' ' Cinema Romantico: One More Great Michael Mann Movie Moment

Thursday, April 01, 2021

One More Great Michael Mann Movie Moment

This blog’s love of Michael Mann is no secret. “The Last of the Mohicans” is my favorite movie. In frequently writing about “The Insider” over the last four years I have begun to suspect that it might, just might, be The Greatest Movie Ever Made. My blog’s banner is a still from “Heat!” And so, my feelings were a little bit hurt when The New York Times failed to ask me to contribute to its Michael Mann retrospective – 40 Years of Michael Mann. 11 Great Movie Moments. – to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the director’s theatrical debut, “Thief.” Oh sure, A.O. Scott was once a finalist for the Pulitzer, but did A.O. Scott ever road trip to North Carolina to see the filming locations for “The Last of the Mohicans”? I didn’t think so.

Not kidding aside, the NY Times contributors did fine work, chief among them Amy Nicholson talking about how that look between Hawkeye and Cora, the one I have written about before, in many forms, is The Whole World in a Gaze. And I liked Ben Kenigsberg talking about “Collateral’s” suspense being rendered in light and shadow. There were, rightfully, two entries on “The Last of the Mohicans” and “The Insider”; there was even an entry on Mann’s inconsistent but undervalued “The Keep.” There was, however, no entry on “Miami Vice”, the fourth Mann masterpiece in addition to that astonishing 90s triad. How could this be? Manohla’s on staff and she gets “Miami Vice”; you couldn’t have penciled Manohla in for a quick graph? Fine, I thought, I’ll do it. [Clears throat.]

Though in making “Miami Vice” (2006) Michael Mann borrowed the underpinnings of his celebrated 80s TV show, he rejected everything else, utilizing a digital camera to virtually paint a piece of cinematic impressionism, eschewing rubbish like character and plot to chisel a movie from mood and tone and gesture and fleeting moments. In a meeting with an informant, Sonny Crockett (Colin Farrell), on the verge of having his personal and professional boundaries become indistinguishable, turns to gaze upon the ocean, the dialogue obfuscated by the crashing surf. It seems to momentarily suggest the end of all complication. Then, just like that, the moment is gone.

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