Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bye, Bye, Blackbird

If you have or if you will see Michael Mann's new film Public Enemies , then the title of this post will become apparent to you. Starring Johnny Depp as John Dillinger, the infamous bank robber, and Christian Bale as FBI agent Melvin Purvis, the movie is a slick, depression-era, cowboy-styled outlaw romp. Mann certainly has a gift of creating a stylized atmosphere. This one is dark and brooding, sometimes in sepia tone or film-reel black and white, interspersed with bright rapid gunfire, dead gangsters and dead G-men. Dillinger comes across as one craving the limelight, wanting to be like his cinematic idol Clark Gable. Purvis has the world on his shoulders, thrust into the limelight by his own success and J. Edgar Hoover's ambition. Mann drops some other historical tidbits on us as well, suggesting we can thank the capture of Dillinger for legitimizing the FBI and the creation of rackateering laws to reach criminals across state lines. The only negative thing I have to say was that the movie was a tad bit too long. [A woman behind me fell asleep, but she was elderly and had a cough, so it probably wasn't due to the film's length. Fortunately, she did not snore.] But it was refreshing to see Depp in a role that didn't require a lot of smudged eyeliner. Marion Cotilliard also did a good job as Dillinger's French-Native American girlfriend Billie Frechette. Overall, I'd give it a B+.

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