PUBLIC ENEMIES: Watching Our Real Dreams

The best moments in Michael Mann’s latest film, PUBLIC ENEMIES, based on legendary criminal John Dillinger (Johnny Depp), come around the last act: Dillinger, under disguise, is inspired while watching himself as the great criminal that he is on a number of photos in a Police Department, and then in the theater watching MANHATTAN MELODRAMA, a film with a resonance to Dillinger’s mode of life. It is a wonderful outside perspective, almost as if the character has stepped out of the frames. In a variety of ways, it is emblematical of Mann’s films: characters whose macho lives are idealizations made into realization; a microcosm for a filmmaker whose digital shooting is all about simulation over illustration. Dillinger, as the film as a whole, are not groundbreaking archivements for Mann, but still work as symbols on his career. That cinema is an avenue not just to see dreams, but that under the right properties, also live them.

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