With Broader Release & $318,000 Box Office So Far, YOUR Thoughts On 'Red Hook Summer'

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by Tambay A. Obenson
September 20, 2012 12:29 PM
15 Comments
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I thought we'd go silent on Spike Lee's Red Hook Summer until more of you had seen it, since we've had little conversation about it (except for me sharing my own thoughts, and a few of you responding, although most of those responses were from folks who hadn't seen the film yet).

So now that it's been out for about 1 1/2 months (although I believe it continues to expand), and many more of you have seen it, what are your thoughts?

As of last weekend, it's managed just over $300,000 at the box office, which may not seem like very much; but I should note that it's been in limited release, with its widest release being 41 screens.

I'm actually surprised at how little chatter there's been about it, since it's release - especially within the black blogosphere, and film critics/journalists. As far as I know, none of the most prominent black film critics reviewed/critiqued it - not Armond White, not Wesley Morris, not Elvis Mitchell. I don't believe Lisa Kennedy at the Denver Post reviewed it either.

Of course I found that all very odd. I could be wrong, so if you have links to reviews from any of these writers, and others, feel free to post. 

Regardless, I'm most interested in what you folks thought of it. You know what I thought (in short, I didn't care for it); and I won't rehash. What did you you think?

Discuss...

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15 Comments

  • prof | September 21, 2012 12:15 AMReply

    I call it "shock and awe" cinema (you can use that Tambay). The great spike lee is guilty of the same thing that a lot of the reality TV producers are guilty of...bad writing, very inexpensive actors, inexperienced actors, etc. Sounds like the formula for a horror movie as well...those are usually hit or miss too. Let's turn a profit...that's entertainment. I need a hit and I'm going to leverage my name and get me a cool million. I don't think so...HBO didn't want it...already gave him a ton of $$$. Yup, he's bklyn hustler, no doubt. But Spike has been getting high of his own supply for a long while. Uh-oh, he broke one of the 10 crack commandments. BTW, did you see his interview on Bossip? WTF! Very wierd. He claims he gave Q-tip the line "Bonita Applebaum, you gotta put me on" and Q-tip wrote the song? But I thought you were here to promote "RHS"? from what I've been seeing and hearing he's been hustling backwards for a while. We shouldn't expect TAMBAY to write what's real about Spike's behavior or RHS...to close to home.

  • artbizzy | September 21, 2012 1:16 AM

    @PROF People will always go see Spike Lee's films. They may not come in droves like they used to because times are different and he's changed and we've all changed but he will always have a following. I loved his rant at Sundance. He was speaking truth to power about Hollywood. So you can kiss his grits cuz Spike don't give a f***!

  • Say wha | September 21, 2012 12:54 AM

    How are you going to call it, and in the comment earlier, you said you hadn't seen it yet? If you actually do get a chance to see the film, you will find that there really isn't that much shock and awe within it. I mean can you blame him for using his name to get focus around a film he made to make back money he spent? Who wouldn't? I think some people are tight because they don't have the opportunities or attention that Spike has in the industry despite his rants and ups and downs in some of his films. Spike will still be in the game no matter what because he continues to put in work and his mark in cinema is forever permanent! He's not going nowhere. Learn from it and stop trying to attack his character. Tambay clearly asked for thoughts on the film, not what you thought of a rant that happened many months ago. No such thing as hustling backwards. That may explain your narrow disposition and inability to understand the bigger picture.

  • Blah, Blah | September 21, 2012 12:02 AMReply

    Okay, I saw the film over the weekend and this is my interpretation: The film is a critique on the black community, particularly the lack of leadership, which leaves our community vulnerable to invasion (gentrification) by outside entities. The current black leadership is represented by the Deacon and the other old guy, who gets drunk in the basement (sorry I can't remember folks names and I am too lazy to google it right now but stay with me here).

    In one scene, the thug/blood leader, talks about how both the Deacon and the drunk, who was revealed to have been an activist, were respectable leaders back in his day. Now all they do is get drunk (like the drunk) or ramble on endlessly about nonsense that they don't follow themselves (like the Deacon). Without the leaders to guide the community, folks like the thug, who leads a gang take over and rules by fear. The young boy visiting from Atlanta also speaks to the lost of reverence and appreciation the newer generation has for the community.
    He doesn't want to hear his grandfather/Deacon's old stories. He doesn't care about our old spiritual ways. He is disillusioned, probably because of his private school, gated community upbringing. And his iTablet is symbolic of him being an outsider, which is why he can only "see," or relate to this world through what he sees on it.

    If I am right in my analysis, I would say that the film definitely has some layers to it. However, the execution of the film, wasn't all that great.

  • Prof | September 20, 2012 10:23 PMReply

    without having seen the film it sounds eerily similar to a infinitely better film currently on the festival circuit entitled "Wolf" by Ya'ke Smith. Even the photo used in this post is similar to a scene in that movie. I saw a trailer for "Red Hook Summer" and the line was..."your not in Atlanta anymore, this is Brooklyn"...LOL. it should've been the other way around. Atlanta is no joke and Bklyn ain't what it use to be (and that's a good and bad thing). Spike's tantrum at Sundance was very embarrassing and I was very disappointed that Tambay didn't mention it in his review/post? A grown Morehouse man, a millionaire 20x over, having a fit and cussing in front of children he has taken advantage of. Pathetic. I don't have high journalism expectations from your blog Tambay, but at least keep it real.

