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I'm sure somewhere in "She Hate Me" lies a good story that would make
for an entertaining movie. What we have, however, is a convoluted mess
that tries too hard to be a social satire.
The premise: Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie), a hotshot VP at a pharmaceutical company, suddenly finds himself unemployed and in need of money. When his ex-fiancée-turned-lesbian Fatima Goodrich (Kerry Washington) offers him $10,000 to impregnate her and her lover Alex (the sexy Dania Ramirez), Jack realizes he could be a sexual cash cow. Next thing he knows, he's in high demand from wealthy lesbians who want children.
The problem is that Lee doesn't know what he wants his film to be. Or, what the story should be. He tackles way too many issues and never tackles any of them very well.
The film opens with a novel title sequence that ends with a broadside against President George W. Bush. Fair enough. Lee's bit actually works. The story then turns into some sort of diatribe against corporate greed, against the blatant excesses of the Enrons and WorldComs of corporate America. OK. Then there's also all this stuff about lesbians and impregnating them. And Jack's conscience about whether he's doing the right thing.
But the film then suddenly turns into a defense of Frank Wills, the black security guard who uncovered the Watergate burglary. Lee makes a valid point that while all the players involved in the burglary and subsequent cover-up went on to have lucrative careers as statesmen, authors, speakers and radio personalities, Wills died in obscurity. A tribute to Wills is long overdue. The man was a hero. But what the heck's his story doing in this film? And in a moment that seems completely arbitrary, Lee also throws in Oliver North into the mix of Watergate figures.
For a satire to work, it needs to satirize something. Frankly, I didn't know what exactly Lee was trying to send up. And, after a while, I didn't care. His movie's neither a sex comedy nor stinging social commentary. In fact, at times "She Hates Me" plays more like some sort of unbridled male fantasy. Not only are all the lesbians attractive, but also they want to get impregnated the old-fashioned way. The one lesbian who chooses artificial insemination fails and so has to plead with Jack to have sex with her.
Subtlety has never been Lee's forte. But in films such as "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and "Jungle Fever" (1991), he somehow found a good balance between satire and social comment. Here, he does no such thing. In "She Hate Me," Lee's about as subtle as a sledgehammer.
What's ultimately disappointing about "She Hate Me" is the often-inane writing. When Fatima tells Jack she always was a lesbian, even when she was dating him, and was merely in denial, she adds, "And I don't mean a river in Egypt." That's how lame the dialogue is. It gets even worse, when Lee and co-writer Michael Genet give Brian Dennehy positively laughable dialogue later.
The corrupt business practices of Enron and its ties to the Bush administration deserve to be told. As does a satire, if you must, of white collar crooks who get off relatively easy and wind up having hugely successful lives as a result of their crimes. But this isn't the film that does it.
Lee's clever, talented and certainly socially conscious, but just seems to be tossing in every idea he had into "She Hate Me." Instead of being bitingly satirical about society's lopsided values, this is a mishmash of a film that is never as funny as it wants to be or as provocative as it should be.
This movie made me think of how its premise was created. Suppose a man wanted to push the fantasy about being sexually desired by women to the extreme. How would he proceed? 1) Must be pursued sexually by many women. Certainly more than 2. Better make it 18. 2) If the women are not normally attracted to men, their attraction to him is theoretically more impressive (by some rationalizations). So make them lesbians. Better make them cute too, there is no prestige in ugly women. 3) To emphasize the premise, have the women actually pay him to have sex with him. Make it be it a lot of money. $10,000. The problem is that this premise seems obvious and silly by itself. To make it less obvious, state that the women are motivated by the desire to get pregnant. You can still slip in the implication that they want sex with him because they didn't choose artificial insemination. I got the impression that this is how the premise for "She Hate Me" was developed. It has many other subplots of interest, but I think it is based on a somewhat obvious and adolescent fantasy.
So the anti-Bush campaign that makes up the first 45 minutes or so of
the movie are pretty clear. Even the attack on Bush's anti-gay
tendencies are pretty clear. What's not clear is what the movie's
trying to do. Jack is a corporate employee with serious potential who
finds himself unemployed because of his refusal to ignore the massive
corporate corruption with which he suddenly finds himself surrounded.
So then he goes home to his fancy apartment, which he can no longer
afford to maintain, and then has to deal with the torturous proposal of
impregnating lesbians at $10,000 a piece.
