All posts tagged “heists


Heat, Michael Mann (1995)

heat_1995_pic01In my yoot it seemed obvious that cinema auteurs fell into two categories: then (chiefly for me Renoir, Keaton, Murnau, Lang, Wilder, (Anthony) Mann, Fellini, Hitchcock, Godard, Antonioni, etc.) and now (Haynes, Lee, Almodovar, Lynch, Scorsese, Coen, Kar-wai, Haneke, etc.). It’s weird to get old and realize that one of the finest films of my “present” is twenty years old this year.

Speaking of art and time, let me also take a moment to mention the importance of patience. Mann wrote his first treatment of Heat in 1979. Good work takes time to develop, but good work lasts. I saw this first in a second-run movie theater in Houston in 1995 and I saw it again on HBO last night, and it’s lost none of its potency.

Heat is one of the best ten policiers of the second half the twentieth century, which puts it in the company of The Godfather, Chinatown, Touch of Evil, Sunset Boulevard, North by Northwest, and Blade Runner. It is so perfectly paced and edited that despite its length (170 minutes), its grip on the viewer’s attention is never loosened. We are moved inexorably from mood to mood, theme to theme, character to character, as the film’s web of associations, correlations, contradictions, tensions and releases (good guy/bad guy; intimacy/loneliness; coherence/chaos; instinct/cognition; commitment/freedom; etc.) draws ever tighter around us. It is deeply Classical in its symmetries, its pathos, its obsession with timĂȘ. Its final peripety comes in the form of a cell phone call from Jon Voigt. I’d love to watch it with Alexander Pope, sharing a box of Milk Duds.


The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson (2014)

Took me a long time to get through this, as I kept hitting rewind and pause to savor every detail. It must either thrill or horrify Anderson’s designers, the way he has them make these incredibly attractive and intricate sets, many of which appear on screen for about two seconds. (One of Anderson’s strongest comic methods is the quick cut to and away from something absurd or delicious, like a editorial eye-roll.)

I’ve coincidentally been reading a lot of Stefan Zweig in recent months and have written about him below, so I’ll skip that here, except to say that it makes every sense in the world that Anderson too has come under his spell. (I’m pretty confident he must have read The Post Office Girl before working up this script; the Grand Budapest is the spitting image of the crenellated resort hotel in that novel.) Anderson is always up for mourning and celebrating beauty gone to seed, genius under-appreciated, elegance coarsened by modernity’s boring (and/or murderous) efficiencies. So was Zweig. They’re a nice pair.

It’s not my favorite Wes Anderson (I have a longstanding and slightly mysterious, even to me, obsession with submarines, so that’s that), but it is delightful as always, and it even, very uncharacteristically, permits a tiny germ of historical consciousness to creep in, so that pleased me too.