' ' Cinema Romantico: Parsing Miami Vice: Screen Shots on the Figurative Wall, part 2

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Parsing Miami Vice: Screen Shots on the Figurative Wall, part 2

Parsing Miami Vice: Screen Shots on the Figurative Wall is Cinema Romantico’s sporadic pseudo art exhibition in which we peruse frames from Michael Mann’s Miami Vice (2006) like the paintings they pretty much are.

“The film,”  the esteemed Manohla Dargis wrote of “Miami Vice” not long after its release for The New York Times, “shows us a world that seems to stretch on forever, without the standard sense of graphical perspective. When Crockett and Tubbs stand on a Miami roof, it’s as if the world were visible in its entirety, as if all our familiar time-and-space coordinates had dropped away, because they have.”

It’s true. If you see the above screen shot, the one that was most typically utilized as visual accompaniment for reviews, in the context of the movie then you know Crockett (Colin Farrell) and Tubbs (Jamie Foxx) are standing on the roof of a Miami club conversing with an informant by phone. If you see the shot sans that context then you realize how Mann has excised the roof from the frame, and has excised any other buildings too, leaving merely the men, the lights, the clouds, the sky.

It’s not unlike the end of “Contact”, where suddenly Jodie Foster realizes she can reach up and touch the stars because you think that maybe Crockett and Tubbs could reach up and touch the clouds.You stare at this screen shot long enough and Crockett and Tubbs come to resemble something like a more chic Godzilla and King Kong, as if they could turn and start stomping all over all those lights, as if they are somehow standing on the same plain as the cityscape.

There’s this James McMurtry stanza from his 2004 ballad “Lights of Cheyenne” that is, like so many McMurtry stanzas, astonishing. It’s a stanza that crept into the back of my head the longer I looked at this screen shot, not so much to help put the screen shot into context but because the screen shot brings the stanza to life. I would have thought the stanza beyond the grasp of any actual visual, best left to the heightened imagery of McMurtry’s carefully chosen words, but that’s Michael Mann for you, conveyer of the impossible, artist of the silver screen.

“You stand in the sky/
with your feet on the ground/
never suspecting a thing/
But if the sky were to move/
you might never be found/
never be heard from again.”

No comments: