Michael Mann‘s Thief  is like a ticking-clock thriller without an actual ticking clock. Frank (James Caan) is in a rush to make up for lost time, to achieve the life he wants, and is represented by his photo. A part of the film’s conflict is that Frank’s life of crime will lead to an inevitable blowup. As Mann would say, he’s a rat in a maze. That idea has sneaked its way into Mann’s later work, from Collateral to Public Enemies to Heat, as his characters are inexorably drawn towards an inevitable outcome for their actions. But it all started with Thief, which has now been released on Blu-ray by Criterion. From the hypnotic sounds of Tangerine Dream‘s score to the sumptuous beauty of Donald E. Thorin‘s cinematography, this 4K restoration of this landmark crime film has made Mann’s “rat in a maze” seem even more immersive. Despite his busy work on an untitled thriller (aka Cyber) Mann spoke with us about his classic directorial debut, offering his thoughts on its style, the virtues of editing as “the ultimate kind of writing” and the unparalleled intimacy of digital cinematography in a post-celluloid age.


Heat Movie Michael Mann

I’ve been taking my family on a tour of Michael Mann’s filmography recently, and every minute has been fantastic. Mann has a great eye for cinematography, writes and/or directs characters who are refreshingly competent and layered, and has a way of getting great mileage out of a topic he enjoys (crime and those who commit and prevent it) by changing the level of its presentation. He has done pieces both epic (Heat) and intimate (Collateral). He has ventured into the past, where his favorite subject varies in presence from “extant, but not important compared to other events” (The Last of the Mohicans) to “the point of the entire film” (Public Enemies). He brought Hannibal Lector to the screen for the first time as Hannibal Lecktor in Manhunter, which I must admit remains my primary source exposure to everyone’s favorite cannibal. All of these traits make Mann a director whose work should be followed, but what absolutely drives me wild about him is his use of music in his pictures’ key scenes. Mann’s soundtracks are usually a mix of contemporary rock, house music, a slow and/or seductive piece for particularly romantic moments and several compositions written specifically for the film by his composer. At least once in every one of his films that I have had a chance to see, Mann takes a piece from his soundtrack and sets it to a climactic or character defining scene and the resulting moment never fails to astound. Dialogue is usually sparse to nonexistent […]


Brian De Palma

If you ask me, Brian De Palma has been really underperforming over the last decade or so. I think I remember seeing Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia from him, and that’s about it. When was the last time I was truly excited to see a De Palma film? You’d have to go all the way back to when he worked with Nic Cage on Snake Eyes. Thankfully, the director has a new project in the works, and while it’s not quite as exciting as a re-pairing with Nic Cage, it does sound appropriately ridiculous. This time he’s working on a remake of a Burt Reynolds movie, with Jason Statham in the Burt Reynolds role. Probably not a lot of people remember 1986’s Heat, because by all accounts it was pretty bad. It’s the type of movie that goes through multiple directors over the course of its production, and then eventually forces the guy who has to take credit for directing to not even use his real name.



For 36 days straight, we’ll be exploring the famous 36 Dramatic Situations by examining a film that exemplifies each one. From family killing family to prisoners in need of asylum, we brush off the 19th century list in order to remember that it’s still incredibly relevant today. Whether you’re seeking a degree in Literature, love movies, or just love seeing things explode, our feature should have something for everyone. If it doesn’t, please don’t put a snake in my boot. Part 35 of the 36-part series takes a look at “Rivalry of Superior and Inferior” with Toy Story.



Times are tough. You need a little extra cash. You have absolutely no regard for the law. What do you do? If you’re a total badass, you plan the perfect heist. And because Film School Rejects is dedicated to providing “news you can use” – and encouraging its readers to engage in all kinds of dangerous and illegal behavior – what follows is a handy guide to executing the perfect heist as dictated by some of the movies we love.  Or, in deference to the new John Luessenhop flick opening this weekend, you can think of the following as The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Takers.



A guy told me one time, “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”


Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat

While everyone is busy lambasting Righteous Kill, head to your favorite video spot and rent Michael Mann’s amazing Heat this weekend. You won’t miss going to the theater if you do.



If you head out to the theaters this weekend to see Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino share the screen in Righteous Kill, be sure to toast this team-up of legendary crime film stars.

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published: 02.01.2015
published: 01.31.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015

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