Thursday, June 02, 2011

Which is Better?

Brian De Palma
10 sample films:

Blow Out
The Untouchables
Snake Eyes
Dressed to Kill
Mission: Impossible
Carlito’s Way
Body Double
Femme Fatale


Michael Mann
10 sample films:

The Insider
The Last of the Mohicans
The Keep
Public Enemies
Miami Vice

Which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments section


  1. Great idea for a post. I'm thinking about doing this, but with different directors.

    I'd say Mann - only because I've seen more of his films. So that fault is on me.

    Trivia: Brian De Palma wrote the scroll for Star Wars - uncredited

    Many don't know that.

    Good post sir.

  2. Michael Mann. No contest.

  3. Great question about two very notable and often times underrated filmmakers - perhaps due to their sporadic misses in the past few years. Ultimately I have to go with Mann for some of my favorite films of all time - Heat, The Keep, and Last of the Mohicans. I also thought it would be interesting to take two approaches at a closer look to answering this question - first, picking my favorite films from each list separately, then a side by side comparison of each film against one another - so Scarface versus Heat. Just picking my favorites, I have to go with Mann for Heat, The Insider, Man Hunter, Collateral and Last of the Mohicans - giving him five films to De Palma's four films of Scarface, The Untouchables, Carrie and Carlito's Way. Then in a side by side comparison I chose Heat (tough choice against Scarface), The Insider, (The Untouchables), Collateral, Last of the Mohicans, Ali, The Keep, (carlito's way), (body double), and (femme fatale).

    Still, two of my favorite more popularized filmmakers who have contributed to the lore of American pop culture with films that well stand the test of time.


  4. Easy for me. Mann! I only liked The Untouchables from De Palma.

  5. @Duke - Feel free to use this idea for your own site. I usually try and alternate between actors and directors. I am always intrigued by the different way people interpret various films and filmmakers.

    Count me as one of those people who did not know that bit of trivia. I would have never even thought of putting De Palma and Star Wars in the same sentence.

    @MovieNut – No love for Carrie, Blow Out, Scarface, or Dressed to Kill?

    @Rory – Interesting way of breaking down the two directors. I find that both have made some great films and a few awful ones. De Palma often takes a lot of blatantly borrowing ideas from Hitchcock. Yet his over-the-top style, when it hits the mark, can be really entertaining. Michael Mann has cemented himself as one of the top storytellers when it comes to crime tales, yet I find he has been stealing from previous works of late. I was pretty disappointed with both Public Enemies and Miami Vice. The latter was especially disappointing when you consider how good the first season of the television series was.

  6. @Castor - Oddly enough, I find I like The Untouchables less the more I see it. Not sure what exactly it is about that film that has not held up for me.

  7. I would definitely say Mann because he's made less stinkers than de Palma.

    Yet, I wouldn't cut de Palma short since he's made some great films. Plus, I actually did like Femme Fatale. I thought it was a pretty good, sexy thriller.

    The films that I don't like that de Palma did so far were Snake Eyes, Mission to Mars, The Black Dahlia (the book was so much better and far more intriguing), and of course The Bonfire of the Vanities.

    Yet, Mann's recents film like Public Enemies and Miami Vice weren't that great either. The latter of which had some good moments but I found the whole film to be boring. Plus, I wish Mann would stop playing with the digital camera because it didn't work for me on Public Enemies at all. And he also needs to stop re-cutting and revise Last of the Mohicans.

  8. A fascinating comparison, and really, really hard to pick between them. I'm probably going to have to go for De Palma - because of Scarface, one of the all-time great movies. Mann has done some decent films, and of these two inconsistent film-makers he maybe has the quality control notch set slightly higher - but he's not done anything to really touch Scarface. Love for Manhunter and The Insider though, two rather underrated films.

    @thevoid99 - I'll echo what you've said about Public Enemies - an ugly mess of a movie.

  9. As much as I liked The Phantom of Paradise and Blow Out, I'll choose Michael Mann.
    He's not always great (Public Enemy was pretty bad) but Heat, Collateral and The last of the Mohicans are favourites of mine.

  10. I saw the usual, "Which Is Better?"

    Then I saw "Brian DePalma," and I immediately thought, "Whoever is up against him."

    You proved me right. No contest here. Perhaps Joel Schumacher would have been more DePalma's speed...

  11. Anonymous2:07 am

    Michael Mann by a wide margin. The only 2 DePalma movies on your list I consider watchable are Body Double and Blow Out; Scarface is like a parody of itself and features one of Al Pacino's absolute worst performances.

  12. @thevoid – I like Femme Fatale as well, did not expect to at all. I have to agree with you on the bad De Palma films with Snake Eyes being the worst of the bunch. Yes, the opening tracking shot is good but the rest of the film is painful to watch.

    @Multiplex Slut – Manhunter is a solid film, I would go so far as to say I enjoy it more than Silence of the Lambs. In terms of replay value, I do watch Scarface far more than either The Insider or Manhunter. Part of this is due to the film’s over-the-top charm.

    @Jack L - I still need to see The Phantom of Paradise. I hear you on both Heat and Collateral, though I am rather indifferent to The Last of the Mohicans. I know people love it, but I just do not see what the fuss is about with that film.

    @Dylan – LOL. Love this comment. Somewhere Joel Schumacher is shedding a tear.

    While I would take De Palma over Schumacher any day, I will say that I quite enjoyed Lost Boys, The Client, Tigerland, Flatliners, and Phone Booth.

    @Anonymous – While there is a certain level of cheese to Scarface, I had fun watching it. No way is it Pacino’s worst performance, that honour goes to his work in the film 88 Minutes.

  13. Michael Mann all the way. Although Scarface could kick all of his films asses.

  14. @Anna – Scarface is not enough to take down Mann’s body of work I see.

  15. Of the twenty films (ten by each of course) listed above, De Palma's Blow Out is my favourite, but overall, Mann's entire oeuvre is much more solid. Really only one truly bad film in his list, while several in De Palma's.

    So I suppose what I am trying to say is - Michael Mann.

  16. @Kevyn – De Palma really does divide film lovers. I know many who hate him with a passion. Not all of Mann’s films work for me but when he gets them right it is usually a memorable experience.


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