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The MICHAEL MANN Appreciation Thread

post #1 of 747
Thread Starter 
MICHAEL MANN Appreciation Thread


It ain’t no secret that I consider Michael Mann to be a truly magnificent and truly talented writer/director. I haven’t seen a BAD Mann film yet (though I have not yet seen The Keep (1983)). I’d rank his films like this: (directed only)

1.The Insider (1999) A+
2.Heat (1995) A+
3.Thief (1981) A
4.Collateral (2004) A
5.Ali – The Director’s Cut (2001) B+
6.Miami Vice (2006) B
7.The Last of the Mohicans (1992) B
8.Manhunter (1986) B-



Mann directs Jamie Foxx on the set of Collateral

Michael Mann grew up in the working class Chicago neighborhood of Humboldt Park and in 1960 he graduated from high school and attended the University of Wisconsin, to study English literature (for which he would receive a BA). After college, Mann studied at the London Film School, earning his master’s degree in 1967. While there he worked for an ad agency and toned up his directorial skills on commercials, documentaries and short films.

He moved back to the U.S. in the early 70’s and relocated to Los Angeles. He got work writing for such TV shows as “Starsky & Hutch” and “Police Story”. He also wrote the pilot for “Vega$”. His first directorial effort was The Jericho Mile (1979) for which he won a DGA award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Specials and he also won an Emmy for co-writing.

In 1981 came his feature film debut with the crime thriller, Theif starring James Caan. It was received well and was filmed on location in Mann’s hometown of Chicago. Real cops and thiefs were used as technical advisors for the film. In fact some real life cops were used as henchmens while former professional thief John Santucci was used as a cop. The great Dennis Farina is one of the cops used as a henchman.

The film was also praised for being very well done, technically speaking. All the tools used by Frank in the film are real and the vault he breaks into was an authentic vault purchased solely for that scene. And the technique used to break into it was real as well. Though the film never took off, Mann was making a mark in Hollywood.

In 1983 he followed up Theif with the critical and commerical disaster, The Keep. The film was based off of the book by the same name and was about a group of Nazi soldiers who are assigned to gaurd a Romanian Citadel. When the soldiers start dieing they call upon a lonely Jewish man to help figure out whats going on. I have never seen The Keep but I have never heard anything good about it. As far as I know it has never officially been released on DVD. At least not in Region 1.

After the disapointment of The Keep Mann moved back to television. He got a hold of a new cop show that would re-shape cops shows for a new generation. The show was called "Miami Vice". He served as executive producer (and wrote some episodes) for the shows entire five year run. "Vice" was a critical and commercial success. The ratings were great and the show was extremely popular. Because of it's use of popular-at-time music, flashy clothes, fast cars, and the slick, colorful style the show was a success with the "MTV Generation". While some feel the show lost it's steam around season three, the ratings were still good and the showed continued until its final episode aired on June 28, 1989 (an un-aired episode was broadcast several months later). Mann would re-visit Miami over 20 years later for big screen re-telling.

During Vice's run, Mann returned to the big screen in 1986 with the adaptation of Thomas Harris's book "Red Dragon" only retitled to Manhunter. It was the first Hannibal Lecktor film made and is the one often forgot about and swept under the rug. Brett Ratner remade or re-imagined this when he made Red Dragon in 2002. Though I do prefer Manhunter over Red Dragon it does suffer from being dated. It was made on a low budget and it easily shows. The film works as a taught little thriller and William Petersen (Gil Grissom on TV's "CSI") really shines as Will Graham. Thomas Noonan plays the Red Dragon, Francis Dollarhyde. Brian Cox was cast as Lecktor and delivers a performance just as good as Anthony Hopkins would do several years later in The Silence of the Lambs (1991).

The film also features the beginning of Mann's trademark visual style. The blues are prominent and the slick and stylish camera angles/shots are present. The use of music also adds to Mann's style as his soundtracks are always greatly thought out to help add to the film rather then distract you. While not one of Mann's greatest achievements it's still a nice little film and it does its job when it needs to.

Still during his "Miami Vice" years Mann started up another cop show. This time set in Chicago and starring Mann regular by this point, Dennis Farina. It was caled "Crime Story" and it only lasted about two seasons.

After Vice ended Mann would write and produce two mini-series about drug cartels. In 1990 there was "Drug Wars: The Camarena Story" for which he won another Emmy and in 1992 came "Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel" (1992) for which he recieved an Emmy nomination.


Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe in a scene from The Last of the Mohicans

In 1992 Mann returned to the big screen with the adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. It was recieved well by audiences and critics and took home an Academy Award for Best Sound. Mann has also gone on record as saying that "Mohicans" is a terrible piece of literature but that it was the story that had interested him in the project.

Mohicans remains one of Mann's most under rated films. Day-Lewis delievers a wonderful performance as Hawkeye and the final 20-30 minutes of the film is what makes it a good film. There's also a scene between Wes Studi and Jodhi May towards the end that helps to elevate the film.

It wasn't until 1995 that Michael Mann truly made a huge mark in the industry. In 1989 he had a made a little seen TV movie called "L.A. Takedown". This TV movie was used as blueprint for what has become known as one of the best police dramas ever made, Heat (which he wrote, produced and directed).

Heat was a critical and commerical success and it also made movie history by pairing two screen icons together for the first time. Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. The two had appeared previously in The Godfather Part II (1974) but were never acutally on screen together. Though in the famous "coffee shop scene" in Heat where these two icons meet they never actually appear in the same frame together. It's all over the shoulder shots which led to speculation that Pacino and De Niro were never on set together at the time of filming. This has been proven false.


Mann speaks with Pacino and De Niro during the shooting of Heat (1995)

The "coffee shop scene" was used as the marketing for the film and is what the film is mostly known for (aside from the shoot-out). Both actors deliever here and the dialogue between the two is marvelous.

