Michael Mann's "Heat"
November 21, 2011 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Although [Michael] Mann has said he was inspired by a true story from Chicago in the late 1960s, the film is no gritty realist number about desperate thievery. Rather, HEAT is a high-gloss creature of its time, utilizing the classic "duel between cop and robber"... to thematize lifestyle issues in the mid-1990s. Specifically I argue that, for all its slickness and emphasis on style and personality, HEAT is a film about work and its increasing personal costs. For the characters in HEAT, work provides excitement* and challenge, but it ultimately excludes any emotional life outside of the demands of the job. *That's the shootout scene
posted by Trurl (108 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Heat" ranks a close second to "Ronin" in the crime caper genre, in my book. Stylistically, it's better than "Ronin" but the story in "Ronin" is better, IMHO.
posted by legweak at 5:24 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Won't someone speak to the sluggish overrated behemoth that is Michael Mann's Heat? Someone?
posted by xmutex at 5:42 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Won't someone speak to the sluggish overrated behemoth that is Michael Mann's Heat?

Feel free to lay out the basics until they get here.
posted by Trurl at 5:44 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Heat is neither sluggish or overrated and it's only a behemoth in the positive sense: a towering crime film that lives up to multiple viewings. It has depth of character, an interesting plot, terrific acting, wonderful cinematography, and a beautiful score. The film is near-perfect and it's unlikely Mann will top it. (Though I'll grant that the Insider is almost as good.)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:47 PM on November 21, 2011 [25 favorites]


Linked video blocked outside US? Well, blocked in Australia anyway...
posted by awfurby at 5:47 PM on November 21, 2011


Won't someone speak to the sluggish overrated behemoth that is Michael Mann's Heat?

Yeah, stop talking, okay, slick?
posted by Senor Cardgage at 5:48 PM on November 21, 2011 [31 favorites]


Spot on.

On a related note, those five hour energy drink commercials make me angry for the same damn reason. We plebes are supposed to work ourselves to death for better bottom lines for the corporate overlords...and now you need to be chemically enhanced just to make ends meet. Fucking bullshit.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:53 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


This video works: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdJAfv9hzk4
posted by awfurby at 5:53 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


a beautiful score

Elliot Goldenthal is the most important film composer at work today.

But potential listeners should note that the official soundtrack's version of the unforgettable music leading into the closing credits - Moby's "God Moving On The Face Of The Water" - is NOT WHAT YOU HEAR IN THE MOVIE. (bitter) For that, you'll need to seek out the version on Moby's compilation of his soundtrack work - the cleverly titled I Like To Score.
posted by Trurl at 5:53 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


In 2008 we discussed the real bank job inspired by that scene.
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:53 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a wonderful film. A long film that earns its running time. Possibly Val Kilmer's last really good performance.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 5:54 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Possibly Val Kilmer's last really good performance.

I think you mean skinny Val Kilmer's last really good performance. He's been fantastic in plenty of later movies.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:56 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Won't someone speak to the sluggish overrated behemoth that is Michael Mann's Heat?

Perhaps you're thinking of every other Michael Mann movie that isn't Heat or The Insider.
posted by tumid dahlia at 5:56 PM on November 21, 2011


If you haven't seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, go and watch it immediately.
posted by Chekhovian at 5:56 PM on November 21, 2011 [14 favorites]


Possibly Val Kilmer's last really good performance.

Spartan.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:57 PM on November 21, 2011 [9 favorites]


I think you mean skinny Val Kilmer's last really good performance. He's been fantastic in plenty of later movies.

He has? I'm not doubting you, I guess I just haven't seen him in anything since Heat where I was particularly impressed. I like Kilmer, so any recommendations would be appreciated.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 6:00 PM on November 21, 2011


Possibly Val Kilmer's last really good performance.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:01 PM on November 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


Spartan.

Ehhhh...I didn't really care for that one.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

All right, that one was OK. You're off the hook, Val!
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 6:02 PM on November 21, 2011


Ehhhh...I didn't really care for that one.

Watch it again. And pay attention this time.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:03 PM on November 21, 2011


uh, The Salton Sea?
posted by mannequito at 6:04 PM on November 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Alexander, anyone?


