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I didn't hear much about this film when it was released, but the general consensus was that it was one of Spike Lee's minor efforts. That said, I've just caught it on late night TV and I was impressed with what I saw. Crooklyn tells the story of a family of seven in early seventies Brooklyn from the perspective of the only daughter and, er, that's about it. But I was amazed at how much of this film 'rang true' considering the number of oddly filmed, surreal scenes (the glue-sniffing scene near the start was fantastic). I think it works because of the uniformly excellent performances and spot-on art direction, but also because of the characters themselves. Everyone is different in subtle ways, and they seem like a real community instead of a bunch of strangers who dress the same like in other movies. I do agree with one of the criticisms posted here: Crooklyn is about 15 minutes too long. Also, Lee is harder on Aunt Song than on the other characters, and I could never quite work out why. The (simulated) cruelty to animals was also a shame from my perspective because it threw me out of the movie; I have trouble concentrating on the story when I see animals being mistreated. But these are minor quibbles because Crooklyn features many beautifully observed moments of family life, and for non-Americans like me the wonderful vintage television ("Afro-Sheen!") is the icing on a very satisfying cake. Highly recommended.
This was the first movie done by Spike Lee that I have ever seen, and I saw this movie by accident. Out of all of his films, why is this one of the least known? It is worth seeing, because so many things work. It's definitely one of the most thematic movies I have ever seen, and I can definitely relate to many of Spike Lee's memories. It is sad, but it is also hopeful. Alfre Woodard was awesome, and I definitely think that she is one of the best unrecognized actresses in the US today. Delroy Lindo played his character well too. The relationship between Troy and her brothers was especially memorable and so universal! The best scenes in the movie showcase the children in front of the television. This movie was on the verge of greatness but it didn't capture it just because some parts of the movie were melodramatic and drawn out. The movie itself was about 15 minutes too long.
CROOKLYN isn't Spike Lee's greatest, but it comes very close. Parts of
the film hit so close to home with me - the sense of community so
vividly depicted, and the 70s soul music (which is nearly ubiquitous
through CROOKLYN) makes this film something much like a musical, with
the grit and intimacy of Lee's visual realism constantly balanced
against the idealism and romanticism of the music. As slice-of-life
Americana, this is about as good as it gets. I disliked the scenes with
the Aunt & Uncle - I felt that they were being ridiculed mercilessly,
for no good reason (they are the living embodiment of the idealism
contained in at least some of the music heard at other times in the
film, whether they know it or not), and I wished those scenes were
handled with more subtlety - Lee, like his NYC bretheren Martin
Scorsese and Woody Allen has major issues with suburban types (this
hits a peak in Lee's later BAMBOOZLED - an almost brilliant, but also
almost cruel expression of rage at the excesses of the entertainment
industry that also aimed merciless fury at uncritical audiences -
audiences of any and every race and class).
But this scene aside, the remainder of CROOKLYN is so strong, and very well-made - I'd still offer a recommendation.
Crooklyn is an engaging film that stands out in Spike Lee's filmography, not only for Lee's seamless storying of everyday life in 70's Brooklyn, but also because of his interesting and innovative cinematic imagery. The cinematography Lee employs in Crooklyn helps to create fantastic -sometimes even cartoon-like- environments in which his characters spring to life and thrive. His dollying techniques (placing actors on dollies), lens choice, and manipulation of color conspire to add special characteristics to this film. This is a great film to watch not only for Lee's ability to highlight the beauty of the quotidian in his storytelling, but also for the aesthetic qualities that Lee produces with his rich filmic vocabulary.
I remember seeing an interview with Neil Simon once who said
that he remebers that during the run of his play "Brightom Beach
Memiors", a black usher would crack up at every performance.
When Simon asked him why he laughed at every performance, the
usher told him "That's my family."
"Crooklyn" had the same effect on me. Just as a black ushers
family must have been light years away from a pre war Jewish
family in Brightom Beach, I can assure you that my childhood was
lightyears away from the Charmichles. True, I grew up in Brooklyn,
but I grew up in a upper middle class white neighborhood in the
early eighties. This world was light years away from the world of
Lee's film, but certain aspects of childhood ring true wether your
from Sachrimento or Siagon.
I think this is Spike's best film after "Do The Right Thing". In some
ways even better. It's one of the best films ever made about
childhood. You have the joy of staying up late and watching "The
Partidge Family". The pain of losing your Mom and having your
Dad thrown out of the house. The humor, as when one of the boys
hits a girl with a cat. This is a magical movie in all respects.
