Michael Mann

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DarkImbecile
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Michael Mann

#1 Post by DarkImbecile » Thu Mar 29, 2007 1:39 pm

Michael Mann (1943 -)

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"What drives me is the desire to push narrative. I do some of my best work when I'm on a personal frontier, pushing different ways of conveying an emotion, or how a story tells itself."

Filmography

Features
Thief (1981)
The Keep (1983)
Manhunter (1986)
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
Heat (1995)
The Insider (1999)
Ali (2001)
Collateral (2004)
Miami Vice (2006)
Public Enemies (2009)
Blackhat (2015)

Television/Shorts
"Insurrection" (1968)
"Jaunpuri" (1971)
"17 Days Down the Line" (1972)
Police Woman - S04E06 - "The Buttercup Killer" (1977)
The Jericho Mile (1979)
Crime Story - S01E20 - "Top of the World" (1987)
L.A. Takedown (1989) (TV)
"Lucky Star" (2002)
Luck - S01E01 - "Pilot" (2011)
Hue 1968 - S01E01 - "Pilot" (2018)

Books
Michael Mann by Mark Steensland (2002)
Michael Mann by F.X. Feene and Paul Duncan, ed. (2006)
The Cinema of Michael Mann by Steven Rybin (2007)
Vice and Vindication: The Cinema of Michael Mann by Jonathan Rayner (2013)
Michael Mann: Crime Auteur by Steven Rybin (2013)
The Philosophy of Michael Mann by Steven Sanders, Aeon Skoble, and R. barton palmer, eds. (2014)
Michael Mann Cinema and Television: Interviews, 1980-2012 by Steven Sanders and R. Barton Palmer, eds. (2014)
Masters of Cinema: Michael Mann by Vincent Malausa (2016)

Forum Resources
691 Thief
Thief (Arrow)
Heat (Michael Mann, 1995)
Miami Vice (Michael Mann, 2006)
Public Enemies (Michael Mann, 2009)
Blackhat (Michael Mann, 2015)

Web Resources
Cinephelia and Beyond resources on The Keep
Cinephelia and Beyond resources on The Insider
Interview on Last of the Mohicans with Graham Fuller
2000 video interview with Charlie Rose and Jeffrey Wigand
"A Mann's Man's World" by Scott Foundas, LA Weekly (2006)
"Vulgar Auteurism: The Case of Michael Mann" by Andrew Tracy, CinemaScope (2009)
"Zen Pulp Part 1", video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz, Moving Image Source (2009) (Part 2) (Part 3) (Part 4) (Part 5)
"The Study of Mann" by F.X. Feeney, DGA Quarterly (2012)
2012 interview with Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly (Part 1)
2012 interview with Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly (Part 2)
2014 interview with Stephen Galloway at Loyola Marymount University, The Hollywood Reporter
"Blackhat, White Noise: Michael Mann's System of Objects" by Andrew Tracy, CinemaScope (2015)
2015 interview on Heat with Jennifer Wood, Rolling Stone
"The Stylish, Empty Realism of Michael Mann" by Richard Brody, The New Yorker (2016)
2016 interview with Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
2016 interview at BAM Retrospective with Bilge Ebiri
"'Free is Real, and Real is a Motherfucker': Michael Mann on Ali, 15 Years Later" by Bilge Ebiri, The Village Voice (2017)

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#2 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Thu Jan 31, 2008 1:09 pm

I stumbled across this tantalizing bit of info about a project that Mann almost got involved with, an adaptation of William Gibson's second Cyberpunk novel, Count Zero.

At the time of production of the Johnny Mnemonic movie (ugh), Gibson sold the rights to most of his remaining novels, and one of these was Count Zero which was sold to Atlas Entertainment. The name change to The Zen Differential.

I did some digging and found out that John Lloyd Parry produced a script (he only has 1 credit on the IMDB), dated December 11th, 1995 and titled The Zen Differential. Following Heat, Mann was briefly linked with an attempt to adapt Gibson's novel Count Zero into a film. Mann was to direct and the film was to be produced by Kathryn Sommer and Chuck Roven. In the meantime, it has undergone several revisions by Shawn Slovo. The new script more closely follows the original storyline in the novel, and the title has been reversed to Count Zero. Currently the project is on hold at Warner Brothers' Studios.

After Neuromancer, Count Zero is probably my fave Gibson novel and after re-reading the first chapter again, I could totally see Mann directing this:
They set a slamhound on Turner's trail in New Delhi, slotted it to his pheromones and the color of his hair. It caught up with him on a street called Chandni Chauk and came scrambling for his rented BMW through a forest of bare brown legs and pedicab tires. Its core was a kilogram of recrystallized hexogene and flaked TNT.

