WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In 24 hours, Monty Brogan (Norton) is going to jail for seven long years for drug dealing. On his last day on the outside, Monty spends it with his two best friends (Hoffman, Pepper), his pop (Brian Cox) and his girlfriend Naturelle (Rosario Dawson). With many questions still lingering in his mind (who ratted him out, how did his life turn out this way), loose ends to tie up with his Russian backers and a truckload of guilt and regret, Monty’s plate is full until he takes the final plunge and enters the 25th hour.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Spike Lee’s latest "joint" seems to take on everything but the kitchen sink (that scene got cut out in post-production). It's also one of the few recent movies that deals with and makes reference to New York City post-9/11-- it’s talked about and visually represented on several occasions here. Now I’ve seen Lee go overboard in his films before, losing track of the subject matter and what-not, so I worried that this would hamper the natural order of this movie as well. But within the context of this film, it worked rather well, didn’t feel forced in any way and actually ended up being a touching and appropriate way to focus on something still very much on everyone’s minds; here, there and everywhere. Lee does an extraordinary job of keeping us involved, entertained and thinking as we follow Monty through the last hours of his free life; wondering the same things he does, who can you blame, love, trust, hate or hold on to when the world around you doesn’t make sense anymore. Good question. The answer is in the movie and in a lot of places, and for once it seems, Lee lets us try to figure out what those answers are…on our own.
Standing ovation on the acting in this one as well...it’s brilliant! Fellow Canuck Barry Pepper stands out as Monty’s Irish bud Slaughtery, trying hard to keep his emotions in check and doing a lousy job at it. His other childhood friend Jacob (Hoffman) handles his part with the lowest of keys and makes it click. Norton’s also right on the money as usual, Anna Paquin joins in the festivities as a young tart, Brian Cox plays the tortured dad (and delivers one hell of a fine voice-over near the end) and it ends off with Rosario Dawson playing someone’s girlfriend…again! All kidding aside, hers is the least interesting of all the parts in a script brimming with smart dialogue, fresh ideas and a genuine love for a city that can never really change and yet has so drastically. Terence Blanchard’s original music is extremely powerful as well and well-suited for the film. I was honestly very moved by it. Good job all around for the 25TH HOUR.
The extras begin with a featurette entitled “The Evolution Of An American Filmmaker”. It tracks Lee’s career from his first “indie” film SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT up to and including 25TH HOUR. Interviews with past cast members John Turturro, Halle Berry and Denzel Washington among many others are mixed in with Spike’s peers, Marty Scorsese and Sidney Lumet (note to extra features technician: it’s Sidney not Sydney; the man’s only been directing movies since the 1950’s!!!) The cast from 25TH HOUR also joins in to sing his praises. This is a pretty informative and fun look at Lee’s career and it would have been great if not for a few idiotic spelling mistakes and just plain wrong facts (Sam Jackson was NOT nominated for an Oscar for his performance in JUNGLE FEVER)! You might be saying it’s not important but it is-- I happen to take anything less seriously when I start noticing careless and stupid mistakes. Badly handled boys!
I was also looking damn forward to Spike’s audio commentary on this flick and was let down big time! The man talks like a robot. Sure he informs us but he’s terribly slow and speaks with zero energy. Dude, lighten up and get happy, it’s YOUR movie that you’re talkin’ about, get excited...it turned out well. No emotion from Spike. The writer of the book and screenplay David Benioff also participates in the second audio commentary. They should’ve paired this guy up with Lee and things might’ve turned out differently. He’s okay, but who isn’t after hearing Lee’s boring account on the art and excitement of filmmaking? Six deleted scenes that thankfully were cut from the film can also be found on this extra’s package. Finally, there’s a 5-minute tribute entitled “Ground Zero”, which is essentially a series of filmed images from the site and various New York locations paying homage to the brave souls from that day.
You should definitely drive down to your local video store and either rent or buy this sucker on the weekend. It’s got more heart, passion and intellect than half the garbage occupying those dusty shelves nowadays and even though they mucked up some of the extras, the film itself and the delicious Anna Paquin more than make up for it. Spike Lee keeps on impressing with his latest contribution…