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Review: Spike Lee's Sometimes Engaging, But Muddled, Meandering & Ultimately Frustrating 'Da Sweet Blood of Jesus'

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by Zeba Blay
June 25, 2014 2:28 PM
32 Comments
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Last year, Spike Lee launched a successful $1.45 million Kickstarter campaign for a mysterious, untitled new joint. He offered only the vaguest of hints at its synopsis: “It’s about people addicted to blood,” he said. “But they’re not vampires.” Over the months, some casting news, film stills, and an intriguing title trickled out, sparking speculation that the movie might be a remake of Spencer Williams’ 1941 race film "The Sweet Blood of Jesus," or possibly Bill Gunn’s underrated horror classic "Ganja & Hess."

We now know of course that "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," which made its world premiere at ABFF over the weekend, is indeed a reinterpretation of Gunn’s 1973 movie that used vampirism as a metaphor for addiction. A genre-defying answer to blaxploitation films like "Blacula," "Ganja & Hess" premiered at Cannes to a standing ovation and critical acclaim. But upon arrival in the States it did dismally at the box office, and was eventually recut (without Gunn’s approval) into several watered down versions of itself with titles like "Blood Couple," "Black Evil," and "Double Possession."

Lee has attempted to pay homage to Gunn’s original vision with a film that at moments is deeply engaging, but also muddled, meandering, and ultimately frustrating. His reinterpretation borrows much of the plot of its predecessor: Dr. Hess Green (Stephen Tyrone Williams) is a rich anthropologist who lives in a huge Martha’s Vineyard mansion filled with rare African artifacts. After being attacked by his suicidal research assistant with an ancient Ashanti blade, he takes on a sudden insatiable hunger for human blood. Later, he meets and seduces his assistant’s wife Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams), a beautiful and dynamic young woman who he eventually grants the gift and curse of immortality.

Set largely at Hess’s forty acre estate, at times shifting to a Red Hook housing project (where he picks up his unassuming victims), "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus" is an anomaly and a contradiction, not only to its source material but to much of Lee’s oeuvre. It has its strengths, brief glimmers, largely thanks to lead actors Williams and Abrahams. Their chemistry and conviction in the often spiraling narrative and clunky dialogue they’re given to work with, grounds what is otherwise a thoroughly mystifying viewing experience.

It’s hard to know what kind of film Lee thinks he has made. It closely follows Gunn’s story, yet, much like "Oldboy," he refuses to call it a remake. It’s a heavily gorey movie about an undead couple addicted to drinking human blood, but he refuses to call it a vampire film. Like the original, it is certainly a more complicated take on genre, but it lacks the nuance and the sophistication that elevated "Ganja & Hess."

As part of Lee’s Brooklyn series, there are strong ties to his last joint "Red Hook Summer." Many of the wrong choices that Lee made with that film turn up in this one - meandering scenes and montages, stilted dialogue, a great but overbearing soundtrack that disrupts key moments that would have been more powerful with silence. There’s also the return of the Lil’ Piece of Heaven Church, tying in themes of black identity, sexuality, class, religious guilt and constraint that plague Hess, much in the way they plagued preacher Enoch. And, like "Red Hook Summer," the problem here is that so many interesting themes are addressed, but vaguely and with so little consequence as to make the viewer wonder why they were introduced at all.

The end of this month marks the 25th anniversary of Lee’s seminal moment as a director - the movie he will always be remembered for, "Do the Right Thing." It was with "Do the Right Thing" that Lee hit his stride as a new, young director, calling on all his tools to produce one of the most vibrant and important films of 1989. Perhaps then the most fascinating thing about "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," the most fascinating thing about its many weaknesses in narrative and style, is the puzzle work that must be done on the viewer’s part in trying to find the threads that connect the director who made "Do the Right Thing" to the director who made this one.

But the pitfalls in such an exercise, in trying to find the links from then to now, is that there is often a desire to pick away at any and all potential moments of allegory or symbolism or meaning, the way one would pick at a scab; even when there is no meaning. Because there’s the question of how deliberate Lee’s choices are. In "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," some of his changes from the original seem more arbitrary than calculated, the experimental flourishes of a storyteller who is making things up as he goes along. A character that was male in "Ganja & Hess" is made female here, and while there is the potential for nuance in this change, the lesbian sex scene that follows is simply overlong and exploitative. One wonders if Lee has simply run out of things to say, or, more specifically, lost the tools with which to say them.

