Spike Lee returns to his indy roots with "Red Hook Summer"
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Updated: Monday, September 10, 2012 18:09
Still photograph from "Red Hook Summer"
Flik and his over religious grandfather.
Some call Spike Lee’s films controversial, provocative and confusing, but they sure can’t call them boring.
The complexities of what Lee is trying to convey can sometimes go over the viewer’s heads. But in “Red Hook Summer” there is something that all African Americans can identify with -- the black church.
“Red Hook Summer” is a coming of age movie that teaches critical lessons about friendship, love, pain and redemption. It’s a true Indie film, financed by Lee himself. It was shot in 18 days with New York University film students and a relatively unknown cast.
The film focuses on a 13-year-old hipster Silas Royale aka Flik (played by Jules Brown) who spends the summer working in the church of his overzealous grandfather Bishop Enoch Rouse (played by Clarke Peters from “The Wire”). Flik is uprooted from his non-traditional, middle class home in Atlanta and thrust into the projects of Red Hook in Brooklyn. And that’s when the generations begin to clash.
A neighbor from the projects, Chazz (played by Toni Lysaith), befriends Flik and becomes his escape from the local “Bloodz” gang and his grandfather’s self-righteousness. We also see scenes of awkward teenage love between Chazz and Flik. While the acting between the two has been criticized, it becomes better as the story unfolds.
His grandfather’s incessant preaching about repenting and finding the love of Jesus is a centerpiece of film. A Slate reviewer describes Clarke Peters’ performance of Bishop Enoch Rouse as “powerful and nuanced,” and his sermons as “incantatory, poetic, often wildly funny.”
Just as the movie reaches a spiritual peak we get hit with a monkey wrench that really makes you question your own moral values and views on redemption.
While I wouldn’t describe the film as a masterpiece, it succeeds where many films today fail. It tells a story. And I suspect the power of the story derives from the simple fact that it is based in Lee’s love of the community he grew up in.
The film’s music and visuals engulf the audience and lets them ascend to new levels. You will not see this film released in many theaters, but you can get information on North Carolina screenings at www.redhooksummer.com.
What started as a progressive tool aimed to help minorities was bought out by businesses who capitalized on it. They supplied aspiring rappers with a gimmick and continue to do so while the outspoken artists get censored and overlooked. When a young, insecure girl with no role model turns on the radio what she’ll hear is that her worth is determined by the size of her physical assets and how wide she can spread her legs.
“I met this girl when I was 10 years old, and what I loved about her she had so much soul/ She was old school, when I was just a shorty, never knew throughout my life she would be there for me.” These are the words of Common from the song “I Used to Love H.E.R.,” a song dedicated to Hip Hop.
"The logic goes that because white people are so important, nothing important happens without white people — except of course, plotting against white people. This must be what they do at HBCUs."