Movie Review – 25th Hour (2002)

Year of Release: 2002

Stars:  Edward NortonBarry Pepper and Philip Seymour Hoffman

Verdict: 2.75/5

Although nominated for Golden Globe and recipient of a lot of critical acclaim, I personally think the movie is a wee bit over-rated.

It’s about a guy called Monty (Edward Norton) who has been sentenced to 7 years in prison for drug peddling and his last 24 hours of freedom and what he does with that.

The opening scene shows Monty saving an injured dog (Doyle) who later becomes an inseparable part of his life. There are overtones of this first scene throughout the movie. Monty saves the dog and gives him another chance at life. Later in the movie Monty fondly recalls that saving the dog was the best thing he did in his life. In a way Doyle’s life symbolizes Monty’s.

During the last 24 hours he meets with all the people who matter in his life – his girlfriend Naturelle, his father who thinks he is to blame for his son’s life turning out the way it did and his 2 best friends; a teacher who is infatuated with one of his students & an investment banker who is overconfident, brash & a loud mouth.

The movie moves on showing how each person is grappling with their own issues in life; Monty predictably with his impending jail term & his suspicion on his girlfriend for outing him out to the cops, Philip with his own moral issues about being attracted to one of his students, Monty’s father with his guilt pangs etc.

Over the whole story Monty comes to realize how he himself is responsible for screwing up his life since he had everything going for him – a scholarship from a reputed private school, good looks, an amazing girlfriend and how he blew everything away.

The best two scenes for me in the movie have to be, one where Monty gives a F*** You speech in front of the bathroom mirror and two, where Monty begs Barry to beat and thrash him early in the morning so that he looks rugged enough for jail. Barry’s denial to do it, Monty’s instigation, everything has been beautifully portrayed.

The ending though profound & beautiful, is very open-ended and might confuse a lot of people.

The movie makes one wonder as to how many opportunities we get and turn away from them in lieu of other easy looking and exciting pursuits which turn out to be everything but that in the end. Maybe shortcuts to success aren’t really all that worth it in the end.

Edward Norton as always is brilliant. Definitely don’t watch if you’re looking for a cheerful movie.

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 7.9/10
  • Edward Norton says the word “fuck” 40 times in about five minutes during his monologue in the bathroom. The phrase “Fuck you” is on the mirror in the bathroom.
  • Tobey Maguire bought the rights to the original novel with the intent of starring. He later decided to do Spider-Man, although he did stay on this film as a producer.
  • During his speech in the bathroom, Edward Norton says, “Slavery ended 137 years ago. Move the fuck on!” This is a reference to American History X, where he says, “Slavery ended like a hundred and thirty years ago, how long does it take to get your act together?”
  • Edward Norton‘s character mentions about wanting to be the “girl in ‘X-Men’, the one that can walk through walls”. Co-stars Anna PaquinBrian CoxAaron Stanford and Dania Ramirez have all starred in the X-Men movies, as Rogue, General Stryker, Pyro, and Callisto respectively. The girl who can walk through walls is called Shadowcat.
  • ‘Alicia Keys ‘ was considered for the role of Naturelle.
  • Edward Norton says he took every penny he made from Red Dragon to finance this film.
  • Monty’s line, “Champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends,” is a Francis Bacon quote.

Movie Review – Whip It (2009)

Year of Release: 2009

Stars:  Ellen PageDrew Barrymore and Kristen Wiig

Verdict: 3/5

 

Be your own hero! What an apt tag-line for the movie.

This movie is based on a book by the same name and marks the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore. And unexpectedly she has done a pretty good job of it.

It is a story of a small town average girl Bliss (Ellen Page) with a pretty boring life. She works as a part-time waitress along with her best friend Pash. Both of them feel stuck up in the in the small town and want to break free, experience the big city life and do exciting things. But there obviously are hurdles in their fairy tale.

Bliss is enduring the weight of her mothers’ dreams & aspirations. Her mother wants her to participate in and win beauty pageants and participate in society galas just as she did when she was younger. She thinks that that is a perfect path for her girls to follow. While Bliss’s younger sister is happy living the dream, Bliss is different. She wants more out of live than winning boring beauty pageants where one is at their impeccable best. She goes along with the drudgery until one day she stumbles upon something very exciting.

She gets to know about a Roller Derby league in the nearby city, Austin. She’s fascinated and decides to try it out. As it turns out she is excellent in it and for the first time in her life finds something she is truly passionate about.

Now the real trouble begins. She lies about her age, the reasons for her absence from home twice a week etc. etc.

In between all the lying, she falls for a guy for the first time in her life, enjoys and lives her life to the fullest, gets to live her passion, rise to the top of the game and basically be happy.

Trouble brews when her team reaches the finals for the 1st time. The tournament and her mother’s dream beauty pageant are on the same day. It’s a roller coaster ride thereafter. With the cat out of the bag, she struggles with the explanations and expectations of her parents and her team mates.

Ellen Page as always is brilliant and carries the movie on her tender shoulders. We could’ve done away with Drew Barrymore’s character though. All the other actors have also played their part well, especially Bliss’s best friend Pasha.

It isn’t a classic like other sports dramas like Coach Carter, The Fighter etc. but none the less a feel good motivating movie.

Trivia:

  • IMDB Rating – 7/10
  • Ellen Page dropped out of Drag Me to Hell to be in this film.
  • “Whip It” was written by Shauna Cross, a former Roller Derby skater with the Los Angeles Derby Dolls. Cross skated under the name Maggie Mayhem with a team of rouge cops called the Sirens. Many of the teams, skaters, names and plot lines were inspired by Cross’ time with the Derby Dolls.
  • The fictional TXRD team ‘Hurl Scouts’ were based on the ‘Tough Cookies’ from Los Angeles: both teams share a green uniform and theme based on the Girl Scouts of America.
  • Despite acting in feature films since the age of 5, this film is Drew Barrymore‘s feature film directorial debut.
  • The track used in the movie was built and lent to be used in the movie by a banked track roller derby league from Oklahoma City called Red Dirt Rebellion Rollergirls.
  • At one point in the film, Bliss Cavendar lies about her age being 22 (instead of 17), which is the actual age of Ellen Page, who plays her.
  • Filmed in Detroit, Michigan and many of the skaters in the movie are on Detroit’s Derby team.
  • When Bliss is getting ready for her first big match, Maggie Mayhem tells her that you can never have enough Lash Blast. Lash Blast mascara is a Cover Girl product. Drew Barrymore is a Cover Girl spokesperson.
  • When Iron Maven / Juliette Lewis tells Bliss Ellen Page that she’s 36 years old, that’s Juliette Lewis’ actual age at the time the movie was released.
  • Of the teams featured, only the Holy Rollers are an actual TXRD team.