It’s A Funny Business: A Case Study In Comedy

For all the passion and skill and talent and blood and sweat and tears and risk that producers bring to the mix the one most often looked over yet is the most important is that of business person. Because when the lights go out, the talent and crew go home the business of film and TV really starts. Like all businesses the goal is to make money. It is something that ‘creatives’ don’t like to talk about because their driving force is the ‘art’ or ‘craft’. In the pilot of ‘Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip’, Aaron Sorkin writes ‘…there’s a struggle between art and commerce. Well there’s always been a struggle between art and commerce and now I’m telling you art is getting its ass kicked.’ In the scene the producer of a Saturday Night Live style sketch comedy show angrily laments the way in which the network panders to their conservative, vocal, right-wing, Christian minority audience in an effort to not offend anyone while simultaneously limiting the breadth of creative input the show requires to be appreciated by the masses. Continue reading “It’s A Funny Business: A Case Study In Comedy”

The Three Roles Architecture Performs in Michael Mann Crime Films


"You can ball my wife if she wants you to, you can lounge 
around here on her sofa in her ex-husband’s dead-tech, 
post-modernistic, bullshit house if you want to, 
but you do not get to watch my fucking television set."

(Mann, M., ‘Heat’ 1995)

Michael Mann has cultivated a distinctive directorial style throughout his filmmaking career. This style relies on many techniques and one of the most important is his use of architecture. More so than merely stating the location of a scene, in a house, in an office, at the railway yards, in LA’s South Central or New York’s Upper West Side, etc, Mann carefully uses domestic, commercial and industrial architecture as well as infrastructure, streetscapes and cityscapes to reflect and enhance his character’s traits and unspoken tendencies. Continue reading “The Three Roles Architecture Performs in Michael Mann Crime Films”

Beyond Cops and Robbers: An Analysis of “HEAT” (1995) Written & Directed by Michael Mann


“A guy told me one time: don’t let yourself get attached 
to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds 
flat if you feel the heat around the corner.”

(Mann, M., ‘Heat’ 1995)


Beyond the dollars and guns and women and violence and double crossing and heists is a complex and much analysed story of two men; Vincent Hanna (Al Pacino) and Neil McCauley (Robert De Niro). On a first viewing these two men are protagonists in one of the oldest of story genres, ‘cops and robbers’. As Ari Mattes notes, “…both know, and admire and respect, the other as their nemesis, nullifying, in Mann’s film, any reading in terms of a Manichean structure (that is, good hero versus evil villain).” (Mattes, 2014, Issue 4)

Continue reading “Beyond Cops and Robbers: An Analysis of “HEAT” (1995) Written & Directed by Michael Mann”

“MEMENTO”: A Film Wrapped in a Puzzle, Covered in Hidden Clues Directed by Christopher Nolan


“No. It’s different. I have no short-term memory. I 
know who I am and all about myself, but since my 
injury I can’t make any new memories. Everything 
fades. If we talk for too long, I’ll forget how 
we started. I don’t know if we’ve ever met before, 
and the next time I see you I won’t remember 
this conversation. So if I seem strange or rude, 
that’s probably...
I’ve told you this before, haven’t I?”

(Nolan, C., 2000, ‘Memento)


This movie is often described as confusing the audience but I think Memento more aptly creates within the audience a vivid sense of uncertainty. Based on the short story (by his brother, Jonathan Nolan) ‘Memento Mori’, Christopher Nolan’s film explores the space in and around the human memory while at the same time telling a tale of revenge and its ultimate futility. Continue reading ““MEMENTO”: A Film Wrapped in a Puzzle, Covered in Hidden Clues Directed by Christopher Nolan”