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Old August 6th, 2006, 11:55 AM   #31
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What a disappointment.

I just saw Miami Vice, "The $100 Million Dollar Movie that was worse than the Original $1 Million Dollar Television Pilot".

IMO, the production values, music, acting, editing, pacing, story arc (although predictable), fell short of what I saw on my Miami Vice DVD.

A few shots really stood out as bad, one was when Crockett (a southern boy with an Irish accent???), was standing on the shore and is love interest, enemy, go between, the sheets, Chinese/ Cuban, South American, husband cheating used girl friend is on a boat. Now the boat is moving and however the operator (hand held I guess, I hope) cannot lead the pan to the left with the boat. It drove me nuts. looked like a busted take. And it went on for what seemd 30 seconds. The shot never framed up long enough to evoke any emotion of her.

And second was a shot at night of the "go fast boats" delivering back into port. The shots looked like FBI surveillance footage from the Abscam investigation. What made it worse was it was intercut with "same location/scene, shots that were clean. I can understand but not excuse, if the entire scene had a look to it, but this was noisy footage cutting against clean. Really jarringly bad.

Digital, Viper, unlimited DOF, it doesn't excuse a bad storyline and less than cinematic production values for a budget that big. I think it would have had the same problems, even shot in 35mm film.

Now I'm going back to 1985, when steady shots, smooth dolley moves, and well cut sequences were the style.

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Old August 6th, 2006, 03:22 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Dean Bull

And finally, can we all agree that Micheal Mann is, hands down, the master of how to end a movie? theif, Heat, the insider... Like king of the final shot.
Preach on brother!

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Old August 6th, 2006, 05:11 PM   #33
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I watched this movie yesterday, and I keep thinking about it as well, partially because of the weird, inconsistent look and partially because the too-serious tone sapped some small part of my will to live.

I have to back up Eric Gorski (Western Oregon represent - I think our mothers are friends, seriously) and argue that this film looks amateurish rather than stylish or experimental. I did my postmodernism homework in college, and I'm all for embracing low culture (in this case video), but to claim video artifacts as a style element, a movie would have to show evidence of incorporating the artifacts into a look, even if it were a look that changes from scene to scene. But in Miami Vice, video artifacts appear and disappear within scenes. You don't have to watch for long to see this. When Crockett steps onto the rooftop above the club in the opening sequence, the 3/4 shot of him with the skyline behind him is full of video noise. The other angles in the same scene are drastically cleaner. That's not a style - that's a mistake, and it happens repeatedly. My other least favorite example was cutting intentionally video-like footage (the raid on Montoya's empty house) with more-or-less film-like footage (Crockett watching Isabella float away) and with possibly unintentionally video-like footage (Tubbs holding Trudy's hand in the hospital). Obviously I can't know the director's intent, but I find it hard to believe that the ghosting on the wide shots that Eric mentioned (e.g. the aerial footage of the waterfall's around Montoya's house) is a style element either. A couple people on this thread compared Miami Vice to Superman Returns, and I thought Superman (on the film print I saw) also looked drab, fuzzy and disappointing. Superman at least had a coherence in its mediocrity - it all looks equally bad. But I can argue that Miami Vice is amateurish without even mentioning the HD/noise/DOF issues. I simply point to the spot near the end of the movie where the camera operators mysteriously start doing incremental manual zooms in close-ups of intense conversations. It looks like some bad takes from a DVX-100 shoot.

But the thing I really disliked and the thing that makes me keep thinking about this movie is a larger issue that might be related to the sloppy look: Miami Vice is joyless filmmaking. As far as I can tell, the movie's main objective is to explain the business of and police response to international drug trafficking in as cold and flat a manner as possible. I got the impression after a while that whoever was making decisions on the set (was it really the same guy who made Manhunter? really?) was more concerned about ensuring that the actors repeatedly called big piles of drugs "loads" and talked about "go-fast boats" than about whether one shot looked remotely like the next. Nor do the characters show any joy. No one really smiles, let alone cracks a joke. Crockett even looks serious in his sex scenes. The closest Ricardo gets to showing a genuine emotion over his supposed lover Trudy is vengeance: stabbing a couple of people and shooting an injured one in cold blood when the team goes to rescue her. I'd have no idea he cared about her if I hadn't seen the tossed-in sex scene that serves only to set up her predictable kidnapping. The only thing that the undercover cops care about is their job: simulating, down to the tiniest detail, the South American/South Floridian drug smuggling business. That seems to be the film's job as well, and for all I know, Miami Vice is very good at what it does. But the whole thing left me a little bored, a little sad and rather disaffected.
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Old August 6th, 2006, 10:07 PM   #34
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Just got back from seeing this film, and being a fan of the first 2 and half seasons of the TV show.. I wasn't disappointed. All the elements are there... except maybe for the men's fashions.

Yeah, some of the low lights shots kind of bothered me, I kept thinking about all that noise--it definitely ain't film grain like in "Aliens" which is actually pleasing to look at. [I also keep thinking about Mann's short lived "Robbery Homicide Division" show which also used the "realistic" video look at times.]

