Heat

Heat ★★★★★

1. The first time I saw Heat--opening day, first matinee at the grand, now-deceased Uptown in Toronto--the movie was received like a wrestling match. Which it was kind of billed as, I guess: Pacino vs. De Niro. (In 1995, that was a major casting coup.) And the theatre frequently erupted in Springer-audience hoots and hollers to denote approval of the stars' swagger; I remember two lines in particular that got a big response, both delivered by De Niro:

"Lady, why are you so interested in what I read or what I do?"

and

"There's a flipside to that coin..."

2. Heat was the second movie that year to leave me physically exhausted. (Strange Days, which likewise featured Tom Sizemore, was the other.) I remember thinking it wouldn't be something I'd revisit for a long time.

Then I went to see it again the next day. It really got under my skin.

I bought the LaserDisc the day it came out and watched it three times that week.

3. Apropos of nothing, Mickey Rooney was at that first screening, something I discovered as I was exiting the theatre. It gave him street cred for me.

4. The movie is three hours long, but there's an economy, nay, a terseness to it; the most affecting thing in The Last of the Mohicans is the wordless romance between Uncas and Alice, and Mann pushes that envelope here. I can't believe how heartbroken I am for Trejo losing his beloved "Anna," when her most memorable appearance has been as a corpse seconds before. Breedan's wife learns of his death watching TV in a crowded bar, and her verge-of-collapsing stoicism is a devastating completion of an arc built in two pithy scenes of her tenderly buffing his ego, knowing how fragile is his state of reform. The look on her face is a novel's worth of hurt and anger and frustration and despair, and the movie never returns to her, because there's nothing left to say. With Heat, Mann fully became an impressionist, suggesting whole lives lived with just a few sketchy strokes on the canvas.

5. Best closing shot in all of Mann? I'd say so. Pacino holding De Niro's hand is a loaded image, within and without, but it's the ironic compassion of it that puts a knot in the back of my throat. I guess it's another grace note, but it feels monumental.