Review: Mickey One
Blu-ray & DVD: Mickey One (1965)
Consisting of a narrative that often visually reflects the freeform jazz music that runs through its 93 minute running time, Mickey One can leave the viewer thinking “what the hell is going to happen next?” and more to the point “what the hell is happening NOW!?” Director Arthur Penn eschews the more traditional Hollywood construct and uses New Wave influenced editing and camera angles, which heighten a charismatic and high energy performance from Warren Beatty, whom Penn would once again work with 2 years later on the classic movie Bonnie and Clyde. The foundations of their working relationship were finely honed in Mickey One, where Beatty is encouraged to explore the outer reaches of his emotional expression and leaves you as exhausted as his character as you try to keep up with the frantic editing and ever more surreal events unfurling in front of you.
Beatty plays Mickey One, a name he takes from a stolen social security card after he goes on the run from the Mob for owing them money. How much money does he owe them? Nobody knows, not even Mickey. He’s not even sure what he did to get into so much debt. Traditional plot points and structure don’t matter though in Mickey One, you’re taken on a dreamlike journey where reality and fantasy seem to mesh in a collage of off-kilter camera angles and changes in frame rate and lighting.
Returning to the stage as a standup comedian under his new pseudonym, Mickey begins to carve out a successful career, but success brings attention and ultimately his pursuers discover his real identity and want what they are owed…no matter what the cost.
As a piece of visual art, Mickey One is stunning. Arthur Penn uses the frame like Jackson Pollock uses his canvas; throwing everything up there in what initially seems like an incoherent mess, but on closer inspection has a deep and meaningful structure…at least to the artist. Whether YOU can find it too is open to interpretation.
Mickey One is not a mainstream movie and one which will most definitely divide viewers opinions to the extreme, eliciting either a sense of confusion and, dare I say it, boredom. Or connecting with the viewer on a deeper level than most movies do now where a lot are purely ‘bubblegum for the eyes’ and are forgotten as quickly as they are viewed. Mickey One is definitely not a movie that you will forget and the only way to know for sure which side of the ‘opinion fence’ you will fall is to buy this release from Powerhouse Films.
As always with their Indicator series of releases, Mickey One is wonderfully presented and contains special features that are essential viewing.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
• High Definition remaster
• Original mono audio
• Alexandra Stewart on ‘Mickey One’ (2017, 19 mins): a new interview with the celebrated actress
• Matthew Penn on ‘Mickey One’ (2017, 20 mins): a new interview with the son of director Arthur Penn
• The Guardian Lecture with Arthur Penn (1981, 59 mins): archival audio recording of an interview conducted by Richard Combs at the National Film Theatre, London
• Original theatrical trailer
• Joe Dante trailer commentary (2013, 3 mins): a short critical appreciation
• Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
• New English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Limited edition exclusive 40-page booklet featuring a new essay on the film by Nick Pinkerton, Richard Williams on the film’s Sauter/Getz score, archive interviews with director Arthur Penn, and historic articles on the film
• World premiere on Blu-ray
• UK DVD premiere
• Limited Dual Format Edition of 3,000 copies
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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.