Monday, April 4, 2011

"Hanna" Film Review

Always had fondness for a great assassin films ever since seeing "Leon: The Professional" and "Nikita." Since then I've seen many others including Woo's "The Killer", the amazing styled amd acted "Le Samourai", the darkly funny "In Bruges", and been addicted to completing every awesome kill in multitudes of ways in the Hitman franchise...I'm just an assassin nut which is why after a long absence I've decided to write another review.
When so many films are trying to too hard to be big and epic and ending up feeling vast and empty, Hanna focuses on being intensely intimate, character driven, and totally ecclectic and badass.
It is colorul in a mid-early 90's way but with an excellent amount of polish to it...the script is taut, very very darkly funny in where the film becomes almost a black comedy by the end credits but it always retains it's narrative focus on the film's brooding and quirky central characters.
The film is almost a master class in style serving substance the movie expresses the wild energy of a young girl albiet a trained killer exploring the world for the first time and all the little joys and sadnesses that go with that. From the brilliant colors and wild cinematography the score by the chemical brothers and the excellent costuming (esp. blanchett) the movie is highly stylized, almost fairytale-esque, but still never loses it's grittiness, and the tone feels like a HARD-R-rated's very adult regardless of the rating and narratively central youth.
The chemical brothers score is especially of note, unlike 'Daft Punk's (I mean Hans Zimmer's) faux score for Tron, this movie was crafted with the score central to the experience and important in understanding the characters...the music acts as representative of the unbridled spirit of this girl. It's sensitive, weird, scary and bad-ass just like Hanna is herself. The score is a must own.
The acting is uniformly great, as to be expected from a Joe Wright film. Saoirse Ronan is especially awesome in the title role, and the movie is scattered with extremely colorful killers and victims...particulary the german trio of assassins that follow Hanna from Africa to Europe, lead by the excellent Tom Hollander( Pirates of the carribean, Pride and Prejudice) in a scenes stealing career defining role as a Kubrick-esque flamboyantly cruel hitman.
Blanchett and Eric Bana are amazing as well, sharing great dialogue and amazing gun battles. Bana has some really crazy fight scenes reminscient and in some ways better than the break neck fights in the Bourne films. Every punch and hit is really felt, it feels almost unreal how hard some of the punches land.
In the end, it really is Ronan and Blanchett's show and they really are formidable adversaries. Blow for blow acting wise they inhabit their quirky violent against type roles with equal aplomb relishing in the tiny character nuances which really make the film very interesting and engaging.
Overall, this movie was a great joy to watch, a really unique film in a sea of almost complete cinematic dreck filling the multiplexes these days...I give it 5 hollow points out of 5.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Starting today I will be featuring a video game review section and music review section. Also, if you like what you read, each article features a direct link to buy on Amazon!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

"House of Flying Daggers" Film Review

Love is a weapon, but what kind? The boldly intentioned sword? The deceptive dagger? Or an unforeseen arrow? Like a weapon, the power of "House of Flying Daggers" is in the simple violent beauty of it. The plot, a political struggle between a group of Robin Hood-esque rebels and powerful government, is typical, and provides the set dressing for a powerful love story of hidden intentions, powerful uncontrollable emotions and repressed feelings. Our main characters here are pawns, played with spectacular layers of subtlety by Hong Kong's best actors, the everyman Andy Lau in a surprising turn, Takeshi Kaneshiro in one of his finest performances this side of "Fallen Angels", and Zhang Ziyi who performs a unique balance of chaste sexiness and brutal violence. All three play the parts forced upon them by the powers to whom they are loyal; their hearts, their politics & to each other. Like all great films, all of their truths and loyalties will be tested.

