Michael Mann feature #4 is MANHUNTER. Instead of a moody portrait of a thief like in THIEF he does one of a profiler trying to identify a serial killer. This is of course Mann’s adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon, the pre-SILENCE OF THE LAMBS story of a guy chasing a killer called “The Tooth Fairy” after having caught Hannibal Lecktor (that’s how they spell it when he’s played by Brian Cox). William Petersen (THE SKULLS) plays Will Graham, who FBI agent Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina, CODE OF SILENCE) nudges into the investigation by showing him some crime scene photos and making him feel bad. That was a pretty shitty thing to do because Will is just starting to get his life back together after getting inside the mind of Lecktor also got him inside the rooms of a mental hospital.
Posts Tagged ‘Dennis Farina’
THIEF is a pure dose of most of what I love about Michael Mann. It’s moody, atmospheric and macho as hell. It matter-of-factly drops us into a gritty underworld, makes us feel like we’re witnessing the real deal, and puts us on the side of a guy who has no business being the good guy except that he lives by more of a code than the other guys do. Not even really a code of honor, just a self-serving code of independence, but one that we can loosely apply to more ethical aspects of our own lives.
By today’s standards it’s an arty movie, full of long, quiet scenes, not a bunch of noises to tell you it’s exciting. It opens with a 10 minute heist sequence where everything goes right. No one gives chase or almost sees them. They’re just very professional about it and perform their jobs well. And it doesn’t need tension. It’s fascinating without it.
It’s a movie that’s low on exposition, high on uncomfortable moments where we aren’t expected to agree with the protagonist (like the aggressive way he courts Jessie [Tuesday Weld], and then the heartless way he cuts her off, treating her as a property that’s been tying him down). But also it has plenty of moments of badassness, not shirking its duty to deliver on the genre goods. Its closest modern equivalent is DRIVE, which at times plays as an homage or ripoff of THIEF. But that’s a character, believe it or not, with more heart. (read the rest of this shit…)
No joke, I never saw SAVING PRIVATE RYAN before. I’ve never been big on war movies and I think back when it was a recent movie I was real cynical and suspicious of any type of flagwaving. I thought movies like this were just brainwashing kids to join up in case they needed to blow up Iraq again.
But that’s stupid. This one’s about “the good war” and still makes it look like something to avoid at all costs. The famous Omaha Beach invasion sequence near the beginning is a total bloodbath, soldiers pouring off the boats into waves of machine gun bullets. They might as well just be jumping from a diving board directly into a giant fan, it seems like. (read the rest of this shit…)
In the popular song and cartoon RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER, “reindeer games” are the fun group activities that all the popular reindeers enjoy but Rudolph is excluded from due to his low social caste. In the movie REINDEER GAMES the character “Monster” (Gary Sinise) uses it as a synonym for “funny business,” something that he threatens Rudy (Ben Affleck) not to participate in. This misuse of Christmas terminology doesn’t bother Rudy or probly occur to him, but it does bug him when Clarence Williams III keeps referring to “Santa’s dwarves.” So he does have a certain amount of respect for Christmas tradition.
REINDEER GAMES is not a Christmas movie in the sense that it’s about Christmas, or about somebody coming to a realization about the meaning of Christmas, at least not a very convincing one. But I can guarantee you this much: it takes place in December, with a heist planned for Christmas Eve, and with the participators all dressed as Santa Claus. So there are some discussions of cranberries and what not. Maybe a mention of sugar plums, I can’t remember for sure. (Have you ever had sugar plums? They’re actually really fuckin good. I wish I knew a place that sold them. I might have visions of them dancing in my head now that I remembered them.)
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This is one of those mysterious movies that suddenly appeared out of nowhere one Friday night, then disappeared again a week later without so much as a puff of smoke. It straddles that blurry line between mainstream studio movie advertised on national television and straight to video thriller nobody’s ever heard of.
I actually saw an ad for it that week and I gotta admit I was a little intrigued. You just saw some dude falling down a fire escape and maybe a car flipping or something, and I thought maybe it was some gritty low budget late ’70s early ’80s style down and dirty revenge thriller. I mean there were no stars in it, it looked like the main character was that sleazeball Tom Sizemore (actually it’s Cole Hauser, some guy who looks kind of like Christian Bale but sounds kind of like Willem Dafoe). The only way they tried to make it sound like a Real Hollywood Movie was to brag that it was produced by Mel Gibson. (the guy from MAD MAX.) (read the rest of this shit…)