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By Joshua Jabcuga
June 5, 2003 ###
Answering Reader E-mail
Frank De Lucia writes:
Any man who starts his column off with the greatest action scenes of all times and then discusses HEAT has to be reading my mind. That movie has been the litmus test to all action movies I’ve ever seen. “It was alright, but it wasn’t HEAT.” Even the Matrix’s vaunted bullet time fell short in my eyes. A few weeks ago a buddy of mine and I were discussing the top action sequences for movies. We only got three, but the HEAT shootout was number one. (For the record the Jedi space battle was two and the SAVING PRIVATE RYAN opening was three, first chase scene in T2 made honorable mention.) I flipped to TNT the other day just as Val Kilmer starts shooting. It’s just a riveting and relentless scene you can’t help but watch. My fiancé, who I have forced to watch the movie, just let out a small gasp as we watched it again. Perfect reaction.
Now for the criticism, TITANIC, an action sequence? No, not ever.
Besides that, great column.
Jabcuga: I knew giving one of the slots to TITANIC would spark a little controversy, but you don’t even think it can be defined as an action sequence? In your opinion, what constitutes a scene to be classified as an action sequence?
Michael Morris writes:
The main reason for me personally not being fond of this movie HEAT is that it was billed as though Pacino and DeNiro would share the same screen at the same time and that didn’t happen, save the end when DeNiro dies. The coffee shop scene could have been shot at a wide length to show the two together having the conversation. Instead it looks as though the two were filmed separately, which they probably were.
Jabcuga: According to the wonderful BFI MODERN CLASSICS HEAT by Nick James: “Though the coffee-house scene is the first in which Pacino and DeNiro have ever acted together, at no time do we see both their faces. This gave rise to the accusation that the two were somehow shot separately. Production stills showing both together, in situ, refute this. The scene was shot simply, using telephoto lenses at a distance, and at a slight angle from head on.” James adds: “One brilliant effect of the two actors being shot in exactly the same way but never together is to convey the idea that each is looking into a mirror (with all its echoes of DeNiro’s roles in TAXI DRIVER, 1976, and RAGING BULL, 1980).” Again, if you’re a fan of the movie, I definitely recommend picking up James’ book, available at Amazon.com.
Steve Correa from Australia writes:
I was so pleased to read your article, finally someone who feels the same way about this film that I do. When I mention it to my friends they just seem to give me blank stares, hell I even remember having an argument with a friend on which movie was better, HEAT or SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION (ah to be a teenager again). Every time someone asks me, “What are your favorite films?”—HEAT is on that list. I live in Australia and when it first came out it didn’t get much media, so when me and my dad went down to see it on its final week of release I was completely blown away. There are few film experiences that I can recall as vividly as the first time I saw HEAT, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Damn, I think it brought me and my dad closer together, I could finally see why my dad admired Pacino and DeNiro so much (I was only 15 at the time, had watched the GODFATHER but didn’t quite realize how good it actually was till a bit later). Anyway what I want to know is why Mann hasn’t released a special edition DVD? It’s just screaming for it!
Jabcuga writes: Yes! This film deserves a special edition DVD. Maybe for the 10th anniversary of the film’s release? Are you listening, Warner Bros.?
Jesse Perry from MangyDog.com writes:
Hey, Josh, just wanted to say thanks for the column on HEAT. It’s one of those movies that I love, but I had trouble verbalizing why I think it’s so great. Thankfully, you did it for me! Now, instead of saying, “Dude, just watch it, it’s good and stuff,” I can send people a link to your article. Great column, and keep up the excellent work.
Moviepoopshoot.com’s own Chris Allen (Breakdowns) writes:
One question that’s always plagued me about this movie, though, is what is up with Val Kilmer’s huge, bulbous, swollen elbow? See scene where DeNiro is telling him he’s a screw-up and needs to take care of his wife, etc. Any info?
