The Insider is the only Mann film I really give a crap about. Heat is ninety minutes too long.
Re: Miami Vice, I mean avant-garde blockbuster in terms of the combination of the use of digital video for a high-budget film with Michael Mann’s increasing use of impressionism in terms of narrative and cinematic style. As Ryland Knight Walker has pointed out before, Mann is actually quite similar in his later style to “impressionistic” based art-house directors like Claire Denis, Wong Kar-wai, and Terence Malick. There was a great, though awkwardly translated, piece in Miami Vice in Cahiers du cinema at the time that gets close to what that film does greatly (and ignores what it does poorly), I’ll try to find it once I can access their site again.
I agree that Mann’s use of the camera is on the avant garde. He has this amazing ability to make the cinematography look completely ad hoc, like a naïve observer jerking between points of interest, and yet he never falls over the edge to have things become confusing and pretentious like Paul Greengrass.
I will have to add that Michael Mann is one of my favourite directors as well. Even his worst moments are brilliant compared to what other ‘Hollywood’ directors put out. Heat is also one of my favourite films and what I like about Mann is his sense of realism as well as dedication to detail. Just simple things like the changing of a gun magazine – if it was Rambo he would use one of those guns without even having to change rounds but Mann shows as the realities. He also provides great characters to his films as well.
Miami Vice might not be his best work but I think in the future many people will revisit it and change there mind. The use of ‘blues’ in his films, including Miami Vice, are also fantastic. Overall, I think Mann, along with David Fincher, is one of the most underrated directors of our time. And what other director could actually bring out the best in Tom Cruise????
Whoa whoa whoa! I know where all pseudo-intellectuals and we only like intellectual films, but no love for Mann’s “The Keep”? Ridiculous!
Nobody likes “Ali”? I suppose it’s a little overblown, but there are many superb moments; in particular, that opening sequence intercutting Sam Cooke on stage with the young Ali is, I think, one of the most thrilling openings I’ve ever seen.
‘Last of the Mohicans’ is some epic shit. Daniel Day-Lewis often appears in my dreams, running through a forest, his silken locks flying off him like spume, while that sweet-ass theme music plays in the background.
Also, I think ‘Manhunter’ deserves commendation because of its crazy final showdown scene, which constitutes the only time I have ever heard “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and been able to stand it.
Then you’re yet to see “Real Killers.”
I’d watch/comment on The Keep but I can’t find it anywhere on DVD. Maybe I should dig out my VHS player, and peruse eBay for it. My only reservation would be that, from what I read, Mann’s preferred cut would be around 3-4 hours, and that the studio butchered it.
I like Ali for the same reasons you seem to: the stylistics. As man has a unique and distinctive visual style, what endears me to the work is the reason that I have a strong affinity for Miami Vice .
Wow! 3-4 hours of Nazi’s being terrorized by a monster… Brilliant!!! I know eBay is littered with bootleg DVDs that were ripped from the Laserdisc, so they should look alright and be accessible. There’s a very audacious fellow who put together these DVD sets that he would like to present to Mann of how the Keep’s “25th Anniversary” DVD should look. Please check them out- they are VERY impressive sets…
I take it from your sarcasm that your respect for the film or its technique is at best minimal? I’m interested in the work because Michael Mann is a personal favorite director of mine, and not because I expect it to be anything that great (as there is ample evidence that it isn’t).
Absolutely not! I love the Keep! My previous comment was 100% sarcasm free, otherwise,I wouldn’t be flaunting links of brilliant D.I.Y. DVD sets that I’m envious of. It is truly one of my favorites. I’m a sucker for Nazi/Horror exploits. In all honesty (and I do consider myself to a certain extent to a fan of truly good film), I would choose the Keep over many of his other more recognizable and respectable titles.
Ah. Just wondering. I guess I come from the Internet too much when it’s standard nature to assume that people are intentionally trying to deceive you when they have an opinion that seems foreign. My mistake. Also, the DVD does look quite presentable. I do however wish that Mann could do something with the film, so that it would be easier to see.
Tyler McGaughey- I am horribly ignorant. My response of “Real Killers” was directed at you, as it has that song as a main theme, but after looking at your post again, I am just now recognizing that Mann directed Manhunter, which I originally did not know, and to further my ignorance, I picked it up today, but mostly because it was this /100000 set from Anchor Bay. I’m going to watch it now!
“Heat is ninety minutes too long.”
As luck would have it, Mann made a 90-minute version just for you, called L.A.TAKEDOWN. How many other directors are that considerate?
As it happens, THE KEEP was the first Mann film I saw, on its original release – though sadly “original release” meant VHS as it went straight to video in Britain following its disastrous showing in the US. And because I doubt very much a pan-and-scan VHS of a Michael Mann film does it many favours, I’m tempted to be tactful – but let’s just say that plot and acting aren’t its strong points, and that Tangerine Dream should be quietly dissuaded from scoring WWII-era dramas and leave it discreetly at that. (In all seriousness, I’d very happily give it another look in a more representative version).
