Friday, 3 July 2009

[210] Public Enemies: Michael Mann Conference

I was quite astonished by Michael Mann. Even though I have seen a few of his movies, I realised as he stepped into the room at the Berkley Hotel in Knightsbridge that I'd never seen the man himself. Never seen him interviewed, or even seen a picture of him. I was surprised to see the grey-haired, 60-something gent - fast-talking and loquacious. His press conference was more like a presentation - his answers twisted, developed, jumped from topic to topic. It was quite an overwhelming experience - and educational, which is something I wouldn't say about Public Enemies itself. He was a far more thought-provoking, and compulsive ambassador for the period.

Transcribing was hard, he dropped references quickly and often without real emphasis, meaning I had to dig things out. Certain aspects were incredibly perplexing - like his assertion that 'on the lam' comes from a fellow called Herbert K. Lam, for which I can't find any etymological source. Dizzying though. Sadly, some of the journalists made no attempt to hide their apathy - they turned off their recorders, saving space and battery life for Johnny Depp. Depp was awesome, yes, but Mann was quite something else. Check out the article below.

Public Enemies, Michael Mann's new crime thriller about 1930s American bank robber John Dillinger, is out this week. As part of the promotional routine, Mann and stars Johnny Depp and Marion Cotillard were in London, and took part in a press conference for a motley crew of journalists.

They were interviewed separately, for 20 minutes each. Michael Mann was sandwiched in between the two actors, and delivered an engrossing semi-lecture on 1930s America, bouncing off and ignoring questions as he deemed fit. Like his films, he came across as bold, charismatic and confident - but he has a fast-talking manner, a depth of reference and a heavily intellectual streak that would give migraines even to the seasoned culture vulture.

He packed in discussion of literature, human geography, history and media - tying it all to the importance of Dillinger and the social changes of the early 1930s; he communicated his passion for the project, and his acute attention to detail. Indeed, he probably imparted more information about the real history of the period than he gave away in his relatively minimalist, evocative film. An utterly heady, barmy press conference.

Read the full article here.

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