Friday, June 10, 2005

25th Hour (Spike Lee)

Spike Lee's career, to me, has largely been a frustrating mess. He's made one great movie, Do the Right Thing, and a bunch of uneven, wobbly monsters full of nice touches and horrible mistakes fighting each other for air. Lee's weaknesses are particularly insidious in that they can trample on his strengths, damaging promising films like Jungle Fever and He Got Game. Leaving out the handful of his films I haven't seen (it's possible there's a gem in there somewhere), I'm going to say that 25th Hour is Lee's best film since Do the Right Thing and his most consistent since the otherwise blandly conventional Malcolm X. Lee still ruins a few scenes by stomping all the life out of them and shoving their Importance down our throats, Oliver Stone-style, (particularly the post-nightclub bathroom scene following Philip Seymour Hoffman down the stairs, which lets the air out of the highly effective scene preceding it and refuses to let the audience come up with a reaction of its own), but this is largely a surprisingly subtle and graceful, character- and mood-driven film. The characters seem to follow their own rhythms instead of a plot, and the slightly fractured narrative, layered with flashbacks, a stylized rant (which may or may not work, I can't make up my mind), and a fantasy sequence, flows like a piece of music. A pleasant surprise.

1 comment:

kristykay said...

I'm also conflicted about that rant -- while it was happening I was thinking "Sheesh, this is not necessary," but I liked how the faces come up again at the end when he is driving with his dad. Still, I don't know that it was worth it...

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