A stand up comic (Warren Beatty) has hit a bad patch. He is failing at his routine (mostly because it is under duress.) He is losing with his high stakes gambling and he is stuck in a world of eyes following him everywhere. Mickey needs to change everything before it ends up him dead. So he escapes and sets up elsewhere. The problem for him is that he does not know who he can trust, when those he has fled from are going to find him and if he can ever his routine might just get back on track and be funny…
You often see (in academic and critical circles) films that are adored or idolised. You read their names and bios and think this must be a film to watch. Then sometimes you watch it and are disappointed by it. I discuss this because I am concerned with the why this reaction is damaging great films by excess ‘hype’. For me Mickey One was hyped. However it is a film that deserves some of this recognition. It is a film that might be seen today as usual but when released, it would have been a systemic shift. A major studio letting new wave film techniques in to mainstream productions. The film has some very remarkable things in its favour. One it has great visual playfulness. Two, it has narrative shifts that are robust and energetic. Three it has real directorial skill with both of these and the performances. Arthur Penn, who would later make with star Beatty the masterpiece Bonnie and Clyde, lets the camera and actors work. He keeps us in the space and lets the actors (Beatty aside) room to play in the space. This moves us away from the studio productions and toward the future of film.
Beatty is exceptional in this role. In reality however I find people either love or loathe him. I love him (though not as much as Peter Biskind), he has the skill of making a character both fun and fragile, tragic and tough. This role reveals him developing this skill and sometimes he does not register it right. However when he does it becomes a delight to watch him lyrically spill his script. He flows with charm and this makes you want to see more and more. It also makes the build up so much more effective.
The Blu ray extras are good. The remaster visually looks nice and the hues are far better than I would imagine it could have been. The two bits that are worth your time are The John Player Lecture with Arthur Penn. This is the money for me. Its so informed and intelligent. It is worth sitting down with first and also reviewed twice I fell. Then you have the great Pinkerton notes. These are a find and a half!
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• New interview with star Alexandra Stewart (2017, tbc mins)
• New interview with Matthew Penn, son of director Arthur Penn (2017, tbc mins)
• The John Player Lecture with Arthur Penn (1981, tbc mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted at the National Film Theatre, London
• Joe Dante trailer commentary (2013, 3 mins): a short critical appreciation
• Music promo
• Original theatrical trailer
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive booklet featuring a new essay by journalist Nick Pinkerton, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film
• World premiere on Blu-ray
• UK DVD premiere
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies
• More TBC