With Public enemies starting this week, what do you think of Michael Mannas a director?
In my opinion he has made two great films (Heat, Insider), two very good ones (Public Enemies, Manhunter) and the rest is pretty much forgettable. I have to admit I have not seen Ali or his pre-Manhunter films.
He’s probably the best straight up action movie director there is.
I admire Mann’s uncanny grasp of machismo (fascinating to me, being female) and his obsessive attention to detail. His films overflow with testosterone. However, his work can sometimes be too slick for it’s own good and it bothers me that guns and masculinity are interchangeable in his world.
Mann’s first film, Thief, is still his best (Manhunter is a close second). I also like The Keep which is an interesting failure.
Heat is way overrated (one great action sequence does not make a great movie).
On a whole, I’d say he’s a great craftsman (I don’t mean that as a put down although that term is often used that way in film) but his films leave me cold. I saw Public Enemies today. The direction is good, the performances are great, but the film is dull and lifeless.
I am almost ashamed to say that I have seen none of his work, except like 15 minutes of Heat on cable.
I startle myself. Will watch Thief and Heat asap. Might even catch Public Enemies, but Marion Cotillard, I don’t know…
I see your point about Public Enemies, but I felt differently, it somehow worked for me anyway. I don’t think Heat is considered great because of “one great action sequence”… What do you think about Insider?
Rich Uncle you’re not a fan of Marion Cotillard? I thought I was the only one…
why not? just interested…
wait, he did The Insider? Then I did see a Michael Mann film.
I remember nothing about it except it had Russell Crowe as a tobacco executive. Weird.
Fandorin are you talking about me? If so I just can’t see the appeal that she has. I saw her performance in La Vie en Rose and found it completely hammy and over the top. In all her other performances she seems extremely bland and dull. I haven’t seen her in a point of balance between these two extremes and certainly nowhere near anything worthy of all the attention she has been receiving by both the public and directors.
Yeah he did, you should watch it again. The cinematography alone makes the movie worth watching…
@User de Faux-Fuyants: Yeah i was. I’ve heard people say that before. But in my opinion for that role it was necessary. There was certainly no overacting in Public enemies. And I think the year that she won the oscar (was it last year?) she completely deserved it, even more than Julie Christie.
I felt all his movies so far missed the much needed punch, at times they all seem hollow too, but yes I would definitely watch Public Enemies this weekend for Cotillard and ofcourse Depp
I used to really like Michael Mann. Heat and The Insider are two of the best films from the 90s. Ali began the decline in my admiration. While I don’t dislike Collateral, I wasn’t that impressed with it when I first saw it. However Miami Vice was a clusterfuck and now with Public Enemies, Collateral looks pretty damn good. With three unimpressive films in a row, I’m done paying attention to Mann. Maybe he’ll return to form someday but I’m not optimistic. His venture into digital has left me completely baffled. I can see now why the reviews for Public Enemies have not been encouraging. What a disappointmen Michael Mann has become. Ugh.
I though HEAT was really overrated with “one great action sequence” for a full decade till I watched it three times in the past two months and realized it is amazing (granted, de Niro’s love story is pushing it, and the serial-killer character Waingro is an over-the-top addition). Action sequences that advance our emotional understanding of characters are smart.
Never mind the action in Heat – it’s not a film made in the editing room. Read the script – it’s beautifully written, crafted. The film was destined to be a classic even at the script stage.
Ali is flawed…but always interesting. For me anyway.
