Thursday, January 25, 2007

KBT Presents: THE 25TH HOUR

Spike Lee's 2002 film was one of the first to dive head-first into artistic post 9/11 fray. It is aspect of American cinema area which is as crowded and diverse indeed (2006 alone drips with it: Apocalypto, The Departed, Little Children, Miami Vice, Children of Men, Babel and of course United 93 all deal with it implicitly or explicitly.) I still believe that Spike Lee actually made the definitive statement (if not the most subtle) on the subject in a film released a mere 15 months after the towers fell. How is that for 'too soon'? Perhaps this is why the film seemed to be completely ignored or written off at the time of its release as a bit of a curio: A Spike Lee Joint starring mainly white people (not to underestimate Rosario Dawson's massive presence here) that takes place over a single day.

Monty Brogan (Edward Norton) is out on bail for his very last day before being sentenced possibly to a lifetime in prison for dealing narcotics in his New York neighborhood. He doesn't know how he was set up or who did it, but is more or less resigned to his impending fate, even if it is thickly shaded with anxiety: His future is simultaneously known (prison) and unknown (how will his skinny young frame be abused during institution).

Biting back the fear, he instead rounds up all of his friends for one last party on the town before he is to be sent off. His friends are deeply upset for Monty, but are also caught up in their own problems, Jacob (Philip Seymour Hoffman) lives a shabby and lonely existence, and harbors an attraction for one of his students (Anna Paquin). Frank (Barry Pepper) hides behind the veneer of his stock-broker existence and a comforting machismo. Naturelle (Rosario Dawson), Monty's girlfriend, deals with the notion that Monty may be blaming her for his predicament while knowing she will lose him to prison shortly. And Monty's ex-firefighter dad (Brian Cox) wants to spend as much time with his son as possible and maybe offer him a piece of advice or two. The cast here is really all in peak form, many of them

The story centers around the lead up to a night in an upscale New York Club, the party in the club and the aftermath of the party, with each of the characters going through a tough journey, mainly through David Benioff's stellar dialogue, adapted from his own novel. With Lee refracting the story overtly through Americas 21st century tragedy, to the point of having a pivotal scene filmed in a high-rise overlooking the actual WTC ground-zero clean up operation. His typical stew of racial tensions in the Big Apple dovetail nicely into the story, and give Norton a knock-out of a melt-down scene at one point in the film.

The unusual conclusion to the story is certainly reflective of how collective America will have to come to terms with the 'new version of the world' post 9/11. It is a remarkable achievement accomplished so soon after the events. The fact that you can watch this film 10 times and take 10 completely different things away from it is a testament of why this film should be re-evaluated. I believe it is one of those overlooked classics that will be canonized 10 years or more from now.

Whether or not you've seen this film, it bears a 2nd or 3rd or 4th look. Come out Thursday January 25th for one of the great films of the young new millennium. Drinks at 8pm. Showtime at 8:30pm.


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