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Review: PUBLIC ENEMIES

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Mark Kermode | 12:00 UK time, Friday, 3 July 2009

So after a summer of horrible giant robots it's fantastic news that Michael Mann, the genius auteur behind Manhunter, The Insider, and Heat is back with a new movie, the story of John Dillinger, the most famous bank robber in American history. Brilliant news, isn't it? Isn't it?

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Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Without Johnny Depp or Christian Bale this film would be much smaller.
    I felt the story-telling was not done well. Very choppy although the last third is stronger than the earlier 2/3. I didnt feel Mann was trying to really push the "cops/gangsters are two sides of the same coin" theme (maybe because I am not as familiar with his other work as you are and so wasn't 'expecting' it). Certainly not as much as in a film like Changeling. I thought it was more about the personalities of Bale and Depp's characters. There were two interrogation scenes where you probably were being made to feel that the cops were as bad or maybe worse than the gangsters. During the second scene it is Bale's character that interrupts an interrogation to show a more human side although this is probably partly because the subject was a woman. Bale initially was very troubled about putting his men at risk, threatening to resign (so not like Depp's character who is very casual about punishing his own man in the opening escape sequence). Depp taunts Bale's character about what it was like to watch one of his own men die emphasizing the difference between the two men. But by the end of the film Bale has become quite reckless with his own men's lives in his obsession to catch Dillinger.

    It is still difficult for somebody like me to understand how Dillinger enjoyed a cult status during the depression with the public perhaps siding with him more than the banks and the police. I didnt think that Mann made a big deal of this but from that standpoint he really didnt have much option but to show equivalency between the cops and the outlaws if the film was supposed to show how he was perceived at the time.

    Not a disaster by any means but a much better film, I thought, was Hurt Locker. I hope you will review it soon.

  • Comment number 2.

    Conversely though, what do you feel when a director you loathe makes a film you love? Maybe one day you will be over the moon about a McG film!

  • Comment number 3.

    This film isnt a terrible movie by any means, it's just not a good one, which is surprising when you look at the cast list.

    I'm not really a Michael Mann fan at the best of times, and his slow burning approach to character development, which may have worked in Heat fails miserably here, and why, because you just dont care about Depp or Bales characters at all.

    I agree with the Doctor, Marion Cotillard was indeed under used. Having just watched the 2003 movie 'Love Me if you Dare' (wonder what Dr K thinks of this) last night, which really shows how much of a talent she is and how watsed she was in PE.

    All in all the film just idles its way along, and by the end, I just found myself yearning for the credits to role.

  • Comment number 4.

    Doc,

    Collateral is not only my favourite Michael Mann film, it is one of my top films of all time. Huge fan of Michael Mann obviously. However, I wasn't heart-broken by Public Enemies. That came with the grotesque Miami Vice. My expectations for his follow-up to the outstanding Collateral were way too high...but that turgid shambles was a crushing blow, despite the fact that I very much admire its director and two leads.

    Something certainly was amiss with Public Enemies. Can't put my finger on it, yet I emphatically believe that it deserves a second trial. Again, brilliant helmer, brilliant cast - but there was uncomfortable, nagging disappointment. Perhaps it merely boils down to anticipation? Still, hugely refreshing to have a film of this calibre in our flick houses.

    I gave Manhunter another look quite recently. A quality production indeed. Although, is it me, or has time been really cruel to that film?

  • Comment number 5.

    I loved the movie, I loved the visual style which really for me was trancendent and it really put me in that period America and giving it a documentary type feel, the process Dante Spinotti and Michael Mann have used involved me more than it would have done on colour film or in black and white. I think Johnny Depp's performance is truly Oscar worthy and really holds the film together as he does so brilliantly, he is charming as well as ruthless. Marion Cotillard is also fantastic but I think she is used enough to give the film the emotional resonance it needs and deserves. In answer to your problem of the message, never did I feel at any Mann was pushing cop and criminal thesis, what I think he was doing was creating accurate portrayal of these characters and I think people looking into Mann's usual theme will just simply be disappointed as I don't think it's there.

