I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Public Enemies

tn_publicenemiesJohnny Depp as John Dillinger is not a bad idea. He’s a charismatic guy, he projects intelligence and mischief. You believe he could pull off those robberies, charm the press and have the cops pulling out their hair. And Christian Bale makes sense as Purvis, the guy tough enough to take him out but who will spend most of the movie failing and fuming.

Michael Mann delivers a more mainstream, less brooding and macho movie than usual, so most people will like it better than MIAMI VICE (but not me). He still uses that style he’s been fond of lately, lots of handheld shots, all shot digitally, kind of a strange choice for a period piece like this, but not too distracting (or revolutionary, either).

It has some real good gunfights. Not the choreographed sort of way that I usually like but more like MIAMI VICE, chaotic in-the-thick-of it kind of scenes, like you’re an embedded reporter, hearing different gun sounds in all directions. Sometimes one whisks past you or hits a wall near you but luckily you survive. It has some tense scenes, a couple chuckles, the actors are all pretty good. There are lots of little surprise appearances to keep you on your toes (Lili Taylor, Stephen Dorff, Giovanni Ribisi, random Leelee Sobieski cameo). I didn’t even realize that was Bill Crudup playing J. Edgar Hoover. Good job Billy. The movie is fine.

mp_publicenemies1So why didn’t I like it more? I’m trying to figure it out. It took me a while to get involved in it. It definitely got more exciting as it went along, but never got me in the gut the way some of these Michael Mann movies do.  I think the main problem is that I’m not sure what it is about this version of the story that’s supposed to make it worth telling again. Yeah, maybe the period detail is more accurate, I think they dressed up the actual theater where he was shot, etc. (SPOILER). And they hit on some different themes. There’s a couple nods to him being a folk hero (people cheering him on the road when the cops take him in, refusing to take a bank teller’s money because he only wants money from the bank itself). And I like that they don’t hit you over the head with it, but on the other hand they don’t really do anything with it either. They just bring it up and then move on to something else.

I didn’t notice any important new discoveries or interpretations of Dillinger’s motives. It doesn’t explore the mundane details of the robberies any more than a normal bank robbery movie does. It doesn’t de-mystify or humanize the legend, or if it’s trying to it doesn’t do enough to be all that interesting. When it gets into the backgrounds of the characters it tends to be through clunky dialogue, like when his girlfriend (Marion Cotillard) basically does a monologue about her background during a sex scene. At least she didn’t talk about what kind of music her dad listened to (see my MIAMI VICE review for more on Michael Mann’s belief that your dad’s record collection is the window to your soul).

It’s very possible that I just don’t get it, that there is something special about this and it went over my head. I tried to cheat by reading an interview with Mann, but that didn’t help either. He says that the main thing he started with was the idea that Dillinger was great at planning bank robberies but had no concept of planning for the future. Which is nice and all but I got no clue why that seems like such a fascinating idea to Mann. To me that seems like a pretty obvious attitude for a daring bank robber to have and not enough to hang a movie on.

Also I gotta say I’m concerned about Christian Bale. I mean, I like the guy as Batman. I even like his controversial “Batman voice,” known to non comic book readers as his “Clint Eastwood voice.” And he’s real good at playing dicks. Maybe that’s a talent, maybe it’s a personality quirk, maybe it’s a result of his life long fear of lights being adjusted, whatever it is he’s good at it. For example in the 2000 version of SHAFT he plays a racist rich boy asshole, and despite an accent that shifts here and there he’s very believable in that role and you love to hate him. And of course he joined the pantheon with his all time classic performance in AMERICAN PSYCHO.

But after his John Connor and now this I think I’m starting to sympathize with the naysayers who’re sick of his constant gloominess. He needs the humor back. In this one he’s a dick, but not the kind that’s fun to watch. He’s just not likable, so you root for Dillinger, but only by default (or because you are so fascinated by Dillinger’s contradictory nature in regards to planning). I’m sure Purvis isn’t supposed to be charismatic, but I don’t know man, maybe that would be a more interesting movie to watch. I think about AMERICAN GANGSTER, where I went in excited to see Denzel’s badass gangster character, but ended up rooting for Russell Crowe as the cop trying to bust him. You see how his operation works in detail, much more than in this movie, and you root for him to succeed. That’s a more interesting dynamic in my opinion. Also, wasn’t that cool when I used the word dynamic. The noun version too, not the adjective.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a pretty good movie. I think I like it best when it’s getting into the operations of the police and their need to build new strategies of crimefighting, or when Dillinger does something really bold like escape prison in a stolen police car or walk through the task force headquarters and ask the cops for the score in the ball game. I was also impressed by the casting of some of the roughneck cops, especially the guy that leans down to hear Dillinger’s (fictional) last words. He seems more like my idea of what a real G-man would look like than what these guys in modern movies usually look like, and that last scene with him is real nice. It’s a Michael Mann movie, gotta get a little bit of macho man code of the honorarble warrior shit in there. I like it.

It’s a watchable movie, and most people seem to like it better than I did. I just hope for more out of Michael Mann I guess. He may think I’m being unfair, that it’s a double standard, that other directors would be rewarded for making an okay movie while he is being criticized for it. Well, tough shit Michael Mann. Remember in THIEF when you showed James Caan breaking into a safe for real, and we thought damn, I’ve seen a million thief movies before but I’ve never seen one like this? Well, there you go. You made your bed when you made THIEF. Now you gotta sleep in it.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2009 at 12:08 am and is filed under Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

63 Responses to “Public Enemies”

  1. CrustaceanHate

    July 9th, 2009 at 1:23 am

    After this year’s lackluster crop of summer movies (and the continued success of that film that shall not be named) I think a lot of people (including me) had their hopes pinned on this one. With good reason, looking at the stars and director. Anything less than transcendent and people are going to be disappointed.

    Speak of heist movies I saw RIFIFI recently (based largely on your badass-centric recommendation) and god damn… I’d heard it was good but I don’t think I’ve ever been as tense or emotionally involved during a heist sequence as I was during that movie. Apparently there’s a remake in the pipeline starring Al Pacino… cause that’s what that film needs, Pacino running around chewing all the scenery.

  2. Really disagree about Bale and his performance as Purvis. I don’t think he came across as a dick at all, but rather just a boringly normal, logical and “morally upstanding” guy who was trying to do his job. Bale’s performance really suprised me, it was very subtle and human, very underplayed. Just through looks in his eye or little facial expressions you can sense his growing unease with how the job is being performed, that his desire to stop Dillinger and see justice done has become something bigger and more garish thanks to Hoover’s media realtionship. Whilst the methods used by his team become worse.

