Saturday 1 October 2011

Heat and the Good and the Bad, and Me

          So I just saw Heat. I mean I had seen bits and parts of it when it came on the telly, but I was never able to watch it completely. And for some reason the part where Robert De Niro meets Amy Brenneman is what I always manage to see, and it is nice and all, but really not that interesting. What is interesting in this film is sparring between Al Pacino and De Niro, the Cop and the Robber, maybe even the Good and the Bad. 

"I do what I do best, I take scores. You do what you do best, try to stop guys like me."

         Woah what? Are you like five? I know that you are thinking it. That last phrase, which, when it crossed my mind, made me stop and really think too. I mean do I really care about who is good or who is bad in films? Yes everyone has good and bad in them blah blah blah, and I have declared my love for anti-heroes and villains over the rooftops of the world, but in films like these I do end up supporting one of the sides. Usually it is due to the better character depicted in the film or better acting of one or, and this is, slightly shamefully, the case most of the times, the actor playing the role.

            I know, I am biased and indecisive and a toddler. So anyways, on going further down this chain of thought, I thought it might be all the Bollywood movie-watching that has led to this cop-robber/good-bad thing. Though honestly if Heat was a Bollywood film, Pacino and De Niro would have been estranged brothers and one of them, probably the former a.k.a. the "good cop" would have had a blind, old mother and both of them would have had a common love interest. That is not the case, thank god, but having had seen many Bollywood films with such a plot line, and I wouldn't be surprised if Heat was an inspiration behind some of them, and it is almost by reflex that I assign the lawful with the good and the unlawful with the bad. Obviously, this does not mean that I choose the "good" over the "bad". I think one of the reasons I really love villains so much is that the "bad" are usually better, for the afore-mentioned reasons, than the "good".

           In Heat, there really was no clear-cut good guy and bad guy, according to the generally-accepted ideas anyway. I mean I thought Pacino's character, Vincent, was bordering on repulsive for me. He was vulgar and short-tempered and horrible with his family, and made no convictions about being anything otherwise either. De Niro's character, Neil, on the other hand, was I thought very polished, and I liked his whole story with Brenneman's character, Eady. It was sweet. But then again, Vincent was a very good cop, one of the best that I have seen in films so far. He is efficient and smart and skilled; though the part where he kills one of the characters who was holding a child at that time was, in my opinion, really reckless and careless of him, and made me kind of want to hate him. He had the good lines though, so yaay! Conversely, Neil was quite a ruthless thief who, I thought, went back on his word a bit, and that made him slightly scary. Therefore the criterion of the better character between the two has failed for me for choosing a good or bad side.

          My second criterion is the better acting. Um...hmmm...well...I got nothing. Moving along.

          The third thing, and what inevitably does become the main criterion in nearly all such cases, is my love for the actors. I guess technically you can say this is the extension of the second criterion, especially for this film. I highly doubt I will have a more difficult time choosing between any other two great actors like I had in the case of Heat, and the godfathers of acting- Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. I think I have days when one is better than the other according to me. One day Pacino is greater, the other De Niro. It's sort of like picking my favourite Beatle (John), but harder still. They are both such fantastic actors, and well, attractive too. Today, while watching the film, my heart sort of yo-yoed between the two.  It did land on one in the end though. Guess who?!

        Still, it does not mean I have chosen a side. I feel incapable of doing so, and that is something, I am sure, which will make me remember Heat for a long time. Not to mention the excellent heist scene at the beginning, with the unfurling ribbon thing, and the plain awesome face-off, and the you know, "usual" chat over coffee, and the very loud shootout, and the really thrilling ending. Michael Mann has indeed made an excellent film, even called a modern classic by many. I can believe that now because when I sat down to write this, I felt I liked it but didn't love it all the way, but right now, the feelings of admiration have exponentially increased.

           So there you have it...I completely random post on a thought that I felt like expanding upon, and me falling in love with yet another film. And what a film...


  1. Umm, I would have sworn I left a comment here a day ago. In any case, one of the great aspect of the movie is that both Pacino's and De Niro's characters are developed equally and both are flawed men who aren't that different from each other even though they are on opposite side of the law. Great flick!

  2. You commented on my other post by mistake.
    I like that in a classic sense of cop and robber, or maybe in my Bollywood sense, their characteristics would have been reversed. The fact that they don't and as you said, their characters both develop equally and we get to form our opinions and choose our own sides, it's really quite cool. Thanks for commenting again :)