Monday, 27 August 2012

Website Redesign

I am currently very limited with how I develop the current Michael Mann website, so I am moving it over to a different platform. You can still access the blog at, but I am moving the domain to the new site in development.

The aim is to improve the entire look and navigation of the site, with new additional reference type content. Hopefully, this will become a site that is more befitting of the subject matter. I am also keen to make the material more easily accessible on smartphones, so I will implement a responsive design.

It's about time I tackled several years worth of content and take more time to compile a more useful reference style  resource of information.

Keep in touch via my twitter account @michaelmannblog

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Michael Mann Latest News

Michael Mann set to produce new HBO Pilot
Michael Mann is set to be producing a new HBO pilot and possibly series on a futuristic crime story. The series touted as "Buda Bridge" is being directed by fresh talent Michael Roskam, whose latest directing work was on the Oscar nominated 'Bullhead" last year.

Keeping irons in his fire, Roskham is also to direct "The Tiger", which was originally linked with Darren Aronofsky who is currently shooting "Noah" with Russell Crowe in Iceland. No doubt due to that commitment, Aronofsky is instead intending to produce for Roskham.

The Last of the Mohicans
Further excellent news is that The Last of the Mohicans in Blu-ray format is making its way here to the United Kingdom with a release date soon for October 8th. Unlike the US edition which is distributed by 20th Century Fox, the UK edition will be distributed by Warner Brothers. There are no details of what bonus features may or may not appear.

For fans of The Last of The Mohicans, here is a great page of trivia about the movie and its historical context. Fascinating reading. Click here to go to the page.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Michael Mann interview about the now late HBO Luck

For those who know Michael Mann's films, you will know that he uses the term "Time is Luck", quite often. It relates so vividly to this situation. Did you know that this term probably relates to a Biblical verse in Ecclesiastes 9:11. Read that verse, and you can directly apply that to what happened on the now unfortunately named "Luck".

Despite the horribly disappointing end to the making of Luck, I am ready for more Michael Mann material. The truth is, the end of Luck was a devastating blow to all involved in the project, and it was further marred by ill reported stories that I had no appetite to blog. This was supposed to be Mann's nine hour movie - to use the amazing opportunity such time presents to the storytelling creative director/producer. We all feel robbed of that same rush of enthusiasm to see and experience that happen. It is therefore poignant to post an excellent interview to be seen in full between Michael Mann and Tavis Smiley about the making and development of Luck. I may have even posted it before. But here it is, to help me move on to what is the next "thing". In the interview Mann says more than once how "careful" they are with the horses.

Going back to the interview, here it is below. Asked what movies he is likely to work on he mentions Agincourt, but adds a new story to his already large list in waiting: The Tam. He refers to Alex Sage, writing a story in Indonesia on the South China Sea. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Go Like Hell

Apparently, with the F1 film Rush having been announced, the studios have put Mann's project "Go Like Hell" on ice, until it has passed through. The Rush article can be read here:

In the article, it is reported that "Michael Mann's 'Go Like Hell', about the Ferrari vs. Ford rivalry for supremacy at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race during the 1960s was close to being set up at Fox last year, but is reportedly on hold until 'Rush' is finished." I tweeted the Variety link a few days ago, but for those just looking at the blog, this is the latest I have on that project. If anybody knows more, let me know.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Michael & Ami Canaan Mann interview

There is an indepth interview with Michael & Ami Canaan Mann that gives considerable enlightenment on how the father and daughter team came up with and executed the project, The Texas Killing Fields. It obviously took a great deal of Michael's time to help develop the movie. With typical attention to detail, Michael goes into how the entire movie was written, cast, shot and distributed. For those wanting to know every nuance about the working approach of Michael Mann as producer, it is worth waiting through the introduction. It will be interesting to see how Ami Mann's career develops.

Michael Mann to work on documentary about modern war photographers

Michael Mann is enjoying his freedom with HBO and according to Hollywood Reporter has teamed up on another reported collaboration on the making of a documentary about a new generation of combat documentary photographers. It takes Mann back to his early roots of documentary filmmaking of riots in Paris, France and feeds his appetite for men in extreme scenes of conflict both internally and externally. He is teaming up with documentary director David Frankham.

It looks an exciting project, and could take documentary film making to a completely different level. In an earlier post I shared my thrill and depth of emotional experience at watching Mugabe and the White African, which was cinematic in its appearance, and breathtaking in its story telling. As someone who studied photography, I have admired war photographers. Being British, some of the shots by Don McCullin were of great interest and are extraordinary in capturing the haunting effects of shell shock, having seen his exhibition in London some years ago now.

