Tag Archives: Diane Venora

Heat (1995) Review

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Heat

Time:  170 minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Al Pacino as Lieutenant Vincent Hanna
Robert De Niro as Neil McCauley
Val Kilmer as Chris Shiherlis
Jon Voight as Nate
Tom Sizemore as Michael Cheritto
Diane Venora as Justine Hanna
Amy Brenneman as Eady
Ashley Judd as Charlene Shiherlis
Mykelti Williamson as Sergeant Bobby Drucker
Wes Studi as Lieutenant Sammy Casals
Ted Levine as Detective Mike Bosko
Director: Michael Mann

Lieutenant Hanna (Al Pacino), a detective, decides to catch a highly intelligent seasonal criminal (Robert de Niro) who has vowed to pull off one last robbery before he retires for good.

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Michael Mann’s Heat is one of the most significant films of the 90s. I remember watching the movie for the first time many years ago, I remembered liking it quite a bit, but not much more beyond that. Having rewatched Heat now, it was actually way better than I remember. It’s a long yet fantastic crime thriller from beginning to end, directed excellently, and with an engrossing story and great performances.

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The screenplay for Heat is fantastic, the story is nothing short of intense, suspenseful and engrossing from its opening scene all the way to the end credits. The 2 hour and 50 minutes runtime is admittedly a bit daunting especially going into the movie for the first time, but the time flew by so fast and it never dragged because of its fast paced story. It’s really impressive how many small details about characters and the plot are really conveyed here. The movie also has a lot of subplots, but surprisingly they don’t feel overdone, instead they added quite a lot to the film. The dialogue is also amazing, there are so many stand out scenes of characters just talking. Looking at the premise, Heat could’ve easily fallen into the same category that other cops and robbers movies fall into. Despite the genre it is in, Heat makes an effort to stay clear of cliches. Michael Mann adds a great amount of humility and realism to the story and characters. Each character is fleshed out fantastically, even the smaller side characters. It may be a crime film, but it deals with a lot more than just the crime and robberies, it is very much a character driven movie. The story is especially great with how it treats its lead two characters. Heat is essentially the fascinating story of two men who are consumed with what they do and share striking similarities despite being on opposite sides of the law, playing a game of cat and mouse and utilising their talents to stay one step ahead. The movie itself is already very thrilling to watch as a crime thriller, but its also compelling watching their relationships to their occupations and personal lives. It really is a tale of lonely people within their own fields slowly touch with the world around them, it is more melancholy than you’d initially expect it to be. The final act is pretty much perfection, as the chase comes to an end in a satisfying climax.

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Heat is known for being the first movie where Al Pacino and Robert de Niro are in the same movie and share screentime together. The acting from the two is excellent, both fitting their characters very well. Al Pacino is explosive and magnetic as Hanna the cop, and Pacino really gives him such a depth that makes him one of the actor’s most fleshed out characters. Robert de Niro as McCauley the thief is thorough and collected, and he has such a great on-screen presence. These two legendary actors don’t share much screen time in the film, but the movie does a good job at making you really wait and anticipate it. The iconic café scene where the two finally meet face to face for the first time is spectacular, I won’t say much more beyond that as everything that can be said about that moment has been said already. From the basic setup of characters, it could be easy for any filmmaker to turn Hanna into a hero figure and McCauley into an antagonistic force, but Mann and the two actors never lets the film succumb to this, and they did a good job at not making it purely black and white all the way through with regard to their characters. The rest of the cast are great, in fact this movie is stacked to the roof with stars. The cast includes Val Kilmer, Jon Voight, Tom Sizemore, Ted Levine and more, all of them playing their parts very well.

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Michael Mann’s direction is simply fantastic through and through. First of all, Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is mesmerising and gorgeous. Every scene is beautiful to watch, especially the scenes that take place at night. Heat is especially known for its heist sequences and for very good reason. They are spectacularly directed, tense, and full of adrenaline, and they also feel so realistic. The sound design is excellent, with the sounds of loud bullets and the clicks of the guns and more being almost deafening, in a good way. Additionally, Heat has a fantastic score from Elliot Goldenthal, which can be very tense but it also knows when to be calm and serene based off the moments its used in.

