Sunday, July 02, 2006

Originally appeared back when you had to read webpages about rum in order to watch the trailer I refer to

Hello, my name is Tom and today I'll be watching the trailer for Miami Vice, as directed by the show's creator Michael The Lord Thy God Mann and starring Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell. (Note if you will that their billing is reversed from how it was on the tv show: Johnson, or Whitey if you prefer, was the uncontested Star of the television program, with Thomas, or The Badass Black Guy, playing a decidedly second-fiddle kind of role. So reversing their billings and importances is just the first in a long line of Exciting Things about this movie). This trailer makes me excited because:
- Miami Vice is awesome
- Michael Mann is awesome
- Michael Mann has made a movie of Miami Vice
- The chances are high, based on the above, that the movie of Miami Vice will be awesome.

"Do you understand the meaning of the word 'foreboding'?" asks Mr. Crockett at the start of the trailer. "As in 'badness is happening right now'."
This is an excellent start, because, of course, that's exactly not the meaning of the word "foreboding". The meaning of the word "foreboding" is as in "I'm fairly sure badness is going to be happening right soon".
Now, why this is awesome is that it's exactly the sort of dumbass mistake Sonny Crockett would make, if he was ever put in a position to make it: in the show, Crockett was written as flawlessly awesome, in a Don Johnson kinda way, ie he was actually a total tool but we were meant not to notice that. If you asked Crockett was "foreboding" meant, he'd totally say something like, "aw, well, that means badness is happening right now"; this would make it apparent that he was a dolt, so the writers ensured that he was never asked anything like "what's the meaning of the word 'foreboding', Crockett?", just things like, "what's the Rainbow Warrior, Crockett?" or "get any last night, Crockett?"
So casting world-renowned tool of Johnsonian levels Colin Farrell as Sonny Crockett is not, as it may on the face of it seem, a Bad Idea at all: because everybody knows Colin Farrell is a dickwad, and lots of people want to bang him regardless, and that's EXACTLY what Don Johnson is. And then giving him a line where he reveals right off the bat that he's an immaculately-groomed moron is just fantastic, because it means that this Miami Vice is going to take place in a world where people say things that sound fuckin' cool but actually make them sound like a goof, which is exactly the world Miami Vice needs to take place in.

Here we see the first hints of what will make me even more excited about Miami Vice: that is quite definitely the kind of colours you will see in Miami Vice, but look! We're seeing it in some sorta manky-ass handicam dealio following some sort of "go! go! go!" type! There wasn't much of that in the show: Michael Mann developed Miami Vice in a time before there was COPS, and as such, televisual grammar dictated that police officers were still, by law, allowed to be viewed from a stationary vantage-point. Of course this has changed now, and luckily Miami Vice has changed with it: we wouldn't want to see International Treasure Michael Mann shackled, tarred and feathered for violation of the Cops In Handicam Laws.
I'm not sure where our GoGoGo friend is going - my first instinct is to say "a kitchen", but I'm fairly sure that's wrong, because it doesn't actually look like a kitchen. There are various things laid about as if in some state of Making Something, and the shiny walls do back this up - shiny, easily-cleaned walls are prominent in places where you make food, or possibly drugs, or at a stretch urine - but I don't want to jump to any conclusions: the Stuff in this place, whatever it is that GoGoGo is so het up about it, may in fact just be being stored, rather than actually made.
But what's clear from this shot is that Miami Vice will have Stuff in it, and that said Stuff will either be Made or Stored somewhere.