Heat remains one of the best films ever made. It's truly a masterpiece of the genre and deserved a lot more praise then it got. It was shunned at the Academy Awards and only made about $68 million domestically. Mann's painstakingly accurate eye for detail helps propell this movie above all others of the same genre. The sounds of the guns are the real sounds those guns make. The cast went through exstensive fire arms training to prepare for what is known as the best shoot-out in cinema history.


Rear windows shatter as the gang pulls a heist at the beginning; De Niro and Kilmer in the shoot-out

The sound of the shoot-out is just absolutley jaw dropping. Hearing the guns echo through-out the streets of L.A. is just glorious to hear. Hearing the bullets tear through the metal of the police cruiser and shatters the windows it just makes you wonder why this film didn't win Best sound at the Oscars. It's truly a travesty that this thing picked up nothing.

Heat is one Mann's best efforts, a truly wonderfull blend of everything he's known for in his films. Great, well written characters, nice slick style, great performances and truly talented cast that included: Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Amy Brenneman, Natalie Portman, Danny Trejo, Tone Loc, Henry Rollins and Jeremy Piven, Wes Studi and Tom Noonan.

One of the more ballsy moves Mann pulled with Heat was that he let the shoot-out happen around the middle of the film. Any other director probably would have had the shoot-out at the end and have Hanna take McCauley down then. But Mann takes his time with these characters. He's still developing them all the way to the end. He even has a knack for making throw away characters important and memorable.
post #2 of 747
Thread Starter 

After the succes of Heat Mann reteamed with Pacino for the Academy Award nominated, (and my favourite Mann film) The Insider (1999).


Mann directs Pacino and Russell Crowe on the set of The Insider; Pacino & Crowe in a scene from The Insider

To me The Insider is Mann's best work. It's his masterpiece and a film that should have taken home Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay and Actor at the 2000 Academy Awards (though it was nominated for seven in total). This a truly breathtaking film and for me, there's absolutley nothing wrong with it. It's an amazing film from beginning to end and despite it's near three hour run time and the fact it's all just talking heads it's an interesting film which will keep your attention throughout.

The film tells the story of Jeffery Wigand, a former employee of Brown & Williamson tobacco company, who despite signing a non-disclosure agreement broke his silence and blew the whistle on the tobacco industry. Russell Crowe gives the performance of his career here as Wigand and deserved that Oscar which was bought by Kevin Spacey. Some believe (as I do) that is why Crowe won a year later for Gladiator.

The Insider is a film which truly changed my life both in a film viewing way, film making way and life changing way. It helped me appreciate the dramatic side of films more and the technical qaultiy of the film was amazing. This is truly the must-see of Mann's filmography.

There's a scene in the film that completley sold it for me:

Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino)

"You pay me to get guys like Wigand, to draw them out, to get them to talk, to get them to go on television. I do. He sits. He talks. He violates his own f@#kin' confidentiality agreement, and he's only the key witness in the biggest corporate malfeasance case, maybe the biggest public saftey health issue, in U.S. History. And Jeffery Wigand, who's out on a limb, does he go on television and tell the truth? Yes. Is it newsworthy? Yes. Are we gonna air it? Of course not! Why? Because he's not telling the truth? No. Because he is telling the truth, and the more truth he tells, the worse it gets!"


Pacino delivers this perfectly. He doesn't yell at the top of his lungs or anything like that. He just acts. Pacino deserves alot of praise for his performance as well.


Mann and Smith chat on the set

In 2002 Mann followed up the brilliant The Insider with another biopic, Ali. It was recieved to a luke warm buzz by the critics and the audiences came but it never made much of an impact. The film picked up two Academy Award nominations, one for Best Actor for Will Smith and one for Best Supporting Actor for Jon Voight.

Mann never much appreciated the cut of the film that was released into theatres so that was why he made a Director's Cut DVD which adds in six more minutes of footage. The film all around is good but ultimately just plays out as a run of the mill biopic. The Director's Cut is the recommended version since it has more alone time with Ali as he runs through Africa before his battle with Foreman.

Will Smith gained close to 40 pounds for the role of Ali and went through exstensive training. Again this is where Mann's knack for accurate detail comes into play. Smith's transformation is something that should really be appreciated.

Also in 2002 Mann headed back to the small screen with the short lived "Robbery Homicide Division" starring Mann-regular, Tom Sizemore. The show only lasted one season.

In 2003 Mann produced Baadasssss! (2003), Mario Van Peebles film about his fathers, Melvin Van Peebles, quest to make Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song (1971). It was a surpringly good little film and Peebles was actually very impressive both in front and behind the camera. Mann got on board with this film after having worked with Van Peebles during Ali, where Peebles portrayed Malcolm X.

Also in 2003 Mann was going to begin production on The Aviator. He ultimately decided to bow out since he didn't want to do a third biopic in a row and so he offered the film to Martin Scorsese and he accepted. Mann remained on as a producer and in 2004 the film was released to commericial and critical success. It picked up 11 Academy Award nominations (winning five) including a Best Picture nomination for Mann.


Tom Cruise (L) and Jamie Foxx (R) in a scene from Collateral

Also in 2004 the box office hit Collateral was released to great reviews and a good opening weekend. This is a truly solid film. Again, much like Heat, the gunshots are authentic and the cast went through exstensive fireamrs training. Tom Cruise gave a solid performance in a role that we're not accustomed to seeing himin The film also brought Jamie Foxx into the spotlight.

The action was well shot and the cinematography is some of the best in all of Mann's films. The soundtrack is top notch and is probably the best soundtrack for any Mann film. The film picked up two Academy Nominations: Best Editing and a Best Supporting Actor nod for Jamie Foxx in his role of Max, the cabbie who has to put up with Cruise's antics through the night. The National Board of Review presented Mann with the Best Director honors for 2004 as well.

