Robert De Niro in silhouette as the career criminal
character Neil McCauley in Michael Mann's "Heat".
Mr. De Niro's character is based on the real
life Mr. McCauley, a criminal from Chicago who met his
end in the 1960's at the hands of a police detective.
For A Film That's Worth Its Weight In Cool
Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Call it cool mood blue. Call it what you will, but
"Heat" is a film that still shows its style and
construction in a strong way. Michael
classic cops-crime L.A. saga did less than stellar box
office in North America upon its theatrical release in
since then it has become one of the best American films
in the crime genre. Michael Mann created an
atmosphere with film
characters so tightly wound and methodical that they
were blinded by a driven rigidity that was perfection in
a destructive sense.
was Neil McCauley, based on the real-life Chicago
convict who was killed in the 1960's by a police
detective. Robert De Niro
the heavy McCauley and did so well, as usual,
trademarking the character with the typical traits of
intensity and absorption
Mr. De Niro does. Mr. De Niro's longtime friend Al
Pacino was his opposite number as Lieutenant Vincent
Hanna of the LAPD,
McCauley the way a cat does a mouse.
epic film was written by Mr. Mann, whose backstory for
each character was richly detailed and gave a platform
to women that
honest and diverse. They played the most important
role in the film, defining the men of "Heat" and saving
them (or not) from
themselves. Amy Brenneman played Eady, Ashley Judd
played Charlene, Kim Staunton played Lily, Diane Venora
there was Natalie Portman too, as Lauren, caught up
between adults in a turbulent marriage.
there be any doubt, "Heat" is undoubtedly a man's movie.
Violence rules the day, with a spectacular eight-minute
sequence in downtown Los Angeles. Guns blazing,
bullet holes shattering, bodies being ripped by anger,
adrenalin and a whole
malevolence. Val Kilmer, Mykelti Williamson,
Dennis Haysbert, Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Wes Studi,
Kevin Gage, William
Ted Levine, Danny Trejo, Henry Rollins, Tom Noonan,
Xander Berkeley and Jeremy Piven are all the
testosterone on offer.
Spinotti's cinematography captures the mood of the
principal characters -- Mr. Pacino's brown suits and
black shirts are often
in earth-toned, near sepia-shots -- at least in the
nightclub in which Mr. Pacino and Ms. Venora's
characters have a post-
call discussion. Mr. De Niro's character was
framed in steel gray and deep blue hues. And on a
personal level the character
McCauley is framed by isolation, even as he insists that
that "I am alone, I am not lonely."
showpiece of this two hour-and-52-minute film is the
conversation between the two heavyweight New York acting
Pacino and Robert De Niro as their characters talk shop
for four minutes across a coffee table about midway
through the film.
Kate Mantilini Restaurant in Beverly Hills, the scene
took almost a week to film. It is the most
important scene in "Heat" as
everything spoken during the conversation has a direct
meaning and tie in to what follows.
Mann's film is also punctuated with an impressive
soundtrack, with music from Brian Eno, Moby and the
classic song from
legend B.B. King "The Thrill Is Gone", plus the Kronos
Quartet and the music score from Elliot Goldenthal.
the ten-year-anniversary edition of the film was
released in the U.S. and Canada on a two-disc DVD from
It is a
disc to watch and it includes Mr. Mann's feature-length
commentary, full of insights and fascinating
observations. The second
contains eleven deleted scenes, an examination of the
famous conversation between Mr. Pacino and Mr. De Niro
starred together in "Righteous Kill", last year's
disappointing crime drama) and four other documentaries
on the making of
are not one to tolerate strong gun violence then you are
advised to stay away from "Heat" but if you can stomach
bullets and octane to appreciate both great acting from
all involved and positive, affirming women characters,
admire and thoroughly enjoy "Heat".
Related: Kate Mantilini
in Beverly Hills
Men, In Life's Twilight
Kill" Movie Review
The Popcorn Reel. PopcornReel.com. 2009.
All Rights Reserved. Photos, logos and posters
courtesy of Warner Bros.