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She Hate Me (2004)
Clever and striking...Spike Lee delivers with She Hate Me
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 ****
Under the Cherry Moon (1986)
Stylish and funky
"Purple Rain" solidified Prince as a rock star and big ticket actor.
However, the public were thrown off with his attempt at musical
comedy with "Under the Cherry Moon". "Under the Cherry Moon" is
the story of Christopher Tracy (Prince) and Tricky (Jerome Benton
of The Time,) two gigolos. They go to France to woo the women
and make money. Christopher stumbles across a newspaper that
says that wealthy Mary Sharon (Kristin Scott Thomas) will be
getting a large amount of money for her 21st birthday. Christopher
and Tricky come up with a plan to take her heart and her money.
This film was blasted with negative reviews and bombed at the
box office. This is very underrated and very funny. "Under the
Cherry Moon" was filmed in color and converted into black and
white, giving it a cool and stylish look. Prince is excellent and so is
his sidekick played by Jerome Benton. They almost have a
connection like Abbott and Costello, future films with the two as a
duo would've been cool. Kristin Scott Thomas's career took off
after this film and Prince was given his first film failure and
definitely not his last. But this film is really romantic and funny. It's
a great date film. The ending gets a little bit too dramatic but
nonetheless "Under the Cherry Moon" is a feel good film.
Under the Cherry Moon- rated PG-13 *** out of ****
Graffiti Bridge (1990)
Very underrated and misunderstood
Coming off his commercially disappointing album "Lovesexy",
Prince was into the whole spiritual thing. He conceived "Graffiti
Bridge" sometime in 1989, planning to make it a film with him and
his then girlfriend Kim Basinger. They broke up but "Graffiti Bridge"
was still going to be made. He took time off to compose the
"Batman" soundtrack and in late '89, he began filming "Graffiti
Bridge". Many that got first dibs on the film forewarned a lot of
people about it. "Graffiti Bridge" was released in the fall of 1990
with horrible reviews. It also bombed at the box office. People that
didn't even see the film gave it negative reviews. What people fail
to understand is that "Graffiti Bridge" is a musical. It is almost like
a homage to the old 50's musicals that were filmed on studio lots.
This was film on Prince's Paisley Park compound, giving it a
cheap look. Perhaps Prince took himself a little bit too seriously
when advertising it, and threw people off making them think it is a
regular movie. "Graffiti Bridge" is like one long music video. And
honestly, the acting is horrible. The highlight of the film has to be
the music. That is the whole point. It is a musical and nothing else.
So don't watch "Graffiti Bridge" expecting a real movie with drama
and great acting. It's a good film but it has it's flaws.
Graffiti Bridge- rated R **1/2 out of ****
Great satire, very misunderstood
The film "Bamboozled" has caught a lot of heat for it's portrayal of blackface (an issue that wasn't really talked about until the release of "Bamboozled") Writer Pierre Delacroix (Damon Wayans) sees his pitches for TV shows being rejected one after another. He is upset with his job and his boss Thomas Dunwitty (Mike Rappaport) He is under contract, he cannot quit because he will be sued. So he decides to get himself fired. He plans on reviving blackface and hopes that it'll be so controversial that CNS will be under fire and he'll get fired. He recruits two street performers Manray (Savion Glover) and Womack (Tommy Davidson) and pitches the show to his boss. The show gets green lighted, but unfortunately it becomes a big hit and destroys his whole plan. Spike got some heat for this (mainly because he criticized previous films for the way blacks are shown, then he made a film with blackface) But what people don't understand is that this is a satire. The images of rappers and "Timmi Hillnigger" are all poking fun at today's society. "Bamboozled" is clever and one of Spike's most explosive films next to "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X". This film has Tommy Davidson performing in blackface, in a very funny routine. I wanted to laugh but at the same time it made me think. This sketch was making me laugh at every stereotype about my people that I hated. That was the smart thing about "Bamboozled", it caught you in the act of doing something and made you think. "Bamboozled" is a well thought, mentally challenging film that'll change your life.
