We’re in something of a drought when it comes to quality crime cinema, so it seems even longer than 2009 since Michael Mann’s last proper effort, “Public Enemies” (yes, we’re going to act as though “Blackhat” never happened). So something like “Michael Mann: People, Places, Crimes” from Michael Couvaras is a handy reminder for what we’re missing from the guy.

READ MORE: Watch: 7-Minute Video Essay Explores How Micheal Mann’s ‘Public Enemies’ Brought Digital Filmmaking To Life

The video essay goes heavy on clips from “Public Enemies” right off the bat as it delves into the theme of Mann’s characters and their essential qualities—which mostly involve the obsessive pursuits of their goals. “[Mann] likes crime, he loves it,” Couvaras notes, before delving into the relationship of Mann’s characters to the urban spaces they are so frequently isolated and adrift in. Short extracts of dialogue from “Heat” and “Public Enemies” are used to highlight the characters’ driven natures and how they live inside “the confines of the stories they tell themselves.”

READ MORE: Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ Back On The Road With Hugh Jackman & Noomi Rapace

The essay contrasts the sprawling cityscapes of what it calls Mann’s “L.A. trilogy”—“Heat,” “Collateral,” and for some reason, Mann’s 1981 debut, the indeed urban but quite definitely Chicago-set “Thief”—with the spacious ocean shots that signify peace and contentment in “The Insider” and “Manhunter.” It ties up with a brief look at the importance of architecture in Mann’s oeuvre and how it serves to pinpoint the characters’ solitary pursuits.

Although clips flash by of Mann’s less canonical work like “Ali,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” and “Miami Vice,” these are left mostly undiscussed. They do, however, serve as reminders of the breadth of Mann’s gleaming cinematic resume in a time when American auteurs who can command big budgets and big stars without (usually) surrendering their vision are few and far between.

  • Christian Childress

    Why would you act like Blackhat never happened? That’s a silly statement.

  • Daniel Thron

    Playlist, don’t use the editorial “we” when saying you will pretend Blackhat never happened, when in many other pieces you have used the same to talk about how underrated it is. Which it is.

    Unless you want to pretend this never happened.

  • Clay Castille

    So now y’all want to pretend like u didn’t already break your nose off up Blackhat’s ass a long time ago. Who’s the noob?

  • Michael Mann hasn’t made a really great film since BLACKHAT.

    • THX11384EB

      Preach on, brother.

  • THX11384EB

    You creamed all over ‘The Force Awakens’ and are going to act like ‘Blackhat’ never happened.

    Great cinema site.

  • THX11384EB

    Blackhat > Spotlight