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Thread: Public Enemies

  1. #16
    Elite Member nwgirl's Avatar
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    Saw it last night. Wasn't impressed at all. Depp was fine, but his performance definitely wasn't cream worthy. Bale's accent was hard to listen to. Crudup looked like shit - he now has no definition between where his chin ends and his neck begins.

    Shoulda waited till it came out on DVD.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."

  2. #17
    Elite Member HWBL's Avatar
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    Again: for what it's worth.

    Source: The New Republic

    Execution Without Conviction
    by David Thomson
    'Public Enemies' is a terrible indicator of how America has retreated
    from one of its greatest inventions--the movies.

    Post Date July 8, 2009


    On a Wednesday night in San Francisco, opening night, in a theater no
    more than half full, the truth was as inescapable as rain at a picnic. Johnny
    Depp just wasn't cutting it. He wasn't even making the attempt. Once again,
    Michael Mann had poured his nearly liquid talent over a gangster picture
    without ever thinking to ask himself why. That oddly vague title Public
    Enemies--why isn't it called Johnny D. or just Dillinger?--was turning into a
    startlingly detached and affectless movie. And the digital coverage, as
    elected by Mann and his photographer Dante Spinotti, was such that you
    couldn't even see the stuff happening. Public Enemies isn't a rapture of
    bodies breaking open, dropping to the ground and coupling in motel rooms--it
    is a blur. It's like the Michael Jackson rehearsal video for the concert tour
    that never would be when compared with the feral litheness of any of those
    great videos made when he was still free and uncaptured.

    When the gangster film sinks into being merely a genre, a mine for nostalgia,
    period clothes, and 30s jazz, then it's exhibiting fatal symptoms. It has
    allowed itself to be prettified when it should be authentically shocking. If you
    look at the original Public Enemy (1931), there's that scene at the breakfast
    table with Mae Clarke as the rather sour-faced mistress and Cagney as the
    grumpy hood. What's he going to do? you ask yourself. He sees the
    grapefruit--we see it, too. Oh no, you say, he'd never do that in a movie!
    But he does it. He takes the cut fruit and jams it in the woman's face. It's
    one of the ecstatic moments in the gangster film, utterly shameless, in that
    our childish urge to be outlaw is summoned to the screen itself, and it is our
    energy that makes Mae's face sadder still. Take that! Fuck you, America!

    The thrust of that last line--insolent yet full of camaraderie--is crucial. The
    American movie has always been about rapport: the unity of the packed
    house, us and U.S. all together, the huddled mass and the unreachable
    screen in wondrous harmony. The gangster film is unique in Hollywood in that
    it takes that aspiring "us" and gives it a whole range of fresh and dangerous
    dreams--you wanna see Tommy gun bullets meeting a body? You wanna see
    the banks blown apart? You wanna see the grapefruit hit the girl?--and then
    sneers in the public's face at the ridiculous "happy" and "positive" ending
    where law and order is restored and the huge illicit thrill is allegedly buried.
    The gangster film whispers in our ear, don't expect censorship or law and
    order to look after you. This thing called film is a very dangerous drug, but
    here it is for a quarter.

    The gangster film has to be possessed by that danger and insolence. Never
    forget that Cagney's self-destructive dance was an essential release for the
    early 30s--when the country was breaking apart. Never forget that The
    Godfather--with its sultry insinuation that a really lethal but wise manager
    could look after us--came to soothe the era of Watergate. Never forget that
    the burning unruliness of Bonnie and Clyde coincided with 1967 and America
    in turmoil at home and abroad. And who could possibly forget the superb
    insolence of Warren Beatty (the producer) in offering "We rob banks" to the
    anti-social instincts of the young, in a vehicle that would carry him personally
    to the bank in triumph? That's what I mean about Fuck You, America: It's the
    exultant yet fond cry of deep patriotism in love with unbridled freedom--but
    fuelled by personal vanity, ambition, and recklessness.

    So the true blur of Michael Mann's new film comes from his failure--and it is a
    psychological and intellectual failure as well as an artistic lapse--to
    understand that America in the summer 2009, when unemployment is climbing
    to ten percent, yearns to explode on a line like "We rob banks." When Beatty
    said that line in 1967, it was full of the actor's cockiness, and the
    dispossessed farmer was as tickled by its candor, but also as moved, as we
    the audience. It wasn't simply an ironic admission of occupation; it was a
    statement of identity, and of idealistic enterprise. Bonnie and Clyde is
    constructed as to tell Clyde's story. It is only when Bonnie Parker writes the
    poem about them and sends it to the papers that Clyde is freed of his rather
    far-fetched sexual inhibition. He is identified, and at that moment Clyde
    Barrow became far more than the real Texan kid had ever managed before
    1934. Beatty's Clyde was also Clyde's Beatty--this was the film in which an
    unusually shy actor bursting with public ambition came into its own. The
    several talents who made Bonnie and Clyde, from the director Arthur Penn to
    the writers Robert Benton, David Newman, and Robert Towne, knew they
    were making a portrait of their producer just as surely as the team on Citizen
    Kane recognized that the secret target of their exercise was not William
    Randolph Hearst but George Orson Welles.