    I saw a very conflicted man on screen, and whilst I enjoyed Depp’s performance, I thought Bale’s was much better and far more nuanced.

  3. The problem with Bale, and the geist of his naysaysers, is that his last few roles have been playing the boring straight-guy springboard for the more fun off-the-wall part (Ledger, Depp, Worthington). He’s great at it, but Vern you are forgetting something critical.

    Most of that derided “mainstream audience” have only seen Bale in those Batman movies or SALVATION or perhaps PUBLIC ENEMIES this week. They haven’t seen his goddamn awesome work in AMERICAN PSYCHO or RESCUE DAWN or THE MACHINIST or even fucking HARSH TIMES (which I liked, but nobody else.) Maybe some in the mainstream saw PRESTIGE. Maybe.

    Point is, if one has only bothered to see Bale as Bruce Wayne or John Connor…wouldn’t you too think he wasn’t much?

    Just wait for Bale to get another true protagonist role, instead of the launchpad for someone else, and these cinema-ignorant folks will shut up. It’s inevitable. Hell Depp somewhere I can’t remember, cited Bale as among the best film actors of our epoch. Sure maybe PR junket fluffer, but what actor wouldn’t kill to have that “praise” on their resume?

    Though not yet, since apparently Bale is playing the…”cop” part again in Nick Carnahan’s Pablo Escobar picture. I’m sure it’ll be good, but dammit.

  4. I take Bale’s performance as Batman as a personal affront. I’d been saying he would be the perfect Batman for years, ever since American Psycho, and then when he got the part I felt pretty vindicated. Then he proceeded to suck worse and worse until I just couldn’t stick up for the guy anymore. I felt like I’d stuck my neck out for him and he let me down. The problem with his performance is that there’s no glimpse at the real guy. There’s just two caricatures: Bale pretending to be a snotty rich prick as Bruce Wayne, and Bale pretending to be Robert Loggia as Batman. I realize that some of that is inherent in the character, but there should be a middle ground, which I like to call “Cape On/Mask Off.” That’s when the real Bruce Wayne comes out, and he becomes someone you can relate to. He’s not putting on a show for anyone anymore. That hardly ever happens, because he’s always either playing “Rich Frat Douche Who Will Get His Comeuppance In Front Of The Whole School At The End Of The Movie” or “Corey Feldman In Lost Boys Pretending To Be Tough By Making His Voice Gravelly.” I am not one of those guys who thinks Batman’s villains are more interesting than he is, so I feel that there is a big hole in the middle of The Dark Knight where there ought to be a bad motherfucker. I do think Bale is an excellent actor when he has an actual character to play, something he can really sink his teeth into (Rescue Dawn is a good example) but I think he really sucks as a boilerplate leading man. He’s just so bland and humorless when he tries to play heroic. I mean, where was the John Connor who taught the Terminator how to swear? I can’t imagine anyone saying “I would die for John Connor” about that uncharismatic lump.

  5. Overall, I was entertained by PUBLIC ENEMIES, but thinking back on it, it was something of a mess. I don’t know if they cut out a lot of footage or what, but much of the film felt undercooked to me. As you mentioned, Vern, they introduce the whole celebrity/folk hero angle and then never develop it. But that’s not the half of it. Dillinger’s gang gets a lot of screen time yet never come across as fleshed out characters. J. Edgar Hoover is a major character for half of the film, and then vanishes. For a movie that only takes place over 14 months or something, it seems to skip over a lot of events (i.e. when Dillinger was suddenly living with two women in Chicago… who were they and how did he get hooked up with them?)

    I think worst of all is the Purvis story. It leads to some of the best action in the film, but Purvis as a character is never explored. He’s just a law man trying to catch the bad guys, with no real sense of a private life or personal history. Which is fucked up since we spend about 1/3rd of the film with him.

    The main thing that worked in the film was Dillinger and his relationship with Billie. Considering what a shithead he is, I think it’s a credit to Mann, Depp and Cotillard that I was able to empathize with Dillinger as a human being and care about his relationship. But then, if the movie mainly functions as a character study and a tragic romance, it further calls in to the question the relevance of the Purvis scenes, and the folk hero angle, and some of the other digressions.

    I had mixed feelings on Mann’s style this time out, too. It’s got a loose quality to it, and paired with the digital photography there was a nice sense of immediacy evoked, especially during the action and heist sequences. Digital tends to remind me of home movie camcorder footage (only better looking), so for me there is sometimes an intriguing feeling of watching an event actually unfold, as opposed to watching a reproduction. So that’s cool on the one hand, but on the other hand the style was a little too loose. Just speaking of my own tastes, I prefer heist sequences to be tightly constructed, i.e. clear, direct, well-framed shots and smooth editing. Mann goes for a more handheld, off the cuff approach, and it works counter to his goals. Vern points out that in interviews Mann’s been talking up the fact the Dillinger was a meticulous planner, yet the impression in the film is just the opposite. The heists don’t feel tight and choreographed; his slightly bouncy camera makes them feel loose and almost improvised. What the style brings in terms of energy and immediacy, it takes away in terms of construction.

    Makes me want to go back and watch John Milius/Warren Fucking Oates DILLINGER from the 70’s. Not a perfect movie, and certainly less artsy, but it had a clearer idea of what it was trying to accomplish and if nothing else was pretty badass.

  6. Vern, wach Rescue Dawn, that’s Christian Bale working outside his comfort zone, doing cool stuff you wouldn’t think of. The first chunk of that movie is kind of funny because I was kind of thinking “Haha Batman’s a fighter pilot,” but then by like the third torture scene i had completely forgotten about his other stuff.
    Actually, watch that movie anyway, because other then his new Bad Lieutenant it’s Werner Herzog’s only narrative movie in like fifteen years. Kind of a big deal.

  7. Mr. Majestyk, you realize you nuked your own argument within your own argument, right? You said it as much.

    If anything, Bruce Wayne is Batman…or himself in that suit. No that voice aint his natural tongue, but I think that is himself unsheathed and unmasked. As playboy or public face without his toys or kicking ass, he’s wearing a “mask” per say. That dimension has been around in the comics for decades, so its nice to see someone capture that on film, and YES Bale has been kicking ass like I thought he could and would. I wonder if some people just take way too much good shit for granted.