In 2006 Mann released his big screen re-telling Miami Vice. The film didn't feature any of the stereotypical 80's nuances the show had. It had the fast cars, fast women, action and music that the show had but for a more contemporary audience. The film starred Colin Farrell as Det. Sonny Crockett and Jamie Foxx as Ricardo Tubbs. It opened on July 25, 2006 to mixed reviews and a semi-weak box office. The still featured Manns signature style for camera work, lighting and music but unfortunatly the overall characters and story were not on par with his previous. While still a good film it wasn't as great as Heat or The Insider.


Farrell (L) and Foxx (R) race to rescue a friend; Farrell waits to ambush

On Mann's slate for upcoming projects he has Arms and the Man (2006), The Few (2006) and Damage Control (2007) with Jamie Foxx. As well as Tonight, He Comes (2006 and The Kingdom (2006 on the producing side of things.

Sometimes during shooting Mann will also operate the camera. He did a lot of camera on Heat, some on The Insider and a lot of the boxing shots were done by Mann for Ali. So aside from writing, producing and directing he also operates the camera.

So hopefully this has given you a better understanding of my favourite director and hopefully you'll go out and see some of these movies if you haven't already.

EDIT: I apoligize for any and all spelling/grammar mistakes.
post #3 of 747
A great director. I haven't seen Ali all the way through, I haven't seen 'The Keep' either but I've heard it's a pretty bad effort by him although the concept sounds pretty cool. Russell Crowe should've won the oscar for 'The Insider' there's no debating that, him winning it for 'Gladiator' is almost like a slap in the face, it was still a good performance but it in no way was it oscar worthy, it was just a shame Crowe lost out due to hollywood politics, they've been pulling this 'you didn't get the oscar for the performance you should've gotten it for so here's an oscar to make up for it' for ages.

I like the recurring theme in some of Mann's films about state raised children.
post #4 of 747
Great job at summarizing Mann's career! He gets a lot of love for individual films but he is due for some appreciation for his entire career. He's one of my favorite directors as well, and he really should be mentioned alongside Scorsese and Ridley Scott. He hasn't made as many films as those two, but just like them Mann does an incredible job of making his films seem totally authentic. I've also never seen THE KEEP but I have seen his other films (though I only watched ALI on TNT so that may explain why it didn't do much for me). My top 3 would be HEAT, COLLATERAL, and MANHUNTER. THE INSIDER is also tremendous and a clear indication that Mann isn't just a pro when it comes to crime dramas only. There's nothing wrong with AMERICAN BEAUTY but as the years tick on THE INSIDER is a film that will probably seem more and more relavent.

I gush about HEAT all the time and deservedly so. It could have centered on just Pacino and his job in law enforcement and it would have been superb. It probably could have been mainly about DeNiro and his crew taking down scores and it would have been awesome. But put them together and you get the best crime drama ever. So many actors come off looking great in that movie. Actors who are only in one scene like Tom Noonan and Jeremy Piven make an impression because Mann's script makes everyone more than a throwaway character. L.A. TAKEDOWN has some huge flaws, but any fan of HEAT would find it interesting to see where it all started.

Mann's career on the small screen has also impressed me, though I haven't seen all of it. "Miami Vice" is as good as a police show can be that doesn't have Michael Chiklis in the lead. It melds drama, action, and humor perfectly and I'm a sucker for the great guest stars as well. I was hoping "Robbery Homicide Division" would be a bit more like "Vice." The show was worth watching because it bucked the tired "Law and Order" trend but a little more of "Vice's" pace could have helped that show. I hope it ends up on DVD at some point.

I have not seen "Crime Story," but I'm very happy that both seasons are being released on DVD this Tuesday. The 1st season was available previously but it's being put out at a cheaper price and I'm definitely picking that one up. I liked Dennis Farina the few times he showed up on "Vice" so I'm sure I'll enjoy him headlining a Mann series.

The MIAMI VICE film is shaping up to be one hell of a movie. I wasn't too happy about casting Farrell as Crockett but with Mann's track record I'm more than willing to see what the man who made Tom Cruise seem like a badass can do with Farrell.
post #5 of 747
My favorite director, hands down. I love everything he's done, and I mean everything.

His TV work is phenomenal. "Miami Vice" was a great show with a ton of cinematic style, and "Crime Story" was even better. A real precursor to stuff like "The Wire" and the HBO fare. Even the TV movies, especially "Drug Wars: The Camarena Story" were good enough to be theatrical releases.

"Heat" is my favorite movie of all time, and "The Insider" and "Last of the Mohicans" are in the top 10. "Ali" is amazing, and far better IMO than a lot of people give it credit for being. "Collateral" get a lot of love too, and "Manhunter" is great too.

His films will continue to gain in popularity and critical respect, and I think he's the best director working today. Great thread Brendan.
post #6 of 747
Last of the Mohicans doesn't get enough love around here. One of my favorite films.
post #7 of 747
The last twenty to thirty minutes, from the canoe scene to the end, for me is one the best segments in all of film.
post #8 of 747
Word.
post #9 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter Strauss:Actor/Gardener?
The last twenty to thirty minutes, from the canoe scene to the end, for me is one the best segments in all of film.
That's what I've been preaching for years.

Not enough people have seen this film and those who have do not appreciate it for what it truly is.
post #10 of 747
I'm there. There is an elegance, effortlessness and natural confidence to Mann's work, from Manhunter on to Collateral, that generally make his film surpass most other ones in the same genre.
Someone in another thread said any Mann film automatically becomes the year's most anticipated, and even if that's not completely true for me, I agree on the general principle.
As for favorite working filmmaker, he's up there with the best of them.

