Thursday, August 23, 2007

Feel the Heat

Went to see Heat on the big-screen at the AFI's Silver theater last night with Galley Friend S.B. I saw Heat in a theater in December of 1995, and I've probably seen it 20 times since then on what have been reasonably nice AV setups at home. And there's just no comparison. To pick just one aspect: At home, I had come to think of the final shoot-out on the airfield as anti-climax--for me, the movie ended as soon as De Niro kills Waingro and spots Pacino walking toward his car outside the hotel. From there we know how this story ends. Vincent can hit or miss, Neil can't miss once. On the small screen, their final set-piece feels unnecessary.

But on the big screen, with the roar of the jet engines literally shaking your guts, it's a totally different experience. That scene, with the glaring, white, runway lights nearly blinding the audience and the eerie stillness between landings. It's fantastic. And Heat remains, for me, one of the best films of the '90s and high-up on my all-time list.

So while breaking bread before the movie, S.B. and I were discussing what our top 5 crime movies would be, crime being reasonably narrowly defined. The loose list we cobbled together went something like this:

Godfather I
Godfather II

From there we diverged. I'd go with some combination of Chinatown, Layercake (believe it, it's that good), L.A. Confidential, and The Maltese Falcon, depending on the day. Yes, this is waaaay too weighted toward recent movies and it ignores, say, all of Hitchcock, mostly because I think of those films as being somewhat apart from the crime genre.

Your thoughts?


Anonymous said...

As a preface, I'm pretty sure we limited this to films made in the "New Hollywood" timeframe. Hence the emphasis on modern films.

I still think Snatch was better than Layercake. But this is a tough list to limit to just five. I mean, personally, I'd like to see some Coen Bros: The Big Lebowski, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, all crime movies in a sense.

We can't forget Silence of the Lambs. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? The French Connection? And then on a second tier, flicks like Ocean's 11, or Se7en. Good, solid movies, but I don't know if they crack the top ten.


Anonymous said...

A better question related to your post: what movies benefit most from being seen on the big screen rather than on video? My two:

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Anonymous said...

Interesting follow up question. I saw Star Wars on the huge screen at the Uptown when it was rereleased. That was kind of cool. I also saw 2001: ASO at the AFI Silver on a 70mm print not too long blew my mind. Well, that and the four tabs of acid.



Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan The French Connection. It's amazing the way they shot the city of NY with all the long angles showing the streets and buildings on the side.

And Gene Hackman cracking heads in the ghetto bar was pretty fantastic.

Anonymous said...

oh, darnit, I just saw SB already called dibs on The French Connection. I was hoping for originality. Oh well...

Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, my top five list would probably be

3.Carlito's Way
5.Godfather II

Man I love Carlito's Way. That scene at the beginning when Pacino's in the Bathroom: "You think you're big time? You gonna fuckin' die big time! You ready? HERE COMES THE PAIN!"

My buddies and me in college shouted that to each other every day for weeks.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean about the small screen detracting from that final scene. Another scene diminished by the small screen is the downtown shootout. Did the print you saw include the extended doctor scene with Jeremy Piven, from which the Double the worst trouble line came?

As for lists, Godfather I & II are interchangeable and somedays I like the alternating story lines of II and other days I just love the brilliance of the first.

Goodfellas is a worthy entrant, but I would put Heat before it. 1995 was a seminal year for the Crime genre and Heat has in the dozen years we have had to reflect on it, grown larger than the three other crime films of that remarkable year. The others are Pulp Fiction, Casino and the Usual Suspects. Usual Suspects would be my number five, after Goodfellas.

T1-Godfather I
T1-Godfather II
5-The Usual Suspects

Casino always suffered from excess, and the familiarity we had with Pesci and DeNiro together. Had Ray Liotta made a cameo it would have slipped into self-parody, and it wasn't far from it at other points. As for Pulp Fiction it feels diminished in the intervening years. Maybe it is the dreck that Tarantino has churned out since, but it just felt godawful

And another thing, great spot talking wresting heels with the Chowdah man last night. Dean give you any grief about the Iggles?

Anonymous said...

Not having The Usual Suspects on a list of top 5 recent crime movies is like not having Caddyshack on a list of top 5 metaphysical treatises.

How could you have missed it?