June 6, 2008

Miami Vice vs. Sex and the City

By: Sonny Bunch

Ed Driscoll raises an interesting point while commenting on my appreciation of Anthony Lane. Says Ed:

Geez, at least at the apogee of the 1980s, Miami Vice managed to combine glitz and conspicuous consumption with car chases, shoot-outs and a bitchin’ soundtrack.

This made me think about just how different Miami Vice, the 2006 movie, was from Miami Vice, the ’80s TV show, as opposed to the essential similarities of the two incarnations of Sex and the City. Whereas Sex was essentially pornographic (as Lane so aptly points out), Miami Vice (2006) was a rejection of everything the TV show stood for–instead of focusing on the cars and the glitz and the glamour, the movie was dark and haunting, a comment on the underbellies of narcotics work, the drug trade, and lost love. Instead of sunshine and pastels, we got a movie filmed during a hurricane amidst real-life gunfire that spooked even its stars.

Why the alteration in tone and substance? I’m not sure, but I imagine the difference in 1984 and 2006 was more Michael Mann’s than society’s; in the intervening years, Mann had made the leap from schlocky TV director to one of the few true auteurs working in Hollywood. Mann ca. 2006 took himself, and his subject matter, far more seriously than Mann ca. 1984. The deconstruction of the Miami Vice mythology was the final step in his self-actualization as a master of the cinema.*

Sex and the City, meanwhile, was filmed too closely to the close of the series to expect anything other than clothing-porn and sappy endings. It’s hard to imagine what a darkened version of Sex and the City would look like anyway…the girls would all end up single and half of them would have AIDS, probably. Michael Mann, I have your next project!

*Film Snob Alert! Film Snob Alert!