Monday, September 16, 2013

Top 28 Things I Love About Heat (that no one else talks about)


You know what the first thing I want to do as soon as I finish watching Michael Mann’s epic crime masterpiece Heat? Watch it again. Despite this film’s intricate storyline and lengthy running time, it never gets old. It never grows tired or forced. It’s sharp, on the edge, right where I like crime movies to be.

The way Pacino and De Niro move. De Niro moves slowly, with purpose, like a lone prey anticipating an attack. Pacino walks like a hunter. Eager for a kill.

The empty look on Val Kilmer’s face in his introductory scene. 


Jon Voight and Robert De Niro’s interactions with each other. Even though they say little, it’s so clear that they’ve known each other for years.


This look. Such a badass.


“I’m sorry if the goddamn… chicken got… over… cooked.”


De Niro stepping out of Amy Brenneman’s way without looking at her.


The way Tom Noonan says “Congratulations,” after De Niro accepts the bank job.


Dennis Haysbert. We have no idea who his character is or what he has to do with the main storyline. Yet Michael Mann keeps cutting to him. Why? Why should we care? Why should we sympathize? It takes a great actor to be able to string the audience along for so long.


The sharp jump cut of Waingrow killing the prostitute to a bottle of beer being opened. Mann always knows exactly how much violence is enough.


“I gotta hold onto my angst. I preserve it, because I need it. Keeps me sharp [SNAP], on the edge [SNAP], where I gotta be.”


Danny Trejo’s succinct acceptance of taking on the risky bank job. “Yeah… sure.”


The scene in which the hunted becomes the hunter. It’s one of the best, most criminally overlooked scenes in the film. “I mean is this guy something or is he something? You know what they’re lookin’ at? Us. The LAPD. The po-lice department. We just got made.”


The most devastating scene in the film. “Yeah man, fuck it. You’re on.”


This look. Such a wiseass.


“Sit there don’t move let it bleed.”


The way Tom Sizemore opens both doors to the getaway car.


How it switches to slow motion right before De Niro begins shooting. The best shot in the film.


Also, the fact that De Niro decides to shoot directly through the windshield. Because, why not?


The many shots of Val Kilmer turning around and shooting at both sides. There’s a precision to Kilmer’s actions that feels so real.


The tracking shot of Pacino running up a ramp, flanking one of the robbers.


Pacino readjusting his shoulder right before he saves a child’s life.


Jeremy Piven and his hairline.


“You better get in there are stay in there.”


The way Pacino never says goodbye on the phone.


Pacino consoling a mortified Diane Venora.


The way Pacino looks at his pager in this scene, and tries to hide the fact that he has somewhere else to be.


The grainy DV shot of De Niro hitting Waingrow in the face.



Click here for more lists from And So it Begins, including:
Top 22 Things I Love About Goodfellas (that no one else talks about)

33 comments:

  1. This is my favorite movie of all time so this post was extra fantastic to me. I love the grainy shot when he hits Waingrow too, you would think it would stick out but it works so well.

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    1. Nice man, so glad finding other super fans of Heat. I love Mann's use of those DV cams. The camera he invented for the fight scenes in Ali made for some amazing shots. Love Michael Mann.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. Gonna check out Culture Vulture soon!

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  2. Wow, Alex. This is awesome. I'll just say "agree" with all your points and move on, though I have to say "hell yeah" about the way Pacino hangs up on people. Here's five more:

    -I love the way Mann glides the camera over the highways of LA in the night time scenes before the coffee shop meeting.
    -I love the way the spotlights go on and off during the final showdown.
    -I love the beauty of Neil's house because it's so simple and clean. It's like something out of Oblivion.
    - I love the opening, which throws us right into the set-up for the truck heist. No wasted time.
    - I love the general professionalism of the criminals, which we so rarely see in movies. They move like a unit and don't waste any time.

    I hate the fact that we know they won't get away with it. Why doesn't Neil just keep driving and forget about Waingro? I know that it fits with his character and makes the movie stronger, but it's tragic.

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    1. GREAT comment here, Dan. Thanks so much for leaving such an insightful comment. Love all of your points, but my favorite is your notion of the professionalism among the criminals. They're such a tight crew, saying very little, but always speaking volumes.

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  3. Great post! I love Heat so much, awesome catch with the way DeNiro and Pacino walk, it seems so obvious since DeNiro is such a collected guy and Pacino plays this passionate cop yet I only realized it when you pointed it out.

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    1. Thanks! I think I only realized the walking thing myself on the most recent viewing. But it really is true. The hunted and the hunter. I just love this fuckin' movie.

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  4. Truly one of the best films ever. Needs to be seen again and again and again. Plus, it's got an awesome soundtrack.

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    1. Hell yeah, love the score and the song selection. Very great soundtrack.

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  5. Wow, this was a great read. Heat is also one of my all-time faves. The only thing I'd add, even though I'm not sure it qualifies as "no one talks about," is the diner scene with De Niro and Pacino. That whole scene is just perfect filmmaking.

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    1. Thanks man! Yep, that diner scene is as good as acting gets. It's funny, that restaurant is pretty close to where I live. I've been wanting to go and check it out.

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  6. Michael Mann is one of those directors who people I respect rave about, but I've never really had his movies connect with me the way that they seem to for so many. This has convinced me to dust off Heat again and re-evaluate :)

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    1. For me, he's one of the premiere directors making American crime movies. They're detailed, precise, and, most importantly, smart. Not too many really big directors make really big movies that are really smart. You know?