...just kiddin.
posted by bxyldy at 6:05 PM on November 21, 2011


I was just the other day using Heat in a conversation as an example of how certain movies can propel themselves out of the confines of their genre just by being the pinnacle and exemplar of their genre. Heat transcends crime movies by being the perfect crime movie, in the same way that (IMO) The Searchers transcends by being the perfect western. But, e.g., High Noon is also a perfect western that doesn't transcend the genre at all. That's maybe not the best example, because The Searchers also sort of subverts westerns. Double Indemnity is a perfect film noir, but Sweet Smell of Success surpasses films noir by being the best of them. I feel like Heat does that, too. It uses the rules and boundaries of its genre to tell a greater story, rather than trying to punch through them or avoid them altogether. It accepts that the restrictions are there, defines them gracefully, and then uses those restrictions to craft a story that's much bigger than the walls that confine it. The way they say jazz is about the notes they don't play, movies like these are about the things they know they can't do.
posted by penduluum at 6:05 PM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Oh, and many of you have probably heard about the upcoming HBO series Luck, created and written by David Milch (Deadwood), and produced by Mann with the first episode directed by him. It's got a massive cast of great actors (one being Dustin Hoffman), it's written by a great writer, directed by a great director, and is about horse racing, and holy crap I have never looked forward to anything less than I'm looking forward to this, which is to say not in the slightest. Gamblers hanging around in blue lighting no doubt spouting the same kind of incomprehensible bullshit gibberish that Milch tipped on us with to horrifically shitty John from Cincinnati. FAIL.
posted by tumid dahlia at 6:06 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heat was a remake of a tv movie.
posted by bq at 6:09 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like Kilmer, so any recommendations would be appreciated

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang has Kilmer as a major supporting character. The other suggestions put forth and also quite good.

Man I love me some Bad Lieutenant: NO. Nic Cage does full blown crazy better than anyone else.
posted by Chekhovian at 6:09 PM on November 21, 2011


In 2008 we discussed the real bank job inspired by that scene.

And don't forget the film inspired by the real bank job inspired by that scene.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:11 PM on November 21, 2011


turmid dahlia, have you seen this promo for Luck?

I'm looking forward to it. But then, I loved John From Cincinnati. (Though I think they'll be nothing alike.)
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:12 PM on November 21, 2011


Achilles heel. Deniro romance. No chemistry.

My husband uses the drive-in scene to test our surround sound.
posted by bq at 6:20 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Didn't realize this was out on Blu Ray. Thanks, thread!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:23 PM on November 21, 2011


Won't someone speak to the sluggish overrated behemoth that is Michael Mann's Heat?

Don't know if I'd go that far ... except maybe I would. Overrated speaks to the fact that if it's so damned great, why have I almost completely forgotten the plot? Bank robbers robbing banks, DeNiro + Pacino together at last. Various rivalries and tense situations.

Sluggish -- well, it is pretty darned long as I recall.

Behemoth -- well, that big deal shoot out is pretty darned BIG.

And yes, as a matter of fact, I though Insider was the best movie of its particular year ... and that one with Tom Cruise. Kind of a bloated, behemoth of a resolution but holy shit, Michael Mann sure found the dark heart of Mr. Cruise there. In fact, I'm pretty sure his big deal public meltdown happened right afterward.
posted by philip-random at 6:28 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heat was just a lumpen, turgid remake of L.A. Takedown, a taut, fresh and beautifully shot TV film Mann directed in 1989. Mann had to slim his original screenplay, on which both films were based, for L.A. Takedown and the editing forced him to focus on the story and make an exciting film. Heat left all the tedious subplots in and is further slowed by its ageing superstars whose VERY IMPORTANT ACTING just gets in the way of the story.
posted by joannemullen at 6:28 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


As I approach 15+ incomplete viewings (this for me is one of those "It's on, must watch" flicks) I find myself getting obsessed with Waingro. He represents this pure evil I'm not sure is necessary, but binds the film together in a really interesting way. His disruption--early and late--could be put on any of the other members of the crew by human error, but in that they're committed by this evil murderous guy they're galvanizing and reinforce the view that neither side is particularly right or wrong.

Also, the IMFDB page for Heat's guns is excellent.
posted by paryshnikov at 6:31 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


My husband uses the drive-in scene to test our surround sound.

The drive in? I'd heard of the armored car job at the beginning used by professionals to calibrate home theaters (the whomp, followed by the shattering of the cars in the lot, is evidently perfect for such things).

I love Heat. 95 was a sublime year for films, as long as you don't count any of the ones actually nominated for Best Picture. As for its length, to me, its perfect. Every character is a real person, and their stories matter. As the movie goes on, though, the larger Pacino/DeNiro conflict comes to the fore, and we never see what happens to Kilmer, or Portman, or anyone else. I love that the loose ends were left loose. I love that DeNiro's love interest is left sitting in a car, engine running, with a giant duffle bag full of cash.

There are no wasted moments in the film, and just as equally, enough was left out (of a three hour movie, no less) to make what's missing just as compelling as what was present. If there is a weak point, I'd honestly say it was Pacino doing his PACINO THING WHERE HE GETS REALLY LOUD. (In all fairness, she probably did HAVE A GRRRREEAAAATTTT ASS)

Also, I've heard tell, possibly here, that Kilmer's method of reloading his gun in the bank heist was so well done that it's actually used in training courses for using firearms. Not sure if it's true, but it sounds like it'd fit the movie.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:34 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Achilles heel. Deniro romance. No chemistry.

Man, I don't know what movie you were watching. There's all kinds of chemistry between DeNiro and Pacino.
posted by box at 6:34 PM on November 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


yeah, like that subplot where they cook meth out in the desert.
posted by mannequito at 6:35 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


BTW, maybe Im just looking back thru rosy glasses but aside from the cell phones and computers, this flick hasn't aged badly at all.

