Thief

I didn’t want to watch the morning news with the reports about the Raiders and the relocation to Los Angeles. With the rain coming down, I wasn’t too eager to go outside, so I watched the DVD of “Thief” with James Caan. It was a Michael Mann movie that was released before I knew who Michael Mann was. I remember the look of the wet streets in this one. Other than “The Godfather,” I remember James Caan for “Brian’s Song,” “The Gambler,” “Thief,” and “Honeymoon in Vegas.” Tuesday Weld had a pretty face, and I thought what she did during all those years since “Pretty Poison,” that weird movie with Anthony Perkins. She was in “Play It As It Lays,” “Looking for Mr. Goodbar,” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain.” I’m not sure what she’s done since “Once Upon a Time in America.” She was 38 at the time of “Thief” and 72 now. Willie Nelson’s first scene was in prison, and he struck me as someone who could never be a natural actor. James Belushi has a big part. A movie like “Thief” doesn’t make you feel anything. It’s just rather cold. The burglary part if visually impressive, and Michael Mann makes everything look authentic. It was like he brought “Rififi” up to date for 1981. I rather liked the use of Tangerine Dream for the soundtrack. It was unusual and made me think back to “Sorcerer.” I thought one of the memorable scenes in “Thief” was the rejection by the adoption agency. It made me think of a couple of people I know who cannot control their anger. I thought that James Caan did a very good job of acting in this movie. I’m not too sure that I could accept James Belushi in a dramatic part. Some of the destruction at the end of the movie made me think of the unnecessary expense of creating certain effects. Michael Mann gained a lot respect for “Heat” and “The Insider.” I will say that “Heat” had that great robbery sequence, although now a lot of the movie has faded from my memory. The confrontation at the end of “Thief” as pretty tense, although again I had to wonder what the point was. Was Michael Mann really telling us anything new by showing how isolated Frank was. What I got out of the movie was that it doesn’t really pay to be the thief because the payoff comes from the fence and others who don’t really want to part with the cash. It’s rather like the difficulty in making money from music, acting, or writing books. It seems impossible to make that one big last score so that you can retire in peace. I wondered at the end how Frank could make such outrageously loud noises in that neighborhood without the police coming rather quickly. Some of those shots in the house at the end made me think of “Manhunter.” I would put “Thief” in the category of movies that are fascinating to watch, but also emotionally thin. Maybe it is too preoccupied with male psychology. I barely see what Jessie is thinking most of the time. Some of the people who died on January 6 include Louis Braille (1852), Georg Cantor (1918), Theodore Roosevelt (1919), Victor Fleming (1949), Rudolf Nureyev (1993), Don Martin (2000), and Lou Rawls (2006). Today is a birthday for Howie Long (56) and Rowan Atkinson (61).

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