To the casual observer, Michael Mann appears to make stylish but conventional genre films. A closer look reveals a filmmaker who occupies a strange position in American cinema. One who works within the Hollywood machine yet also outside of it. Mann’s films may tick many genre boxes, but through their conviction, beauty and uniformly wonderful casts, they also tap into feelings and concerns not realised in typical genre pictures.
I’ve been obsessed with psychics since I can remember. I don’t know what it is. Tea leaf readings, the magnificent tarot, exalted ghosts of the past, peculiar mediums – you name it, I find it enrapturing. I’m so preternaturally drawn to these themes that I’m developing a television series about them. A fascination so poignant and deep, I can daydream scenarios for hours on end.
London has got to be one of the loneliest cities in the world. For all its diversity and cultural heft, and despite 8.5m inhabitants crowding its boroughs, its tendency toward detachment is pervasive. New Yorkers are zealously friendly. Parisians, while cranky, communicate with passion. Londoners like to pretend everyone else simply does not exist.
An empty bottle of 94-point Napa Cabernet sat next to the bed. He had purchased it through a collector. They were not alcoholics, but at a bottle plus per night, she supposed they were falling into that class of lush who wrap self-medication up in exquisite packaging. He thrust on top of her.
“I can help you. Come to mine for faith healing on Saturday,” urged Nikki van der Zyl as she clasped my hand. I was interviewing her about life as the voice of Ursula Andress (and six other Bond girls) at the time and was unsure how we had gotten so off topic.
In the dream, Charlotte was laying on her right side on the bed, with her arm propping up her head. Wade was flat on his back. White blankets were ruffled between their bodies. Charlotte could feel all her clothes, but it was a dream feeling so she could not tell if she actually had any clothes on. Wade was shirtless. She could see his upper half, stocky and soft.
An invisible rope, hooked around my neck, pulls me along when I’m sleep deprived. I let somebody in on this secret, performing a mime to illustrate the dimensions, and am about to confess that my thoughts are preoccupied with death, anxiety and self-loathing, but she is already half-heartedly pretending to send a text. The number of syllables in the word insomnia is up for debate.
Birdman ended and the credits began. I watched the names of the cast and crew for a few seconds, before slowly getting up and exiting the auditorium. As I walked down the stairs, through the foyer and towards the door, things retained their sense of the ordinary, their levelness.
EXT. PARK – EARLY EVENING A London park in autumn. Ducks float in fountains. Leaves blow in the breeze. A vast white tent is visible through the trees. Inside that tent is an art fair. INT. ART FAIR – EARLY EVENING An evenly lit, and exactly white-walled gallery stand. CONCEPTUAL ARTIST (young man, worried expression) is having a conversation with HOLLYWOOD ACTOR (drug-addled, sex symbol).
Like Celine Dion and Michael Jackson, she had a gift that could never be bought – the gift of absolute pitch. If you threw Clara a song, she could play you back the notes by ear. She could do this on the piano at the age of two, because she was a v-i-r-t-u-o-s-o. And when she was four, she stood up on a table and breathed rapid hellfire from behind the chin rest of the devil’s instrument.