The most difficult endeavor that the movie takes on is in trying to make us believe that Jack was actually conflicted about all of this, and it fails miserably. There a nonsensical subplot about him still being upset about his ex-girlfriend, the lesbian who is bringing all of her lesbian friends to be impregnated by Jack, but only after her.
Keep in mind that their breakup happened FOUR YEARS EARLIER, and not only was he belligerently furious to come home and find his sexy girlfriend having sex with another sexy woman, but he hasn't gotten over it four years later. They actually get into screaming arguments in the movie about this ancient history between themselves.
I'm reminded of one of Julia Roberts' many great lines from Closer "What are you, 12?"
So while he's not busy acting like a junior high school kid who's heartbroken about some girl who cheated on him, he's having sex with whole lines of lesbians and trying to act like it's just hell to him. Please. At the risk of sounding like some typical jerk, for such a thing to be torturous to a man we need to have a real, real good reason for him to hate doing it, and still being upset about a relationship that ended nearly half a decade earlier isn't even close to reason enough.
I can accept that the movie wants to suggest that this guy genuinely loved his girlfriend and truly feels like he has lost the love of his life, but let me tell you one thing. Showing a guy suffer through Every Man's Fantasy is not the way to do it. At all. Unless, of course, you have some ulterior political motive, but that's just not Spike Lee's style, right? Right?
I won't spend much time talking about the ludicrous premise about the lesbians. Whether you've seen the movie or not, you probably already know all about it. The problem is that you also come into the movie already knowing what a socially and politically conscious filmmaker Spike Lee is. We know that he is going to be making political statements in the film, and some of them are clear while others are not, unless Spike has completely lost all sense of balance. There are scenes where it is increasingly obvious what social ills are being dealt with, such as the terrible scene where Jack has some wooden and massively unrealistic conversation with his friend, who is trying to make money donating sperm. It's a god-awful scene, but it's relatively clear what is being said.
I could, of course, come up with some pretty solid theories about what is being said about the homosexual content of the film, how Jack the black man is forced to descend to that level, but it is such a gigantic portion of the film that it even overshadows that picture of Bush on the $3 bill at the end of the opening credits, and that's a difficult image to overshadow. Lee puts so much stock into the lesbians in this movie that it borders on low- grade soft porn.
At one point in the movie, while bike riding together, Jack's brother gives him a bright, sparkling gem of advice get a vasectomy and call it a day. Now, there are two things that could lead a man to give such advice to his brother. First, it could be because he's been having too much sex, or second, it could be because he's making ten thousand dollars at a time doing it. Either way, it's a good reason never to take advice from your brother again. Jack, of course, reacts by throwing a temper tantrum like an 8 year old kid, resulting in one of the great many scenes that made me want to put a pot over my head and start beating on it with a serving ladle.
One of the biggest problems with the movie is that not only does it bore and irritate but it deliberately insults the audience. Granted, I didn't know a lot of the details about some of the homages that are made in the film, such as the XFL player that inspired the title of the film and the security guard who exposed the Watergate break-in and ruined his own life in the process. I can understand if Lee wants us to be aware of what he's talking about, but he literally stops his movie to put these stories up on billboards and then hits us over the head with them.
By the end of the movie I was literally standing up, pacing back and forth I was so irritated and desperate for it to end. There are times when I wish I didn't have this determination to finish watching movies, even the abysmally terrible ones.
The really sad thing about She Hate Me is that it isn't even not very good for a Spike Lee film, this is just a bad movie overall. It's almost weird to think that it was directed by the same man that directed true classics like Do The Right Thing, one of my all time favorite films. She Hate Me is Spike Lee's version of Spielberg's 1941, but worse.
Fired from his executive position within a medical research company for
reporting unethical behaviour, John Henry Armstrong finds himself hung
out to dry, blaming by the CEO for the drop in share value and with his
assets frozen. When his ex-girlfriend and her lesbian lover come to him
asking for his sperm to get them pregnant in return for $5,000 a time
an offer he eventually accepts. Once the deed is done, Fatima starts
bringing him other professional lesbian couples who have failed to have
children by any of the more conventional routes. As this becomes his
new profession, the corporate witch-hunt for a fall guy continues with
him in the spotlight.
