Just saw Inside Man. Spike Lee with another person’s screenplay leads to his tightest, most proficient and purely delightful work in years–he’s such a brilliant director, and the restraint of directing on a Brian Glazer project allows his talents to shine.
Most endearing is seeing what it means for Lee to be getting older, or “softer”–Inside Man is a love letter to New York. It’s a movie-long sequel to the one memorable part of 25th Hour. Early in that movie (which I found pretty skippable), Monty Brogan has a big obnoxious monologue where he damns New York–fuck the Chelsea boys, fuck the Sikhs, fuck the Italians and Korean grocers. It’s tedious, but pays off in the heart-wrenching penultimate sequence of the film. Monty’s being driven to jail and finally sees New York, as if for the first time, the beauty shining from each person on the street through his window as he passes.
Inside Man has similar love. It’s complex but unalloyed–Spike gives all the characters their moments of grotesquerie, sure–but it’s balanced by humanity, kindness, even admiration. Even the Jews. I’ve never seen Spike so magnanimous. Must come from being a dad or something.