(I actually haven't seen Thief )
post #11 of 747
Hi..first post but I just had to because I to love Michael Mann's work.As someone who's seen The Keep it's weak but by all means not a terrible film like many have claimed.For me it falls into the so bad its good type of film that I grew up on along with other 80's horror films.Plus it had a kickass score by Tangerine Dream which I know people either love or hate.The horror genre just doesnt fit Mann kinda like when Oliver Stone made The Hand.Filmmakers like Scorsese and Mamet probably wouldn't do well in this genre either.Which is fine by me because I love crime films and am glad we have people like Michael Mann around to make them.Nice thread Brendan.
post #12 of 747
I think Collateral got Mann some deserved respect which The Insider strangely didn't. I remember an interesting quote from Mann, that film directors are like fighters, they only have X number of fights in them. Hopefully Mann has a few left.
post #13 of 747
Love the man's work and his films. LOTM, Heat and The Insider are 3 of my alltime favorite movies. I still haven't seen Thief or Ali.
post #14 of 747
Definitely check out Thief, JD. I was mixed on Ali when it came out, but I now appreciate many of its virtues.

Also worth checking out - although I've only ever found it on EP VHS, and caught many years ago on A&E - is Mann's directorial debut, The Jericho Mile. Peter Strauss is a lifer in Folsom, a runner whose speed catches the notice of Olympic officials. Mann first brought out some of the themes mentioned by others in this thread. Really worth watching and hopefully will get a re-worked DVD release some day.
post #15 of 747
Thread Starter 
Thanks for compliments and repsonses folks! I too would love to The Jericho Mile and L.A. Takedown. I heard The Keep was coming out on DVD sometime but I guess those plans went away? I didn't know "Crime Story" was hitting DVD soon, so I'll have to rent that and check it out.

Oh and sorry for all the spelling and grammar mistakes. It took quite awhile to type up and it was late.
post #16 of 747
"You pay me to get guys like Wigand, to draw them out, to get them to talk, to get them to go on television. I do. He sits. He talks. He violates his own fuckin' confidentiality agreement, and he's only the key witness in the biggest corporate malfeasance case, maybe the biggest public saftey health issue, in U.S. History. And Jeffery Wigand, who's out on a limb, does he go on television and tell the truth?

Yes.

Is it newsworthy?

Yes.

Are we gonna air it?


Of course not!

Why?

Because he's not telling the truth?

No.

Because he is telling the truth, and the more truth he tells, the worse it gets!"

That scene was what sold me forever on Michael Mann.
post #17 of 747
Thread Starter 
I should add that to my thread above. That scene is great and it's part of the reason why I love The Insider so much. Pacino delivered all that excellently.
post #18 of 747
Two more things I love about Michael Mann:

In the L.A. movies, but particuarly Heat, he does this awesome thing with his cinematographer that I can never figure out, but in the outdoor scenes, he makes it feel like you can see the waves coming off the ground. In Heat, it's a subtle thing, although you can see them from time to time, but it's always there. It's done to some extent in The Insider, too, and it just blows my mind whenever I see it.

Details. I'm thinking, of course, of the controversial ending to Collateral. I remember there was much discussion on these boards and elsewhere about how Foxx could best Cruise, despite being inconvienenced. Yet to anyone who knows Mann and knew that "attnetion must be paid," it made perfect sense. Vincent, the stone-cold killer, a perfect model of efficiency (three in the chest, two in the head), is so set in his pattern that the closing of the steel railway door blocks his killing shots. Max, on the other hand, is inexperienced, and thus, fires blindly through the glass. It's one of my favorite things about the movie and one of many "missed it the first time" details that Mann throws in. [I've mentioned the implication that Pacino's Vincent Hanna might be the one who brought down James Caan's Frank (from Thief) elsewhere as well.]
post #19 of 747
That scene from THE INSIDER pretty much sums up why it's one of the best straight dramas to come around in a long time. I also love the courtroom showdown between Bruce McGill and Wings Hauser and that's another example of Mann writing a great scene involving a couple of characters that only have a short period on screen. I hope Mann works with Pacino and Crowe again, though DeNiro is probably the guy that could really use a good Mann project at this point.
post #20 of 747
That Insider scene's my favorite, and there are a lot of big, bombastic Pacino moments in it (I fought for you! I still fight for you!), but Mann seems to be able to bring out the guy's subdued side like nobody else. One of my other favorite moments in the movie is where Al says to his wife "I'm alone on this," and we get the entire implication of what that means. Or when he calms Wigand down by saying "We're running out of heroes. Guys like you are in short supply." Or how in Plummer's big scene ("...Betraying the legacy of Edward R. Murrow."), he's a great re-actor rather than trying to push Plummer off-stage.

Then, of course, there's the last line of the picture, which could be this great PAY ATTENTION, VIEWERS! THIS MEANS SOMETHING! moment of the movie, but he downplays it and so does Mann.

"What got broken here...doesn't get put back." And Mann lets the Unabomber coverage in the background speak for itself. It says so much about the current state of TV news, yet it's delivered in a way that, again, makes you stop and think.

Heat's got a lot of good moments for Pacino, too. For example:

"You might get killed....WALKIN' YO' DOGGIE!"

"You can eat in my house. You can fuck my wife. But. You. Do Not. Get. TO WATCH. MY FUCKING. TELEVISION SET!"

And on the opposite end, when he's in the hospital and he gets the call. That scene with Diane Venora's great--it plays just like it's supposed to, the mirror to DeNiro getting his call. Whoever brought up the Raiders of the Lost Ark analogy (Belloqu: "I am a shadowy reflection of you. It would only take one nudge to make you like me.") to describe Hanna and McNeil had it exactly right.
post #21 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Alexor
That's what I've been preaching for years.

Not enough people have seen this film and those who have do not appreciate it for what it truly is.


Indeed. Especially the moment between Wes Studi and Jodhi May at the ledge where Mann lets the camera rest on her close-up for about a minute or so...sublime.

SPOILER:

MAGUA

moves on Alice. His knife is low, about to strike. She stares at him. Her eyes are like
pools of deep water, calm, open, almost beatific. It stops Magua ...

MAGUA

inexplicably, drops his knife hand. He's riveted by her. About him, there's a glimmer of
something else. He wears a human face for this one moment. He reaches out with his
other hand to offer her safety. To bring her back from the edge ...