On the surface it is relatively simple, but the direction by Zhang Yimou(of "The Road Home" fame, also starring Zhang Ziyi in her first theatrical role) makes it a wonderfully deep and riveting emotional journey for each character. Our two male leads Lau & Kaneshiro inhabit roles that are plain and genre stereotypes, soldiers for an unseen general who is crushing the local rebels. Their initial scenes are those typical to the genre, as they play against each other we understand Kaneshiro follows Lau's lead and that Lau is sending him on an undercover mission vital to the omnipresent Empire. Kaneshiro in the guise of a drunken fool saves a beautiful rebel soldier (Ziyi, who is undercover as a courtesan) from imprisonment.
Kaneshiro and Ziyi go on the run and end up falling in love, but at the cost of their loyalties to their respective politics, and of course this is a very bloody road. Lau is largely unseen for much of the middle section of this film, as he pushes Kaneshiro and Ziyi further from harm's way and more and more serious trouble seems to find them. Kaneshiro and Ziyi battle their way to safety but are too caught up in each other to think about what may be happening outside of their little world. They are definitely in love, but like all love, to be in it seems simple, and it is very much so to our sympathetic protagonist Kaneshiro(also he's given good reason to flee and never look back, by the confused soliders chasing him, perhaps a weakness of the film). The plot can be a bit unbelievable under close inspection as to why Kaneshiro wouldn't suspect something was up earlier with his colleague Lau, when he is being consistently chased and attacked, regardless of Lau's flimsy explanations(it's a true weakness of the film). Perhaps the saving grace is that we all have been in this situation, perhaps not being perpetually chased by sword wielding goons, but we've all been blind in love, not being able to see the forest for the trees(literally here). And it's not just Kaneshiro, every person in our trio of leads is like a horse with blinders, they are all in love, in different ways, and they follow their heart, each to their own detriment.

It can be argued that the film is simple and predictable, and for a Wuxia film, perhaps it's too heavy on the romance. But has a Wuxia film ever had such a wonderfully acted & written romance balanced with such graceful martial arts and action? I would find that hard to believe and I would like examples, because honestly, if such a film exists, I'd love to see it. Not to mention the scenes of beautifully choreographed violence are some of the most wonderfully shot, colored & composed images committed to celluloid. Zhang Ziyi shows herself as a truly graceful athlete, pulling off some insane flips and jumps and backbreaking dance moves that the camera wonderfully accentuates. Likewise Kaneshiro & Lau do not slouch in this department either, although their moves are limited to acrobatic swordplay, it's brutal hack'n'slash that (again) the great cinematography helps feel fresh and classic.

The premise of the film is simple, but it's message is deep and vital. Our characters have real feelings that are palpably present here and reveal their true depths over the course of the film. They are all being forced into situations by their respective establishments that do not care about their feelings. Feelings and individuality have no place here, but our characters are flawed and human, and cannot help themselves to feel desire, hate and lust. In one of the film's most powerful scenes we see what happens when a lead character cannot control his emotions, and his animal needs, no matter how depraved, kick in and he commits a horrible act. We see him in a completely different light for the rest of the film, loathe him, but at the same time, I felt pity for him and his situation. Like all other characters here, he wants to love and be loved in return, but the world gets in his way.

Individuality vs. Establishment is a complex theme, one that is not given an easy answer. It's a favorite of Yimou's to explore, in almost every one of his films, including his other two Wuxia films, cold-blooded "Hero" and the byzantine "Curse of the Golden Flower". What makes "House of Flying Daggers" exceptional from these other two is that it doesn't stray from Yimou's traditional focus on character and emotion. It keeps things simple and heartfelt, and all the more powerful for it. I knew lovers Kaneshiro and Ziyi were headed for tragedy, and as a viewer, Yimou made me really not want it to happen. I wanted them to be a "carefree wind", but it couldn't be. Still, I couldn't look away.
4 1/2 flying daggers out of 5.

*I wanted to leave a section here for a comment on the musical score by Shigeru Umebayashi with powerful singer Kathleen Battle. I found it powerful and rich, really digging deep into the hearts and spirits of our characters in their tragic romance. It's definitely worth a listen and a download at itunes if you liked the film. Definitely one of my favorite "operatic" scores.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Demonlover" Film Review