I don’t get the love for ‘Heat’. I found it overlong and quite frankly boring. I rank ‘Manhunter’, ‘Last of the Mohicans’, and ‘The Insider’ as his best from what I’ve seen.
“Protecting Family and Great Beachfront Property: The Curious Case of the Inconsistent Cinema of Michael Mann”.
I think MANHUNTER is incredible while the THE KEEP as follow-up was waaaaay off…enough to get me really scratching my head in suspicion of hack-dom. Catching a rare print of it at BAM made me unexpectedly glad that no raw materials had ever been wasted on a DVD release. It’s fine if things stay that way. Meanwhile, COLLATERAL is great, exhibiting excellent action choreography/editing and gripping storytelling economy/pacing/structuring. All of this in harmonious unison with Mann’s willingness to experiment with the new moving-image-technology options presented him by digital video. He successfully embraces the inherent differences video offers from film in COLLATERAL while going too far in MIAMI VICE, I think, to the point where the action becomes incomprehensible. HEAT (just viewed last night on BRAVO! pan’n’scan…Weeeeee!!!) sports great action admist too much story spread across too few psychologically fleshed-out characters portrayed by too inconsistent a cast of actors.
But his themes will always keep me interested: how families, whether given or adopted, look out for each other and their turf. Beyond that, the tradition of policing is explored as not only a civic duty reserved for “the few, the proud” but more even deeply what is explored is the sense of personal obligation that drives those who recognize and become obsessed with this broader duty as a means to protecting “family” from societies continuous potential to devolve back into feral violence.
I love the cheesiness, more prone to registering it a genuine earnestness in the face of serious stakes. And I love his committed use of electronic music from the patch-work soundscape of MANHUNTER’s multi-composer score through his dogged reliance on minimalist Moby compositions in later films. Get this guy collaborating with M-83, stat! He’s the new Vangelis whose cheese you either hate or whose crude blocks of sentiment you love, and I think they’d bring each other to the next level.
Tyler, good call on the “InnaGaddaDaVida”, brilliantly preserved in its bloated entirety across the full duration of MANHUNTER’s insanely suspenseful endgame. Providing an almost subliminal reference-point that the extended sequence is unfolding IN REAL (FUCKING!) TIME drives home the point that the police squad’s rescue effort could not have unfolded in any other way with any other choices being made in any other order or at any other time without probable failure. TENSE! A consumate finale to a film full of “ticking time-bomb” sequences. Dovetailing with his faith in electronic scores, I think Mann is generally very good about (and largely alone in) admitting that popular music is an oft-ignored major force behind our modern emotional landscape.
Fuck all the pretentious cinephile bullshit. Mann is one of the great filmmakers for lots of reasons. But one in particular would be…
“That’s not what happens. What will happen is… what will happen is…I will put a round at twenty-seven hundred feet per second into the medulla at the base of your brain. And you will be dead from the neck down before your body knows it. Your finger won’t even twitch. Only you get dead. So tell me, sport, do you believe that? "
Michael Mann, plain and simple, is a master of the cops and robbers genre, developing a style all his own characterized by vibrant, shimmering nocturnal cityscapes, taut scripts and compelling characterizations. Collateral and Heat are equal in excellence, but each stand out in their own right.
I love Michael Mann. I think Heat is one of the best action/dramas ever. The visual direction in it is ground-breaking and crazy tense. I also loved The Thief, Last of the Mohicans, Collateral, and Ali. I thought Miami Vice was weak, but the visuals in it were definitely more than enough to keep me interested. My second favorite of his movies is definitely Collateral. A great movie about a conversation with a hitman and someone he’s about to kill. Someone who is a person, with hopes and dreams and doesn’t just give up. Fuckin epic movie.
While I enjoyed Mann’s “prestige” films – The Insider and Ali – when I saw them, I don’t think I ever need to see them again. But reading this thread has made me realize how much I want to see Collateral and Miami Vice again.
Collateral was the movie that got me into Michael Mann, I watched Heat when I was in my early teens and had no appreciation for it. I went back and watched it and was floored, it was one of those movies I wished I had made. The professionalism and authenticity of the action made it one of those movies I’ve watched again and again, just learning from it every viewing. I’m really looking forward to Public Enemies.
Watched LAST OF THE MOHICANS and rewatched HEAT and COLLATERAL since posting a month ago. I take back anything I said against HEAT….it’s incredible. Can’t wait to watch it all. INSIDER’s next.
I think Mann is a good Hollywood craftsman, which makes him superior to a lot of filmmakers working today. Despite the DV, he seems a bit old-fashioned to me, particularly when he’s working in the crime thriller genre—Thief, Heat, Manhunter, Heat. Collateral, Miami Vice. He’s more interesting to me when he’s stepped outside of that genre—The Insider, Last of the Mohicans, and (to a lesser extent) Ali. His next two projects are more crime films, so I’m expecting more of the same.