    However that isn't to say the film isn't interesting, I was involved in the characters and their motivation for their actions, especially the arrogance of Dillinger that eventually leads to his demise which Depp portrays fantastically. Essentially what Michael Mann has created is a summer blockbuster in response to the usual track of robots being smashed to pieces. This should be seen like The Dark Knight as premium popcorn entertainment rather than an psychological piece.

    I do think that there is one problem, for me as a massive fan of Mann's work I do think that it is Heat set in the 30's, the cop chasing down the criminal, the slow killings of Dillinger's team and the relationship between Dillinger and Billy and in that it strives to find something original.

    I do however think it is an intelligent and entertaining alternative summer film with terrific performances and good digital style

  • Comment number 6.

    Dear Dr. Kermode,
    At first when you were going on about most of the appalling drivel such as Terminator Salvation (of which I am a fan of the series but that was just hugely disappointing and Mr. Bale was simply wasted in the movie) and the like being released this Summer (for which I agree with you) I thought, for one heart stopping moment you were going to praise Public Enemies to the hilt and I would have to take issue. However, you have articulated extremely well why this movie is such a disappointment.

    Dont misunderstand me, it is not a bad movie, it is not an awful movie it is just an ok movie. Having seen Angels and Demons early this year I rated that as an average movie (that is, nothing to get worked up about in relation to anything bad or awful, and nothing to get worked up about anything good or fantastic, just simply average) and left the cinema in somewhat of a mediocre state and here I am, having watched Public Enemies a movie with a wonderful cast, directed by a truly wonderful director and having a somewhat mediocre feel leaving the cinema. It was with a heavy heart that I had to personally rate this movie just slightly above Angels and Demons as it should have been a great deal better. There was a somewhat detached feel despite the up-close directing and I feel as disappointed as yourself Dr. Kermode when I say that 2009, thus far, has seen much better releases than Public Enemies

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear Mark,

    I'm a newcomer to this sort of thing so I ask for your forgiveness if I have come to the wrong place to ask this question or if I am simply wasting your time. I heard you mention a while back that you were not a fan of the film "Once Upon a time in America" and it would be very interesting to hear of your problems or issues with regards to this film.

    Many thanks
    Alex.

  • Comment number 8.

    How can you not like Once Upon a Time in America? I'd be curious to know, also.

  • Comment number 9.

    On a different subject. Check out The Sun's moral panic article about Lars von Trier's The Antichrist.

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/film/article2509129.ece

  • Comment number 10.

    Just watched 'Public Enemies' today and i have to completely agree with the good doctors comments, there was an underlying feeling i had when watching the film that something was just not right. I felt the film was conflicted in its portrayal of John Dillinger as a likeable antihero and that it was doing a pretty poor job of conveying the ideas of the celebrity buzz surrounding his actions with the general public building him up as a 'Robin Hood' character which (i'm sure Dr.K would agree with) was done so much better by Andrew Dominik's film 'The Assasination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. With regards to the Good cop/Bad guy coin side idea there was just not enough information regarding Christian Bales character to achieve this, unlike in Heat where we saw Al Pachino's character's miserable homelife, respect for his enemies intelligence etc. which was more helpful to this idea in my opinion. Public Enemies was by no means a bad film, far from it however it did feel like there was one piece of the puzzle missing from the final cut.

  • Comment number 11.

    Although I generally like Mann's films am I the only one who kinda thinks Heat is abit overrated?

    I mean there is some good stuff in it like the armoured car and bank heists and the coffee shop scene but the film is horrendously overlong and I couldn't less about the characters personal especially when one of those characters is played by blumming Val Kilmer

  • Comment number 12.

    Spoilers!

    The reason Public Enemies was not very good is because the script is terrible. It does not make you care about any of the characters, at the end of the film I didn't really care that Dillinger was shot dead, see Leon. Also the scenes in which the banks are robbed are not suspensful in the slightest because they go according to plan. Dog Day Afternoon is an example of how a bank robbery should be tense and engaging.

