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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ten Films You Should See If You Love Black People


from the Ebony/Jet site by Jacquie Jones

Spike Lee

I am one of the few people in the black world, it seems, who actually does not think Spike Lee’s debut film, She’s Gotta Have It, is essential viewing in this category. It is not as over-hyped as Melvin Van People’s Sweet Sweetback’s Badasss Song, but, let’s say, it’s got issues, in my opinion, that are not explained away by the youth of the filmmaker. That notwithstanding, I’m a big Spike Lee fan and could recommend a few titles for those of you who are too young to have been forced by your black nationalist friends to see these movies when they first appeared – Malcolm X and Four Little Girls, especially – but start with Do the Right Thing. In it, you will get a taste of Spike’s brilliant palate and his unmistakable love of black people, his virtuosity really. (For an even more in-depth look at this film and its moment, also see St. Claire Bourne’s “Making Do the Right Thing.”)

From IW: Okay. Over the years I have learned to keep my mouth shut over this movie, as it seems to be a perennial favorite of both Black and non-black fans. But this is my blog, so I can say what I want, and I have never liked this movie. I found it preachy, shrill, overwrought and heavy-handed. Yeah, I said it. I also found the characters to be loud, cartoonish, and ultimately annoying. All of it was just too much in every way.

But that is just my humble opinion.

Here is a clip kinda from the movie. It is a version of some scenes made with Fisher Price toys set on Sesame Street, with Ernie playing the Spike Lee character. It's pretty ingenious--not to mention freakin' hilarious. Now this I liked:


Urban Thought said...

Say what you want? It's your space.

I have it in my DVD collection. I think anyone who can appreciate good cinema can appreciate this Spike Lee Joint. said...

"I have never liked this movie. I found it preachy, shrill, overwrought and heavy-handed. Yeah, I said it. I also found the characters to be loud, cartoonish, and ultimately annoying. All of it was just too much in every way."


justjudith said...

i rewatched it a coupla years ago and i'm with you. in fact, i haven't loved a spike movie until his later years. i thought he tried too hard with the earlier stuff. but i was in film school and couldn't say that -- especially not at howard.

Invisible Woman said...

@UT: Okay, we can agree to disagree on this one... :-)

@tba & jj: thank you!!!

Qadree said...

I think it would be good to distinguish between liking and appreciating a film like this at this point.

I think it's safe to say that we all have films that we enjoy that don't necessarily have much artistic merit, and there are also be films that make great contributions to the art of cinema that don't suit our personal tastes, but if a film doesn't meet our personal tastes that shouldn't mean that we call it a bad film.

I can't think of any other black filmmaker that took the art of cinema to where Spike Lee took it when this film came out, and I'm not counting Charles Burnett because technically his first film was not available until recently.

I can understand if you personally don't like the film, but I have to agree with Urban Thought, the level of skill and artistry that Spike Lee shows in this film is undeniable.

Invisible Woman said...

@qadree: OK...let me make it clear--I did not like OR appreciate Do The Right Thing. At all.

Don't get me wrong, there are films of his that I did not like of Spike's, but appreciated the efforts---School Daze and Bamboozled for instance. Say what you want about them, but no one has done anything like that before or since.

I also thought it was a feast for the senses in He Got Game and Inside Man.

I loved everything about 25th Hour.

I just thought Spike was trying way, way way, too hard on DTRT. Scriptwise and cinematically. Maybe his intentions were heartfelt or maybe he was stretching out, but I wasn't feeling it...I see your point, for sure, but I don't see me ever changing my mind about that, sorry :-(

Ehav Ever said...

Well, just look at the bright side. If Spike didn't make DTRT, then we wouldn't be able laugh and enjoy the Fisher Price/Sesame Street version of it. That was truly comical. Especially the ending.

Invisible Woman said...

@ehav: true! I love that clip!