"Demonlover", like so many great films finds it's heroine, it's Alice, lost down a Rabbit's hole. Connie Nielsen stars in this French dramatic thriller, as a woman who seems at once completely lost and yet violently driven by unseen forces, maybe the devil himself, to venture deeper and deeper into a dark, posionous world.
The film is byzantine, full of plots within plots, secrets and lies and twists we never see coming, perhaps however we should...the film is about more than anything, the corruption of the soul, and not from a pure, virginal state. "Demonlover" recognizes that we are at our core, animals with carnal desires that must be fulfilled, the title itself seems to play with this idea of the whore-like relationship between man and the Beast. Connie Nielsen seems like a woman constantly on the verge of a total psycho meltdown. The different masks she must wear to remain acceptably cool under pressure are beginning to wear thin. As Diane, she works for an entertainment conglomerate negotiating the purchase of an online anime pornography site with some highly illegal and highly lucrative ties. She is cutthroat and from the opening scene, we see she isn't above some illegal business herself in order to move up on the ladder. But is Diane motivated by simple greed or is it something more sinister? Is her new male peer and seemingly sexual interest aware of her bad deed and/or does he even care? As the negotiations become more and more complicated, as we travel from France to Japan to America things begin to unravel for Diane as she realizes she gotten herself in way over her head.
As a film that was released before the "French Extremism" movement really came into it's own with this years "Martyrs", it is the definition of the genre. Morally dubious and complicated characters trapped usually in devices of their own creations, we watch them toil and trouble about until things get completely out of hand. "Demonlover" is incredibly violent and malcontent, but it has a hardline of morality that is hard to miss. As viewers of the film, we are indicted. The film is about personal corruption in many ways through our self-created consumer based voyeur-centric culture. We feed off of watching others in misery whether we are directly aware of it or not. But is it human nature, or is human nature just the easy way out, justifying immorality? Do morals even have a place in a world that we've created to take what you want, regardless of others? Diane's troubles seem to come from deep in her heart, as if the further she journey's toward the dark pit of Hell, the more aware we are that she has a yearning within herself to be rid of it all...but that made she forgot how to recognize that feeling within herself, or worse, is repressing it. "Demonlover" is an indictment of corporate culture, the dehumanization of the individual is dealt with in many ways similar to science fiction, but without the revelations. The film brings up a hornet's nest of issues, none of which are easy to answer and which really stir the heart..."Demonlover" is not above asking the hard questions, but it is impossible not to watch, as Diane interacts with the others within her tangential web of cretins, we see they are all the same, heartless creations of a consumer-based culture, and we ask ourselves whether we would be able to go that far, and unfortunately I'm sure some would be able to empathize with these pathetic creature's various plights.
The thriller structure of the film makes "Demonlover" an easier pill to swallow with all of it's messages and subtexts delivered via pop-culture cliches of the femme fatale, corporate espianoge, sex and violence. Beyond the subversive screenplay and classic performances by
Connie Nielsen, Charles Berling and Chloe Sevigny the film is technically accomplished. Shot in gritty flourescent HD, we see both the glamour of the Japan nightlife on the same plane as the blood, sweat and metal of a torture chamber. The lighting is ugly and unforgiving, evoking nausea and claustrophobia at all the right moments. The music, an atonal masterwork by Sonic Youth, is perfectly married with the film, at times hypnotic and in equal measure horrifying. Together, the sight and sound convince me that the world of "Demonlover", is best left on the other side of the screen, which may be point. Unlike many film where you'd die to spend a minute in the hero's shoes, I'd be very reluctant to trade my couch for Diane's private jet.
I was first introduced to Olivier Assayas(the director) in college picking out this film at Tower Records(RIP). It's been several years since then, and I've now experienced all the films he has available in the US. "Demonlover" is unique for him, as he hadn't made a film like that before, and hasn't really since then, coming closest with 2008's "Boarding Gate" starring Asia Argento in a similarly dismal corrupt world.

Most of his films are totally character-centric objective works, that are beautiful and show a less cynical, present day world of more ordinary but still complicated and very interesting people living "normal lives". "Irma Vep" is a quirky Art-house classic he made with then wife Maggie Cheung about a filmmaker trying to remake the French silent classic "Les Vampires"(which seems in a few ways to have inspired the plot for Demonlover). "Clean", also starring Maggie Cheung he made after "Demonlover", and is true triumph of the character study and shows both the gritty side and loving side of the director in his ode to Cheung. I'd honestly say along with Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Olivier Assayas is one of the greatest working directors, making important films about our times and our peers, friends, and when he wants to, as is the case here, various criminals and their dark deeds.
5 Hentai Tentacles out of 5

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Quantum of Solace" Film Review

