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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Public Enemies"

The anticipation factor behind "Public Enemies" was sky-high. The trailer alone was almost worthy of applause. Was "Public Enemies" as advertised? Not quite. While your expectations need not be lowered, they may need calibration. When one mentally combines director Michael Mann and John Dillinger, what leaps to mind is "Heat" in the 1930's. Mann loves cat-and-mouse games and urban cityscapes, this project would seem tailor-made given his visual style and favorite themes. He specializes in making us like the bad-boys, and this isn't his first fact-based caper film. What is different here is that Mann is no longer satisfied with making us admire a criminal's cunning and skill. This time he wants us to study him and have deep sympathy for him. Mann moderately succeeds, the audience will gain a greater understanding of the man behind the legend, but it will come at a price. The mood and tempo of the film is rather downbeat. It recalls films like "Bonnie and Clyde." "Bonnie and Clyde" was a great film, but Mann isn't Arthur Penn. We expect more of a spark from him. As such, "Public Enemies" is sort of like a gorgeous ill-fitting suit.

Note: After staring dismayed at Tigard and Bridgeport's listings and finding that neither had it playing in a theater labeled as "Big Screen" I decided to make the trek to Lloyd Cinemas and its much-touted 67-foot screen. I hadn't been there since seeing a small film that was playing an exclusive engagement. I chalked up its inferior seating to the relatively small size of the theater. Surely, they would have modified the flagship auditorium?. Not so! In this HUGE, nearly-empty theater, the wheelchair seats are still in the very front and very back. I defiantly sat in the aisle. Lloyd Cinemas receives the dreaded Ramp of Shame!

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