Bamboozled- rated R **** out of ****
Tales from the Hood (1995)
Thought provoking horror, a rare gem in its genre
After coming off of the hilarious "Fear of a Black Hat", director Rusty Cundieff gives us a look at horror in the streets in "Tales From The Hood". Thugs Stack, Ball and Bulldog (Joe Torry, DeAundre Bonds and Samuel Monroe Jr.) go to a local funeral parlor looking for stashed drugs. They meet up with the creepy head of the funeral parlor Mr. Simms (Clarence Williams III). Going through the parlor, Mr. Simms tell the guys four eerie stories about his clients. The first story is about a black man slained by the police and he comes back from the dead. The second is about an abused child that sees the monster in his father (David Alan Grier). The third is the story of an ex-klansman turned politician that bought a house. The house used to be a plantation and the ghosts of the slaves (thanks to voodoo) comes back as dolls and get welcomes him. The last (and the least scariest but thought provoking) is the story of a thug that is killed and is shown his contribution to the deaths of millions of black people. "Tales from the Hood"'s messages clearly separates it from "Tales from the Crypt" or any other horror films. This film covers everything from child abuse to black on black and gang related violence. "Tales from the Hood" is a must see in it's entirety. The edited versions of the film makes it seem hilarious and a waste of time. Check it out.
Tales from the Hood- rated R *** out of ****
A powerful film
"Clockers" is a far departure from Spike's previous kid friendly "Crooklyn". "Clockers" is based on a novel by Richard Price. A "clocker" is a 24 hour drug dealer, sort of like Strike (Mekhi Phifer) and his partners. Strike is tempted by Rodney (Delroy Lindo) to "handle" a problem caused by an employee at a fast food restaurant. Strike decides not to kill the guy at the last minute. The next day, that same guy he was supposed to kill is found dead. Strike's brother Victor (Isaiah Washington) turns himself into the police. Detective Rocco (Harvey Keitel) and his partner Larry (John Turturro) investigates the case. Rocco thinks Strike had something to do with the murder. The film becomes a whodunit in the middle of the ghetto. Most common in most of Spike's movies, we see different stories unfold. There's the relationship with Strike and Tyrone (Pee Wee Love) and Strike and Rodney. What I also liked about the film was how Spike used the "shoot em' up gangsta" film genre and made it intelligent with a great story. The movie is visually beautiful and the score is great. The characters ranging from Andre (Keith David) to Errol Bonds (Thomas Jefferson Byrd) are so three dimensional and well acted. This may be another one of Spike's most underrated gems (next to Malcolm X and yes, Girl 6)
Clockers- rated R ***1/2 out of ****
Girl 6 (1996)
The infamous Girl 6
(SOME SPOILERS) With it's release in Spring of 96, "Girl 6" was called "the worst Spike Lee film". I am here to defend "Girl 6". Those that have seen "She's Gotta Have It" and understood it, you will understand "Girl 6". "Girl 6" is about Judy (Theresa Randle), a struggling black actress looking for work. She isn't able to pay her acting coach and she is let go. After working a night at a club, she's reading a newspaper and stumbles upon an ad looking for someone interested in working in the phone sex industry. She takes the job and becomes so involved in her work she loses touch with reality. Like most of Spike's films, there are the multiple stories (her ex-husband wanting her back, the sick guy that keeps calling her, the little girl Angela, Judy's friendship with Jimmy, her fantasies and Bob) The film did have it's flaws. The phone sex scene with the "kielbasa" man should've been left out. A plus for the film was the soundtrack by Prince and his related bands (Vanity 6's Nasty Girl was so perfect for this movie) This cast was a who's who of celebrities (Maddonna, Naomi Campbell, Quentin Tarantino, Ron Silver and a Halle Berry cameo) Michael Imperioli was sadistic and creepy as the crazed "Scary Caller #30". The cinematography is stunning. The elaborate fantasy scenes (Foxy Brown is the funniest one) are quite funny and award winning playwright Suzan Lori-Parks first and only screenplay is a decent one. "Girl 6" may have it's downs but it is an enjoyable film.