ALICE

looks down at Uncas, her lover, dead on the rocks below. She turns to Magua with
enigmatic calm. Her eyes seem to see into him. She steps off the edge.
post #22 of 747
My favorite scene in "The Insider" is when Russell Crowe is in his hotel room and Pacino tries to get in touch with him. Just something about that scene really gets to me.
post #23 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by RathBandu

Heat's got a lot of good moments for Pacino, too. For example:

"You might get killed....WALKIN' YO' DOGGIE!"

"You can eat in my house. You can fuck my wife. But. You. Do Not. Get. TO WATCH. MY FUCKING. TELEVISION SET!"
Interestingly enough, this scene, like a lot of others in "Heat", can be found almost verbatim in "Crime Story" the TV show. Farina's character catches his wife cheating too, has the same dialogue, and the same stop by the road to kick the TV out of the car. There's a lot of other similar scenes, some with exact dialogue, which is pretty neat for "Heat" lovers.

And I'll echo the love for "Last of the Mohicans". The battle is masterful, I love how he pulls back at the beginning to just watch is escalate from afar, the muted sound and confusion. I love the scene under the stars, and the final monologue by Russell Means. A terrific film.

And I'll soon post my initial post in my "Ali" appreciate thread, as it seems to be the one few people can muster up much love for.
post #24 of 747
I watched LOTM again last night because of this thread, and damn if it isn't great. I can't believe it didn't make the the CHUD 100 kills list, cuz there are some fantastic ones:

1) Chingchacook chucking his big, gnarly whatever-the-fuck-it-is into the back of the fleeing Huron.

2) Redcoat #9 getting scalped (although maybe not technically a kill because he's still alive when it cuts away)

3) The Huron who threatens Cora during the battle and gets a couple of tomahawk chops (forehand and backhand) to the grillpiece from DDL in return.

4) Magua. The cracking sounds when he guts hit is what sells it. The sound design on this film is top-notch. The best sound effects for people getting stabbed/hacked/bludgeoned of any movie I've ever seen.

That's not even mentioning the sacrifices of Duncan and Uncas.


Also. I can't seem to find the old "Best Closing Lines" thread, but if this wasn't mentioned, it's a crime:

(From the expanded director's cut)

Chingachgook: Great Spirit, Maker of All Life. A warrior goes to you swift and straight as an arrow shot into the sun. Welcome him and let him take his place at the council fire of my people. He is Uncas, my son. Tell them to be patient and ask death for speed; for they are all there but one - I, Chingachgook - Last of the Mohicans.
The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the Red Man of these wilderness forests in front of it until one day there will be nowhere left. Then our race will be no more, or be not us.
Hawkeye: That is my father's sadness talking.
Chingachgook: No, it is true. The frontier place is for people like my white son and his woman and their children. And one day there will be no more frontier. And men like you will go too. Like the Mohicans. And new people will come, work, struggle. Some will make their life. But once, we were here.
post #25 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke, Raol
I watched LOTM again last night because of this thread, and damn if it isn't great. I can't believe it didn't make the the CHUD 100 kills list, cuz there are some fantastic ones:

1) Chingchacook chucking his big, gnarly whatever-the-fuck-it-is into the back of the fleeing Huron.

2) Redcoat #9 getting scalped (although maybe not technically a kill because he's still alive when it cuts away)

3) The Huron who threatens Cora during the battle and gets a couple of tomahawk chops (forehand and backhand) to the grillpiece from DDL in return.

4) Magua. The cracking sounds when he guts hit is what sells it. The sound design on this film is top-notch. The best sound effects for people getting stabbed/hacked/bludgeoned of any movie I've ever seen.

That's not even mentioning the sacrifices of Duncan and Uncas.


Also. I can't seem to find the old "Best Closing Lines" thread, but if this wasn't mentioned, it's a crime:

(From the expanded director's cut)

Chingachgook: Great Spirit, Maker of All Life. A warrior goes to you swift and straight as an arrow shot into the sun. Welcome him and let him take his place at the council fire of my people. He is Uncas, my son. Tell them to be patient and ask death for speed; for they are all there but one - I, Chingachgook - Last of the Mohicans.
The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the Red Man of these wilderness forests in front of it until one day there will be nowhere left. Then our race will be no more, or be not us.
Hawkeye: That is my father's sadness talking.
Chingachgook: No, it is true. The frontier place is for people like my white son and his woman and their children. And one day there will be no more frontier. And men like you will go too. Like the Mohicans. And new people will come, work, struggle. Some will make their life. But once, we were here.
Chingachgook wields a Delaware Tomahawk, definitely an awesome weapon that invariably winds its way onto CHUD lists of best killing tools.

Fans of LOTM should check out the terrific website http://www.mohicanpress.com/

And especially check out this interview with Michael Mann - the guy really knows his stuff.
http://www.mohicanpress.com/mo06053.html
post #26 of 747
Brendan, you should get in touch with George Merchan and write a chewer column about this. You've already got most of the meat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon Ma
Russell Crowe should've won the oscar for 'The Insider' there's no debating that, him winning it for 'Gladiator' is almost like a slap in the face, it was still a good performance but it in no way was it oscar worthy, it was just a shame Crowe lost out due to hollywood politics, they've been pulling this 'you didn't get the oscar for the performance you should've gotten it for so here's an oscar to make up for it' for ages.
I couldn't agree more. Crowe's a great actor and he's done great work, but I still think Wigand is by far his best work to date.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RathBandu
I'm thinking, of course, of the controversial ending to Collateral.
I don't know if this necessarily speaks to the point you're making, but I never quite understood why the ending got lambasted so much (as some dumb, formulaic shoot-em-up showdown), when the entire movie is building to it. It's a story about Max taking control of his life, and a one on one showdown with Vincent, who challenges Max and represents his opposite, is inevitable.

