Monthly Archives: January 2012

Who is Michael Mann?

Michael Mann is my favorite film director of all time. Watching, observing and relieving a Michael Mann movie is like being involved in some realistic stylish awesome voyage, in which you will be engaged with the poetics of the cinema in the grandest of possible ways. From the splendid and elegant of HEAT, to the raw and tribal of The Last of the Mohicans. From the groovy and impressionistic of ALI, to the mysterious and lyrical Collateral, Michael Mann is the perfect film director. I admit that I’m not watching The Keep yet, but in my personal encyclopedia, Michael Mann’s is the only director that never disappoint me. He always live to the hype. Every single one of his movie is like a Pure cinematic excitement that actually matters and can be as mainstream as Martin Scorsese’s or Brian De Palma’s and at the same as classy and artsy as Akira Kurosawa’s or David Lynch’s

The most important part of Michael Mann’s way of film making is his visual approach. While other great directors like Burton, Del Toro, Lynch or even Scorsese often shoot their movie just like the equivalent of their own personal painting or storybook, Michael Mann takes it the other way. Mann is giving fiction the REALITY ink from the visualization point of view that every movie actually need, to make it believable and feels like a real world story that could happen right here right now in front of us. There’s no single film in the mainstream cinema that breathe realistic oxygen of life like Michael Mann’s. Even in an absurd script like MIAMI VICE feature film, he still get the style, attitude, the music, the combat/action done right and once again, believable.

Other huge point of his visual approach is Michael Mann’s sense of urban hip or attitude. Its like Michael Mann know how to make something look very urban, and icy cold in a very cool way. In HEAT, Mann manage to create a very large criminal city stories that maintain its poetic sense in the subplot(one of the Christopher Nolan The Dark Knight Inspiration), powered by minimalist take on Neil McCauley’s place and a spectacular fight-to-the-death in the climactic moments on an beautiful airplane runway. In COLLATERAL, Mann manage to transform the disconnected city of angels into 2003’s version of Blade Runner’s Los Angeles. MIAMI VICE makes me came out of the movie feeling like I wanted to go clubbing, drink Mojito’s and driving around Miami in a Ferrari accompanied by Phil Collins’s in the Air Tonight.

Airport Scene from "Heat"

 

Miami Skyline thru Viper Digital Camera in Miami Vice

Visualization maybe Mann’s greatest arsenal. Still, we are talking about Movies, not commercial for some random product. Film with great visualization or cinematography is a major crap without a great script/story or acting. But believe me when I say, I’m yet to find a very bad or even good but pretentious from any Mann’s movie. MIAMI VICE plot might be silly, dumbed down, and detached, but it get covered by solid performance from Farrel, Foxx(contrary to majority people, I love the duo and Colin Farrel Haircut) and Gong Li, even the chemistry between them is almost zero. My feelings of PUBLIC ENEMIES might be too Johnny Deep-Bad version-esque, but the very authentic script and excellent performance of Contilard and Christian Bale covered its flaws. Aside from that two minor error, every single Michael Mann’s movie is filled with acting powerhouse and great script. MANHUNTER introduces us to the very underrated performance of Brian Cox as the great Hannibal Lecter, and comparing this film to the 2003’s version(Red Dragon) is like comparing Infernal Affairs to the Departed. Even by the time this entry is written, Russell Crowe’s performance in THE INSIDER is still his very best. And no need to dispute what many have written about Al Pacino, this is the actor that give 187 percent of his performance in every single movie he’s acted no matter how stupid the movie is(Gigli and Simone). Putting him in Michael Mann’s movie is like placing a bet on Mike Tyson if Tyson is boxing against random blind old man. THE INSIDER is totally devoid of sex, violence, gunshots, car chases, huge explosions, cliches’ or cute furry animals, but it is the strongest, most-intense and most-absorbing Mann’s movie in term of storyline. Its like you’re living in the deeper emotions, philosophies, and motivations of Lowell Bergman and Jeffrey Wigand. COLLATERAL, my number one favorite movie of all time teach me that Tom Cruise can act and at the same time didn’t activated his over-acting mode. I guess Cruise will never get an Oscar, because this is his best performance, EVER. I can go on and on about COLLATERAL, but this is a Michael Mann’s Article. THIEF, is a rare a thriller film that has a lot of character development and also retains a fast pace throughout. While in current time, that kind of movie doesn’t uncommon anymore, THIEFprobably the first one that attempt to do it in a very accurate way in terms technicality.

Even though I tell you that Michael’s Mann movie is as mainstream as Martin Scorsese’s, De Palma’s or even Ridley Scott’s,  its still hard to find some movie goers that really worship Mann’s work like I did, at least in my country. People tend to treat Michael Mann’s movie in the same level as any other director that specialized in action or fast cut modern technique directors like Anthony Fuqua or Tony Scott. Don’t get me wrong, those are fine directors. But Mann’s power is way classier and cutting edge than everybody else. Probably the reason Mann’s movie not as famous as any major five stars movie because not a lot of people could get the quick cuts, unconventional camera angle, the true meaning behind Mann’s poetic shots, or authentic real sound of guns. Or is it because Michael Mann’s movie didn’t have any imaginary fantasy to sell and powered only by realistic and authentic detailed script? Whatever it is, I already get Michael Mann. And ever since he change the way I view movie, I never look cinematography the same way again and made me comparing almost every single aspect of other movie to Michael Mann’s. He set the standard.

