Film review – Public Enemies (2009)

6 July 2009
 John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard)

John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and Billie Frechette (Marion Cotillard)

Set in America in the 1930s, against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Public Enemies portrays the bold activities of celebrity bank robber John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and the attempts by FBI agent Melvin Purvis (Christian Bale, Terminator Salvation) to bring him to justice. FBI Chief J. Edgar Hoover (Billy Crudup, Watchmen) may have labelled Dillinger a public enemy but Dillinger’s charisma and popularity meant the FBI had to also fight him on the PR front. The battle between the public enemies Dillinger and straight-laced Purvis, whose profile inspired the look for Dick Tracy, is therefore classic material for director Michael Mann. Mann’s Heat (1995) is a modern crime film masterpiece about a professional criminal and a brilliant detective who are pitted against each other. Heat combined everything you could want from such a film with its strong characters, intriguing psychology, compelling story and breathtaking action scenes. It therefore makes absolute sense that Mann was drawn towards the great real life crook-versus-cop story that he depicts in Public Enemies.

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Film review – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

26 December 2008

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is the story of a man who is born as an old man and ages in reverse to eventually die as a newborn baby. Although based on a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, this 2008 film bears the stamp of its writer Eric Roth more than anybody else. Roth has penned several screenplays of varied quality throughout his career with Munich (Steven Spielberg), Ali and The Insider (both directed by Michael Mann) being amongst his better efforts. However it is the Academy Award winning Forrest Gump that bears the most similarities to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Both films involve a male protagonist whose unusual circumstances give him a unique view of the world and 20th century history. Both men encounter various unconventional mentors who guide them on their way through life and both men fall hopelessly in love with a woman who is almost always out of their reach.

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Film review – American Gangster (2007)

29 January 2008

Despite its grandiose title and being based on a true story, American Gangster is not the definitive American gangster film. Only half the film concerns the gangster element, although it is the classic rise to power story through boldness, cunning and strategic brutality. The other half of the film is the archetypal story of an increasingly shunned cop who overcomes the odds to dispense justice.  This aspect of American Gangster, plus its 70s New York and New Jersey urban settings, make it evoke The French Connection and Serpico more than The Godfather or Goodfellas.

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