  • Say wha | September 20, 2012 10:52 PM

    Some parts of Brookyn ain't what it used to be because it's worse...with gentrification some areas don't appear to be a threat..but there are parts of Brooklyn that no one will even film in. I don't think Tambay needs to mention Spike's rant in his post. We know it exists and it doesn't add or take away from what is already in the can-edited-finished. Take shots at Spike's character all you want, but his film is still screening, getting dstribution, etc. Spike is a true hustler, and he can't be stopped. His film was ok, could have been ALOT better but that's not stopping him. That's that Brooklyn ish. GET ON IT

  • Mark & Darla | September 20, 2012 10:15 PMReply

    Tambay I was waiting for you to post this. It was repulsive the way (black and white movie critics), black journalists and bloggers gave Spike a consideration on 'Red Hook Summer'
    knowing full well his movie was garbage. Rotten Tomatoes site was unbelievable, there were and still are barely any negative comments on that site. Weeks before critics and bloggers fervently pass on Tyler 'Witness Protection' on the same site. Spike fans couldn't bring themselves to ridicule his work (because in their mind Spike must always exhibit professionalism above Tyler in the public eyes. You fans did Spike a disservice by not holding him up to standard.

  • ALM | September 20, 2012 9:06 PMReply

    Spike did an amazing job with the movie with a budget of less than $1 million. I attended a screening that Spike himself attended. The movie is marketed as a feel good, coming of age movie about a young boy going to visit his grandfather in the Northeast. In reality, the marketed statement is only a fraction of the film. Honestly, the movie was rough and intense. So much so, that I had to step out for about 5 minutes. The scene at the church in which the grandfather is confronted is extremely INTENSE and comes from no where. Then Spike goes into TMI territory in explaining the back story. The audience could have filled in the blanks. After seeing the film, I remember calling a couple of my family members and saying that Spike "definitely feels some kind of way about the church". There were also times in which the young man playing the grand son delivered lines as if he was reading the lines.

  • ALM | September 20, 2012 9:09 PM

    Let me clarify. I have VERY mixed feelings about the film overall, but a lot was done with less than a $1 million budget.

  • Lovesfilmnmusic | September 20, 2012 3:54 PMReply

    I am a cinephile. I have loved Spike since the 80's. I have NEVER given up on a film. But for the first time ever, I left the theater and requested a refund. The acting was so atrocious, I could not see sitting in that theater longer than the 30 minutes I was there.

    I hope this was a one-off. Maybe he was intentionally making a horrible film in the vain of TP to tap into his audience. I can't fathom how he let this movie get this far.

    I can definitely see arrogance as a factor. I didn't like Miracle at St. Anna because alot of it seemed gratuitous and masterbatory.

    Just like Scorcese he is unable to edit himself. I SERIOUSLY hope that the old Spike is the one making Oldboy because it's one of my favorite films and I will be disgusted, embarrased and done with him if he fucks it up.

  • Dankwa Brooks | September 20, 2012 2:46 PMReply

    Wow I like it a lot better than a lot of people here and elsewhere. I too have been reading about the film since it was in production and I'll admit I took ALL of that into consideration. Spike didn't write RHS by himself so any problems you may have with the script does not rest solely on Spike's shoulders. I might've agreed with a lot of the criticism if not for the powerful Third Act (the Spike dolley shot and the iPad confessional. Powerful stuff man) Also let me be clear I do not bow to the altar of Spike, if I didn't like it I probably wouldn't have said anything. My real name on everything I post yo!

  • No | September 20, 2012 1:24 PMReply

    I saw the film and didn't like it. Oh, I enjoyed the young girl who befriended the petulant, upsouth grandson (who wasn't very good). Liked some of the church scenes (cuz, the Black Church is basically black theater). I always love the way that Spike films black folks, but it was his customary beating you over the head, and get this [SPOILER ALERT!!!]: What parent in his or her right mind would send his or her child to spend the summer with a known pedophile? So, this was bad Spike Lee.

  • Shawn | September 20, 2012 1:20 PMReply

    I love Spike! I grew up on his films and have been deeply inspired by his work throughout the years. When I heard of "Red Hook Summer," I was excited. I'd followed the film since before it had even gone into production. After it was screened at Sundance, I heard that there were issues with the film and that it was being re-cut. I tried not to read too much about it because I didn't want to read any spoilers or become biased by the opinions of others. All that to say, I was deeply disappointed with the film. It's flawed from top to bottom on so many levels. No disrespect to the child actors, but they their performances were weak at best. There was nothing natural about the way they delivered their lines. Surely, Spike could've found some better actors. The monologues by Deacon Zee were too long and meant nothing. It was just a bunch of rambling. Spike did a great job at capturing the nuances of a small black church. However, there were too many unnecessary church scenes and many of them dragged on for too long. The film's biggest flaw was that there was no logic that justified the mother taking her well-behaved son from the comfort of suburban life to live with her father who she can barely stand to see or talk to and most importantly, is a known child molester. Not to mention, the type neighborhood she sent him to. It wasn't like he was a troubled youth who was being sent to his grandfather for some "straightening out" or that she had issues in her life that forced her to send him there. It made no sense. There seemed to be no logical reason. These easily-fixed flaws led me to believe that either no one around had the guts to keep it real with Spike or someone did and he was (maybe) too arrogant or prideful to use the feedback of others because I refuse to believe that no one on his team didn't notice these very obvious flaws. Still love Spike. I will probably be just as excited for his next film. I just hope it's done right next time.

  • JB | September 20, 2012 12:38 PMReply

    Top to bottom the film is a travesty. Clark Peters is the only saving grace and even he grows tiresome. I was at a screening where Spike gave a Q&A afterwards. It was embarrassing. His arrogance was only outmatched by his delusions of profundity. The emporer is butt ass naked.

  • JakeMorgan | September 20, 2012 1:33 PM

    Very true. Unfortunately Spike is a bit past his prime. The film was very hard to watch and I'm sure it would have been very difficult to participate in a Q&A after screening such a disaster. I was pretty much done with Lee films after Miracle at St. Anna, but that's just me.

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