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Collapsing Into One Frame: Miami Vice, Time and Luck…

It’s that time.

Yeah.

Badges get flashed, guns come out. Arrests get made. That’s what we do.

So?

So, fabricated identity and what’s really up collapses into one frame. You ready for that on this one?

I absolutely am not.

Time and again, Michael Mann’s Miami Vice returns to the idea of images collapsing into a single frame.

It’s a recurring visual and thematic motif in Miami Vice. Around the midway point, the undercover police note the technique that smugglers are using to get past the complex array of checkpoints and scans set up to secure the border. “What’d you spot?” Tubbs asks their source at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Go-fast boats running that close?” Crockett muses looking at the footage. “On radar they look like one, not two.” The same technique is used later with the jet, which blurs on radar into a single image. More impressively, Mann accomplishes something similar with the camera. Two become one.

This theme of collapse is core to Miami Vice. Watching the film, there is a sense that everything is falling apart, that boundaries cannot hold. This is true of all barriers; the lines that Crockett and Tubbs try to create between their professional and personal lives, the walls set up among the different groups on the inter-agency taskforce, the borders that nominally exist to separate Miami from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. It arguably even applies to the boundaries that writers and artists try to impose upon story, with Miami Vice constantly threatening to collapse into itself.

The result is a challenging a provocative piece of work, an ethereal dream-like mediation that reads very much as the inevitable climax of Mann’s meditation on the themes of law and order. Mann’s protagonists typically work to maintain some structure on what they do, to prevent the barriers from completely caving under outside pressure. Miami Vice represents the film in which those boundaries come crashing down.

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The X-Files – The Amazing Maleeni (Review)

This November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the seventh season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Harsh Realm.

The Amazing Maleeni is light and fairly unobjectionable.

There is nothing necessarily bad about the episode. It is inoffensive and effective. It is a story about magic that features any number of magic tricks, twisting and turning as stories about magic are contractually obligated to twist and turn. There are betrayals and double-crosses, gambits and reveals. Nobody is who they claim to be, and everything is suspect. Individual events are never what they initially appear to be, creating a sense that the audience is watching the dominos cascade. The Amazing Maleeni does almost everything that it needs to do.

Top it all off...

Top it all off…

At the same time, there is something lifeless about the final episode; something almost routine. The Amazing Maleeni feels like a rough sketch of a much stronger episode. The mechanics of the trick are in place, but the performance needs a little more polish. There is no dynamism to the episode. The Amazing Maleeni sacrifices momentum for whimsy, charm for engagement. As an episode of television, The Amazing Maleeni is a pleasant way to pass forty-five minutes. Ultimately, it leaves no real impression.

The Amazing Maleeni is more illusion than magic.

Give the man a hand (cuff)!

Give the man a hand (cuff)!

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The X-Files – Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Then there are those who care not about extraterrestrials, searching for meaning in other human beings. Rare or lucky are those who find it. For although we may not be alone in the universe, in our own separate ways, on this planet, we are all alone.

– Darin Morgan takes his bow

It came from beyond the stars...

It came from beyond the stars…

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