25th Hour  – ★★★★1/2
Today (11th September) marks 18 years since the 9/11 terror attacks in New York City, and I thought I would review a film that incorporates the post-9/11 atmosphere – Spike Lee’s film 25th Hour – as a tribute so that we never forget what happened and what it meant. Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing (1989), BlacKkKlansman (2018)) based his film on a book by David Benioff that tells of Montgomery “Monty” Brogan (Edward Norton), a man with a criminal history, who has just one day to enjoy his freedom before he goes to jail for seven years for drug-related offences. We follow Monty on this day, as he reflects on his past and the mistakes he had made in his life. With the beautiful score by Terence Blanchard, 25th Hour is a film that showcases the post-9/11 grief and anxiety to the fullest, while also demonstrating the extent people are pushed to lead a better life. Copying with grief and coming to terms with tragedy and one’s life mistakes are just some of the issues explored. 25th Hour may be too long and Lee’s own injection of “poeticism” in the film does not always work, but, with the film’s vivid imagery, it somehow seems to speak directly to one’s heart and soul, being a film about hope, guilt and attempts at redemption, making it somehow rather special and significant. Continue reading ““25th Hour” Review”
There are plenty of films out there showcasing the wonderful city of New York (NY, US). Martin Scorsese, especially, is famed for his “New York tetralogy”: first, he portrayed New York as a vision of urban decay (the 1970s) in Taxi Driver (1976); then he set love torn by societal conventions in the 19th century New York in The Age of Innocence (1993); then he depicted the city’s violent past in Gangs of New York (2002); and he finally finished his directional tetralogy with New York’s extravaganza (the 1980s) in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013). What follow are some other movies (in no particular order) showcasing the corners of one of the most exciting cities on Earth.
I. Home Alone II: Lost in New York (1992)
Chris Columbus’s entertainment-feast Home Alone II leads my list as it provides a great itinerary for a first-time visit to New York. In the story, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) gets separated from his family at the airport and arrives all alone in New York, and what follows is his exciting adventure as he tries to escape two criminals already on his track. Thrashed by critics, but much loved by audiences worldwide, the film is a good home movie showcasing many of New York’s delights. Kevin enters Manhattan via the Queensboro Bridge, and proceeds to tour the city by visiting Battery Park (viewing the Statue of Liberty from it) and apparently the Fulton Fish Market, where two bandits are hiding. Kevin then settles himself comfortably into the Plaza Hotel at the Grand Army Plaza. Other interesting featured locations are the Bethesda Fountain and the Wollman Rink, Central Park; Times Square and Carnegie Hall. That mother-son reunion at the Rockefeller Centre, decorated with the giant Christmas Tree, is that emotional moment we have all been waiting for.
Continue reading “New York: 10 Films Illustrating the City”
Chinese Puzzle (Casse-tête chinois)  – ★★★★
Chinese Puzzle is the final film in Cédric Klapisch’s travel trilogy (other films are L’Auberge Espagnole (2001) and Russian Dolls (2004)). The film presents Xavier, a French writer (Romain Duris (Populaire (2012)), who leads a confused and stressful life in Paris. When his girlfriend of 10 years, Wendy (Kelly Reilly (Flight (2012)) leaves him for another man and moves to New York, Xavier follows her to the Big Apple to be closer to his children. In New York, Xavier’s adventures begin as he rekindles romance with his ex-girlfriend, Martine (Audrey Tautou (Amélie (2001)), marries a Chinese-American woman to get a US Green Card, and becomes a surrogate father to his lesbian friend, Isabelle (Cecile De France).
Continue reading ““Chinese Puzzle” Review”