1.21.2016 Chiraq

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In a lot of ways this reminds me of Bamboozled, my favorite Spike Lee movie. This is again a big messy film that alternates between overly earnest political plea and biting satire. But this one just doesn’t work as well for me. It is certainly interesting, but maybe least of so for its political message. Instead I was drawn to the stylization, to the playful experimentation, to the uncomfortable tensions between the high art influences and the seemingly working class subject matter. I say seemingly because this was one of the problems. In earlier films of his I think he gets away with some things because he often feels included in his criticism, but here I often get a figure pointing vibe, and sometimes even a Bill Cosby pull up your pants vibe. The attempts at being “real” can sometimes come off as an old man imaging what the kids do. It is as its best the further down the rabbit hole it gets, the same as Bamboozled, where there was so many layers of contradiction that you were left with a dizzy image of just how complex these issues are. Here though he never fully lets go, never allows his preaching to be completely undermined. This may make for better political messaging, though it is hard to argue that for this film, but it certainly doesn’t make for great art.