We saw Public Enemies this morning. Almost a great flick and certainly a fascinating one.
For one thing, it’s outright beautiful in scene after scene, and styled perfectly. Some of the director’s tricks are just awesome. It’s shot in HD digital and that provides a level of detail that is startling, particularly at night. The sound too is superb, with bullets literally seeming to fly all around your seat. The movie successfully evokes the era of the 1930s
Johnny Depp is good, and so is the young actress who played Piaf in that flick. Billy Crudup is astounding at J Edgar Hoover. He just oozes slime. The various G men and gangsters all look convincing and it’s hard to tell them apart, in attitude and brutality, as well as appearance.
And there is a slight personal connection. Dillinger broke out of a jail in Indiana as depicted in the movie, allegedly using only a bar of soap be carved and painted to look like a gun. At that time my father was in college at Ohio Northern in Ada Ohio. He was as broke as it was possible to be, and the police in Lima Ohio a few miles away went to the college looking for students they could deputize to guard the jail and bank, because Dillinger was allegedly headed their way. My Dad got, as I recall, five bucks, enough money to eat on for a week or more, to occupy the roof of a building all night with a shotgun. After a while it became apparent that no Dillinger was coming, and they relaxed. My father as a result had a life time fascination with Dillinger.
The opening scene was my favorite. I liked the way Michael Mann started the movie with a blank screen, and then noises, and then the action explodes.
Be warmed. It is violent. Dozens of people get killed in violent ways, but its all cartoonish.
Oscar material? Certainly for technical things, and likely Depp and Mann for best actor and best director respectively. And with ten nominations now for best picture, this one surely will make that cut.
Go see it at a theater, the way it was meant to be seen. You won’t be sorry.