Don Winslow plus Michael Mann equals a whole lot of hell, yeah

03.22.16 1 year ago

Things are changing right now, and the people who are going to thrive are the ones who are wiling to embrace that change instead of railing against it. If you”re a storyteller, you”re going to go where you have the most freedom to tell stories. When I look at a deal like the one Netflix made for Bright, the film that David Ayer will direct from a script by Max Landis, I see a shift that is going to change where we see certain types of things. My whole life, my focus has been on movies and the theatrical experience, and that may be changing, and not because of any decision I”ve made. The industry has simply evolved in a certain direction, and if I want to watch certain kinds of storytelling, that is more often than not going to be at home now instead of the theater.

Michael Mann”s been able to adapt over the course of his career, and whatever kind of work he”s been doing, he”s managed to find a way to put his signature on it. Films, TV, it didn”t seem to matter. Now we”ll see how he does as a publishing magnate, and the first choice he”s made is enormously encouraging. If there”s anyone working in crime fiction right now who I would call a superstar, it”s Don Winslow. His last book, The Cartel, was a huge, absorbing look at our failures in the “drug war” on the Mexican/American border, and after I read it, I went back to re-read the first book in the series, The Power Of The Dog, and I was blown away again by the ambition and the raw, brutal beauty of his work.

Michael Mann Books will publish a novel about the relationship between Tony Accord and Sam Giancana, two of the most legendary names in American organized crime history. This is fertile ground for Winslow, whose work always has the depth and richness of great journalism, but with a deceptively simple approach to language. There”s poetry to Winslow”s work, the same way Elroy”s best work has a sort of music to it, the same way Chandler”s does. Winslow works in a definite tradition, but he”s the kind of guy who does the heavy lifting to make sure that all of his books feel authentic.

Unsurprisingly, Michael Mann Books may also serve as a development process for films that Mann could make, and there”s already a script for this project written by Mann and Shane Salerno, who has been a frequent collaborator for Winslow in the past. It makes perfect sense that Salerno would be the bridge between Winslow and Mann, and I”m curious to see what else comes out of this Michael Mann Books project. There”s word of a prequel novel to Heat, Mann”s 1995 masterpiece. It would trace the early days of Vincent Hanna and Neil McCauley, the characters played by Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in the film. If they publish that book and it”s a hit, I wonder if they”ll actually end up making that film. If so, those parts are going to be fiercely coveted by every young actor in town.

Mann has always struck me as an interesting mix of literary ambition and visual stylization, things that don”t always go hand in hand. One of the things I love about Manhunter is looking at how Mann tried to approach the words of Thomas Harris from a filmmaker”s perspective. He doesn”t have anywhere near the budget of later films like The Silence Of The Lambs or Red Dragon, but Mann”s film is still the one that casts the biggest shadow, that has been imitated the most times. Small wonder Brett Ratner just hired the same cinematographer who shot the story for Mann; why fix something that wasn”t broken?

I”m excited by this news, and I hope it gives Mann some rich material to work with as well as giving deserving authors a chance to publish with the marketing muscle that will hopefully support the imprint. This could be good for everyone involved, with readers and viewers being the ultimate winners if things go well.

Currently, Mann is hard at work on Enzo Ferrari, a longtime passion project that will tell the story of one key year in the life of the sports car legend.

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