Saturday, May 21, 2022 |
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This week is unique for the reader. There are few — and I mean very few — films that are worth watching if you know what happens. This film is a master class for anyone who watches movies to make them. Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto’s work on this film is like an art museum — you keep going back (he also shot “8 Mile,” “Brokeback Mountain,” “21 Grams” and is currently shooting “Argo,” Ben Affleck’s next directorial effort).
The title of the film refers to what will happen to newly convicted drug dealer Monty (Edward Norton, “American History X”) after he reports for his seven-year prison sentence. The entire film is one day. Not just any day, but Monty’s last day as a free man. Monty is perfectly played by Norton. The film does have a few flashbacks to explain when, how and why Monty is faced with this final day of freedom.
Monty has lost it all. A smoking-hot girlfriend named Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), a fantastic Upper East Side apartment in NYC (I’ve stayed in the Upper East Side — it’s sweet), all the money he can want and his two best friends Francis (Barry Pepper, “Saving Prviate Ryan”) and Jacob (Phillip Seymour Hoffman, “Magnolia”). Francis and Jacob are torn. Does their friend Monty deserve this? Should they have stopped him? Will they be friends after he is paroled from prison?
Francis is an arrogant, work-all-day, party-all-night stockbroker. The best thing about this script is the three childhood friends are completey different. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s Jacob is an Upper East Side trust-fund kid who teaches English. How many English teachers do you know keep company with stockbrokers and drug dealers? That is where the genius storytelling of Spike Lee as a director really thrives. He knows New York and knows these characters as if they’re all him. Aside from Mr. Lee not being a drug dealer, stockbroker or English teacher, he’s also not from Manhattan, or any of the races or religions of the characters portayed. He actually brings humanity to a drug dealer.
I mention this because the story is told as if Lee lived that life. Any great director is just an observer, sometimes to the point of annoyance to others. The central problem of the film is that Monty must figure out before his “25th Hour” who ratted him out. Was it his girlfriend? Was it his associates? As Monty says, “I’m done, I’m through,” as if to say he missed his chance at redemption — or did he?
I recall seeing this film in Honolulu with a close friend and a couple girls. We all went in expecting a movie to pass the time. I was astonished. It’s why I remeber the movie and who was sitting next to so well (smiles). This film is important because it was the first post-9/11 film shot in NYC. I mention this because there is a fantastic scene filmed above ground zero as workers clean up — pay close attention for it.
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