      Heat, man... it's a killer.

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  7. Great post. So many amazing things about this film. Now I gotta watch it again! You hear about Kilmer's sequel idea?

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    1. Thanks! Ha, I did hear Kilmer's idea. Dude might be a genius.

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  8. great film...great post/write up.

    I once had a philosophy professor rant about Heat for nearly 15 minutes on the coolest side tangent of my college years. No idea how or why he brought the film up but he did he could not stop.

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    1. Thanks man. Dude that is awesome. I always loved it when professors ranted on about a great film. I never took philosophy, but I imagine he had some rather interesting things to say about it.

      Also, and I hope this doesn't sound creepy, but I think I remember you saying you lived in LA. I moved here a month ago, loving it. Let me know if you ever want to meet up for a drink or something. Be cool to get to know some more people in town! I promise I'm a cool dude, yo.

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  9. Ah, Alex. You did it again. This post beautifully sums up one of the many, many things that makes Michael Mann such a genius.....the details, the little details. One I'd toss in there in addition to all yours is that moment in the opening heist when the banner at that car dealership falls to the ground.

    Also, being that you're a filmmaker I have a question for you: that scene you mention where Trejo just saying "Yeah sure".....we don't even see Trejo, right, until Mann cuts to the wide shot right at the end. Do you think that was on purpose? Mann is such a perfectionist I figure he would have filmed close-ups of Trejo if he wanted.

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    1. THE BANNER!! I totally had that one screenshot and ready to go, but it didn't make the final cut. Fuckin' Mann, man... he always knows exactly how long to hold a shot.

      You know, I didn't realize that about Trejo's non close-up until I was trying to get a screenshot of that scene. But you're definitely right. Intentional? Has to be.

      Thanks as always for reading and leaving such a great comment. I always value your insight.

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  10. Incredible post, Alex, wow! I LOVE this film though I haven't seen it in ages. Your astute observation here makes me want to rewatch it pronto! Ahah, that look on Tom Sizemore's face is his trademark smug look. I saw him up close when he came to a local film fest and he kinda has that look even when not on camera, ahah.

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    1. Thanks Ruth! So glad to find fans of this movie. After posting this, I actually watched it again. Damn thing never gets old.

      Love your story about Sizemore. The dude is an incredible actor, and I'm really glad he's doing better personally now.

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  11. Fantastic work man. I haven't seen this in years. It really is time for a rewatch.

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    1. Thanks buddy! I can watch this thing on repeat. A classic.

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  12. 1). It is a remake of a T.V movie by Mann, almost like admitting that yeah the first effort wasn't really all that good, but now that I have more resources and talent, game on.
    2). De Niro and Pacino could've flipped a coin to determine who would be who.
    3). Even though Mann isn't really saying anything new about how crime and law enforcement are a hair's length away from each other, he is just perfecting that statement in every sec of Heat.
    4). How Affleck channeled (or you could say ripped off) the shoot-out scene in the climax for 'The Town', I don't blame him if your movie reminds me of Heat in some way it's good thing.
    5). Dante Spinotti photographing LA
    6). Given a few hair differences in the course of their lives McCauley and Hanna would've been the livelong friends, instead of friends for just a few moments in the end. Which I suppose is the point of the whole story...
    Great scenes, great characters, great score, the best remake of all-time. Very few other films incapsulate their directors more than Heat with Mann.

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    1. Great stuff man. #2 is so true, and 6 is just spot on. That's what makes that final scene so remarkable. Two men against each other that understand each other.

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  13. Another great post, but Ive NEVER really seen what makes this film so special to sooo many. Its good, but I feel it just lacks everything other crime films, and indeed other contemporary crime films of its time had to make them stand out and be remembered. People say this is a masterpiece- I know you agree and I respect your opinion dude- so any short way of saying why?

    Really looking forward to more of these BTW, if the pattern holds Id love to see your work on PTA continue and Boogie Nights get a little list :D

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    1. Was thinking about doing Boogie next!

      I do think Heat is an epic crime masterpierce. The main reason is because it doesn't spell things about for the viewer, unlike most every other modern crime film. For example, we don't have the slightest clue why the film is including the Dennis Haysbert subplot. That character literally has nothing to do with anything, until he does. That's a rarity in crime films. That's just one small example, but I could talk about this flick for days. No film is for everyone, and I of course respect your opinion as well. But man, this one does it for me.

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    2. Its all good, the fact we all love films is enough, and im no stranger to having an unpopular opinion on them- though I'm glad you like Sleepers- its been in my top 5 since I first saw it about 5 years back :D

      Cant wait for Boogie if you end up doing it! So many great scenes

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    3. I'd love to make my way through the whole PTA catalog. But yeah, Boogie will be next!

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    4. Oh, and I've always wanted to do a post like that on Sleepers. I absolutely love that film.

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  14. I did the lighting in a photo shoot with Val Kilmer in 1996 in a tiny hotel room. The shot lasted an hour. That spaced out look in the beginning of the film is actually the way he looks. No joke. Very kind man and gracious, but totally spaced out look the entire photo shoot. I must say, he was one of the most interesting A-listers I worked with.
    - DLB

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    1. Love stories like that, thanks so much for sharing. I'm really glad to hear that he was kind and gracious. And I can just imagine that "look" of his. Priceless.

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