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*** Official "PUBLIC ENEMIES" Review Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Chuck Mayer, Jul 1, 2009.

  1. Chuck Mayer

    Chuck Mayer Well-Known Member

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    My most anticipated film of the summer. Michael Mann making a period crime drama starring Marion Cotillard, Christian Bale, and Johnny Depp, along with a murderer's row of character actors and behind the camera talent.

    It is what you would expect of such a cast, crew, and material. Like recent Mann films, it is somewhat minimal, declining to do the obligatory summer film hand-holding for the audience. It is absolutely beautiful to look at. While some will bemoan the digital camera usage, Spinotti weaves his magic. There are some jaw-dropping shots. They aren't particularly showy (a few of them are), but they are strong and unique and meaningful. I don't feel the digital photography diminished the period film in the least. It gave it a nice immediacy, as did the frequent close-ups.

    The script and story are good, not great. There is some exceptional dialogue, and I loved the scenes between Cotillard and Depp. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent. Bale performs quite well, though his character doesn't have a lot going on. Mann's camera loves him. But not as much as it loves Depp. Some have criticized this portrayal of Dillinger as being at an arm's distance. I don't agree. I think they chose to portray Dillinger in this enigmatic manner specifically because he is not a simple type. There is a lot going on, but it goes on beneath the surface. Cotillard gives a very strong supporting roles without a lot of screentime

    You are going to have to work pretty hard to mine some of the themes, but the film is worth it. It is not perfect, and has a few lulls. I am willing to bet it repays repeat viewings, as Mann films always seem to do. I could sit here and praise it all day, but if you like previous Mann films, this is worth a view. Elliot Goldenthal provides an exceptional score, and the sound work is incredible. Loved the tommy gun battles for that.

    As always, exceptional execution. I did notice Nathan Crowley was the Production Designer, so his Nolan gig (also using Chicago) paid off. Mann does for Chicago what he had previously done for Miami and LA.

    Can't wait to see it again!


    9/10,
    Chuck
     
  2. BrettGallman

    BrettGallman Well-Known Member

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    Chuck, I also noticed that the script doesn't give Bale's character much to do. I found this surprising considering that Mann has often played up the dichotomy of both the "good guys" and the "bad buys" in many of his crime dramas by revealing what makes each side tick. Do you think perhaps he purposely keeps us at a distance from Purvis so that we sympathize with Dillinger more, perhaps in an attempt to help us understand how the general public of his day perceived him as an enigma?

    That said, I thought this was brilliant. I'm sure it'll only get better with repeat viewings. For example, I really liked Miami Vice a lot after seeing it in theaters, but it's grown to be one of my favorite films from the past few years upon repeat viewings.
     
  3. TravisR

    TravisR Well-Known Member

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    I caught Public Enemies this morning and it's very good. I was a little leery of Michael Mann's handheld DV-style being too anachronistic for a movie set in the 1930's but it works fine. From seeing documentaries on The History Channel, I was familiar with the basics of John Dillinger's life but the movie was still pretty suspenseful eventhough I knew the broad strokes of the plot. Overall, I was just happy to see a 'summer movie' that was well made, well acted, interesting, literate, that doesn't have wall to wall obvious product placement, that isn't mindlessly directed and edited, that isn't a soulless product that exists just to sell toys or that doesn't dumb itself down to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    As for its box office prospects, the theater I saw it in had a relatively good sized crowd for a Thursday morning. I'm not saying that it'll give Transformers 2 a run for the money this weekend but I think it'll do OK.
     
  4. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Well-Known Member

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    I went to see "Public Enemies" last night, and was extremely disappointed. The movie dragged at a snail's pace. The characters were not particularly interesting. You never really learn anything about John Dillinger that you can't get off a quick read on Wikipedia. And I HATED -- HATED the HD Video approach to the film. HD CAN look like film. This movie looked like video. At times -- too many times -- I felt like I was watching "Superboy" from the early '90s. It just made the entire film look cheap. Cheap and extremely BORING. Too bad, because I LOVE Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now the Official Review Thread for "Public Enemies". Please post all HTF member reviews in this thread.

    Any other comments, links to other reviews, or discussion items will be deleted from this thread without warning!

    If you need to discuss those type of issues then I have designated an
    Official Discussion Thread.



    Crawdaddy


    Edited by Robert Crawford - 7/2/2009 at 09:21 pm GMT
     
  6. Chris Atkins

    Chris Atkins Well-Known Member

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    9.5/10

    Michael Mann does not disappoint with this film. After reading some of the reviews (elsewhere) I was a little worried, but I had nothing to worry about: this one nicely takes its place in Mann's repertoire.

    I really, REALLY loved the video look to this film. Sure, it's possible to make video look like film, and this one sure did look like video at times, but it enhanced the documentary, "you are there" feel to this film, and helped Mann deconstruct the romanticism around John Dillinger. As a result, I felt much more of a connection to Dillinger the man rather than Dillinger the legend.

    Two parts of this film stand head and shoulders above the rest: the shootout in Wisconsin and the last 15-20 minutes. Both are executed superbly and really connected on an emotional level.