There’s this needling desire to give Lee the benefit of the doubt, to consider that he has somehow made a not-so-great film on purpose. That desire is easy to give in to with this joint because, again, there are moments of vitaliy, the same kind of frenetic, palpable, sincere energy that has made his earlier work so important. Unfortunately, and to the detriment of what could have been a much better movie than it was, those moments are simply too few and far between.


Zeba Blay is a Ghanaian-born film and culture writer based in New York. She is a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Africa Style Daily, and Slant Magazine. She runs a personal movie blog, Film Memory, and co-hosts the podcast Two Brown Girls. Follow her on Twitter @zblay.


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32 Comments

  • anon | August 19, 2014 12:58 PMReply

    can people just accept that spike is just one note director and not expect miracles from him?
    why does he have to be shoe horned in to meet everyone's needs he is just the black version of woody allen and he really should have just stuck with the race movies of old. He is just not versatile.

  • Up In The Balcony | June 27, 2014 1:13 PMReply

    **As the sun rises and the dust settles on another brouhaha in the neighborhood of Shadow and Act, we hear the not so delightful voice of Mr. Black Waldorf singing Mr. Rodger's song "Won't You Be My Neighbor?**

    "It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine?Could you be mine?... It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood, a neighborly day for a beauty. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?... I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Please won't you be my neighbor?"

    Statler: What the hell? What are you crowing about?

    Waldolf: Wake up. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

    Statler: You big dummy, I know the song but what has you so giddy?

    Waldorf: Well, have you noticed there's no more superspactaculous, magnificently espresso delicious rumbles down in the jungle?

    Statler: Please Don King, it's too early for that.

    Waldorf: DOWN GOES FRAZIER! DOWN GOES FRAZIER!...

    Statler: ....and Howard Cosell you're not, but whatsup?

    Waldorf: Well, I just think it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

    Statler: Okay, I'll bite, why?

    Waldorf: Well, in short, controversy cured all.

    Statler: Okay Mr. Confucius, splain dat to me like I'm a 9 year old.

    Waldorf: Well, I can sing another song that I know will hit your sweet spot.

    Statler: Stop stop stop, no more songs, your singing is akin to a couple of skeletons throwin' a fit on a hot tin roof, so please, just the facts.

    Waldorf: So you don't wanna hear "Controversy" by Prince?

    Statler: NO!

    Waldorf: Okay, so here's what I'm sayin', controversy is a good thang.

    Statler: **shrugging shoulders**... "and?"

    Waldorf: Well, I am sure you're heard of Frederick Douglas, right?

    Statler: Come on man, don't disrespect me like that. Everybody knows he's the brother who put Afros on the map.

    Waldorf: Okay... yeah... right. Anyway, he said, "Power concedes nothing without a demand". So all the cat fighting, mud slinging and high tempered debates we've grown accustom of seeing below our feet is a good thang.

    Statler: Hmmm... I'll have to think about that. But tell me, is there any collateral damage?

    Waldorf: Splain dat?

    Statler: Well, even though controversy is a good thang, can't some folks get hurt?

    Waldorf: Well, this is a gathering place for intelligent black folks who love to express their opinions. And, make no mistake about it, this is a discussion board. So I quote "If one can't stand the heat, I would suggest not going into the online kitchen." ~ The visitor/reader Carolyn Campbell

    Statler: LOOK OUT NOW! That sounds like one has to bring some ass to get some and don't start no mess and there won't be none.

    Waldorf: EXACTLY!

    Statler: Oh lord, so tell me, did somebody's ass get spanked in this debate?

    Waldorf: Well, some folks came by with pearls of wisdom (long detailed concise explanations of their overview of the film and Spike Lee) while others dropped a little... ahh... well... I guess I can say it, they dropped a little swine.

    Statler: Come on now, PREACH!... "do not throw pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." (Matthew 7:6).

    Waldorf: I'm glad you understand. So check out some of the swine:

    "Comments here seem to be 75% "This movie is typical Spike garbage" and 25% long-winded explanations explaining why it's not"

    "You are clearly not a business person."

    "[Spike] what the hell happened to you man? Your ass used to be beautiful"

    "The title of this piece could be applied to every Spike Lee movie except "Do The Right Thing"

    "Yet another awful Spike Lee joint that nobody will see"

    Statler: Opps upside my head, I get it. Those porous one line (and unsubstantiated) opinions can be viewed as garbage (swine) and thus, a wise man would not throw his pearls before that mess.

    Waldorf: Exacto my friend.

