Alphabetical movie – Heat
Heat is one of the movies I’m using as justification for the alphabetical movie project as it is a movie I own but until recently, I’d never actually watched it. I can’t even tell you why I own it. My wife doesn’t like the film. I’ve never seen it. I’m pretty sure I never actually bought the movie. I have no idea how it ended up in our collection.
There it is, though, nestled comfortably between Heartbreakers and Hellboy. The rules of the project are clear, I had to watch it.
As I progress through the Alphabetical movie project, there are times where I move rapidly and times where I move glacially. Frequently this has more to do with the amount of time I have available to watch movies. At times, though, I’m simply putting off watching a particular movie.
Heat was just such a movie. Most of my friends who had seen the movie didn’t seem too pleased with it and it is three hours long.
I don’t mind long movies but when I frequently don’t start watching a film until after 9:00, it makes for a late night. That can be especially daunting when I’m thinking about spending three hours with a film I’ve heard is not particularly good.
I had other things to do anyway. Lots of other things. I streamed a couple movies on Netflix. I made a salad. I updated my Facebook status. Twice.
Eventually, though, I sat down and watched the darn movie.
I liked it.
Yeah, the film is a little bit long but I felt like the length worked to it’s advantage. Yeah, there were a few “shouty Al” Pacino moments that felt a little out of place. Yeah, the movie is a manly film that never lets us into the heads of the women in their lives except insofar as their decisions impact those women.
The primary thrust of the film is really the toll that two conflicting career choices have on the men who made them. On that level, I was thoroughly engaged. There was a symmetry to the lives of the two main characters that wasn’t unlike the symmetry between Batman and The Joker. The cop is the good guy and the robber is the bad guy but only because that is how society defines them.
I love a good heist film but the one thing heist films try to do is create sympathetic robbers. Take another DeNiro Heist film, The Score.
In that film, DeNiro is a gentleman thief. He cracks safes and takes stuff. he runs a jazz club on the side. He has a relationship with Angela Bassett. He’s a great guy who just happens to also steal things.
Heat ins’t about great guys who steal things. The robbers in the film are murderers. Generating sympathy for these guys takes a little more work. They aren’t speaking some amazing Tarantino dialogue that makes you forget they are killers.
These are bad guys.
They are still people, though, and when you see them doing something other than shooting up a bunch of security guards, you can see their complexity. I found myself hoping they would get away with their crime and hoping they would pay for the horrible things they were doing.
They are contrasted with a cop who is not crooked but is certainly not clean. He is married to his work and has left a string of unhappy ex-wives in his wake. He’s no angel. He just happens to be the guy trying to track down some very bad men.
Heist movies rarely provide such character complexity. Heat, by running nearly three hours, was able to make us understand these guys. We weren’t asked to sympathize – just to witness.
Next time I have a three hour movie to watch, I’ll try not to put it off.