Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Props To Mann

FACT: Michael Mann is the best action movie director living right now. Screw Michael Bay, and James Cameron, and John McTiernan. John Woo might be an exception.

FACT: Dukes of Hazzard was a shitty movie made from a pretty bad TV show. As was Starsky and Hutch.

FACT: Miami Vice is not Dukes Of Hazzard. Or Starsky and Hutch.

When Miami Vice was released this summer, it got a bad rap. Either people didn't take it seriously because they thought it was another bad movie based on a TV show, or they didn't like it because it didn't tip its hat to the old TV show with a bunch of pastels and neon. For the record, I never watched the TV show and I don't feel like there's a big empty place in me because of it.

What makes Mann such a remarkable filmmaker is that he takes his audience for granted. He hooks you at the beginning and then knows that you will follow him where he takes you. No time is wasted in making sure that you're tracking. There are no scenes where the characters set up or rehash what you've seen. Blink and you'll miss it. It's a rare thing that a movie engages you and continues to engage you gets a general release.

Few directors today can create a scene like Mann (Scorsese and Lynch come to mind and Lumet was once the master of it). A simple meet and greet between Foxx, Ferrell and the resident baddie quickly becomes a heavy test of wills. The dialogue is fast and furious and the tension is thick. This all happens without the usual lazy Hollywood elements like music and fast editing. Mann sits back and lets the actors and writing do the work. He captures it in true stoytelling fashion without any manipulation. The tension is honest and the scene is unforgettable.

One last thing. Mann shoots the whole damn movie in video. He is able to shoot some scenes that look as rich as film while in others the footage is so raw it makes you feel like you're right there. Most directors shy away from video, Mann embraces it and plays to its strengths.

So forget Don Johnson and that other guy with three names and rent Miami Vice for a serious action film. And don't blink because you'll miss a truly great action film.

No comments: