best film: Heat from Michael Mann.
- Heat is both the summation of Michael Mann’s previous efforts, and an artist at his clear peak. After his biggest financial success in 1992’s The Last of the Mohicans, he had the juice to go back to his urban jungle—cops vs. thieves—and do it with the long awaited meeting of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on screen (the two had been dancing around each other for decades after working together, but separately, in The Godfather: Part II). Mann here does not look to tell a cop versus thief story—he looks to tell THE cop versus thief story—on an epic canvas that no one had done before.
- Pacino plays Lieutenant Vincent Hanna and De Niro plays master thief Neil McCauley. They are on opposite sides of the law but have very much in common. They are both so dedicated to their respective crafts that it rises to the level of art. There is an obvious admiration and mutual respect between the two.
- Mann staked his claim to the mantle of one of the art form’s greatest action auteurs with the real effect set piece work. The opening heist, the sound design, the semi-truck—this obviously influenced the likes of Christopher Nolan. There is no The Dark Knight without Heat.
- If you are discussing the collision of acting artists in Pacino and De Niro you have to give the edge to De Niro here as Pacino blinks first. They are both excellent, but Pacino’s improvisations often distract- he is singing, “I’m Donald Duck” and “get killed walking your doggy” – it just needs to be just reined in a little (you’ll notice the theatrics are downplayed in the marvelous coffee shop scene with De Niro). I love a good larger than life, drug-induced (cocaine addict according to Pacino), swaggering character and performance—but this just needs to be dialed back.
- The narrative is just a smooth crime drama machine in motion—writing that would make any great writer jealous like “for me, the action is the juice”.
- Mann utilizes these gorgeous tight shallow focus close-ups during the final meeting of cop and thief.
- The final frame at the 166-minute mark with Pacino’s Hanna embracing McCauley is held—an absolute stunner of a composition that fittingly ends this masterpiece.
most underrated: Cuaron’s work in the 1990s needs saving (none of his three films are on the TSPDT consensus top 1000) so I want to acknowledge A Little Princess missing from the consensus list here. But, the choice for this category in 1995 is 12 Monkeys. It does not land on the consensus top 1000 list at all.
- 12 Monkeys finds Terry Gilliam back in the world of retro looking future dystopias (Brazil) and this dense (and genius) narrative is a perfect match for the Gilliam aesthetic.
- a near constant use of the canted/dutch angle– Gilliam is surely an acolyte of Welles– even more here than his previous efforts
- heavy use of the wideangle lens- disorientation, surveillance and paranoia– a perfect stylistic visual choice for the narrative and larger Gilliam aesthetic
- look to the ceiling as a reference point- Gilliam puts the world of 12 Monkeys at an angle again and again
- The quirky looking hazmat suit, the exposed duct/pipe design set up in the credits like we’re in Antonioni’s Red Desert. It is worth noting that as we go through the time zones (it is a complex set up)—which include 1917, 1990, 1996 and 2035 it isn’t just the 2035 future that is meticulously designed. Gilliam’s Philadelphia in 1996 is a nightmare. There’s a powerful scene of Tom Waits screaming on the radio as they enter the city in disorienting low-angle shots of the high rises
- Gilliam shows the high and low angles of the empty city in the opening
- Bruce Willis is admirable in the lead-but he proves worthy of the casting when many had their doubts in 1995 (he’s obviously a huge star at the time but not known for his acting chops—his back to back 1994 and 1995 with this and Pulp Fiction largely put that to rest). It is Brad Pitt who steals every scene he’s in playing Jeffrey Goines- a man riddled with ticks and monologues (diatribes on sanity and germs). He’s on the screen for maybe 10 minutes and goes nuts 3-4 times— it is a very good role.
- There is constant doubling in the narrative and the visuals- repeatedly questioning the reality of what we’re watching. We get the shower/cleaning/delousing both underground in the mental hospital. We get the panel of doctors in a row just like the panel of scientists/leaders in the underground future. There’s the blurring of characters, objects and lines from the screenplay over the timeline that is very well done. The Cassandra complex, the Vertigo tree rings scenes– there’s a puzzle factor to the film but it holds up to repeat viewings after the mysteries are revealed. It is based on Chris Marker’s La Jetée (Gilliam claims to have never seen it) — an impressively intelligent and ambitious Hollywood undertaking.
- Like Brazil’s fantasy cutaways, and the red knight cutaways in The Fisher King- Gilliam uses the white out slow motion dream sequences here to intercut into the main narrative. This is obviously a trait of Gilliam’s at this point.
- Gilliam’s reoccurring overhead shot here- overhead in a solitary cell—same as Brazil and Fisher King
- Paul Buckmaster score is a sort of blend of the Seinfeld jingle and the zither score from Anton Karas in The Third Man
most overrated: Emir Kusturica’s Underground is #294 on the all-time TSPDT consensus list which makes it #1 for 1995. The consensus top 11 of 1995 also has room for Babe, Toy Story and Eastwood’s The Bridges of Madison County.
gems I want to spotlight: The City of Lost Children from Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet has impressive worldbuilding and sits somewhere in the sphere of Gilliam and Guillermo del Toro.
trends and notables:
- For whatever the reason, eight of the top ten films from 1995 are from American directors
- Casino, Heat, Safe, Se7en… is 1995 the year of the one-word titles? Haha. Ok, but seriously 1995 is notable because it marks the summit for both Michael Mann and Jim Jarmusch. These are two top 100 auteurs with such distinct voices.
- In 1995 Scorsese is playing his greatest hits here with Casino but the vibrancy in the visual and stylistic filmmaking is not stale in the slightest. Yes, it is clearly inferior to Goodfellas, but it is still an artistically ambitious work from one of the greatest auteurs of all time.
- Tom Hanks is a massive star in 1995. This is the final leg of the Philadelphia, Forrest Gump and Apollo 13 three year run (and throw in a vocal credit for Toy Story). Many thought he would win his third consecutive best actor Oscar in 1995 (losing to Nic Cage eventually). Apollo 13 is the second biggest box office hit in 1995.
- Todd Haynes may not quite be Linklater or Tarantino but with Safe he announces himself as a worthy part of that 1990s indie new wave class.
- Toy Story might actually be the closest thing we have to a technological landmark in 1995. It is the beginning of Pixar and the first film of note to make the switch from drawing animation (around since essentially the 1930s) to digital computer animation.
- 1995 is Noah Baumbach’s true debut– Kicking and Screaming. Baumbach is age 26.
- For actors we have firsts for Gwyneth Paltrow (daughter of archiveable actress Bythe Danner) in Se7en where she is very impressive.. Paltrow is the sole bright spark in the film—and it is formally fitting that she is snuffed out—devastating. And she is dazzling in her few scenes.
- We also have a first for a young Casey Affleck in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For. Van Sant should be praised for helping to discover and foster young acting talents throughout his career (Matt Dillion, Matt Damon later, River Phoenix).
best performance male: Robert De Niro is lights out in the first (Heat) and fourth (Casino) best films of the year. He deserves two mentions for 1995- and he definitely had the edge on Pacino in Heat if you are ranking performances in this film. So, the answer to this category in 1995 is De Niro. De Niro has strong contenders behind him though in 1995. Johnny Depp gives the best performance of his career in Dead Man. His comedic blank stare is perfect for the Jarmuscian style. I wish these two would have worked together again. Depp’s work definitely feels like a nod to Buster Keaton with his ironic deadpan. Depp’s performance here is pivotal to the brilliance of the film- he underplays it perfectly- he lets all the loud noises come from around him. Joe Pesci riffs on his Goodfellas performance with his work in Casino– the napoleonic Nicky Santoro. He walks like a bulldog. De Niro and Pesci are doing great work together and they make for such great sparring partners (here, Raging Bull)—it is a testament to both that the other is not just blown off the screen. Brad Pitt gets a joint nominee here for his work in both Se7en and 12 Monkeys. Kevin Spacey very much deserved the best supporting Oscar for his work in The Usual Suspects (throw in a bone chilling performance as John Doe in Se7en for the cherry on top for 1995). Morgan Freeman rounds out the trio from Se7en getting a mention here. His work in Fincher’s film is no less than Pitt or Spacey- he just does not have the second 1995 film to add to the resume. Still, this is a mention in back to back years for Freeman in this category- the best stretch of his career for sure. Speaking of career peaks, though his single best performance may be from Die Hard in 1988—Bruce Willis is here again in 1995 for 12 Monkeys after his work here with Tarantino from 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Vincent Cassel arrives like a bat out of hell in La Haine. All of these actors are mesmerizing in their work here in 1995—very strong year for this category.
best performance female: There are three very worthy standouts here in 1995. Julianne Moore leads the way with her work in Todd Haynes’ Safe. Moore plays Carol. She’s like a Lynne Ramsay vessel—full of internalizations and ambiguity. Carol is retreating, frail- weight loss for Moore with the physical performance. Sharon Stone is next for Casino. Sharon Stone holds her own with Scorsese, De Niro and Pesci. Stone is intoxicatingly beautiful one minute and just about equally bat-$hit crazy the next- and truly excels at both sides of that coin. Susan Sarandon slides into a slot here for 1995 with Dead Man Walking. She does not land for 1995 alone- but this marks the third exceptional performance (Bull Durham in 1988, Thelma & Louise in 1991) on a borderline top 10 of the year film this felt fitting to finally add a mention for her.
- Dead Man
- Twelve Monkeys
- The Usual Suspects
- La Haine
- Before Sunrise
- A Little Princess
Archives, Directors, and Grades
|A Little Princess – Cuaron||HR|
|Apollo 13 – Howard||R/HR|
|Before Sunrise- Linklater||HR/MS|
|Casino – Scorsese||MS/MP|
|Clockers – S. Lee||R|
|Clueless – Heckerling||R|
|Crimson Tide- T. Scott||R|
|Cyclo- Tran Anh Hung||R|
|Dead Man – Jarmusch||MP|
|Dead Man Walking- Robbins||HR|
|Devil in a Blue Dress- Franklin||R|
|Dolores Claiborne- Hackford||R|
|Fallen Angels- WKW||HR|
|Get Shorty- Sonnenfeld||R|
|Ghost in the Shell – Oshii||HR|
|Heat – M. Mann||MP|
|Il Postino – Radford|
|Kicking and Screaming- Baumbach||R|
|La Ceremonie – Chabrol||R/HR|
|La Haine- Kassovitz||MS|
|Leaving Las Vegas- Figgis||HR|
|Maborosi – Koreeda,|
|Mighty Aphrodite- Allen||R|
|Richard III- Loncraine||R|
|Rob Roy- Caton-Jones||R|
|Safe – Haynes||MS|
|Sense and Sensibility- A. Lee||R|
|Se7en – Fincher||MS/MP|
|Shanghai Triad- Yimou Zhang||R|
|Strange Days – Bigelow||R|
|The Bridges of Madison County – Eastwood||R|
|The City of Lost Children- Jeunet||HR|
|The Flower of My Secret- Almodovar||R|
|The Usual Suspects – Singer||MS|
|To Die For- Van Sant||R|
|Toy Story – Lasseter||R/HR|
|12 Monkeys – Gilliam||MS|
|Ulysses’ Gaze – Angelopoulos|
|Welcome to the Dollhouse – Solondz||R|
|White Balloon- Panahi|
*MP is Masterpiece- top 1-3 quality of the year film
MS is Must-See- top 5-6 quality of the year film
HR is Highly Recommend- top 10 quality of the year film
R is Recommend- outside the top 10 of the year quality film but still in the archives
After watching Heat all I can say is Thank you, Drake. Thank you for recommending this movie to me. I am literally speechless. I don’t know what to write ater watching it. Its was so good.
Upon another viewing, I realised that Heat is such an incredibly entertaining, complex character drama it’s insane. The relationships between characters.
“Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner”.
“Told you I wasnt goinv back”.
De niro looses his girl and his life because of his obsession with crime and Pacino relationship with his family is stained and he kills someone he doesnt really wanna kill because he is so obsessed with hunting criminal, his job. All this leads to one of the most intense endings of all time.
Add to that great acting, cinematography, set pieces, action and perfect music, and you have one of the 10 best gangster pictures of all time.
I’m soooooo glad you recommend heat to me and I would recommend it to other cinephiles
Kevin Spacey is also in 2 movies. You know it’s a great year when Pacino, Pesci and Freeman (all doing great work miss out). My pick here would be James Woods. His Lester is Keitel from Taxi Driver, Stone is Foster. If I’d to pick one, he is better. He is in Nixon as well. Will take him over Penn here.
Oh that makes sense, I’ve never watched Heat so I can’t judge, I liked collateral so maybe I should give it a watch
Nick Rogers from the film yap called Heat “operatic and Go-for-broke”-haha. He copied your review. -haha
I will be (re)watching heat soon with my father ;so hopefully he can point out some aspects of the movie that make it a top 100 movie(aspects that I may be missing) . You have it as a top 100. I’m not there yet. Though i am not too far behind. I think the screenplay is quite good to be honest but obviously the visual aspect is the best.
Would you consider Heat as an engrossing rewatchable movie? Do you think it’s accessible for all audiences?
It’s the movie that launched the rewatchables podcast. And they did it a 2nd time. That’s some indicator of its rewatchability.
Do you think Robert De Niro should have won the academy award for best actor for Heat(1995) over Nic Cage?
A movie I really enjoyed from 1995 was Cop Land. I thought Sylvester Stallone was actually quite good. He’s clearly a pretty good actor when he wants to be, much better than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cop Land or First Blood prove to me that Stallone could’ve made it as just a dramatic actor. So I was surprised not to see it with at least a recommend.
Sorry but isn’t Cop Land from ’97 not ’95?
Also I think the best performance of the year, male and female combined is Nic Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. Cage, Depp and maybe Cruise are the biggest acting underachievers of the last 20 years.
« are the biggest acting underachievers of the last 20 years.»
For me, it’s Brad Pitt & Leonardo DiCaprio.
You’ve got Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio as the biggest underachievers of the past 20 years? Is that a joke?
I’m not English haha, I think « Underarchievers » means « the best filmography » but it is the opposite. Sorry lol.
Yeah your right I don’t know why I thought it was ‘95
Hey drake. Who is the most underrated songwriter(for movies) in your opinion? (This question is for everyone else on the blog too). Who is composer whose scores/songs you greatly enjoy but they are rarely mentioned on the list of great film composers.
In my opinion it has to be Moby. He has written the score used in the finale of both heat and the original Bourne trilogy. These are some of the best action movies of the last 25 years (and of all time). Without his music the final moments wouldn’t have worked in these films at all. Yet I rarely see him mentioned often. It baffles me.
@Azman – Hey. I don’t know how underrated he is, but I believe Joe Hisaishi to be one of the greatest film composers of all time. His score for Spirited Away is enough to understand why, but add to that the music in My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises, etc. and you have a phenomenal composer. The score that I think sets him apart from just about everyone else, however, is featured in Princess Mononoke. It’s one of the grandest, most jaw-dropping pieces of music I’ve ever heard, and the film would lose a lot of value without it. I think it’s one of the greatest scores in film history.
I think people do recognize him as a great composer, but I rarely see his name on all-time lists, so there you go.
@Pedro- Good stuff here- makes me want to pop in Princess Mononoke right now. Thanks for sharing.
This one never ceases to amaze me, even with the sky high expectations it always is even better than I last remembered it and I have now seen it 4 times
– is so much more than just an action thriller, a philosophical film that examines the co-dependent relationship between the thief and the criminal investigator and the relationship between criminals and society in general
– The scene where Neil (De Niro) kills the money launderer Roger Van Zant, there is a great shot of the city at night in the background when Neil is creeping into the back of Van Zant’s house (located in a mansion overlooking the city)
– Interesting comparison with Pulp Fiction from the year before as they both are set in the underworld of Los Angeles but while Pulp Fiction’s underworld is certainly entertaining it feels like the underworld of a movie where as the underworld of Heat feels far more realistic
– the diner scene I can watch 7 days a week and twice on Saturday, De Niro probably a tad better but wow it’s such a perfect scene I love De Niro’s line about a “normal life” “what’s that barbeques and ball games?” hilarious
– Pacino has some great unintentional comedy
– I love the way it shows mirror scenes between the criminals spending a night out with there girlfriends/wives/families and then does the same for the cops – showing similarities but at no point is preachy or trying to make them broad societal statement
– The scene where Neil has to choose to either stick to his maxim of “no attachments you cannot walk away from in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner” is so tough to watch even on viewing # 4
– If I have one complaint it’s probably that Waingro moonlights as a serial killer, clearly
by murdering the hapless security guard in the opening scene, even though the guard posed absolutely no threat whatsoever we see that Waingro is truly a monster, that he is also a serial killer seems like overkill no pun intented. But overall a fairly minor complaint
– One of the best films of the 90s
Dead Man Walking was actually directed by Tim Robbins, not Sean Penn.
@Zane- Yes- thank you very much
It’s funny I’ve coincidently watched Heat, Casino, and The Usual Suspects within the last 2 weeks. I’ve made several posts about Heat and Casino over the last year but not The Usual Suspects.
I have to say The Usual Suspects is so much fun on top of being a great film. It’s a brilliant throw back to a sort of noir crossed with a Jean-Pierre Melville gangster movie (Melville was so good at creating fictional underworlds)
It has not only an incredible narrative and acting but Keyser Soze is such as clever creation, the way Spacey’s character creates a mythology within the film, even quoting French poet, Baudelaire, “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”
It’s brilliantly structured how it uses Chazz Palminteri’s Agent Kujan as a proxy for the audience who is being given the story by an unreliable narrator. Speaking of which Palminiteri is a terrific actor, watching him and Spacey going head to head is a blast.
Even though I’ve come to agree with you more and more that De Niro’s performance in Heat is superior to Pacino’s, I still feel that both actors deserve a mention among the best performances of the year.
Yep. I mean, there’s of course the iconic scene in the café, but also the segment where Natalie Portman attempts suicide… yeah, Pacino is great in Heat.
Just curious have you watched Fallen Angels recently? I noticed it was upgraded from an R to HR.
@James – I hate to answer for Drake here but this happens pretty often with films Drake realizes he has too low, there was A Woman is a Woman which he upgraded to a HR, and that was before watching again and realizing, rightfully, that it is actually a MP, another example more recently was John Woo’s Hard Boiled.
@James – If you’ve paid attention to some of the pages he will from time to time upgrade a film that he realizes he has too low, one a while back was A Woman is a Woman from Godard which he raised to a HR, but then he watched it again right afterward and realized, rightfully, that it was actually a MP. Another more recent example was John Woo’s Hard Boiled (another film I was surprised he had as only a R given the reputation). So I don’t think he has seen Fallen Angels again though I do have hope for a look at WKW again if he goes forward with watching As Tears Go By and 2046 this month.
Lol. So the above comment literally didn’t show up until I rewrote it in the bottom comment. Cool.
@Zane – yeah I know he changes grades at times, just was not sure if it was due to a recent rewatch or not
@James Trapp- It is almost always because I was able to rewatch them. Unfortunately, I’m am not able to create a page for a film every time I watch or rewatch it.
@James Trapp- Yes, I was able to get it in 2020.
Casino is not a MP ? 258# in your top 500. IMHO Casino is a masterpiece.
@KidCharlemagne – well it is listed as a borderline MP. But I would have to agree with you that it is a straight up MP. I have made a couple of posts on the Casino page on why I think it is a straight up MP so I won’t repeat everything but I think it works narratively and stylistically as well as almost anything in the 90s. The energy that went into it is unreal, practically music playing start to finish with a constantly moving camera. While Goodfellas is clearly better I’ve always felt the gap was smaller than most people realize.
I think that The Usual Suspects is MP. What are arguments for “just“ MS.
@RujK- yeah, I used to think so as well on The Usual Suspects. I have my thoughts on it here http://thecinemaarchives.com/2017/11/16/the-usual-suspects-1995-singer/ – I’ve always believed the onus is on the film to prove it is a masterpiece, not the other way around.
@RujK – I have a bit of a theory on former MP that Drake downgrades to MS although I don’t know if he downgraded this one. None the less I posted this on the Rio Bravo page
“I think there is a clear pattern to the MPs he downgrades and that is they are usually tremendous screenplays that may (in his opinion) lack what he refers to as “artistic bravado” of some of the other MPs. I noted on the 1997 page the downgrading of LA Confidential from a MP to a MS and that film would seem to also fit this pattern. And for the record I still think that one is a MP (watched it a couple of nights ago) but again I respect the opinion.”
l think my theory holds up here as well.
This theory is generally accurate, but Gravity is a major anomaly.
I watched Heat a month ago, and I really didn’t like it.
I don’t know if I am the only one but I think the screenplay is really bad (the movie thinks is going to end 3 different times, plot points going nowhere, the killer subplot is forgotten for half a movie, cliche lines…) and that De Niro and Pacino do one of there weaker performances (De Niro looks like he is going to fall asleep at multiple moments and Pacino is doing his Pacino performance that is unchanged from Scent of Woman forward).
I will certainly agree for the visual, music and editing bravado. I think it has a phenomenal cinematography and sound design, I will not argue against that.
I personally think, overall, is a bad movie, but objectivly I think it can’t be more than HR.
This film was one of the biggest disappointments of cinema I experienced.
I was so sad when it finished because I really wanted to like it.
I might have agreed with you more on my first watch, but I did come around massively on my second. Drake wrote a page on it recently, you should check that out for a solid argument of it’s masterpiece status.
@RujK – given that I have it my # 4 film of the entire 1990s I obviously strong disagree, a couple
of thoughts but I will start by saying I did not love it from my very 1st viewing, it grew on me
– the film is more than just a heist plot it is a character study of criminal and a look at the co-
dependence between the criminal and crime fighter so the various storylines have purpose
beyond plot. I thought De Niro gives a great performance, I’ll give you that Pacino goes a little
overboard at times though I still enjoyed his performance.
– the opening scene and 2nd robbery scene a little more than 1/2 way through are incredible
on a technical level and just absolutely breathtaking
I am a little confused you say “I will certainly agree for the visual, music and editing bravado. I think it has a phenomenal cinematography and sound design, I will not argue against that.
I personally think, overall, is a bad movie”
you give high praise toward several important elements of film than conclude “I personally think, overall, is a bad movie”
@James Trapp and @RujK- agree with @James Trapp’s observation here- very interesting I think
“I am a little confused you say “I will certainly agree for the visual, music and editing bravado. I think it has a phenomenal cinematography and sound design, I will not argue against that.
I personally think, overall, is a bad movie”
you give high praise toward several important elements of film than conclude “I personally think, overall, is a bad movie”
@Drake I agree that sentences that I wrote are not really well written, but I wanted to tell that great cinematography, sound and editing are not enough to save that screenplay that is just not good. With this I conclude that I personally view it like a bad movie, but objectively (counting all the praise I gave the film) i think that, for now (before another viewing), I view it as a good HR.
@RujK- I’m not critiquing your writing at all (I am, by no means, a great writer myself) or even trying to change your opinion necessarily. I just thought it was interesting how you equate the screenplay (and maybe the acting) to “the movie”- and the rest of it as sort of stuff on the side.
@Drake my philosophy on grading movies is that movie to count as a MP needs to be a masterpiece at least by its narrative or its visuals (I am a strong believer that a gorgeous movie like 2001 is a second best movie of all time, even if the screenplay is probably not even in top 100. But also that A Usual Suspects is a MP even if there is very little shots in it that I would hang on my wall. I try to be equal to good narrative and good visuals). The movie that consider `the best` is Apocalypse Now, because is MP on both levels.
In this way movies with strong narratives can still be MP even if they are “ugly“ to look at, and that visually strong movies can still be MP even if the narrative is very poor and vice versa.
Why I can`t count Heat as a MP just because is visually very strong? Because the narrative was so not good, that was almost a torture watching it, but because I try to be equal to narrative and visuals, I still look at it as a HR (the equation would be: MP visuals minus /R narrative equals a HR movie.
@RujK- as often happens with the visual/narrative divide – the visual and I’ll say say cinematic qualities in Heat that you see and admire, feel like fact… and the opinion you have on its worth as a narrative… well… it feels like opinion.
@RujK – I used to think very similarly, but then I ask: would you consider a recorded reading of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov a masterpiece? Cinema is a visual medium, first and foremost. That doesn’t mean that Sunset Boulevard is a MP solely because of its visuals (it wouldn’t be), but rather that narrative is second to image. Cinema is not literature and does not even need to tell a story.
I also find your math a little weird there. How is MP – R = HR? I think the idea of quantifying a rating is strange, but if you’re going to do that, shouldn’t MP – R be equal to, like… MS? Given that R + R = HR, HR + R = MS and MS + R = MP. Or does your system not work like that? Haha, I’m just messing with you.
Look, this is all just my opinion, but I feel like we’re trailing the same path and I’m just a checkpoint ahead ;).
@Drake- My reasons why I think the narrative (screenplay) is weak, I mentioned in my original comment (weird story structure, plot points going nowhere, killer subplot is forgotten for an hour (while watching the movie I actually forgot about Waingro), deaths of characters movie thinks I feel something for them even if the character was in the film for solid 5 minutes ( I wouldn` t mind if his death scene was a little shorter but really didn`t care for Levine`s character), cliche lines and dialog, ext.), but all this can still be opinion, this is why I am looking forward for another watch. I hope it is one of those movies that get better and better more you watch it.
@RujK- Sounds good- yep, I didn’t say you didn’t have reasons. I just said they sounded like an opinion (hinting they may not be connected to the actual text)- even if I certainly respect yours.
@Pedro- Dostoevsky point is really good, but I would add that there are always exceptions, like already mentioned Before Sunset, but also from book medium like graphic novels (wouldn`t that mean Watchmen is superior to all the Dostoevsky`s work, just because is also visually stunning?), this is why art is so hard to classifie, and what are we doing here is just doing best we can to grade something that is actually ungradeble. I will stick with grading its techical properties because that is least subjective I can get, but I will never be 100% right. But I still think that to tell a good movie you need to tell a good story, but if you want to tell a masterpiece you need to tell a good story and take all the visual properties film medium provides.
I am glad that you find my math funny (I also find it funny), but it was mostly just for argument. I will also say that maybe I will really change the rating to a MS.
A damn fine cup of argument, both Dostoevsky and math comedy.
@Drake-I agree that some problems I have with the story is probably my opinion (not getting attached to certain characters), but still, do you think a movie that is structured like it is going to end 3 different times, in the middle of the film, really that subjective?
I don`t know, just experiencing it feels like very first time screenplay (what I can`t argue from the first hand, because I have never written a screenplay myself) (even if there is some great dialog), which is weird, because the film feels like it was made by an auteur with an unique voice in cinema (especially the sound design).
@RujK- well I have a very recent page for Heat here- http://thecinemaarchives.com/2021/08/29/heat-1995-michael-mann/ so I’ll mainly let that speak for itself- but- yeah- Heat seems pretty unassailable (as much as virtually any film)– narrative or otherwise.
@RujK – Hi. You know… I felt the same way. My first viewing wasn’t very good. I didn’t think it was an outright bad movie, but I was very disappointed by it – especially regarding the gender roles. With that said, I’ve been planning to do a Mann study and we’ll see how it goes – I have seen Thief already and really liked it, so I can see myself loving Heat was well now. But, you know, I think we all go through this with different films, it’s just good that you keep on trying. So many people that start getting into cinema just stop learning after a while (usually when they get to Kubrick or Bergman, I’ve noticed – haha); like, I know many people who have been “movie buffs” for 10+ years and have never seen (or even heard about) Ozu – it’s crazy to me. I really appreciate you being honest here.
@Pedro, I was also planning to watch more Mann’s movies (because I am doing a retrospective website), and I am also excited for Heat because @DeclanG and @James Trapp both said that Heat grew on them after the first viewing.
For “movie buffs” who never saw an Ozu film, I totally agree and I find in crazy too. I also hope that doing this retrospective website will give more depth into knowledge and history of film, and also, I will have time to watch every Ozu film I have always wanted.
@DeclanG and @James Trapp, seeing that you both need to watch it more than one time, I will try to give it another chance, but is almost 3 hours long so I will see when I will have time.
@James Trapp, also I forgot to tell that even if I think that Pacino is not giving one of his best performances, I still liked him more than De Niro because he at least looked interested in acting in the film. As I said, to me it looks like De Niro is going to fall asleep and that he is not really in the mood for acting.
@RujK – I am not sure what you mean by De Niro doesn’t seem interested in acting.
With De Niro his performance is probably more internalized than some of his best known roles (Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Mean Streets, The Godfather Part II). His character here is cool, calm, and calculating in his approach to his work although he does lose his cool a few times such as the diner scene where slams Waingro’s head into the table (can you blame him?) De Niro’s Neil McCauley lives by a code “Don’t let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner” but it is clear that he feels isolated, in particular the scene where he is out with his crew and they all have wives/girlfriends except for him. He starts a relationship with Eady and this of course creates a conflict between his interest in a relationship and following his code. Again his character is not as extroverted as some of his other roles but I don’t think that makes his performance weak.
@James Trapp, maybe I should choose my words a little better. I think that De Niro is not bad in the role but I think he shouldn’t be named a best performance of the year (I think is Depp in Dead Man), and even De Niro himself is (in my opinion) better in Casino.
@RujK – Personally I prefer De Niro’s performance in Heat but those are both great performances so I got no problem there. I actually think Casino is underrated (not on this site but in general) I’ve written about it numerous times on this site. And Depp probably gives the best performance of his career in Dead Man, a truly fascinating film.
@RujK I was quite disappointed my first time with Heat over a year ago (had it at a R/HR and found it to be boring) but gave it a second watch this morning and I can’t believe how much I was missing out on. Agree with the MP rating.
@James Trapp, I am glad that we agree that Casino is crazy underrated (of course not on this site) and for me it is always going to be borderline MP, with 3 superb performances.
@RujK – I have it as Scorsese’s 4th best film. Just curious what are some of your highest ranking films, you mentioned Apocalypse Now and 2001 above.
I still have some work to do (I haven’t seen Raging Bull, Stalker, The Searchers…). This is why I am doing this retrospective website to watch all the movies I have always wanted to see.
When I will finish I will most certainly commented top 100-1000 (I don’t know) on this site.
But now one of the highest ranked films I would have :
Apocalypse Now, 2001, 81/2, Seven Samurai, Rashomon, Sunrise, Blade Runner, There Will Be Blood, Clockwork Orange, Goodfellas, Dunkirk, Birdman ext. This will most certainly change.
My all time favorite film is Birdman.
In my objective opinion the best film is Apocalypse Now.
But if you wanted to see my Scorsese ranking (I haven’t seen Raging Bull, I have a very nice bluray but I wait for special time to watch it) :
2. The Departed (or Casino, very close)
4. Shutter Island
5. The Irishman
6. The Aviator
7. Wolf of Wall Street
These are sadly all his films I saw, but I am always excited for the next one, because they are all so damn good.
I forgot on (from what I watched) : Vertigo, The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Citizen Kane, The Godfather & Part II (that I find superior to the first one), Psycho, Rear Window, The Shining, Blue Velvet, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jaws, Fargo, Dead Ringers, The Fly, Se7en, Fight Club, Do the Right Thing, Pulp Fiction, Inglourious Basterds, Intolerance, Aguirre, Alien, The Wild Bunch, Blow Out, Royal Tenenbaums, Grand Budapest Hotel ext.
This are all superb movies I remember that are probably going to be in top 100.
@RujK – nice, yeah I started working on a Top 100 that I hope to eventually span to 500 but it is a work in progress. I’ll share my Top 100 in a few weeks.
@James Trapp – I am very excited to see your list. I am especially excited to see where Heat is going to be on it, haha.
My most recent viewing proves that Pacino is exceptional in Heat. I don’t wanna get into whose better debate but I strongly believe that De Niro does nothing that Pacino doesn’t. De Niro is having one heck of a year but Pacino is brilliant in Heat and I believe he should be included in the category of great performances.
@M*A*S*H – De Niro’s performance is much more internalized, for instance the scene where him and his crew is out with the wives/girlfriends and De Niro is clearly feeling alone (calls the Amy Brenneman character right after). He is always thinking/calculating and he conveys it largely without words, incredibly impressive stuff plus he has his fair share of great lines/speeches. I agree they are both terrific. Some people are a little put off by some of Pacino’s over the top antics, I generally am fine with it so long as it doesn’t go too far. They are probably my 2 favorite actors of all time I don’t usually spend much time debating who is better also I think going just by resumes it’s De Niro but in terms of skill/talent they are equals in my opinion.
*although going just by resumes I think it’s De Niro but in terms of skill/talent they are equals in my opinion.
If The Usual Suspects wasn’t there, would Kevin Spacey still get a mention for Seven?
