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Apr 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 interested?

The Blonde: Are they of the juicy nature?

The Maven: No, they are just interesting.

The 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 your exes.

The Blonde:  WELL, they started off good but sometimes I just lose interest in old things. MEN AREN’T LIKE WINE WITH AGING!

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.

The 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 pizza.

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 or Toronto.

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?
The Maven: That would have to be a Woody Allen flick!
The Blonde: Did you know that Michael J. Fox was in debt $35,000 and eating macaroni and cheese before he got “Family Ties”?
The 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 and perfect.
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 LATER!


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