Saturday, July 04, 2009

The worst part about Public Enemies is that it stars Johnny Depp...

... and thus attracts a particularly unsophisticated type of viewer, a couple of whom talked through the whole film and gasped whenever Johnny took some damage. At one point, a train was speeding toward the camera, and these two viewers ducked.

Anyway, it's half of a boring but gorgeous film -- Michael Mann loves those deep, oblique angles off of people, cars, buildings -- and half a grippingly existential crime picture, which has sort of become Mann's MO of late, all combined into a single film, and that final scene where... well, I'll leave that for after the jump (spoilers, etc.).

The scene where he dies outside of the movie theater is absolutely stunning, in part because of how crisp and luscious the deep-focus digital video looked -- I daresay some of the most viscerally aesthetic thing he's ever done -- and also that classically doomed Mann protagonist when Dillinger sees his would-be killers, moves as if he's going to draw the gun in his pocket, then turns around to wait to go out like the mythic folk hero he became.

That scene is, I think, emotionally set up by all of those tight oblique shots -- there are hardly any establishing shots, and the shots are generally such tight close-ups that for a lot of the film, I felt claustrophobic. But when we get to the end, when Mann does that again, it feels absolutely liberating, even as Dillinger succumbs to fate.
Indie rating: Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-la-la Band with Choir – "Sow Some Lonesome Corners So Many Flowers Bloom"

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