You could release it tomorrow and it would still look fresh.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 6:36 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kilmer's method of reloading his gun in the bank heist was so well done that it's actually used in training courses for using firearms

All of Mann's films are distinguished by their realism with respect to guns.

James Caan's room clearing at the climax of Thief is as textbook as Kilmer's work here.
posted by Trurl at 6:40 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


MANHUNTER!!

also, Collateral and Miami Vice (the movie, aside from Jamie Fox's ham-ery) are underrated. and The Insider has only suggestions of possible violence, but damn if it isn't riveting.
posted by ninjew at 6:44 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


also, can we discuss what the hell was going on with Val Kilmer's elbow in Heat? especially the scene where he's sleeping off that fight with Ashley Judd on Deniro's floor.
posted by ninjew at 6:48 PM on November 21, 2011


How to ruin Heat for a fan:
- watch the movie patiently until the part where Val Kilmer buys explosives
- point out his ginormous elbow.

How to exact revenge if someone ruins Heat for you as above:
- calmly say: "chikety China, the Chinese chicken"
- walk out in 30 seconds flat, cause the heat is comin' round the corner.
posted by herrdoktor at 6:52 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dammit. Too late!
Anyway, it looks like bursitis.
posted by herrdoktor at 6:54 PM on November 21, 2011


you have a drumstick and your... Dammit!

I WILL DESTROY YOU!!!
posted by Grimgrin at 7:01 PM on November 21, 2011


also, can we discuss what the hell was going on with Val Kilmer's elbow in Heat?

According to the excellent imfdb page paryshnikov linked to above, it's a bruise from a stunt that went wrong during the filming of The Doors. But The Doorswas released in 1991 or thereabouts, so I'm not sure how that's possible.
posted by lord_wolf at 7:10 PM on November 21, 2011


I love Heat and it's one of my all-time favorite movies. (For me, the action is the juice.) That said, it does have a couple of flaws:

1) The Waingro serial-killer-of-prostitutes subplot is completely unnecessary and over-the-top (swastika tattoo*).

2) Diane Venora's ridiculous, thesaurus-for-breakfast dialogue:
You don't live with me, you live among the remains of dead people. You sift through the detritus, you read the terrain, you search for signs of passing, for the scent of your prey, and then you hunt them down. That's the only thing you're committed to. The rest is the mess you leave as you pass through.
People don't talk like that. Not even English majors do. (I should know, I was an English major.)

* I know, he's "got a lot of jailhouse tats" and the tattoo most likely represents the Aryan Brotherhood. Storywise, we just don't need him murdering an unarmed security guard, and killing a prostitute, and swastika tattoo.

also, can we discuss what the hell was going on with Val Kilmer's elbow in Heat?

Asked and answered. (He broke his arm filming The Doors.)
posted by kirkaracha at 7:11 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


If you haven't seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, go and watch it immediately.

Indeed. As much as I like Elmore Leonard's stories, they seem to have become the go-to format and a 'safe' bet for studios for too many 'heist/crime with a bit of fun' movies. It's quite a good attempt at bringing Hammett-style crime noir into the 21st century with a bit of tongue-in-cheek dark humor. I wish it would have spawned more in the same style. It's weird that a good number of the jokes in noir films like The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon are delivered so quickly and deadpan that often they are missed, like the 'crippled newsie' joke in Maltese Falcon, for example.

Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang makes "Gay" Perry van Shrike one of the best supporting characters I've seen in years. It's a role that requires more than a character actor can deliver to pull it off right and not seem like a parody or joke. It's a character that's has a story and persona big enough for his own film, yet doesn't dominate the one we get to see, and it does nothing but help adding to the atmosphere of his character's role and motives.

It's a rare treat, and I wish there was more of that kind made these days.
posted by chambers at 7:20 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I kinda took Venora's character's lines as being the product of a mind that's thought a lot about a lot of different things, including her relationship with Pacino's character, her psych issues as alluded to by the ingestion of her medication, and, well, practice. A speech she's rehearsed over and over in her head.
posted by herrdoktor at 7:20 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that shootout scene is classic.

I love how in the DVD extra features, in the "making of" documentary, they interview a marine that says he would show that to his marine trainees and tell them they better be able to change the clip on an AK-47 as fast as Val Kilmer does in that scene.

It's at 6:26, and you can time him--three seconds flat. He's locked and loaded at 6:29. And those are live rounds I believe--blanks of course.

Classic.
posted by stevenstevo at 7:29 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


One small bit of excellence is the blocking of the scene where the crew meets up in the diner after the armored car robbery. Waingro is always being hemmed in the booth by one of the other gang members. First he's hemmed in by Trejo. Then Trejo excuses himself to line the car trunk with plastic go to the bathroom, and Cheritto (Tom Sizemore), changes seats to keep Waingro boxed in. Then McCauley (Robert De Niro) comes in and takes the seat in the booth next to Waingro that Trejo vacated, and Cheritto goes back to his original seat. Great stuff.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:39 PM on November 21, 2011


GIMME ALL YOU GOT!!
posted by schoolgirl report at 7:41 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


HEAT is a film about work and its increasing personal costs.

