First, let's start by stating this reviewer has
"never" liked anything from Director Spike Lee. This reviewer
has always found his films to be totally unoriginal and boring. Even
"MALCOLM X," in spite of a tremendous performance from Denzel
Washington, was horrible.
With that said, this reviewer believes "25TH HOUR," Spike Lee's latest
film, to be the best film of the past year, and a great film in any year!
It certainly helps to find three of Modern Cinema's best actors in the same
film. Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Brian Cox all deserve
Norton plays Monty Brogan, a likeable guy who happens to have been a big drug
dealer, and as the film reveals, is about to take a short trip of self-discovery
on his last day before turning himself in to start a 7 year prison sentence.
He wants to spend time with his best friends, father and girlfriend, before he
leaves, and through brilliant acting, writing and direction, we, like Monty
revel in the experience of getting to know these people. No one in this
film, save for a mob turncoat, is a cliche.
Another thing helping the film is the fact that the script was adapted from a
novel by the original author, and it's simply incredible. The narrative
allows the audience to really care and feel for Monty's situation with a level
of urgency. Monty's got a lot of concerns he'd like to try getting a handle on
before going away, and we're there with him every inch of the way! We want
to know who's responsible for turning him in to the Feds. Was it his girlfriend?
Who? As time goes by, we realize Monty may never know before going, and
this creates its own tension. Again, it's a brilliant film!
The final sequence to the film helps make an already brilliant film that much
better, as it tries something daring, before bringing Monty and the rest of us
back to reality, and the conclusion that much more poignant. "THE
25TH HOUR" is a film that should be in every collection!
BUENA VISTA has preserved the film's 2.35:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement.
The transfer is terrific, complimenting the innovative cinematography achieved
here. Lee intentionally makes some scenes grainy, but for a change, it works!
Colors are always balanced, and often striking. Contrast is excellent,
allowing for exquisite detail in darker scenes. Fleshtones appear natural.
BUENA VISTA has also certified this title with "THX" and there's a THX
optimization section included, for viewers to make the best adjustments for
their viewing experience.
BUENA VISTA has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix which, while not overly
aggressive, is perfectly suited to the film's story, at times lively, and at
other times, subdued. Terence Blanchard's score is terrific,
becoming one more element in creating a masterful work. Additionally, the
surrounds kick in to boost certain scenes with great effectiveness. While
this isn't a panning/directional effects tour-de-force, there are some great
effects, particularly during the bar scenes, wherein the quality of the mix is
evident. Dialogue is always intelligible and free from distortion.
BUENA VISTA has included some great supplements here.
There are two audio commentaries. Director Spike Lee is actually interesting,
and his comments are less self-promoting than usual.
The 2nd commentary features the film's writer, David Benioff. While there
are gaps of silence, his insight into the adaptation process, as well as the
ability to better understand his character's motivations, as well as changes in
the script from the novel, make this a fascinating listen.
A "DELETED SCENES" segment offers "6" scenes. All are
in noticeaby rougher form than the rest of the film. One scene is extremely
effective and we wish it had been included in the film, but the rest while
interesting, were rightly excised.
A short featurette offers comments from filmmakers and actors, about Lee's body
of work. There are some behind-the-scenes footage moments included here.
While entertaining, it's a bit disappointing that it's so short.
"GROUND ZERO" is a wondeful segment, offering footage of this hallowed
ground. Extremely thought provoking, like the film.