This is definitely a Mann fit project, taking in South America, where drug lords are something of an interest to Mann. Read the full news piece to get the details.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Mann in talks to direct The Big Stone Grid

In a recent interview this year Michael Mann told us to tune in soon to news of what may be his next directorial film project. Then 13th February Deadline posts news of Mann's interest in an invite from Sony Pictures to direct crime thriller, 'The Big Stone Grid'. I am a week late posting the news. I turned 40 yesterday, so call it age. According to Deadline, it is about two decorated detectives who uncover a terrifying extortion ring that operates within the secret underbelly of New York City. Many will say this is typical Mann territory, but in truth crime drama is just one of numerous different worlds Mann has created - Last of the Mohicans, The Insider and Ali - and are not what one might call noir crime drama. Yet, Michael Mann's developing interest in crime as a basis for drama, writing for Starsky & Hutch, and his pre-occupation for cat and mouse conflicts between detectives and their flip side counterparts, has given him the reputation that sometimes I think Mann backs off from, but inevitably is given plaudits for.

The Big Stone Grid would therefore be fairly safe territory for both Mann and Sony Pictures, who would see this as a win-win partnership, both artistically and financially. Mann enjoys bringing out the internalized masculine soul for us to see, and finds extreme conflict a powerful way to emote this process. With the complexity of a protection racket, extortion and powerful guardians of this hidden crime world, I can see this would be a hard project for him to pass up on, if Sony Pictures are offering highly supportive financial incentive to get Mann on board. With Heat now at cult status, and Collateral the commercial success, Mann will have his work cut out to live up to that level of performance. It may be another opportunity to bring back either Al Pacino or Robert DeNiro to the project, but that could backfire. Would they even do it? We know Mann has his own "crew" for his "scores", and that he is loyal to actors, inviting them back on new productions.

The Big Stone Grid is the latest twist to Mann's indecision on what to direct next, and something out of the blue for those of us who were expecting Agincourt, Gold, Robert Capa, or even The Frankie Machine. All very different films in nature.

Deadline describes The Big Stone Grid script as having gruesome elements to the story. I am personally not a fan of gore, no matter for what artistic vision for realism. I watched Drive recently, which I thought was an extraordinarily creative expression - it was utterly unique to me. It is a film that nods to Michael Mann's stylistic vision and directorial technique and Tarantino's Kill Bill quiet man with the hammer and nail and the scorpion jacket. I made various jokes about the poor script to my friends in the duration, but the movie is in places genius. The soundtrack eclectic. But the gratuitous bashing in of the face in the lift, and the slicing of the arm is not my "cup of tea", and I don't think it is Mann's. So some rewriting might be necessary. But Mann may decide it is necessary, to create the fear in the audience, if the film is made. I prefer violence implied, rather than gratuitously in your face.

Based on how the news rolled in, I would guess The Big Stone Grid is the film Mann will go for. But we will have to wait and see! I love the title.

In the meantime, roll on Luck. We all know it has been commissioned for another season. Will Mann's influence continue, or will it wane following Mann's gradual drift from the project as he pursues his next film? Let's just enjoy the ride for what it is.

Note to Mr. Mann. Happy belated birthday. (5th Feb). Did you all know, I share my birthday with the great Ansel Adams, who was also born on February 20th? Ansel was the reason I got into photography, and Mann is the reason I love story in film.  If you want a good month to be born, February is highly recommended!

Until next time Mann fans.

Oh, one more thing... Check out Philip Bloom's website to see a behind the scenes of the new British gangster flick shot entirely on Canon 5D mkii, inspired in part by Michael Mann, according to the interview with its director.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Tavis Smiley Interviews Michael Mann about HBO Luck

A TV interview with Michael Mann is about to be aired on PBS, by Tavis Smiley. It has been fully transcribed into yet another fascinating interview, with some superb insights into his latest work on "Luck". Must reading. Make sure you click READ THE TRANSCRIPT to read it.

Here is an excerpt. To see the full interview click here.

Tavis: If I were to ask you, as I will now, to put in a nutshell what the viewer, what the takeaway is for the viewer over this first year of the series, it is what? What are you trying to get us to wrestle with? What’s the takeaway here for us the first season?
Mann: Ace, who emerged from prison, having done three years for a crime he didn’t commit, is motivated by vengeance towards the people who put him there. It was a man named Michael Smythe, who’s played by Michael Gambon, who played the head of Brown & Williamson Tobacco in “The Insider.”
In seeking vengeance, Ace is going to get involved in buying Santa Anita, with a plan to bring casino gambling in, and it’s a trap that he’s setting. Along the way, Ace starts to connect with his horse, that’s the Red Irish horse, and then the unexpected occurs with Ace.
Each of these story tracks all vector towards culminating episode eight and nine. Walter will run the black horse at the exercise girl. There’ll be a competition between the exercise girl and Ronnie Jenkins, the jockey, played by Gary Stevens, who actually won the Kentucky Derby twice, who shows up at the competition. Who’s going to ride that horse?
The degenerates win, and the degenerates, what they’re going to do with their winnings, they are going to become horse owners. They are going to wind up owning that horse that you first saw race. That’s going to become their horse.
So they become horse owners, still living in this ratty motel in Koreatown called The Oasis.
Turo Escalante and the (unintelligible) that story continues with complexities of their romance and their relationships, and everything moves towards the realization of the deeper conflicts, the resolution of the deeper conflicts within every single one of our characters.
It’s almost as if each one is fighting some aspect of their own inner nature, and luck, to us, means, to me it means the yearning for transcendence, the yearning for some kind of change. The degenerate gambler who thinks I used to be a prince, I’m going to become who I really used to be if I win, or Marcus, who actually would like not to win, because he’s very uncomfortable having won. I’m talking about episode two now.
But that common yearning for change, change in one’s life that I think each one of us seeks, that’s the universality that I think is in this show that’s really rewarding when you stick with it.