Surely this true of almost every Mann film going back to Thief and at least up through Collateral? (Last of the Mohicans being the exception.)
posted by Rangeboy at 7:42 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's an Internet Movies FIREARMS Database?!?!?!
posted by thescientificmethhead at 7:55 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Seconding the Manhunter callout. That movie is so good on so many levels. Mann is a genius of the cinema, and isn't celebrated nearly often enough. (The Last Of The Mohicans is a breathtaking visual spectacle with a use of color which nearly rivals that of Manhunter.)
posted by hippybear at 7:55 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sure, Manhunter is fantastic. Brian Cox's performance as Lecter is arguably better than Hopkins'. [And how fucking great is William L. Petersen in that scene?]

But Thief is even better. The big safe heist is the equal of any Mann's great set pieces. And in the diner scene, it has from James Caan the single greatest performance I have even seen from an American actor.
posted by Trurl at 8:05 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


GIMME ALL YOU GOT!!

schoolgirl report, it only works if you yell it twice.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:16 PM on November 21, 2011


the 80s were kinda great
posted by ninjew at 8:17 PM on November 21, 2011


If nothing else, Moby's "God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters" film edit is really nice. My parents even think it sounds nice, and they're skeptical of the weird electronic I usually play.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:24 PM on November 21, 2011


Mann's series "Crime story" was spectacular, especially in the second season, when it moved to Las Vegas and lost its mind.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:48 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Perhaps you're thinking of every other Michael Mann movie that isn't Heat or The Insider.

You are wrong.

But Thief is even better. The big safe heist is the equal of any Mann's great set pieces. And in the diner scene , it has from James Caan the single greatest performance I have even seen from an American actor.

That is why.

/fake serious

Also? The Tangerine Dream score holds up way, way better than it has any right to.
posted by Amanojaku at 8:58 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked Robbery Homicide Division, starring Heat star Tom Sizemore. It was essentially 'Heat' the TV series, only more focused on the cops than the robbers. And also probably short-lived due to Tom Sizemore.

And no one has mentioned Public Enemies yet, which I also enjoyed. I thought it was really cool to see the set every day during the summer when it was filming. I never hung out to watch the action, but to see the entire street returned to the 30s was really something special. I do remember coming home sometimes and seeing enormous crowds of people at night with the set lights on during filming.
posted by ninjew at 9:12 PM on November 21, 2011


I love Heat, but I can see why some would find it "sluggish." It's long and it moves in many different directions, arguably too many, and it doesn't always move fast. In some respects it's like Meet Joe Black, which I also love but which might also seem sluggish. Heat is a movie that I have to be in the mood to watch. It's not an anytime film that I can throw on in the background or just start watching randomly in the middle, like The Score.

The first link says, "Three action sequences structure the film," which I disagree with. Those scenes aren't the skeleton, and I don't think you can extract any kind of meaningful analysis about the film just by considering them. That's sort of what the aforementioned criticism gets at. There's a lot going on in Heat.

People don't talk like that. Not even English majors do.

Speaking as a David Mamet fan, that's not a negative for me. I don't want to hear "how people talk," if I'm buying a ticket to see a script that somebody wrote. I want to hear better.
posted by cribcage at 9:23 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Despite all the drug and legal issues going on with him, Sizemore was excellent in the The Last Lullaby, from 2008, as a hit-man who falls in love with his would-be target (Sasha Alexander). Should have won wide release, instead of showing mostly before festival audiences. (Something is horribly amiss with the imdb rating, but the user reviews are almost uniformly glowing.)
posted by raysmj at 9:25 PM on November 21, 2011


While watching the movie in the theater, during the shoot-out, my girlfriend whispered "is it over soon?"

If I remember correctly, we broke up later that night.
posted by weirdoactor at 9:28 PM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sure, Manhunter is fantastic.

Manhunter was stupid. 2 hours of "Get inside the killers head" hocus pocus "profiling" that gets innocent people killed and doesn't actually help find the guy.

No, they find him by doing actual detective work and reading the film canister labels that were in front of them the whole time.

Gah.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:52 PM on November 21, 2011


There's an Internet Movies FIREARMS Database?!?!?!

It's some good info though, although there are some places I have to question it's accuracy, and weigh that against the availability of, or amount the filmmakers are concerned with realistic accuracy, in the choices of prop guns in the movies.

Take The Manchurian Candidate, for example. Pretty decent listing, with stills from the film and such, but it is not exactly accurate.

The first entry is for an M1 Carbine, when the M2 was in the field as early as 1945, and kits were distributed to convert existing M1s to M2s, so by the Korean war, the were a few M1s still in circulation, but considering attitudes at the time in regards to weak penetrating power and the need to use as many bullets as needed to take down a target, and Marco's character, odds are that Marco's gun was an M2.