Okay I know I may receive some flak for this review, but I thought this film was brilliant, nearly perfect. Yes, I know a lot of people were annoyed by this film, complained that it was too much like the "Bourne" films, and yes, it does have a lot of handheld shots whilst fighting martial arts and an unrelenting pace(the pace being the most similar thing to the Matt Damon series of films). But for a Bond film it really is kind of an evolution, being that this Bond is the very first actual sequel in the series, starting probably 15 or so minutes after "Casino Royale" ended. It is a brutal and unforgiving film, showing real the impact of a violent lifestyle and all of the casualites along the way in a non-glamorous fashion. As violent films go, it's one of the least exploitative yet still thrilling fun, maintaing the tone of "Royale".
Daniel Craig channels "Sword of Doom"'s Tatsuya Nakadai as the lone samurai plagued a very serious chip on his shoulder, no compassion, no empathy. He kills everyone in his way and he doesn't stop to ask questions. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Marc Forster watched "Sword of Doom" when creating his vision for Craig's Bond in this outing.
Where "Royale" has an elegant almost '70's throwback pacing with wonderfully relaxed scenes of exposition and character details, "Solace" reveals that it was all a big set up for the big battle that is this film. The film doesn't miss it's lack of exposition because it was honestly all set up in the previous chapter. However, the film isn't all muscle and bruises and gunfights, it still has the Bond of the original, emotional, sensitive and brash and extremely good at getting the job done in the most efficient way possible. His heart is at the center of the story as his journey finds him taking revenge agaisnt anyone who had betrayed him earlier and getting the heart of why Vesper Lynd took her own life after she betrayed him in the original. With only a few remaining characters from "Royale", like Judi Dench in a more main role as M and the welcome return of Felix Leiter by Jefffery Wright, we see Bond venture to Haiti and Bolivia where he finds a way closer to the evil global conspiracy responsible for Lynd's death, and he meets a new villain, played with a rich relaxed menace by French actor Mathieu Amalric and the femme fatale of the tale, Camille, richly embodied with a heartfelt performance by firecracker Olga Kurylenko. Camille proves she is a match blow for blow with Bond, as an equal ally, and a kindred spirit on her own personal journey of vengeance.
The central theme here revenge and all that comes with it, the good and the bad. Bond teeters on the edge of losing his cool and his control constantly, but Craig reels him in and keeps him on the righteous path. I have a feeling that in the next iteration we will see Bond return to his cool, collected self as he finally gets to the bottom of the conspiracy. His ruthlessness was a required part in showing his madness at the loss of his love, and in a deeper way, his ability to love.
The adventure in this film is very high stakes, with some really brutal magficiently played action sequences in crazy exotic locales. Technically the film is astounding and has as much merit as any of the rest in the series. It definitely gains from the styling of director Marc Forster who has previously shown a unique visual ability in "Monster's Ball" and "Stay". The cinematography and color is beautiful and rich, capturing wonderful foreign travel spots and places like the Dunes Hotel at the climax that you would likely never want to visit. The film is also surprisingly topical, dealing with thirld world Environmental politics as a main-issue and privatization of national utilities which are definitely on the liberal agenda's hot list. It's very interesting to see them central to the plot of a pop spy adventure.
I really enjoyed this film's artistic flourishes and it's neck breaking pace. I found it refreshing and definitely rebellious to the typical Bond film. Craig proves again and again that he is truly believable leading man, even if he doesn't have the perfect features of Pierce Brosnan. His rugged quality gives him more appeal, and his confidence is what sells his performance. This film subverts the idea of a traditional spy film. The real villain is already known and captured at the before the first scene, the hero is shows now mercy or care for even his closest friends, making him extremely unlikable, and he doesn't even want, nor does he "get" the girl in the end, and we don't see either of the two underbaddies bite the dust. The film is almost without cliche, save for Bond's signature one liners.
I have a lot of respect for the chances everyone involved took with this project. It's got the true pure heart of an Indie film, wanting to please no one except those involved in it's creation. It caught a lot of flack and according to many, was immensely successful based on it's name alone. James Bond puts people in seats, and I can't help but imagine the Director having a laugh seeing people leave this film frustrated at not getting what they were expecting, have expected for now nearly 50 years. However how good I know the film is, it's not perfect. I would have liked to have more time for the story to breathe, for the characters like Fields and Mathis to have a moment or two more. The film is definitely in a hurry, but it almost seems like a waste to have such talent on the screen for such little time, although Mathis does have some really great moments in Italy at his villa. His wife, however, stole that scene. "Royale" and "Solace", so far this new Bond is two for two. Let's hope he makes it a solid three on his next outing, especially because they are bringing Peter Morgan on board for what is I'm sure going to be a wonderful screenplay if not on par with the great screenplay in "Solace", but probably going to be much better.
4 Oil Drenched Corpses out of 5