I thought this was a very personal, heartwarming and funny movie that also
touched on very real social issues. It deals with the complications
involved in family life like love, break up, sibling rivalry and making
meet while also trying to lead a happy fulfilling life. It deals with the
pains of loss and of struggle, the issues facing urban
communities....self-perceptions and growing. Spike does all of this while
giving a light and loving perspective to some hard issues. It is comical
and endearing as you see all of these situations played out through the
of a young girl, trying to grow up. The odd struggle and perceptions of
reality that we all face coming up...the embarrassment of a family, the
neighborhood bully, etc....all gets played out in this summer classic.
--Not to mention the cinematography is wonderful and interesting.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ahhh who can forget the good Ol' days of Spike Lee films that had heart as well as insight? Who can forget this gem? Crooklyn is loosely based on Spike Lee's life growing up. Its mostly a story that mostly details the struggles of a family growing up in Brooklyn as seen through the eyes of Troy(played by Zelda Harris). There are beautiful performances to be seen here. Alfre Woodard's presence is felt as the stern but loving mother of four kids and Delroy Lindo's is great as the father who is also dealing with pressure as a struggling musician and trying to pay the rent on time. They go through the normal strife that any black family has to go through in poor areas but they still find a way to maintain. I remember as a kid that the last scene with the mom passing on had me choked up. Troy and her brother holding hands at the reception for the funeral was a touching scene too. They drove each other crazy but it was still love in the end. Crooklyn has brief moments of awareness like one scene in particular: Troy's aunt comparing troy's hair to her adopted child's hair saying that the adopted child's hair was good hair and that Troy's hair was rough was a subtle form of self-hatred but most people wouldn't pick up on that. Of course Spike Lee has to make an appearance in the movie. He plays a junkie who chases kids around trying to steal money from them. In short Crooklyn stands out as one the best dramas of all time and one of Spike Lee's best work. The characters are ones that you care about, their struggles are real and anybody who has been there can also relate. Two thumbs up for Spike Lee's work of art on film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Growing up as a teen in today's age ( I'm 18 ) I love watching movies
that take place in the 60's and 70's that showcase what it was like
growing up in those days."Now and Then" "Cooley High" and "Dazed and
Confused" ring a bell when it comes to this genre . "Crooklyn" has to
be one of my favorites out of this group of movies because of the
bittersweet story of an interesting enjoyable lead character Troy
(Zelda Harris). This young lady bought something special to the movie
along with Alfre Woodard and Delroy Lindo.
The movie starts off to be a fun loving look in the eyes of Troy. While she goes through dealing with her annoying brothers, her parents marital issues, and just being a kid in Brooklyn. The entire movie had me laughing from the beginning to when Troy stays with her southern family members. Even though the distorted camera work is annoying, those were my favorite scenes in the movie.
The movie takes a change of pace when Troy returns to NYC to find out her mother is sick with cancer. The lightheartedness of the movie is replaced by sadness when her mother dies. The scene at the funeral when Troy's older brother sits next to her and holds her hand was one of the most touching scenes in the movie. Despite the death of her mother (which was very sad) the ending wasn't exactly displeasing because in the end Troy had a father who truly loved her and her brothers. I kinda felt that in the long run Troy and her family would make it through in life with their mother's memories and what they learned from her. This movie will continue to be one of my favorite movies ever. The characters, comedy, and charm of this movie will make it a good one for viewing pleasure.
Although I wouldn't say this is a great Lee film, it is still very
solid. There isn't a story as such, instead it is a love letter to
childhood and family life in Brooklyn. Imagine Radio Days, including
the sentimental streak.
The actors are great and this movie only goes to prove that Delroy Lindo is one of the best actors around. Zelda Harris as the young girl, Troy, is also brilliant. Alfre Woodard is the pivot of the film, around which most of the film revolves around - even if she has less than Troy.
Tonally the film doesn't quite click. Sometimes the original music is quite sour and does not fit with the images. Some scenes seem forced.
But the amazing soundtrack helps put things right.
Even though the film isn't perfect, it has a great soundtrack and a very unique take on things.
I love this movie. It reminded me of when I was a young girl growing up in the 70's. We should have more movies like this one. Good work Spike. I watch this movie with my two children who was born in the early part of the 80's and they enjoyed it as well, asking me all kinds of questions,Brought a smile to my face as I told them about me and my siblings growing up in the 70's. You can actually see how times has change, making up your own games and finding some positive things to do with your time.Like playing jump rope.what about marbles or Jacks. Do they even make them anymore? Then I really love the part when Mom came home and woke up everyone in the house.Now that was a blast from the past.
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