The silenced revolver. Ach. I should start a page that just lists movies that ignore the fact that other than about 4 models of revolvers have been made in the last 125 years. I always thought of The Manchurian Candidate as one of the few movies to do it right. It looks to me that it actually is a Nagat M1895, one of those four. It was used by Soviet countries, and since it was given to him by a Soviet spy ring, it was a nice touch of authenticity by John Frankenheimer. This page says it's a Colt Official Police revolver. Bah, totally wrong. But if it actually is a prop cop gun because that was 'close enough' or the whole silenced revolver question never came up, well, I guess I expected too much. It's just a film.

It may not seem like a big deal, but that was always as much of a pet peeve of mine as how movies show 'hackers' doing 'hacking' things - I get why they do it, but it's as distracting as seeing someone make breakfast by putting ketchup in a toaster, and pull hot, fully cooked bacon out of the sink drain, all while a laser light show is going on around them, and then BAM - a complete, perfectly presented breakfast of eggs, juice, coffee, hash browns, and toast. After all that confusion, instead of thinking about how nice the breakfast is, or how good a cook they were, you're thinking, 'but...but...where's the bacon?' And that, my friends, is what gets me all irritated and puts me on rants like this. It's not about being a 'gun nut', it's about keeping things accurate or at least close enough to see that at least they tried to be.

To bring all this back home, I can at least trust crime movies, and the more serious heist films, to value the 'correctness' of weapon choice because at least the choice of one specific weapon over others has at least a small part of the story. Heat does pretty well with that AK load sequence, and IIRC, tries its best to keep the clip loads right and rounds from specific guns behaving like they are supposed to.
posted by chambers at 9:56 PM on November 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ach, it's not an AK, its an Colt M733. A bit of poetic justice for me getting all worked up and pontificating too much.
posted by chambers at 10:10 PM on November 21, 2011


Heat features Tom Noonan, who played The Tooth Fairy in Manhunter, and Ted Levine, who played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs.

Won't someone speak to the sluggish overrated behemoth that is Michael Mann's Heat? Someone?

I just ordered Heat on Blu-Ray specifically to spite you. I know that makes me a petty person, but I can live with it.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:15 PM on November 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Heat" ranks a close second to "Ronin" in the crime caper genre, in my book. Stylistically, it's better than "Ronin" but the story in "Ronin" is better, IMHO.

I'm not sure I've watched Heat all the way through, but I love me some Ronin.
I just wish someone would "Phantom Edit" it to take out that 3 seconds that always jars me right out of the suspension of disbelief.
posted by madajb at 10:50 PM on November 21, 2011


Ted Levine, who played Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs

And the avuncular Capt. Leland Stottlemeyer on "Monk."
posted by raysmj at 10:51 PM on November 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


While watching the movie in the theater, during the shoot-out, my girlfriend whispered "is it over soon?"

If I remember correctly, we broke up later that night.


Heat has some odd sedative effect on girls. Neither I nor my friend have ever been able to get a girlfriend to stay awake all the way through it.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:11 PM on November 21, 2011


He has? I'm not doubting you, I guess I just haven't seen him in anything since Heat where I was particularly impressed.

I really, really enjoyed him in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. The film as a whole seems horribly under-rated to me, but I guess the tongue-in-cheek, gay hitman, font wonkery maybe limits the audience. Kilmer's performance is, in and of itself, really good, but it's also one of the best gay characters I've seen outside of gay cinema.

Anyway, the thing I love most about Heat is that the central conciet is undercutting the bullshit-tough-guy-pro of McCauley. He's set up as a consumate pro, master of his trade, and that whole "walk away" schtick echoes so many similar adoring characterisations of bad guys in films.

But at the end of the day... he can't. Chris can walk away, because his wife, who he actually does love enough to risk getting caught for, even though he screws around, tells him to walk away (I kind of hope they meet up again at a safe point). But McCauley? McCauley will walk away from his girl. He'll walk away from his friends. But he can't walk away from his need to be Mr Kick Arse Tough Guy, to get Waingro and prove you can't fuck with McCauley.

Sluggish -- well, it is pretty darned long as I recall.

Boredom interspersed with terror. Which is what they say war and police work is really like.

People don't talk like that. Not even English majors do. (I should know, I was an English major.)

My 4 year old and her best mate were roughhousing with me, then I went to get lunch. She came into the kitchen, looked up to me and said, "Daddy, we have come to reason with you." A few weeks later she explained that "It would be appreciated if your work would let you take a holiday."

I do not find such dialogue unbelievable.
posted by rodgerd at 11:26 PM on November 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Possibly Henry Rollins' last really good performance.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:34 PM on November 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah I am going with sluggish. I like Thief better. In terms of caper movies I am going with 1974 Thomas Crown Affair, The Sting, Rififf and in terms of style the 1960 Ocean's 11 and the 1969 The Italian Job.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:36 PM on November 21, 2011


Speaking of Mammet and the word Homicide. Remember Mammet's Homicide with Joe Montegna? I think that movie is pretty overlooked.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:48 PM on November 21, 2011


The diner scene in Thief is, I think, the greatest single moment in any movie ever. Every single one of Tuesday Weld's lines is just perfect, and Caan is so understated and believable.