  • Comment number 13.

    1. Mark Kermode just punched me in the face.
    2. Michael Mann will punch me next, when I see the movie, proving the good Doctor was right.

    :(

    twitter: @buckybit

  • Comment number 14.

    Dear Dr.,

    could you give me a hint as to where to find the piece by David Thomson. As to Michael Mann, I always found him to distant not engaging enough. He always seems detached and his imagery much to clean. For example in the insider I really don't care, what happens to the bloke and I always wandered, why Al Pacino has to drive to some distant beach, to have a telephone conversation. Is it just me or has it something to do with my Miami Vice Childhood? After all your never wrong.

  • Comment number 15.

    I have to agree wholeheartedly with your review. It is a good film, when compared with most of the rubbish that has been released this year but it doesn't contain enough magic for me, to make it a great film.

  • Comment number 16.

    The two sides of the same coin comment, often heard, is an incredibly simplistic retelling of Manns original, nuanced character work; between any of his protagonists and their antagonists there are similarities, sure, but there are key differences. E.g., in Heat, McCauley is a sociopath, and Hanna cares for others; though they may both be hardened professionals they are starting from very different places; nothing could make Hanna do what McCauley does and nothing could make McCauley do what Hanna does.

    And in Manhunter, Graham thinking like the killer is either transcendent or its not a leap; you cant have it both ways.

    I loved Miami Vice, but I need more viewings of Public Enemies, I think, because of the period.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Mark,
    I must say I was eagerly anticipating to watch Michael Mann's latest movie "Dillinger"but having seen your latest podcast you have greatly spoilt my summer,at least I can look forward to Scorsese's new movie later this year I hope he does not disapoint also.I look forward to your reviews, I find them refreshing,inteligent but sometimes brutally honest...keep up the good work,I am sure that for all its flaws "Dillinger" will still be more entertaining and a better movie than most of the trash that gets to be shown on our cinemas.Michael Mann is forgiven by me for all those other great films he has done in the past don't you think?

  • Comment number 18.

    I must say I'm disappointed by your disappointment. And I will see the film anyway, like you say, in relative box office terms it could be like Citizen Kane. Besides, I'm interested to know just what KIND of let-down this is. Is it like Gilliam's Brothers Grimm, where you can plainly see that the project was wrested from his hands, and it's kind of not his fault? Or is it more of a Malick's New World, where all the classic ingredients are there, and it SHOULD be great, but you just feel like the director's lost it a little bit? I must confess, I almost hope it's the former, so I don't have to feel betrayed by Mr Mann.

  • Comment number 19.

    You're right about the hi-def decision not paying off, but I actually believe the reason it jars isn't because it is an intrinsically bad idea to shoot period films in digital but simply because the film isn't good enough to immerse yourself in the style. Once that interest in the content is gone, that's when the viewer becomes detached from the visuals anyway, hence why the Oscar worthy special effects in Transformers actually emphasise the film's poor direction.

    Interestingly though, you mention The Untouchables as a superior example of a relatively modern film set in the Thirties. IM-not-so-HO, with it being a quintessentially De Palma film, the score is actually very Eighties (perhaps you remember Morricone's Ferrero Rocher style introduction to Capone's lair?), and the level of language and violence isn't anything like you'd find in an old studio gangster picture. Flaws like Costner's wooden performance and being a set-piece too short aside, I still like the film, and in De Palma's defence, he did want to shoot in black and white from the start but as we know, that's a big studio no-no today.

  • Comment number 20.

    i am sorry i just cant stand Johnny Depp. Being a HUGE fan of Bret's American Psycho, i wasn't too keen on the film.. at all, yet i admittedly think Bale was extraordinary in the flick, and has real talent behind his annoying grumbling as batman. But Depp? He is either brought into some blockbuster for the fancy value, as ANY film with the fool in is instantly destined for good profit these days. But honestly, i do not understand why everyone raves over his acting, its utterly horrible, he just sits on camera, slits his neck and lets his ego bleed out all over what could be a half decent film. He has become an icon of material inclusion within a film and this has lead me to chose to go and see Blood The last Vampire this week, rather than public enemies, despite my love of Mann's previous films, i simply do not think i could stand sitting through a film starring Johnny Depp anymore. The very fact people label this film as 'The new Johnny Depp film' is seriously degrading to the name of this movie, and in my mind, Depp is up there with Michael Bay for kicking cinema while its down.

