04, 2006 Inside Man—Inside and Out, it’s a Good
Film by The Blonde and The Maven
You never know what you are
going to get with a Spike Lee film, but you know that somewhere he
will confront racial stereotypes in the story. Although that isnt
the basis for his latest film, Inside Man, there is a sub-context to
it. Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing and 25th Hour) has chosen to work
with Denzel Washington (Man on Fire and John Q) yet again as he did
on He Got Game, Mo Better Blues and Malcolm X.
In this film
we meet some tough New Yorkers who must outwit one another to
protect competing interests in this skillfully penned and tightly
helmed thriller. The screenwriter is first-timer Russell Gerwitz.
His main characters have an on-screen presence that demands rapt
attention. Nothing is as it seems! First there is the newly promoted
detective that specializes in hostage negotiation. Detective Keith
Frazier, played by Denzel, must rise above the recent innuendo of
dishonesty against him. It is obvious to him that the bank robbers
are stalling in the negotiation process, he just cant figure out
why. Then there is the master thief, Dalton Russell, played by Clive
Owen (Derailed and Closer) who is almost always masked but we do get
to see his face sometimes. It takes all of the 2 1/2 hours to find
out why he and his three accomplices enter the bank, take 50
hostages and never touch a single dollar bill. It may or may not be
very important to "pay strict attention" to his opening remarks.
Filling out the top third spot is Jodie Foster (Flightplan and Panic
Room) as Madeline White (who happens to wear a lot of white and be
white herself), a power player with shadowy objectives. Everything
about her is sharp, from her shoes, to the cut of her suit, her
cell-phone and even how she gets on the scene of the crime. The one
thing that is not sharp is who she is! All we know is that the owner
of the bank being robbed is Arthur Case, played by Christopher
Plummer (Must Love Dogs and Syriana) and he has something in that
bank that he wants Ms. White to make sure is safe at any cost. The
film consists of many flash forwards that splinter the narrative. We
see interviews with several hostages (or are they?) after their
release. When certain facts are presented, you may find yourself
rooting for the bank robbers to succeed. It is the what they are
succeeding in that is the question.
The Blonde: YEAH, Spike!
This was a fascinating, intelligent, clever, well done and different
than his usual films with a unique twist. Inside Man was like Dog
Day Afternoon meets The Italian Job meets Serpico meets The Anderson
Tapes meets Oceans 11 and 12 meets The Get Away. I must say that it
was a real pleasure to see such terrific, realistic and honest
writing in a film for a change. You don’t really know what is going
on until half way through the movie. The dialogue in the script was
my favorite part of the film. Furthermore, Spike’s direction in this
film was magnificent because he kept it real. I must be honest and
say there were some slow moments, but in the end you understand it
was the way it had to be. Spike sure guaranteed himself a hit movie
with Inside Man not only because it was a great story, but he hired
an all-star cast that all brought home phenomenal performances.
The Maven: I think Spike Lee movies are better when
someone else writes them. This film was fun to watch. The star was
definitely the bank heist itself. What a brilliant twist. The red
herrings were few, but fairly obvious. I loved how Clive Owens
character was always two steps ahead of the cops. His whole plan
was! It would have been nice to know more about the guy, ya know
where he came from, how he was able to plan what he did and, most of
all, was that a serious girlfriend kiss at the end or just a
friendly girl of the moment kiss?
The Blonde: I AGREE, I
needed to know more about who DALTON really wanted to get back at
and why. Did he really have a cause that he was standing up for? I
ALSO wanted to know what made him tick as well as more info on his
team. What I truly applaud about this Lee film was that he went with
a totally different theme than he usually goes with. I enjoyed,
however, that he did find several moments and slots to interject the
many types of prejudice in our culture. I think that sometimes when
you don’t scream a message it hits home even harder! As for
Jodie, I thought her makeup was hellacious, way too harsh, and just
made her look OLD! MEOW! Thank goodness they let her look beautiful
in the end. I did like her wardrobe, especially that big red
poca-book that didn’t match her outfit but truly looked sensational.
What I found most refreshing about Jodi was that she has finally
decided to act in a film where she isn’t the neurotic, screaming
mother who has a problem protecting her child or being the victim of
man eating criminals.
The Maven: I think the
purse the Blonde is referring to is a POCKETBOOK! It was also a
Hermes original. Moving along, Jodies character was so COOL! She was
a bitch on wheels. I hope never to meet her type (although I am sure
they abound here in Boca)! Not much was known about her, though.
