Want to become an instant expert in our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: we program you a double that will not only make for a great evening’s viewing, but bring you suitably up-to-speed before our next episode lands…
HEAT (1995) and COLLATERAL (2004)
There are few filmmakers with such distinct periods to their career as Michael Mann: there’s the Celluloid Mann and the Digital Mann. There’s also the Running Man, but that was directed by Paul Michael Glaser, and we don’t want to confuse you. Of course, there’s a lot more to Mann than just film vs digital, but if we’re going to give you the complete Michael Mann experience, this is the obvious binary to go with. The first film in your evening’s viewing is Heat, the 1995 crime film that finally united Al Pacino and Robert De Niro on screen (The Godfather Part II doesn’t count because they never shared a scene, and Righteous Kill doesn’t count for a variety of reasons). Heat is one of the great crime epics, the epitome of the Career Cop vs Career Criminal showdown. When you’ve finished that, follow it up with 2004’s Collateral, which is probably the epitome of the Career Criminal vs Cab Driver crime epics. It’s the first feature Mann shot exclusively on digital, and the best-received of Mann’s 21st century oeuvre. Clear an evening this weekend, throw these two films on, and you’ll be an instant expert in what makes Mann Mann.
Substitutions: Can’t get or have already seen Heat? Then check out 1986’s Manhunter. This was the first on-screen appearance of Hannibal Lecter, beating Silence of the Lambs to cinemas by five years. And a lot of film fans actually consider Manhunter to be every bit the equal to Silence. Will you be one of them? Find out! If you can’t get or have already seen Collateral, check out 2006’s Miami Vice. Look, it’s not a universally beloved film, but like Collateral it demonstrates the visual and narrative aesthetic that Mann’s been so keenly exploring.
The Hidden Gem: Want to see something from off the beaten path? Check out 1979’s The Jericho Mile, Mann’s first feature (albeit made for TV, so if you don’t count those, then, I don’t know, don’t watch it). It’s not talked about as often as his other works, but it’s a hell of a debut and will leave you with little doubt as to why his career took off so quickly.
The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Blake Howard talking Michael Mann, will be released on the morning of October 31 (AEST).