    Statler: Hey, what ever happened to the collateral damaged ones?

    Waldorf: I don't wanna be all silly and sh*t but they apparently channeled the 5 little pigs and cried "wee-wee-wee" all the way home.

    Statler: lol... you mean they took their ass-whoopins too personally?

    Waldorf: Well, that's hard to say. As you've noticed they're not ones who express themselves with much clarity. In this case, they came by and splashed a little mud of Spike (in 1 sentence burps) and then immediately exited stage left.... never to return. And while they were running for cover Random Commentary came by and put a cherry on top of this cake.

    Statler: You know what man, you are my n*****. So, let's sing the song together.

    **The two opinionated old men are last heard singing their favorite song "Won't You Be My Neighbor**

    "It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine?Could you be mine?.... won't you be my neighbor?... "

  • Jones | June 27, 2014 6:17 AMReply

    Comments here seem to be 75% "This movie is typical Spike garbage" and 25% long-winded explanations explaining why it's not.

  • RANDOM COMMENTARY | June 27, 2014 12:30 AMReply

    First disclaimer I haven't seen this movie, BUT I will.

    All great artist go through an intermediary stage where the first time / original fans feel alienated by the non-secular body of work. Spike Lee has always had a New York frame of mind in the majority if his films. When Spike Lee breaks from that tradition the congregation ye of little faith are ready to cast him to the wolves.

    Get on the Bus and Four Little Girls broke the streak of some variation of Mookie and the Spike Lee dolly shot. Spike was letting you know that he wasn't the black Woody Allen. He wasn't limited to a microcosm of 6 million stories in the naked city.

    Spike came back with the Summer of Sam. It was a New York based story but it wasn't a 100% Spike Lee Joint either. This movie had cgi and for the most part revolved around John Leguizamo. This was Spike's major commercial contender. The year 1999 was a major year in films, just look at the top 100 films on IMDb for 1999. Spike had unbelievable competition that year and he had to prove he could run with the majors. I would compare 1999 to the year 1984 for the number of quality films produced.

    The Original Kings of Comedy was Spike's attempt to capture the modern day versions of Pryor, Foxx, Cosby, and Witherspoon. It also showed Spike wasn't this "heavy" that always needed a social conscious point to exploit in his films.

    What do Inside Man and Miracle at Saint Anna represent? They represent further versatility in the types of stories Spike is able to tell. A thriller and a war picture.

    Red Hook Summer was an experimentation in color saturation and a twist ending. Spike is further preparing you for what's next.

    Old Boy and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus reinterpretations of other artists works. Time will dictate whether these films become cult classics or misguided artistic forays.

    Spike had to step outside the comforts of Brooklyn to grow as an artist. The question is will you appreciate a classic Spike Lee Joint when he returns with an extended palette and fresher perspective.

  • Question? | June 27, 2014 10:02 AM

    And Mr. Jones, it's glaringly obvious that you are not an artist. Look around, you're at a site and in a room filled with creative minds, question is, are you in the right place?

  • jones | June 27, 2014 6:19 AM

    You are clearly not a business person.

  • moon | June 26, 2014 11:28 AMReply

    Very solid critique. I must cosign @Introspective Man...Spike has NEVER been a MAINSTREAM American Filmmaker and any critique of his oeuvre must take than into consideration. Dude's strength has never been linear narrative storytelling of the type that most American audiences (of all ethnic backgrounds) are used to. The fact that is rise occurred at the same time as a resurgence in Afrocentricity in the late 80's was a coincidence that he initially benefited from, but now he's haunted by. I think that the lukewarm reception of some of his most interesting work (GIRL 6, SUMMER OF SAM, CLOCKERS...to name a few) is due to the inability of American audiences and critics to expand their aesthetic palette. Which is why many of us will continue to support his work, the beautiful and the ugly (Red Hook was damn sure "ugly.") Spike is doing SPIKE...I appreciate that.

  • Ol' Skool | June 26, 2014 1:45 PM

    Excellent observation, Mr. Moon!

    Consequently..." is why many of us will continue to support his work, the beautiful and the ugly (Red Hook was damn sure "ugly.") Spike is doing SPIKE...I appreciate that"

    Me too. But one small point of contention. I didn't think Red Hook was ugly. From my perspective as black man and a grandfather and one who has spent many days sitting in church pews, I totally appreciated and understood all the subtle messages Spike conveyed in that film. Also, most of the acting was spot on. To that point, I believe Spike isn't given enough credit for bringing out the best in his actors.

