Saturday, May 06, 2006

Inside Man: Is it good for the Jews?

(Spoilers inside)

A few days ago I saw Spike Lee's Inside Man. It was an OK movie, and on some level I found it amusing. It was actually about a rather clever bank heist pulled off by a few people that quickly seems to turn in to a messy hostage negotiation. Denzel Washington plays the negotiator and is the only real multidimensional character in the film.

Rather quickly one begins to root for the bad guy, and after a while, so do the good guys. The real bad guys become apparent soon enough.

The plot is about the bank robbery that never really took place. At the end of the day the thieves, after meticulusly planning the robbery did not take a heck of a lot of stuff, nor did they want to. Actually for a while they can't find anything that was really taken. They took a very select few things. You are never really told how they found about about them, nor do we see any of the back story, and that is what makes me suspicious.

I could of couse concentrate here on the actual movie, but I suspect that Spike Lee might not have had the best of intentions here with the film. Allow me to elaborate. (Here is where the real spoilers start.) As the old joke goes: A Jewish kid goes to his granfather and says "The Yankees won the World series!" To which the granfather replies "Nu, is that good for the Jews?"

I could not help thinking about this at the end of Inside man. The real story is that there is a group of Jews who somehow find out that some big Wall Street bank was started by exploiting something Nazi. Not sure exactly what, but that the owner took advantage of some rich Jews and ended up with the money to start the bank. A cabal comprised of a hanful of Jews decided to plan the ultimate heist and steal the proof of this from the bank. They somehow discovered this, and all they took was the proof and a handful of diamonds that were from that era. The implication was that this would all be used to blackmail the founder of the bank. The founder of the bank went through some trouble to try to prevent this and the bitch who was hired to help bury this took his money and didn't feel very bad for the guy either.

So my question is this: What was Spike Lee trying to sho with this movie? Was he trying to tell a clever story and needed a good plot? Was he trying to show how clever some dedicated Jews are? Was he trying to show that there are these shadowy Jews with a very long memories who will right historical wrongs? What was he getting at.

Honestly, it was not clear which of these sentiments he conveyed. Probably all of them. But I still can't tell you if that is good for the Jews.


Shosh said...

I seem to remember reading somewhere that spike lee ain't exactly a fan of the jews. I'll have to see it for myself, as he's pretty political and he never seems to make movies for sheer entertainment.

Joclyn said...

It was a good movie, and Spike Lee has come a long way since the days of "Do the Right Thing" which only featured over the top stereotypes.