed love of Heat ) I wouldn’t classify Mann as ‘daring’ either. The Insider might have been daring if it had been made years earlier, but the Big Tobacco trial had been quite public.
What Wygant did was daring. The film, though excellent, is not.
Dunno, but the garage 21 byline said Josh Ryan.
“I thought the relationship between Farrell and Li was forced”
Yeah, as I alluded to earlier, I generally don’t think that emotionally compelling male-female relationships are Mann’s forte. Not sure narrative is the most fruitful way to approach Mann’s work, especially if one is looking for “daring.” It’s certainly not the most daring way to appreciate what he’s doing. If anything, the digital films have tended to increasingly back away from narrative, specifically in terms of conventional character exposition. Here perhaps one could connect him with Haneke and modernism— “the essential unknowability of anyone in the modern world”—with Antonioni as a common ancestor.
Look, in a pre-la politique des Auteurs world, you guys would be making the same argument—“‘daring’ is not a word I would apply to John Ford and Howard Hawks.” Only the referents have changed.
“It’s certainly not the most daring way to appreciate what he’s doing. If anything, the digital films have tended to increasingly back away from narrative, specifically in terms of conventional character exposition. Here perhaps one could connect him with Haneke and modernism— “the essential unknowability of anyone in the modern world”—with Antonioni as a common ancestor.”
yet but he doesn’t go far enough, hence the persistance of the same old criticisms. To me these ‘digital films’—and i still think Public Enemies could have been shot on film and made close to zero difference—are not intellectual enough to work as abstract pieces, and since the emphasis isn’t really on the narrative, and only somewhat on the characters, people that don’t connect with them are left with absolutely nothing. That’s all i’m saying.
Mann occupies a dull middle, and as a result of this, his films are neither enlightening or entertaining, so i have little to no use for them.
again, that’s just me.
And i disagree with your statement about Ford and Hawks. I still don’t find anything ‘daring’ about their films, and i’m not interested in Hawks at all ;_)
“Technology is NOT enough.”
His application of the technology to the form is daring. And in no way was I putting down Kar-wai (I don’t even see where that was suggested). He’s among my ten favorite directors, along with Mann. I’m not one for any of the other names though, especially Haneke and Von Trier, but that’s just me.
I don’t think the Li-Farrell relationship was forced, it only augmented the thematic strength of the film, and the tragedy of Farrell’s character, a man who cant know himself.
“And i disagree with your statement about Ford and Hawks. I still don’t find anything ‘daring’ about their films, and i’m not interested in Hawks at all ;_)”
We need Jerry Johnson on this thread if we want to argue those two
I haven’t seen a better collection of writing anywhere on New-Mann better than right here on our own Notebook. I implore everyone on the con side to read what they have.
The Mubi Notebook. Many excellent articles on Mann have been written.
" i still think Public Enemies could have been shot on film and made close to zero difference"
I’m not terribly enthusiastic about Public Enemies myself, but I would say that it seems to me (on first watch anyhow) to be a very angular film, something that seems to work better with the inherently greater depth of field of digital:
(notice how the center of the frame here is a corner of the room and it’s tilted up from bathtub level)
then there’s some shots that seem specifically composed to exploit the differences in how DV reads light compared to 35mm film (some of these frames don’t quite capture it correctly):
“something that seems to work better with the inherently greater depth of field of digital:”
wait a minute, isn’t digital supposed to ‘flatten’ that depth? i always thought that was one of hte greatest criticisms of HD, at least was; that it can’t achieve the same depth of field.
“His application of the technology to the form is daring.”
…but we need more stories, not technological advances…
That has been the problem with most critics and their promotion on several “selected” films: technology and masculinity, two heavily annoying elements in most fields of Art.
The Mann-hive is a buzzin !
But his new form is a new approach to stories. His films are not just masculinity and technology.
As Matt noted a few months ago, too many people hold films to the same standard as novels, and judge characterization and plot with the same criteria. Mann is not doing things that way. Please read the articles.
Robert: Haha yeah, I’m surprised at how contentious Mann is on this site. But, the fact that he generates discussion is a good thing.
“As Matt noted a few months ago, too many people hold films to the same standard as novels, and judge characterization and plot with the same criteria. Mann is not doing things that way. Please read the articles.”
yeah, because none of us have ever seen a film that deviates from conventional plotting and characterisation before right?
Mann is not that unique dude.
“then there’s some shots that seem specifically composed to exploit the differences in how DV reads light "
yes but to what end? Pedro Costa captures way more nuanced images than Mann with a home camera.