This episode was fun for me since Michael Mann directed some of my favorite films, namely "Heat," "Last Of The Mohicans," and "The Insider." All of them got good airtime in this "Directors" hour-long TV show, seen on the Reelz Network. To other observers, though, this episode might be just so-so. Mann is not a dynamic person.
I also enjoyed hearing about Mann's "Manhunter, " the first film featuring "Dr. Hannibal Lecter." People forget someone else played Lechter before Anthony Hopkins made that character famous in "Silence of the Lambs" five years after "Manhunter" came out in 1986.
William Petersen, who has gone on to achieve stardom via television and the "CSI" program, starred as "Will Graham" in "Manhunter" and is the first actor to talk about Mann. He basically says what the others to follow say, that Mann is the most detailed-oriented director they've ever worked for, that nobody is more "focused" than the subject of this program. Mann will know everything there is to know about the characters before the film begins shooting.
Mann will shoot scenes 25 times and more, if he isn't satisfied, which is often. However, for some reason, the actors don't seem to mind....at least the ones interviewed on this show: Petersen, Madeline Stowe, Christopher Plummer, Wes Studi,James Belushi, Diane Venora, Jon Voight and Tom Sizemore. I thought Voight was the most fun to hear. All the actors trust that all the scenes in their Mann-directed films will look as best as possible, having total faith in Mann's ability. So, they put up with his meticulous ways. The director says "I just all the tools at my disposal."
We get a short biography of Mann, who was raised in Chicago and went to school at the Univeristy Of Wisconsin. He also went to film school in London. Mann began his work in television and eventually wound up doing the acclaimed "Crime Story" series with fellow Chicago resident Dennis Farina.
Clips were shown from the movies mentioned above, plus "Thief" and a quick scene each from "Collateral" and "Ali." Most of the time was devoted, thankfully, to the films I enjoyed most. It was interesting to hear the actors' comments. Plummer comes off a bit of a snob. He said anyone who didn't like "The Insider" wasn't intelligent.
I can't wait to see Mann's film, "Public Enemies," which comes out in 2009. It's about the exploits for famous criminals John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd. I'm sure he captures the 1930s beautifully since this director likes to work on period pieces.
By the way: Brian Cox played that first "Hannibal Lechter" in "Manhunter."
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