    That said, the best “Bruce Wayne” I’ve seen on film was probably Michael Keaton. In his 50+ pound rubber foam costume, I never bought him as a fighter or necessarily the heroic shit, but as Bruce Wayne out and about…he certainly hit a homerun as somebody that is a tad off compared to the rest of us. To say the least. Those Burton BATMAN pictures I don’t care much for, though RETURNS was pretty good, and who doesn’t remember that masked dance ball sequence where Phifer and Keaton were the only ones without masks? (how subtle Tim)

    Which means I thought Batman in those Nolanverse (what a pretentious geek wanker term) flicks was more credible as a martial arts-trained ninja assbeater or whatever, by cinematography and I don’t take as big of a creativity jump to buy him. Now not everyone will agree with me, but shit why would everyone agree with everything? That’s an anti-republic concept worthy of that pseduo-republic-in-name-only government in Tehran.

    And shit, I even get the logic behind the Batman voice that everyone seems to hate. At times I get a chuckle when I dont think Nolan intended as such, but otherwise I tolerate it. Again, did SALVATION really piss everyone off that badly that they the last pretty fucking good Batman pictures are getting the Soviet Encyclopedia treatment?

  8. Well, that’s my problem. Bale made a choice to make his “real” voice an embarrassing lisp, a totally fabricated tough guy impression, and it completely undermined the character for me. I just can’t take him seriously talking like that. He’s trying WAAAAAAAAAAY too hard.

    Also, I don’t buy that whole “Bruce Wayne is my mask” thing. That’s just what Bruce says to protect himself. Yeah, the Bruce Wayne he chooses to present to the public is a front, but there is a real Bruce Wayne in there. He’s his father’s son, a man of good character and compassion, while Batman is merely an impersonal symbol of justice. When Bruce gets too lost in the Bat, that’s when he goes over the edge. Ask Alfred. He would take great offense to the notion that the young Master Wayne he raised was really Batman in disguise all along. He knows there’s a real person hiding in that cowl, even if Bruce denies it.

    I agree that Keaton was a great Wayne but a crappy Batman. I think he’d do a lot better now, though.

    And for the record, I was unimpressed with The Dark Knight long before Salvation. I didn’t like Batman Begins either. They’re good movies by most standards, but as a Batman fan, they leave me cold.

  9. P.S. Sorry to hijack this review with my Dark Knight dissatisfaction. I haven’t seen Public Enemies but plan to on DVD. Miami Vice is underrated, for sure.

  10. “He’s trying WAAAAAAAAAAY too hard.”

    As opposed to…not trying?

    “Ask Alfred.”

    I will. Got his cell phone #?

    Seriously though, ever listened to that Roger Waters tune “Paranoid Eyes” on his last Pink Floyd album THE FINAL CUT? “button your lip don’t let the shield slip/take a fresh grip on your bullet proof mask/and if they try to break down your disguise with their questions/you can hide hide hide/behind paranoid eyes ” How apt.

    Again that “mask” argument isn’t literal, but tell me…when is the guy more free? In public as Wayne or Batman?

    “I agree that Keaton was a great Wayne but a crappy Batman. I think he’d do a lot better now, though.”

    Didn’t matter if it was Keaton or Kilmer or Clooney, everyone in that same batsuit I didn’t buy crouching, much less opening a can of whoop ass. Either by clever cutting or shooting or scripting or perhaps a more flexible suit, Bale I buy. Sorry. BTW, remember that scene in Burton’s BATMAN when Keaton is trying to explain his nightjob at the apartment? brilliant and humorous. “You know what I mean?” “No I don’t.” I’m surprised Basinger didn’t think he was a closet homosexual after that.

    “They’re good movies by most standards, but as a Batman fan, they leave me cold.”

    How does that logic exactly work? Not to be a dick, but explain it for me. Consider that as much as I love the DIE HARD series like Vern, at best I think DH2 is decent and weakest of the franchise for reasons I won’t go indepth right now. I don’t care for it because its not a true enough “DH” picture, I just don’t care for it an actioneer, period. But DH2 has its fans, so I won’t blame or differ with them if they love it. Though you all will laugh, but I consider DH2 about the same as 12 ROUNDS. And from the same director. Figures.

    “And for the record, I was unimpressed with The Dark Knight long before Salvation. I didn’t like Batman Begins either. ”

    Well alright, I mean one can’t be forced to like something or hate it, so ok. At least you’re upfront about it. I wasn’t aiming that statement of mine at you, but more this Bale backlash that came out of nowhere (for me) just weeks ago. So again, don’t think I have anything against you personally or even in opinion, I just disagree…and always open to a earnest discussion. I respect you all.

    This aint goddamn AICN.

  11. Bruce Wayne doesn’t know who he is, that’s the point. Read Moriarty’s epic dissertation Batman Returns in his 90’s List thing and he’ll break down how much of Burton’s Batman films are in fact about Bruce’s fractured personality.
    For me the whoel dynamic is that Bruce wants to be Bruce but can’t. That’s what the end of DARK KNIGHT means to me. With BEGINS Batman was Bruce’s angry rampage against Gotham, and that was who he was, how he defined himself. But by the time we get to the sequel, he’s been Batman for awhile and he’s pretty much had it. He wants to go back to being Bruce Wayne, to being his father’s son, Rachel’s love, running the company, all the stuff he left behind, and he sees in Harvey Dent an out, someone who is proving that Bruce can let go of his anger and his responsibilities as Batman. And then as way out after way out after way out gets slammed shut by the Joker and then Two-Face it reaches the point where Bruce accepts that he has no out. There is no happy ending for him, no undoing what he started or ducking out in the middle. DARK KNIGHT is a tragedy in that sense and part of why I worry about a third one is I don’t know where Nolan can take this charcater and satisfy the arc he’s set up. At this point the answer may be to just say ‘Fuck it,’ and straight adapt THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS with Bale in old age make-up.

    So yeah, Public Enemies…looks good.

