Sunday, December 23, 2007

[DVD] 15 Minutes (2001)

Who's More Famous?

I had borrowed this DVD countless of times, but somehow it didn't manage to make it to the player, until tonight that is. Starring Robert De Niro and Edward Burns, 15 Minutes take on an extreme look at reality media, where rival stations would chance upon to scoop one another at short notice, for ratings, fame and what have yous, even at the expense of morality. There's an upcoming movie called Untraceable which deals on the voyeuristic nature of modern audiences, but since this is a 2001 movie, exploitative media haven't got from bad to worse, yet, or so I believe.

De Niro stars as a top celebrity cop Detective Eddie Flemming, who knows how to milk the media to the force's advantage. Being in the limelight also helps in investigations and cracking cases, because everyone wants an autograph, or to shake hands with someone famous. So it definitely helps in opening doors and breaking down hostilities. And his unofficial partner in this caper is Fire Marshal Jordy Warsaw, played by Edward Burns, whose character is an intriguing one, in that his profession is under the fire department, but has powers belonging to cops as his role is mainly an investigative piece into how fires are started, and if arson is suspected.

Together, they form a somewhat mentor-rookie relationship, as Eddie teaches Jordy the 101 on homicide, as they sieve through clues of an incident where a couple is found dead in an apartment, but signs point to murder rather than accidental death by fire. And for the first half of the movie, this partnership actually starts to take their roots into tried and test buddy cop (well, technically not quite) movies, where differences are played to strengths, culminating in an exciting (I realize I seldom use this word nowadays) chase down the streets of New York, ala Heat, but minus the major firepower.

But the movie takes a drastic turn in the second half, as gone are the action or potential action set up, and in comes the dwelling upon issues on everyone's 15 minutes of fame, as mentioned by Andy Warhol. Sometimes you do wonder, through reports, news, basically the media, how criminals can find it so easy to become a celebrity, making those obscene amount of cash through the writing of books or the selling of movie rights. And basically, it boils down to how we as consumers, fuel this kind of supply with demand from our curiosity.

And it sure isn't alien too, where the crookedness of lawyers also assist in heaps on the perversion of law, for a cut of the profits, with their tools of the trade such as defense on the plea of insanity, and the double jeopardy clause. But why stop at lawyers when we can also target studio executives and talk show producers, whose exploitative shows feed on the sensational to sell their programme and to generate high ratings. Kelsey Grammer of Frasier fame, plays one such host, whom you'll just love to hate. Look out too for Charlize Theron in a cameo scene, with a brunette bob hairdo.

Interesting concepts explored and examined, with relatively interesting villains as well (one of them an aspiring filmmaker!) make 15 Minutes a little more than an ordinary cop thriller. There's a key scene which I can't describe without spoiling it, but suffice to say it does bring out every ounce on tension there is to it, and such moments though were marred slightly by the ending which had a somewhat unnecessary cheesy moment. Still, this will go into my list of recommended movies, especially one that dwells on media issues.

Code 3 DVD by New Line Home Entertainment comes in anamorphic widescreen format, with decent visual transfer without the pops, hiss and cackles. Audio is only available in English Dolby Digital 5.1, with English and Chinese subtitles. A 21 chapter scene selection is available, otherwise it's a barebones edition.

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