I didn't have the stomach to check when my last post was. I know it was a long, long time ago. Since that post, I've been on a lovely family vacation, all but finished one graphic novel, attempted to get several more started up, and done a bunch of other, less interesting crap.
So, I'm going to try to get back to blogging in a big way. As big as I can muster, anyway. I'll try to post on a daily basis for awhile. I should have enough shit to talk about after such a long break.
So, I'll start with Public Enemies. Before I get into discussing the movie, I should state up front that I have some level of personal involvement in its success or failure. If you're reading this, you probably know that my first graphic novel effort was Union Station (published by Oni Press, and being re-released any week now, with a shiny new cover and intro, since you asked). Well, my Hollywood guys have been trying to get Union Station made as a film for a long time now. At one point, we had just about everything lined up... screenplay (by the fantastic Doug Jung), director, financing... it was looking pretty solid. It was around that time that we heard about Michael Mann working on his own little gangster epic, with some actor guy you may have heard of.
So, long story short, Mann's movie got made, while Union Station didn't quite get that far along. It's still out there, and it still could get made. Of course, it's more likely to get made if Public Enemies is a huge hit. So, like I said, I have a stake here. Keep this in mind as you read on.
I like Public Enemies. I liked it a lot. I sometimes struggle with a film when I have so many expectations, good or bad, so it would probably be best to see it again in the theater, but I thought it was really good even upon the first nervous viewing.
The way Mann shot PE has been a topic of much discussion. He chose digital over film, and I thought it worked. Film might have been a little richer, but I have no problem with the digital look, even on this period piece. It looked a little grainy in a few scenes, but it still seemed appropriate to me... like we were on the scene as voyeurs. That's probably hypocritical of me, given that I hated the lens flares in Star Trek, but there it is. Like I said, maybe I'm not completely objective.
My two issues with the film are somewhat paradoxical. In a way, I wanted a little more distance. In another way, I wanted to pull in closer.
During some of the action sequences, I wanted a little distance. I understand the notion of pulling us into a chaotic gunfight almost as one of the participants, so that we feel a little disoriented. I mean, I would imagine that being in a gunfight is somewhat disorienting. Still, during the shootout at the Bohemia Lodge, I would have appreciated a wide shot that gave me more information about who was where. At times, I didn't know who the hell was driving away, who was getting shot, or who was doing the shooting. Still an effective scene overall, but an example of a sensation I had several times during PE.
On the other hand, the bigger flaw with the movie is that it needed more personal, intimate moments. I didn't enjoy the aforementioned Star Trek very much because I didn't ever care about anyone. PE was far better, but the same thing hit me... I wanted more intimacy, so I could care a little more about these people. I did feel for Dillenger and Billie at the end, but I could have cared more. I almost cared for Red, but not quite. In such a long movie, it seems Mann could have found time to slow down and let me know these people better.
On the other hand, Mann is a very thoughtful filmmaker, and I should assume that he made these choices deliberately. Maybe he wanted a surface-level view of Dillenger. I think most people have felt as I did, though... that we could have used a little more up close and personal.
Still, I think it's a terrific movie, and I'm pretty sure I would have thought so whether people seeing it is potentially good for my wallet or not. Depp is one of the best movie stars alive, the rest of the cast is fantastic, the movie looks phenomenal, and it's lively and enjoyable overall. Don't get me started on the incredible hats... we could be here all day.
So, please go see it. It's good, and it helps me out, too. Win/win.
Be back soon... I promise.