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Re: [a_film_by] Michael Mann's Collateral (was: Candidate Collateral Vilage Ughxorcist)

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  • Fred Camper
    Well, I liked Collateral a lot. One way to consider it as a good piece of genre filmmaking with an excellent sense of time and place ; this is Jonathan
    Message 1 of 33 , Aug 29, 2004
      Well, I liked "Collateral" a lot.

      One way to consider it as a good piece of genre filmmaking with an
      excellent sense of "time and place"; this is Jonathan Rosenbaum's
      approach in his review at
      http://www.chireader.com/movies/archives/2004/0804/080604.html

      Coincidentally, I recently heard a radio commentary by Ray Pride, who
      writes for Chicago's "alternative alternative" weekly, that is, the
      Reader's much smaller competitor, "New City," also known as "Newcity,"
      in which he ascribed Mann's sense of place to his Chicago origins. Pride
      may be on to something there: the grid of this city, where I too live,
      and the way it articulates the flatness of the prairie and the adjacent
      lake, does convey a more "oriented" spatial sense than either New York
      or Los Angeles. Pride also has an interview with Mann at
      http://www.newcitycgi.com/cgi-bin/film/film_new.cgi?movie=Collateral&submit=go
      , and there Mann describes his films as "story-driven," though he also
      calls L. A. a "landscape of dreams."

      Anyway, Jonathan is of course right about the film's sense of time and
      place, but this isn't what I really liked about it. Nor did I
      particularly like the genre film button-pushing: will the killer get to
      kill his victims, will he get away annoyed me as methods of holding my
      attention. What I liked most was the way certain formal elements
      functioned (no surprise here for people who know me; I hope I'm not
      starting to sound like a self-parody), particularly the moment-to-moment
      sense of imbalance Mann creates in composition and editing. In this
      sense, the film reminded me of "Ali," which I also liked a lot, though
      its tone is very different. Unbalanced compositions that place
      characters on the edge of the frame are answered by differently
      unbalanced ones that follow, and the whole film seems to be teetering on
      more than one edge. This is entirely appropriate to its story, or
      course, and likely enhances one's experience of it, but I think it also
      goes beyond that, in that it uses its particular combination of
      composition and rhythms to create a way of seeing.

      This connects with the other element I liked, the "dreamy" one, made
      most explicit in the extremely high helicopter views following moving
      cars, but also in the film's lighting, in the choice of bizarre
      backgrounds, in one's sense of the characters as "floating" in their
      traps for much of the film. It's not a Blake Edwards movie, though,
      because Mann's compositions and compositional imbalances are hard-edged
      and precise, and he often uses editing beautifully to enhance one's
      feeling of displacement.

      I see very few new Hollywood movies, but unlike most of the ones I do
      see this seems to me to be real cinema, clearly articulated visually in
      space and time, rather than images merely illustrating a script, the
      "picture-book" mode of many narrative films I dislike. Whether Mann is
      greater than I think he is so far (and I'm missing some key ones), or
      not as great, I'm not sure, but it's nice to see a film that actually
      "works" on my terms, as a film.

      Fred Camper
    • Fred Camper
      Well, I liked Collateral a lot. One way to consider it as a good piece of genre filmmaking with an excellent sense of time and place ; this is Jonathan
      Message 33 of 33 , Aug 29, 2004
        Well, I liked "Collateral" a lot.

        One way to consider it as a good piece of genre filmmaking with an
        excellent sense of "time and place"; this is Jonathan Rosenbaum's
        approach in his review at
        http://www.chireader.com/movies/archives/2004/0804/080604.html

        Coincidentally, I recently heard a radio commentary by Ray Pride, who
        writes for Chicago's "alternative alternative" weekly, that is, the
        Reader's much smaller competitor, "New City," also known as "Newcity,"
        in which he ascribed Mann's sense of place to his Chicago origins. Pride
        may be on to something there: the grid of this city, where I too live,
        and the way it articulates the flatness of the prairie and the adjacent
        lake, does convey a more "oriented" spatial sense than either New York
        or Los Angeles. Pride also has an interview with Mann at
        http://www.newcitycgi.com/cgi-bin/film/film_new.cgi?movie=Collateral&submit=go
        , and there Mann describes his films as "story-driven," though he also
        calls L. A. a "landscape of dreams."

        Anyway, Jonathan is of course right about the film's sense of time and
        place, but this isn't what I really liked about it. Nor did I
        particularly like the genre film button-pushing: will the killer get to
        kill his victims, will he get away annoyed me as methods of holding my
        attention. What I liked most was the way certain formal elements
        functioned (no surprise here for people who know me; I hope I'm not
        starting to sound like a self-parody), particularly the moment-to-moment
        sense of imbalance Mann creates in composition and editing. In this
        sense, the film reminded me of "Ali," which I also liked a lot, though
        its tone is very different. Unbalanced compositions that place
        characters on the edge of the frame are answered by differently
        unbalanced ones that follow, and the whole film seems to be teetering on
        more than one edge. This is entirely appropriate to its story, or
        course, and likely enhances one's experience of it, but I think it also
        goes beyond that, in that it uses its particular combination of
        composition and rhythms to create a way of seeing.

        This connects with the other element I liked, the "dreamy" one, made
        most explicit in the extremely high helicopter views following moving
        cars, but also in the film's lighting, in the choice of bizarre
        backgrounds, in one's sense of the characters as "floating" in their
        traps for much of the film. It's not a Blake Edwards movie, though,
        because Mann's compositions and compositional imbalances are hard-edged
        and precise, and he often uses editing beautifully to enhance one's
        feeling of displacement.

        I see very few new Hollywood movies, but unlike most of the ones I do
        see this seems to me to be real cinema, clearly articulated visually in
        space and time, rather than images merely illustrating a script, the
        "picture-book" mode of many narrative films I dislike. Whether Mann is
        greater than I think he is so far (and I'm missing some key ones), or
        not as great, I'm not sure, but it's nice to see a film that actually
        "works" on my terms, as a film.

        Fred Camper
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