The Inside Track on the 2007 Oscars
It was pissing down rain yesterday in DC, so I spent the afternoon watching Spike Lee's Inside Man
, a Denzel Washington/Jodie Foster/Clive Owen/Willem Dafoe/etc bank heist flick that gets my vote for this year's Oscar. That's not because it's a great film, because it's not, but because it's the first picture to figure out what made Crash
so popular. And that is a new, positive, trend in American cinematic taste.
I know I've complained about Crash
in a previous post
, and I still think it had plenty of problems. But with Inside
Lee has caught onto Crash's
timbre of a multiethnic, pluralistic portrayal of America, however clumsy. The actors come in all shades of the rainbow -- black, white, Latino, Asian, and even a Sikh -- and get into at least a cursory discussion of race throughout the movie. It's not the most sophisticated dialogue ("So then this bl-- er, African American -- kid pulled a gun on me ...") but it's a hell of a lot better than, say, Charlie's Angels. At one point white SWAT cops mistake the Sikh, a released hostage, for an Arab and rip off his turban, which leads him to complain about losing his civil rights. (Denzel counters by saying "Well at least I'll bet you can get a cab!") Later when Denzel and colleagues are trying to decipher the bugged robbers' conversations, he says "This is New York -- somebody out there on the street's got to speak this language!" In fact, the hero of this multi-headliner is just as much American diversity itself as any of its stars.
The other plus is that it's a clever film, with an intricate plot. Any time American tastes run toward the complex it's a good thing. This is pretty much the complete opposite of NASCAR. There are explosions and some gratuitous shooting, but by and large the film is psychological and pleasantly unpredictable.
I hope we get more films like this, smart and multiethnic with an undertone of celebration to that diversity, and I'm glad it's getting good reviews
. Go see Inside Man
, at least as a matinee. Especially if it's raining.