To anyone who enjoys Mann's work and has yet to see THIEF, take the plunge. It's a little rough around the edges but it's fantastic, with one of James Caan's greatest (and arguably most underseen) performances. It also features Robert Prosky in one of the more complex villain performances you're likely to see. Caan's scene in the diner with Tuesday Weld is worth the price of admission alone.
post #27 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke, Raol

Also. I can't seem to find the old "Best Closing Lines" thread, but if this wasn't mentioned, it's a crime:

(From the expanded director's cut)

Chingachgook: Great Spirit, Maker of All Life. A warrior goes to you swift and straight as an arrow shot into the sun. Welcome him and let him take his place at the council fire of my people. He is Uncas, my son. Tell them to be patient and ask death for speed; for they are all there but one - I, Chingachgook - Last of the Mohicans.
The frontier moves with the sun and pushes the Red Man of these wilderness forests in front of it until one day there will be nowhere left. Then our race will be no more, or be not us.
Hawkeye: That is my father's sadness talking.
Chingachgook: No, it is true. The frontier place is for people like my white son and his woman and their children. And one day there will be no more frontier. And men like you will go too. Like the Mohicans. And new people will come, work, struggle. Some will make their life. But once, we were here.
Truly one of the best closing speeches in film history. I have seen the director's cut far more than I ever saw the original cut, so does anyone know how much of this speech was not in the original? It is so perfect, it just sums up the entire story so well, and it's so poetic.

I'm going to throw out a little love for "Ali" too. People seem to bemoan the fact that it is a biopic, but I don't know how you do a story about Ali that doesn't follow that structure. I think Mann did a grea job at accentuating what made him relevant and important, a true icon the world over. The boxing scenes are, IMO the best ever filmed for a movie. Technically brilliant, utterly real and believable, and I love the way he adds in the music to subtly mark the changing tides of the fights.

Mario Van Peebles as Malcolm X is as great a performance as an of Mann's other famous supporting parts. I love the opening which spans many years, multiple characters, and just throws you right in as they are all perfectly edited together. The monologue by Malcolm about the Birmingham bombing is compelling, and I love how Mann uses on of his patented, off centered close ups.

And I agree, Russell Crowe has never been better than "The Insider".
post #28 of 747
Stew, am I correct in thinking that the Hawkeye jab "We face to the north, then sudden-like, turn left" is not in the director's cut?
post #29 of 747
Man Grofield, and I thought your bashing of Peter Hyams a few weeks ago was uncalled for. Why don't you start telling me how bad Dwight H. Little is while you're at it!
post #30 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grofield

I've never understood the appeal of MOHICANS -- which defiles Fenimore Cooper and was solely responsible for me hating Daniel Day-Lewis until Bill the Butcher --
Maybe Mann is a Mark Twain fan...

Quote:
Cooper's gift in the way of invention was not a rich endowment; but such as it was he liked to work it, he was pleased with the effects, and indeed he did some quite sweet things with it. In his little box of stage-properties he kept six or eight cunning devices, tricks, artifices for his savages and woodsmen to deceive and circumvent each other with, and he was never so happy as when he was working these innocent things and seeing them go. A favorite one was to make a moccasined person tread in the tracks of a moccasined enemy, and thus hide his own trail. Cooper wore out barrels and barrels of moccasins in working that trick. Another stage-property that he pulled out of his box pretty frequently was the broken twig. He prized his broken twig above all the rest of his effects, and worked it the hardest. It is a restful chapter in any book of his when somebody doesn't step on a dry twig and alarm all the reds and whites for two hundred yards around. Every time a Cooper person is in peril, and absolute silence is worth four dollars a minute, he is sure to step on a dry twig. There may be a hundred other handier things to step on, but that wouldn't satisfy Cooper. Cooper requires him to turn out and find a dry twig; and if he can't do it, go and borrow one. In fact, the Leatherstocking Series ought to have been called the Broken Twig Series.
http://users.telerama.com/~joseph/cooper/cooper.html
post #31 of 747
Darn straight! Dwight RAPID FIRE Little deserves respect, too!

But seriously, it's good to have a few "detractors" in the thread, even if I disagree with every single comment/point Grofield makes aside from the MANHUNTER ones.

And for every hater of Mann's treatment of Fenimore Cooper's work there's a person to defend it (see above). Ol' Coop is hardly the most revered scribe as far as his prose, structure, characterizations, etcetera go.

Subotai - a lot of Hawkeye's one-liners were cut in the Expanded Edition, but the "We face to the north..." one made it in.
post #32 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grofield
I've never understood the appeal of MOHICANS -- which defiles Fenimore Cooper and was solely responsible for me hating Daniel Day-Lewis until Bill the Butcher --

I couldn't disagree more about Collateral, but here's Mann's take on the LOTM story, from the site I linked above:

Quote:
GF: Had you read James Fenimore Cooper's Leather-Stocking Tales when you were young?

