Tag Archives: Michael Mann

Film & TV News: August 26

News

  • Lots of production at the Rumor Mill this week, including the possibility of Mad Max‘s George Miller taking on directing duty for a future Superman film; there’s the possibility of Jon Hamm playing the villainous Negan in The Walking Dead; and there’s the strange possibility of Star Wars: Rogue One utilizing a CGI version of Peter Cushing’s Grand Moff Tarkin. Likely? Unlikely? Awesome? Weird? Both?
  • The New York Film Festival slate is shaping up well this year, including as a bit of a surprise Paul Thomas Anderson’s Junjun, a short documentary about Radiohead guitarist and There Will Be Blood composer Jonny Greenwood.
  • Christian Bale will reportedly play Enzo Ferrari for Public Enemies director Michael Mann, continuing the ill-advised trend of Not Being Batman Anymore.
  • Motion State turns 1 this week! A special thanks to all of our contributors and readers.

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Better Call Saul 1.8 – “RICO”

I’m such a huge fan of Michael McKean’s Chuck, brother to Jimmy McGill in Better Call Saul, and “RICO” really underscored why. His casting was great based on looks alone, but soon it was clear that the character had a heck of a lot more to him than “looking like Bob Odenkirk”. The fifth episode “Alpine Shepherd Boy” delved into Chuck’s condition — a strange aversion to electromagnetism — and yet delved even deeper into the relationship between Chuck and Jimmy. Coincidentally, we also recently wrote about shots like the mailbox one above in our discussion of Michael Mann’s The Insider, so, yeah. There’s that.

First, though, before talking about Chuck’s medical/mental affliction, it’s worth recounting “RICO”s mini-flashback. Since “Uno” reached forward into Jimmy/Saul’s post-Breaking Bad life, each succeeding flashback has contributed to a portrait of who Jimmy used to be. As we discussed in last week’s review of “Bingo“, the answer to that question is really multiple answers: Jimmy’s a chameleon of sorts, shifting from street-level con-man to remorseful convict and now to mailboy at HHM, and there’s a sense that the “present-day” events are a continuation of this constant reinvention.

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Film & TV News: March 30

News

  • Hugh Jackman has confirmed that he’ll only be playing Wolverine one more time, and that means he won’t be appearing in X-Men: Apocalypse. What happened to “playing Logan until you die”, Hugh? Can’t you just defy Hollywood studio machinations and somehow cameo in Avengers: Infinity War? Can’t you just come back and do an Old Man Logan movie? No Country for Old Man Logan? Please?
  • Speaking of Marvel movies, Adam McKay is now rumored to occupy the director’s chair for an upcoming MCU film. Money’s on Inhumans, and money’s also on this still not being anywhere near as enticing as Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man. Sigh.
  • The Walking Dead spinoff is now officially titled Fear the Walking Dead, and a brief tease premiered during last night’s WD finale. As our friends at Collider so eloquently put it, at least it ain’t as bad as The Walking Dead Into Darkness.

Continue reading Film & TV News: March 30

The Insider (1999)

A smash cut can be a beautiful thing. It can also be a broadly-defined thing, somewhat unfortunately, which means I have to reel you into a conversation about Michael Mann’s The Insider by providing a narrowed definition of smash cut. Excited yet? The added problem, of course, is that one of you damn dear readers will no doubt have the time to point out precisely where I’m mistaken in my definition, holding my hand and stating that, no, that’s not a smash cut, that’s a match cut, and that one over there is a jump cut, and over there is…my, oh my! Is that a Dutch angle shot in its natural habitat?

Anyway, the thing I’m thinking of might not even qualify as a smash cut, but for now that descriptor will have to suffice. Mann loves an extreme close-up, especially in his earlier works like Heat (I’m thinking of that early bouncing shot of Val Kilmer), and in his follow-up The Insider we probably get closer to the facial pores of Russell Crowe and Al Pacino than we’ve ever been before. But there are a few close-ups not of faces but of objects, inserted for a second or a half-second right smack in the middle of a scene, and those cuts are what I’m talking about. They smash to the forefront when you’d least expect them, these otherwise uninteresting objects. Why does Mann shove these in so boldly, and how does he get it to work so damn well?

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Blackhat (2015)

Sometimes timing is everything when releasing a major studio film. That’s why we get The Prestige and The Illusionist one after the other, Antz and A Bug’s Life, Dante’s Peak and Volcano, The Truman Show and EdTV, all released within a month or two of a very similar counterpart. Is that good timing or bad timing? If the subject of these films is “in”, then it hardly matters. People suddenly like period magician dramas, so they want both Illusionist and Prestige. They suddenly like animated ants and volcanic destruction and reality TV heroes, so they want multiple movies about them. One can imagine a studio holding a film they find to be strikingly similar to one that just came out, hoping to distance this from that, only to be accused of copying the success of the first.

Whatever the studio machinations, sometimes the relevance of a movie is just plain dumb luck. Hacking and cyberterrorism have been in the news quite a bit lately, what with the November data leak at Sony and subsequent hullabaloo surrounding The Interview only just starting to get pushed to page two. Michael Mann’s globetrotting hacking drama Blackhat addresses that current fear, but unfortunately it doesn’t manage to extract a very good story out of the headlines.

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Sorcerer (1977)

William Friedkin’s Sorcerer had the unfortunate timing in 1977 of being released concurrently with a movie called Star Wars, which people ended up liking a little bit. Friedkin was hot after releasing The French Connection and The Exorcist earlier in the decade, but Sorcerer ultimately failed at the box office and slipped into relative obscurity in favor of his other movies. This is a shame, because Sorcerer is a monster of a film.

Based on The Wages of Fear, the first third of the film essentially amounts to four separate prologues for four separate characters from Veracruz, Jerusalem, Paris, and New Jersey (one of these things is not like the other). Roy Scheider cashes in on the success of Jaws two years earlier as lead man in Sorcerer (the New Jersey one), but the time spent with each of the characters is intimate and highly involved; the Walon Green script, too, is like a tough steak that tastes good but has to be chewed and wrestled with. It’s difficult to tell throughout this opening act where Sorcerer might turn next.

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