Spike Lee's best three

..and why not?
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Velvis
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Postby Velvis » 16 Nov 2006, 21:10

Do the Right Thing?
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Postby Sneelock » 16 Nov 2006, 21:13

Do the Right Thing
Malcom X
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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 16 Nov 2006, 21:16

1. Do The Right Thing
2. 25th Hour
3. Malcolm X
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Postby marios » 16 Nov 2006, 21:29

1. Do The Right Thing
2. He Got Game
3. 25th Hour
Last edited by marios on 16 Nov 2006, 21:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby The Write Profile » 16 Nov 2006, 21:32

The trouble I have with Spike Lee's work is much the same I have with a lot of Oliver Stone's- it's the hectoring, unsubtle and ultimately garbled approach he takes in a lot of his films. Do the Right Thing is undoubtedly his finest work, but it's pretty much a hand grenade of a film. Hugely vibrant visually and inventive formally, it's also something of a harrangue. That it never veers too much into sanctimonious histrionics is largely down to the energy and humour of the piece- when you think about it, it's closer to West Side Story in its characters and structure than any Blaxploitation or "socially conscious" drama.

The performances have a lot to do with it too- Aliello plays "Sal" with enough ambiguity to stop him becoming a complete stereotype. Indeed, one of the interesting things about Do the Right Thing is that he thought Sal wasn't racist, whereas Spike Lee was adamant that he was. Personally, I think he's pragmatic, really- more patriarchal/colonial in his attitudes than actually bigotted as such.

Actually, I know that it's visually a muted film and rather inconclusive (Ed Norton spends much of the film sleepwalking through it), but I liked 25th Hour, I like the sombre tone, I liked the essemble and I like how Lee foreshadowed everything with this sense of doom and regret. The straight-to-the mirror monologue is pure Lee though.

The thing with Lee is pretty much every film he's done has something to recommend in it, but a lot of them seem overburdened by his own ego and inflated sense of worth. It's indicative even in his tokenisitc and superfluous appearance in the Ali doco When We Were Kings, though that mightn't be his fault.

Apparently Inside Man is meant to be a good by-the-numbers studio pic (as opposed to "joint"), but I haven't seen it yet.
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Postby marios » 16 Nov 2006, 21:34

He Got Game is possibly the best Spike Lee film and it rarely gets mentioned.

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Postby Ranking Ted » 16 Nov 2006, 21:40

I haven't seen He Got Game but outside of Do The Right Thing, I've never been impressed by Lee.

25th Hour, Summer of Sam, Clockers, Malcolm X, Inside Man... all decent enough but in no way the sign of a visionary auteur, more the sort of solid hackwork you could get from any number of Hollywood directors.

Actually, that may be a tad unfair, but DTRT apart, I've never seen whatever it is that make him stand out. An aside about race in mainstream potboilers doesn't make him the voice of a generation.

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Postby Sneelock » 16 Nov 2006, 21:57

I remember an Interview he did around the time "School Daze" was new. He got very upset with he Interviewer calling him "the black Woody Allen". the Interviewer asked him how he'd like people to see him and he said "as the black Martin Scorcese" well, hot on the heels of 'School Daze' this seemed pretty absurd but twenty some years down the line it might not be too wide of the mark.

I think, when his films stink, few stink as badly. However, his semi-successful films stand pretty tall in my estimation because he DOES have a certain style and way of doing things. He makes some very unconventional choices and they can bring the movie to a halt or send it up a notch. He can be a drag but he really is aiming for film as art a lot of the time and I think he's a major talent.

'Jungle Fever' is a good example. Now, I have a lot of trouble with it but Samuel Jackson and the "Gone With the Wind Crack House" scene make it stand out in my thoughts.

I also like that he's capable of "big" films yet still makes "small" films when duty calls.

He could spend the rest of his life doing Mars Blackman but he doesn't. yeah, he can be a jerk but I think he's ambitious and he's really got some guts. I have high hopes for Spike.

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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 16 Nov 2006, 21:58

The RightGraduate Profile wrote:Actually, I know that it's visually a muted film and rather inconclusive (Ed Norton spends much of the film sleepwalking through it), but I liked 25th Hour, I like the sombre tone, I liked the essemble and I like how Lee foreshadowed everything with this sense of doom and regret. The straight-to-the mirror monologue is pure Lee though.


Strangely enough the mirror monologue supposedly appeared almost word for word in the book. Perhaps that's what drew Lee to it, but there is a lot more to the movie than that.

I've never heard anyone else talk about it, but I saw the film as an allegory about our response to 9/11. I don't think the scenes at ground zero were an accident at all. Maybe I'm making too much of it, but I saw Ed Norton/Monty's impending incarceration as representitive of the (then) coming "war against Islam". Further, one could look at the Barry Pepper and Phillip Seymour Hoffman characters as representitive of the guilt-ridden left and the callous right. The fact that suspicion is thrown onto his girlfriend would seem to reference our own paranoia about the "enemy within." Given all of this, the sequence at the end detaling the life he might have had if he had made other choices is especially poignant to me.

Anyhow I think it is a great film. Perhaps as good in its own way as Do The Right Thing.
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Postby toomanyhatz » 16 Nov 2006, 23:25

I generally find something likeable about all his movies, though he's certainly flawed at times too. The exception, actually, is Son of Sam. I just think he went to the sledgehammer far too often in that movie. And add to that the fact that it's 1) historically inaccurate, especially how it portrays punk rock and 2) very unpleasant to watch, and it falls to the bottom of my list. My faves are probably:

1) Do the Right Thing
2) Malcolm X
3) Toss-up between 25th Hour and Crooklyn

I also have to confess I've seen less than half of his recent ones (last 5-10 years). He's too prolific to keep up with.
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Postby Still Baron » 17 Nov 2006, 00:32

1. Do The Right Thing
2. Crooklyn
3. Bamboozled
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Postby Davey the Fat Boy » 17 Nov 2006, 01:07

A couple nods for Crooklyn, eh? Perhaps if that middle sequence weren't distorted for such a long patch. I admire what he was trying to do, but it was damn near unwatchable.
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