2.2.09

Michael Mann's Heat

This film is just incredibly directed. The scene where Al Pacino discovers Natalie Portman was truly horrifying -- one of the few times stoical me actually stood up and covered my mouth in shock at a piece of film. And the showdown at the end, and its dramatic conclusion, was breathtaking. Nothing on screen was by accident. The boxy bunkers show how the wild west has been changed by noir cityscapes. Cowboys no longer shoot each other face to face, but jump out from behind corners. The airport lights in the background remind us of the freedom De Niro gave up to tie-up that one last thread. He tries to use that light/hope to blind Pacino. But he can't: Pacino sees only shadows.

Can't say the same for Michael Mann's writing, however. The scene in the coffee shop is deservedly famous, because you get to see two great actors square up against each other. But they trade neat cliches rather than great lines. And what about the women? 'Heat' is billed as not just another cops and robbers movie, but an exploration of romantic relationships. But all the better halves are so *limp*. Pacino's wife (and daughter) are lost without him. Val Kilmer's wife can't help but help her husband out, even though she was gonna leave his ass in the first act. And one of the most frustrating scenes in the film is sweet, innocent Eady waiting patiently in the car as her murderer boyfriend goes to wreak utter havoc in the building outside. Only when De Niro abandons her does she get out, and then only to flash us the biggest forlorn doe-eyes I have ever seen on screen. She beat Puss-in-Boots in 'Shrek 2'! Where does this loyalty come from? Why are these women in thrall to these powerful, macho men?

I'm starting to believe all this talk of patriarchy I find in my friend's film studies notes...

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