Spike Lee: what's everybody's problem?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mike Broadman, Mar 16, 2002.

  1. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Lately, I've noticed a lot of negative vibes and attacks on Spike Lee- jokes about him, people rolling their eyes when his name gets mentioned, etc. My question: why?

    I've recently seen a few of his films, and I very much respect his work. Wereas a lot of Hollywood movies tried to broach the issue of racial tension, with varying degrees of success, I haven't seen any of them come close to Do the Right Thing. In fact, I don't know if it's possible to do that with a big Hollywood production. It's better accomplished in an indie-style setting to capture the grit and grime of the conflict. The end, where

    Spike Lee's character throws the garbage can through the window


    was incredibly powerful, as well as

    the stand-off between the Korean store ownder and the street black guys
    .

    Jungle Fever was very interesting, but not as strong as DTRT for me. Unlike some of his other films, he tainted the objectivity of story's conflict by making Wesley Snipes' character married. However, there were some excellent moments, honestly capturing the feelings of most black people I've known, such as the women discussing the role race plays in judging beauty and the police mistaking fooling around on the street for sexual assault.

    Lee's most pleasantly surprising film was Malcolm X. I was afraid that the scope of the film would be outside the realm of his ability. I was sorely mistaken. This is possibly the best epic-style biography I've ever seen. It was fair, honest, and engaging. Usually, biographies are set out to make the character a hero or to villainise the subject. For an individual as controversial as Malcolm X, there was practically none of that here. This movie is a rare case of a film that both educated and entertained me. It didn't change my opinion of the man, but made me more informed. That is an admirable accomplishment.

    Did Denzel Washington win an award for that performance? Malcolm X and Glory alone prove that he is easily one of the top actors of the past 15 years. Angela Bassett, who I'm in love with anyway, was great as well.

    Bamboozled was dissappointing. A very interesting idea for a movie that just ran away from itself and ended up becoming a mess in the end. But, it's the kind of failure that I respect. Where else are you going to see that kind of film making?

    I hope Spike comes out with something else, soon. I'm glad he's around to stir things up once in a while. Which leads me back to my original question: why all the negativity towards him? I'm not one to label people as racists, but I am getting that feeling... after all, most of his subject matter has to do with race. He's not preachy or whiny about his subject matter. Sure, not all of his movies are great, but the same is true for most, if not all, directors.
     
  2. Tino

    Tino Lead Actor
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    [​IMG]
    Just kidding[​IMG]. Spike Lee is IMO, a very talented film maker and I have enjoyed all of his films that I have seen, especially Do The Right Thing and Malcolm X, however some of his behavior and comments in public have led me to believe that he is....ya know... not playing with a full deck, his stairs don't go to the top, he doesn't have both oars in the water, a few cans short of a sixpack etc...[​IMG]
    I would elaborate but I think it would violate forum rules.
    Nonetheless, he is one of the best film directors around.
     
  3. Luc D

    Luc D Second Unit

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    I think part of the problem is that he's really the only black filmmaker who has achieved commercial success. The problem (which isn't really his fault) is that he's the only one who can get any kind of funding (and studio support) while many talented black filmmakers with something worthwhile to say can't get any work.

    I don't really have a problem with Spike Lee, he's very vocal and I rarely agree with some of the things he's said over the years, but I don't find him to be a very effective filmmaker. His films can be too confrontational for their own good at times, trying to force-feed you his point and not allowing for any kind of subtlety.
     
  4. RobR

    RobR Second Unit

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  5. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    Hes made some comments and has been critical of some race issues in movies.I cant give exact quotes but I remember his saying something about being the disgusted by the "Magical Negro" mentallity of Bagger Vance.

    I also remember when Summer of Sam came out he got pissed off by people saying he was entering new territory with the white cast-something he really took offense to.I saw a clip of him raising his voice and actually calling a interviewer stupid.

    I like some of Spikes movies.Malcolm X is a masterpiece,Summer of Sam,Do The Right Thing,but hes had some real stinkers as well (Girl 6,Bamboozled).

    I could care less about his personality or politics-Im a movie fan and if he makes a film I like, thats all I care about.

    Hes outspoken and has a right to his opinion,I think most just view him as a troublemaker and becuase hes famous people are always more than happy to attack him for the things he says.
     
  6. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    Everything with him revolves around race. After a while, I get sick of hearing him because you know he's always gonna turn it into a race debate. I know there aren't many black filmmakers, and it may be more difficult for them to get funding. But people who always make everything into a race issue, really grate on me. The fact of the matter, if he was really that concerned, he try and do something about it. He never does. I guess Knicks games mean more to him.[​IMG] As for his films, he's made a number of good ones, and a few clunkers.
     