MM: Absolutely not! I'd probably read a classic comic-book version or something when I was young. But I've read a lot of history and this period has fascinated me for a long time. I saw the movie when I was a kid. It occurred to me recently that it may have been the first film I saw that made an impression on me. It was after the war, around 1948 or 1949, when I was four or five years old. There was a church in my neighborhood, about a block away, and they used to show 16mm films in the basement - and they showed the 1936 version with Randolph Scott as Hawkeye. I remember the corollary tragedy of Uncas and Alice at the end, plus I remember the fearsomeness of Magua, and the uniqueness of the period. I couldn't identify what was so fascinating then, but I can now - it's the combination of three discrete and very exciting cultures in the same motion picture, which happens to be a tightly plotted war movie. One is the extremely formal culture of the European ruling class. Secondly, even Magua in the 1936 movie was an expression of a fascinating Native American, northeastern woodlands culture of Hurons and Mohawks, men with their heads shaved and tattoos. Thirdly, the familiar image of the frontiersmen - Hawkeye, incidentally, is the progenitor of all the American western heroes in a direct evolutionary line from Last of the Mohicans through Stagecoach to My Darling Clementine. Then there's Hawkeye the character: what made him, where he came from, what kind of man he was, what he would have though and felt, what his rhythms would have been, being able to move through and survive in the wilderness forest, how sophisticated or unsophisticated, how 'urban' his attitudes may have been, given the volatile times and incendiary ideas 'blowing in the wind'. How close was his culture on the frontier to the ideas being preached from Albany, New York or Boston pulpits. In researching the period, I found that events in 1757 moved as fast as in 1968. And suddenly this period became as alive to me as, say, seven or eight years ago. Ultimately, for me, it's about trying to make Hawkeye as real as if I was writing and directing a picture about a man who is alive today. The big encounter in the movie is between Hawkeye and Cora Munro, effectively a meeting of people from two different planets. It's a collision between the child of scottish-irish immigrants - people who were probably impoverished tenant farmers from the borderlands in the north of England - and a woman who thinks she's going to New England - almost an extension of Grosvenor Square - only to discover that this is a vast new continent, and that attitudinal changes and ideas are sweeping across it. But the characters do not come from an upper-middle-class intelligentsia. Hawkeye comes from a grass-roots level, from Iroquois culture - as if produced its own John Locke 200 years ago but nobody knows about it yet - and from the experiences of poor people on the frontier. It's like hearing the new music before anybody else - the man who sings the songs is Hawkeye, and the woman who hears them is Cora. Suddenly she's no longer in narrow New England, she's in a whole new world. The big challenge for me was to work that Cora-Hawkeye story into a tapestry of a full-blown war with three other conflicts going on at the same time. As it becomes a romance I hope the audience will track with the romance and want it to survive. This woman goes through a great change and so does Hawkeye, but for him it's a transformation from being a Mohican to becoming a frontiersman - a synthesis of the European and native cultures - which is a transformation from son to man. Chingachgook realizes this before Hawkeye does and talks to him about it at the end of the film.

GF: Was there a point when you were writing the screenplay where you abandoned Cooper's novel?

MM: Yes, very early on, though not at a specific point but in specific areas. For example, I based [Major] Heyward on Cooper himself, not on Cooper's character. Cooper believed in static hierarchies, a kind of political harmony of the spheres: If people and classes stay in place, there's a harmony; if they don't, there are problems. In Cooper, Hawkeye is constantly apologizing or reassuring total strangers that he's not of mixed blood!: 'Hi, I'm Hawkeye, how are you? I'm not of mixed blood.' So the whole notion of races crossing, of miscegenation, of people moving into different classes, was anathema to Cooper. I decided to take all these characteristics and stick them into Heyward. If you read the novel very carefully, the daughter, Cora, who falls in love with Uncas and dies, is a mulatto. Her father, Colonel Munro, wanted Heyward to marry Cora but Hayward preferred Alice; Munro was initially insulted and went into a two-page diatribe about the fact that her mother was an aristocratic woman. I switched it around so that it's Cora and Hawkeye who fall in love.

GF: You've also eliminated some of the more fantastical elements from the book - the character of the psalm singer, Hawkeye dressing up as a bear, that kind of a thing.

MM: The silly stuff. In fact, the structure of the story for this film is based 50 percent on Philip Dunne's screenplay.

GF: Why did you use it as a source?

MM: Because it's a terrific piece of writing. Dunne did a very interesting thing. He was writing at a time of tremendous political struggle in the United States, a country caught in a depression and at the same time seeing events in Asia and Europe. The view here was isolationist, although some people with political agendas saw the need to take part in international struggles against the rising tide of fascism. Also, there was a heavy dose of anti-British sentiment among the isolationists, led by the Chicago Tribune. Dunne essentially gave Hawkeye the political attitudes of the isolationists: independent, anti-authoritarian...anti-British. But then at the end of the movie, in 1936, both men - Hawkeye the proto-American individualist, and Heyward - both in love with Cora, march of to war together to face a greater common enemy.
post #33 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grofield
I wasn't bashing on Hyams -- it seemed like everyone else was, so I just named a few titles from his resume that I enjoyed (STAY TUNED, SUDDEN DEATH, TIMECOP). We disagreed as to whether SUDDEN DEATH was intended to be funny. As for Dwight Little, I'd give him props for MARKED FOR DEATH and RAPID FIRE -- as clearly awful as they are, I had fun.
To me, listing STAY TUNED as one of Hyams' better films is close to bashing, but I digress.

I think I need to watch MOHICANS again. Nothing, good or bad, really left much of a dent with me in regards to that film. Daniel Day-Lewis sure did run a lot, I'll tell you that much!
post #34 of 747
I'm a fan of the guy, but I will also say that I think that Heat and Collateral are severely overrated.
post #35 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Balmudo
I'm a fan of the guy, but I will also say that I think that Heat and Collateral are severely overrated.
About the only flaw I can maybe see in HEAT is when Pacino finds Natalie Portman in the bathtub. Other than that it's flawless. Is there another film that does a better job of exploring both sides of the law?
post #36 of 747
I also didn't see the Portman scene coming but I don't think it did much more than offer shock value to a film that didn't need it. It's like they had to show that Pacino is more than just a great cop but a loving father-figure as well, but the scenes he had with Portman earlier in the film told me that so the bathtub stuff seemed tacked on.

You've got me on THE DRIVER because I haven't seen it which truly stinks for me because I like Walter Hill a lot. But does that movie really give the details on how criminals carry out a heist and how the police attempt to stop them in a better fashion than HEAT? If so then I'll rent it ASAP, because I've heard good things about it but it usually has to do with the chase scenes and not as much about the story.
post #37 of 747
He's the best director working today, bar none. When it comes to combining a kickass musical aural experience with blitzkrieg action scenes, Mann is a sublime artist. You can bet MIAMI VICE will be getting much attention from me come 2006.