He didn't see it coming ...
The attention to details, in particular the fashion-sense of his characters, is right up Mann's alley. In fact, some parts of the Miami Vice film (when they were in South America), made me think of some of the imagery Gibson describes in the first chapter of Zero.

I think that Mann ever decided to branch out into SF, this would be an ideal choice. It's a shame nothing ever came of this project. Does anyone know where I can track down a copy of this script? I'd love to read it...

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#3 Post by nickxero » Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:56 am

I recently watched Collateral again and was pleased with how coherent and well-made the film is. The interesting "could-have-beens" on the casting are intriguing too. According to IMDB, the Jamie Foxx role had the following actors considered:

-Adam Sandler
-Cuba Gooding Jr. (ultimately dropped due to the casting similarity with Jerry Maguire)
-Robert DeNiro (playing a taxi driving role that was the complete opposite of Taxi Driver)

The Mark Ruffalo role was vacated by Val Kilmer.

The Tom Cruise role was offered to Edward Norton and Colin Farrell.

Hans Zimmer was originally on board to write the score, but was replaced by James Newton Howard.

And finally, Michael Mann was attached to direct only after Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg were all offered the chance.

While I'm not a big Michael Mann fan, I would consider this one of his best, and it's interesting to think how differently it could have turned out.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#4 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Mon Feb 04, 2008 10:39 am

nickxero wrote:I recently watched Collateral again and was pleased with how coherent and well-made the film is. The interesting "could-have-beens" on the casting are intriguing too. According to IMDB, the Jamie Foxx role had the following actors considered:

Hans Zimmer was originally on board to write the score, but was replaced by James Newton Howard.
Speaking of could-have-beens, wasn't the Rza at one point going to score the Miami Vice film? That would have been very interesting. I love what he did with the Ghost Dog score... one of the best!

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dave41n
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#5 Post by dave41n » Thu Mar 06, 2008 12:16 pm

Does anyone know what happened to Arms and the Man, the project based on Peter Landesman's NYT articleabout the notorious arms dealer Victor Bout (he was arrested today)? Mann was attached to direct. There's no reference to it on Mann's IMDB page (there used to be) and nothing on Landesman's either. Here is a 2003 Variety articlestating Mann's attachment. It was also mentioned in the last paragraph of this 2006 article, but I can't find anything more recent.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#6 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Thu Mar 06, 2008 2:19 pm

dave41n wrote:Does anyone know what happened to Arms and the Man, the project based on Peter Landesman's NYT articleabout the notorious arms dealer Victor Bout (he was arrested today)? Mann was attached to direct. There's no reference to it on Mann's IMDB page (there used to be) and nothing on Landesman's either. Here is a 2003 Variety articlestating Mann's attachment. It was also mentioned in the last paragraph of this 2006 article, but I can't find anything more recent.
I would imagine it got put on hold along with The Few and a couple other projects that Mann has in the mix when Public Enemies got the green-light. I wonder if he's going to do Frankie Machine next or maybe even that film about about Alexander Litvinenko with Depp?

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#7 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:17 am

Edward Norton as Vincent would have been and interesting choice, considering how that role in some respects paralleled Tyler Durden in Fight Club.

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#8 Post by TedW » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:57 am

I buy Norton as an anonymous contract assassin about a thousand times more than I do Tom Cruise.

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#9 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu May 01, 2008 11:35 am

That is definitely true, but Tom brought something to it that I can honestly say isn't at all present in his other work. I'm going to have to watch it again, but I clearly remember when I saw it in the theater, that at no time I thought this was the same guy in Jerry Maguire, or even the action films he'd done prior to it. It's not just the gray in his hair, but the way he conducts himself. For much of the film, his emotions are in check but one gets the feeling that anything at anytime could set him off. That alone makes it one of his best performances.

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#10 Post by TedW » Thu May 01, 2008 11:41 am

I don't disagree, but it's still Tom Cruise. Even an excellent Tom Cruise is still miscast, for me (I'd actually say he's better in the rehearsal footage on the DVD than in the finished movie). From the moment I saw him casing the lobby of Jada Pinkett's office building wearing sunglasses they lost me. This guy is endeavoring to go unnoticed? But I guess Mann did what he could -- the nature of Hollywood is that if Tom Cruise gets involved with your movie, Tom Cruise is in the movie, regardless. Nobody turns down his involvement. Jamie, however, I thought was fabulous.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#11 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Thu May 01, 2008 1:01 pm

TedW wrote:I don't disagree, but it's still Tom Cruise. Even an excellent Tom Cruise is still miscast, for me (I'd actually say he's better in the rehearsal footage on the DVD than in the finished movie). From the moment I saw him casing the lobby of Jada Pinkett's office building wearing sunglasses they lost me. This guy is endeavoring to go unnoticed? But I guess Mann did what he could -- the nature of Hollywood is that if Tom Cruise gets involved with your movie, Tom Cruise is in the movie, regardless. Nobody turns down his involvement. Jamie, however, I thought was fabulous.
I dunno. As soon as Cruise shot those two street punks point blank with such cold efficiency, that, for me, was when I felt that Cruise shed his "star persona" and really disappeared into the character.

