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07 July 2009 @ 08:27 pm
Also, The Lovely Mrs. byoolin's trebuchet wants her $6.50 back.  
They say that John Dillinger's penis is stored somewhere at the Smithsonian. It's not, which is a shame, because if it were there might have been an interesting movie made about it. As it is, though, we're left with Michael Mann's Dillinger picture “Public Enemies,” which is neither about Dillinger's penis nor the least bit interesting.

Mann seems to have utterly forgotten how to direct a movie. To say his characters are one-dimensional is to overstate their geometry and to say they're unsympathetic is to imply an emotional response to any of them. Not only is there no tension between any two characters, there's none between any two scenes, either. The movie trundles along in its internal chronological order with all the excitement of the digits changing on an odometer. (I initially wrote “digital watch” instead of “odometer,” but with the watch there was the tension of wondering just when the movie was going to end.)

There's been some notice taken of the attention to detail in the film - Mann redressed North Lincoln Avenue near the Biograph Theater in Chicago to the point of reinstalling long-gone streetcar tracks - and some inaccuracies have also been pointed out, but those details become academic if the movie is, as this one is, boring.

And the cast wasn't really given much to work with. Johnny Depp walks around managing to look a little like the real Dillinger while looking just like Johnny Depp. Dillinger's girlfriend Billie Frechette, played by Marion Cotillard, is pretty enough, but she doesn't do anything. It was nice, though, to hear Christian Bale as Melvin Purvis speak in something other than a John Connor/Batman whisper for a change.

It's nicely photographed - Mann knows how to set up a shot. There are a few beautifully filmic moments, such as when one of the bad guys is gunned down by Purvis's G-men during a night-time car chase. The camera, at ground level, looks over the dying gangster toward the backlit Purvis. A last puff of smoke from the criminal's spent submachine gun curls up into the light at the same time as the vapour from his last breath does.

But it all comes back to this: nothing much happens. Dillinger talks to Billie, J. Edgar Hoover talks to Purvis. Then some Tommy guns go off and a car races into the night. Lather, rinse, repeat, until Dillinger's luck runs, as we know it must, out.

Unfortunately for us, that luck's exit was preceded by our interest forty or fifty minutes earlier.

lotusbeans on July 7th, 2009 09:04 pm (UTC)
Forty or fifty? More like 120.
tinabgibby on July 8th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
My son and I recently stayed in the actual hotel (Hotel Congress in Tucson) where Dillinger was captured. I was sorry to see that this was filmed in Minnesota, or some very un-Tucson-like place, wasn't it?