I'm living the West Coast beach life on an East Coast body clock. The names have been changed to protect me, because I'm innocent. (Well, for the most part.) Former part-time blogger for Voice of Santa Monica.
Michael Mann’s densely annotated screenplay from the famous coffee shop scene between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro of ‘Heat,’ courtesy of Will McCrabb. On De Niro’s suggestion they didn’t rehearse the scene together so that the unfamiliarity between the two characters would seem more genuine.
Now Pacino and De Niro are two of the greatest actors on the planet, so I knew they would be completely alive to each other—each one reacting off the other’s slightest gesture, the slightest shift of weight. If De Niro’s right foot sitting in that chair slid backward by so much as an inch, or his right shoulder dropped by just a little bit, I knew Al would be reading that. They’d be scanning each other, like an MRI. Both men recognize that their next encounter will mean certain death for one of them. Gaining an edge is why they’ve chosen to meet. So we read the scene a number of times before shooting—not a lot—just looking at it on the page. I didn’t want it memorized. My goal was to get them past the unfamiliarity of it. But of course these two already knew it impeccably.
Michael Mann ran three cameras simultaneously in order to generate a greater level of fluidity between both rivals. Since there were (almost) no rehearsals for the scene, this approach afforded both men a more generous margin for improvisational experimentation.
We shot that scene with three cameras, two over-the-shoulders and one profile shot, but I found when editing that every time we cut to the profile, the scene lost its one-on-one intensity. I’ll often work with multiple cameras, if they’re needed. In this case, I knew ahead of time that Pacino and De Niro were so highly attuned to each other that each take would have its own organic unity. Whatever one said, and the specific way he’d say it, would spark a specific reaction in the other. I needed to shoot in such a way that I could use the same take from both angles. What’s in the finished film is almost all of take 11—because that has an entirely different integrity and tonality from takes 10, or 9, or 8. All of this begins and ends with scene analysis. It doesn’t matter if it’s two people in a room or two opposing forces taking over a street. Action comes from drama, and drama is conflict: What’s the conflict? —The Study of Mann
Here is a bit of must-see Michael Mann interview treasure: 17-minute BBC documentary, ‘Mann Made: From LA Takedown To Heat,’ consists of an extended interview with Mann, where he recounts the stripped-down version of his 180-page screenplay for ‘Heat,’ in a 1989 made-for-TV quickie called ‘LA Takedown,’ as well as his unhurried workflow. “The amount of time I take between projects is not a method; it’s an irritant,” he says. “I would much prefer to direct two films in three years, or three films in three years, but finding something I want to do next is very difficult.”
Screenwriting 101, the best screenwriting school you can get: Michael Mann’s screenplay for ‘Heat’ (NOTE: For educational purposes only). The DVD/Blu-ray of the film is available at Amazon and other online retailers.
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ABLOW: You cannot come in with leggings. Because my son wants to learn and the truth is it is distracting. And it is kind of inappropriate because when did we decide as a culture that tights would become an overgarment instead of an undergarment. The reason we’re doing that is because girls are in a panic to be more and more sexual because we’ve taken all the restraint away from femininity. We’ve made girls into boys.
ABLOW: I don’t know that we can restrain boys from being boys. So the long stare, the offhand comment, you have to — what do you do, excuse it? Because it was certainly provoked. And I think girls put themselves in the line of fire that way.
"I don’t know that we can restrain boys from being boys." And he also thinks we shouldn’t even try. Sorry, girls, your needs don’t matter when they interfere with boys’ needs. I mean, why would we even try to restrain boys so that girls could be allowed to learn?
The sexism here is so breathtakingly clear: Boys will be boys and there’s no need or desire to change that. Girls must accommodate themselves to boys, not the other way around. Only the girls have to make accommodations according to this sexist asshole.
And the part that really annoys me is that middle school might be a great time to start explaining to boys that it’s not acceptable to treat women as sex objects, and that they should act with restraint and empathy towards all people, including those of the opposite sex. It will be a lot easier to teach this lesson at 13 than at 23, at which point you’d have to unlearn all the bad lessons. But Dr. Ablow doesn’t want to do that— he wants boys to have no restraint and do whatever they want, no matter who it hurts. This is sexism, and to some extent what rape culture is based on. And for that, Dr. Keith Ablow is the Asshole of the Day.
As Noam Chomsky once pointed out for Z Magazine, old media types from the institutional bodies like American Enterprise Institute tend to regurgitate the same ideas with a reliability that is equally impressive and infuriating. While assuring the public that rape is a terrible crime, writers like Caroline Kitchens and Heather McDonald of right-wing think tank The Manhattan Institute try to claim that feminists have blown this whole rape culture thing way out of proportion.
Apparently, many women disagree. On Tuesday there were more than 1 million responses on the #RapeCultureIsWhen hashtag started by a frustrated Zerlina Maxwell in response to these right-wing narratives.