  12. The Bale backlash has more to do with the fact that before Batman, he was this crazy machine who would show up in some movie completely unrecognizable and elevate it to greatness with his presence alone. And no performances were ever alike, to the point that when he kind of repeated himself from AMERICAN PSYCHO with SHAFT people (including himself) were pissed. So he finally breaks through to mainstream stardom and everyone is pumped to see what new crazy things he’s going to do with the lead roles he was given, and then he kind of did the exact same thing. Frm 3:10 TO YUMA to TERMINATOR to DARK KNIGHT to this, he’s pretty much played the tight-jawed, super intense authority figure. When he breaks from this in something, it’s always in the weird indie movies he would have starred in regardless of whether he ever played Batman or not.
    It’s the Nic Cage effect. Back in the 90’s it must have been amazing to find out that the freak from VAMPIRE’S KISS and RAISING ARIZONA was going to be in a big Hollywood action movies. So he does stuff like THE ROCK or FACE/OFF and everyone has a good time because he’s still playing freaks and weirdos and it’s cool. But then he keeps making these nothing movies that no one, including him, could possibly care about and after awhile any sort of enthusiasm you had for the guy goes away. Lately it seems like he has two modes: sleepwalking or crazy camp insanity. I think alot of the backlash you’re tallking about is just concern from fans that Bale will go down a similar road.

  13. I really enjoyed Public Enemies. The shootout at the cabin at night is awesome. Really intense. Baby Face Nelson is great. The only thing that annoyed me was the old guy in the theatre behind me who was some sort of expert on Tommy Guns, explaining everything about them to his old wife. He was a real asshole.

  14. I will see this for sure . I like this crime dramas , especially if the bad guy has some redeeming qualities and the good guy is portrayed as a flawed individual . Like “American Gangster” : you see Russell Crowe cheating on his wife , and Denzel taking care of his family and NOT cheating on his wife. Vern , the next time you enter your Australian Mode , try “Ned Kelly” , with Heath Ledger , Geoffrey Rush and , ehm….Orlando Bloom. He’s very similar to Dillinger as a character , but in 1880 Australia.He even has the same “robbing banks , not people ” routine . But , and this is awesome , he pulls an IRON MAN at the end building custom armors for himself and his gang!!!! Yeah , full body armors and guns shootout !!! Take that , Clint Eastwood !

  15. Brendan – Man that’s a good scary point, but fuck I hope Bale doesn’t become Nic Cage. Really, that would be depressing as hell. Does this mean we’ll expect to see Bale waste his time in a mindless treasure hunting picture for Disney?

    Vern – Go rent John Milius’ DILLINGER movie sometime. His directorial feature debut, and we all know that Milius is a bigger nerd about guns than Mann is…..and also pretty good. PUBLIC ENEMIES is better made, bigger budget, all that, and yet I might just prefer DILLINGER. For some reason its more intimate, and Milius has Oates/Johnson egg on even more that code of warrior shit that Mann also digs.

  16. Totally agree, Brendan. I don’t understand how a guy who is so dynamic (adj. version) in small movies can be so bland in big Hollywood projects. All his indie/arthouse work feels downright dangerous. That’s why he should have been a perfect Batman. He does a solid job, I’m really not complaining, but Bale’s Batman never feels quite whacko enough to be a real guy who dresses like a rodent so he can scare people. I’d like to see a bit more Pat Bateman in Bale’s Batman, I guess.

  17. For the record I’m not saying Bale is heading down that same road yet. Yeah his recent output for the studios has all been pretty much the same charcater, but at the very least he plays that character really fucking well and seems to be picky about what projects he chooses and tries really hard. And inbetween turning tricks for the man he’ll go off and do something like I’M NOT THERE or RESCUE DAWN or something like that. So I think Bale’ll be fine in the long run and stay interesting, it’s a just a similar case of indie-legend losing something in the transition to big money movies.

  18. I disagree that Bale as Batman is just “Growly Batman” and “douchey playboy facade”. Both of those are masks, and it’s the Bruce you see in private talking to Alfred or Lucius Fox that’s the real guy, I don’t think he really became Batman inside until he’d been at it for longer, and in the movies he’s still kind of “Batman: Year One” persona, though with the whole cellphone tracking thing he’s starting to cross the line more. But it’s the lighter stuff as the real guy talking to those who know his secret that gives me hope that he’s not just the sourpuss he typically plays. Plus he was really good in American Psycho.

    As for Public Enemies, I agree Vern. It was okay, maybe even good, but nothing especially great. I quite liked the guy who played Baby Face Nelson though. It was a bit jarring that actually, as I’d only just seen him last month in a low budget UK horror movie called Doghouse, which is quite a transition.

  19. just saw Rescue Dawn the other day. forgot that I actually like this actor when he brings some character to the role.

  20. RRA, I agree with the stuff you’re saying about the movies in theory, but in execution, I don’t particularly enjoy the way they play out. The fact that neither one of them has a single well-shot action moment might have something to do with it. I know, I know, I liked Transformers 2. But blurry giant robots are worth trying to figure out. Blurry stuntmen aren’t.

    I don’t know, there’s just something about both new Batman movies that rubs me the wrong way. I always get the feeling that everybody involved is apologizing for making a superhero movie. “Sorry, guys, we wanted to make a gritty crime drama, sort of a Michael Mann thing, but the suits made us use this ridiculous costume and throw in a bunch of fights and stuff. Don’t worry, we’ll try and get through them as quickly as possible.” I think it all comes down to the fact that I simply don’t buy Batman. Not Bale, not the suit, not the fights, not the voice, not anything. To me, Batman should be the smartest, toughest, scariest dude on earth, and he’s just…not. He’s just Christian Bale trying to act tough. The movies themselves are pretty good, but Batman (through the fault of Bale for not making him very interesting and Nolan for not giving him anything awesome to do) is simply not very impressive, and it ruins the movies for me. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but that’s just how I feel. Nothing would make me happier than to have two truly amazing Batman movies, but I can’t make myself love them if I don’t.

  21. I remember reading somewhere that Bale wasn’t so sure about doing Terminator Salvation , it was the director who finally convinced him ( or , maybe , the paycheck ). So , in my opinion , at least he tries to choose the right movie to do,even the big studio movies . Look at Sam Jackson , Eddie Murphy or Dennis Hopper , they’ve been in some pretty shitty movies , and they knew it . Murphy in particular seems to be ready to sign for everything.For Batman Bale was already a fan of the comics ( well ,at least the 3-4 stories he constantly talks about ) , so , yes it was a big paycheck , but he really wanted the part .For me , even if it is a big summer movie , if a talented actor is passionate enough , his work can be as good as if it was an independent movie. Finally , yeah , it seems that the studios are offering him very specific roles ( brooding heroes , authority figures , etc….) , but that is THEIR problem. The lack of originality in Hollywood is worse now than ever . You can say the same thing about a lot of actors. Shia LaBeouf played the same character in Indiana Jones , I-Will Smith and fucking Transformers.The same goes for Jack Black , but he can be good when working with CHARACTERS with a little more depth , like in King Kong or Tropic Thunder .