Also, Heat is the best movie I've ever seen, hands down. It is a literally perfect movie. I can understand why someone might say it's too long, or has too many plots, but I don't think that any of those things are actually unnecessary.
posted by cthuljew at 12:20 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I absolutely loved Tuesday Weld's diner scene in Thief.

It's just the kind of movie I like. It's about characters, in the real world, and it just lets you get to know them. (And yes, I do think Michael Mann is horribly underrated as a director...)
posted by destinyland at 12:27 AM on November 22, 2011


Love love love Heat; it's one of those movies that stands up to multiple viewings, pulls you back in.

But two details always spoil it a bit - the way Kilmer gets away so easily when he gets stopped by an LAPD patrol car [after being waved away by his wife - c'mon they wouldn't have a picture?] and the role of Natye [J. Voight]. Not only does he seem to be able just to magic up too much intel and bank-robbery-goodness, but the fact that McCauley would put so much trust in him doesn't ring true with the whole 'Walk away in two minutes' theme.
posted by rudster at 12:36 AM on November 22, 2011


I can't believe that this thread got this far without the obligatory link to Pacino De Niro (SLYT)
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:08 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks a lot, I just watched Thief on youtube. I think it was pretty great up until the end scene, maybe that was supposed to be cathartic but just seemed kind of, dunno, unimaginative.
posted by maxwelton at 1:17 AM on November 22, 2011


madajb: Which three seconds?
posted by MarchHare at 2:38 AM on November 22, 2011


Best bank robbery scene ever.
posted by melt away at 2:40 AM on November 22, 2011


Honestly, Ronin has always left me cold. It's like someone forgot to put a plot into the car chases. The big reveal is sort of boring, really, since I haven't invested enough in any of the (stereotypical) characters to care, and my lord, the only way they could have shown how deeply unimportant the contents of the case were to the plot would be to spraypaint the word macguffin on it and load it full of unobtanium.

Heat? Cash needs no explanation. I've got the day off tomorrow, and this thread just told me what I'll be doing while I prep thanksgiving dinner.

And yeah, Henry Rollins was awesome. Everyone in the movie was. Hell, even Jeremy Piven was pretty great.

My favorite part, though, and something that only resonated with me when I rewatched it years later, was Val Kilmer's face when DeNiro is carrying him after he's been shot. See, at the time, I was recovering from a staph infection to the incision for my herniated disc surgery, and I was on a ton of drugs, and in a ton of pain. The look on Kilmer's face, the lips peeled back a bit, sheen of sweat? That's what I saw when I looked in the mirror. Just in a fraction of a scene, he perfectly expressed absolutely fucking agony, without any kind of playing it up. Similarly, the split second switch from smiling as he's about to get into the car, to when he sees the cop, to opening fire? Awesome physical acting. I miss Val. I really do.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:17 AM on November 22, 2011 [5 favorites]


Honestly, Ronin has always left me cold. It's like someone forgot to put a plot into the car chases. The big reveal is sort of boring, really, since I haven't invested enough in any of the (stereotypical) characters to care, and my lord, the only way they could have shown how deeply unimportant the contents of the case were to the plot would be to spraypaint the word macguffin on it and load it full of unobtanium

Wasn't that the point? Seriously, that's exactly the biggest pleasure I got from the movie - I thought it was like a series of stunning sequences that were ultimately hollow, just like the job.
posted by mannequito at 3:37 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've heard that there's been some re-edits for the BR release of Heat, but haven't been able to get much more info. Also, the two-disc DVD has an interview with Mann in which he talks about Pacino's character, and mentions that he has a drug problem (coke? Can't remember), which accounts for his, well, Pacino-esque performance, but that all the scenes which hinted at this ended up being cut. Having said that, I could have sworn I saw him putting something that looked like a pipe in his pocket as he leaves his car on his way to the club to meet Tone Lōc. If anyone wants to confirm that…
posted by urschrei at 4:56 AM on November 22, 2011



Sort of obligatory to this thread - youtube vid consisting of video from Heat, snippets of dialogue from the movie, and background music by DJ Shadow. The video and music syncs up very nicely especially during the shootout scenes.
posted by fizzix at 5:10 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heat has some odd sedative effect on girls.

Well, I am technically a "girl" (albeit a full-grown one), and I freaking LOVE Heat. But then I also love Ronin and The French Connection and Thief and Heist and Manhunter (William Petersen FTW) and Collateral (which made me actually respect Tom Cruise as an actor for the first time ever) and lots of other similar movies.

