All Articles Tagged "red hook summer"
A Spike Lee Joint: The Director’s Most Captivating, Most Underrated, And Most Side-Eye Worthy Films Yet
In many ways, Spike Lee is a cinematic genius. He’s covered a wide range of topics that many folks in Hollywood wouldn’t touch with a five-foot pole. And in the process, he’s made some iconic films, some very underrated ones, and a few movies that just didn’t make any damn sense once the credits started rolling. But in the end, where would black films and black filmmakers be without the man? So here are a few of our favorites, a few that deserve more love, and a few that he maybe should have kept under wraps…
She’s Gotta Have It
To me, Spike Lee was one of the first, if not the first, directors to proudly tell the story of black women (and ladies in general) doing what men have been doing for years, but getting negatively labeled for–having a healthy sex life with no want or need for a relationship. Nola Darling was that character with that story, and with the smooth black and white way the film was shot, the vintage shots of Brooklyn, the style and the dialogue, it was one of those movies that could suck you in and keep you watching. Darling was a very unconventional heroine, and probably because she was so unapologetic about her lifestyle (“I am not a one man woman.”), and I for one, loved that. Even if I wouldn’t dare live the same way…
I happen to know that Spike Lee reads, or is at least familiar with Madame Noire. After one of our writers, said that Red Hook Summer was a sequel to Do the Right Thing he was quick to correct us with a sharply worded e-mail.
“RED HOOK SUMMER IS NOT A SEQUEL TO DO THE RIGHT THING.INCORRECT,MISINFORMED AND WRONG. Thanks,Spike.”
As a fan of Spike Lee’s, I knew that e-mail came from him. The string of adjectives and the shouting caps is so Spike. If I had no intention of seeing Red Hook Summer before, this e-mail made sure that I was definitely going to check it out now.
For Red Hook Summer, Spike Lee brought it back to Brooklyn, chronicling the lives of the residents in the Red Hook projects. The project, which is both community-centered, a place for childhood exploration and spiritual salvation is also a place of violence and dashed hopes. We see all of these forces at work as the film’s protagonist “Flik Royale,” a boy from Atlanta, played by burgeoning actor Jules Brown, visits his grandfather,“Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse,” (Clarke Peters of The Wire and Treme). As you can gather from his name Bishop Enoch, who is very religious serves as the leader for the Lil’ Peace of Heaven Baptist Church of Red Hook. Initially, Flik and Bishop Enoch struggle to relate to one another. Flik doesn’t want to be there and the Bishop can’t seem to reach his grandson with his new high tech gadgets. Flik carries around an iPad, which almost gets he and his grandfather into trouble with the local gang, lead by “Box” (Nate Parker). Though Flik initially loathes everything about Brooklyn, he meets a girl his age, Chazz, (Toni Lysaith), who shows him the ropes and the two become friends…and eventually a bit more.
Without giving too much away, there’s a shocking surprise towards the end of the film that causes the audience to question everything about Bishop Enoch and his spirituality. With the plot twist, like the setting, the characters and even religion itself, we see that there truly is, as Spike Lee has said, “beauty in ugliness.”
We see that motif in Deacon Zee (Thomas Jefferson Byrd), the alcoholic clergyman who helps Flik adjust to Brooklyn by allowing him to sneak chips from the church pantry. And we see it again with Bishop Enoch who is so religiously-minded that he’s unable or unwilling to relate to the challenges of the world around him.
Red Hook is not perfect and won’t go down as one of Spike’s best movies. There is the swift plot shift, unanswered questions in character development between Enoch and his daughter “Colleen,” and even sub-par acting from the younger actors; but the themes present and the questions the film raises, definitely make it one worth seeing.
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If you find yourself in Park City, Utah this week, no doubt the Sundance Film Festival is on your list of attractions. With a plethora of films to choose from, deciding how to divide up your time might be a little tricky.
Well if you’re trying to support black films, actors and directors, be sure to check out some of these flicks.
Black Voices put together a very thorough list of these films.
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by Charing Ball
Spike Lee has a new film, Red Hook Summer, premiering at the Sundance Movie Festival, which runs through January 29th. Lee told the New York Times that “it had been too long since I’d done a film, and I couldn’t wait on Hollywood anymore.Too many meetings, too many false starts, too many stuck projects.”
In the same article, Lee revealed that he didn’t bother taking the film to any of the major studios and had opted to financed his latest project on his own, much for the same reason as George Lucas. Likewise he is hoping to walk away from the festival with a distributor. Will Spike and Red Hook Summer get as much of a push when – and if – the film is released later this year? Will folks flood my Facebook timeline with the same urgency to see this film because Lee invested his own money? Will folks debate endlessly about the future of Black cinema if Red Hook Summer bombs at the box office? Probably not. That’s the point that I was making earlier this week in regards to Red Tails. This mad dash to “show Hollywood” that we could be good consumers has dulled the conversation on why we haven’t been out here supporting independent Black cinema.
But let’s not rehash that debate again. Instead I am more curious if we as a country are emotionally ready for a film, which has Lee reprising his role as Mookie and is said to be a sort of follow up to “Do the Right Thing?
There are no clips or a trailer for the new Spike Lee Joint as Lee wants to keep this one under wraps. However, published reports suggest that this film chronicles the gentrification of Brooklyn New York. And according to the synopsis of the story, which had been co-penned by Lee and James McBride (Miracle at St. Anna):
“When his mom deposits him at the Red Hook housing project in Brooklyn to spend the summer with the grandfather he’s never met, young Flik may as well have landed on Mars. Fresh from his cushy life in Atlanta, he’s bored and friendless, and his strict grandfather, Enoch, a firebrand preacher, is bent on getting him to accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Only Chazz, the feisty girl from church, provides a diversion from the drudgery. As hot summer simmers and Sunday mornings brim with Enoch’s operatic sermons, things turn anything but dull as people’s conflicting agendas collide. Playfully ironic, heightened, yet grounded, Spike Lee’s bold new movie returns him to his roots, where lovable, larger-than-life characters form the tinderbox of a tight-knit community. A story about the coexistence of altruism and corruption, Red Hook Summer toys with expectations, seducing us with the promise of moral and spiritual transcendence.”
It has been 23 years since Lee’s groundbreaking film, Do the Right Thing, aggressively illustrated the very real realities of a racially and ethnically divided America. It was the film that garnered Lee the label of Angry Black filmmaker. In the film, Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, N.Y would act as a microcosm of America in which a mix of African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Italian-Americans and Koreans lived and worked and sometimes played together. I hadn’t watched Do the Right Thing in over a decade, but I remember it being both groundbreaking and inflammatory.
From the first few scenes of Rosie Perez feverishly dancing over Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” to the scene in which Radio Raheem, a towering young Black man with Love and Hate tattooed on each hand, gets choked out by the police for refusing to turn down his ghetto blaster at request of Sal, the Italian American pizza shop owner to the powerful final scene when Mookie throws a trash can into Sal’s Famous Pizzeria, the entire film served as reminder that despite our best efforts to co-exist peacefully together, there lingers inevitable chaos. A chaos that has resulted from our inability to deal with and address issues around race and power.
No better landscape in the flick illustrates that more than the scene where five characters, all belonging to different racial and ethnic groups, turn directly to the camera and furiously spout off a laundry list of racial slurs, stereotypes and generalizations, ultimately leaving us, the viewers, wondering what just hit them and yet scratching our heads, wondering about if the stereotypes are exceedingly untrue than why do we still hold on to them?