    Stay strong Spike, many of us still love and appreciate you!

  • . | June 26, 2014 9:07 AMReply

    .

  • Stephanie | June 26, 2014 1:16 AMReply

    I saw the film and thought the acting, score and the different british accents were pretty good. However I thought the story was gory, disgusting, disturbing, different and disappointing. I say this because I think the film does not appeal to us as an african american audience. In other words, I think it was designed to appeal more to a non african american or american audience. And I think it was also designed to show Spike's artistic range and not for commercial appeal. It'll probably be more suitable for a European or French audience because they are into non mainstream artsy material considering Cannes gave "Ganja and Hess" a standing ovation back in 1973. Spike and the cast will probably get a lot of props for going against the grain. I would love to see how this film does overseas in festivals such as Cannes or Berlin.

  • STEPHANIE | June 27, 2014 1:04 AM

    Daryl, I appreciate the feedback. Chris, let me explain a little. First of all, I consider myself a first generation American and Black. If you wanna call me African American, I'm okay with that too because I believe the entire human race migrated from Africa anyway .... but that's another topic. My dad is from Canada and my mom was from Haiti. I was born in the US.

    Now I believe the "Sweet Blood" will appeal mostly to non Americans, particularly the British and the French because they are known for being into artsy fartsy films. Therefore, in my opinion, I believe if you are ANY american whose family has been here in the US for 200 or so years, this film will mostly go over your head ..... way way way over your head. @Urbanauter compared it to the likeness of Lars Von Trier (Danish), Sam Fuller (first generation american whose parents are from Russia and Poland), Takashi Miike (Japanese), Jean Luc Godard (French/Swiss), and Francois Truffaut (French). These guys are mainly non americans with the exception of Sam Fuller but because he's a first generation american he is just as likely to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of the film.

    As a first generation Caribbean Canadian American, I was able to find some positive qualities such as the acting, score, and cultural accents. However, as an educated American female, I found the female nude strangulation scene misogynist and tasteless. I actually had a nightmare afterwards of my own hands strangling myself, naked, choking, and trying to wake myself up. I have never had this nightmare before and I find this disturbing. I also noticed how Hess' character mainly preyed on woman who conveniently ends up topless or naked. The only male character that gets attacked surprisingly gets to keep his clothes on. And I felt the lesbian shower scene was unnecessarily explicit. But hey, Cannes may give it two standing ovations. We shall see.

  • Daryl | June 26, 2014 5:08 PM

    You make some good points in your comment Stephanie, it's a big problem with the black audience, too many of us buy into stereotypes and want to see the same bs hollywood has been showing about black people forever. I'm glad Spike Lee made this movie and I wish more black filmmakers would have the guts to make personal films instead of being hollywood commercial directors. Example even through he is a producer, Will Packer has of yet to make a black indie art movie, he has the money and power now, so what is stopping him, I'll tell you he buy into the same bs the black audience buys into, we can only make certain type of movies or there is not an audience for these type of movies and worst of all he doen't understand that films are a craft not just a product you put on an assembly line.

  • Chris | June 26, 2014 9:36 AM

    Wow, I felt a very strong need to respond to you. Your comment highlighted a huge problem in America. What do you mean "appeal to us as an African American audience?" We are not all the same people. Let's be real, there is a clear difference between being an American whose family has been here for 200 or so years and a Black immigrant from a different country. Every one is an individual and every person has his or her own taste. So who's to say that it doesn't appeal to certain groups of people?

  • Up In The Balcony | June 26, 2014 1:10 AMReply

    **The two disagreeable old men, Mr. Black Statler and Mr. Black Waldorf are awaken from their slumber by the tap-tap-tap of a few misguided armchair movie critics walking across their stage **

    Statler: Hey Waldorf, wake up! Don't you smell that?

    Waldorf: Don't make me have to cut you. I smell your old funky breath but what's up?

    Statler: I smell mess and messy folks down there.

    Waldorf: What's new, this IS Shadow and Act's comment section, so what has you all puffed up and your eyes twitchin' like Deebos'

    Statler: Deebo my ass, he got knocked the fu*k out, and I have 20-20 vision. You need to wake the fu*k up.

    Waldorf: Oh, I get it, now you're "WAKE THE FU*K UP" Samuel Jackson from that Obama commercial, huh?