  • Comment number 21.

    In reply to TheConciseStatement:

    It's funny, I just watched that film last night, and I can't help but love the intro to Capone's lair. But it's also part of the problem: everything in that film is so over-the-top and shallow; there's absolutely no room for any depth at all. I like the film, but it's only just above being okay because of Sean Connery, Andy Garcia and De Niro. Ironically, their characters are also intertwined with precisely what's wrong in that film.

    And then there's the shootout in the train station with the mother's pram; I think I must of liked it the first time, but now? It had me rolling my eyes so hard. It just seemed like such a contrived bit of tension-setting that it really, really irritated me more than anything.

    Maybe it's just a case of me taking the film for more than it is, but it just seems way too cartoonish for me, watching it now. In many ways it feels like a Western, but a lot of really good Westerns actually have more subtext than that seen in The Untouchables.

  • Comment number 22.

    @Bowlby (And I'm gonna go on a bit in true "But isn't your username..." tradition.)

    I've still got The Untouchables down as an 8/10 in the 'My Movies' of IMDb - nearly everything I own ends up an 8 otherwise given my natural bias to buying things I enjoy - but it's certainly borderline. I guess I give it an 8 for sheer boys' own adventures factor, but the more I've thought about that film, the more problems I find.

    Speaking as a huge Glengarry Glen Ross fan, I think Mamet's script is actually a bit dodgy and too blunt in places, and not nearly as clever as he thinks it is. Listen to De Niro's pre-baseball bat moment ("Enthusiasms... enthusiasms... enthusiasms.") I mean the man is talking absolute rubbish of the highest order! He goes on a bit that Capone but he says very little.

    It's also a shame that one of the four Untouchables eats lead so damn quickly in the film. For a film that's supposed to be about a close-knit group of law enforcers, it never really becomes much more than the Costner/Connery show. More bonding and, dare I crowbar some relevance back into the conversation, some 'deep' Michael Mann-style philosophising over coffee wouldn't have gone amiss to flesh out the relationships a bit better - which is also true for Public Enemies too which suffers even worse from a much-ado-about-nothin' syndrome.

    One last point to make on The Untouchables, probably the most redundant given the film's not to be taken too seriously, is that it's morally questionable just how much it embraces getting down to vigilante justice. Elliot Ness lightly toys with some internal anguish ("I've taken this as far as it can go!")... uh, for about 5 seconds and then opens fire in a train station, nearly kills a baby, chucks a guy off a roof, all before declaring "I am content that I have done right) and then committing perjury! And that doesn't even cover the sheer avoidance of the issue that Prohibition was a terrible idea in the first place, and yet the guy declaring this rather wretched 'Law of the Land' is the film's hero.

    Indeed The Untouchables cemented the idea in my head that all De Palma did was fun but shallow and overblown films, that I was genuinely surprised to hear about how much he outraged people with the politically scabrous Redacted. So contrary to the mainstream De Palma, the guy does indeed have both balls and principles. And even if you disagree with his anti-Iraq stance, in the case of Redacted it's funny how he really just made Casualties of War over again, but because this time he was dealing with a war still being fought at the time of release, involving a similarly despicable crime committed by U.S. soldiers to Casualties, albeit in a docudrama style, he was greeted by condemnation from both liberals and conservatives (though key liberal critic Roger Ebert loved it).

    Still, politically hardcore, violence-begets-violence messages is not the kind of thing one expects from the maker of Scarface, Dressed to Kill and The Untouchables. And as fun as the latter is, I think I prefer the angry De Palma more than the box-office-gloss De Palma. Maybe that's true of Mann too, who now needs a meatier subject matter to give us another great like his assault on the tobacco industry with The Insider.

