The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, February 10-16

collateral-wolfCollateral (2004)
Directed by Michael Mann
After two relatively straightforward prestige dramas in The Insider and Ali, Mann returned to inflating genre pictures with his own existential concerns with this thriller—which, though it may be shorter than his 1995 masterpiece Heat, is no less weighty thematically. But if the two protagonists of the earlier film expressed their all-work, no-attachments ideology mostly through their actions and often-troubled interpersonal relationships, in Collateral—written not by Mann himself, but by Stuart Beattie—obsessively focused hitman Vincent (Tom Cruise) is chatty as all get-out, openly expressing his Nietzschean views on man’s grand insignificance to his makeshift chauffeur, average cabbie-with-a-pipe-dream Max (Jamie Foxx). Dramatically speaking, the film mostly revolves around these two characters’ verbal tête-à-têtes, a battle of wills between terrifying nihilism and skittish humanism. In this heightened context, Max’s climactic actions are more than just acts of heroism, but a resounding philosophical repudiation and a personal actualization. Mann would explore this divide between steely professionalism and hidden emotion more subtly and devastatingly in his subsequent Miami Vice, but at least Collateral consistently thrills with its tense action/suspense set pieces and sensuous nocturnal digital-video imagery. Kenji Fujishima (February 16, 4:30pm, 7pm, 9:30pm at BAM’s Mann series)


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