I’ve been watching a number of Spike Lee films recently or at least this year I have. No particular reason why, other than I just haven’t seen most of them and I like some of his work. Clockers is iffy.
Apparently Martin Scorsese was originally in-charge of this project. I think it might have been a better movie with him, but I can’t be to certain. Spike Lee did a good job though, but I feel like he just missed some crap.
The biggest thing that bothered me was the redundancy of teaching lessons. I got that the characters and audience are supposed to be learning something in this film. Lessons are being taught to all of us. I understood them and that without needing it to be explained to me. Spike Lee though kinda hammers it in to the point that it seems ridiculous. It feels like any kind of speech an authority figure gives you at school about something like don’t drink and drive or do drugs. We all know the message. We’ve heard it before, no need to tell us again and again. The repetitiveness just becomes annoying. That’s what Spike Lee did here to me. Harvey Keitel’s character was pretty bad at this. He seemed to be the main character that was pretty damn preachy all of the time.
On the whole the movies was nicely shot, although there were a few flashback scenes that seemed a bit odd. The music selection was done well as per usual, however for some reason they didn’t fade the music out in a number of scenes. There was one when they are in the park (I can’t think of it specifically right now) where I think Keitel and Phifer are talking and the music is playing almost overtop of them. It was louder than what is usually seen in films and I noticed it. I could still hear the characters, but it annoyed me. I can’t for the life of me think of how this added to the scene. The music wasn’t diegetic (like someone playing it from a boombox), it was just at a normal volume instead of faded.
The cast was pretty good. Delroy Lindo was pretty damned awesome. He was actually scary as shit when you think about it and actually reminded me of Fagin from Oliver Twist. This older paternal figure who can get real pretty damned quick and be intimidating. Lindo is physically more intimidating than Fagin, which makes the scenes where he goes into action even more threatening. One minute you’d love to have him as your own dad and the next minute you’d be ready to turn him over to the cops even if he was your father. Mekhi Phifer did a great job as well. I thought he did a good job at not being a cardboard cutout of a stereotype. Isaiah Washington was nice and I wish he could have gotten more screen time. Same with Keith David as Andre. He was a badass who needed more development. Great acting though. I wanted to see more of Thomas Jefferson Byrd as well. He did a hell of a job in this with the few scenes he had. His character was intriguing as well, but you never really hear much about him and what you do find out about him only makes you want to know more.
Harvey Keitel and John Turturro are shit basically, which I feel horrified saying. They aren’t really, but I’ve always expected great performances from them and have always gotten them. Hell I’ve loved Turturro in everything he’s been in. I watch movies just because he has a role somewhere in it, even if he only shows up for twi minutes, which is sort of the case here. Turturro is pointless here mainly. He’s used to drive the plot slightly and that is it. Keitel does the same thing and his acting just seems less than enthusiastic. Maybe Scorsese could have gotten more out of him.
Really it’s a good film with some problems that bugged me. Could have been better and isn’t Spike Lee’s finest hour. Knowing that Scorsese was attached only makes it worse because you want to know what he would have done and in my mind, I feel like he probably would have gotten some better acting out of different actors. Together Spike Lee and Scorsese probably would have made a fucking legendary film here.
Well I also watched August. Nothing spectacular. It’s mainly the Josh Hartnett show. I usually like him and he does a good job here. He has a good supporting cast as well, but they don’t get much time do shit. Even when they are on-screen the focus is on Hartnett. Adam Scott did really well, though the beard/goatee bugged the hell out of me. It looked weird. It also covered his pointy chin and made it look boxier, which may have been the point. Dunno. Different look for him which was just weird. Rip Torn basically just was used for his signature yell and be angry for two minutes and Naomie Harris has no purpose in the film which also annoyed me. I like her. Apart from her being attractive, she’s a good actress who also doesn’t do much. I actually don’t quite know why she was in the movie character wise. If you noticed David Bowie’s name don’t get excited either. He’s in it for maybe five minutes max and during that time he’s standing by a window in the background with his back to you in silence. He speaks for maybe a minute and that is it. He’s really good, but you hardly see him. I really want to see him with a meatier role after this and films like The Prestige. He does a phenomenal role in these recent films and needs more screen time assuming he wants it.
It wasn’t a bad film, but unlike the main character it doesn’t seem to have much ambition. It looks incredibly smooth and kinda ambles forward, but nothing much happens.