My top 10 Favorite Michael Mann’s Film Moment

  1.  Club Scene, Collateral.
  2. Opening Scene, Ali
  3. Opening Scene, Miami Vice, Theatrical Edition
  4. Legendary Meeting between De Niro and Pacino, Heat
  5. Chasing The Bandit, Christian Bale’s First Appearance, Public Enemies
  6. Hunt Scene between Cruise and Jada Pinket Smith, Collateral
  7. How to get close to your enemies, Harbor Scene, Heat
  8. Wigand television appearance, The Insider
  9. Silent Combat and QCC brawl without music, Miami Vice
  10. Burn the British, The Last of the Mohicans

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Dan in Real Life * 6/10

Dan in Real Life opens with columnist Dan, single father of three girls, raising them like the every movie cliche dad he is, traveling to a family gathering after a quick introduction each of his daughters. Right after that, he meets a woman who he’s instantly attracted to, but who turns out to be his brother’s girlfriend. And that’s where the “chaos” begin to pick up.

The Role of Dan Burns, a newspaper advice columnist, a widower, and a controlling father seems like born to be played by Steve Carell. Dan Burns is like the carbon copy of all Carell character in other movie. Decent guy with a subtle loneliness, sweet but sometimes can be selfish and irritating. But nonetheless, he did a nice job as usual. His brother’s girlfriend, Marie, played by Juliette Binoche. Believe or not, she’s playing herself in this movie. From that thick European accent, to that pretentious European biography, everything around her is screaming, why in the blue hell Marie is falling in love with Dan? Her chemistry with Carell is almost zero. I don’t like it. But somehow I guess it sells. I can tell by how critics seems to like this movie.

By overall design and story, Dan in Real Life is very mainstream. From the typical soft and peaceful location that accompanied by some fantastic music by Sondre Lerche, to the light hearted tone and the existence of a perfect family without a single dysfunction between all the members, Dan in Real Life is everything that you want in this kind of flick that you’ll enjoy as THE movie before you sleep companion, just so you can have a nice dream. Because Dan in Real life is so dreamy, fluffy and completely unrealistic.

If you can completely suspend your disbelief for two hours, then perhaps you’ll enjoy this sentimental so-called romantic-dramedy. Don’t get me wrong, Dan in real Life by no means is not a BAD movie. Dan in Real life is like Kentucky Fried Chicken. The taste is good, but still, its a junk food.

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L’Heure d’été(Summer Hours) * 7.6/10

 

I’m glad that L’Heure d’été is the second movie that I see in the first day of 2012(the first one is the hilarious cult classic This is Spinal Stap) and the first movie that I reviewed in this blog.  Its a sweet movie to start the last year of humankind existence. L’Heure d’été is a rare beautiful sublime take on a delicate family dilemma. To sum everything that’s in the movie, its a very French-Beautiful to gaze at, with extremely sophisticated artistic but a bit burqoise, accompanied by realistic dialog and a quiet, thoughtful plot.

It’s basically about three siblings, one lives in France, another in New York, and another in China. They barely can get altogether to see their 75 year old mother, who was a sister from a very prominent artist/collector. The mother dies, and then the kids have to decide what to do next with her estate.  At first I thought the story is all about the family. But eventually the curtains is opening and made me figured out that this film isn’t about a family at all. It is about a house, the things inside of it and the changing character of those objects. Despited with the absence of all heavy emotion drama scene,  L’Heure d’été feels like a journey that really breathes. It means that the movie is full of life, depicted in a steep realistic and simple talks, like most of France Cinema. The movie captures the sad reality that when a person’s life is over, its over. There’s no such thing as stuff for you to bring to your grave, no matter how valuables it is. When you die, you’re just passing the generation Baton. Aside from Juliette Binoche, I never saw all other actors in  L’Heure d’été. But they did a fine good job to stay to become the character in that family. I like the guy who played the oldest siblings. You can feel his sublime/subtle rage at losing control of the inevitable and to the things he loved. From the cinematography point, even though sometimes L’Heure d’été  feels like a commercial, it is very pastel and cherish, like a tree bark in the nice warm summer sunshine.

L’Heure d’été is good movie. Probably worth of repeated viewing, but not more than 2 or 3 times. Its ‘private” plot somehow reminded me of Hirokazu Koreeda’s Still walking. But not in the same league, Still Walking is more sophisticated and touching. But If you love French Cinema, festival movies and all those things, you’ll love  L’Heure d’été. But for me,  I was so certain that I was going to love this film from that soothing opening credits, only I found that I ended up linking it instead. It doesn’t meant that its a bad or even decent movie. Its a great movie. but I don’t understand where all these awards coming from :

Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Language Film
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language Film
National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language Film
Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards (nominated)
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language film (nominated)
Houston Film Critics Society Awards (nominated)
Online Film Critics Society Awards (nominated)
Denver Film Critics Society (nominated)
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards (nominated)

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