Thanks to Lesya over at Eternity of Dream for continuing her “…In Genre” series. I’m glad to be one of the bloggers who gets to contribute. As a reminder, the object of this series is to recommend in a few sentences a movie about or set in the city in question in a film genre of your choosing. After everyone has submitted there recommendations, there will be one film for each genre for anyone in the mood for a film on that city. Last time, I did Music + Paris; this time it’s all about Drama + New York City. Here is my recommendation for the Spike Lee joint 25th Hour (2002):
When you think of a filmmaker who consistently revisits New York as inspiration for their movies, you most likely think Woody Allen. Some indie cinephiles may even think of Edward Burns. Let’s not forget about Spike Lee who has an uncanny knack for brilliantly using New York City as a backdrop to some of the most socially conscious, gritty, and humanistic films ever. One lesser known but equally powerful Spike Lee joint is 25th Hour, a film that depicts the last day of freedom for a drug dealer named Monty (Edward Norton) before he turns himself in to serve a seven-year prison term. What we learn from watching his last hours as a free man is that he is more complicated than we assume he is; he is both nice guy and bad guy. We see him re-examine his life, the choices that have brought him to this point, and his relationships with the dubious characters around him - his keen girlfriend (Rosario Dawson) who may or may not have ratted on him to the police, his teacher friend (Philip Seymour Hoffman) obsessed with a student (Anna Paquin), and his morally questionable friend on Wall Street (Barry Pepper). We question their influences on him as he does. We weigh his alternatives to prison as he does (does he go on the run? commit suicide?). And through this, we see Monty’s vision of New York as the action unfolds on the fast-paced city streets, inside the club culture, and finally, in a memorable movie ending, in the quiet suburbs.
You can see the full list of recommendations for the entire gambit of genres here.