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It's Curtains for you! Public Enemies review

 

It's curtains, see! I saw Public Enemies amidst a raucous crowd of five kids that perhaps wished they had seen Bruno (they walked out halfway into the film). Well, I did sit and was moderately pleased by the latest Michael Mann effort, a ah just swell feature about John Dillinger and his legendary bank robberies and jail breaks. Mann, who likes to start his biopic films about an hour into the story does the same here: Dillinger and his band of merry men stage a break in a penitentiary to rescue some of his pals, followed by a bank robbery. This is all he does in the film. I wish there was more to Dillinger, but perhaps there wasn't. He was a young man with the ability to sway the public and mock the law. He loved the cinema, and seemed to act out a real life Cagney flick and craved the attention of a matinee idol. He is only frail with his girl Billie Frechette, who he courts with a lifestyle of thrills and riches as she constantly reminds him that he will more than likely end up dying a violently.

In hot pursuit of Dillinger was Melvin Purvis, a equally young G-man put on top of the search by J.Edgar Hoover. Hoover, who was hungry to trap these criminals and raise the ranks of the FBI as top watchdog could not have hoped for a better face for his bureau than Purvis, who had caught the eye of by media by killing Pretty Boy Floyd. Purvis, who is driven by a strong sense of duty but also struggles with the methods he needs to apply to get the job done, suffers the most in this film. He seems to have more depth than Dillinger, or at least is more conflicted, but he appears just when the shootouts commence. It is hard to root for the guy even though you want to. Since several truths were changed for the story, Mann should have taken the liberty to have Purvis, not Charles Winstead, a key figure in adding Purvis, engage in the ending with Billie. This would have given him closure, able to uphold the law while keeping his decency above water.

A lot of controversy arouse from Mann using HD instead of film in a period piece. Lars Von Tier has done it for his Depression era films Dogville and Manderlay, but those films are abstract examinations of American life. I feel that Mann wanted to use a contemporary format to eliminate the myth of the thirties and show us quite simply that what drives people to a life of crime or law is similar to what it is now and what it will always be. Poverty, notoriety, brashness drives crime: order, civility, power drive law. It is here that the movie finds its strength.





Source of the Bitter: John Rojas

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