  • Comment number 23.

    "I guess I give it an 8 for sheer boys' own adventures factor, but the more I've thought about that film, the more problems I find."

    It's crazy, because when I went back on imdb after I finished watching the film, I also found I had originally given the film an eight out of ten. I also think your comments are completely sound: the script isn't great, it lacks complex characterisation and Elliot Ness is slightly unnerving as the morally dogmatic "hero". At the same time, the pace is super fast, so where would they fit that characterisation in? They go from two raids to catching Capone, just like that. I think that the material the story, Al Capone and the Elliot Ness character, etc. requires more depth to do it justice, but it would also be a completely different film. Arguably, I think somebody like Mann would have been a perfect fit.

    I've never seen Redacted, so I can't comment on that side of De Palma. Whenever I have seen his work it's been Mission Impossible, Scarface or Carlito's Way, and they were all really good, fun films. (Carlito's Way, in particular, is one of my favourites.)

    Likewise, I haven't seen all of Michael Mann's films, either, but Heat did so much right that I'm not sure why he'd make the same film over again and risk the comparison. It appears to me that Mann would be quite a skilled documentarian if he decided to go that route. He's three-quarters of the way there, anyway - the only difference is that most, if not all, of his previous films have been works of fiction.

  • Comment number 24.

    I was really loking forward to seeing this, but now I'm not so sure . . . I love the Untouchables, too (plot holes be damned - the film just works as a piece of fine entertainment). I've never beened a dyed in the wool Mann fan (seriously loved Collateral, not too bothered about the rest), so it'll be interesting to see it. Lots of people (on BOM & IMDB & Daily papers) seem to be saying the same thing

  • Comment number 25.

    two sides of the same coin yes, but wrong coin.It'snot dillinger and purvis but fbi and the mob, and the begining of a new age of the industrialisation of law enforcement and organised crime.The public enemies of the title might not refer to the two main charecters but to a larger entity.

  • Comment number 26.

    On a slightly different subject, in a time when we have Bug Budget Franchises pushed on us every summer and 3D as an extra way to help relieve us of any excess money we have, isnt great when you find something that is free and infinitely better than anything that is currently doing the rounds in the mainstream cinema!

    Silent Running, the full film in nine parts

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oani3-RDvHw&feature=related

    And

    Virgin Spring, again the full movie and in nine parts

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnD9l6Ky_Fs

    Don't go and see transforminators and dont pay for 3D just watch these instead. Enjoy.

  • Comment number 27.

    While Silent Running is a fantastic film and anything that opens it up to a new audience is probably a good thing, I'm not sure that it's legal for them to upload a film onto YouTube like that. This is also probably not the place to post those kind of dubious links, though I don't doubt that your intention is honourable. My question is, why isn't a film like Silent Running available via online streaming, legally, with a small fee attached?

  • Comment number 28.

    Dr K,

    I have to say I was equally disappointed with PE, really didnt live up to expectations for two reasons:

    1. Absolutely no intimacy between the characters - Bale and Depp hardly seem to cross paths at all and when they do it's just stiff, uncomfortable dialogue. Depp and Cotillard fall in love for no apparent reason other than for there to be a love interest. The J.Edgar Hoover and Bale relationship has promise but isnt developed. What Mann does best is relationships between contrasting male characters and it simply didnt happen here.

    2. Way too many lingering shots of 'Hollywood's best paid star' Mr. Depp - I admit he is a handsome man - but don't compensate for his lack of character substance by using incessant shots of a him with a furrowed brow looking broody and smouldering!

    Still worth a watch compared to most of the rubbish thats on at the moment but verdict is definitely 'Could, and should, do better'.

  • Comment number 29.