There is a tension, a dynamic quality present throughout his work. I try not to use the term painterly when talking about filmmakers, so I’ll say the manner in which he renders (as in to represent; to reduce or convert by heating- that is what he does,in fact- to place people and things under the heated intensity of his gaze) scenes and specific moments, is illustrative of a true cinematic intelligence. I do think he’s capable of much more than what we’ve seen. I think there may just be a hyper-impressionist (I may not be satisfied with that term overall, but it’s suitable for now) inside him waiting to be freed. I made this observation on the notebook piece about him recently. He is one of the most efficient filmmakers working in the industrial cinema of Hollywood. This efficiency, coupled with his expressive eye for composition and artistic taste, gives his work a definite minimalist feel. Yet he prefers to work on vast subjects. Someone said somewhere that “Heat” was not human scale. That is incorrect. That film is nothing if not driven by character. Mann takes full advantage of L.A.’s architecture, which looms menacingly. The group of thieves use this architectural hysteria to their advantage- they know its every inch, ports, undergound garages, cold corporate edifices, airports, cheap motels, back alleys, abandoned drive-in theaters, to downtown which becomes a war zone. The city itself becomes a character. In Mann, there are traces of Melville, Antonioni and Kubrick. He is without question one of the more interesting filmmakers at work.
I can’t help but feel that he never should have made the Miami Vice film. No one was calling for it; and doing it surely did make him look like a hack.
I dig him. Even when I don’t find his movies interesting in terms of storytelling, I have a hard time prying my eyes away from the visuals he offers (e.g. Miami Vice). When he’s on, though, he’s on (e.g. The Insider).
As a Director Michael Mann is Underrated.
When it comes to action there is NO ONE better. Period. I feel sorry for anyone who thinks otherwise. They also probably think “Bad Boys 2” was something special, but hated “Miami Vice”. Which is ridiculous! If you wanted to say “Miami Vice” was the greatest “Cop Action Movie” ever? You’d have a valid argument. If you said that about “Bad Boys 2”, I’d laugh my @ss off. As far as Mann’s films go; From “Last of the Mohicans” to “Miami Vice” he made ONE and only ONE bad movie. It was called “ALI”! “Collateral” is a typical thriller. It’s also the best typical thriller ever made, because Mann is the only SERIOUS Director, directing action. Literally. He’s also diverse enough to do films like “The Insider”. If you like action? Or, you’re one of those “pseudointellectuals” who claim to only like SERIOUS films from SERIOUS filmmakers; and you have negative things to say about Michael Mann? Well…
“You’re unbelievable man, you’re un-f!cking believable…” -Christian Bale
I’ve only seen two of his films — THE INSIDER and MANHUNTER.
I liked THE INSIDER well enough, but haven’t felt the need to revisit it. Probably Russel Crowe’s best performance, and Pacino doesn’t chew the scenery as thoroughly as he usually does.
MANHUNTER, on the other hand, is a real piece of shit. One of the most laughably bad films ever, badly written acted and directed. Ridiculous.
The Insider is a work or art.
very efficient action director and I agree with Casey, The Insider is a brilliant movie (is it me, or is that the LAST DECENT thing Pacino has done?)
I don’t think The Insider was the last decent thing Pacino has done. I thought he did a wonderful job in Insomnia and his performance in Angels in America still haunts me.
Some people say he was good in The Merchant of Venice but I haven’t seen it.
I forgot about Insomnia and Angels in America…I loved him in both of those, in fact he was brilliant in Angels in America…thanks Fredo. And yes, he was pretty good in Merchant of Venice…Michael Radford made a terrific movie.
I’m a big fan of Collateral. Although a bit implausible at points, the dynamic between Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise was great, and the first sequence with Foxx and Jada Pinkett Smith is fantastic. I could have gone for a whole movie of that alone, action aside… the music was worked well into the story and the LA sky at night was shot beautifully (Mann has done wonderful things with digital filming)
Mann is seductive but long-winded, so for me there’s always been a push and pull at work it his films, a tension between the two impulses, a race between boredom and payoff. In my opinion he stays in his comfort zone—the crime drama—far too much for his own good. I’d like to see him undertake projects like Last of the Mohicans, The Insider, and Ali more often.
“Thief” and “Collateral” are his two best films. He even borrows from “Thief” in Collateral, as those who are familiar with the two films surely know. I think Manhunter is waaaay overrated and actually quite boring, and Heat is perhaps the best cops and robbers caper ever brought to celluloid – well developed characters, an engaging story and fantastic, true-to-form cinematography.