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Tom Hagen
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#12 Post by Tom Hagen » Thu May 01, 2008 1:31 pm

I agree with Fletch that Cruise did an excellent job of shedding his star persona for "Collateral." I find nothing wrong with his peformance in that film. For me, the problem with "Collateral" was the final act involving the US Attorney. I wish that Mann would have ended the film with Max and Vincent dying in the car crash, or some similar resolution where Max rejects Vincent's philosophical system and at the same time finally asserts his own ego. I suppose what bothered me is that Mann set it all up perfectly: the Nietzschean rantings of Vincent and the existential anguish of Max, the surreal coyote stalking through the streets of L.A., goregous cinematography, Tom Morello's guitar, and Max's final decision to act. I really thought it would be the end. The more conventional rescue-the-woman-in-distress ending disappointed me. Don't get me wrong: the shoot out scenes were great -- no one does them better than Michael Mann. And the film was still easily one of my favorites from 2004. But something about the end felt . . . well strangely unsatisfying.

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#13 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Thu May 01, 2008 3:34 pm

Fletch F. Fletch wrote:
TedW wrote:I don't disagree, but it's still Tom Cruise. Even an excellent Tom Cruise is still miscast, for me (I'd actually say he's better in the rehearsal footage on the DVD than in the finished movie). From the moment I saw him casing the lobby of Jada Pinkett's office building wearing sunglasses they lost me. This guy is endeavoring to go unnoticed? But I guess Mann did what he could -- the nature of Hollywood is that if Tom Cruise gets involved with your movie, Tom Cruise is in the movie, regardless. Nobody turns down his involvement. Jamie, however, I thought was fabulous.
I dunno. As soon as Cruise shot those two street punks point blank with such cold efficiency, that, for me, was when I felt that Cruise shed his "star persona" and really disappeared into the character.
One scene that stood out to me early in the film is where Max's boss comes on the line, and Vincent takes on the persona of a gov't employee taking Max's side. His voice in that scene so reminds me of his other films when his characters become severly defensive. But in this film, it's like a switch he turns on and off.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#14 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Thu May 01, 2008 4:22 pm

Tom Hagen wrote:The more conventional rescue-the-woman-in-distress ending disappointed me. Don't get me wrong: the shoot out scenes were great -- no one does them better than Michael Mann. And the film was still easily one of my favorites from 2004. But something about the end felt . . . well strangely unsatisfying.
The thing that bothers me about this bit is that Jada Pinkett Smith is supposed to be playing a reasonable intelligent assistant DA and yet she stupidly waits around being all indecisive even after Jamie Foxx's cabbie has told her that Vincent is coming to kill her. It's the one thing that always bothers me about the film is that she suddenly becomes stupid in order for Vincent and Max to have their final showdown.

I agree with you that having it end with the cab crashing would have been a decent ending.

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#15 Post by TedW » Thu May 01, 2008 8:51 pm

Tom Hagen wrote:I wish that Mann would have ended the film with Max and Vincent dying in the car crash, or some similar resolution where Max rejects Vincent's philosophical system and at the same time finally asserts his own ego.
Yeah, but that is what happens, as Michael Mann painstakingly explains on the DVDs commentary. Another part of my problem with the movie is I just don't think Max's self-actualization, on which the movie hangs, is dramatically substantial enough to support a whole picture. Plus the premise is ridiculous, especially in light of Mann's realist/this-could-really-be-happening style. The guy, this guy, hires a cab? That's the plan?

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#16 Post by Tom Hagen » Fri May 02, 2008 3:45 am

TedW wrote: Yeah, but that is what happens, as Michael Mann painstakingly explains on the DVDs commentary.
I agree completely that Mann arrived at that theme with the car crash scene as he intended. I just feel that we lose sight of that theme once the final act and ultimate resolution of the film unfolds. I was simply hoping for an ending that emphasized the theme more clearly. For me, there was something uncomfortably ambivalent about Vincent's last moments.

Regarding the points made by Fletch and Ted concerning the lapses in narrative logic in the film: isn't this sort of tension inherent in the crime genre that Mann is playing with in "Collateral" and other films? Simply put, if characters don't do stupid things, we don't get to see big, climatic shoot outs. More importantly on a thematic level, Mann's characters do all sorts of irrational things that reveal their inner turmoil in coping with their lives, careers, values, etc. In "Heat," it doesn't make any sense for McCauley to abort his ride off into the sunset in order to exact some petty revenge. But it reveals something profound to us about his character and professionalism. Or in the pilot episode of Miami Vice, when Crockett inexplicably stops in the middle of the climatic pursuit to make a call to his ex-wife in order to reflect about his failed marriage (and by implication, the trade-off that he has taken in his personal life for finding existential meaning in his career of chasing criminals like he is doing that very moment). I am willing to give Mann credit for concocting absurd plot situations because it is almost always in service of a thematic point (as opposed to merely sloppy screen writing).