  22. Christian Brimo

    July 9th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I liked Bale as Batman. The ‘Batman voice’ is obviously him trying to intimidate criminals. Its that simple. My problem was Bale in Equilibrium. He was meant to be the emotional savior but he came out looking completely robotic. The same problem is probably present in Terminator Salvation
    on an unrelated note I just read Elmore Leonard’s ‘The Hot Kid’, which spoils the ending of this movie. wasn’t a great novel but it has got me keen to see some Tommy Guns and fedoras crime movie

  23. Mr. Majestyk : I’m a big comic fan , and I like the Nolan-Batman movies . But I agree , in Batman live action THERE’S something wrong : it’s not a comic . In the comics , in my opinion , it’s the freedom of the artist to draw Batman in a scary way , maybe with some artistic liberties, drawing him as a true night creature . Miller , Mignola , Jones and especially Brian Bolland are masters of black and white , and Batman is truly scary in the hands of this guys. In a movie he will always be a guy in a suit , like Godzilla . For me the movies are fantastic , but Batman will always work better in the comics. In the movies I will always think “Man that guy is dressed like a fucking flying rodent “.And this is a problem that IRON MAN will never face , the Iron Suit is supposed to be clunky and stiff , and in the movie looked awesome.

  24. I think part of the problem is the environment the characters live in. Iron Man seems like a natural extension of Tony Stark’s over-the-top world, but Batman sticks out like a sore thumb in the realistic one Nolan created. Nolan also refuses to shoot Batman like a badass. He just points the camera at the poor guy in full light so you can see how cheesy the suit is. I still pine for Aronofsky’s Batman. That would be a hero who would make criminals shit their pants.

  25. Well Vern, I know what your saying about Bale, and despite my obvious Bale-bias, I agree. He needs to play an actual ruthless villian or at the very least, get his ass into one of those Apatow comedy thingamabobs. Mix it up a little. At least do something with Statham. Death Race 2 maybe.

    Mann’s films always grown on me slowly though. I thought Miami Vice was so-so the first time I saw it, now it’s my favorite Mann film.

    I dug Public Enemies a lot. I’m itching to see it again.

  26. Better yet, here’s one.

    Christian Bale and Jason Statham in 5Fast 5Furious: English Beat.

  27. Good call, but it should be Grandmaster Fast and the Furious Five.

  28. What’s wrong with Christian Bale in this movie? While I think he’s becoming the go-to guy for gloomy characters, I didn’t see that in Purvis at all. He was a company man doing his job. He was the type of man who did his job to the fullest and would do whatever it takes. Unfortunately, guys like that aren’t very charismatic. Bale played him like he should have as a company man not as a crusader. I agree that Terminator Salvation is the worst I’ve ever seen him and the most bland but in Public Enemies he did what the role required.

    Bale is great as Batman and his Batman voice is exactly what I would imagine Batman should sound like. He’s intimidating the criminals sounding as crazy as they are. The biggest complaint I always had about the older movies was that Batman sounded exactly like Bruce Wayne. It was a great choice to change the tone of his voice as Batman. Only Kevin Conroy sounds better as Batman.

  29. And Public Enemies was actually much better then I expected. I was worried because high def camera don’t feel cinematic most of the time but came out pleasantly surprised at the movie. It’s not Michael Mann’s best movie or the best heist movie I’ve ever seen, but it was a good movie.

  30. ” I know, I know, I liked Transformers 2.”

    Mr. Majestk – That’s like saying here at of all joints that you voted for Dubya twice.

  31. I know, it’s weird, right? It’s like there are two things everybody is supposed to agree on: The Dark Knight is the greatest movie ever made and Transformers 2 is the worst. Yet despite the fact that I am totally on-board with almost everything else on this sight (Vern’s hatred of Crank excepting), I just cannot deny that I enjoy the experience of watching the latter more than the former. Perhaps it has something to do with expectations. I expected Transformers 2 to be the stupidest, most retardedest movie ever, and I got it. I expected Dark Knight to be the perfect Batman movie, and it wasn’t. At least not for me.

    I assure you, in most other respects, I’m just like you guys. Die Hard is the greatest action movie ever made. Seagal’s best film is Out For Justice. The theatrical ending of Army of Darkness is better than the director’s cut. Please don’t shun me for my few peculiarities.

  32. I felt like the film Mann was trying to make here was THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD, but he fell plenty short. Like Vern said, Mann never went anywhere with the idea of how brutal crimminals are glamourized into folk heroes.

    And it felt like they never took any real angle on Dillinger. He says he values his publicity in the film but you never really see him enjoying his celebrity status. Did he live for the fame or for the action of the robberies? Did he sense his own mortality like Jesse James is shown to in ASSASSINATION…? Or did he have a death wish? Did he really not think about the future? Or did he just not know how to do anything but rob banks? Why was Billie such a weakness for him? So many unanswered questions.

    What I liked about the movie was all the stuff on the edges. I really liked seeing crime and crimebusting evolving around Dillinger and pushing him out. Crime gets more organized and doesn’t want cowboys attracting unwanted attention anymore. Crimebusting is able to move beyond old frontiers because men like Dillinger give Hoover the justification to expand his juridiction. All fascinating stuff and all very underdeveloped in this film.

  33. Mr. Majestyk – Its strange how you (or was it someone else?) brought up IRON MAN over Nolan’s BATMAN….which is weird.

    Why? Because IRON MAN in plot structure really was greatly inspired by (i.e. ripped-off) BATMAN BEGINS. Hell they even share a non-linear narrative.

    IRON MAN is a terrific movie mind you…but so is BATMAN BEGINS, and goddamn TDK, and oh yeah, cookies too.

  34. I just expect a hell of a lot out of a Batman movie. I’ve read about 50 million Batman stories, and while I’m usually able to divorce one medium from the other, I find that i am unable to do that in this case. I have no such attachment to Iron Man, so his movie didn’t have to live up to my preposterously high and specific standards. I admit without caveat that this is more my problem than the movie’s.

    Also, Robert Downey Jr. is just way more fun to watch than Christian Bale. Or anybody, really. When he showed up for that 30-second cameo at the end of the Incredible Hulk, I found myself wishing he’d been in the whole movie.