    Statler: See, that's exactly what I'm talking about, uniformed Negros talking out of their boo-boos. Listen, the young and restless (not the soap opera) folks might believe Samuel Jackson coined that phrase during the presidential election, but no-no-no, Spike Lee was the man behind that plan.

    Waldorf: What's your point?

    Statler: Well, look at all those fools and white folks down there.

    Waldorf: And... what... now you're a racist with stinky breath?

    Statler: Damn man, if the brain is one of our largest muscles - don't look into the light cuz your brain muscle is as soggy and limp as a wet tea bag. Have you prepared your will?

    Waldorf: Funny-funny-funny Mr Black Red Skelton. But who you calling fools and ignorant white folks?

    Statler: I ain't calling no names but only a fool or a white guy would say "The title of this piece could be applied to every Spike Lee movie except "Do The Right Thing".... and dumber mess like "Yet another awful Spike Lee joint that nobody will see. What a surprise"

    Waldorf: Yeah my brotha, I have to agree, that's some funky-ass sh*t. But why suspect that they're white guys?

    Statler: Well, do you remember the movie Gloria (1980) starring Gena Rowlands?

    Waldorf: Loved it!

    Statler: Remember the little kid?

    Waldorf: Do I, he stole the show.

    S: Then you'll remember the scene in which he a Gloria Swanson (Gena Rowland) were trying to get a hotel room as a place to hide from the mobsters.

    W: Do I? Hey, I think I know where you're going. Is it that little boy's line?

    S: Bingo Baby! That little boy said a line I'll never forget. Let me set it up. They approach the desk clerk, he says, "Yes Miss?". The clerk had given her a questionable look (like she was a ho looking for a 3 hour hotel) so she replies "I'm with a kid". The clerk shoots back "I realize that, but we haven't any space". "We don't want space", snaps Gloria, "we want a damn room!". The clerk continues "Do you have a reservation? I'm sorry, there isn't any room". Then the little six year old kid breaks in "Lets get out of here now! Fu*k! He don't know the score. He's sees a dame like you and a guy like me, he don't know."

    Waldorf: Great freakin' line. So, white folks act like 6 year old fools?

    Stadler: No, not exactly. Basically, what I'm suggesting is most whites just don't know.

    Waldorf: Know what?

    Stadler: Well, you'd have to ask Andrea Seewood for a deeper explanation, but they simply can't get with anything "black"... and, have never walked in our shoes. So how in the hell can they remove their "whiteness" long enough to fairly judge a Spike Lee film?

    Waldorf: Hmmm... I do believe you have a point.

    Statler: And who in the right mind (or white mind) would imply that Malcolm X, Clockers, Inside Man, Get On The Bus, Jungle Fever, Mo' Better Blues, School Daze and Do The Right Thing were not quality films?

    Waldorf: Well, I don't know who, but I loved all of them.

    Statler: Exactly! You're a black man and those films resonated with your soul. But white folks don't know.

    Waldorf: Pssst, Stat, don't look now but that hater mob down there includes a few black folks.

    Statler: Please, spare me, I already know. There's always a few frustrated wannabe black filmmakers and garden variety haters who believes their stairway to heaven will be strengthened by mimicking the ways of white folks.

    Waldorf: Hold up now, what wrong with critical feedback?

    Statler: Critical feedback?!

    Waldorf: Yeah, you know, they're analyzing Spike's films and offering their opinions on them.

    Statler: Game-game-game, don't be nobodies fool, read their "opinions" and then tell me if you'd consider that hater juice - a critical analysis?

    Waldorf: Damn Mr. Angry Black Man...

    Statler: My name is Mr. Black Statler

    Waldorf: Okay blackie, what's your take away from the chatter below?

    Statler: Well, in short, I can appreciate the comments from Dave's Deluxe and Daryl. And especially Introspective Man, his comment showed the mind of a sensible and wise man.

    Waldorf: Okay, I guess I'll leave it right there. But wait, what did you think about Steve McQueen's casting call. You know, that one in which he's looking for a brotha who doesn't look like a brotha.

    Statler: WTF!?

    Waldorf: I know, but what do you think about the ambiguous negro thang?

    Statler: What do I think? I think you don't want me to go there and it's time for you to take another nap.

    Waldorf: Wait, one more question. How ya liking the author of this post.

    Statler: Who, Zeba? Oh, she's cool, she gave Spike respect. Now go to sleep.

    Waldorf: Night-Night.

    Statler: Good night and don't let the bed bugs bite.

    ** Mr. Black Statler and his buddy, Mr. Black Waldorf nod off once again**

  • stp | June 30, 2014 12:33 PM

    Carey Carey STFU!

