Michael Mann Blogathon- Day 5
by Niles Schwartz
“The capabilities (intellectual and material) of contemporary society are immeasurably greater than ever before – which means that the scope of society’s domination over the individual is immeasurably greater than ever before. Our society distinguishes itself by conquering the centrifugal social forces with Technology rather than Terror, on the dual basis of an overwhelming efficiency and an increasing standard of living.”
– Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Man (1965)
Michael Mann’s Public Enemies may have been anticipated as the capstone to the career of a film artist born in Chicago, whose work has been primarily focused on criminals and law enforcement, an abstract relationship that mines the broader theme about the disharmony between private and public selves. But the dialectic between cop and robber, between family man and working man, was dealt with in a fully “definitive” manner in Mann’s Heat back in 1995, to such an extent that Richard Combs, in a Film Comment article on Mann (March 1996) concluded that the filmmaker may never find the crime film a comfortable fit again. He had brought a cosmic weight to an otherwise tired subject, crafting a fulfilling and dense ensemble on an immense canvas of postmodern urban decay and technology run amok. The end of Heat, with Moby’s “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters” on the soundtrack, feels apocalyptic and tragically blank, whatever new life being birthed here in this electrical and ether-ridden Genesis being the Post-Human. At 170 minutes, Heat is exhausting and spectral, and the audience feels much like obsessed RHD detective Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino), having survived and accomplished his professional goal at the cost of being spiritually spent, craving sleep (just earlier on this climactic night he tells his fellow detectives that he’s going to shower and “sleep for a month”) and burdened with the knowledge that nothing has really changed. T
By Mann Fan
I gave a talk earlier in the week to about 40 people presenting a message about Heat. I showed several scenes from the movie, these being:
- LA shootout (after main bank heist)
- The Conversation (between Vincent and Neil)
- Vincent telling his wife that after seeing three dead bodies he can’t be concerned about burnt chicken and being late home.
- Neil returning to his empty, minimalist home looking out to sea.
- Vincent discovering his step daughter following a suicide attempt and taking her to hospital.
- The final shootout and the ending of the film. Moby’s music finished it off.
In my talk I presented these two men to people who the majority had not seen Heat before. I tried, in a very short space of time, to represent these two characters as men that had somehow lost their way in a very confused world. The LA shootout represented the “badness” of Neil, out to kill whoever gets in his way – and Vincent, the relentless hunter of an elusive, intelligent prey.
by Clyde Crashup
JERICHO MILE is a film about a mustachioed runner. I should explain that I have an affinity for films about mustachioed runners, and the fact that there are more than a few of those is a topic for another post. Also, the absence of a moustache should not prevent me from covering MARATHON with Bob Newhart in the future. Anyhow, the man in question is called Murphy (Peter Strauss), and all he does is run. The film begins showing everyone on the yard, doing what they do to forget that they are on the yard in Folsom. Mostly they work out in one form or another, but still others play cards, read comics, dance with their boom-boxes, get stoned on pruno. One guy makes a top hat out of a paper bag.