Here's Tubbs. In the television series, Tubbs was a twisted character: the first scene EVER depicted the brutal killing of his straight-up cop brother by terrible black-hearted criminal Calderone, setting in motion the entire diegetic Everything - as Tubbs resolved to go to Miami, track down Calderone, and fuck 'im up. However, on getting there, he found Crockett so agreeable (heaven only knows why) that he was content, much of the time, to set his Calderone-fucking-up agenda to the side for the purposes of Dance Monkey Dancing for Crockett and the police force down there. This was of course dumb and offensive, but it was the 1980s, when the world lived in peril of sophisticated black American men and their superior dancing abilities and Godlike sexual prowess; so if you put a black man in fly threads like Tubbs was given to wearing, then had him played by a passionate, fiery gent like Philip Michael Thomas, you had to temper it by making him a comic foil to a straight white shirt-forsaker such as Crockett. Otherwise the show would be called Tubbs: He's Gonna Fuck Calderone Up, and all of white America, including President Ronald Reagan, would cower in terror at the prospect that Tubbs, fictional character though he was, might mistake them for Calderone, and that fucking-up could potentially ensue.
Tubbs, then, was a stylish, handsome, smart feller with a very serious grudge against a terrible black-hearted criminal[1]; and this, coupled with his blackness, was considered so dangerous that he had to play comic-relief to the usually rather boring story of Crockett's Wife Has To Leave Him Because She Loves Him Too Damn Much, which happens astoundingly often to straight white shirt-forsakers in the realm of fiction. What we see here, though, looks astoundingly like Tubbs, as played by your friend and mine Jamie Foxx, getting some Bidness Took Care of, all on his lonesome, and looking very serious about it too. He looks remarkably unlike he's about to wear a silly costume or get a bucket of paint dropped on him or whatever the fuck Tubbs used to have happen to him.
Note, though, that he appears to be in a place inhabited far and away predominantly by black people. So I don't want to think this is the case, but it's always a possibility that Crockett has sent him to stake out the place where all the black folks hang out or do some questioning of black folks in their jive tongue that Crockett swears he can't understand or what have you. (This is exactly the sort of shit Crockett would pull, and exactly the sort of excuse he'd give). What's for sure, though, is that he looks damn good doing it.

This makes me excited. Not this per se. But see this car? Okay, now it's going to pull out of the screen.

And a car is following it, with GREAT BIG UGLY-ASS DIGICAM LENS FLARE ON IT. This makes me excited on many levels: for one thing, that distinctive vertical-stripe digital lens flare is really sexy-looking. Secondly, this means that Miami Vice, like Collateral, will have a lot of digi that does not pretend to be film, which is a look I am very fond of. Look at it! When's the last time you saw a big-screen big-budget movie with those fuckin' great lines all over it? Never, that's when. Hot. The cinematography is being done by Dion Beebe, who is the same gent who did the pictures for Collateral, so that's good.

Here is a boat, presumably one that will appear in Miami Vice. People seem to be somewhat hung up on the fact that Miami Vice had boats in it, which I must confess I don't see the big deal about. I don't recall, from the episodes I've seen, any amazing boat-chase scenes or boat-gunfight scenes or boat-conversation scenes (of course) or anything. Mostly Crockett and Tubbs would just jump in a boat (you'd never see them getting in it, they'd just be in it) and go from a to b. Which, I mean, of course they would, it's Miami, it's all wet and you need to fly a boat if you want to get to the secret islands with the drug dealers on them. They'd always be shown in such long-shot that there was no reason whatsoever to suspect that it was really Johnson and Thomas on the boats, and they'd bounce over the waves for a while, and then they'd be at their destination.
HOWEVER. Once, a very memorable scene happened where Crockett and Tubbs were getting from a to b on a boat, and a sense of foreboding (no, as in badness was on the way to happening) was prevalent, and Phil Collins was on the soundtrack singing In The Air Tonight, and it was rather masterful. Now, I know I am far from alone in loving this moment, and many people cherish it from way back when they saw it on the electric television, right back when the series aired, during the War or whenever the hell it was. (As opposed to me, who just saw it on dvd). So if there is a getting-from-a-to-b-on-a-boat moment, I want it very much to have an excellent song on it. That will be something I enjoy.
Incidentally, the music in this trailer is Linkin Park and their friend Jay-Z, and it works better than you'd think it would. The actual music in the movie is being done by the RZA, which I must say seems like an odd thing: what do Bobby Digital and Jet Stream, for instance, have in common? I mean, sure, you could make a case for dope hip-hop beats Are The New crunchin' rock guitars, and sure, you couldn't have Jan Hammer marching around with his fucking ridiculous keyboard-that-wants-to-be-a-guitar, I mean, this is a real movie here; but... well, we'll see.

