25th Hour Spike Lee

25th HourSpike Lee
It takes a New York filmmaker to chronicle the after-effects of a city shaken to its core by the events of September 11, 2001. Spike Lee is that filmmaker — not because he's more New York than anyone (though he is), nor because he's got the political savvy to untie this Gordian knot (though he does), but because the hole in Lower Manhattan is a hole in Spike Lee's heart. 25th Hour was the first major feature filmed in NYC after 9-11, but to his credit, Spike Lee, in filming a novel by David Benioff (who wrote the screenplay), doesn't make this film about it. But it haunts the environment of Monty Brogan (Edward Norton), a convicted drug dealer who's spending the last 24 hours of freedom in the only city he's ever known. He tries to reconcile with his father (Brian Cox), who runs a bar near Ground Zero, a now mostly abandoned firefighter's hangout. He meets up with his oldest childhood friends (Barry Pepper, Philip Seymour Hoffman), whose paths have brought them money and power as a Wall Street trader and misery and loneliness as a schoolteacher, respectively. And each of them looks around them and wonders, "How did I get here?" In fact, the city itself seems to be asking that question. If you haven't seen a Spike Lee joint in a while, you will marvel at his consummate skill — and his ability to find the best cinematographers. Mexican cameraman Rodrigo Prieto (Amores Perros, 8 Mile) shoots this single day like a broken-hearted lover who can't face another. Spike Lee's commentary is surprisingly laconic, while David Benioff's is more story-oriented on how his adaptation evolved. Interesting deleted scenes are fleshed out by a lot of footage Lee shot at the Ground Zero site but didn't use for the film, which in the end is not dominated but haunted by the events of 9-11. Extras: director and writer commentaries; Spike Lee career featurette; deleted scenes; Ground Zero footage. (Buena Vista)