Monday, 8 March 2010

I'm Alone, I Am Not Lonely.

I sometimes think I am quite easily flabbergasted. Well, maybe that's a little harsh. I guess in retrospect it's easy to state an opinion on what should have happened, but I do wonder what people were thinking at the time. I mean, looking back, do we really think Braveheart was the best film of 1995? Really? I'm not even talking just out of the nominated five films for the Academy Awards. 

Here we have Heat, a film that is very highly respected, was highly critically acclaimed, reasonably commercially successful, united two acting legends on screen in the same scene for the first time, with an excellent and exciting supporting cast. And it gets nothing? Really? Doesn't seem right, does it?

Heat is a crime saga set in LA, and it's quite a big film. There's a lot going on in it, and I'm not going to try and summarise it because, well, it's hard work and I'm so behind on my writeups that I need to get cracking on the rest of them. Briefly, Robert De Niro plays criminal Neil McCauley, pursued by Al Pacino's Lt. Vincent Hanna. Working with McCauley are fellow crims Chris (Val Kilmer), Nate (Jon Voight), Michael (Tom Sizemore) and Donald (Dennis Haysbert.) McCauley is getting mixed up with a girl, Eady (Amy Brenneman), complicating his no-attachment dogma, while Hanna's marriage to Justine (Diane Venora) is falling about because of his commitment to his work, leaving his stepdaughter Lauren (Natalie Portman) stranded and despairing.

Michael Mann directs his own screenplay, and does it with his usual brilliance. His Heat to Ali period was fantastic, yielding such solid films. His fearless and bold directing style allows you to seep into the mood of the characters and the situations, giving you time to breathe with them in the few occasions there are moments to spare, and sucking you into their world of glamour and dirt with beautiful photography (from Dante Spinotti) and a terrific use of music (score from Elliot Goldenthal.)

Heat is a luscious landscape, a true modern epic, taking inspiration from the methodical yet languid stylings of films such as The Godfather, imbuing them with modern moralities and a lack of judgement. There's respect flying everywhere in this picture. The performances are uniformly superb, expected from heavyweights De Niro and Pacino, but bolstered by the likes of Kilmer and Sizemore - why has Val Kilmer fallen off the face of the planet? We love him!

5 stars.

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