Theres another story I would have liked to have known more about.
She could be the basis for a whole other movie. I mean, anyone that
can get Osama Bin Ladins nephew a co-op in New York is bound to have
a lot of stories in her!
The Blonde: This movie would
have been far too long to have filled us in on all of the unknowns.
Maybe there will be a part 2. Now as far as Denzel is concerned, he
is the king actor of credibility. I MEAN REALLY…who shows more
honest distress and pain in his face than he does? You believe every
word he says and feel every gesture he displays. I LOVE THIS
GUY! Maven, just an observation, but hasn’t Christopher
Plummer been in more films in the last few years than he has since
The Sound of Music?
The Maven: TOTALLY. He has had a major
career rebirth. I have to give kudos to Film Editor Barry Alexander
Brown (25th Hour and Do the Right Thing). The seamless way he weaved
in the flash forwards enhanced the plot. That was done in Crash last
year. Maybe it will win an award for him this year. While
researching this film I came across a few interesting facts. Are you
The Blonde: Are they of the juicy
The Maven: No, they are just interesting.
Blonde: You and I dont always agree on what is interesting or juicy
for that matter!
The Maven: That’s for sure! Look at some of
The Blonde: WELL, they started off good but
sometimes I just lose interest in old things. MEN AREN’T LIKE WINE
The Maven: Maybe you just wear things out too
fast. Anyway, now for the interesting facts… 1) Producer Brian
Grazer originally brought this script to Ron Howard (his usual
partner), but Ron was unable to work with it. His next choice was
Spike Lee and the rest is history.
The Blonde: Okay. But that
is only mildly interesting!
The Maven: 2) Spike is a big fan
of Sydney Lumet. That is why there are so many references to Dog Day
Afternoon in the film.
The Blonde: Getting a little better
but still doesn’t WOW me with the interesting thing.
Maven: Stop interrupting! Spike used two of the same actors from Dog
Day Afternoon. One was Marcia Jean Kurtz, who played Miriam Douglas,
and the other was Lionel Pina, who was the delivery man with the
The Blonde: I would have been more impressed with Al
Pacino and if you care, still not impressed.
The Maven: 3)
Spike wanted to bring more business to New York so he built sets at
Steiner Studios in Brooklyn. That way he didnt have to shoot in LA
The Blonde: Way to go, Spike!!! STILL LOOKING FOR
A BINGO HERE! ANYTHING TO TELL US ABOUT THE ACTORS’ SEX LIVES,
plastic surgery or crimes and misdemeanors?
That would have to be a Woody Allen flick!
Did you know that Michael J. Fox was in debt $35,000 and eating
macaroni and cheese before he got “Family Ties”?
Maven: YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! This is the interesting info
that you classify as juicy?
The Blonde: No, just
watching an old re-run and thought you would like to know. What do
you think about the new film coming out soon called United 93? There
is a part of me that was hoping they wouldn’t come out with a movie
about the Twin Towers.
The Maven: I believe their
story SHOULD be told. These people fought back as soldiers would.
They knew they were going to die and they chose to do it their way
and not the terrorists’ way.
The Blonde: I realize that
they were true heroes. I just hope that this film is okay with their
families. For now, I have one more comment about the film we are
reviewing. The music throughout was fantastic. So often the music in
a film is over the top, but in Inside Man, the music was thrilling
The Maven: I was very impressed with
Spike Lee on this film. Much of the dialogue was relaxed and yet the
film was full of tension. I loved how the “bank robbers” got away.
The heist, as I said before was ingenious. Each subplot had closure
which I know pleased the Blonde as she is a closure junkie. The film
was intelligent, and allowed us, the viewers to figure some things
out. I rate this film a B+ for its brilliant script, its bevy of
bright and bestirring characters, and for the basic enjoyment of
watching Denzel and Clive on screen together. I would have given
this film an A if either had been shirtless. Matthew would have
found a way!
The Blonde: Good comment. I really
enjoyed this film for it was a smart film. It kept you thinking and
on your toes. It also makes you think about the things left out of
the film. I too give Inside Man a B+. It does disturb me to agree
with the Mav two weeks in a row. For your movie snacks, go ahead and
have some rock candy and matzo ball soup. YOU’LL UNDERSTAND