Blah blah, Blackbird

My thoughts on watching “Public Enemies,” generally in the order they occurred to me.

(full disclosure: my brother paid for my ticket out of the goodness of his heart, and I stole this “full disclosure” bit from Don Hall.)

Only two previews? Hm. Darn.

Wow, this is pretty quiet. Wonder if the projectionist didn’t flip a switch somewhere. Maybe once we’re past the Universal logo the surrounds will kick in.


What did he say?

Apparently “prison in the 1930s” = “electric delta blues music.”

Is this in mono? That’d be a bold choice.

Huh. Interesting gunfire. Budda-budda, not lots of “crack” to the sound.

Is that Emilie de Ravin?

Wait, where did Emilie de Ravin go?

No ambient sound in that shot at all. Did they just flip a coin to decide what to foley and what not to foley?

Huh, Stephen Dorff’s almost in this movie.

Hey, cool, they’re driving by the Art Institute, and they CGI’d the background so it looks like the thirt…oh wait, they cut away before I could see anything.

Man, this dialog is mixed low. I wonder if the sound system in the theatre is screwed up.

If it isn’t, this is one of the worst film sound mixes I’ve heard in years.

This looks like it was shot digitally.

This definitely was shot digitally.

Man, this looks like hell.

Oh, right, this is a Michael Mann film, he likes to shoot digital. Miami Vice looked cool in digital. Collateral had a neat look to it. He clearly knows how to shoot something that looks alright.

This has to be deliberate.

Hey, they’re using Billie Holiday to tie the love story together. That’s a nice touch.

Wow, I think I just heard a gunshot tail come un-muted.

This looks as bad as that no-budget horror film I saw last winter.

What’s with the abrupt cutoffs of ambiences and sound effects?

Ah, no, wait. Dillinger = “electric delta blues music.” Got it.

I hope my mixes don’t sound this bad.

Oh, hey, that guy’s gonna get shot. Budda budda.

Geez. If I have to see one more shot of Christian Bale watching a guy die and then staring soulfully off into the distance I may fling poo at the screen.

Wait, I think I heard something in one of the surrounds.

Man, this really looks like hell.

Wow, Leelee Sobieski. Where’d she come from? Maybe she took over for Emilie de Ravin.

Did they just use the mic that came mounted on top of the camera?

If you’re gonna shoot in Chicago, can you give us at least one wide shot so we know you’re not just on some backlot in Prague?

This has to be deliberate.

Okay, obvious digital worked for Miami Vice, and I’ve seen digital movies that don’t look like this. It’s a period piece, we’re in 1934, but digital that looks…this digital just screams 2007.

Wow, she peed herself. Haven’t seen that in a movie in awhile.

Hey, it’s that dude from Last Exit To Brooklyn.

Man oh man, this sounds horrible.

Hm. According to IMDB, theatres all across the country experienced the same sound “issues” that I did. Must not have been the sound system then.

Mann’s an experienced filmmaker with a long track record. His previous films are generally pretty solid in their aesthetic, whether one agrees with the aesthetic choice or not.

This has to be deliberate.

Doesn’t it?


About toxicbag

Toxic Bag Productions, Inc. provides sound effects and music for independent films, animated shorts, theatrical productions, dance performances, podcasts and video games. They work out of their studio on the north side of Chicago.

Posted on July 7, 2009, in Film and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great post! I enjoyed “hearing” the movie through the ears of a sound designer.

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