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Michael Mann has directed many outstanding films but Heat really is his magnum opus, and it’s easy to see why its so iconic and had a massive influence on other movies made since then. It really is fantastic on all fronts with writing, directing and acting, all of it is pretty much perfection. Absolutely essential viewing.

Romeo + Juliet (1996) Review

Time: 120 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo Montague
Claire Danes as Juliet Capulet/Juliet Capulet-Montague
Brian Dennehy as Ted Montague
John Leguizamo as Tybalt Capulet
Pete Postlethwaite as Father Laurence
Paul Sorvino as Fulgencio Capulet
Diane Venora as Gloria Capulet
Director: Baz Luhrmann

Baz Luhrmann helped adapt this classic Shakespearean romantic tragedy for the screen, updating the setting to a post-modern city named Verona Beach. In this version, the Capulets and the Montagues are two rival gangs. Juliet (Claire Danes) is attending a costume ball thrown by her parents. Her father Fulgencio Capulet (Paul Sorvino) has arranged her marriage to the boorish Paris (Paul Rudd) as part of a strategic investment plan. Romeo attends the masked ball and he and Juliet fall in love.

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I am not a fan of Romeo and Juliet (the play). I myself have studied it in English and while I can appreciate the impact that it’s made, I’m just not really into it. I am even less of a fan of the 90’s Romeo and Juliet movie by director Baz Luhrmann. The whole movie just irritated me from start to finish, and while it’s not one of the worst movies I’ve seen by any means, I really hated watching it.

One of the significant changes that Luhrmann has made was that this movie is pretty much set in the 90s. It did feel really weird with everyone speaking Shakespearian dialogue in modern day. With that said, Shakespeare’s plays can generally be translated into any time period, at least in terms of story. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Romeo and Juliet though, despite Luhrmann’s best attempts to making the movie make sense in the modern time period. For example, when technology like phones exist, it really makes you question why things didn’t happen differently, particularly towards the end (AKA, Juliet could’ve texted Romeo what was happening and so the whole tragedy could’ve been avoided). Otherwise the story is pretty much the same as in the source material, just presented differently.

The acting is quite the mixed bag. Something I’ve noticed is that the line delivery (particularly from the younger cast) is quite quick, and by that I mean they often deliver their lines quickly and it seems like they don’t know what the lines even mean. Claire Danes gives probably the best performance out of the younger cast as Juliet. As a fan of Leonardo DiCaprio… he just wasn’t that great here to me. There are some scenes where he is incredibly over the top, and while that might work for a play, it doesn’t work for a movie, and you just can’t take it that seriously. Towards the end (and I mean like the last scene) he is genuinely good though, and he does have a few legitimately good scenes. Most of the rest of the younger cast are fine enough but are generally okay at best. John Leguizamo was out of place here, he can give good performances but he feels a little miscast here. Paul Rudd is also in this movie. I don’t remember if he was good or not but I remember that he was in the movie. The older cast is quite impressive, much more so than the younger cast, with the likes of Paul Sorvino, Pete Postlethwaite and others giving some really solid performances.

The part that annoys me most about this movie is the direction by Baz Luhrmann. The style is so fast paced and in your face, and it got extremely obnoxious really quickly. I swear, this is the fastest I’ve disliked a movie, it took under 2 minutes. Luhrmann doesn’t always use this style, he’s done The Great Gatsby without having all of that, even during the party sequences. Even Moulin Rouge (another one of his movies I dislike) seemed to have more of a reason to have this crazy style than Romeo and Juliet. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t some good moments. The well known fish tank scene is one of the better additions to the movie, it doesn’t require any over the top and in your face elements, it’s rather subtle. Ironically that’s when the movie is at its best, but it feels like the movie is constantly trying to not be that. Something I realised watching this movie, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, is that Luhrmann is way better when he’s not directing over the top and crazy moments. His quieter moments are genuinely effective and great.

Romeo + Juliet really irks me, it just flat out has everything that usually annoys me in a movie from it’s over the top and hyperactive direction, editing and sometimes acting, however I know that this will appeal to some people. Honestly, I can’t even guess as to what audience will like Romeo and Juliet. It seems to have a mixed reaction, some people love it, others hate it and I fit in with the latter crowd. I guess to figure it out, watch a trailer or some clips and if you’re into what you’ve seen, then give it a watch, you may end up loving it.