Monday, November 27, 2006

In Retrospect: Michael Mann

When i went back in time, to 1995 to be precise, i remembered an experience worthy to mention regarding the path of film-buffs which i had chose to embrace for these last 4 years. I was born and grew in a small city where the only theater in town would only play Indonesian film (you who went through 90's would surely knew what kind of Indonesian film that been released at the time), Indian film, or any B-film features Jean Claude Van Damme. So, not much of a choice if you asked me. But during that time, thanks to some (though barely enough) reading materials, i managed to get myself acquainted with some of better films out there. Well, enough to know that Van Damme's film aren't worthy of my money.

Sometime in 1995, i've got my hands to two films which become somewhat of a starting point of my path. Se7en and Heat. Se7en was particularly intriguing in itself that i dont need to mention its importance. I mean, for a kid who had never seen a decent film before, given a film that not only entertains but gave a little tease to te brain, with stellar acting from Mr.Kevin Spacey who easily become one of my favourite actor until now, it surely blows.

However, Heat was an entirely different story. For one, i certainly doesn't expect that the film would be three hour long, features less gun-fights, and many talks which at the time, was a source of boredom to me (really, i was 14, and i watched the film entirely without subtitles). In fact, i was able to appreciate the film, even tagged it with a word 'masterpiece' after three viewings. First time in 1995, second time in 2000, and finally, in 2004 where Heat become one of the film that i held high above many others.

The film has proven to stand the test of time and remains in my shortlist of great films that i could enjoy watching again and again. When i saw it last time, i held my breath when Al Pacino and Robert De Niro exchanging casual conversations over coffee even that they were actually nemeses to each other.

As this entry's title suggest, by the way, i want to talk about Michael Mann, the director who gave birth to that masterpiece called Heat. In 2004, Michael Mann directed Collateral, which easily become one of the best film in 2004, and arguably features the best performance from Mr.Tom Cruise ever since 1999's Magnolia. And in mid-2006, not so long ago, he directed Miami Vice which even though that only receives lukewarm reviews from his fan (even some mentioned that it was his weakest work), i could enjoy. Even though, obviously, not as much as the previous two.

Now, Heat, Collateral, and Miami Vice. If i was allowed to draw a red-line between the three, i had some distinct conclusion that all three films shared the same trait, and even why Miami Vice doesn't work that well compared with the other two.

Both Heat, and Collateral features a single character, a menace to society, a lone-wolf in otherwise tamed environment (Robert De Niro's character and Tom Cruise's character). And we went through the film through this character. We felt its estranged-ness and finally even though that both of the characters were naturally an antagonist, we could give our sympathy and even felt at loss when we're depart with those characters. Well, at least that's what i felt, and that's what i think that gave both of the films their respective stellar qualities in my short-list.

Now, what's wrong with Miami Heat? Mind you, i dont think that there was anything wrong with Miami Heat, i loved the cinematography, i loved how the camera works, and i especially loved the sense of 'being-there'. And maybe, just maybe, i mingth named Miami Heat as one of the best film in 2006. Definitely one of the best in summer. But, during the lengthy film, i was mostly lost. I've got nobody on screen to attach my feeling to. It felt just like watching porn compared to actually doing it. You still get excited, but it just wasn't the same.

Colin Farrell was supposed to be the lone-wolf, but he lacks the charisma, and his peer, played by Jamie Foxx, failed to compensate for the lack. Thus, i failed to sympatize with both Mr.Farrell's and Mr.Foxx's characters and devoid to any emotional feeling he might have on screen. It was a big question to me since Mr.Foxx was a surperb screen-duo for Mr.Cruise back in Collateral.

Anyway, though many would still considers Miami Heat is one of the director's pretentious and self-important works to date, i could still enjoy it, and given the right time, i wouldn't mind to spare another three-hours of my time to embrace the great visuals that is Miami Heat. And still i hope, that in the future, Michael Mann would made another film in coherence with his current films theme, a lone-wolf. Can't hope for another masterpiece though, since in my opinion every director should've been entitled to only one masterpiece through his career. And in my opinion, Heat was still Michael Mann's masterpiece.

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