2 items from 2001
Actor Danny Glover is appealing to the American government to keep suspected terrorist Osama Bin Laden alive. The Lethal Weapon star is against the death-penalty and made his controversial comment on Thursday at Princeton University in New Jersey. Glover told the crowd, "When I say the death penalty is inhumane, I mean (it) whether that person is in a bird cage or bin Laden." The Californian announced his displeasure that United States officials had detained hundreds of immigrants after the September 11th atrocities. Glover says, "This clearly is a slippery slope. We must stand vigilant against President Bush in these times." »
Lee Davis' "3 AM", a tale of cabbies who work the late shift in New York, is rich in atmosphere and mood but too light in the drama department.
Veteran thespians Danny Glover and Pam Grier anchor the wispy film with solid portraits of working-class people struggling to make ends meet by laboring during those hours few people would choose even to be awake.
But a documentary could have examined such lives with a better grasp of reality and possibly even greater insight. Davis' thin fiction adds little to the picture except unconvincing melodrama.
Showtime Networks produced "3 AM" with Spike Lee's company, so the film's fate is already determined. Chances for a theatrical release before its airdate -- even with Sundance Film Festival branding -- are remote.
"3 AM" takes place over 36 hours. It follows a trio of taxi drivers, along with a peek at people whose lives intersect their own during that period. As background to this slice-of-cabby life, drivers face the chilling terror of a serial cab-driver killer on the loose. Despite these circumstances, these three are willing to work overtime because they are badly in need of pay.
Glover plays a former pro basketball player who still wears a championship New York Knicks ring. (He played about 20 games for the team, but that's enough to prompt a cameo by one of the greatest Knicks of them all -- Walt Frasier.)
Sergej Trifunovic is a Bosnian refugee who has a bad habit of running into cars and other objects. Michelle Rodriguez -- last year's Sundance poster girl for her outstanding performance in "Girlfight" -- is mostly wasted here in an ill-defined role as a young cab driver struggling to shed memories of childhood abuse.
Sarita Choudhury runs the financially strapped cab company, which suffers a major blow when one driver (Aasif Mandvi) is murdered on the job and many other cabbies refuse to work.
Glover and other night owls hang out at Theo's Diner, where everyone washes down greasy food with gallons of coffee and Glover can pursue his off-handed courtship of Grier's waitress -- only she has tired of his failure to commit. So when his double-duty kills a date, she is ready to kill him.
The characters maneuver through shifts wherein each gets confronted by demons. In Rodriguez's case, this means a man who reminds her of her childhood rapist. Trifunovic has an accident in which he believes he has killed a young boy. And Glover winds up face to face with the cabby killer.
Moralists might wonder at how Davis chooses to resolve two of these plot lines when his protagonists commit out-and-out crimes with nothing truly mitigating their behavior.
Other than Glover's and Grier's characters, no one is very likable here. Their sour dispositions are thoroughly understandable given that some are performing jobs that Rodriguez describes as among the city's most dangerous. But they make for cranky, nervous companions in this episodic ramble through the urban night life.
Technical credits are pro, especially the excellent use of real New York locations for a change, a cool score by Branford Marsalis and moody underlighting by cinematographer Enrique Chediak.
Lee puts in a cameo as a fare who, when he discovers Glover's identity, razzes him about a couple of missed buckets in a game 15 years before. That does sound like something that Lee -- a fanatical Knicks fan -- might do.
40 Acres & a Mule Filmworks and Showtime Networks
Producers: Spike Lee, Sam Kitt
Screenwriter-director: Lee Davis
Executive producers: Danny Glover, Paul Kurta
Director of photography: Enrique Chediak
Production designer: Ted Glass
Music: Branford Marsalis
Costume designer: Luca Mosca
Editor: Susan E. Morse
Hershey: Danny Glover
Rasha: Sergej Trifunovic
Salgado: Michelle Rodriguez
George: Pam Grier
Box: Sarita Choudhury
Theo: Mike Starr
Singh: Aasif Mandvi
Running time -- 90 minutes
No MPAA rating
2 items from 2001
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