13 December 2016 | stellbread
As Spike Ages, He Gets Better
Gone are the days when Spike Lee "wants to shove blackness down the throats of white audiences" (the vein in which black filmmakers are viewed when they tell the truth in colors other than rose). Though his films are not seen,promoted or viewed with the same verve as his earlier work--like Malcolm X and Do The Right Thing--this has more to do with Hollywood politics more than a falling off in skill. In fact, Spike's finest work, in the eyes of this critic, have been his latest works including The 25th Hour, Chiraq.Old Boy and Miracle at St. Anna.
Red Hook Summer fits comfortably into that pack, Like the aforementioned films, it is more emotion-focused rather than characterized by keen cinematography. It is thought-provoking, rather than a release of anger, as his critics typically accuse him of.
The story centers on a teenage boy (Flik) and his relationship with his preacher grandfather,who hides a horrible secret. The subplot features his interaction with a young female friend--a "thing" centered more on curiosity than romance, and Flik's navigation of an unfamiliar hood far tougher than the one he comes from..
It is a compelling coming of age tale, featuring a wonderful performance by Toni Lysaith as Chazz, a girl unafraid to speak her mind and who is the only one who "gets" Flik. There is none of the syrupy, blossoming love that hamstrings so many other films, just exploration of the burgeoning friendship between two people, who in that simple process discover something different.
I caught this via On Demand and was glad I took a chance on it. Spike deserves better than he gets, and having to fund films via kick starter is definitely sand kicked in the face of one of the great filmmakers, black or white, of this generation.