Single Status Update
A friend emailed me this over the weekend and I thought of you after I read it, since I know you love Michael Mann's work. This is one of the best analysis I've read on the internet detailing his work.
A 4 article rundown of Michael Mann's work.
Here, he goes through all of his films and the central themes of his doppleganger characters, masculinity, and isolation. The other articles get into small details like the women in his films, the guns (and a great shoutout to the 'Bren Ten' model that was featured in MV), and a very good article breaking down the themes in Collateral and why that film is a msterpiece.
Glad he gave props to Manhunter, that's the forgotten gem of Mann's filmography. i re-watched it over the summer after going through a Miami Vice binge. It's incredibly stylistic, and it puts the remake 'Red Dragon' to complete shame...I liked Thief too, he is right that it could almost pass like a gritty episode of Vice back in it's run.
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"The writer breaks down how he uses doppleganger characters, as being two sides of the same coin. I never looked at it that way, but he is correct."
I'm not sure how to directly quote words in status updates like you & Jules know how to do. But, that doppleganger component is definitely a trademark feature of Mann's film work. Cops, thiefs, & mercenaries don't usually have mutual respect for what the other one does. It's about being thorough, taking pride in your profession, & finding another guy on an equal footing that sees what most people don't even notice or respect about their craft even if the hero & villain are at opposite sides of the spectrum. It's a fine blurry line between cop & bankroller; good taxi samaritan & hired killer; money launderer & DEA enforcer.
What fascinates about Mann is that he knows that there is evil & goodness in everybody & not everybody is a sinner or saint to their core. Anybody is capable of crossing over & becoming the very thing they fought against for yrs. Mann knows the world isn't black & white but very shades of grey. Drug dealers aren't all bad. They are family men, business men, & they value loyalty & profit above all else.
There's a line in Miami Vice where Tubbs says to Crockett: "I will never doubt you. There's deep uncover & there's which end is up." Where is your head at right now partner? Crockett looks at him like he's about to fall & he's scared because he loves his money launderer mark. He doesn't know how to climb out, drop the act, or if he really wants to. The audience knows he could cross over & be a valuable cocaine asset if he decided to stop working for the LAPD right now.
And even in Heat where DeNiro shakes Pacino's hand before he dies near those airport runways, both guys are sad & bummed out because they both respected how smart, savvy, & committed the other one was. Nothing else can satisfy that itch---Not money, not women, not domestication.
"Mann is a genius, I really wish he was still making movies. His films are always prolific."
Absolutely right Bogie! Mann is a genius & you often have to see his films about 3 or 4 times to really comprehend how brilliant he truly is. Wait. Is Micheal really retired from filmmaking? Darn it. Maybe, he's just very selective about his projects & only directs pictures about once every 4 yrs or something. Mann has earned that right. To be picky about what films he puts his seal of approval on. He's right up there with Clint Eastwood in fame & clout to me meaning Mann can do whatever the hades he wants.
I have to give you credit too Bogie because without your astute recommendation regarding James Caan I never would have seen "Thief" or appreciated the Tangerine Dream soundtrack. Thank you so much. I sincerely mean that no hyperbole or exaggeration there I swear.
You're a very good next level music & film critic too. I'm not kidding. You know your stuff.
I read that review on how Mann treats women in his films as some sort of extension on male prowess, bravery, & masculinity. The implication being that women are only present to satisfy men's urges as central characters. I don't know if I agree with that conclusion personally. Here's why...
Let's look at DeNiro's love interest Eady played by Amy Brenneman in 'Heat.' She's a shy graphic designer originally from Minnesota who now works in an LA bookstore. She spots Bob reading a book about metals & fracturing them & she strikes about a conversation with him. He blows her off initially, then apologizes, & the 2 of them eventually sleep together.
For the 1st time in life, Bob lets his guard down & sees the gentle sweetness in her. I think Eady appreciates Bob's reserved & quiet demeanor too which makes them a perfect match. Eventually, Bob tells Eady what he really does for a living & he gives her cash & the opportunity to stay or to leave him free & clear. He doesn't hit her, kill her, demean her, or humiliate her. He makes the decision completely hers & her's alone.
Now, you will remember in his conversation with Pacino at the restaurant, DeNiro says he has a woman but he would abandon her in an instant if the heat go too intense & he was forced to run because Al was hot on his tail.
DeNiro eventually does this very thing shooting a loose end guy who can ID him that the LAPD has flipped & put into protective custody forcing him to leave Eady alone in his car as Al chases him with a shotgun.
I actually view Bob's abandonment of his girlfriend as a favor & kind gesture on his part. Bob doesn't want her to ruin her life by seeing her man get gunned down & become a criminal's widow. Bob wants her to have a chance at a clean, wholesome life away from bullets, explosions, & prison. Besides, Eady can probably get her bookstore job back on Monday anyway right considering she just resigned 1 day ago IMO.
Robert looks at Amy Brenneman & his hand gesture toward the car tells her to remain in the car for her own safety. He loved her that much. Did he transfer any funds into her bank account to make her life easier? Who knows. Some critics might claim that DeNiro's bank robbery lifestyle turned Amy's bearings upside down, which might be considered selfish. However, Bob was trying to protect her from physical harm & incarceration as an accomplice since Pacino has no idea who Bob's woman is or what she even looks like.