An orgy of 80s nostalgia, Thief was director Michael Mann’s first big budget production. It shows all of his trademarks like glacial pacing, an overabundance of needless dialogue, and no concept of editing. Tangerine Dream provides the super-dated synthesizer score. James Caan stars as a diamond thief who works independently, but gets muscled into working for a big-shot crime boss, who is played by the innkeeper from The Great Outdoors. The movie is drenched in darkness, and every shot was filmed behind two or three blue filters. You get the feeling like you’re watching a movie under water. Like any standard crime “thriller,” Thief features a double-cross and Caan has to get revenge against the innkeeper. It’s really a lame-brained, been-there, done-that scenario. I highly doubt that this plot hadn’t already been done to death by the time the movie was released in 1981. There’s also a weird, pointless subplot about Caan getting a baby on the black market. Thief goes to show that Michael Mann is a director who doesn’t have the capability to leave needless garbage on the cutting room floor.
Branded to Kill
This 1967 film from Japanese director Seijun Suzuki is about as weird as they come. It’s about a hitman, ranked number three in the country, who wants to be number one. He devises a way to take out the competition. Well, sort of. That’s what the movie says it’s about. But really, it’s an acid trip. Suzuki must have just discovered LSD when he went about filming this monstrosity. There is dialogue, scenes, characters linking the actions of the film together, but none of it is coherent. The main character has weirdly distracting chubby cheeks. He gets horny when he smells rice cooking, then bangs his wife, who runs around naked for the entire movie. His other love interest decorated her apartment with dead butterflies. He kills people, but the action scenes lack any sense of excitement or tension. The closest film I can think this movie resembles is Pierrot le Fou, an experimental French piece of shit from the same era. Branded to Kill is better than that movie simply due to the weirdness factor. At least it doesn’t come across as pretentious. Unfortunately, Branded to Kill is too strange, too experimental, and not worth anyone’s time.