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!