  35. Actually, while I got you here, RRA (or anybody else who feels like chiming in), can somebody tell me what is so great about The Dark Knight? I mean, I have my reasons for not being satisfied, but I’ve talked to plenty of other people who don’t have the same problem as me and they don’t know what the big deal is either. I mean, sure, it’s a good movie, no question, but a Best Picture contender? The best comic book movie ever? An example of how to do a Summer Movie right? I don’t know about that. I honestly don’t remember much about the story or the action or anything, really, that doesn’t have to do with the Joker (who utterly rules, no argument here), so I’m kind of at a loss as to what everyone thinks is so amazing about it. I swear to God that I’m not trying to start a fight. I want to know, because I don’t get it.

  36. Christian Brimo

    July 10th, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Its just a fuckin well made movie. Its a proper film. It opens with a great heist scene/double cross and just keeps piling up incident and spectable
    every single actor is perfectly cast, which helps

  37. What if my dad didn’t have a record collection?

  38. I haven’t seen ‘Public Enemies’ yet so can’t comment on that one (hopefully I’ll see it Sunday if I don’t have work).

    But since the main three people (RRA, Brenden, Mr. Majestyk) I converse with here via talkbacks are having a Batman discussion I thought I’d jump in on that since I’ve so far successfully derailed three talkbacks into totally un-realted topics.

    I was going to jump in earlier but as I just stated over in the Transformers II talkback I’m a bit intimidated by the influx of far better writers than me.

    I’ll admit up front that I’m one of those ‘The Dark Knight’ fanboys. It delivered what I wanted out of it and far exceeded my expectations. I dug all the performances. My friend very much believes in the whole ‘You hand a lot on the quality of your villain’ line of thought and definitely true here with Ledger’s performance. I don’t know why every is over looking Aaron Eckhart but I thought he delivered as well. Also special mention goes to Gary Oldman who I haven’t heard many people talk about in this particular film but he gave arguably my favorite performance in the film. Bale repeats what he did in the prior film and I liked him there.

    Pretty much the movie sucked me in and never let me go. I was intrigued by all the characters and I didn’t have much of a problem with the film’s story which many have accused of being overly complicated. Mostly I liked how there was more to it than ‘bad guy pops up and has to stop him’. How it actually challenged the notion of a vigilante and by the film’s end it didn’t seem to hold it in a good light. Other factors as well but I single that out because that’s the one that interested me the most and is probably the biggest factor for me liking the film as much as I do.

    All that and the fact I feel the movie has grade-A film-making (I love the film’s cinematography) and it delivered for me as a Batman fan (read: nerd).

    That said Burton’s ‘Batman Returns’ has a lot of interesting things in it. I think it arguably has the most interesting characters of all the movies (and not just because they were weird). I enjoy how Burton made the three villains extensions of Batman’s personality (Penguin-feels like a freak, Catwoman-loves being a vigilante, Shrek-spoiled rich white boy). Yeah as a narrative-whole it’s kind of mess but like how I am with J.J. Abram’s ‘Star Trek’ I enjoy the characters (and actors) so much that I forgive it for having a shitty story (at least ‘Returns’ had credible villains)

    Still neither is my favorite Batman film though. That thankless award goes to ‘Mask Of The Phantasm.’ It had the over-the-topness of a comic book world (I don’t mind the ‘hyper-realism’ by the way), a pitch-perfect Joker, a pitch-perfect Batman, an excellent score, a solid story & direction. It also managed to be an origin film but not fall into the trappings orgin films always fall into. The movie also boasts one of my all time favorite scores. Many brush it off as a ‘mere-cartoon’ but as a nerd I must say it’s my favorite cinematic depiction of the Bat. I honestly can’t think of a single thing about it that I don’t like and I’ll go one further and say it’s my favorite superhero movie and one of my favorite films in general.

  39. I think the problem with Bale’s BATMAN is more of the collaboration with Nolan. He and Nolan keep trying to make it all seem real, or at least explainable (if asked). That irritating voice seems to be part of their “realism”, that his voice is so distorted that no one would know he is Bruce Wayne. Personally, I think it makes the character sound a bit silly. As for Bale the Actor: he seems to be in it just for the paycheck now. I wish he would go back to riskier stuff. And a comedy would definitely be risky.

  40. I think I’ll stick to Warren Oates vs. Ben Johnson in the John Milius Dillinger flick. This one looks incredibly bland (from the previews at least) in comparison. Johnson definitely made Purvis charismatic and entertaining.

  41. I hated this movie. I think it’s Michael Mann’s very worst. All directionless plotting and unjustified gravitas — the most boring possible take on the legendary killer. In that respect, I think it’s the bank robber version of MICHAEL CLAYTON, which tied with TRANSFORMERS as the most infuriated I have ever been at a movie. Is it too much to ask that the director actually try to make me care about the characters, or that someone have a little bit of fun? Mann has found a way to make even the scenes with a charge of electricity be utterly devoid of heat.

  42. Bale playing a failure? Makes sense to me. His Batman didn’t do jack shit for two whole movies. Honestly, he couldn’t even come up with an antidote for Scarecrow’s fear toxin by himself…he had to run to Morgan Freeman. Epic fail, Mr. Bale. And did he do anything in the three hour lame-fest that was THE DARK KNIGHT? Not a damn thing.

    And, how about that John Connor? What happened to the tough kid that taught a robot how to feel? Shit, even Nick Stahl’s John Connor was a bigger bad-ass than Bale’s Connor.

  43. Dan, your assessment of The Dark Knight is dead wrong.

  44. Okay, not to get involved in nerd religious squabbles, but I never understand when people say Batman isn’t in DARK KNIGHT enough or doesn’t do enough. He beats up many thugs, traces a bunch of money, leverages a merger as an undercover operation to investigate a corrupt CEO who he then awesomeley kidnaps from Hong Kong, does an illegal interrogation, has a great truck and motorcycle chase, cleverly foils a plan to reveal his secret identity, creates and operates a morally questionable surveillance system, captures the Joker, shuts down his base of operations, sets himself up as a public enemy not to mention various moral and emotional dilemmas regarding his love for Rachel, his admiration for Harvey Dent, his partnerships with Gordon and Morgan Freeman. He skydives, he flies, his eyes glow, he smashes a car, he almost quits, he helps fake a death, he loses a loved one, among other things. What more do you want the bastard to do, juggle and recite poetry?

    maybe we should take this to the DARK KNIGHT comments though.