Heat is brilliant, but I can see why it is not to everyone's tastes. It's an odd mix of a moody, emotional atmosphere piece (the stress gradually rises as the movie progresses, which is largely due to the masterful editing and pacing), an action flick police procedural, and a character study. You have to just go along for the ride and not try to pigeonhole it, and you have to be in the mood. The casting is incredible, one of those magic cases where everyone collectively pulls each other up to the next skill level. Lots of lovely subtle non-verbal acting, and even the bombastic performances like Pacino's are very clevely modulated. It's a masterpiece.
posted by biscotti at 5:38 AM on November 22, 2011 [6 favorites]


the role of Natye [J. Voight]. Not only does he seem to be able just to magic up too much intel and bank-robbery-goodness, but the fact that McCauley would put so much trust in him doesn't ring true with the whole 'Walk away in two minutes' theme.

You're remembering it wrong. Nate does not have anything to do with the bank robbery intel (it comes from Kelso, Tom Noonan's character), someone it's clear McCauley has known a while and is one of Nate's other thieves. And the reason he would trust Nate (who tells him Kelso has the job), is because he literally just completed a job Nate put him on to (the bonds).

The "flaw" in Heat happens early: Waingro. There's no way in hell he would be on the detail as he's an unknown who probably has a history of "thrill-seeker liquor store holdups with a "Born to Lose" tattoo on his chest". Of course, Mann knows that he has to get that over quick so it's in the first five minutes, before we know that the guys are so skilled that they would never let them into their fold.

And someone mentioned above that they thought the Waingro serial killer subplot was unnecessary. I don't think so. Its purpose is this, to me: once Waingro is taken out of the picture that crime chain goes cold. This happens a lot. Police have no way of connecting him to the murder so have no way that serial killer is no longer on the loose. It's the case with many serial killers. The murders just stop and the police never know if the guy is dead, in prison on another beef, or just "got better" and stopped... and whether or not he'll return. I actually liked that aspect of Heat and that it was not overt.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:39 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The second link, though overlong and underproofread, is particularly insightful. Nice post.
posted by HeroZero at 6:23 AM on November 22, 2011


Michael Mann fans may also be interested in Matthew Zoller Seitz's monster five-part essay "Zen Pulp", on Museum Of The Moving Image. It's fantastic.
posted by urschrei at 6:51 AM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


And don't forget the film inspired by the real bank job inspired by that scene.

Just to complete the meta circle, and because I'm pedantic that way, here's a contemporary news account of the grocery store job in Chicago that was the basis for the original story -- down to using the real name of the heist leader, a hard case who'd done time in Alcatraz. The cop on the case was Chuck Adamson.
I wonder what part of Wisconsin McCauley was from. There's a few of them around here.
posted by dhartung at 7:11 AM on November 22, 2011


YSSTOG, in my book, putting McCauley onto Kelso clearly is just the sort of example of providing intel I was referring to, and that's not the only sort of intel he provided - consider the info on the PD or Waynegro, or on van Zant.

On the one hand, Nate has all these contacts, is super well connected and can access all this information, on top of new passports, driver's licences, airplane tix, etc. Yet on the other hand he is super low key or far off the radar. He can access all these players, with himself showing up as a player to them - that doesn't wash.

I see a more realistic depiction of this in the relationship between Omar and Butchie in "The Wire," where Butchie tries to be as low key as he can, but ultimately remains susceptible because his close relationship to Omar. Indeed, one can wonder whether his torture at the hands of Chris is the price he has to pay for using his contacts and setting up arbitrage between Omar and the Barksdales.
posted by rudster at 7:50 AM on November 22, 2011


This is a brilliant film that I watch every six months or so.

This is a GREAT POST.... and I've got my head.... ALL THE WAY UP IT!!!!!!
posted by porn in the woods at 8:28 AM on November 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


> a beautiful score Elliot Goldenthal is the most important film composer at work today.

Don't forget that Brian Eno also worked on the soundtrack to Heat.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 AM on November 22, 2011


madajb: Which three seconds?

At the end of the Paris chase, which is excellent, as the car drive by Dierdre crashes, there is some really obvious greenscreening/pneumatic ram action going on. It always makes me cringe because the rest of the chase is pretty seamless.
You can see it here, around 7:07
posted by madajb at 8:51 AM on November 22, 2011


I've tried several times, but I've never been able to get to the end of Heat. Finally looked it up on wiki to see how it came out. I think everything about the movie is great except for the fact that it's too effing long.

I absolutely loved Ronin, though. And that one suffers from the same 'flaws' in pacing. Hmm.
posted by zomg at 9:38 AM on November 22, 2011


The worst thing about Ronin, for me, was the digital smoke added in the car chases. It looks fake, and one of the reasons is they have front-wheel drive cars smoking up their back tyres under acceleration. For something that tries for an air of authenticity, it just kills it.
posted by rodgerd at 9:44 AM on November 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


Put me in the leaning-meh camp on Heat. Whatever its virtues, it's too damn long. I just can't find a way to like it, other than appreciating the cinematography and action staging, and even the acting feels overdone for a script that -- after all -- was a TV movie. Mainly I just feel that it takes itself too seriously, a nicely-done cops-and-robbers film is an achievement, but it seems to be straining for operatic significance, whereas I can't see much new that it brings to the surface.

