What is theauteurs’ opinion of Michael Mann?
I happen to think he gets a critical underrating because he’s apparently a “genre director”
Favorite films, trivia, or general impressions in this thread.
My favorite film of his Collateral but Heat and especially The Insider come quite close.
I really liked James Caan in The Thief which is probably my favorite Mann film. Next would be Collateral.
The only movie worthy of any praise, in my opinion, is Manhunter. Pretty cheesy director if you ask me.
What else have you seen by him?
The Insider was kind of his peak and thats it.
“genre director” isn’t a mark of failure. everything is genre.
i like mann. but i dont love him. “heat” was great as an epic crime film. “ali” was weak, “collateral” was weak, and “miami vice” was weak. i think mann is too concerned with style at the expense of substance.
I’ve always thought of Mann as attempting to replicate the poignancy of Melville, but where Melville offered gangsters who contemplate their actions and represent philosophic studies of the criminal, Mann’s characters seem to only brood and try to appear as introspective protagonists, when they’re really just hollow. I did enjoy Manhunter, though.
I dunno whether or not the comparison of Melville is entirely accurate. From what I’ve observed of his films, Mann never tries to make his characters teach us something, or illustrate any finer points about the nature of crime (outside of their actions), the same way Melville does. Melville uses criminals as sort of a study for what crime means, and philosophizes thereupon. Mann, I think, isn’t trying to inspect criminals, or the nature of crime, so much as he is showing what it really means in the world.
The Insider was probably his best in my opinion. Heat was also very, very good. Collateral’s not bad. Last of the Mohicans was also very good.
From what I understand Mann does admire Melville to a point, I think it especially shows in his action sequences. He’s one of my favorite living directors, he’s certainly got a style of his own as well as a way of making ‘star actors’ perform unusually well (e.g. Ali, Heat, Collateral)
I have a higher opinion than most, or so it would seem by this thread.
I would call Manhunter one of his lower films, and I like it quite a bit.
Thief takes the cake. Heat excells in places where it should not. The Insider is rather poignant. I could go on. The ones above me have. I will point this out: It appears he’s rather consistant with the quality of his delivery. Everyone seems to agree, not to mention, approvingly. Not many directors I can think of right now (that have been discussed in this forum) have had the same said about them.
Thief needs a Criterion.
I have to come into the defense of my man Mann, here.
Okay, Miami Vice. Shit. Yes. But the suits were working against Mikey. They rushed him. They were going to give it to someone else, and so quick too, that Mann started shooting without a script. That was the first of many blunders soon beset the production. Do I think it would have benefited had Mann been given the time an artist like he deserves? Yes. Do I think it would have been comparable to, say, Heat? Possibly. Maybe not. But, quite possble.
Heat is my favourite film. It’s my litmus test with new friends/girlfriends. It’s one of those films that I don’t bother defending: if someone doesn’t like it then I resolve that I’ve no basis of understanding with that person — it’s like arguing with someone about whether gravity exists. I don’t, however, think it proves Mann as a masterful director, since the film is his second attempt (the first being L.A. Takedown) and it is probable that many directors would pull off something special if given the chance to remake their own film.
Personally I think he’s the present kind of cool, he just doesn’t have a complete handle on story. Collateral was very good but the ending seemed to me too similar to the train chase in Carlito’s Way. Miami Vice seemed like a champion race horse with a broken leg. Mann certainly made a good film under the circumstances; it is unfortunate that such forces seemed to be working against the film becoming what it could have been.
But when it’s all said and done, Mann owns the cinema shoot-out with that bank heist in Heat. Nothing else comes close.
I saw and liked THE INSIDER a good deal. Nothing can excuse the total awfulness of that MANHUNTER thing, one of the worst American movies.
HEAT is a fantastic film. THE INSIDER is a good film. COLLATERAL is an entertaining film. Everything else is pretty bad. Manhunter is pretty cheesy. Ali is tedious. Miami Vice was absolutely horrible. Last of the Mohicans was okay. Having said all that, I think he deserves a lot of respect for having a distinct visual style, and a very strong hold over the thriller genre. When he works with simple characters and motivations in a contained city or situation, he really shines as a director.
Mann is a great moviemaker. Watch any of his films… just one scene… just one take… and it is brilliant!
Heat is one of the best films of the 1990s, and while Miami Vice has some serious problems, it is probably one of the most avant-garde blockbuster films to come out of Hollywood in many a moon. I’m curious to see how Mann’s experimental, digital impressionism will come to terms with the period setting of his Johnny Depp 1930s Derringer film…
I love Heat. I think it’s a masterful modern Greek tragedy-type story. Otherwise, I like Collateral, Ali and The Insider to certain degrees, but I wouldn’t call any of them masterpieces. I still do think he makes films, not movies.
