I spent the first half of my day watching movies. A perfect saturday, at least for me, since saturdays usually drag on without end. Now, I sort of regret it since tomorrow is already Sunday and I did not do anything else but watch movies. Ah, the complications.
Anyway, I was never one of those people who judge a movie by the director, since everybody can make a flop (right, Chris Columbus?) but Michael Mann has the higher batting average in my book. His last four movies, Collateral (119 minutes), Heat (171 minutes), Insider (157 minutes), and The last of the Mohicans (117 minutes) have three things in common. Number one, they are long (on average), they have brilliant story-lines and they are good. They are the kind of movies that you can watch over and over again and every time find something you did not see before, some little detail, some little off-screen remark…
The Insider tells a story about dr. Jerry Wigand, a vice president of a major tobacco company who decides to come forward with information about his company which is adding addictives into the tobacco, thus making it a drug. The movie reminds me of “All the president`s men“, cause they both deal with journalism, journalists and the pressure they face in their line of work. Pressure from their own company, fearing lawsuits, direct pressure from the companies which don`t want to reveal certain damaging information and so on. It asks the question whether journalists should just “do their job” or feel that the job they are doing is not really a job but really a calling. I wonder that myself from time to time. Should journalists and the business of journalism be excluded from this world and its problems, should it be protected by some higher office or should journalists just…go with the flow? If you look at the current opinion the public has about journalists you can quickly realise that we/they are not exactly up there with the big boys like judges, lawyers and doctors. Why exactly is that? What should journalists do to improve their status? Kill the bad guys? And how exactly does the majority of the people perceives journalists? Are journalists there for their entertainment, are they, as the theory goes, the watchdogs of the comunity, or are they just people who “do their job”? Take Kevin Carter for example. He killed himself cause of that photography, cause people kept bitching about how he should help that kid instead of taking photos of him. Can you imagine Kevin helping that kid out instead of doing what he was suppose to be doing? My guess is that nobody likes journalists cause they are afraid of seeing their own mistakes in the mirror of the media. It is true, journalists do make mistake and they do sometimes make things worse instead of better, but I think that, in general, they are still one of the good guys. And that they should be treated as such.
The movie stars Al Pacino who plays a producer, bent on convincing people to speak about things they know and keep a secret and Russel Crowe, who is brilliant in playing a socially frustrated, confused and tormented scientist, dr. Wigand. The tempo of the movie is slow although there is not a dull moment in it. It`s amazing who you can watch something for almost three hours and don`t get bored by it and on the other hand, you have movies that are half as long and twice as boring.
The Heat is in my opinion one of the best gangster movies ever filmed. The action is happening on Mann`s ground, the city of Los Angeles with Robert de Niro and his crew trying to outsmart Al Pacino and his merry men…ahem…LAPD. What I like about this movie are the details of every single character in it. Their lives, thoughts, actions… The tempo is a bit faster than in The Insider (after all, The Insider is basically a court room movie, while The Heat is mostly about “indians and cowboys”) although it still manages to retain perfectly developed characters with no cliches or meaningless scenes which only fill time-space. It tells a story about robbers and cops trying to catch them. About people, sentenced with fate of doing things they do best (and at the same time doing the only thing they know how to do) and about life, revolving around them. The question this movie is asking is what is life? Destiny? How to fight it? And what happens if we…run with it?
Anyway, all in all, two very good movies.