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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Inside Man

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Inside Man”
Rated R
2006

An intelligent, invigoratingly airtight caper and a love letter to New York on crumpled, coffee-stained paper, 2006’s “Inside Man” was the best kind of Spike Lee joint — one where he didn’t stumble over his sledgehammer before swinging it.

Architecture, infrastructure, diversity, greed — Lee endowed “Inside Man” with a fascination for the Naked City’s eight million stories, finding beauty in its bedlam.

From a man’s “Gold Digger” ringtone to a woman demanding waived parking tickets in exchange for assistance, “Man” is stuffed with marvelous tangents running parallel to writer Russell Gewirtz’s mysterious, but fair-playing, chess game. Its three leads all have something to prove, too, driving the film beyond its labyrinthine narrative.

In vintage scoundrel mode, Denzel Washington is a detective seeing his promotion to first-grade fizzle with each passing second of a bank-hostage situation.

Led by a mostly masked Clive Owen, the perpetrators seem to be in a simple standoff, but the crime turns complex after the arrival of a brassy “fixer” (Jodie Foster, so icy that even the hug of a dress on her curves feels at arm’s length).

“Man” throws loops early and often, even during the opening credits. A Bollywood-musical number seems incongruous before New York’s melting pot churns the plot and generates unlikely levity from both racial tension and trampled civil rights.

Lee rarely brings playfulness to his proceedings. So when his camera briefly rests on a Latin inscription for “written law, traditional law,” it’s an entertaining wink that he’s breaking both with boastfulness and brio.

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3 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Inside Man”

  1. [...] 3:10 to Yuma (2007) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days 21 Grams 24-Hour Party People 25th Hour 28 Days Later … The 40-Year-Old Virgin About a Boy About Schmidt Adaptation. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence Almost Famous Amelie American Psycho American Splendor Amores Perros Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Audition Austin Powers in Goldmember Australia Auto Focus Avatar Away From Her Away We Go Bad Santa The Bank Job Batman Begins / The Dark Knight A Beautiful Mind Before Night Falls Before Sunset Best in Show / A Mighty Wind The Best of Youth Big Fish Billy Elliot Black Book Black Hawk Down Black Snake Moan Blade II Bloody Sunday Borat: Cultural Learnings of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan The Bourne Supremacy / The Bourne Ultimatum Bowling for Columbine / Fahrenheit 9/11 / Sicko Boy A Breach Brick Bridget Jones’s Diary Brokeback Mountain Brothers The Brothers Bloom Cache Capote Capturing the Friedmans Casino Royale (2006) Cast Away The Cell Changing Lanes Charlie Wilson’s War Cherish Chicago Chicken Run Children of Men Cinderella Man City of God Closer Cloverfield Collateral The Constant Gardener Constantine Control Control Room Coraline The Cove Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Damned United Dancer in the Dark The Darjeeling Limited Dear Zachary Death at a Funeral (2007) Death Race The Deep End Departures The Descent Dirty Pretty Things District 9 The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Donnie Darko Doomsday Down With Love Downfall Drag Me to Hell Drumline Duplicity Eastern Promises An Education Elf Encounters at the End of the World / Grizzly Man Enigma Erin Brockovich Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind The Fall The Fantastic Mr. Fox Fast Food Nation The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat) Fever Pitch (2005) Fido Finding Forrester The Fog of War The Fountain Frequency Friday Night Lights Frost/Nixon Frozen River Gangs of New York Garden State Ghost Town Ghost World The Girlfriend Experience Gladiator Gomorrah Gone, Baby, Gone Good Night, and Good Luck The Good Shepherd Hairspray (2007) Half Nelson The Hangover Happy Feet Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Hedwig and the Angry Inch Hellboy II: The Golden Army High Fidelity A History of Violence The Host Hot Fuzz Hotel Rwanda Hunger (2008) The Hurt Locker Hustle and Flow Idiocracy In America In Bruges In Her Shoes In the Loop In the Valley of Elah An Inconvenient Truth The Incredibles The Informant! Inglourious Basterds Inside Man [...]

  2. [...] happened in the movie “Inside Man,” where the cops pull out the Indian kid and they treat him like a terrorist. Then there’s that [...]

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Rogers, The Film Yap. The Film Yap said: When there's blood on the streets, somebody's got to go to jail. http://bit.ly/aGI3Nc #bestfilmsofthedecade #heroesofthezeroes [...]