Girl 6- rated R *** out of ****
He Got Game (1998)
Amazing...He Got Game scores
1998's "He Got Game" once again teams up Spike Lee with Denzel Washington. Jesus Shuttlesworth (NBA all-star Ray Allen) is America's most sought after high school basketball prospect. His father Jake Shuttlesworth (Washington), is serving time in prison for killing Jesus's mother (Lonette McKee) The warden tells Jake that the governor wants his son (Jesus) to go to college at his alma mater, Big State. If Jesus does go, Jake's time in prison will be cut shorter. So Jake gets parole and goes to Coney Island to convince his son to go to Big State. At the same time, he wants to heal his estranged relationship with his son. "He Got Game" is a powerful film. The performance by Washington is great, not Oscar worthy, but great. "He Got Game" also marked the "mainstream" film debut of Rosario Dawson. The film's score consists of Aaron Copland and Public Enemy giving the film a huge plus. Aside from the father-son storyline, we see the greed that goes on in the world of sports (Spike just had to put out a social statement in this film, not that it's bad) We also see Jake's relationship with an attractive prostitute (Milla Jovovich) "He Got Game" is another proof of Spike's talent. This wasn't your average Spike Lee joint. There was a dark and gritty feeling to this one. Either way, it was still enjoyable and is highly recommended for basketball fans like myself.
He Got Game- rated R ***1/2 out of ****
Pootie Tang (2001)
Sa da tay! Pootie Tang is OK
"Pootie Tang" is the ultimate guilty pleasure film. Sometimes I ask myself, "why do I laugh at this?". I don't know why, but it funny as hell. Chris Rock is a genius. I don't know how you come up with a story about a funny talking super hero. Throughout the whole movie, this guy is saying things that doesn't make any sense, but the characters surrounding him all understand. How do you come up something like that?!? And put it into a feature film!!! One liners like "sa da tay" and "sine your pity on the runny kine", are classics. "Pootie Tang" was conceived on the HBO hit The Chris Rock Show, in this spin off movie, Pootie is trying to take all the junk food, drugs and alcohol off the street that is being distributed by Dick Lecter (Robert Vaughn). The supporting cast includes The Chris Rock Show regulars including Wanda Sykes. "Pootie Tang" seems like a send up to 70's blaxpoitation films, but at the same time, I don't know what it is. "Pootie Tang" is a mixed bag of funk music, cheesy action and comedy. It all works for "Pootie Tang" making it the most unusual film ever made.
Pootie Tang- rated PG-13 *** out of ****
Malcolm X (1992)
the Greatest Film of All Time
(SOME SPOILERS) 1992's "Malcolm X" is the greatest film of all time. I may ruffle some feathers by saying that, but I don't care. What movie teams up the greatest director (Spike Lee) with the greatest actor (Denzel Washington) in a story about controversial black activist Malcolm X? And it doesn't stop there, it is backed up by a superb supporting cast (Angela Bassett, Al Freeman Jr. need I say more?) This whole film was adapted from the novel The Autobiography of Malcolm X written by Alex Haley. "Malcolm X" shows us how Malcolm Little became Malcolm X and his departure from the Nation of Islam and how they played a role in his assassination. The score by Terence Blanchard is incredible. The eulogy by Ossie Davis, classic. "Malcolm X" is a masterpiece. Spike Lee's hard work was never recognized by the Academy, and he was not nominated for a Best Director award. "Malcolm X" won for best costume design and Best Actor nominee Denzel Washington was snubbed. This is the definitive film of the 20th Century. But it is sad that it is not recognized the way it should be.
Malcolm X- rated PG-13 ***** (the only five star rating I will give out)