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Sunshine" Film Review

I've wanted to write a review of Danny Boyle's "Sunshine" for 2 years now. I always mean to go on Imdb and do it, but I never find the time or energy. The director of "28 Days Later" and the Oscar-winning, "Slumdog Millionaire", made this sci-fi thriller in 2007 and it has stuck with me since then. It's the atmosphere of the film and the wonderful acting that gets me the most. If you're looking for a great looking sci-fi thriller with a terrific cast(Rose Byrne, Cillian Murphy, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Hiroyuki Sanada) this is one to rent. I saw it in a theater where they had juiced the bass and overall mix to 11, and sitting near the front of the theater I was completely blown away. The film is nonstop tension, with wonderful epic and at the same time claustrophobic cinematography and a great score by John Murphy(28 Days Later, Miami Vice) that really come together to deliver a teeth clenching nerve rattling experience, that never overtakes the intelligent story that's being told, which blows things right over the top into Science Fiction classics territory, into shared rarefied space with "Blade Runner".

While the film is strong in every category, the casting is perfect and really stands out as the actors have great natural chemistry with one another not to mention a screenplay that deals with incredibly important issues of morality, mortality, religion and science that lets all of the actors have wonderful little moments in the action where their decisions become like little karmic bombs. Cillian Murphy, is the main character in this ensemble, and is the silent observer. With very few lines in the film, he is a strong leading character playing a scientist who designed a bomb to reignite the Sun(Yes, I know the plot seems ridiculous, but the film is built like an emotionally complex roller coaster ride...)Murphy's Robert Capa is infused with the actor's trademark dry-humored inflections and wit, and he really seems like he is preoccupied inside his own head with all of the moral conundrums and calculations his character is forced to contemplate(and wishing he didn't have to). Hiroyuki Sanada, as Captain Kaneda, is perhaps the strongest of all, who must always remains calm under pressure, he is sincere and intelligent and as the least known actor in the cast, he really leads the crew for the first 45 minutes of the film, and you feel the authenticity in his gaze and he tries to solve the many problems that befall the crew, you feel a real weight with every word he speaks and I'll be looking out for more performances by this Japanese heavy. Underrated Cliff Curtis is also amazing as Dr.Searle, the Sun-obsessed Psychologist on board who as Evan's character puts it is obviously a lot less sane than him. His growing detachment from humanity and his wonderment at the sheer incredibility of the sun is how we sense, as an audience, that this task is probably not going to end well for any of them. They are facing a conflict larger then humanity, against God and Fate.
Rose Byrne and Chris Evans round out the main members of the ensemble. Byrne delivers a great subtle performance tinged with teary-eyed emotion and real humanity that anchors the crew in the most extreme circumstances and Chris Evans plays a tough, balance minded technician who is the most logical if the least ethical of the bunch, Evans gives his best performance yet and shows there is more to him than just "The Human Torch". So the cast is perfect, and I felt like I really needed to emphasize that. Without the cast and the caliber of acting here, this could've been an episode of "Star Trek". But it is elevated to a tense moral play, that speaks to the questions of the Spirit we ask ourselves in darker moments. Do we have control, or is humanity's own existence it's own bane? Is it our nature to try and fix things or to break them?
The art design is very much in line with the science fiction classics like "Blade Runner", "Alien" and "2001", very utilitarian in the interior of the ship's design and the cumbersome space suits. The film in a few ways feels like a throwback to those classics, although it is very progressive in other areas like visual effects, which are definitely benchmark CGI. The visual effects in this film are extremely realistic and used as sparingly as you could imagine a film about a giant solar spaceship going to the sun could be. They are extremely well integrated with the cinematography, the lighting marrying the extreme harsh blacks and oranges and whites of space with the cool blue and green interiors of the space ship. The ship exteriors look amazing, especially when the sun is reflecting off it. The sun is so well rendered it feels and looks hot and beautiful, and you understand Searle's characters deepening spiritual obsession with it, which is absolutely necessary to buy as both Searle and the would-be villain of the film who arrives late to the film(played by greatly underrated but up-and-coming actor Mark Strong)as men who both fall for the Sun as their own personal lord and savior.
The one subtle weakness of the film is in it's third act. The tone of the "Sunshine" shift wildly into a horror tonality and it almost loses it's soul. I didn't mind the tonal shift as much(the first real appearance of the villain is a thing of wonder as Capa discovers him baking in the Sun's golden rays in their planetary viewing room), but I can see how it could have thrown other people off, and in second and third and 20th viewing of the film, I don't mind it at all, but I see it coming...
I don't want to discuss too much of the plot here, but needless to say, the characters are front and center and are fully dimensional. We empathize with each one of them regardless of how ridiculous the situation is. For me, the film was inspirational, a moment in the film inspired my own filming of my short sci-fi "Freelancer". If you're noticing a pattern with all of my reviews so far, yes, they are all 5 star reviews. I watch all movies(save for comedy for the most part), good or bad. I saw "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" on the day it came out. I watched the terrible "Mirrors" and "P2"...I just don't really like writing about something unless I truly loved it. I will probably write reviews for less than 5 stars, who knows when...That being said, I absolutely love some trashed on and trashy cinema. Maybe sometime soon I'll write a review on "Anaconda" or "Tremors"...However, this shouldn't diminish the fact that "Sunshine" is not a guilty pleasure like "Anaconda"..."Sunshine" is a true masterwork of Science Fiction and stands evenly along side all of Danny Boyle's other films as he continues to experiment in seemingly ever genre imaginable.
5 Solar Flares out of 5

