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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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Reality (TV) Bites…

For reasons beyond my control (and the same reasons that might lead me to slow my contributions over the next weeks) I found myself watching late night reality television on TV3. Until now, reality TV and I have observed something resembling a mutually peaceful existence – I don’t bother it and it doesn’t bother me. However, watching an hour of Gordon Ramsey swear like he’d just bought a sailor’s thesaurus really just hammered home how uncomfortable I am watching reality television. What’s my problem?

Reality TV in a nutshell...

Reality TV in a nutshell...

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The Disappearance of Without a Trace

I’m going to be honest – I’m not a fan of Without a Trace. I’ll confess to something resembling indifferent affection to Anthony LaPlagia, but I’ve never sat down and watched an episode. I do know lots of people who watch it regularly. Hell, based on the viewing figures, there are a lot of people who watch it regularly. So, as someone who never watched the show, I am still gravely worried by what I see: the recession is affecting networks so badly that they are being forced to cancel expensive high-budget dramas.

I wonder if the network cancelled it simply because of the amount of puns that journalists could make about Without a Trace going missing...

I wonder if the network cancelled it simply because of the amount of puns that journalists could make about a show called Without a Trace going missing...

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