THE POPCORN REEL EDITOR'S DESK - a
weekly word about the movies
ON THIS SOLEMN DAY, LOOKING BACK AT THE "25TH HOUR"
Monday, September 11, 2006
"When The Levees Broke", which chronicles the before during and
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and its deadly strike of New Orleans and the rest
of the American Gulf
Coast, is currently sending shockwaves of power, truth and revelation to audiences across America who are watching it now on cable television. The four-hour documentary spotlights the worst natural disaster to hit American shores. On this day of remembrance, there is a Spike Lee feature film that confronts, dignifies and addresses the pains, traumas and frustrations of the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. "25th Hour", based on David Benioff's novel, opens from the site where the World Trade Center towers stood. Twin beams of towering blue florescent lights shoot 1,000-plus feet into the air. The entire opening credit sequence, accompanied by Terence Blanchard's incredible score, is haunting, grand and mournful. Released in late December 2002, the film was the first American feature film release to confront the events of five years ago. True to his trademark, the director throws all the anger, hurt, pain, and invective of New Yorkers (played by Edward Norton and Barry Pepper) as they rail against those who have been credited with creating these devastating attacks.
The tag-line on the film's poster, courtesy of Touchstone Pictures (below) says, "can you change your whole life in a day?" This statement is so apropos as it ties in to September 11, 2001 very well -- even if that tie-in is unintentional. Many people in the United States and overseas talk about Tuesday, September 11, 2001 as the day when the world changed forever, due to the attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Certainly the way America stands today, it has been changed irrevocably.
In the film, Monty Brogan (Norton) replays aspects of his life as he is a few hours away from being locked up in prison for seven years. He recalls the highs and the lows that led him to where he will end up -- out of society's sight and out of society's mind. His introspection as he says his last goodbyes to his friends and his girlfriend is moving. There is mistrust, hate, anger and love, but most of all there is a feeling of what could have been. Similarly, September 11 should cause us all to be introspective about how America has changed as a result of the attacks five years ago, and how people in America have changed. Why did these attacks happen? What can we do going forward? Is the current administration in the White House part of the problem or part of the solution? How does the rest of the world feel about America and this somber anniversary? These and a myriad number of other questions need to be asked and answered. We need to examine ourselves, again and again and must be bold enough to confront ourselves with these critical questions.
Although it is only a movie, Spike Lee's "25th Hour" challenges us to do that. It is clear, direct and searing, humane and honest. New York City has never looked more resilient and brave in the movies, and Edward Norton's character is the catalyst for our own challenge: to create goodwill again in the United States and the rest of the world, where five years ago it had been universal and lasting.
Omar P.L. Moore
The Popcorn Reel