Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Miami Vice Review

Visceral and unflinching. Miami Vice is the most Mannish of Michael Mann films. 

A mood piece disguised as an action/crime drama, Vice updates the dated 80's television series for the 00's and is glorious entertainment. Mann's style has rarely been so on display, from his choice of digital to the riveting action sequences, this might be one of his best.

Farrell and Foxx bring great depth to the iconic roles of Crockett and Tubbs and have great chemistry both with each other and the supporting cast. Speaking of which, Gong Li is ravishing as Farrell's love interest Isabella, a harsh business woman with a taste for Cuban nightlife. Everyone here is on top of their game.

Dion Beebe's cinematography is both eye catching and revelatory. I seem to come away from most recent Mann films saying this but the use of digital is a breath of fresh air. Everything is so immediate and in the moment, it all feels so real, which at certain moments can be overwhelming in the best way.

Some have criticized the dialogue mix but I wasn't bothered in the slightest. Some words and even full sentences are unintelligible or inaudible but it works. These are real characters and perhaps some of their exchanges are none of our business in the first place. When talking to someone in real life, in a crowded bar or city street, you don't pick up on every word said and Mann knows this and works it into his films. It's a masterstroke of realism and he should be applauded for it.

Miami Vice is thrilling from beginning to end, culminating inn one of the most brutal gun fights of the last ten years. It's a high point for crime cinema and comes with the highest of recommends. 

Just check your expectations at the door.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Foxcatcher Review

"Horses are stupid. All they do is eat and shit. It's all very silly."

Almost violently depressing, Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is one of the darkest films I saw in 2014 and perhaps that’s why I love it so much. Featuring break-out performances by Steve Carell and Channing Tatum, it tells the story of the Schultz Brothers, Olympic Gold Medal wrestlers, and their precarious relationship with billionaire John E. du Pont. From the pacing to the atmosphere of increasing dread, to Vanessa Redgrave stealing every scene she's in, Foxcatcher is pretty on point.

Though Carell got most of the praise it’s Tatum who truly transforms for his role. This guy has some real acting chops and I couldn’t be more delighted to watch him grow as an actor. Ruffalo has rarely been better and this is definitely a career best for Tatum. Carell is offputting and bizarre but I think that's kind of the point, the man plays menace quite well. 

From a technical standpoint, it's a marvel. Featuring some of the best sound design I've heard in a while and a fantastic, haunting score by Rob Simonsen, Miller's film is a somber affair for sure.

This was one of the few 2014 films that I was hyped up for and it actually delivered. I still haven't seen Moneyball but so far Bennett Miller hasn't let me down as a filmmaker.