Tag: spike lee

MOVIE REVIEW | She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “The story telling and visual tricks and gimmicks are the kind of thing a first time film maker thinks are revolutionary, but they’re really nothing new.”

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“It’s really about control, my body, my mind. Who was going to own it? Them? Or me? I’m not a one-man woman. Bottom line.”

I thought I knew what to expect from a Spike Lee joint. I’ve seen probably half a dozen, liked most and I think Do the Right Thing is nothing short of a masterpiece.  And with that half a dozen or so, regardless of my opinion, I’ve always thought there were some consistent stylistic and thematic traits that run through all of them.  Obviously, the African American experience is a big part Lee’s filmography, as well as the not so great aspects of the lives and neighbourhoods that inform that experience.  With that hindsight, I was not expecting the kind of movie that I got with Spike Lee’s feature debut, She’s Gotta Have It.

Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) is a confident, independent, (80s) modern woman living in Brooklyn.  She’s unapologetic about her sexuality and openly dating three very different men.  There’s the mild mannered everyman, Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), the goofy fun guy, Mars (Spike Lee) and the hunky vanity of Greer (John Canada Terrell).  All three are aware of each other and all three struggle in different ways with how they share Nola’s attentions and affections. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | School Daze (1988)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s energetic, lively and fun, even when it makes you think about to its more serious themes and issues.”

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In life, there are times to be quiet, to shut the fuck up. This is one of those times.

When Spike Lee released his latest, Chi-Raq, there were three main reactions.  Some people absolutely loved it, some people absolutely hated it, most people didn’t even see it.  Which really sucks, because I’m one of the people who really loved it.  And while it may not have been the best movie of 2015, it was by far the most vibrant and energetic movie of 2015.  I also think it was totally, 100% the exact movie Lee wanted to make.  Watching Chi-Raq made me think a lot about Lee’s widely revered masterpiece, Do the Right Thing.  Now, I just watched an earlier Spike Lee joint that I think rounds out stylistic trilogy with those two, School Daze.

At Mission College in the 80s, there’s unrest and dissatisfaction.  Despite being an all black college, there’s still plenty of racial tension.  Dap (Laurence Fishburne) leads a group of dark skinned African Americans who spend their days protesting for freedom and the abolishment of Apartheid in South Africa.  On the other end of the spectrum are the light skinned students lead by Julian (Giencarlo Esposito), whose clique is more concerned with the fraternity and sorority side of college life. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Chi-Raq (2015)

Chiraq 1
Repeat after me: I will deny all rights of access or entrance.

Many things about Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street blew my mind.  One major aspect was the thought that a dude in his 70s managed to make one of the most vibrant, energetic, visceral, decedent movies of all time.  Whenever I watch a Danny Boyle movie, I can’t help but be impressed by the idea of a bespeckled Brit well into middle age making things that seem like such an epitome of cool.  I have liked a few Spike Lee movies, loved one or two, been underwhelmed by more and I assumed his peak was long ago.  But now, I think he might be hanging on to his own vibrancy as he ages, and he may even have another Do The Right Thing level masterpiece in him, I think he because I just watched Chi-Raq.

In present day Chicago, the murder rate and death toll massively outweigh anything America has experiencing on any of their recent international war fronts.  One of the biggest conflicts is between rival gangs, the Spartans and the Trojans.  Rapper Chi-Raq (Nick Cannon) leads the Spartans, while gangbanger Cyclops (Wesley Snipes) heads up the Spartans.  After a shootout at one of Chi-Raq’s live shows, he tries to move past it by making time with his lady, Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris).  But things are interrupted by a bit of the ol’ arson and drive by. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Inside Man (2006)

Inside Man

“More like taking a shower with two guys named Jamal and Jesus, if you know what I mean.”

Spike Lee has made some amazing movies, like Do the Right Thing, and Malcolm X and The 25th Hour.  He’s also made some real shit bombs, like Miracle at St Anna and Girl 6.  But good or bad, I always think of Spike Lee as a dude who makes “Important” movies.  Spike Lee doesn’t have things he wants to say with his movies, he has things he wants to shout with this movies.  Which is why Inside Man has always struck me as such an anomaly in his filmography.   Without seeing the actual movie, the trailers made it look like too much fun to be a Spike Lee joint.  Too much of a genre, suspense or even action movie to be a Spike Lee Joint.  Too much of an escapist piece of pure entertainment to be a Spike Lee joint.  All of these things make it sound like a really enjoyable movie.  Which is why it’s only taken me nine years to finally watch Inside Man.

Addressing the camera, Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) lets us know that he planned the perfect bank robbery.  A perfect bank robbery that we see played out as Russell and his men invade a bank one morning, dressed in painter’s overalls and masks.  Forcing their hostages to wear matching overalls and masks, the idea of identity and mistaken identity is immediately setup as the key to his plan.  As robbers and hostages are constantly mixed, matched and mingled, the robbers are able to disappear into the crowd in some way before the heist is even complete. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #96. Do the Right Thing (1989)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.

Do the Right Thing

Love his movies, hate his movies, think he can be a bit hit and miss, never actually seen one… No matter what your experience with the work of Spike Lee might be, there’s no denying that he’s one of the most important film makers of the last few decades. Of the twenty odd feature films he’s made, I’ve seen around ten, and liked maybe three or four. But that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the impact and influence he’s had on the industry, and other directors and writers who’ve come up since. But even if every single other movie he made was undeniably terrible, he would still deserve a revered place in cinema history, purely for Do the Right Thing.

It’s a sweltering day in Brooklyn, and Mookie (Spike Lee) makes his way back and forth across the neighbourhood, delivering pizzas for Sal (Danny Aiello). Set over a single day, this small community slowly unravels under the oppressive heat. A small community made up of characters like Carlos Esposito’s hot headed Buggin’ Out, Bill Nunn’s Radio Raheem, Sal’s sons Pino (John Turturro) and Vito (Richard Edson), Ossie Davis as the local drunk ‘Mayor’, and Rosie Perez as Mookie’s girlfriend Tina. (more…)