    Public Enemies is naked in this area of identity and conviction. I said that
    Beatty was a shy actor, and sometimes that helped to spoil his
    performances. But his shyness could be immensely seductive, and the vital
    metaphor in Bonnie and Clyde is of an impeded personality who longs to find a
    melodrama to make him vivid, to make him known. That is why the names in
    the title are so important, and why Bonnie and Clyde is still so moving a
    picture. Yes, we know that the Barrow gang is doomed. We know that these
    lovers will be turned to chaff in a fusillade of bullets. So where's the tension?
    It's in wondering whether two beautiful blooms--Beatty and Dunaway--can
    flower in unison before death. They do make it--only just--and then the
    death scene (voluptuous in its slowed violence) comes as an astonishing,
    liberating orgasm and one of the sexiest scenes in American film.

    That is the standard in electing to make a film about John Dillinger. It is not
    enough that for a moment he was a hoodlum celebrity, or that he was
    eventually gunned down by Melvin Purvis and a small army as he came out of
    a Chicago movie house where he had been watching Manhattan Melodrama.
    We have to care about him--and for that the film has to love him, and see an
    exuberant demon in his casual brutality. That's what made Beatty, and
    Cagney, and Pacino in his playing of Michael Corleone.

    But this film never knows why it is interested in Dillinger. He has no mission,
    no need--he seems as dumb as the real Dillinger probably was. When he
    meets his girl, Billie Frechette (played by Marion Cotillard), we don't feel the
    pressure of death on their relationship. We don't even feel that he likes her
    more than the other available dames. Remember, we are not dealing with real
    gangsters here. In life, we understand that just about everyone from Billy the
    Kid to John Gotti was close to cretinous promiscuity, but in our fascination
    with the "bad" we easily admit these stooges to our world--thus they
    become at least as smart and faithful as we are. The glory of the gangster
    film rests in that potential metaphor of the figure from history stepping
    forward into the limelight to be really "bad," to ask, like Edmund in King Lear,
    that "God stand up for bastards." It is that insurrectionary "us" being
    appealed to, the dark Hyde figure that has always longed to thrust a
    grapefruit (or something more obscene) in a nun's face.

    Is that objectionable enough to make clear the subterranean violence being
    courted in gangster pictures? Is it frank enough to explain the enervating
    vagueness of Public Enemies? Johnny Depp has been famous for two
    decades. He is sometimes called one of our great actors. And he has had his
    moments of cheek and charm, from What's Eating Gilbert Grape to Donnie
    Brasco and the spurious panache of his laid-back pirates. But isn't it clear by
    now that he lacks the creative need or the emotional stamina to seize a part
    and to dominate a film?

    And there's something else: Depp's looks are fading into cheeks and jowls--
    he is 45 now, a fate that the real Dillinger was spared (he died at 31).
    Dillinger the movie character should be an animal or a dancer--he needs to
    have been inspired by Pacino's outrageous Tony Montana in Scarface. He
    should sing the way he shoots, and as often. He has to have zing, and a
    sense of counting away his own seconds of life--and if you don't know what
    zing is, then you don't understand commanding a screen as time passes. But
    Depp is stiff and listless (which isn't the same as thoughtful). Encased in the
    skin and lifestyle of an actor, he doesn't know what to do with the perilous
    adventure of crime (and on film it's easier to see the crime done for risk
    instead of reward). Cagney taught us the lesson 70 years ago and more: A
    gangster is so full of life that he makes death seem like a bogey-man and a
    spoil-sport we can smell and taste.

    Depp's Dillinger is a male model in his own movie. Public Enemies suffers not
    just in comparison with Cagney or Bonnie and Clyde. Six years after that
    classic, American International Pictures (a house of cheerful exploitation)
    hired writer-director John Milius to make Dillinger. That picture has the
    advantages of brevity, directness, and a performance by Warren Oates as
    Dillinger that is all coarse redneck--and plainly closer to the truth. In
    addition, Dillinger has a lovely rogues' gallery of supporting players: Not just
    Ben Johnson as Melvin Purvis, but also Richard Dreyfuss as Baby Face Nelson,
    Harry Dean Stanton as Homer Van Meter, and Steve Kanaly as Pretty Boy
    Floyd. This Dillinger knows it's a gangster film, and understands the savagely
    split response in its audience.

