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Video Essay. Anaphora: Michael Mann's "Blackhat"

Finding the reflective surfaces and auteurist echoes hiding in Michael Mann's misfit passion project.
Anaphora is a simple grammatical construction; it simply means the repetition of words at the beginning of successive sentences. Repeat something at the start of a few ideas and it starts to seem like an incantation, the start of a spiritual invocation. For me it’s how the auteurist part of my brain works. I see the signals up front that tell me whose work I’m watching, they align my defenses, attune me to the inner working of the art in front of me. The anaphoric tendencies of directors are signals to those of us looking for a way in. They’re mutual shibboleths, allowing us to know they have a coherent body of work, a continuity of visual and aural ideas of which to keep track. A body of work becomes a road map or a sheet of music. A way to orient oneself inside an artist’s mind.
This occasional series will attempt to chart a course through the outliers and stranger corners of director’s bodies of work. The films that no one remembers or talks about as much as the masterpieces. Blackhat struck me as the perfect starting point because it’s, to me, the ultimate Michael Mann movie of the digital era. So completely tuned to some unknowable, emotional frequency that only this director at this age could have produced it. I hope to find the reflective surfaces and auteurist echoes hiding in every misfit and passion project and final film by which I’ve been moved.

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