July 28, 2006

To Crockett, With Love From Tubbs


Walking into the Union Square theater this morning at 9:58 am, Cinecultist wondered for a moment about who the hell goes to see Miami Vice on the Friday morning it comes out? Besides our summer Friday selves and our business school student friend Ilana, of course. Quite a few people actually, not a packed house but a very generous smattering, mostly dudes. Fortunately, Michael Mann's hyperbolic art house action spectacle merited hauling our butt out of bed and into the humidity this early in the morning. There were a few snicker-worthy moments, but all in all we can highly recommend spending the over two hours communing with Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs as they take to the big screen.

Two big problems in our mind with most cop movies are the need for baroquely elaborate plots and realistic lingo banter. This kind of convoluted filmmaking can be difficult to follow and Mann lavishes attention on both elements to the point of distraction. Cinecultist realized after the movie was over, that we almost had to block out the plot and the dialogue to make sense of this movie, because to understand the whole two Miami vice cops undercover in the drug trafficking arena story is tough. Something about Aryan brothers, the Columbians, transport, fast boats and double crossing was all we could gather.

Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx play the titular cops with deep cover and a deep friendship. Both performances had their charms, between Foxx's understated confidence and Farrell's uber-manly swaggering handlebar mustache. Like many buddy movies, the best relationship on screen is between the two men, though the sizzle between Farrell and Gong Li as the underworld businesswoman Isabelle was pretty amazing as well. Watching these two writhe around on the floor of a SUV or slither on the dance floor of a kingpin's salsa club, it's hard to imagine two sexier people on screen. Though again, it's best to just look at these two rather than listen to them, as Farrell's Irish by way of San Antonio accent and Gong's stilted English makes them tough to decipher.

This movie also converted Cinecultist to the beauties of shooting on HD video. In one of Mann's previous films shot on this stock, Collateral, we felt the blown out color and nausea-inducing not-so-steadycam made the movie look amateurish. But here, Mann super saturates the image, bringing the focus in tight during most shots and taking advantage of HD's ability to capture the contrast of night and twinkle lit backgrounds. The sleekness of the camera work perfectly compliments the shininess of the actors' good looks, making for an appealing visual product. Movies this pretty do really seem worth the $11 admission.

Posted by karen at July 28, 2006 4:33 PM