  45. Well, I guess it’s just that all that stuff is cool in theory, but it just didn’t have any impact for me. There are no “Oh shit it’s on” moments.

    However, I will respect the right for people to discuss Public Enemies without being annoyed by tangential conversations, so anyone who wants to argue with me further can do so at The Dark Knight review, as our host suggested. But if this is the end of this epic battle, I want to thank everyone for not calling me an idiot.

  46. One of the reasons the film feels disjointed or shortened from something longer is because it almost certainly is. I spent an entire Saturday luxuriating in a Mann Crime retrospective at home: Thief, Manhunter Restored Director’s Cut, Heat and Miami Vice Director’s Cut, before seeing Public Enemies on the Sunday. Apart from the fact that it reinforces my feeling that Thief and Manhunter simply get better with age, as will Miami Vice, whereas Heat to my shock is not ageing well, I noticed in both director’s cuts that it’s not just scenes restored or elongated – in places he’s re-edited scenes in a far more subtle manner, creating greater impact on the viewer. I’ll be interested to see how Public Enemies looks when it gets to home vid.

    The other reason is because he’s taken a fantastic book, and hacked out a sixth or so of it to turn into the film. It’s a book that would have made an amazing HBO series, something more in line with his great Crime Story, but with a greater overarching narrative on the development of the FBI from private fiefdom to genuinely nation-wide crime-busters. There’s much more in the book about the college boys Hoover loved needing to be re-trained by agents, cops and marshals who earned their badges in the Old West, of the sort the great Stephen Lang played in the film. There’s also the other crooks of the day, Dillinger’s contemporaries – Bonnie & Clyde, Pretty Boy Floyd, Babyface Nelson, and so on, all doing their thing, using cars to cross county and state lines, pushing the need for similar networking from the law. It’s an awesome, excessively detailed piece of historical journalism, and a riveting read. The film, however, is merely a solid enough Johnny Depp vehicle where the most interesting actors are all the smaller players given barely anything to do (Dorff, Ribisi, Stephen Lang, Antipodean David Wenham, Brit Stephen Graham), the best acting is from Marion Cotillard yet she is offscreen for a large portion of the film, and where Mann’s HD period shooting is fascinating, making it feel like someone shot back then on video so we could see how the world really was, not how we think it looks from later films. Mann’s films, I think, always work better without grandstanding stars like Pacino or Depp in them – although Pacino’s overplaying in Heat was redeemed to a large degree in The Insider, and Depp redeems himself for the awfulness of Pirates 2 & 3 here to a large degree. I guess we’ll see how it looks this time next year, when not preceded by Transformers 2.

  47. M.Mann is my favorite Director. Last of the Mohicans is in my top 5 faves. Miami Vice was a great solid movie that people have labelled as a critical failure (68% positive on R.Tomatoes is not a failure and 100% positive for top critics) I was a fiend for Miami Vice and people that say it was nothing like the show never actually watched it or the years have dulled their memories of it. I did not want a Ben Stiller comedy version, I wanted what Mann gave us. Sorry for the tangent. BTW has anyone read VERN’s Mustard tangent on Thick as Thieves? Priceless.

  48. Quite right, Stormwatcher. People who say “Miami Vice” (2006) was nothing like “Miami Vice” (1984-9) either only know about the show from “I love the 80s” type stuff and maybe “The Wedding Singer”, or have very vague memories of the show and probably only liked it at the time because the car was cool and the flamingos in the titles were cute. It was like they took a script for an episode of the TV series, expanded it and filmed it as a 2006 movie.

    As for “Public Enemies”, I loved it. You might be thinking I’m some kind of a Mann fanboy, a Mannboy, and it’s true I’ll always give anything the guy makes a chance, but I don’t just automatically like everything the guy does; “The Insider” frankly bored me. “Publuc Enemies” really worked for me and was a real breath of fresh air this summer, and I’ve seen practically every bloody film this summer so far including some dreggs you would hardly believe!

  49. As a really big fan of Miami Vice the tv show, the movie really isn’t anything like the TV show. Despite how dark the story lines in Miami Vice tended to be, the movie plays it far straighter (perhaps much too straight) than the TV show.

  50. OK, maybe I was a bit over the top in my summation of people who thought the movie was nothing like the TV show, and for that I’m sorry. But I maintain that it was closer than a lot of people thought. Maybe I was just pleasantly surprised, I don’t know.

  51. Mr. Majestyk – There are many reasons why TDK is great, and some here have painted them out already or not, here is one reason I’m sure nobody has probably typed up:

    Gary Oldman plays the Hero

    In every other movie, the great Oldman always got stuck playing the villain or the psychopath or pimp or whatever the fuck, but in BB and TDK, he’s a goodie. Shit, he’s an even bigger HERO than Batman in my book.

    He has no kung fu skills or gadgets or big budget like Bats does, but his Gordon really has to contend with fighting crime in the worst city alive as supposedly the only “clean” cop around, and all his subordinates and co-workers probably a rat. Or really fucked his family’s mental make-up after he faked his death, and he knows it.

    Or best of all, having to give a kind eulogy to a fucking asshole who held his family at gunpoint.

    Seriously, imagine Gordon that day having to keep his shit together in having to do something he absolutely doesn’t want to do…all this supposedly for the better good.

    We don’t get that in TRANSFORMERS

  52. I will not argue with you for one second about the awesomeness of Gary Oldman, or Jim Gordon in general. In fact, the part of the movie when I was most engaged was when I thought they’d killed him.

    I promised I would walk away from this one, but I guess my bottom line feeling is that The Dark Knight is a movie with a lot of great parts that don’t add up to greatness for me, largely because I don’t buy the central character. I have decided, however, as a show of good faith to all of you good people who have debated with me decently and eloquently, to re-watch the movie to see if maybe second time’s the charm. But I warn you: I tried the same thing with Batman Begins and it didn’t help. I even got laid that night, so you’d think some residual good will would have rubbed off on it.

  53. Fair enough.

    Isn’t it amazing that we haven’t gone into monkey-shit throwing combat yet like we might have on AICN and also not bring up (randomly) God or mother or the President?

    Fucking amazing.