This is more like it. A helicopter. See how it's following some traffic. This is less Miami Vice exciting than it is Michael Mann exciting: Michael Mann movies often have helicopters in them, and sometimes they follow people around. I don't remember any specific examples of helicopters being used for story purposes in Miami Vice, beyond the obvious "oh look there's a helicopter there this must be some serious shit" kind of token signifier type dealio. But I'm more than ready to entertain the notion that helicopters would be a viable addition to the Miami Vice pantheon of Ways Folk Can Travel In.

Let's study the light this shot is playing with. It's intriguing! Look at that! That's Dion fucking Beebe going to TOWN with some freaky-deaky low-light UV lights and whatnot! Do you know what kind of jiggery-pokery you'd have to do, with unproven technology such as the Viper camera, to get this kind of --

Oh, fuck it.

Miami Vice, as the first word of the title will hint, is set in Miami. In Miami, according to this program, it's always very hot so people never wear many clothes. This forces a minimalist system of identification to be encoded into peoples' dress: Men will wear natty little straw hats to denote their Cuban heritage (not pictured), excellent cheesecutter-derived pre-Kangol Kangol-esque dealios to denote their Haitian roots (not pictured), or do-rags, augmented with bigass ghetto blasters, to signify their African-American lineage (not pictured); women will not wear pants (pictured).
Usually in the television show, unpanted women (who usually will wear a bikini top of some manner but besides this will be untopped also) will be shown at the beach and/or in the sun, so the viewer can clearly make the association that "well, this woman is in a hot place, so obviously I can see for myself why she's so scantily-clad"; the movie appears to build on this notion, taking it as a given in the minds of the audience, and allow women not to wear much in the way of pants inside at night either.

It's like no effort is going to be made to convey the possibility that Crockett is not a total dick. Look at him! He looks like:
a) A white-trash shitkicker who probably commits more crimes than anyone he knows, a la Tom Noonan in Heat
2) A slimy narcissist who can't even give us the respect of putting a non-I-need-to-do-a-poo-face on, a la Don Johnson in Miami Vice
c) Someone about to be shot many times, a la Mark Ruffalo in Collateral
However, he is walking somewhere very fast in clearly digi handicam. Which is hot.

Okay, look, what the fuck is this. This trailer is paying such attention to telling me how many modes of transport will be featured in the movie, it can't even be bothered telling me the picture's got Justin Theroux and Gong Li in it. You know what it's like, is it's like a trailer for a live-action version of Grand Theft Auto Vice City, which is ridiculous, as Grand Theft Auto Vice City is itself just a non-live-action trailer for Miami Vice. (Well, also it's great and it wins me watches, but that's a whole nother thing). Does anyone go and see a movie because it's got planes in it? I suppose they might, but still, seems a dumb way to advertise a movie if you ask me.

A token nod to the fact that this movie actually is a buddy movie about two guys who have adventures together. Most of the action in the trailer is focused on Jamie Foxx, because he's the cool one, but here we're allowed to see the two of them as a singular unit, proceeding in a good old-fashioned car to somewhere where, if I know Miami Vice, Shit Will Go Down. Which is nice.
Of course, you don't even need to ask who's driving, but it's Tubbs. In the series, Crockett would have justified this by making like Tubbs was his bitch and he was too good to drive himself so he'd get his black friend to do it; in the movie, from what we've seen, it's more likely that Crockett has gotten fucked up, either by his own or someone else's doing, and Tubbs has to drive him home before he walks off a pier or something. In this shot it's not clear whether or not Crockett is asleep, but it wouldn't surprise me.

In case you were unsure up to this point, note the facial hair. This is not the facial hair of a man who engages in comic-relief pratfalls so his partner can brood about how difficult it is being a straight white guy in the prime of your life in 1980s America. This is the facial hair of a dude who's gonna get it DONE, and if mister I-can't-even-be-bothered-getting-the-accent-right-let-alone-learning-the-definition-of-foreboding can't keep up, fuck 'im.

In case you have just gained the power of sight as your eyes reach the bottom of this page, the movie in question is Miami Vice. I am looking forward to it and you're welcome to come to it with me as long as you don't talk!

[1] "Black-hearted" is not in this case a racial slur: Calderone, as may be surmised from his name, was in fact of Hispanic extraction.