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Entries in Spike Lee (18)


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 ...


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. ( 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,...

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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.


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.




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! 


Review: Oldboy (2013)

Greetings, Dear Readers. Michael C. here. Since Nathaniel is on record as being emphatically NOT a fan of Chan-wook Park's original Cannes prize winner, I thought it fitting I, an enthusiastic Oldboy lover, would step in to review Spike Lee's hotly anticipated English language remake.

One of the smallest changes to Spike Lee’s American remake of Oldboy is the most revealing. A subplot involving hypnosis has been excised from the film. No doubt the filmmakers decided mass audiences wouldn’t accept such an outlandish plot device, but therein lies the fatal error. An Oldboy that comes anywhere near plausible reality is no Oldboy at all. 

Park Chan-wook’s original version pulsed with bonkers confidence, dancing on the edges of sanity, and, when need be, careening right over the cliff. In dragging the remake closer to the director’s realism comfort zone, this version has drained the story of the operatic pitch it requires.

Click to read more ...


Little movies we're looking forward to

Hi, it's Tim. Such a great time to be a cinephile, the end of summer. Venice is in full bloom, Toronto is so close you can almost taste it, and we can finally start talking about awards hopefuls in categories other than Visual Effects and Sound Editing.

But not right now. We all know the upcoming films that we’re supposed to be excited about for their artistry (Her), their awards prospects (August: Osage County) or both (Gravity). And we all know the movies that we’re probably going to end up seeing even though there’s no reason to be excited at all (The Hobbit: Get Your Smaug On). What I’d like to talk about for the moment is all the little stuff that nobody cares about, or at least not very loudly: films that aren’t going to make much of a ripple at the awards shows, on the critics’ lists, or at the box-office, but that I, personally, am looking forward to anyway. For the filmgoer cannot live on prestige alone.

September 13: The Family
To be fair, readers of The Film Experience have better reason to be aware of this movie than the population at large, since it stars Michelle Pfeiffer as the wife of a Robert De Niro’s ex-mobster in witness protection. Even so, the film is stuck with such a lousy release date that openly begs for us to overlook it in favor of TV coming back, TIFF wrapping up on the very same weekend. It’s an uncaring date for a movie that looks like it has to deserve more than that: Pfeiffer, De Niro, and Tommy Lee Jones are all three actors worth getting excited about, and the trailers have a broad sense of humor that nevertheless seems playful more than just dumb and hammy. To be fair, nothing in Luc Besson’s career suggests that he’s a good fit for the style of comedy that the film would appear to possess, but as a palate-cleansing lark before awards season starts in earnest, his unsubtle instincts could be just about right.


October 11: Machete Kills
Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, spun out of a one-off joke in Grindhouse, was junk. Absolutely tawdry, tacky junk, with pointless violence and naked Lindsay Lohan and Jessica Alba body doubles and all. It’s also totally hilarious in its over-the-top absurdity, and while there’s certainly not one blessed thing that’s respectable about looking forward to see more of the same cartoon slapstick violence and politically nuts plotting, I am looking forward to it anyway. Few filmmakers can reliably do the “deliberately stupid to be energetic and funny” thing, and Rodriguez has proven through the years to be one of the very best at it, and whatever else is true, his mindless action-comedy should be a nice change of pace surrounded by such deeply serious films as Captain Phillips, All Is Lost, and 12 Years a Slave.


November 15: Faust
A mere two years after winning the Golden Lion at Venice, Aleksandr Sokurov’s take on the famous German legend of a scientist making a deal with the devil finally shows up in North American theaters, though I don’t imagine that anyone living outside of the biggest cities will have any chance in hell of actually seeing it that way. A pity; a most grievous pity. Sokurov (whose best-known film, Russian Ark, is also his least typical) is an unsparingly severe art house kind of filmmaker, but everything he makes is the best kind of ordeal, pushing us right up close to human beings in the grips of intense emotion. Coming off of three stories about real-life men destroyed by their grasp for power, the tetralogy-capping Faust is exactly the kind of unique take on a deliberately clear-cut plot that has made all of the director’s work some of the most brilliant and challenging in current world cinema.

November 27: Oldboy
My initial hope was to pick one movie from each remaining month of the year, but there’s not anything in there that we can plausibly call “little”, unless I want to try and sell you on the idea that I’m some kind of savvy insider for looking forward to Inside Llewyn Davis. Instead, let’s go with the Thanksgiving release of a most peculiar mix of director and subject – so peculiar that it must be worth looking forward to, whether the final results are any good or not. Spike Lee remaking a notoriously dark South Korean action movie? And with Josh Brolin? It’s hard not to have your curiosity at least slightly piqued by that, and for all that he’s prone to getting into self-serving spats that don’t do anybody good, Lee is too gifted a filmmaker to ever write him off in advance. Frankly, if we had to have an American Oldboy, I’m deeply grateful that it was made by somebody with the visual instincts and ambition of Lee, rather than just a talented fanboy who’d undoubtedly make a flavorless carbon copy?

Now it’s your turn. What unheralded fall/winter releases are you looking forward to?