I will always try and see a Spike Lee film. Not because he is the world's best director (he is not) nor because his films are always fantastic (they most definitely are not) but because even his poor films provide interest and brain food in a way that so many Hollywood films do not. It is easy to just dismiss him but to do so misses so much of what he does that is good and worth seeing. I certainly cannot defend this film on the grounds of narrative because it is all over the place Enron, sexual ethics, the failures of the corporate world and political system to "ordinary" people, all this while still having sex scenes and animated sperm and eggs. If you let it, the fragmentation of the narrative will annoy you it bothered me a little bit and I wished that the film had been shorter with a tighter focus. However, it is still interesting and it engaged my brain; you can imagine the "man gets lesbians pregnant" concept being the next cheap and nasty "comedy" at number one in the box office charts and, although he seems to enjoy the sexual humour of the material, Lee deserves credit for not forgetting that I (and many audiences) like to have my brain stimulated before anything else.
If the opening credits ($3 bill) doesn't give you a clue what it is about, then the film helps with the corporate world setting. The themes are business, money and ethics and the film preaches a lot at points but generally is interesting. There is a lot of slack in the film that should have been removed and for some of it the point was totally lost on me but I was thinking all the time and that is a good thing. Lee's direction is as good as ever and the cinematography is slick. With so much focus on theme instead of story, it is no surprise that the actors aren't that great, but they do all do enough to keep the film working. Mackie is not a great actor but he is effective enough here and it isn't his fault if his character isn't developed that well. Likewise Washington, Barkin, Bellucci, Harrelson etc are all OK but they are more parts within a point rather than characters. Q-Tip is a non-character but is a nice presence in the sort of role that Lee would often play. Although it didn't bother me too much, I did wonder how much damage the portrayal of lesbians did the film or how fair it was? To my eye they seemed to be either lipstick lesbians that were very sexy, or larger women played for comic effect only one or two seemed like "normal" people; but with so many other things to niggle me, this was right at the bottom of my list.
Overall, the negative reviews are partly correct because this is a messy film with a narrative that is all over the place. Happily, Spike Lee is always worth watching because the film has interesting themes through it and Lee's anger may be overdone at times but mainly it has the desired effect of being very watchable. Worth seeing for what it does well even if it does a lot wrong.
Spike Lee's latest effort "She Hate Me" has been a debate for
moviegoers. Some like it, some don't. I love Spike's work but that
doesn't mean I am biased. I went into "She Hate Me" expecting the
worst. But like most of Spike's films, I liked it. Some parts did make
me cringe a bit but overall it is a clever film. You all know who the
story goes, Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) witnesses the suicide of
his co-worker and finds a CD with his co-worker confessing of the
company's (Progeia) wrong doings. Jack gets fired from his VP position
and his bank accounts are frozen. His ex-fiancée Fatima (Kerry
Washington) and her lesbian lover Alex (the stunningly beautiful Dania
Ramirez) gives Jack an offer he can't refuse. He gets to impregnate
("the old fashion way") 18 lesbians for the price of 10 grand each. He
does what he has to do until his ex-boss Leland Powell (Woody
Harrelson) finds out about it and get him on charges. Also in the
storyline is Monica Bellucci's character get impregnated with her mob
family knowing about it. I heard that this film is confusing and a big
mess but if you follow Spike's films you know that he has done this his
whole career. All of his film's go off the storyline and gives the
audience a chance to know the character. By the end of the film, you
feel connected with Jack, Fatima, Alex and all the other characters
surrounding them. Another thing that Spike did a good job on was the
portrayal of lesbians. Unlike other films, "She Hate Me" doesn't
portray them as sex vixens who have nothing on their mind but sex. But
as smart, intelligent and funny women that are concerned about family
values and the society surrounding them, and maybe a little bit of sex.
I really think that Spike redeemed himself with "She Hate Me". Nothing
was wrong with "25th Hour",it's a great film, but it just didn't feel
too much like a Spike Lee joint. "She Hate Me" is a sassy comedy and
very entertaining. Watch out for the Bush bashing scenes.
She Hate Me- rated R *** out of ****
There's an old premise that the best storytelling is shown, not told.
In terms of the latest Spike Lee Joint, 'She Hate Me,' no truer words
have ever been uttered.
Jack Armstrong (Anthony Mackie) is a young vice-president of a pharmaceutical company on the verge of unveiling a vaccine for HIV, pending FDA approval. Through the nefarious actions of greedy senior executives, Jack finds himself pegged as the scapegoat for this drug that ultimately will not be approved and the subsequent tumble in company stock. Think Enron, Worldcom, et al. but Spike won't let you think for yourself, as he keeps their specific names prominently displayed throughout the movie with overt and pointed references. Margo (Ellen Barkin) who looked eerily like Martha Stewart only further illustrates this point.