  • Carl | June 26, 2014 12:58 AMReply

    "What the hell happened to you man? Your ass used to be beautiful!" -- Sam Jackson (Jackie Brown)

  • Man-Over-Bored | June 26, 2014 12:22 AMReply

    (In my best elderly-man-voice) "Kids, I remember back when Spike Lee was a relevant filmmaker..."

  • Mark & Darla | June 25, 2014 10:37 PMReply

    Does anyone really know who Spike Lee is making movies for lately? Maybe the zombie in the chair in the corner might know.

  • Daryl | June 25, 2014 8:38 PMReply

    I can't wait to see the movie, especially reading a little bit of the reviews and hearing about people walking out on the movie the first hour. This means this is a very a personal movie even if it is a remake. Filmmakers making personal films are my favorite films because it means they are not trying to kiss the simple minded audience butt who only like bs formula studio movies. You look at the reviews even the people that don't like it says it can't be dismissed, it's going to be one of those movies that divides critics with strong opinions from both sides.

  • thinkagain | June 25, 2014 11:29 PM

    Sorry Daryl. I saw the movie. And it's painfully bad. Has nothing to do with commercial or formulaic film sensibilities. It's just a mess.

  • Dave's Deluxe | June 25, 2014 7:38 PMReply

    Spike is an exceptional producer; his documentaries are stellar. When he presents the reality and fact, he can do no wrong. He is a mover-shaker with a killer work ethic.

    Spike is not, however, a very good visual narrative storyteller.

  • JTC | June 25, 2014 7:53 PM

    Actually if you look at his early work, that is one of his strengths. The actual storytelling can be a little bit hit or miss for me.

  • Introspective Man | June 25, 2014 7:13 PMReply

    Thank you for a very insightful, pointed and contextual film review. I think it has to be said that Spike Lee, at his core, has always been an art house filmmaker. This is both his strength and his weakness. He always creates unconventional and interesting work (even in his failures). He explores a lot of ideas within a single film, that are compelling and complex enough to be to inspire many different films. At the same time, he is not to be bothered with telling a clear narrative or making films easily accessible for a broad audience. Maybe he doesn't even care about that? The point is, we as an audience who were so invigorated and emboldened by Spike Lee's films of the past, may be placing an expectation on his work that doesn't align with the creative sensibility expressed in his work. Ultimately, we just want his films to be good. But when you go to see a Spike Lee movie, know this: you are going to see an arthouse film.

  • urbanauteur | June 26, 2014 11:56 AM

    @INTROSPECTIVE MAN, I Totally Agree!!! with your analysis, Spike Lee follows the same trajectory as those art house auteurs like: lars von trier-sam fuller-takashi miike-jean luc godard and most definately a more technically astute>Francois Truffalt! <that's who spike lee really personifies, not Marty Scorsese he tries to mimic IMHO.

  • Alias | June 26, 2014 12:11 AM

    @INTROSPECTIVE MAN: What a thorough, well-thought out analysis of Spike's career in film. I would add that as an artist, Spike, obviously, has sought to stretch his wings and try other things (the experimental you speak of). And his early work seems to have set the audience up with an expectation that he'd continue to make movies with a similar thread or theme running through them that the likes of "School Daze," "Mo Better Blues," "She's Gotta Have It" and "Jungle Fever" all have. Which is, namely, themes around middle class black life in America. It's not fair -- for Spike -- but a theory and perception, nonetheless.

  • ALP | June 25, 2014 6:25 PMReply

    The title of this piece could be applied to every Spike Lee movie except "Do The Right Thing".

  • ALP | June 25, 2014 7:55 PM

    Perhaps Malcom X was "not bad" (largely due to the on-screen charisma of Denzel), but in my opinion it could still fall comfortably into the title above.

  • JTC | June 25, 2014 7:50 PM

    Malcolm X was the real deal.

  • ALP | June 25, 2014 6:54 PM

    Perhaps Inside Man was "not bad" (largely due to the on-screen charisma of Denzel), but in my opinion it could still fall comfortably into the title above.

  • Turner | June 25, 2014 6:39 PM

    Inside Man was decent.

  • Turner | June 25, 2014 6:22 PMReply

    Spike can"t complain about studio interference on this one. His muse done packed up and left town.

  • chris | June 25, 2014 5:15 PMReply

    Yet another awful Spike Lee joint that nobody will see. What a surprise.

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