  54. I’ve just seen this movie and it’s good , not great , but good . I guess it’s true that when watching a Michael Mann movie , the expectations are really high.
    But… I can’t believe , Vern , you didn’t notice (SPLOILERS) that the guy shooting Dillinger is Don Frye , ex MMA fighter and Gordon in Godzilla Final Wars ! I was expecting a quick death for him , an Al Leong kind of role , but he’s the guy shooting down the closest friend of Dillinger and he helps killing Dillinger himself ! Wow , way to go Frye , but I think the nomination for best white guy in a Godzilla movie helped a little bit .

  55. Watched this on DVD last night, and my initial reaction to the digital-look of the trailer was only compounded. I was curious that you didn’t bring the look of the film up more in the review, Vern. The flat Hi-def look just kept pulling me out of the film – the cabin shootout was beautifully laid out, but digital in low-light conditions just doesn’t match up to film – not yet.

    With careful lighting, you can get around it, but I get the impression that Mann is happier sacrificing the overall aesthetic in favour of faster setups and reduced dicking around in post-production. Or the low-angle shots with Cotillard walking around her room and the sickly fluorescent look to everything? Not a fan. I think someone defended it by saying it really brought you back to thirties, documentary style, but Mann’s shooting style (apart from the shootouts), is the exact opposite – all cool style and slickness – and the end-result doesn’t really gel for me.

    The story was okay, but the narrative just seemed to slip and slide around when it tried to expand on Dillinger’s personal life, whereas Bale’s part had all the non-lawmen stuff excised, which made him little more than a bland, featureless antagonist. A little disappointing, but it passed the time, I guess.

    HEAT hasn’t aged well? Really? I should really check that out again. What about THE INSIDER?

  56. I really liked this. Probably not my favorite of that particular year, but still a damn good Mann film. I have to disagree with Vern, and say it’s superior to MIAMI VICE. Although a good (not damn good apparently) film, VICE felt a little clunky and po-faced. COLLATERAL had a sense of levity in a few key scenes that eased mounting tension, only to let it rise again. It’s nowhere to be seen in MIAMI VICE, which could have used some of it as a shout-out to the TV show. It’s easy to understand the decision to eschew a lot of what confined that show to it’s particular era, but to go as far as to eliminate some of what made it so successful was a little confounding.

    Concerning PE, although I think ZODIAC makes a better case for using digital to convincingly re-create another time and place, the use of it here was good as a strict counterpoint to the ultra-modern landscapes of Miami and Los Angeles from Michael’s two previous films. In a way, it feels more like ALI in a sense that it tries to capture it’s time and place in a way that feels slightly modern and relatable. Depp is great as Dillinger, everything Vern said in the first paragraph is spot-on. Cotillard has never been more beautiful to me, as she is here. And one performance I’m surprised that hasn’t been mentioned so far is Stephen Lang. Having only really remembered him from MANHUNTER and his role as the hokey villain in the Michael J. Fox/James Woods vehicle THE HARD WAY, I was absolutely astounded to see how fucking stoic he was here. And the last scene with him was just so perfect.

    A little post-note, akin to Vern’s noting of father’s record collections, through this film I found out the reason I couldn’t live in the 1930’s. Movie theaters advertising air-conditioning. One can hope the economic collapse won’t bring us back to that kind of promotion to get us to see movies, but damn. Try to imagine one day living in a time where something we take for granted like that is used to bring us in to a movie theater. Especially after a summer like the one I’ve been living through (in Indiana, smack dab in the middle of a “heat dome”, a term obviously invented by sadistic meteorologists), I probably would pay for some good AC. Even if it meant watching Adam Sandler.

  57. I haven’t seen this since it came out, but it’s stuck with me. Mann’s best work does that – it haunts me. I wasn’t sure what to make of the movie when I first saw it (exactly as with Miami Vice), but the climax at the cinema gnawed at me. The Clark Gable movie is the key to the story – it’s all about Dillinger and his worldview. Mann isn’t interested in “feelings” about celebrity and all that, but the fact that Dillinger lives for the moment, no future, no past. It might disappoint people that there is nothing more explicit in the story than that, but to me it’s line with all of Mann’s films. I’m not very good at articulating this, sorry. I have to watch the film again.

    I think it had some very effective and lasting moments, particularly between Cotillard and Stephen Lang.

    I recommend reading a book about Mann and existential philosophy – can’t think of the exact title – that is the key to all Mann’s films, I think.

    And the digital cinematography being criticised because it’s not usual for a period piece? That is exactly why Mann did it! To go against expectations, and make people feel like they’ve been dropped into 1933, and not watching period piece artifice. (He says as such in interviews and the DVD commentary) For me, this effect worked swimmingly.

  58. I must admit that his commentary (Mann is the Undisputed King of the Director’s Commentary, by the way) gave me some new appreciation for the film. And hey, Mann on a bad day is still much better than most other filmmakers, but Public Enemies was a disappointment.

    Despite that stellar cast and awesome subject matter, it’s just not up there with Heat, Ali, Mohicans and The Insider (and I say this as someone who friggin’ loves Miami Vice).

    As for that cinematography… Huh uh. I wouldn’t mind the digital look so much if it was any good (like, say, what Fincher and Savides did in Zodiac with the Viper cam), but there were too many shots in Public Enemies that looked like they rather belong in the making-of. I’d venture a guess that Dante Spinotti had never shot on digital before up until that point.

  59. Knox:

    Spot-on. ZODIAC was a terrific example of how to do a period piece on digital and make it look great.

    World Eater:

    I imagine that was Mann’s intention, but for the reasons Knox mentioned, it just didn’t work. With the right cinematography, you can do a mockumentary set well before the INVENTION of film and still pull it off; check out some of the stuff by Peter Watkins (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Watkins) to see what I mean.

  60. PS – I realise that ENEMIES isn’t a mockumentary, but that kind of digital photography always pulls me OUT of the film and back into the present day rather than pushing me deeper into it.

  61. Well, like I said, Mann said the effect was as if you were actually there…The DV made me felt like they were actually in Bohemian Lodge…anyway, it worked for me and I didn’t have a problem with it when I saw it in 2009 in the cinema.

    I actually grew very, very tired of the Zodiac look – the same fucking Digital Intermediate computer color-timed artificial palette all the way through, screaming teal-and-orange. To me, comparing Zodiac to Public Enemies is apples and oranges, although, both cases of directors using DV with a specific vision in mind.

  62. By the way, I think this is one of the rare Johnny Depp performances since…probably Donnie Brasco? At least since Blow…that isn’t fucking annoying.

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