Michael Mann

mann

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.

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Iron Man 3 Air Force One

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Chris-Hemsworth

Now this is a great cinema-related Valentines’s Day Gift. Variety reports that director Michael Mann is returning to feature films after almost four years away from the big screen (his last directorial outing was with 2009′s Public Enemies) with a new untitled thriller. Mann is attached to direct the film for Legendary Pictures from his own script, which he has reportedly been working on for over a year with co-writer Morgan Davis Foehl (an editor-turned-scribe who is also writing the Mass Effect film for the studio). Still better? Chris Hemsworth is already attached to star in the new project. Details on the feature are predictably slim, but the outlet does pass on that it “takes place in a world of cyber threats and attacks.” Someone tell me this is the The Net remake we’ve all been begging for. Now let’s all go celebrate VD in the traditional way – by watching Collateral and marveling at Tom Cruise’s steely gaze (and hair).

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Jason Clarke in Lawless

Lawless features some towering performances. Tom Hardy commands with every grunt, Guy Pearce snarls in every scene, and Gary Oldman gives a quietly vicious performance. Then there’s Jason Clarke, playing the oldest of the three Bondurant brothers, Howard. He’s the brute of the group, the unhinged ox who’s seen a mass-scale violence, and he has clearly been affected by it. Clarke, like Hardy and his grunts, walks through the film with a lumbering physicality, as if he’s not even in much control over his own violent tendencies. That physicality is a factor Clarke put a lot of thought into, from using a smaller heel on his boot to wearing weights on his ankles. It’s that sort of commitment which seems to have earned the actor gigs with the likes of Baz Luhrmann, Kathryn Bigelow, John Hillcoat, and the two peas in the pod, Roland Emmerich and Terrence Malick. The actor was kind enough to take time off from walking around the White House for Emmerich to discuss his love for research, finding a character, and how you should never be afraid to go big.

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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 […]

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When a “loose” adaptation of Hasbro’s iconic board game Battleship was announced, it didn’t take a genius to figure out what type of film was in the making: big, loud, manic summer fun. The man to deliver on that promise was none other than Peter Berg, a director whose filmography ranges from Friday Night Lights to Hancock. After over three years of working on the film, Berg didn’t make a film that passes itself off as anything it’s not; he’s made Battleship. Battleship features the expected markings of all commercial tentpole films, something Berg did not want to shy away from. As the anti-film school director put it, he wanted to make a global event film, one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. When your film’s based on a popular board game, how could you? Berg, along with his potential blockbuster, could not be more self-aware. Here is what Battleship director Peter Berg had to say about letting life inform storytelling, his organic and actor-friendly approach to filmmaking, and how to keep your sanity while crafting a $200m event film:

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Once upon a time, Michael Mann was on my list of directors whose work I always anticipate. His status in my eyes has been diminished a bit over the course of the last decade, but every once in a while he still comes out with an interesting project, like 2004’s Collateral, so rumblings of Mann directing a new movie are always newsworthy to me. Especially since he’s only been doing about one every three years recently. With that in mind, Deadline Lake Forest has some news today that made my ears perk up a bit. Apparently Mann is currently negotiating to direct a spec script called The Big Stone Grid. It’s a police thriller by S. Craig Zahler that’s said to be in the same vein as Se7en and Marathon Man, and that tells the story of two detectives who uncover an extortion ring operating in New York City.

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A getaway driver (Ryan Gosling) waits as his temporary partners in crime pile in with their unspecified haul, and as the police close in behind them the driver does what he does best. Straight-faced, calm, and in control, he eludes capture through precision and restraint, and when the job’s over he walks away. But what happens when walking away is no longer an option? Driver (as he’s listed in the credits) meets, befriends, and falls for a young woman (Carey Mulligan) and her son who may just be the only real innocents left in Los Angeles. When her husband is released from jail and forcibly tasked to commit one last robbery to pay off a debt, Driver steps in to assist and spare mother and son any further anguish. Things do not go as planned. If the bare mechanics of Drive‘s plot seem overly familiar it’s because they are. The character of Driver could easily be imagined in any number of westerns, samurai epics, or Clint Eastwood films as the nameless stranger who appears to skirt both sides of the law but who shows his true colors when it comes to protecting or avenging the innocent. His past is unclear but we know those gaps are most likely filled with violence, loss and more violence. And the idea of “one last job that goes wrong” has become so ubiquitous that it’s a wonder Friedberg & Seltzer haven’t spoofed it by now (in a film destined to be creatively titled One […]

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Quick, name the best film directed by Michael Mann about career criminals. Yeah, you probably just blurted out Heat without giving it a second thought, and you’d be about 58,396 miles from being alone. However, you’d be wrong. Before you start going off about “matter of opinion” and “how can he say these words” repeat these after me. “Heat is NOT, I repeat, NOT, Michael Mann’s best film.” There, now doesn’t that feel loads better? Oh, what’s that? you want to know what is Michael Mann’s best film? Let’s go back to 1981 where Mann offered up his second feature film, Thief, a film about a career criminal trying for his one last score – you can forgive this particular film for that cliche. It was the catalyst for all these other heist films using it that runs over the surface of rainy, Chicago streets. It’s cool. It’s energetic. It features one of James Caan‘s best performances. So, here, in honor of all the inspiration the film brings to Refn’s Drive, we offer up what Mann and Caan had to say about this milestone-of-cool film in their respective careers. You can even go watch Heat afterwards. I’ll forgive, but remember those words.

