Trailerology: Inside Man

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Spike Lee directs Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, and Clive Owen in Inside Man. Talk about your dream team. Awfully Hollywood-looking entry for Mr. Lee though.

"Awfully Hollywood-looking entry for Mr. Lee though." I will bet you Yes and No.

Dalton Russell tells us to, "Pay attention to what I say because I choose my words carefully and I never repeat myself." When a character tells you that they are speaking by the card we must pay attention. Especially when it's Spike Lee. Especially in the trailer. (I doubt that Mr. Lee would break the fourth wall in a movie like this. I think it's been quite a while since he's done that.)

So Dalton Russell is Spike Lee who chooses his projects carefully and who never repeats himself. Now you've got my attention. Mr. Lee, tell us about your latest project. "Recently I planned and executed the perfect bank robbery. *everybody get down on the floor now!* Why? Because I can."

Lee has robbed the Hollywood bankers to make a movie about robbing bankers. I assume that's part of the reason that the assembled dream team took huge discounts... and they must have taken Wal-Mart-sized pay checks. I don't care how big a bank Brian Grazer is Jodie Foster doesn't need to work.

This is where I agree that Inside Man is an "awfully Hollywood-looking entry" But remember the words of Willie Sutton who, when asked why he robbed banks, said "Because that's where the money is." Besides, Lee has been directing an awful lot of video, television and documentary projects recently. It's time for him to rehabilitate his credit rating in Hollywood.

Here the agreement ends. Spike Lee has filled a huge financial institution with black hoods who hide their identities behind white masks. Not to worry, here comes Mr. Lee's muse, Sir Denzel Washington... and in a white hat! He is dressed in brown and Jodie Foster is in white. That's our Jodie, always tryin' ta keep a brutha down. Ms. Foster plays a character named "Madeliene White." Ain't that jess like a mad white woman?

Since we're naming names. Sir Denzel Washington plays Keith Frazier while Clive Owen is the aforementioned Dalton Russell. If I was a basketball fan I'd be reminded of Bill Russell who played for the Boston Celtics (incorrectly thought of as a "white" team.) Then I'd think of Walter "Clyde/The Glide" Frazier who played for the New York Knicks. In 1970 the New York Knicks ended the Boston Celtics' run of 11 championchips in 13 seasons, thrilling legions of short teenage African-American boys with glasses and jazz bassist fathers. This remains nothing more than idle specualtion until someone finds some evidence linking Spike Lee with the New York Knicks.

...oh, Dalton Russell's initials often stand for "director" or "doctor" or "drive" so there are a wide range of interpretations.

Meanwhile, back to the Trailer.

The mad white money woman shows up and starts to interfere with Frazier's game. She gets all up in his grill, spouting lines like, "I need to be assurred that certain interests are protected." She tells the (evidently) underpaid Det. Frazier that, "there are matters at stake here that are a little bit above your pay grade" and "I can change your entire program so the sooner that you stop being my problem the better off you'll be." Ain't that jess like a woman... or a Hollywood studio?

Detective Frazier remains unflappable. He just does not flap. Not even when his fellow African-American warns him that if "this goes down wrong they're gonna dump this whole mess in your lap. You gotta be crazy to go in there."

Detective Frazier's response? "Like a fox." Boom. Ow. Pop!

The trailer ends with "What are you doing?! C'mon, this ain't no bank robbery!" I also noticed that it wasn't a Spike Lee "joint." So Mr. Lee might be doing Hollywood but I will still bet you that he isn't going Hollywood.

Sir Denzel Washington is one of the few true stars working today.

To watch Mr. Washington breeze into a scene smooth as silk, smooth as Bogart and Easy Rawlins combined... is to experience the ineffable pleasures that only big-screen stars can provide.
Thank you, Manohla.

I stand in awe of your encyclopedic knowledge and insightful analysis.

You're very kind. I do like my Spike.

Brilliant! But Spike Lee cast himself as a white guy?

Sorta... probably just to get the money for this movie. But he didn't cast a white guy as himself. Sir Denzel Washington is always cast in the role of Spike. The white guy is playing the role of DR and Mr. Lee is speaking through him (at least in the trailer.) I don't think that Lee has ever viewed himself as a white guy... and that's why I think that Russell will lose to the Knicks unless it's "Down goes Frazier! Down goes Frazier!.."

I will also wager that there will be a boxing reference or two in the movie.