Still, it didn't matter, I enjoyed this ride a lot.[The last film I saw in the theater was a year ago!]

What amazes me is how Mann gets all the nuts and bolts right, the guns are handled properly and the sound is really outstanding. You *feel* the gunshots like in "Heat" and "Collateral"

The only thing that really, really bugs me is having to look at Collin Farrell's knarly mustache for 2 hours.
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Old August 6th, 2006, 11:32 PM   #35
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I just saw the movie and I can think of more than 3 episodes from the TV series that were better than that crap. This movie doesn't even measure up to BAD BOYS 2. Moreover, I was highly annoyed by the asian chick playing a cuban. I kept waiting for her to tell the story of how her grandparents had migrated from China to Cuba...lol, but then again, how would she explain the asian accent after 3 generations...hahaha. Listening to her struggling to cut through her asian accent to sound hispanic was painful. Details like that kinda sour me on the movie from the start. The point I'm trying to make is that sometimes those big-shot Hollywood directors insult our intelligence with absurdities like that. I can't believe they couldn't find someone more appropiate to play that chick. Everything else about the movie felt like a potentially good song ruined by the absence of good hook.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 05:36 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Jaadgy Akanni
.... Moreover, I was highly annoyed by the asian chick playing a cuban. ...
You are wrong about this one. Asians are no more novel in the Caribbean and South America than they are in the USA. I once had an ethnic Chinese student from Jamaica. Suffice it to say, his accent was nothing like Bob Marley's.
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Old August 7th, 2006, 11:27 PM   #37
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" how would she explain the asian accent after 3 generations"

go over to SF , seattle , LA , NYC china towns and you will not hear very much english spoken ... go to downtown LA and in some area's spanish is the main language ( including names/signs on buildings) ...
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Old August 7th, 2006, 11:39 PM   #38
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i think an accent can be great for a female love interest in a movie if its a sexy accent.. the problem with the women's accent in miami vice was it just made it sound like she was mentally disabled and/or a bad actress... neither of which was helpful :(
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Old August 8th, 2006, 04:58 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Matthew Ware
You are wrong about this one. Asians are no more novel in the Caribbean and South America than they are in the USA. I once had an ethnic Chinese student from Jamaica. Suffice it to say, his accent was nothing like Bob Marley's.
I'm totally right on this one. People of chinese descent are commonplace in latin america, especially in Cuba, Brazil, Venezuela, and Dominican Republic. However, that actress did a terrible job of playing a convincing role as a hispanic asian. She was horrible. In the end, the blame goes to the writers, script supervisors and the directors. I also think they failed to build any sympathy for the main characters. And hard as they tried to make it look otherwise, there was no chemistry between the chick and Crocket-their intended "rapport" felt contrived.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 02:34 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by Zach Mull
I have to back up Eric Gorski (Western Oregon represent - I think our mothers are friends, seriously)
hey zach. our moms are totally friends. pam is your mom, right? i also think we met once or twice in eugene.. you also lived below one of my girlfriends for awhile i think in a house of 18th or 19th.. i think. what are you up to these days?

you can shoot me an email if you like:
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Old August 8th, 2006, 10:56 PM   #41
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Not sure that anyone has read the American Cinematographer article... David - in your comments, you got it right - it was supposed to look like amateur footage, or FBI footage. I have a hard time believing that a camera operator at that level is incapable of holding a shot steady, or zooming smoothly, or any of the other "skills" or production values people keep complaining about. I don't think there would be an argument in stating that the DOP and crew on Miami Vice are VERY VERY skilled. The same people in this forum who trash the cinematography on Miami Vice probably drooled over the visuals from Memoirs of a Geisha. But that's not the point. Dion Bebe and Michael Mann made aesthetic choices. Whether or not we all agree that those choices fit the tone and pacing of the movie is more to the point. I found the acting painfully forced, but to me the look of the film was extremely strong. In fact, it seemed that the importance was more about the look of the film than the content. There are a few ways of breaking the fourth wall, the goal of which is to make the audience aware of the medium. Many of Mann and Bebes choices could have been done differently, and contrary to popular belief, 35mm was ALSO used on this film. But, the HD images were chosen for their aesthetic and texture, often highlighting the medium and the experience of watching voyeuristic footage. In photography, there are a million and one people capable of creating a technically decent picture. Few people can create excellent pictures, and fewer yet can be identified by their visual style. Different is not always worse.
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Old August 8th, 2006, 11:44 PM   #42
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I found the acting painfully forced, but to me the look of the film was extremely strong. In fact, it seemed that the importance was more about the look of the film than the content. There are a few ways of breaking the fourth wall, the goal of which is to make the audience aware of the medium. Many of Mann and Bebes choices could have been done differently, and contrary to popular belief, 35mm was ALSO used on this film. But, the HD images were chosen for their aesthetic and texture, often highlighting the medium and the experience of watching voyeuristic footage. In photography, there are a million and one people capable of creating a technically decent picture. Few people can create excellent pictures, and fewer yet can be identified by their visual style. Different is not always worse.
Well put, Jaron; I totally agree.
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Old August 9th, 2006, 03:07 PM   #43
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Jaron,
I don't think Mann's, Beebe's or anyone elses intentions prevent us from saying that Miami Vice looks amateurish (in the most negative sense of that word). I don't think anyone doubts that the zooms and shaky camera were intentional, but they don't play very well in practice. The candid footage/FBI surveillance look requires more than a camera aesthetic. A lot of the reason that they didn't work for me is that while the film had a different look, it used mundane continuity editing (that's an observation, not a knock) and a typical action movie omniscient viewpoint. Part of the candid/surveillance/live feed aesthetic is limited editing or cutting capability. That is to say, the zooms and shakes stay in because it's impossible to cut or it's too late for the switcher. This movie did not do a convincing job or maybe didn't even attempt to supplement the camera aesthetic in the editing. In the big gun battle at the end, the camera sometimes looks like candid footage, but in candid footage we wouldn't get to see Castillo scouting the snipers, let alone the snipers themselves.

