Friday, August 25, 2006

Michael Mann, I love you

Miami Vice.
I want to write a film like this. This was absolutely the perfect movie to see at this stage of writing The Limit, and I went into it perfectly primed.


Here's what I was told: the movie starts in the middle of a police operation, and it keeps going from there - you really have to pay attention to follow what's going on, because Mann doesn't ease you into the world of the story.

1. It's like Brick. You have to listen carefully to everything everyone says & figure things out for yourself.
2. This is a perfect companion piece to The Wire. In fact, I'd say it's almost compulsory to watch a season of The Wire before seeing this film. It'll get you in the mood for the tone Mann is going for.
3. That mood is 'Hollywood' + 'Miami Vice' + 'The Wire'. Schmaltz + Cool + desperate people (on both sides of the badge) having to be as smart as they possibly can, to stay alive.

Here's what I didn't like:

- the script needed one more beat in the first meeting with the Fed to establish Crockett & Tubb's emotional connection with the case. That would have sustained us a lot more easily during their initial moves undercover.
- the performance of their fixer was over the top.
- where'd they get that grenade?
- the dialogue during the second meeting with the Fed was over the top.
- bringing the people they did to the club. It was a stupid move, and they should have known it. Biggest plot flaw of the movie, but it also sets up such an intense ending.
- Crockett & Tubbs needed to get proactive after what happened to Trudi.
- the story didn't return to the initial sting on Neptune.

Here's what I liked:

- Farrell & Foxx.
- starting in media res. I'm really coming to understand the advantages of this, for me as a writer.
- the jeopardy in their first meeting with the drug dealers. Smart people doing smart things because they know they could die at any moment.
- the seduction on the boat. A classic Mann scene.
- the romance. Absolutely unbelievable, but so necessary to (a) get in, (b) create tension in the finale, (c) be sexy.
- how will they respond to Trudi?
- the intensity of the ending & how it builds. Competent people doing deadly things.

The film is filled with music, it has a relentless pace, and its use of video captures the world in such a way that I was seeing the streets outside Reading when I stepped out like I was still in the movie.

Miami Vice is sleazy. Maybe it represents the real Miami; maybe it represents the degeneration of Michael Mann from the stylisation of Manhunter and Heat. All I know is I loved it.
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