@M*A*S*H- Tough- this is a role with limited screen time obviously and this does not feel like a three-bid acting movie- but I want to say “yes”
@Drake – How many times have you seen Devil In A Blue Dress? I just caught it for the 1st time and was really impressed. The story is your typical noir plot complete with gangsters, femme fatales, labyrinthine story, violence, stylish night clubs (57 min mark), etc. There is an additional layer however, with the racial aspect of the film given that its main character, played by Denzel Washington, is black and the majority of the cast is black; this is set in 1948 Los Angeles. Impressive attention to detail with the cars, music, streets, clothing, etc. in portraying a period about 10 years after Chinatown (1974)
There are some gorgeous shots inside the nighclubs and strong camera work with over the shoulder shots giving us the perspective of Denzel’s character who becomes a de facto Private Detective despite not actually being one. The Denzel critics like to use the “he plays the same character in every movie” insult which I reject not because its entirely wrong but because its less an insult and more proof of a definitive persona no different than actors like Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Humfrey Bogart, and other legends. Don Cheadle comes into the film a little past halfway to great effect.
@James Trapp – probably three times over the years daring back to the 1990s.
@Drake – nice, I just got the Criterion 4K, going to do a more thorough review tomorrow. Been on a bit of a Denzel Washington and Spike Lee bender with Inside Man, Malcom X, Do the Right Thing, and He got Game. Obviously Devil In A Blue Dress isn’t Spike but had been wanting to watch for a while so finally got around to it. Just curious what are some other films with black directors (aside from Spike) that you would recommend.
@James Trapp- Most are current – Steve McQueen, Barry Jenkins, Ryan Coogler and Jordan Poole- probably in that order outside of Spike. John Singleton is solid… I’m sure I’m missing others and someone can help me out.
Gerrard Bush of “Bush Renz” made Antbellum. Fuqua made Training Day and DuVernay made Selma. The last two are not really “auteur cinema” directors types, from a quick glance of their filmography.
@Drake@Jagman – thanks, not surprising that they’re recent. I’ve seen 3 of McQueen’s 4 films; Shame (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013), and Widows (2018); all 3 are phenomenal. I still need to see Hunger (2008). Might check on the Barry Jenkins films, have not seen any of them yet but looked over this sites pages and impressed by the images I’ve seen. I love Training Day but more for the performances
Devil In A Blue Dress (1995)
Directed by Carl Franklin
Starts with 1948 music “West Side Baby” during opening credits which consists of a montage of images from Archibald John Motley’s painting Bronzeville By Night, which depicts Chicago’s ‘Black Metropolis’ in a blue and red pallet, while T-Bone Walker sings West Side Baby.
Denzel as a young WW2 Vet named Easy Rawlins who recently lost his job
5:05 zoom in after Tom Sizemore’s character’s enters bar with one of those doors from a Western Salon
9:38 close up on liquor glasses followed by money as Easy is making “deal with the devil” accepting money for a gangster to do a job
14:20 inside of Jazz Club several shallow focus shots, relaxed atmosphere
37 min Woman in the Blue Dress makes 1st appearance in the film, dressed in light blue dress smoking a cigarette
41:55 Easy’s reflection in rearview mirror is shown in center of frame surrounded by solid blue
44 min dissolve edit flash back
53:23 nice tracking shot and over the shoulder shot
75 min Woman in the Blue Dress makes 2nd appearance in the film
1:13:02 ridiculous huge gun from Don Cheadle’s character
1:20:44 neon lit signs on street
1:22:08 blue lighting
1:17:35 scene very similar to Chinatown scene “my daughter. My sister”
1:27:14 beautiful silhouette composition with subtle blue lighting
1:28:54 Don Cheadle “if you didn’t want him killed why did you leave him with me?”
The ending might be a little too upbeat for some Noir Aficionados, the director Carl Franklin said that he views the film as social realism as much of the film is about Easy coming to a realization that going into business for himself is the way to get what he desires
Denzel gives a terrific performance as a young WW2 Vet named Easy Rawlins Easy is quite different than the world-weary depiction of noir protagonists like Philip Marlowe
While Easy is not a PI like Philip Marlowe in The Big Sleep (1946) there is common ground as Easy is always playing catch up in the sense that he is trying to solve a case in which everyone around him seems to have information that they are holding back
The color palette is subdued with frequent shades of brown, orange, golds and avoids primary colors which makes the blue dress standout in particular, speaking of which the 37 min build up to her first appearance gives the character a particular mystique and the shot does not disappoint as the camera slowly pans across the hotel room to her smoking a cigarette like any great femme fatale
The violent scenes and fight scenes are far more realistic than most films, less choreographed
Some of the early scenes reminded me of The Long Goodbye (1973) when Marlowe is unfairly arrested and roughed up by the police, the same happens in this film but with obvious racial motives giving what would otherwise feel Kafkaesque
The film is set in 1948 so Easy Rawlins being a black man creates an additional layer to this hard-boiled detective narrative without the film being preachy, with that said the environment is still what you would expect from an excellent noir story