Some of the famous deep focus movies (I'm thinking of Citizen Kane and Rules of the Game here) were also famous for long takes or other editing techniques that supplement their unique look. Miami Vice didn't capitalize on that to create an overall aesthetic. It was shaky camera work and video grain in a regular action movie package.

I'll say again, there are things in this movie that are NOT part of a conscious look and are clearly mistakes. Again, it uses standard continuity editing, so when one angle in a scene is full of video noise and the other angles are clean (this happens regularly throughout the feature), that's not a look - that's cranking the gain too high or something else.

Very interesting though that this movie does use film some of the time. I never would have known, although maybe that explains why some of the cross cutting looked weird to me.
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Old August 9th, 2006, 03:20 PM   #44
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I agree with Zach.

In my opinion, if you make a conscious decision to introduce an aesthetic or style, that style should be consistent or at least consistent within the context in which it is used. Miami Vice does not do this and therefore we are left with jarring changes within scenes, which makes you aware of what you are seeing and hence brings you out of the movie's world.

I've been a fan of both MMann and DBeebe work up to this point, but I have to say this movie was disappointing on so many levels that I'm going to be more critical of their future work.

This movie looks amateurish, and even if certain scenes were deliberately intended to look like that, there needs to be a reference within the movie that allows us to see that obvious change, instead of the constantly shifting and at times confusing visuals which were already supporting a mediocre attempt at a tired genre movie.

Perhaps the use of 35mm was intended to convey that sense of change: "real" movie world vs "gritty" cop world? In any case, it didn't work for me because the scenes were so inconsistent throughout the movie. I'm cool with HD being used, but the use of any visual style should support the story and not be an end unto itself because then you leave nothing for the audience to sink its teeth into.

Lol, this thread just stimulates lots of discussion so this is a good thing coming out of this movie at least.

I'm happy to be around seeing these things develop. Hopefully, I won't ever make the mistake of thinking my audience wants style over substance.

My 2c.

K.
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Old August 10th, 2006, 08:28 AM   #45
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i saw this thread.. i was like.. hey another movie shot on hd, i wana see how it turns out.

i walked out of the movie half way through it. IVE NEVER WALKED OUT of a MOVIE.. dammit i paid for it, i should watch it all... i just could not.. seriously. I COULD NOT WATCH ALL OF IT. it was THAT BAD.

i could clearly see chromatic aberrations while foxx was standing close to the windows.
anything shot at night.. sooo sucked.. i mean it was 9db+ gain and thats horrible, please dont get me wrong... THAT ISNT A STYLE nor an EFFECT... thats a load of BULL.

some shots were hilarious... the tattoo guy at the beginning.. the dp was shooting the socket on the wall leaving the tattood guy holding the fridge.. TO SHOOT A SOCKET??? ive seen amateurs.. but this is so fake.. atleast amateurs try to be more professional.

it was a big mistake. seriously, what were they thinking.

the storyline was nice though.. but i'd rather watch this movie on dvd, on a smaller screen.. cuz when things arent shot nicely, when the object is not well preceived.. And on a big screen.. you totally lose what you have to have your eyes on and miss alotta the stuff... so this is a movie id rather watch on a dvd.

i mean for crying out loud.. the zooms were awfull.. theres a limit to amateurness... the whole thing lacked storytelling. I WISH this movie was shot on film and I WISH it was shot by a different director and dop. seriously.. such a waste of tallent.

the love scenes.. man.. arghhhh.. the whole theatre was giggling and laughing. pointless and STUPID.

its like a bad a sequel.. heat was nice.. and then collateral was.. alright.. and then this is like... "you gotta be kidding me"

i don't get it... really i dont.. i mean WHY couldnt he just do it the normal way when he had the expertise and the budget.. why? it pisses me off.
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