Wednesday, August 16, 2006

1985 on Ice

MIAMI VICE - then.................... and now (if only it stuck to the sell-line more..)

MIAMI VICE (2006) - written and directed by Michael Mann

For some people the 80s was a cultural nightmare worse than Mao's 'Cultural Revolution: MTV, gated drums sounds, Neon, synthesisers, heroin addicts in Germany, 50s and 60s kitsch etc..etc... When it cames to TV shows in the 80s, the interesting thing is that TV shows were starting to become more and more like movies - Hill Street Blues, A-Team, Knight Rider etc.. - until now many TV shows are in fact better than the movies. One line of thought is that cinema is pretty much dead, TV is where it's at. At the top of this heap for Tv shows trying to be films , for me anyway was Miami Vice. It was my favourite TV show of the 80s, and watching it now, well, *cough,cough*, I guess I was only a teenager. But, still, when it worked, it was pretty hardcore for a TV show, and when it was shit, well just more 80s dreck then, eh? Part of the appeal was that at the time Brian DePalma's 'Scarface' was one of my favourite movies of that period, and well 'Miami Vice' was pretty much 'Scarface' every week.

FOOTNOTE: I was one of 4 people who actually liked Mann's follow up - the massive flop 'Crime Story' HEAPS better than 'Vice'

Anyway, Michael Mann, the man who directed and produced most of the series has finally made the TV-show-that-was-trying-to-be-a-movie into a movie. Over the years Mann has gone from being a pompous-stylistic bore - I remember seeing 'the Keep' at the legendary Valhalla Cinema in Richmond, one of those cienmas that had couches for people to smoke pot down the back, and thinking, what a slow, drawn out crock of shit - to some sort of 'master' that knows how to stage a suagr-shit-sharp modern gunbattle. And nu-MIAMI VICE has some nice gun-battles. In fact the gun battles in this film seem to be inspired by some of the footage from skirmishes in the Middle-east, and the HD-digital photgraphy makes them even more real and cracking. When it comes to violence as poetry or an 'artform' in the fillum-world I rank Mann up there with Kubrick and Peckinpah, some of the violent scenes in this nu-MIAMI VICE are that good. If you don't like any of that stuff, then don't see the film.

The first 40-minutes of nu-MIAMI VICE just fly. It's bravura film-making - guns, gadgets, girls, guts, drugs, spicks, butts, chinks, -Nazi white-trash, yids, bids, and skids. That's just content. Mann uses his mix of HD-digital and film, fast cutting, mad-modern landscapes, arhcitecture and fractured, mini-bite story telling to set everything up. It's relentless, it's confusing, but it cranks. And then...well, Mann being the trendy (hip?) type of 80s-yuppy-guy that he is, decides to try his hand at a Bong Car-Why move and the film falls into a duller than Miami canal-water conflicted luff story. Trust me it was BORING - but then I thought, 'this is just like how every 4th episode of VICE would be' - you'd have Crockett have one of his 'living on the edge of the night' sensitive-new-age-bozo story-arcs. I guess the film is ultimately arse-fucked by the Holly (Charra) Wood paradigm for mainstream idioten story telling - define yr main character, follow his 'journey', love interest, other action - etc.. In this case Crockett is fair and sqaure the main story and the rest are just cyphers. Mind you, Mann does his usual 'subversion' of the paradigm, as he did with the TV show (which I won't say coz you already know). Anyway, once the middle shit is over, action ensues with a great cracking Iraq-Lebannon video feed shoot-out. Farrell is pretty good, though ultimately a slobby bum(he almost seems to turn into Russell Crowe as the film goes on..), as Crockett, he lacks the Southern edge that Don Johnson brought to the original. Foxx is not-much as Tubbs, but who knows he might be moved to the front in the sequel if it emerges. Gina and Trudy are replaced by some butch hispanic J-Lo and a black chick with a great ass. Zito and Zwyteck are made into bigger shleppers than the originally were. And Castill has been replaced by Fat Albert. But don't worry, the Columbian drug-lords are as fantastic and deadly as they always were.

The film is B-grade dreck, pure and simple. It looks fucken GREAT on the big screen like it's supposed to, and credit must be given to Mann for sticking to his dull, downbeat style, than making the film into a camp ejaculation of rubbish like every other worthless TV adaptation.

One thing is certain, Michael Mann surely knows how to make every film he's ever made seem like it was made in 1985.

1 comment:

zhao said...

um, no, the 80s were not "worse than Mao's Cultural Revolution" for anyone because millions of people were not tortured and driven to insanity and 10s of millions of people did not starve to death.