LAST OF THE MOHICANS deserves props just for its astounding beauty.
post #38 of 747
Last of the Mohicans deserves astonishment for its beautiful props. I know that the director's cut at least contains a scene where a character steadies himself on a rock face as he runs past it only to have the mineral sink in from the strain. It's a wonderful film, to be sure, but the scene with the foam slab takes me out of the story each time I watch it and I think the it warrants a bit more attention to technical details. I mean, after all, it's not like it's a Hellraiser set or anything.

Otherwise, ISS, I couldn't have said it better myself.
post #39 of 747
I haven't seen LOTM in sometime but the one thing I do remember is the score, man, what a beautiful score that was, especially the main theme.
post #40 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Moltisanti
I also didn't see the Portman scene coming but I don't think it did much more than offer shock value to a film that didn't need it. It's like they had to show that Pacino is more than just a great cop but a loving father-figure as well, but the scenes he had with Portman earlier in the film told me that so the bathtub stuff seemed tacked on.
Well, she does spend most of the film being let down by a father she obviously rarely sees and barely gets any attention from her mother. It's not really about Pacino being a loving father-figure as much of being about the nature of the pseudo-relationship he has with his family and about how everything boils down to it being affected by the job. This is when Pacino stands by his family and when he gets the call, he doesn't want to go, and the person telling him to go is the one person who's been most frustrated by his methods of living as a cop. Hence we see Pacino trying to deny himself the importance of the call which in itself is a metaphor for the fact that he can try and be that someone else, that loving father-figure or loving husband, but it would be all an act, which is pretty much self-admitted. Both he and Justine and everybody else knows that he's not a husband, or a father, he's just a cop.
post #41 of 747
All of that makes sense but the manner in which they portray it just seemed too much at that point in the film. It's not a scene I cringe at, but if I had to think of something to be snipped that would be it.
post #42 of 747
Tracked down THE KEEP on EBAY - paid about $15 and kicked myself for it. Going to sell it.

I am a huge fan of his films but that one was a real turd.
post #43 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon Ma
I haven't seen LOTM in sometime but the one thing I do remember is the score, man, what a beautiful score that was, especially the main theme.
Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman. I don't think it was a collaboration though like Zimmer/Howard. The pieces they each composed are very distinct, but yes, it is a masterful score, especially at the end. The extended cut also wisely cuts out an Enya song over those last 20 minutes and replace it with their score.

That's another element of Mann to love, the use of music. "God Moving Over the Face of the Water" is my favorite use of music in film ever. I just adore that scene, it just washes over me after investing 3 hours in the film. "The Insider" and the Gerrard Biourke stuff just gets more impressive every time I see it.
post #44 of 747
Thread Starter 
I bought the Heat soundtrack just for that closing credits theme alone. The whole soundtrack on it's own is a real piece of work. Amazing. The Insider soundtrack is awsome as well. Mann is probably one of a very few directors today who can produce one hell of a soundtrack for their films.
post #45 of 747
What I love about the music in HEAT is that great piece that is played during the bank heist and then as soon as Kilmer opens fire at Wes Studi the music shuts off for the entire sequence until DeNiro gets away, I think the temptation would have been too great for a lot of directors to shoot that sequence with a lot music which would have hurt the realism.
post #46 of 747
Agreed. "Force Marker" is the great piece playing over the bank heist and I agree, the way the music drops out is perfection. Along with "Steel Cello Lament", Elliot Goldenthal did some really great and inventive work on the film, that I think went largely underappreciated. It's a very offbeat score, not manipulative at all, with no real real "movie music" structure. As previously mentioned, the inclusion of Moby is my favorite, but the U2 tracks are nice too.

I'll add in some "Ali" love there too. I love the opening fight, which has no music for 90% of it. But when the tide of the fight starts to turn, and with one nice punch specifically, Mann lets the music creep in, another Moby track "My Weakness" I believe. It sounds great.
post #47 of 747
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stew
I don't think it was a collaboration though like Zimmer/Howard.
You're right. The story goes that Jones spotted what he felt should be scored, scored it, and when Mann wanted more, Jones either didn't have time or, as some accounts go, simply refused. That old stand-by, "Creative Differences." So they hired Edelman for pick-ups. It's a shame really, because Jones' music fits the visuals like a glove and Edelman's, well, doesn't.
post #48 of 747
Thanks, I agree, and that clears it up a bit. It's a little unfortunate, Jones's portions are so majestic and perfect, such amazing pieces of music. Pretty much anything you hear that sticks with you is his work, whereas whenever there's just filler music playing, it's Edelman's. Which is a shame because saying it like that sounds like a disservice to him, but it's really not. Edelman is a fantastic composer who has done some very famous themes, but for LOTM, he was pretty unnecessary.
post #49 of 747
Seconding the affection for ALI, which strikes me as one of Mann's most ambitious films. I think a lot of people were expecting a ROCKY-style piece of uplift and were perplexed or disappointed when Mann viewed events such as the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war through the prism of the Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali story.

The 'curriculums' that Mann regularly puts his actors through - including physical training and psychological research - really served Will Smith well (when I interviewed Smith for the film, he was full of praise for the preparation Mann had him undertake), and he really rose to the challenge of portraying an iconic personality like Ali. In fact, there are great performances across the board here.

And for those viewers searching for inspirational moments, Ali running through the streets of Zaire as he trains for the Rumble in the Jungle, and stopping in amazement when he sees murals depicting him as an all-conquering hero, is as good as it gets.
post #50 of 747
Mann goes further than just making an Ali biography, he accentuates why he mattered. He was a boxer, but he was also a lightning rod in turbulent times because as Howard Cosell said, "They're coming after you. They're scared of black militants. Those others are just political, you are the heavyweight champion of the world!"

They did a good job showing his opposition to the war, which was really not partisan or ideological, but just a gut feeling. And I love how they really wove him into the world at large, especially with Malcolm X, who has some of the best scenes of the film.
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