Although I agree with Fletch: Jada must be the most naive federal prosecutor of all time.

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Fletch F. Fletch
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#17 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Fri May 02, 2008 9:26 am

Tom Hagen wrote:In "Heat," it doesn't make any sense for McCauley to abort his ride off into the sunset in order to exact some petty revenge. But it reveals something profound to us about his character and professionalism.
Sure. In that case, I can buy it because McCauley has his own code and taking Waingro is a matter of honor and payback for messing up his crew. So, I can understand why he does what he does at the end of the film.

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#18 Post by TedW » Fri May 02, 2008 10:48 am

Tom Hagen wrote:Regarding the points made by Fletch and Ted concerning the lapses in narrative logic in the film: isn't this sort of tension inherent in the crime genre that Mann is playing with in "Collateral" and other films? Simply put, if characters don't do stupid things, we don't get to see big, climatic shoot outs. More importantly on a thematic level, Mann's characters do all sorts of irrational things that reveal their inner turmoil in coping with their lives, careers, values, etc.
No, no, no. You are excusing bad or silly writing by claiming it to be a trope of the genre. No. When McCauley can't help himself but go after Waingro in Heat, that is excellent writing that reveals character, as you say. That is not to be confused with something that doesn't make any sense, which is the premise of Collateral, that a professional assassin would hire a goddamn cab to perform a series of hits in one night. Maybe rent a car, Vincent? Maybe steal a car? Maybe hire a new cab after each hit? But hire one cab and then the plan is to kill the driver? Not very discreet. It would actually work if Vincent was somehow forced into a cab, like his A plan went awry somehow... but we are supposed to believe that this is the A plan.

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#19 Post by Tom Hagen » Fri May 02, 2008 11:17 am

Hailing a single cab to take him to all five hits is certainly not the most plausible thing Vincent could have done, but it does make some very real sense on two fronts. First, you can pay a cab driver in cash leaving virtually no transactional record behind. Renting a car, or even stealing a car would leave behind major evidence. Second, cabs are mostly indistinguishable from each other, which reduces the likelihood that any potential eyewitnesses can produce anything of descriptive value to the police. (And of course, Mann exploits this second fact in the film.) I don't mean to say that this is the best thing Vincent or his contractors could have done, but it does make enough sense for the film's premise to be plausible.

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#20 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri May 02, 2008 11:19 am

Ruffalo's character when we see him in the alleyway brings up a case in Oakland where the cabbie supposedly shot a number of people then himself, and he said that the lead detective in the case never bought it and that there was someone else in the car. The minute that bit of dialog goes by, there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that that is Vincent's M.O.. Take one cabbie to every hit, off him, and plant all the evidence on him.

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#21 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Fri May 02, 2008 11:25 am

Tom Hagen wrote:Second, cabs are mostly indistinguishable from each other, which reduces the likelihood that any potential eyewitnesses can produce anything of descriptive value to the police. (And of course, Mann exploits this second fact in the film.)
He put this to use in what became the deleted scene on the DVD, where Vincent directs Max to an airport where the people following them lose the car in a group of cabs.

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#22 Post by TedW » Fri May 02, 2008 10:26 pm

You guys are free to write all you want, but I don't buy it. (The funny thing is, everybody here has issue with Jada and the third-act chase stuff, which I thought was perfectly acceptable given this genre; but nobody has a problem with the silly hitman/cabbie thing.) As I said, I would have gone with it if Vincent was somehow forced to improvise a plan that included Max. But the premise of the movie as is? Ridiculous. And don't get me started on sticking the flash drive into the side of the cab's logbook computer (good thing it has a USB port!)... they're just trying to tiptoe through the paint with shit like that.

But that exchange between Vincent and the wolf? Genius.

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Re: Michael Mann

#23 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:49 am

Am I wrong to guess that Russell Crowe's Jeffrey Wigand is probably the single best performance in any of Michael's films? This is against some rather heavy competition I know, but I was wondering if this was off the point for anyone who feels someone else got it.

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Re: Michael Mann

#24 Post by Antoine Doinel » Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:20 am

The BluRay of Heat will have "new content changes supervised by director Michael Mann". No one is quite sure what kind of changes are being made, but the listed running time is two minutes shorter than the version that was on DVD.

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Re: Michael Mann

#25 Post by TedW » Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:23 pm

Maybe that dangling participle that is the young hooker's murder will be coming out.

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