Jabcuga writes: I wondered the same thing and stumbled across this in Roger Ebert’s QUESTIONS FOR THE MOVIE ANSWER MAN (Andrews McMeel Publishing). “Q. I recently saw THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, and noticed that Val Kilmer wore a blue brace on his left elbow. In the movie HEAT, there’s a scene where Kilmer and DeNiro have a conversation at a beachhouse. Kilmer’s elbow seems to be inflamed. Is this a coincidence? Did Kilmer have elbow surgery? A. Val Kilmer replies: ‘It is merely a coincidence.’ ”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: At a Web site that covers actors with skin conditions, they had this to say about Val Kilmer’s elbow in HEAT:]
“The above example is in response to repeated e-mail about this soft appearing large protrusion on the elbow of actor Val Kilmer. While it is covered in dark makeup in this scene, it can also be seen elsewhere in "Heat" and in other Kilmer films. This most likely is an enlarged elbow (olecranon) bursa. The bursa is the membrane surrounding the elbow joint which can swell and fill with fluid. If this fluid sac becomes infected, it can require drainage and antibiotics. While this enlargement can be surgically reduced, it can often recur. Other conditions that can result in elbow bumps are rheumatoid arthritis and gout.”
Joe Hanrahan writes:
A big thanks for your HEAT column and a big vote for it as one of the most compelling films in recent years. (Though it can’t be my favorite – WILD BUNCH may always be that – a film that reminds me of HEAT in its sprawl, violence, range of performances, attention to detail and on and on.)
Jabcuga writes: Joe, you’re not alone. Check out the next e-mail, in response to my two columns on Top Ten Action Sequences.
Susannah Murphy writes:
Good list overall, but you blew it by not including the final shoot-out from Sam Peckinpah’s THE WILD BUNCH. Not only is it the granddaddy of several of the action scenes you included, but, more importantly, it still holds up beautifully. Seriously, take another look at it if you haven’t seen it for a while. It’s probably the most influential scene of violence in the history of film.
Jabcuga writes: Susannah, thanks for calling me out on this one. To be honest, I’m surprised that I didn’t get more flack from readers for this omission. I agree with your e-mail (that is, except for the part about blowing it). I guess this is the beauty of Top 10 lists. They’re usually leaving out something blatantly obvious. I was simply trying to mix it up some, and possibly bring attention to some sequences that people might not have considered, under a wide range of criteria. Indeed, THE WILD BUNCH has its place in cinematic history.
“Ralph the hog” writes:
I never read part one so forgive me if you included this, but I think it should be in the top five nonetheless. There’s no mention of the final battle sequence from BRUCE CAMPBELL VS THE ARMY OF DARKNESS. Blasphemy!!!!”
Jabcuga writes: Uh, yeah.
Shawn Brown writes:
Man, you have great taste in movies. All great choices, and well written stuff. Here’s my top 5, since 10 would take me about an hour and a half.
5. Mines of Moria battle in FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING
4. Qui-Gon Jinn + Obi-Wan Kenobi vs. Darth Maul in PHANTOM MENACE
3. Gunfight in the O.K. Corral in TOMBSTONE
2. Jackie Chan vs. Benny “The Jet” Urquidez in MEALS ON WHEELS
1. Bruce Lee vs. Chuck Norris in RETURN OF THE DRAGON
Great piece on best action sequences, and thanks for inviting us to throw in our opinions! I’ve got a few, without thinking too long about it, that I think are great. First, the shoot out scene at the mini-mart in GROSSE POINT BLANK. I love how it comes out of nowhere, and it sounds great on surround sound. The second wave of alien attacks in ALIENS, where Hudson finally finds his balls. From the discovery of the aliens in the ceiling to Vazquez and the colonel (can’t remember his name) blowing themselves up, it’s just an amazing action sequence. The last, and most obscure, would be the scene in ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 when the gang rushed to attack. It was so simple, but I loved the way Carpenter filmed it. Well, there’s my two cents, here’s hoping one of my favorites makes your top five. Oh yeah, there’s also a kickarse car chase in THE HIDDEN. Look forward to reading more of your columns!
Jabcuga writes: Good picks, Shawn and Jeremy. FYI: Benny the Jet currently trains...John Cusack.
Bob Dean, comics editor at the Umas Daily Collegian, New England’s largest student newspaper writes:
I don’t know if this’ll help you, man. I was directed to your Squib Central column. Very cool, loved the one on HEAT, totally agree with you. I think you’d be very interested in www.elsiehooper.com, it’s a comic that appears in our paper. More shotgun shells than we know what to do with. It’s right up your alley. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
That wraps up another issue of Squib Central. Thanks for reading everyone, and keep writing!
Squib Central’s Ass Kicker of the Week Award: In Memory of Jeff Buckley (November 17, 1966-May 29, 1997)
Next week in Squib Central: An interview with Hank 3, who just wrapped up a tour playing bass in Phil Anselmo’s (of Pantera) side project, Superjoint Ritual.
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