    The script of Public Enemies does not understand that Dillinger needs big,
    knockout lines: He kills people with talk before he uses bullets. When he and
    his girl talk, we should feel arousal in the banter--but it's not there. In Bonnie
    and Clyde, the sensuality of the picture began in the way the two kids talked
    to each other, and it was a romance that climaxed in words. The supporting
    characters in Public Enemies are as drab as their coats. They don't really
    figure in the film (a huge departure from Mann's Heat, say, where the
    surrounding characters are rich and strange and 15-deep). But in Beatty's
    film, every person with a line was memorable--not just Gene Hackman and
    Estelle Parsons as other Barrows. Remember the couple picked up on the
    road--Gene Wilder and Evans Evans--true bystanders who comment on the
    central theme in a brilliant cameo. That panorama of special people amounted
    to a climate; it said that Bonnie and Clyde had an entertaining life. Michael
    Mann cannot get past the boredom of being John Dillinger. This may be truer
    to life, but it is lousy art.

    Yet the most profound vagueness is in every frame and gray hue: in the
    digital--the way it's been shot. An enormous self-inflicted crime of vandalism
    has been committed against American film--I mean the replacement of film
    with digital. The only comparison is with the deliberate and stupid forsaking
    of Technicolor in the 1950s in favor of color systems that were supposedly
    more life-like. Life-like is irrelevant; we are talking about the movies, after all.
    Technicolor and photography were beautiful. They looked like dream, like
    imagination. Whatever the technical and economic advantages of digital (and
    they are in dispute, as witness the April 2009 forum on cinematography in
    Sight & Sound), it looks like death. When characters move quickly--as they
    are inclined to do in gangster pictures--the image blurs. Whenever it fixes on
    a face you see uncommon and unnatural detail. It may sometimes be useful
    to see the pores in the skin, but it is far removed from the romance of
    cinematography. Public Enemies is forlorn not least because digital is less
    expressive than photography. But digital is the natural resource of a director
    who regards himself as a mechanic, and who has not begun to think through
    the moral implications of his abiding subject--gangsterism.

    Public Enemies is a travesty and a terrible indicator of how America has
    retreated from one of its own greatest inventions--the movies. Arthur Penn,
    in Bonnie and Clyde, was an artist and a man of deep feelings. Michael Mann
    is as bored with his own movie as his Dillinger is with his own life.
    Warren Beatty: actor, director, writer, producer.

    ***** celeb

  3. #18
    Elite Member Laxmobster's Avatar
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    Saw it last night and thought it could have been an hour shorter, but I liked it. I'm a sucker for period mobster pieces and Depp was smokin as usual... I love Marion Cotillard(sp?) now too!

    Billy Crudup did look like crap!
    Quote Originally Posted by Celestial View Post
    I also choose to believe the rumors because I am, when it is all said and done, a dirty gossip.

  4. #19
    Elite Member *DIVA!'s Avatar
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    I wish I could get that 2hrs and 23mins back.
    I did enjoy seeing Rory Cochrane..
    Baltimore O's ​Fan!

    I don''t know if she really fucked the board though. Maybe just put the tip in. -Mrs. Dark

  5. #20
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    Is there something wrong with Billy Crudup's face? It was really blotchy. I'm not sure whether it was intentional or not.

  6. #21
    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by *DIVA! View Post
    I wish I could get that 2hrs and 23mins back.
    ..
    ! why didnt you listen to this thread's warnings?!!!!

  7. #22
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    From the descriptions of Johnny's performance, seems like he realized he'd gotten himself into a piece of shit and just went through the motions. That's a shame, really. He should have known from the script but I guess the paycheck eased his professional conscience. I've lost some respect for him. Pros make the best of whatever they agree to do.

  8. #23
    Hit By Ban Bus! AliceInWonderland's Avatar
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    ^ yeah sounds like it I guess. I just read the article of him in Vanity Fair and it says he has 6 estates including an island so he's gotta keep the money coming in too.

  9. #24
    Elite Member mrs.v's Avatar
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    Movie was boring,but I didn't give a fuck.I just stared at Depp the whole time.That is all.
    eat a hot bowl of dicks.

  10. #25
    Silver Member mrsJB's Avatar
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    they did a lot of filming for this movie in my hometown, and it was mass hysteria, let me tell ya. i never got a chance to see johnny personally, but i was really excited about the movie coming out. now, reading the reviews, i'm really getting disappointed. maybe i will wait for it to come out on dvd. at least i'll be able to pause it when i want and look to see if i recognize different backgrounds.
    I'm not loafing, I just work so fast I'm always finished.

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