I Love Filmmaker Michael Mann

He is the absolute best filmmaker ever. Hands down.

My favorite film of all time is Last of the Mohicans. It is probably no coincidence that this is also the first film of his I ever saw, and it might be the first rated R film I ever watched. I know for sure that at the time I didn’t even know his name or, for that matter, that movies were made by different people. While most people I run into shy away from ever choosing their favorite, my training prevents me from fearing and so after much deliberation, to repeat, I proudly pick Last of the Mohicans.

I say all of that to introduce the fact that any movie buffs can imagine my shock when upon completing Heat in college I discovered that in that crime tale–the first time Pacino and De Niro gloriously face-off on film–again, it was Mann at the helm.

My memory is a bit fuzzy at this point, but I think my next it’s-a-small-world-after-all shock was discovering that he created one of my mom’s favorite early-80’s television shows–meaning I’m pretty sure she watched it while I was in the womb–Miami Vice. It shouldn’t take much convincing then that when I heard he was making a stand alone film of Vice, I lost my breath. (“Do you dance?” “I dance.”)

After heading to the local video rental store to get caught up with Thief, Manhunter, and The Insider, Ali marked the first time I saw one of his films in the theater. And you can bet I was first in line for when he teamed up with my raision d’etre, TC, in Collateral.

Naturally, my younger brother is also a big fan. Not as big, but big. So to cap off his bachelor party ski extravaganza he and I went to see Mann’s latest release Blackhat. It has been a long time since I left the theater believing that someone knows how to tell a story to adults. I had hoped Interstellar would end the streak of disappointment, but I have to agree with the masses that while very, very good, it was also a little silly. Not Blackhat.

What makes Mann stand head and shoulders above the competition? Pacing. His pacing. No one else comes close.

Now, we’re all adults here, right? You know how there is a standard line during sex where when in passion’s throes one partner sensually requests that the other develop the bliss a little more competently? When, in a voice that quiets to little more than air rushing by your ear, you hear the plea, “Don’t rush”? Well Mann’s grasp prevents his lover from ever contemplating such a petition. Unlike most other film makers, he is in complete control. There is no doubt that every particularity of every moment is exactly as he wants it. There is no “film by committee” with him. It’s his way or the highway. And Blackhat reminded me of this once again.

Need one more example of how I know he’s the best filmmaker? I know because the previews for his movies are horrible. They are horrible because he doesn’t make previews. He makes movies. He makes motion pictures. He makes art. Could a single measure of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony do that song justice? Or one star in Van Gogh’s Starry Night? No, the answer is no.

In a word, compared to Michael Mann, all other filmmakers are simply salesmen.

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17 comments

  1. mcbeales

    I love Last of the Mohicans too. It’s so often neglected, or unfairly separated from his other work. This article has given me some hope for Blackhat – my last cinema trip was Interstellar at the Imax and it left me hollow.

    Like

  2. Jim Maher

    I watched ‘Last of the Mohicans’ in my Grade Nine Social Studies class to help us at least have an idea of what happened during the colonial times. I didn’t appreciate it for what it was back then, and I just thought Madeline Stowe was hot and the music was really good. I watched it again, and I agree. It is my favourite Michael Mann film, but Collateral comes a close second. I usually find Jamie Foxx overbearing, but Mann coaxed great performances out of both him and Cruise in that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      Yep. Both Thief and Manhunter are great. I really wish I knew what the deal was regarding him not being a household name. I can hear some folks say it might have to do with hot pink t-shirts under sport coats, but that’s what I love about him. He goes big or goes home.

      Pete

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  3. noelleg44

    I had no idea he did Last of the Mohicans, which I have watched, oh, eight or nine times. Your recommendation will send me to see Blackhat – I avoided Interstellar because I was told the science was wobbly if not wrong, but will watch it when it comes out on DVD. Has it? Yes, Collateral and I will admit to being old enough to have watched and loved Miami Vice. You picked the BEST contemporary film maker. What about Clint Eastwood and Ron Howard? Would be interested in your views!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Pete Deakon

      I’m generally satisfied when leaving the theater after watching a Clint Eastwood or Ron Howard film, but I can’t deny that their movies, I’m thinking Clint Eastwood moreso, push agendas. (or make social statements). And I don’t like that. Oh, and during the trailers for Blackhat, Ron Howard himself introduced his odd Moby Dick but not Moby Dick movie by saying he’s “proud of it.” That irks me too. I know going to the theater is not happening much anymore, but when the rich and famous try to tell me how proud they are of their product it makes me think it isn’t any good. I can be rather particular about these things though. (When asked.) 🙂

      Pete

      Like

  4. mysweetheartlife

    I watch Mohicans every time it comes on, or at least turn it up to listen to it if I’m working. I love how he says “Kentucky” as “Kan-tu-kee” and listen for that line, as well as others. I won’t buy it because I love the unexpected thrill of catching it when I finally have time to flip through channels. What I love more is someone loving something and unabashedly explaining why. It’s enchanting to me to listen to that, or read it here, and I love to get caught up in the sharing of it. Thank you for sharing.

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    • Pete Deakon

      You’re welcome. I think my favorite line is when in the final Sachem scene when I hear Duncan in the background translate Magua’s, “Et Ca c’est bien.” (muffled) “and that is good.” Actually, better not get me started. I have work to do!

      Pete

      Liked by 1 person

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