Sunday, May 15, 2005

every man, woman and child alive should see the desert one time before they die [may 14, 2005]

Having finally caught Spike Lee's 25th Hour, I can't even think of a good preview for it. The preview that made the rounds of the cinema halls threw me off (which was sad, given that Spike Lee's been a favourite). Thank God for the impulse that drove to pick this DVD off the shelf for a viewing. This is the story of Monty (Edward Norton), a drug pusher for the Russian mafia in New York, who has been "touched" (betrayed) and has one last day of freedom to enjoy before his sentence begins. We get to meet his bosses, his friends, his love, his family and a flood of emotions and memories. The obvious key offering of the film is the bilious diatribe that Monty's reflection delivers about the city of New York (accompanied by a montage of faces we see later during the drive to the prison). Another nice touch is the site of "ground zero" in the background as Frank and Jake talk about Monty's fate. I also liked the "62 percentile" scene, chiefly for its dialogue, cutting and the acting. Then there's the nice selective use of sound during the final moments that Monty spends with Frank and Jake.

There's a device Lee uses frequently in the film that reminds me of Do the Right Thing. A seemingly simple fragment is revisited through edits from a slightly different camera position (Monty putting Doyle in the trunk of his car, Naturelle rushing to embrace Monty walking towards her with a battered face). And then, of course, there's the nicely done "25th hour" sequence. Terence Blanchard's background score (which employs some Indian vocalising by Manickam Yogeswaran) works well as does the use of The Fuse by Bruce Springsteen over the end credits. Also noted: the Cool Hand Luke poster in Monty's apartment and the reference to Montgomery Clift (from A Place in the Sun) after whom Monty is named.

Lee's commentary track, unfortunately, wasn't too interesting. That and all the other features amounted to an extended junket with everyone congratulating everyone else (and appreciating their presence on the team). Boo!

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