Posts Tagged ‘drama film’

25th Hour – Lee’s Love Letter

Posted 25 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

25th Hour, USA, 2002

Directed by Spike Lee

25th Hour is a film I can watch over and over again, and always learn something new.I’ll be the first to say that I am not a Spike Lee fan. Outside of a few films, I think the man refuses to see past his skin color and the world in anything other than black versus white, but in 25th Hour, the story of a white drug dealer’s last day before seven years in federal prison, Lee pushes aside his normal agenda and shows us shades of gray that he’s ignored for the majority of his career. It harks back to his breakthrough film Do the Right Thing (1989), in that it asks its viewer a very important question: what do we do now? In what might be the first mainstream film to openly deal with a post-9/11 New York, complete with long shots of Ground Zero and open allusions to the late firemen who dealt with the evacuation and clean-up of the fallen Twin Towers, he reverses his stance and puts it, literally, in another color.

Edward Norton is a powerful actor, without ever doing too much; he lives in the simple parts of his characters and portrays very basic human emotions, but does so with such a natural swagger that you can completely forget you’re watching an actor. His Monty Brogan is the best example of this alternative approach. Here we see a drug dealer get touched and spend his last day of freedom with him. The city has changed, and so has Monty; the lifestyle is gone, and of all the filmmakers to propose a love letter to New York after her fall (we’re still waiting, Woody), in retrospect, Lee should have been the obvious choice. With his extremely candid points of view and the temper he gives all of his projects, it was the right move at the right time. I heard someone refer to the film as a bandage for the city’s wounds and I was insulted, as the point of a bandage is to cover up the wound. Lee’s film is a part of the healing process, for sure, but he never attempts to cover anything up, and literally tells it exactly like it is. Read More

Dorian Gray – The Portrait Has Aged Better

Posted 12 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

Dorian Gray, UK, 2009

Directed by Oliver Parker

Gray is all about the atmosphere in this version, not so much about the preservation of Wilde's wit nor the story itself. You would think that turning an Oscar Wilde novel into a sensationalized, nearly exploitative camp piece of pulp fiction might prove impossible, but Oliver Parker would prove you wrong; shamefully so, seeing as how his adaptations of other Wilde works, like An Ideal Husband (1999) or The Importance of Being Earnest (2002), have been rightly lauded. Even more amazing, Dorian Gray failed to find a distributor in the United States, and was doomed to a direct-to-DVD release here, after a theatrical release in the United Kingdom. As it stands, though, Dorian Gray is all about the atmosphere in this version, rather than the preservation of Wilde’s wit or the story itself. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what we’re left with at the end of the film; lots of pomp, but very little circumstance.

Honestly, it might be more accurate to consider this as a prequel to Stephen Norrington’s 2003 Alan Moore adaptation¬†The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Of course, this is an adaptation of the 1891 Oscar Wilde novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, but so little is done to honor the work that it seems cruel to connect the two. The ideas behind the two frames remain the same, but the results are entirely different. Dorian Gray (Ben Barnes), a youthful man of twenty or so, inherits a fortune after his father passes away. With that fortune comes the posh lifestyle of the early 20th century and a slew of new friends, the most important of which proves to be a man named Henry Wotton (an excellent Colin Firth), who teaches young Dorian to not be afraid of pleasure in all its forms, and another named Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin), who paints a wonderful portrait of Dorian and wishes to put it on display. Of course, he can’t. Why? Because the Dorian in the picture ages, rather than Dorian himself, and the life Dorian is leading – a life bitter with corruption and decadence – isn’t to kind to him. Read More