I really like Mann
Miami Vice (2006) – I especially liked his embracing of digital cameras with this one; really pushed the format.
Collateral (2004) – Same. A well made film and with Cruise playing the baddie.
The Insider (1999) – Excellent
Heat (1995) – Excellent addition to the crime genre
The Last of the Mohicans (1992) – Classic epic.
Mann is above average in all respects.
The Melville comparisons are valid, after all it was Melville who invented the modern crime film. Stylistically, Mann is a master of style and I believe that style is a character in his films. The trademark shots of characters staring a the ocean are poetic touches, Mann is one of the five living directors who can use a camera to immense the viewer in the detailed life of his characters. He populates his characters in world with immense attention to detail, and nothing less than credible. He chronicles the complicated life of criminals, and men who are swept against by their duty to society, a theme common to Melville’s works. If there’s one director whose entire career is based on Melville, it’s John Woo’s.
Miami vice was utter shit, possibly one of the worse movies of the decade. Mann refuses to compromise, and makes the movies he makes. Whether that strikes of audience involvement or anything watchable is not my guess, look at his take on Ali.
Best films: Manhunter, Heat, The Insider, Thief.
Underrated: Collateral, Thief.
Michael Mann is more than above average, he’s a great director with a unique set of storytelling abilities. He’s a great camera operator too.
“miami vice” is an avant-garde blockbuster? please do explain. first of all, what’s an avant-garde blockbuster? second of all, why is “miami vice” one?
I think that Daniel Kasman was just referring to Miami Vice as a film that’s almost essentially composed of Mann’s style. I would say that it can be considered avant-garde because of the technical novelty of the film, what with it being almost entirely shot in HD digital video.
Apart from the overtly philosophical introspection of Melville’s criminals, I agree with you that Mann is somewhat of a spiritual successor to Melville: Unadulterated and accurate depictions crime, real-world technology, the kinds of personalities who would be (and are) involved in the criminal and law enforcement worlds. Great filmmakers, them.
Of course, “Heat” is his highest point as an auteur but I feel that after that he evolved his method and theory. With “Collateral” we saw the first of his new vision and I love how he blended digital with celluloid. This was his bridge; he, like Lynch and Fincher has “evolved” to the future cinematic wisdom which is the digital era of cinema. I love “Miami Vice” for it’s disconnected portrayal of the gritty underground which is international drug dealing. The masks people wore prevented any emotional connection throughout the film. Aside from Tubb’s relationship with his woman, there really wasn’t supposed to be any true emotional depth for the film. But it was the finest depiction of modern criminalism within America to date, no film has come closer to nailing the gangster/crime culture of today. Mann loves crime and he spends his time studying how to develop a modern example of it for his cinematic experimentation. From a sociological stand point, it’s based on the 80’s TV series, that contrast alone shows you how darker our culture has gotten. When the biggest film since a historical immigration film about a ship sinking is the story of a moody brute of an anti-hero who has to take down a war painted anarchist, you know the times have changed.
Yeah man! The Dark Knight is awesome!
Heat is phenomenal. My favorite film. If nothing else it’s one of the best exercises in genre film making. The rest of Mann’s work is made interesting by that virtue alone. None of it’s particularly great though. Thief really has its moments, but other than that…
Thank you Matthias.
the simple fact of shooting a film in HD is not a technical novelty, and i surely dont think it qualifies for the category of
“avant-garde” on its own.
“miami vice” is a film that any number of journeymen directors could have made. its nothing special at all. not one thing in it was original or interesting. tough guy undercover cops, a sexy girl, an illicit affair, latin drug lords, a few shootouts, the end.
Maybe so. The reason I liked it was just that it was an entire film composed of Mann’s style. I mean, to me it almost reads as a syllabus of how Michael Mann ideally directs a film.[shrug] I dunno, maybe that’s wrong. Anyway, I actually would like to hear the opinion of it being an “avant-garde” blockbuster. How I answered was just my presumption, I mean… I really don’t know Daniel Kasman’s reasoning behind it, but I am interested in reading it. I dunno if I’d call it “avant-garde”.. I just thought it was very slick.
for me, the syllabus on mann is “heat”. but i have to admit, i haven’t seen his early films. i’m curious to check them out.
The pilot episode of Miami Vice is by far my all time favorite bit of television history.