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Public Enemies" Film Review

While visiting the folks in Arizona, I got a chance to see the new Michael Mann crime epic, "Public Enemies".  I've been a fan of Mann for some time, there is always room for watching cops and robbers go at, and no one really does it better than him.  He paints a dark, gritty picture, full of strong men of action, consumed by a world bigger and meaner then themselves. Viewing "Heat", with "Public Enemies" or "Miami Vice", you see how the director has honed his talent, focusing less on messy plot contrivances and more on the characters inhabiting his dark landscapes.  Visually the film is beautiful, filmed in HD and proud of it, it wastes no time trying to make you think you're in a period film.  It's almost as if the ugliness of HD, of video immerses you more seamlessly in the immediacy of the proceedings, without the glowy soft focus of a "PERIOD MOVIE" or the gussied up costumes, it tries it's damnedest to let you view things as if you were right along side the criminals and the cops chasing them, with none of the beautiful lies of Film.
The performances are incredibly unique and timeless.  In a away it seems like the style that Marion Cotillard is using is something from the bygone era where actors were still free to experiment, all the performances here brought me back to the style of acting witnessed in "Midnight Cowboy" and "Bonnie & Clyde".  She has real sincerity and sadness in her role, and at the same time, is a classic femme fatale.  It was a very special performance that I'm sure will be forgotten come Oscar season.  Christian Bale also really nails his performance as Melvin Purvis, a dyed in the wool believer in Good & Evil, and the necessity of social Justice.  It's beyond what he has done in the past, and I am consistently impressed with how he can take the smallest details, little bits of dialogue and weave the most intricate tapestry of motivation behind his eyes.  In this film he is the villain to Depp's Dillinger and he plays an honest man, but a ruthless killer who can sleep soundly at night knowing he's closed the eyes of the bad guys for good.  There is no ambiguity to him, but deep down, he is only human, and he does appear to be humane.  He and Cotillard's performances are not big showy things, but subtle, fragile and beautiful.
Depp is the star here, and rightfully so.  I find myself disappointed with a lot of his more commercial work, but I have great faith in Mann for casting, he's got a great eye.  Dillinger is played as real as possible, stripping away the myths of a Robin Hood, we see just a hood who was weaving a facade, the pretty boy looking out for the common man.  In the end he still largely remains a mystery, he has no big moment where he explains his real intentions or plans but we see a small amount of time in his life in a very intimate way.  Could you say you know anyone after only witnessing a few months of their life?  The film embraces this, from it's harsh visuals, to it's immaculately re-created locations on the actual sites that many of the events occurred at.  Every facet of the film embraces this idea of any divining any deeper meaning here is futile, there is a recognition of the separation of reality is separate from film, and that "Public Enemies" existence on the screen is a vouyeristic dramatic thrill that acknowledges that these people and world were real, before they died and faded into memory and myth and that this film, and in a way all film, is only a dim mirror with which we observe these myths.
I found "Public Enemies" to be intelligently crafted at every level, and Michael Mann's best film.  His style continues to evolve and he seems completely aware of his fabricated universe down to every pixel on the screen.  In the abridged words of another critic, it's refreshing to see an industry standard like Mann, an old dog, learning new tricks.  In a way through his refreshing use of HD video, he has brought art cinema to the mainstream.  He has gone beyond using handheld or steadicam HD video as just a cheap way of filming and has instead deeply explored through it's use why it exists in the first place.  Like a great home movie, video has a way to transport us directly, touch us more viscerally then film, and Mann is showing us how.
5 used shell casings out of 5