As to Ronin, it works for me. Boy, madajb, of all the ridiculous and unbelievable chase cliches in that sequence, which are largely forgiven because a) well staged, b) well edited, c) it's freaking Paris, that one shot -- to get the stars in the gag (stunt) -- is hardly objectionable. Funny what people focus on (I should know, I take them apart in my head as I'm watching them). What's good about that scene is the psychological tension between Deirdre and Sam.

The briefcase Maguffin, too, seems so right for that film's theme, of the ex-agents sprung loose by the Cold War, no longer really knowing what they're fighting for.
posted by dhartung at 10:42 AM on November 22, 2011


I'm always a little surprised by how much people like Ronin. And it's always people whose opinions I really respect, so I assume it's something wrong with me and not them. I don't know. Different strokes for different folks, but if you want to talk about a sluggish, flabby, characterless crime movie, that's the one I think of.
posted by penduluum at 11:04 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh and hey, while we're talking about tactically realistic firearm action in Michael Mann movies, can I recommend an example from a TV show?

This Mozambique drill from Miami Vice is probably the best example of what it would look like for a criminal who's a trained shooter to really shoot somebody that I can recall seeing. Guy in the clip is former shooting competition champ Jim Zubiena. I've never fired a gun in my life and never want to, but it's always fascinating to see an expert at work. Here's another version with notes on why it's so great.
posted by penduluum at 11:25 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


This Mozambique drill from Miami Vice is probably the best example of what it would look like for a criminal who's a trained shooter to really shoot somebody that I can recall seeing.

Don't forget the briefcase scene at the beginning of Collateral. According to the aforementioned IMFDB:

In the script, the goal of this confrontation was to be 5 shots in 1.6 seconds. Tom Cruise clocked in at 1.39 seconds, beating the script.
posted by Rangeboy at 12:26 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


> This Mozambique drill from Miami Vice is probably the best example of what it would look like for a criminal who's a trained shooter to really shoot somebody that I can recall seeing.

But he just tossed those latex gloves down at the crime scene! He touched the outside of them before putting them on, and it's very possible to get a good print from the inside as well.

I know your point was more his shooting technique and not the overall criminal competency, but still!
posted by Burhanistan at 12:28 PM on November 22, 2011


Boy, madajb, of all the ridiculous and unbelievable chase cliches in that sequence, which are largely forgiven because a) well staged, b) well edited, c) it's freaking Paris, that one shot -- to get the stars in the gag (stunt) -- is hardly objectionable.

Oh, yeah, I know. At one point, I'm pretty sure they run through a fruit cart.

It's just that it's so _badly_ done. The color of the sky doesn't even match!
On the other hand, I never even noticed rear-wheel smoke from front-wheel cars, so who am I to judge? heh.
posted by madajb at 12:52 PM on November 22, 2011


But he just tossed those latex gloves down at the crime scene!

So Googling the dude's name led me to this fascinating (if quite pink) webpage, where he explains that too:

This episode transpired way before the DNA, forensic brilliance, etc. so the prints and DNA in the gloves where not relative at the time.

Not the best answer in the world, it's true. But I think it had more to do with the other thing he says about unloading and dumping the gun -- it allowed him to immediately blend in and appear to be another employee.

Also, I love that Collateral scene too but if bad guy #2 isn't so slow drawing his weapon I think he gets at least one shot off. Great movie too, Collateral.
posted by penduluum at 1:36 PM on November 22, 2011


I freaking LOVE Heat. But then I also love Ronin and The French Connection and Thief and Heist and Manhunter (William Petersen FTW) and Collateral (which made me actually respect Tom Cruise as an actor for the first time ever) and lots of other similar movies.

I feel like you're exactly the person I should recommend Drive to, if you haven't seen it yet.
posted by Amanojaku at 1:46 PM on November 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Possibly Henry Rollins' last really good performance

I like Henry Rollins. Really.

Still, I find something very satisfying about seeing him hurled backward through a plate glass window.

(Nth-ing Drive. Bring toothpicks.)
posted by Trurl at 5:08 PM on November 22, 2011


I like Ronin, but want to like it more. It loses me when they go to Paris for the skating competition...the plot seems to get a bit goofier (the realization when they look at the poster, the "high school friend" security guard) and a lot looser.

I had been in Nice not long before the movie came out, and it was great to recognize a lot of the streets where the car chases took place.

Also, ambushing someone with a cup of coffee. :)
posted by Sand at 6:06 PM on November 22, 2011


Ronin is also notable because [SPOILER] Sean Bean manages to not die in it.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:15 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


True, but he's humiliated so badly he probably spent a few minutes wishing he was dead.
posted by rodgerd at 12:31 AM on November 23, 2011


So I took a gamble of the Drive reommendation and was, indeed, pleased with how good it is.
posted by rodgerd at 10:54 AM on November 25, 2011


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