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Miami Vice (2006)
Miami Vice - a superior thriller
Just to say this right up front, I only saw the movie tonight so this is my first impressions and with the benefit of hindsight I'm sure more of its flaws will become apparent...
I loved it - Mann has done better and it lacks the substance of some of his other work, but it's one undeniably slick package that kept me entertained throughout.
Some of the visuals in this movie are simply breathtaking; if this doesn't pick up an Oscar nomination for cinematography, I will have completely lost all faith in the Academy. The acting was very good, no real stand-out performances but Farrel and Foxx did a more-then adequate job of carrying the film. While there wasn't a lot of action, what there was - in particular the end gunfight - was great, although I felt this was the one part of the movie that suffered from overly-shaky camera-work, which made it a little bit confusing at times. I will say though: it has one of the most bitching death-by-shotgun kills since A Better Tomorrow II.
I've seen some people complain about the story being hard to follow; at times, yes sometimes that was true but I found as the movie went on, those little questions I kept asking myself were eventually answered. As for the length, again speaking for myself, that didn't bother me at all - I was actually surprised to find out it was over 2 hours long because, although it's not a fast-paced movie, I was really drawn into it and just lost all track of time. There were also complaints about the hand-held photography, which I really don't think held water - this is a gritty movie and that was reflected in the camera-work.
Psycho II (1983)
A solid sequel...
"There's a sequel to Psycho?" most people would probably ask set 21 years after the original, it has sank into relative obscurity despite being one of the top ten biggest hits of '81. The film, while not a masterpiece, definitely warrants a purchase.
Let's get the chief flaws out the way first: some of the characters are a little underwritten while the plot packs too many twists into its 113 minute running time. It still remains one of my favourite sequels of all time though, mainly because of the legendary Anthony Perkins who reprises his role as Norman Bates it's a great shame this guy never achieved the fame he so richly deserved. He manages to convincingly portray Bates, a role that could have so easily descended into a twitchy caricature, as a genuinely sympathetic character who is as much a victim as the people he kills. As a result, when the conspiracy unravels it's difficult not to ache with pity for our illustrious anti-hero as he looses his grip on sanity all over again.
Director Richard Franklin does a solid job of echoing the master (there's a crane shot that even old Hitch would've been proud of) and stages the largely gore-free murder sequences with relish, providing neat 'n' nasty little punch-lines for each (one particularly memorable set-piece involves poisoned tea, a spade and a 'toasted cheese sandwich').
Two more sequels and a TV spin-off followed but out of them only the Perkins-directed third barely deserves a watch and only because of Perkins, whose acting and direction is both brilliant.