Aug 6, 2012

Michael Mann's Top Ten List

 Scorsese went for his usual suspects — The Red Shoes, The Leopard, The River — sumptuous, robed filmmaking of the sort diametrically opposed to his own nervy work. Same with Woody Allen who put on his usual show of I-am-not-worthy highbrow-by-numbers circa 1970: The Seventh Seal, Bicycle Thieves, Amarcord. Like James Wolcott, I was pleased with Tarantino's list, in particular His Girl Friday, Jaws, and Dazed &  Confused — a wonderful meeting of equals. But Mann really excelled himself with this mixture of technological mould-breakers, old and new:—
"Apocalypse Now" (1979, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)"Battleship Potemkin" (1925, dir. Sergei Eisenstein)"Citizen Kane" (1941, dir. Orson Welles)"Avatar" (2009, dir. James Cameron)"Dr. Strangelove" (1964, dir. Stanley Kubrick)"Biutiful" (2010, dir. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)"My Darling Clementine" (1946, dir. John Ford)"The Passion Of Joan Of Arc" (1928, dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer)"Raging Bull" (1980, dir. Martin Scorsese)"The Wild Bunch" (1969, dir. Sam Peckinpah)
On there, only Biutiful baffles, but I am impressed by his choice of My Darling Clementine, The Wild Bunch and Avatar.  The best thing about his list is that all of the films on it seem engaged in a conversation with Mann's own work. His hero worship is clean, not self-nullifying. Allen crushes mopily on Bergman and his work is much the worse for it. Likewise, Powell and Visconti have been deleterious influences on Scorsese's own career. But Mann's choices leave his own films looking and feeling great. Thief gets a soul-to-soul transplant from  The Passion of Joan of Arc. Heat's set pieces have Potemkin's dazzle. Maybe it's because of all of them —  Allen, Coppola, Scorsese — Mann is the closest to his filmmaking prime: he's still in the market for genuine inspiration.

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