Sunday, 12 September 2010

Michael Mann gives an autograph

I feel slightly trivial, again, posting this clip of Michael Mann signing his autograph for some waiting French fans who somehow got a tip he was in the building. It shows "Mr. Mann" in a positive light, briefly giving his time courteously to complete strangers, but is it me, or does he when looking into the camera lens scare you slightly? What do you think? I guess I now realize why nobody messes with his authority on set. He has a piercing, exploring look about him - a man who has made his living obsessed with observation. For this reason, I thought I would post the clip. Everyone has a hero. Michael Mann is one of mine. Yet having seen this, I think if I ever had the unlikely privilege of meeting him then intelligent words would potentially fail me. Missing my opportunity, he would then quickly take off in his Lucky Mercedes, leaving me with that empty feeling experienced when you fall short of your own expectations - however vague and unestablished those expectations are when just a huge fan.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Coyotes really do cross roads in LA

We all know and love the iconic moment in Collateral when a coyote crosses the road in the empty night streets of LA. Like many, I was taken aback that this actually happens. I am not sure why I am surprised when we have so many foxes in the UK taking residence in our cities and towns. Nevertheless, here is one post from an LA resident and Mann fan who had the same experience:

On my way to Ralph's with my Great Depression II budget in hand, I spot a house on my block (of rather nice California cottage houses) that has been abandoned. I get out and see a sign on the door -- the people just walked. All of their belongings have been hastily shoved into a dumpster. A jet fighter screeches overhead from Edwards Air Force Base in the dark night and I think, "wow, something totally horrible has happened to this America." In my mind, today feels like the day the American Dream landed with a kaput thud and came to a screeching halt. I remember my grandmother (the original bluestocking), savvy, smart, loved by everyone, telling me the story of the first Great Depression when she was a footloose and fancy free independent woman in the '30's with a good job (a school teacher) and how she'd never forget the day she ran to the bank to deposit her paycheck and the bank was closing... and they literally opened the heavy doors for her and let her go inside and took her check... and she thought they were being sooo nice, but the thing is -- she never saw that check again. It was straight outta a Capra movie. The bank closed and took everyone's money. This is how I learned to never trust bankers.
With an eerie heart, I drove on to Ralph's only to discover the entire street was black -- lights knocked out, no electricity. Ralph's sat there unwelcoming, unfriendly, and completely dark. A cop car with headlights blaring and siren spinning stood in for a traffic light and on the way home... I slammed on the brakes as my headlights picked up two pair of eyes -- and straight out of a Michael Mann movie -- a coyote crossed my path.
Is it a full moon or what?
times they are a changin' my friend they are a changing'
Read the post at his blog here

Here is a video clip with Mann and Cruise sharing their perspective on the inclusion of this scene in the movie. It is taken from Collateral's bonus features, so you probably already saw it.

Shooting Public Enemies

Emulating the period of the 1930's was one of the major challenges facing Michael Mann and DP Dante Spinotti. Here is an excellent overview of many of the technical and aesthetic approaches Mann mixed together to produce Public Enemies. For any creative endeavour to be fully realized the mastery of technique has to be attained. Without it, artistic visualization can never be achieved. Mann's strength is in his ability to visualize and execute. This article reveals the processes behind Mann's decision to employ certain technical approaches to Public Enemies.

Here is a brief extract of what is a long article:

“We did tests down in the parking lot [of Mann’s offices], set up with some posters from 1933 and cars and lights,” Spinotti says. “We did side-by-side tests with a film camera next to the F23, shooting daytime and going into twilight and then night. We also did various lighting tests. Company 3 [Santa Monica, Calif.,] did the transfer for both, scanning the film and then bringing the digital files into a digital negative and then printing, and then we compared film prints. The results were interesting: The F23 was extremely sharp, probably a bit sharper than film itself. The tonal range wasn’t the same as film—we all know the tonal range of film holding onto the highlights is extraordinary and digital hasn’t quite met that yet. But nevertheless, the way that digital dealt with shadows, really reading into shadows and darkness and doing it with extreme sharpness, convinced Michael, and I agreed: The way to go was digital. The other consideration was the agility and elasticity of working with those cameras and how Michael could work his preferred way. All this would let him go into an area that is almost hyperreal.”

Read the Full Article: Click Here

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Top 10 performances from Michael Mann films


Russell Crowe & Al Pacino in The Insider
Mann’s collaborative process with his actors typically involves something called “character acquisition,” a tightly-conceived regimen, of sorts, that gives his films’ characters the authentic touch that makes his work so novel.  Many times these details won’t even be discussed in the overall narrative, but their background impact on the performer is unmistakable.  Take, for instance, the photos of the childhood home of Tom Cruise’s hitman Vincent in “Collateral” that Mann brought to the actor’s attention, merely by way of more fully developing the character’s clearly complicated formidable years.

The result of this hard work has been a slew of captivating, at times career-best performances from some of the most accomplished actors working today.  A Michael Mann production represents the opportunity to go deeper with a performance and perhaps even learn more about the craft.  Will Smith has frequently discussed his collaboration with Mann as the most rewarding experience of his professional life.  And, as Javier Bardem once told me, “When Michael Mann invites you to his party, you don’t turn him down.”

So with that, a collective representing the best performances to come from Mann’s 10 feature films to date seemed the best way into this week’s installment of The Lists.

To read the full article and see the author's TOP 10, CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Michael Mann Photographs

If you are looking for celebrity images as an extension of seeing how the other half live, take a look at this commercial image library: WireImage.

A search for Michael Mann brings up a wealth of images of many of his public appearances. I was surprised to see he did a book signing for his Taschen book in 2006. I have the book and recommend it. Curiously, it doesn't seem available any more, even from Taschen's own website. You cannot buy it new on Amazon, though some resellers have it still. Not sure the reasons why. Perhaps it peaked in its demand.