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Fox Lorber presents
The Directors: Michael Mann (2000)

"Michael spends a tremendous amount of time before his movies creating how his movie is going to be. I've never experienced that kind of detail work from any other director, ever."
- William Petersen (Manhunter)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: February 28, 2002

Stars: Michael Mann, Jon Voight, William Petersen, Madelaine Stowe, Wes Studi
Other Stars: Christopher Plummer, Tom Sizemore, Diane Venora, James Belushi
Director: Robert J. Emery

Manufacturer: DVSS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (a few obscenities)
Run Time: 0h:58m:27s
Release Date: February 19, 2002
UPC: 720917315621
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Michael Mann's film output has fallen well short of many other renowned directors, but it is his precise attention to detail that makes his stories so memorable. When preparing for the 1995 crime drama, Heat, Mann spent quite some time with L.A. cops to discover the grim realities of their daily work. For this three-hour epic's television airing, he refused to put his name on the picture because of serious cuts for time considerations. This uncompromising vision and passion for cinema place Mann among the premier directors working in Hollywood today. The Directors: Michael Mann spends an hour covering his impressive career within the typical format of this popular series. A decent group of actors provide brief insights and tidbits into Mann's directing style and talents. Performers ranging from Manhunter's William Petersen and Dennis Farina to Heat's Tom Sizemore and Jon Voight all express their respect for him. While the end result of this feature only scratches the surface of each production, it does give us a nice overview of his work. In 1979, Michael Mann rose to prominence with the release of Thief, which starred James Caan and James Belushi. The story follows a safecracker (Caan) who becomes entangled with the mob after his release from prison. Next, we see a brief clip from The Keep, a strange 1983 picture with Scott Glenn. However, the show basically ignores this entry. From the beginning, Mann is especially willing to discuss his background and the origins of his interest in film. This gives us a much better impression of him than the laudatory comments from his associates. During this time period, Mann also wrote and produced two television series—the highly successful Miami Vice and the disappointing Crime Story.Although he had attained success in television, Mann did not become a major figure in Hollywood until the release of 1986's Manhunter. Starring William Petersen, this thriller was the first introduction of Dr. Hannibal Lechter, the intelligent, vicious character brought to life by Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. At this point, this documentary finally slows down and takes a closer look at the memorable film. Next, there is a nice overview of Last of the Mohicans—a historical epic that provides moments of stunning natural beauty. This excellent picture would set the groundwork for the eventual release of two of my favorite films—Heat and The Insider. Nearly one-third of The Directors: Michael Mann is spent examining these two character-driven masterpieces. While I would have liked a bit more substantive material concerning these movies, it is still interesting to hear the actors discuss their experiences. Christopher Plummer perfectly summarizes my own enjoyment, as a writer, of The Insider's beautiful journalistic language. Both films wonderfully embody the precise brand of filmmaking that makes Mann such a fascinating director. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he prefers to operate his own camera to ensure that the material is perfect. Mann truly loves his work, and this joy carries over into films that rank among the best of the past decade.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The interview clips from this piece appear in a decent full-frame transfer with few defects. The colors are bright, and the picture is definitely acceptable for the straightforward footage. However, the widescreen film clips fall well below this mark. They are surprisingly grainy at points and are well behind your typical DVD transfer. The creators of this disc obviously did not spend a good deal of time trying to improve the quality of the film shots. Unfortunately, this lessens the impact of certain scenes that spotlight Mann's vision.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: Similar to the image transfer, this mono track presents the dialogue from the narrator and guest speakers in a clear and understandable fashion. Once again, however, the sound quality remains poor for the film clips. The problem is even worse here, though, as an odd hiss exists over the audio of these scenes. This is obviously a disappointing intrusion, and it lessens the overall quality of this presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 8 cues
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Production credits
Extras Review: This disc offers only a basic filmography for Mann, DVD production credits, and web links to the AFI and Wellspring media sites.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

Since it must cover the director's entire career in an hour, it is difficult to expect too much from The Directors: Michael Mann. It is unfortunate that Ali was created too recently to find a place within this feature. I would find it extremely interesting to discover the writer/director's thoughts about this ambitious production. Regardless, this release should please Mann fans and hopefully introduce a few new ones to his works.


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