Thursday, August 03, 2006

Miami Vice

I know another review? But since I've been reading a lot about this film, and it seems as though everyone has an opinion I figured I throw in my 2 cents worth. I'll make it brief and to the point. After watching Michael Mann's 2 hour plus opus I had one thought. Interesting story, but sloppy. I know, I know can you do any better? I mean really who the hell am I to say that Michael Mann's film was sloppy? It's just an opinion, and I did go to film school, or at least that's what the diploma says so maybe I know something (just a bit, honest). I was interested in seeing the film because it was shot in HD. Yet Mann did use 35mm, and I know dollars to donuts that I can pick out the shots that are HD, and the ones that were 35mm. (I know freak right).

Now I don't have a problem with HD. Collateral looked great, and it had an interesting feel to the film. I also have to applaud Mann for experimenting on a $135 million dollar film. The man has balls and I like that he pushes the medium. Every filmmaker should do that. Some of the images are truly unique, and really look good. Dion Beebe the director of photography does an astounding job using hard lighting throughout the film. But as I viewed the film I though the film was done entirely in HD. There is a lot of shots that I thought were down right spot on. I thought it looked like film, and there was no difference. Well after coming home I found the latest American Cinematographer magazine waiting for me, and as I skimmed the article I saw that Mann & Beebe had shot 35mm and used Kodaks 500T rawstock as well as some other Kodak stocks known for their high speed. Well that explains the nice shots I saw. Some of the HD scenes seemed underlit, and filled with grain. Also some of the HD shots looked "flat" to me. It's the only way I can describe it. Maybe it was the lens they used or something, but something just didn't sit right with me. Now I was always told to avoid grain. My professor would drill into me that the more you increase the speed of a film by "force developing" the film the bigger the grain would be, and that's something you want to avoid. Yet that's what I saw in the film. Grain the size of "golf balls".

It would be great when the DVD comes out if Mann & Beebe would discuss the photography of the film, and explain the shots. That would be an awesome addition to the DVD, and something that I would seriously want to listen to. Maybe the studio is using HD as a selling point, and that probably would be wise, but honestly some of the photography I thought was sloppy. It's as simple as that. The photography drew attention to itself, and it's something that you don't really want the audience to notice. Some of the scenes looked like outtakes from the TV show "Cops". It added to the realism of the show, but in the end sometimes it distracted me from the film.

As for the rest of the film. I thought the actors were wooden, and sometimes the dialog came fast and furious. I had to think sometimes about where we were, and who are they talking about. Maybe it's me getting older, but I also felt that just maybe it could've been cut shorter. Don't get me wrong I have no problem with long movies, but style over substance happens too often, and Mann is known for his style.

In the end I did enjoy the film, Maybe it was the coolness of the theater, or maybe it was the very sexy looking stars up on the screen, but in the end it was an enjoyable afternoon out.

PS: What really got my interest was a trailer for an upcoming film from Martin Scorsese called "The Departed". Now that excited me.

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