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Entries in Spike Lee (19)

Friday
Feb272015

Black History Month: Spike Lee's '4 Little Girls'

Our black history month coverage continues with Margaret on Spike Lee's 1997 nominee for Best Documentary Feature...

Spike Lee is famously an Oscar loser. With every passing year--25 of them now behind us--it makes less and less sense that Do the Right Thing lost its nomination for Best Original Screenplay, let alone that it failed to earn Oscar nominations in the Best Picture or Best Director categories. When one thinks of Spike Lee, what comes to mind is a distinct stylization, and a reputation for incendiary cultural commentary. His inflammatory style has often been implicated as the cause of his cool reception from the film establishment.

His less remembered brush with Oscar was a nomination for Best Documentary in 1997 for his film 4 Little Girls, and that loss is more mysterious. No less artfully crafted or emotionally gut-punching than the best of his filmography, the documentary is also more formally and stylistically straightforward: other than the title card up front identifying it as "A Spike Lee Joint" it's absent many of the colorful hallmarks of the Lee's work.

The historical events examined by 4 Little Girls should be familiar to anyone who caught the recent Best Picture contender Selma.  [Read more...]

Click to read more ...

Friday
Feb202015

Black History Month: Do The Right Thing (1989)

Our Black History Month celebration (through an Oscar lens) continues with Matthew Eng on Do The Right Thing's Screenplay

Whenever I think about Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, and I’ve thought about it with depressing frequency this past year as I’m sure many cinephiles and non-cinephiles alike have, I often think about one of two things. One is inarguably the greatest opening credits sequence of all time because it’s still such a resilient, red-hot act of hip-hop aggression and because the under-heralded national treasure that is Rosie Perez is never too far from my mind.

The second is a tiny, wordless connection that plays out at the end of a mid-film scene between Ossie Davis’ elderly, self-appointed voice of the community Da Mayor and Christa Rivers’ Ella, the lone girl within the comedic teenage foursome that we see running around throughout the course of the movie. 
In the scene, Ella’s friend Ahmad (Steve White) has just lambasted Da Mayor for daring to criticize the behavior of he and his friends since he himself is a drunk and irresponsible vagrant whose infamous reputation is old news within their Bed-Stuy neighborhood. 

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Feb012015

Thin Skins and The Art of Being Snubbed

I've been sitting on half formed think pieces about this one for a couple of weeks deciding whether to publish but here goes...

A very recent article at Wired about journalist behavior at Sundance made a lot of journalists angry. I agree that a lot of movie journalists are jaded (I think that about other Oscar bloggers all the time who don't see to love it like I do). The piece isn't really fair because there are a lot of terribly behaved people of all types of badges at festivals. The type of badge you wear does not influence your behavior, your character influences your behavior. Still there's so much online response and twitter uproar about this that it reminded me of all the potshots taken at Birdman's depiction of a critic (in a movie that is not meant to be taken literally at that). In short: a lot of media writers have thin skins. I'd include myself here I must say but I think it's better to take your lumps quietly than protest too much. (Movies.com had a similarly themed piece on bad movie etiquette but it was more generous and didn't point too specific a finger.)

The uproar over these pieces reminded me of my own discomfort about the way people react to Oscar snubs (or omissions if the "s" word offends you). This season in particular, the Selma situation has provoked a lot of criticism,...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jun262014

Throwback Thursday FYC: Do The Right Thing (1989)

Could you imagine if this had actually happened in multiple categories including Best Picture, instead of Oscar embracing Driving Miss Daisy's retrograde race relations?

Imagine the 1989 Oscars with 'Spike Lee Joint' fever instead of a just two nominations (Supporting Actor and Screenplay) because they had to give it up somewhere for the critical darling. 

Imagine Rosie Perez dancing furiously to all the Best Original Song nominees !!! Fight the power, Rosie.

Think of the after-effects with Hollywood's most coveted prize going to a black film twenty-four years before 12 Years a Slave (2013).

See Malcolm X ride high in 1992 due to Spike Lee momentum and Denzel Washington clearing Oscar #2 long before Training Day and blocking Al Pacino's "hoo-ah"! (Pfeiffer would also have an Oscar, come to think of it)

Kim Basinger wouldn't have had any snub to get all righteously indignant about as she introduced one of the Best Picture nominees. Or would she have bitched about something else being all feisty that year.

The whole arc of history might have been changed*

*While I am not wholly serious, it's not like these things don't have after effects and during effects. Each Oscar decision affects future Oscar decisions and also the way people think of the movies in the long arc of cinema history.

Sunday
Mar232014

Link a Prayer

Hello Cinema our friend Amir started a podcast on Iranian cinema. It's an interesting listen even if you know nothing about the topic, particular the first section on how Amir and Tina came to love cinema
Coming Soon Ellen Page will star in Queen and Country based on a comic book about a British intelligence operative
Comic Alliance on the petititon to cast an Asian American as Iron Fist in the upcoming Netflix series. This is SUCH a good idea, because that character was obviously envisioned as white for very problematic reasons given that he's totally tied to Asian culture.

Shadow and Act there's a Spike Lee box set coming this June which will include the first ever Blu-Ray of Summer of Sam so that's great news.
/Film an infographic on Hollywood disasters. They love destroying New York City but it's not the only city they ruin
Vanity Fair rejected movie poster designs for Gravity
House Next Door a look back at Madonna's most beloved song "Like a Prayer" which just turned 25 years old!
Kevin Maguire the X-Men do the Oscar selfie 
Playbill a history of Les Misérables which is reopening on Broadway. It just keeps coming back. 

Release Date News
Everest, that mountain climbing adventure with Jake Gyllenhaal and Zero Dark Thirty's Jason Clarke (among others in a fairly stellar cast) will hit IMAX and 3D screens on September 18th. In case you didn't hear James Gray's long delayed The Immigrant will open (finally) on May 2nd, nearly a year after its Cannes debut - nothing like striking when the iron is hot! And because they're just never going to stop and neither is Hugh Jackman despite his vague protestations, the X-Men have dates scheduled through 2018

And Today's Watch(es)
Kevin Bacon goes a little Footloose on The Tonight Show (looking pretty good for 55) and it turns out Jennifer Lawrence recorded not one but two lipsynch numbers for American Hustle. The deleted one is to Santana's "Evil Woman" - I'm not embedding it here because it starts playing without asking it to. That is NOT okay in embeddable videos.

 

Friday
Nov292013

Linkboy

MTV News hilarious bit w/ Julia Roberts and Josh Horowitz talking Jennifer Lawrence
Juan Luis Garcia writes an open letter to Spike Lee about Oldboy poster designs that are being used without the designer's permission. Horrifying story of freelancer abuse
Gawker collected the key floats and Roker silliness for Thanksgiving Day Parade ICYMI 
Variety Evan Rachel Wood vs the MPAA over a recent sex scene 

List Mania
Gurus of Gold we list nominations we'd be thankful for and update our charts
THR Feinberg's Forecast. It's exhausting to read all the stuff that happened this week. Once campaigning starts it's just impossible to keep up, right?
The Playlist on the Breakout directors of 2013 from Destin Cretton (Short Term 12) to Sebastian Lelio (Gloria)
Variety also reviewed the week from Jean Claude Van Damme's epic split stunt to Frozen on your phone
Vulture all the times Peeta messes up in Hunger Games: Catching Fire. LOL. Get it together, Josh Hutcherson!