Heat

LetterboxD review link

I re-watched Heat recently, as part of a Michael Mann retrospective at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Since my last viewing, I’ve come to learn more about and appreciate more of Mann’s eye for design, his interest in post-modernism and his affinity for night time shooting, especially night time LA.

In previous viewings, I focused on the mesmerizing action sequences, the loud and in-your-face sound design, the inner lives of the protagonists. This time around, however, I was more interested in the set design, the colors and the depiction of LA, a most American of cities. And in the total and complete focus on masculinity.

A little while after seeing the film, though, I can’t help but wonder what all this talent in directing, acting, action sequences, sound design, writing would mean if it were put to use to explore something besides masculinity. What would Heat look like if the women in it weren’t simply there to serve as plot devices, as juxtapositions to the otherwise masculine identities of the leads. What would all this film-making talent produce if it explored something other than cops and robbers, sanctioned violence, or if it gave equal standing to other characters in this movie.

That’s probably a fools errand, to try and imagine what a movie might be were it not what it is. But there seems to be strong consensus that Heat is a great film, a consensus with which I agree. And that’s why I can’t help but imagine what other subjects could benefit from such great film making.