HBO Luck Sky Atlantic Series Premier for UK

For all my UK readers who have Sky Atlantic, I am pleased to say it will be airing on the 18th February at 9.00pm.

If you have access to SkyGo, you can now also watch Sky Atlantic on your iPhone or iPad, meaning Luck cannot be missed! If you don't have Sky, but your parents do, ask them if you can feed into their SkyGo account, because I bet they don't use it!

For those in the UK who are familiar with Tom Payne, the former Waterloo UK actor now enjoying the luxuries of LA, and are now following his new part on HBO Luck, you can see him on an exclusive HBO behind the scenes video by clicking here.

There is some great Michael Mann goodness to enjoy in these cold spells of UK winter!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Michael Mann's TV History Interview

Michael Mann spoke to @kentucker about his history in TV, with particularly interesting backgrounds to shows such as the Jericho Mile. Good interview.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Return to the Scene of the Crime - Heat Bonus Feature

I came across this YouTube footage that is on the Heat DVD as a bonus feature. Ten years after the film was made cameras follow the original location scouts for Heat as they provide a guided tour of some of the key shooting locations for Heat around LA. One of the most interesting is where they discuss the final airport scene and Mann's inch by inch detail in planning the final shoot out. For those who haven't seen this bonus feature you will enjoy it.

Reports from HBO Luck Q&A session

An article today from the Hollywood reporter decided to take a negative angle on a press presentation of HBO's Luck, having been given access for a Q&A with Michael Mann, David Milch, Dustin Hoffman and Nick Nolte. The report said the event had "exceptionally awkward and amusing moments." The PR team for HBO were apparently not on the ball as according to the report they organised Mann and Milch's seats at opposite ends to each other, to the notice of some entertainment writers looking for media fodder, following previous news of discontent between the two men. The creative giants of screen sat up front were perhaps thinking that the event was about the exciting launch of some superb new entertainment, but some writers saw their main news story of what happened behind the scenes.

Nick Nolte was reported to have given quirky personal opinions on 3D TV warning of its negative health effects.  I don't entirely disagree. It wouldn't surprise me that if 3D catches on more than it already has, that health reports will undermine any technological advancements in this area. I saw Puss in Boots (with my kids!) in 3D and I had a headache and felt sick the rest of the day! I enjoy the sense of depth and involvement of 3D, but Nolte is right. It isn't a natural function of our eye. My opinion is that holographic cinema in about 50 years will be the replacement media of the future. 2D is not going to disappear yet. But 3D? I applaud the efforts to introduce a new experience for the viewer, but think it falls into the laps of TV makers wanting new features to lure customers into buying replacement TV sets, hence their hype of the technology. TV makers should make less of 3D (if they want to avoid litigation for screwing up the eyes of our children!), and realise that the true potential of TV is in the Smart TV revolution - turning our iPhone into a giant screen and hooked to the internet for movie streaming and social interaction. To this end TV makers have been distinctly lazy and without vision. Apple are forcing the agenda with their rumoured iTV set to launch this year. Finally, the best screen estate in our homes gets intelligent.

I digress. Rather than read my twaddle, see the most recent articles about Luck on these links below:

You can also access the full HBO airing schedule for Luck in the US:

Debut:  SUNDAY, JAN. 29 (9:00-10:00 pm ET/PT)

Other HBO playdates:  Jan. 29 (10:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m.), 30 (9:00 p.m.) and 31 (11:00 p.m.), and Feb. 1 (10:00 p.m.), 4 (12:45 a.m. ET/9:45 p.m. PT), 7 (10:00 p.m.), 8 (9:00 p.m.) and 11 (10:00 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates:  Jan. 30 (8:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m.) and Feb. 2 (midnight), 3 (9:00 p.m.), 5 (2:30 p.m., 8:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m.) and 16 (8:00 p.m.)

Monday, 9 January 2012

The Study of Mann Interview

Michael Mann has returned to the interview table for the Directors Guild of America with F.X Feeney, who originally interviewed Mann for his wonderful published book "Michael Mann" published by Taschen (which I own). Mann obviously seems very comfortable talking to Feeney, because Mann's replies to often short questions are some of his most revealing to date. It is for this reason that this interview is a must read, with a wealth of new revelations about Mann's methodology in film and his relationship with the actors and crew he works with.

We have been left very short of Michael Mann information of late, and this occasional Michael Mann blogger has been left dry of "Mann Water" for a long time. It is therefore a tease when he gives more uncertain clues as to what his next major movie project will be. I wonder if the conversation he has with F.X Feeney next week will be made public? Read the end of the interview to see what I am talking about!

Full interview here

In the meantime, I have now bought a new plasma, a Panasonic G30 42" (THX calibration option) in readiness for Luck.