Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: The Beast Recommends Michael Mann

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Beast Recommends Michael Mann


I am asked on a fairly regular basis what my favorite movies are and who my favorite directors are. It is a tough question because I have had to make two categories, one to include just horror films and another to include every other genre.

Since the majority of my movie posts deal with the horror side of things, I wanted to make a strong suggestion to those of you who follow The Beast's Lair but cannot quite understand the appeal to the darker side of cinema. I confess, if you are looking for the romantic comedy thing, then perhaps my wife may be of service to you. She is as strong in that particular field as I am in horror.

Anyway, with his 2004 release of Collateral, Michael Mann has earned a spot in The Beast's top 5 non-horror directors, and he is quite possibly number 1. Allow me to explain.

The first Michael Mann filmed I watched was the 1986 thriller Manhunter. The film featured the character of Hannibal Lecter, some 5 years before he became a household name in The Silence of the Lambs. I was just getting into horror films at the time and didn't have the slightest idea who Michael Mann was, even though by this point Miami Vice, which he produced, was a world wide success. The second film I saw was The Keep, another thriller that was actually filmed in 1983. Again, I loved the film but never really had any idea the director was Michael Mann. The Last of the Mohicans was the 3rd film of Mann I saw, and although good, I wasn't blown away by the film.

It was in 1995 that I encountered one of my most enjoyable theatre viewing experiences. I saw Heat, the LA crime tale, starring Robert Deniro and Al Pacino. (not to mention Val Kilmer and Tom Sizemore, the latter being perhaps the greatest actor nobody knows). I was moved by the film. The imagery, the music, the story, the characters, everything. The movie really did have a rather profound effect on me. If I starting going into details, this post will never end. Needless to say, if you have not seen Heat, rent it this week.

After my Heat experience, I of course paid attention to who the director was. Once I discovered his identity, I traced his movies and discovered that he had directed both Manhunter and The Keep, and was responsible for Miami Vice. He was making his move up my list. Heat alone was enough to earn him a top ten spot. I can't emphasize enough how music and imagery made that picture something extraordinary.

The Insider was next, a film about a 60 Minutes controversy surrounding a tobacco company. Again, Al Pacino is the lead man and although the theme of the film was not my normal stomping ground, the beauty of the scenes and imagery once again impressed me. Ali was next, and I began to recognize "signature" Mann work. I am pretty confident I could recognize a Michael Mann film at this point within the first few minutes of the picture.

The push over the edge came in 2004 with Collateral. I again felt myself deeply moved inside the theatre. The reasons were obvious, Tom Cruise's character came across very similar to Robert Deniro's character in Heat. They wore the exact same outfit the entire movie. Wore the exact same sunglasses. Even had the exact goatee. Check out the picture, you can see the similarities just from a photo, much less from their actions and character in the film.
I was once again amazed at the music in the film, the use of color in the scenes. Other things began to be noticeable as well, little quirks that maybe you wouldn't otherwise notice unless you followed his movies. For example, in several of Mann's films, one character is speaking to several character on the phone via a speaker phone. The one character will ask "who all is there?" The guy he is talking to will then rattle off like 6 people's names. You can also expect to find yourself rooting for the criminal, even though you have no idea why.

So, if you have not seen Heat or Collateral, go rent them this week. Oh, and when you get to the scene in Collateral where the coyotes run across the street and you find yourself lost in the tranquility and power of the moment, remember The Beast and you can hear me saying "I told you so."

4 Comments:

Blogger Barry said...

I don't think I've ever seen any of Michael Mann's films (that I recall) but I can't believe you listed his credits and omitted the great, wonderful, deep, rich, awe-inspiring show that was Crime Story. One of my favorites of all time - shame on you :)

April 03, 2006 9:52 AM  
Blogger The Beast said...

Crime Story was great, especially opening with the tune "Runaway." However, television is not really my thing, and double the shame on you for not seeing any of his films. :)

April 03, 2006 12:01 PM  
Blogger Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

I rented and re-watched Heat the other night. Of course, two of my favorite actors living actors were in it (DeNiro and Pacino). It is excellent. Even so, personally, I like Collateral more. Jamie Foxx impressed me a ton.

April 19, 2006 6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Waiting for more. »

February 05, 2007 8:51 AM  

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