In a scenario reminiscent of 'Enemy of the State,' Jack loses access to all of his finances and is 'forced' to consider alternative means of generating income. After an unexpected visit by his former fiancée he accepts her offer to become father of her child her child and her lesbian lover's child.
$10,000 for 2 successful impregnations is the deal and Jack 'reluctantly' accepts. The next thing you know, he has lesbian women knocking at his door daily, five at a time, offering $10,000 each per impregnation.
If you've ever seen a 'Spike Lee Joint,' you're aware of the common threads woven into all of his movies. You come to expect certain elements and even certain actors. The fact that the supporting cast included such venerable thespians as Ossie Davis (Judge Buchanon), John Turturro (Don Angelo), Lonette McKee (Lottie) and Joie Lee (Gloria), while featuring a fabulous soundtrack by Terence Blanchard should be a surprise to no one. The fact that those actors, combined with Monica Belucci (Simona), Brian Dennehy (Chairman Church) and Woody Harrelson (Powell) didn't amount to a great movie should be tremendously surprising and disappointing.
From the opening credits, Spike Lee's signature is everywhere. From the rich combination of jazz and orchestral sensibilities in the underlying music bed that set the tone and timbre of the movie, you know Spike Lee is here. From the blatant opening reference and disdain of President George Bush; you knew the direction this vehicle headed and who was at the wheel.
According to Lee, 'The story of 'She Hate Me' is very simple. It's about sex, greed, money and politics.'
Yes and no. It's about all of those things, but it's far from being simple.
The message to be delivered was loud and clear. Unfortunately, this message was one of at least 75 different and varied lessons 'She Hate Me' would offer to its viewers. Even more unfortunately, Spike chose oration for each and every 'message' in sermonizing character dialogue. Either Spike no longer respects his viewers enough to allow them to 'figure it out on their own' or that verbally bludgeoning them with his viewpoints (all 75 of them) is now considered a more viable storytelling alternative.
The story of 'She Hate Me' is ostensibly about Jack Armstrong and his attempt at getting out of one sticky situation by entering another. In fact, it's not. This movie is more about the relationships and realities of women in love with one-another. This movie is at its best when Spike demonstrates that regardless of gender or orientation; insecurity and jealousy are universal. The desires of family and fidelity are also universal, irrespective of familial unit structure. Most importantly, the need to be accepted unconditionally is a definitive trait in all of us. Those arguably were the most important messages in this movie and Lee is right on the mark.
Where 'She Hate Me' specifically missteps is that the story is from the point of view of an unsympathetic character. When Jack first started his new 'business' he supposedly needed money for the moment to counterbalance his frozen assets and continuing financial responsibilities. Yet 18 women, 19 children and some $180,000 later, neither Spike Lee, co-writer Michael Genet nor character Jack himself offers a reason as to why he continued such dangerous and fruitless indiscretions, for so long.
The characters and relationships most enjoyable in this movie were fleeting in nature; components remarkably and conspicuously absent after introduction for most of the film. Jack's relationship with his father Geronimo (played by Jim Brown) was engaging. The sight of football Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown playing a character fighting diabetes and to save his marriage simultaneously was moving. The newly evolving relationship of Geronimo with his son in the midst of the chaos around him was another meaningful subplot; one of many that Lee didn't revisit until nearly the end of the movie.
A monologue by Don Angelo (John Turturro) gave us another glimpse of Turturro's acting brilliance. John Turturro is a future Academy Award winner; it's just a shame this won't be the role that does it for him.
If there is an explanation as to why some sub-stories and sub-plots were not covered as deeply as others it would be the fact that there are so many characters, all of which feel compelled to tell their life story. In fact, there are just too many people to keep up with, too many to care about in the end. It's like juggling fiery bowling pins, where too much concentration on one leads to really bad consequences.
Visually, 'She Hate Me' pays homage to films of the 1970's, with its simplistic camera angles devoid of lighting tricks or steady-cams. The knowing use of varying hues and blurred frames was quite appealing stylistically, even cool. This, combined with great musical cues featuring tenor saxophone melodies was a nice tip of the fedora to the Film Noir genre.