    I hadn't realised this was a Michael Mann film when I went to see it, but as the credits rolled, I realised the gun fight scenes should have given it away as it had "Heat - Origins" written all over it. The 'two sides of the coin' should have worked, but when Dillinger says (and I paraphrase) "me mam's dead, me dad hit us, I like whiskey and that's all you need to know", well actually, it isn't all I need to know. I don't think there was enough made of the motivation behind either Dillinger or Purvis, which was why it felt a bit empty. Heat did this so much better.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Mark,

    I'm a newcomer as well. Seconding what alex said about once upon a time in America, I'd also like to know why you think the deer hunter is one of the worst movies ever made. I remember reading a quote about it somewhere, but I couldn't find anything as to why you hate it so much..

    Thanks.

  • Comment number 31.

    Since when did we start to rate movies by comparing them to other releases from the same year? Surley if a movie is mediocre (like this) then it's a medicore film released alongside Robot Chuff.

  • Comment number 32.

    Mann really knows how to frame sumptuous visual cinematic scenes but is someone who cares much for dialogue or storytelling.

    Also is he related to Anthony Mann who used used to direct nine hour Roman epics?

  • Comment number 33.

    Any new Michael Mann film is an event and consequently expectations are high. I think the trouble with Public Enemies is that very 'guys on opposite sides of the same coin' theme that MK refers too. I mean that Mann has overcooked it by continuing to come back to it time and time again. Here that theme is weakly addressed, but made to look so obvious in its intent. Plus the two leads can't really carry it off, especially Christian Bale who seems to want to play both characters in one. And of course Depp's screen persona is so large that the Mann theme fails.

    I agree with MK in the use of the v modern digital style. Mann has a great eye for the action setpiece, but for instance in PE the big scene at the country hotel was lost in a camera style that made the event almost TVish. He needed to look at something like LA Confidential to get the idea for the presentation.

    For all this negativity, I did actually enjoy it, especially the opening prison break, which set the tone quite well, even if eventually the style overawed the narrative.

    By the way, Miami Vice has more about it than it appears and deserves a rethinking from some of the commentators listed here.

  • Comment number 34.

    My own personal opinions on the film are that Cotillard is too good for what was a supporting role. She's got too much power on that screen and it distorts everything.

    On the Style of the film I personally think that at times the camera is too close to the action and it makes it difficult to know what is going on and indeed made me feel almost seasick. shake isn't a bad style but when it gets too shaky and too close it's jarring.

  • Comment number 35.

    When you really come to love a film critic, you really start to set your expectations of their work very high. And when they endorse something like Star Trek, the disappointment can be heart breaking :) Okay, that's the lst time I'll mention it since it's out of the top 10 now :) I might go and watch this one actually...

  • Comment number 36.

    Sorry, typo. That should be 'last time I'll mention it'...

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear Mark,

    I feel that your comments regarding Public Enemies' cinematography miss the point somewhat.

    Michael Mann has said repeatedly in interviews that he did extensive tests comparing digital and film acquisition formats and that the digital format suited the story A LOT better.

    What it does, quite wonderfully in my opinion, is knock down our assumptions about what a 'period film' is and give the film a very palpable immediacy. This is conventional storytelling, given an eye-popping news-journalism feel.

    The digital medium is just one of the tools in Mann's arsenal and it is clear to me that what he is doing is systematically breaking down the 'rules' of period drama. This is a far cry from the wry posturing of Lars Von Trier and more akin to Stanley Kubrick's intentions when he made Barry Lyndon.

    It's also worth reminding everyone that this is hardly the first major period motion picture to employ the digital medium. Look at Apocalypto, The Other Boleyn Girl (bizarre I know) or, more recently, David Fincher's Zodiac. None of these films really look 'digital' proving that it's not really about format, it's what you do with the format, i.e how you light the shot, how you move the camera, etc. Michael Mann's 'video feel' in Public Enemies is very deliberate and clearly a real artistic decision.

    For me, this has made the film far more interesting to look at, and what I really want is not only a story which is compelling and well told but also visually new and exciting.