    Depp and Bale are both great. In fact the latter may not be getting quite enough credit because his character was written as a bit of a bore. But there are little moments where you can see Purvis maybe questioning the way they are handling the investigation, and Bale is able to pull that off really well.

    If you love Michael Mann, you will love this film. If you want to see a smart movie in the summer, you will love this movie. Highly recommended.
     
  7. Chad R

    Chad R Well-Known Member

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    I would classify it as good not great. I really feel Mann missed a few beats here and there to really cement the time period. He didn't give proper context to the time period or any of the repercussions of events. It was very workmanlike in its style, which I can appreciate Mann wasn't trying to over-dramatize events, and I think that was a wise choice (for reasons I'll get to in a minute), but some scenes involving some people or a character outside of the events portrayed to give the events context would have been welcome.

    That said, I did enjoy how he left most of the character development up to the actors performance. He allowed for subtle performances that don't on the surface look real showy, but upon reflection so much of the story is told on the face of the actors. Christian Bale has been called out for being stoic in this, but if you really watch there's a lot of moral conflict going on in those eyes. Marion Cotillard similarly does the same with her smile. You do really feel her internal mechanisms playing out there. And Johnny Depp has a lot of fun as Dillinger. He's given a few scenes to show bravado, but his best moments are the smaller ones. I really liked how these actors were allowed to be human, but still tell a big story with their performances.

    But with that it seems like Mann forgot to allow himself some time to shine. He doesn't build suspense as well as he could, and most of the gunfights fall flat. But most egregious of all was the digital camera he used to film this thing. It just was not up to the task of resolving the images intelligibly. I understand why he chose it and not to film it in some stylized sepia-like style. He wanted to make the events seem real. I don't argue the style. I argue the choice in camera. Digital cameras are so much better than what is up on the screen. I just saw a demonstration of a Panavision Genesis camera that can capture striking images at low light levels and still maintain natural color balance and contrast. This camera on several occasions couldn't hold proper skin color leaving several instances where the actors turned green. Black levels were atrocious. And this worked directly against his intent. I was never able to disappear into the movie. I was constantly aware each and every minute I was watching a movie. I'm sure this will be one of the most controversial topics of debate for this movie, but count me on the side of the people that hated his choice in cameras.
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I didn't like 2 main things about this film:

    1. It being shot on DV, hated the look, it felt like an episode of "Cops" when the action got chaotic, but not in a good way.

    2. The running time, especially since it just becomes less and less interesting as the film wore for me.

    I think it's time for Michael Mann to do a film that doesn't have one gunshot in it because his sonic gunshot signature is becoming cliched, there isn't much shock value in them, even with all the bass embellishments to them.

    I didn't hate this film, I just never really got engrosed in it, either. It's just somewhat a bland tale of John Dillinger the bank robber, and the FBI's efforts to catch him. There are a couple of decent shootout scenes, but the DV look just hindered my enjoyment of them.

    I give it 2.75 stars, or a grade of B-.
     
  9. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Well-Known Member

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  10. Brett_M

    Brett_M Well-Known Member

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    I mostly agree. I did not like the DV -- it looked like a re-enactment on The History Channel. I love Michael Mann but this is the first time I have ever felt that he did not tell this story correctly. I don't mind being dropped into the situation -- Miami Vice did the same. I don't mind actors acting and giving us everything we need to know in their performance -- The Insider, Heat, Collateral and Thief do this brilliantly. I loved the cast -- everyone was excellent. What I did not like was how it was shot and how the actors interacted with one another. It was not compelling to me -- not at all. I was moved by a few sequences and thought the ending was great. There were glimmers of Mann to be found. I will watch it again on blu-ray. Right now, I'm a bit let down.

    ***/*****
     
  11. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Well-Known Member

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    I saw this a few days ago. Overall, it was a decent enough film; although, I thought it dragged a bit in the first half. I also found that I just couldn't get very invested in the characters. For the most part I felt detached as a viewer. There were some good sequences in the film; however, I thought the ending sequence was the best one in the film.

    I would give this one a B- based on my single viewing.


    Edit: I should add that there was scene in particular that I thought was just plain stupid and annoying; however, that seems to be par for the course in the films of today.
     
  12. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Well-Known Member

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    Very good synopsis of my feelings about the movie. I've actually already written up my thoughts that'll run when I review the DVD or Blu-ray, but Mike says pretty much everything I cover, so there's no reason for me to repeat those notes.

    Mann is a talented filmmaker, but he seems intent on making slow, nearly incoherent movies. "Enemies" is better than the God-awful "Miami Vice", but not by much... [/url]

    I went to see "Public Enemies" last night, and was extremely disappointed. The movie dragged at a snail's pace. The characters were not particularly interesting. You never really learn anything about John Dillinger that you can't get off a quick read on Wikipedia. And I HATED -- HATED the HD Video approach to the film. HD CAN look like film. This movie looked like video. At times -- too many times -- I felt like I was watching "Superboy" from the early '90s. It just made the entire film look cheap. Cheap and extremely BORING. Too bad, because I LOVE Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.
     

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