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Between Martin Scorsese with Boardwalk Empire, Michael Mann with his upcoming series Luck, Tony and Ridley Scott with The Good Wife, David Fincher with his upcoming House of Cards, Steven Spielberg with too many upcoming projects to name, and an ungodly amount of smaller names that have directed various pilots, many filmmakers have been trying their hand at a smaller screen. While that’s great, it isn’t enough. So it’s time to discuss what other filmmakers would be suited well for the idiot box. Here are seven filmmakers that should try their hand at television.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news round-up column that didn’t mean to take the night off last night, but was forced into it by some “internet connectivity issues.” Which means, plainly, that its internet provider sucks sometimes. And things happen. Like trains — sometimes they get blown up in small town in Ohio, unleashing unknown terrors upon small-town, late-70s folk. Shit happens, y’know? My confession of the evening is that I was able to see Super 8 this morning. Reviews are under embargo for now, so I can’t share too much, but know this: whatever level of excitement you hold for it, you’re probably on the right track. Moving on, but not too far, Empire has a great interview with producer Steven Spielberg and Spielberg Jr., director J.J. Abrams. You can check it out after the jump. It’s not spoilery, as Abrams is a good keeper of secrets. But if you want to go in completely untainted, skip ahead and there’s plenty of other news to read.

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It looks like everyone is throwing their hats into the ring. When the studios announced a plan to release movies in home theaters just 30 days after the theaters located outside the home (with a price tag of $30 per rental), the National Association of Theater Owners balked. Apparently their threat to boycott big blockbusters was a fake, but they haven’t kept secret their disgust for the new model that would limit their ability to make money showing movies (since studios take the 50%-100% lion’s share of the ticket split in the first weeks). Now, 23 directors and producers are speaking out against it. That list includes James Cameron, Michael Bay, Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro, Roland Emmerich, Antoine Fuqua, Todd Garner, Lawrence Gordon, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Gale Anne Hurd, Peter Jackson, Karyn Kusama, Jon Landau, Shawn Levy, Michael Mann, Bill Mechanic, Jamie Patricof, Todd Phillips, Brett Ratner, Robert Rodriguez, Adam Shankman, Gore Verbinski, and Robert Zemeckis. The full, un-edited open letter is below:

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I am a long time Michael Mann fan, even Miami Vice I would mark down as a misunderstood masterpiece. But Mann is not only one of the greatest filmmakers working today, he also knows good television. Whether it be the original Miami Vice series or the hit seventies series Vega$, Mann always had a knack for the small screen. Unfortunately, after the not so great Robbery Homicide Division in ’02, Mann sort of stepped away from television and went back to film full time. That is until Luck came along. And here is the first look at the new HBO series: Series creator David Milch described the pilot as “A bunch of intersecting lives in the world of horse racing.” With a cast boasting the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, John Ortiz, Nick Nolte and Joan Allen, along with Mann directing the pilot, I would say that Luck won’t need much of itself to succeed.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s excited about James Bond! And Muppets! And Angry Birds! And a bunch of other things that could be classified as movie-related news and notes. Why? Because this is your nightly dose of all that is good and readable in the movie blogosphere. MGM and Sony have brokered a deal in which they will split the cost of the next James Bond film, the Sam Mendes directed 23rd film in the Bond franchise. But wait, there’s more! Included in the deal is a very juicy option for Bond 24, which would be in the works shortly after 23 is released, should all go as planned. The first milestone will come on November 9, 2012, when Bond 23 is due to be released. I say cheers to that.

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Invest his time that is. There’s a famous quote from the cinema classic City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold that I’ve taken into my heart and try to live by. Jack Palance, playing Curly’s twin brother Duke, remarks to Billy Crystal’s character Mitch, “Curly was wrong, there’s two things. Whatever the hell this is… and gold.” What does this have to do with anything? Almost nothing. But Michael Mann is about to push a film called Gold up to the tippy top of his films-to-be-directed list. Gold is being described by The Hollywood Reporter as a modern take on a The Treasure of the Sierra Madre type story about competing gold prospectors chasing down the precious metal. I could always go for a good sweeping adventure story, and the mentioning of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre really gets my motor revving, but I’m very skeptical about this movie for two big reasons. The first is that I haven’t been too wild about the things Michael Mann has done in the past decade. The second is that Mann is developing the film alongside Paul Haggis. While I enjoyed some of the episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger that Haggis wrote, I will never be able to forgive him for Crash. Ever since sitting through that film I make a face like I smelled a fart whenever I see his name. The script was written on spec by Friday Night Lights and The Chicago Code writers/executive producers Patrick Massett and […]

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Tom Cruise

Whether you love him, hate him, love to hate him, or hate that you love him there’s no denying that Tom Cruise’s career decisions in terms of what directors he will work for have been second-to-none. Or, maybe they have been. You decide.

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Michael Mann wants to direct a film about famous war photographer Robert Capa, but there’s no word on how he’ll deal with Capa’s soiled legacy. Only how he’ll deal with his bitterly personal love story.

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mwl-heat

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.”

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Fat Guys at the Movies

Neil has gone on a clandestine mission to our nation’s capital, including a visit to the Pentagon to warn our military of the impending threat of giant alien robots. This leads Kevin to meet up with his chubby co-host in the Magical Studio in the Sky, from an undisclosed location (which may or may not be a jail cell).

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cultwarrior-digcinematography

This week’s Culture Warrior looks at Hollywood’s gradual acceptance of digital video and the important role of Michael Mann and Public Enemies within this major change in the industry.

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