Saturday, 29 January 2011

The One Where I Remember The Full Moon

The One Where I Heart Manhunter, In Spite Of Its Cold, Cold Heart

“Heart beat, can you feel my heart beat, whooooaaaaaaaa.” Red 7, Heartbeat

I couldn’t believe my luck when Total Film had a 6 page Manhunter spread this month. Wait Total Film… Is that the same Total Film that has a vote for best Blog ever, and ever? Yes. It is. SO VOTE.

It’s my Dads birthday, and this would make his top 5, no question. It wouldn’t be far off mine, either.

I remember clearly going into what I think was MVC (remember those? Are they still around?) My Mum was desperately hunting for Manhunter. The name alone was enough to get a young lad into a tizzy about what that film may be about. It’s just a brilliantly evocative title. But then she dropped the bomb on me…

“What does it look like Mum?” (I possibly said Mummy, but that’s not important, right now.)
“It has a man looking right at you.”
“Oh. Pretty inspiring” (Even then I could do sarcasm.)
“Oh, yes. And your Dad said he’d probably have a massive full moon behind him

What? Was this a werewolf film? I had seen the VHS copy of American Werewolf, and knew Dad had The Howling too. Maybe. Kind of ruins my need for it to be a steely blue, stone cold cop thriller though.

We found it. There in all its glory, with its teasing 18 certificate. Like some sort of forbidden fruit. Except I’ve never like fruit, and I’ve always loved films.

Now, in situations like this, Dad didn’t really help me.

What he would do is tell me snippets of the film, knowing full well that a young lad would never be watching it any time soon. I think we’re in 1991, by the way. As a scene setter Silence Of The Lambs has just swept everyone away. I call that the Shawshank Sheep factor, which may well get me sacked as film reviewer on here. My theory is that certain films, people just say they love for no other reason than everyone else says the same. I pick on Shawshank because I’ve called people out on it, and they have never seen it. Plus The Green Mile is better.

I could name others but I risk alienating myself even more. And believe it or not, I’m not trying to do that. More, I’m trying to get across that Manhunter is like Silence’s bastard Son. (Or Father, whatever). If I keep that analogy, He’s been there, done that. Got the experience. Was first to do it. Arguably does it better. But Silence came along. Everyone loves a new born (nappies aside). So they “ooh”, and they “aah”. Everyone gives him presents (gold, bald statues). Everyone forgets the Dad. The person that made it all possible in the first place. Thankfully, he’s not a violent man, (apart from people being set on fire, and put in wheelchairs), so rather than lash out, he slopes off. Probably to a beachside hut. Where he’ll stand… looking out at the sea… probably with a mojito. On his own.

If I’ve lost you, let me bring you back in. What I’m saying is that Manhunter is the best Lektar (sp) film there is. Those that know me will know the “Ed Norton effect” messed with my head for Red Dragon. There was a brief moment where I may have flirted with the idea of him being a better Will Graham. I’d like to publicly apologise for that. I was drunk on mojitos.

Michael Mann is a bit of a hero. I’m not saying he hasn’t made any missteps. (Come on, the effects in The Keep are shit!). But I would go so far as to say that Manhunter might be him at the peak of his powers.

I only found out this morning that Red 7s “Heartbeat” featured in Miami Vice (TV show, not the underrated Farrell movie), before the end of Manhunter. That makes me giddy. Because its Mann tying all of his themes together again.  Much like he did with L.A Takedown. (The TV movie bearing more than a passing comparison with Heat).

Mann has a great lead here, as I mentioned. And he’s clever enough to keep Lektar in the sidelines. When Brian Cox does turn up, far from a campy pantomime villain, he uses his wits to get at Will Graham. But it’s Grahams film. No question. This was back when William Peterson could have gone on to rule the world. This and To Live And Die In L.A meant he was the go to guy for intelligent cop thrillers. Except intelligent cop thrillers turned into Lethal Weapon 2 instead. Stupid diplomatic immunity.

Manhunter is chock full of classic scenes.

The man in the wheel chair is certainly one of them. Mann makes some brilliant decisions. For one, he plays it almost entirely from the guard’s point of view. We see that image flickering in the distance, just at the same time as he does. Then, Mann is brave enough to play it out in almost total silence.

Decisions like that mean that Mann has always lived his career on the sidelines. He’s made some stone cold classics. But they are exactly that. Cold. Tinged in Blue. Mann likes loners. He likes men being men. (Not like that). I totally appreciate that’s not for everyone. It’s why those song lyrics that start the review  are so important. Mann does have a heart. This is about Graham protecting his family. You just need to dig deep to find it.

To make amends, Mann gives it all in the finale. Music playing in the background, as the cops surround Dollarhyde. Then, some shotgun action. With awkward jump cuts, as if the gun has mis fired. Dollarhyde threatening to steal the film. The music is louder now. A violent frenzy to finish an otherwise quiet thoughtful film.

So Mann can please everybody. Who knew?

Happy Birthday, old man.x


Anonymous said...

Cheers man....Iron Butterfly playing In da gadda of Vida,the music playing to a crescendo when Graham throws himself through the window to save the female....who would have known she would go onto classics such as Bourne and Face Off....I digress...that song alone is worth the wait in the movie. When I courted your mum I tried to impress her by playing that iconic song, she left me shortly afterwards for a while but I whoode her back with Pieces of April by Three Dog Night, just feeling nostalgic you know...
I totally agree with you that this was the first and the best. Mann is a classic himself. Just imagine what he could do with Bond...

@maverick99sback said...

Don't ever talk about "Courting" Mum on the Blog again.

Happy Birthday.

Hope you feel better x