'She Hate Me' is raw and gritty in its imagery, remarkable in its musicality and at times sensual in its delivery but ultimately not a good movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
as i viewed spike lee's "she hate me" upon its video release i kept wondering what audience lee was targeting for the film. the answer i kept coming up with was that he himself didn't know.there are four or five plots going on , most of which are clumsily tied together and none of which make much sense.I'll start with the opening credits, which show various denominations of u.s. currency and the presidents whose images adorn those bills.the credits end with the image of a $3 dollar bill, with a picture of a dopey looking george w. bush. OK, so spike doesn't like the prez.what does this have to do with the movie? as if the whole plot of wealthy lesbians paying $10,000 each to get impregnated - the old-fashioned way(!)-wasn't absurd enough, we then get a subplot about a mafia chieftain whose daughter is one of the clients.He must be the new kinder, gentler form of godfather as he seems to have no problem with his daughter being involved in this.oh yeah, the ladies are worried about disease so they make the main character get tested for everything before the big night, when he has sex with at least 6 women in a row.how do they know the woman went before them was clean? i guess we are supposed to assume that since they are lesbians they can't have STD's. it's all topped by possibly the most preposterous ending in the history of cinema.(if you don't want to know the ending stop here).the main character,his ex fiancée and her lesbian girlfriend agree to stay together to raise their kids, and evidently while maintaining a 3 way sexual relationship! earth to spike :these things don't happen. anyway whoever the intended audience is they didn't find it.here in nyc, the movie played in 1 Manhattan theater for 2 weeks then vanished.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First, Let me just say I love spike lee. The 25th hour is a classic. Do The Right Thing, Malcolm X, Crooklyn, Mo Betta...,4 little Girls (Doc)...brilliant. But she hate me? If this was a paper, I would give it an "F" for no thesis or organization. I mean what happen spike? You Hurt my heart. I defended you. I was with you for Girl 6, I hung in there waiting for a redeeming factor in Jungle Fever. I thought you were gaining back your ground when i saw the Summer of Sam. Watched Bamboozled and said, "Okay, I see the point." But she hate me? She hate me? Are you Serious?? I mean what the %#$@! Lesbians and white collar crime? Where is the logic? When I think of Enron, I don't think Ellen. So why spike? Why? And I watched this movie hoping that something will make me feel better about it but nope...never happened. Spoiler Alert: And the lessons or climax of the whole movie:White Collar crime is bad and all lesbians need is a good stiff...you get the point. And then Ken Lay and Ellen and Portia De Rossi all live happy every after on Coney Island. It was like is some crazy nightmare sequence. Spike, Do you even know any lesbians? How about women? Do you know any women? Because the female behavior in the film wasn't even close to any real female character of any sort as a matter of fact...No characters in the whole spectacle had any ounce of realism. This movie was one huge caricature of stereotypical, quasi-political,overstated visual rhetoric. Spike, She don't hate you. But I'm hating. Spike, come on...we got to do better than this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of the most infuriating films I have watched in a long,
long while. It looks like some first-time scriptwriter couldn't get
sufficient backing and then directed his script himself. No two scenes
make sense when put together, the premise about the businessman getting
paid $10,000 dollars each time he impregnates a lesbian is preposterous
and embarrassingly realized here. It turns out that, committed lesbians
or not, these gals just luuuuuuuuve our main man's sexual prowess and
equipment, which is just about the most homophobic notion of any
American film this whole decade.
On top of Spike Lee's blatant homophobia and the not too bright racial stereotyping, on top of all that put the hypocrisy of two lesbians talking the ex-fiancée of one of them into making an easy buck with his sperm, and afterwards, having impregnated 19 women, he feels he must pay in hell and now HE'S sorry he got THEM into it.
The whole thing is a mess and devoid of charm or intelligence. Anthony Mackie in the lead is a personable actor, not mention incredibly easy on the eyes, and I would love to see him in something worthwhile.
But it is going to take some time, before this monstrosity of a film is forgotten.
This movie is about a man who takes a moral choice for his work but
forgets values in his private life. I can't relate to such upside down
philosophy. So, "hate" is surely a word too harsh but I don't care
about his life.
Nevertheless, the story raises good questions:
For one time, you see a man becoming a "sex-object" and it's great to achieve this sort of equality with women in charge. From my point of view, it's not a revolution: I always thought, that in relationships, men court but women decide! But I am not the Di Caprio / Pitt / Clooney mold, too! Thus, the truth would be that it's the sexiest who runs the relation whatever the gender! It's a tyranny of beauty then!
And as depicted in the movie, nowadays, when beauty is there, money is not far away. What can we do for money? Is everything for sell? Money leads to freedom or alienation? When you see the beautiful opening credits, you wonder..
For sure, Lee is a talented director and knows how to tell a story, even disturbing for your beliefs.
PS: and don't forget FRANK WILLS, a man who stayed true to his principles instead of money!
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