  7. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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  8. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Screenwriter

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    I agree with Terrell that Spike Lee most always revolves around race and after awile it just gets annoying.

    I can't stand that scene in "Do the right thing" when he throws the trash can through the window and then the place gets destroyed and the next day he comes back and wants to get payed. He started what ended up destroying that mans lifes work and has the balls to come and want his money? That ruined the movie for me.
     
  9. Ike

    Ike Screenwriter

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    Jeremiah,

    Maybe Spike wasn't trying to make you agree with what he did-I think he was trying to make you think. If it made you have such a reaction, then I say it worked.

    People don't like Spike because he can mouth off. But he's movies can be very good. Simple as that.
     
  10. Nate Anderson

    Nate Anderson Screenwriter

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    I enjoyed Summer of Sam, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who hated Bamboozled. I just thought it was terrible.
     
  11. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  12. Mike Monti

    Mike Monti Stunt Coordinator

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    My only problem with him is based on an interview I saw with him years ago (pre-dvd). He spent a lot of the interview talking about how he does everything he can to help the "black community" and how the community isn't being helped enough by the rest of America.

    This I could see, this I could agree with, by this time I had been a community volunteer for years and completely understood how many areas of our country need a lot more help than they're getting.

    -but then-

    He took the interviewers into a laserdisk shop - (was a 60 minutes type interview) and in talking about how he loves movies proceeds to talk about how part of the movie watching/owning experience was in the purchasing the movies themselves and how he had bought many of the movies he owns 10 times or more. Now laserdisk sets certainly weren't cheap, and (in my mind) it's a foolish waste of money to buy a movie you already own nine more times just because you like buying. I've always found it more than a bit two-faced that he could sit there and complain that people weren't doing more when he was "wasting" money that could have been better used to help people.

    I've always liked his movies, well most of them. However, since that interview I haven't liked him much at all.
     
  13. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    I've never been a big fan of Spike Lee. Do the Right Thing is an excellent movie, and I'd argue that both School Daze and Clockers are fairly underrated movies. BUT I simply don't care for his directing style. That's not to say he's untalented; just not my cup of tea.
     
  14. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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  15. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

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    I don't think he (as a person) is all that negative. Some of his films are...but I always enjoy seeing him on Conan or other talk shows...he's a funny guy.

    While I don't like all of his films, I like most of them...and I think that making "racial" films is doing a service to the film industry. John Singleton doesn't seem to make as serious of films as Boyz in the Hood anymore...and I'm always happy to see some of Spikes work.
     
  16. JasonK

    JasonK Supporting Actor

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    Jeremiah,

    I look at the reason Mookie threw the garbage can in Do the Right Thing in a different light.

    Consider the scene: The whole community is circling Sal and his sons, and perhaps ready to attack them. Mookie checks the scene, and rather than allowing the crowd to beat the tar out of them, he throws the can through the window.

    The crowd leaves Sal + sons, instead taking down their restaurant. Da Mayor takes Sal + sons across the street to safety, where all they can do is watch.

    Mookie may have caused them to lose their Pizzaria, but he also may have saved their lives by doing so.

    Michael,

    I agree with you about Clockers. Excellent flick, and I believe Martin Scorsese executive produced it.

    Get On the Bus is also quite good. I enjoyed Mo' Better Blues, and Four Little Girls is one of the most painfully powerful documentaries I've ever seen.

    -Jason
     
  17. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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  18. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    It always strikes me as odd that people complain about Lee's subject matter in films in an age when we complain about directors simply making films to gain a buck. He might be indulgent sometimes, but he is a imprinting himself onto the movies, a true self-expressionist filmmaker. Don't we want all our directors to make movies about things they care about?

    As for his general image of being a sour grape all the time, you must consider this to be many times the media taking out soundbits. Granted, he has expressed many thoughts that might strike others as controversial, but he always has his point, whether you agree or not is different. For instance, Lee is exactly critical of the thought that Terrell just brought up. Some of the black comedians today, in Lee's thought, are being laughed AT; the audience isn't laughing with them. Furthermore, I would also wonder why people only notice how things have improved and seemed to be satisfied with it. Do we really think Lee believes the past was better? Come on, but his films continue to strive for more understanding, and that's what makes tomorrow a potentially better place than today.
     
  19. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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  20. Greg_Y

    Greg_Y Screenwriter

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