    The bottom line is that to call it 'anachronistic' is either down-right obvious (because THE ANACHRONISM IS THE WHOLE POINT) or just rather ignorant of the fact that the cinematography of the whole piece has been designed around a re-definition of what makes a 'period drama'.

    Either way Mark, I think you are being very simplistic and dismissive of what this film's look is really about. This film is an example of a director and cinematographer showcasing genuine technically-immersed film artistry and for my money, they've really really pulled it off!

    Best

    Geoff

  • Comment number 38.


    Talking about 'anachronism' and 'period drama', what always bugs me about period dramas is that everything is made to look like it is of the period to the point of being anal. I suppose it is not improbable that G-Men and flashy gangsters would sport the latest fashions etc. but given this was the height of the depression, I would like to feel that there was some hint of deprivation, scruffiness and stuff that just looks plain old (like when I look around me today). I realize the set designers and costume people all want to get their awards but maybe we could try for a bit more realism because the look that we end up with is not so much authentic but rather, fake. As far as the medium and format of the film is concerned, it really didn't seem out of place and was much less significant than the content of the film (or lack of it).

    Not sure why everyone is using "Untouchables" as the benchmark to compare this with as that was about bootleggers and criminals like Capone who could operate in the open, whereas "Bonnie and Clyde" was also about bank robbers on the lam. Perhaps Marian Cotillard could have been put to better use if Mann had re-made B&C instead. Untouchables is mainly told from the side of the law men and Bonnie and Clyde is told mainly from the viewpoint of the outlaws whereas Public Enemies uses both vantage points (as you might expect). The pram scene in "Untouchables" was an homage to "Battleship Potempkin" so it can not be anything else than contrived. Does that mean directors should never make reference or homage to other films?

    [ You mentioned Mann as an "auteur". I thought it interesting that both Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Goddard were offered "Bonnie and Clyde" before Warren Beatty got it ]

  • Comment number 39.

    Couldn't agree more with Mark.
    What a shame!
    I was expecting so much from this movie.. especially after reading some the previews and reviews from various magazines (Empire gives it 5 stars!!).
    Sadly I was massively disappointed.
    Shooting the film in HD didn't really help. In fact it made it look cheap as opposed to "more real".
    The script was pretty flat too... I ended up not caring about anyone really, no, not even Johnny Depp! Not to mention all the other secondary characters who I kept on confusing with one another. I'm still trying to work out who actually died during those messy shoot-outs.
    Michael Mann has always been up there in my list of favourite directors (also because he's one of the few good ones who went to the same film school I did...), but this time he really let me down.

  • Comment number 40.

    Doc,

    Just purchased Thief on DVD. Absolutely blown away by it. People, you really should check it out - if you haven't already. I think it knocks spots off the pretty good, pretty neat Manhunter and has aged far better than the latter 80s production.

    As for Public Enemies, I've given it a second trial. A superb cast and crew like this is well worth repeating. Far more comfortable with it now. I like it; it's certainly one of the best offerings of 2009; but for Michael Mann and the talent involved, it should have been a lot better.

  • Comment number 41.

    re - the whole digital thing - I think you're laying blame a bit unfairly at 'hi def'. 35mm film is still higher def (in terms of resolution and capacity to store colour information) than HD in most instances (except poor quality film reproductions). Though I haven't seen the film yet the I'm guessing the look you're describing - and disliking - is more likely down to art direction and final colour grading than whether it's been shot digital or 35mm....

    Tel

  • Comment number 42.

    @ incredibleHans

    Thomson's piece on Mann can be found here:
    https://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/jun/26/michael-mann-david-thomson

  • Comment number 43.

    I loved it, I thought the digital photography really brought a clean and clarified vision of the time, it separated this film from all of the easy comparisons in the genre from white heat to the godfather. Ultimately, for me, it let the film play on its own terms.

  • Comment number 44.

    A late post, but;

    I would love to see a Michael Mann directed Batman film! - essentially with the Joker and Batman head to head as they were in Dark Knight. Personally, if Nolan did decide to negate a follow up to Dark Knight, Mann should complete this franchise run!


 

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