Hey gang, Valkor here. Later this year a Spike Lee directed remake of now Korean film classic "Oldboy" based on the popular manga by Garon Tsuchiya, will hit the big screen. Like it or not it's on it's on the way and trutheshly, I was a bit put off to the idea of Spike directing a remake of a film that's already awesome - why try and retell it? And what about that controversial ending? Can Spike really pull it off? Well after recently watching his latest flick "Red Hook Summer"… yes, yes I do believe he can.
If you don't already know, Red Hook Summer is somewhat of a sequel to Spike Lee's 1989 hit "Do The Right Thing". In this film, Spike reprises his role as Mookie and still works at Sal's Pizza, but he ain't center stage this time around. The focus is on Silas aka Flik (Jules Brown) who is sent up from Atlanta to stay with his grandfather Bishop Enoch (Clarke Peters) for the summer. As happy as Enoch is to have Flik stay with him, the feeling isn't mutual. Flik is pissed that he had to leave his cushy spot in Atlanta to come up north to do work, not get to eat the food he likes, no sweets, and listen to his grandfather preach for days. The only saving grace he has is his iPad 2 (and he makes sure everyone knows it's exactly that - an iPad 2) and also meeting up with Chazz (Toni Lysaith). And even then all they ever do is argue. Much of the film follows the daily lives of both grandfather and grandson as they tour the town, meet with the congregation, meeting the local thug, sit in on a sermon or two, and of course the goings on between Flik and Chazz. Things come to a head when a secret is revealed – right in the midst of a sermon and consequences will never be the same.
When I first heard about Spike's new film, I was intrigued, especially with the connection to "Do the Right Thing", which ranks as one of my favorite films of all time. And my interest in Red Hook Summer piqued when I heard about the ending (not exactly what happened, only that it would be a shocker). So going in, I was excited and thrilled by it all and by the end… well, read on.
For that first hour, I really dug Red Hook. It's the whole community thing, hangin in the church, following Flik and Chazz around, and listening to Enoch preach on and off the pulpit, brought on a wave of heavy nostalgia. I could really connect with the film as it took me back to the days when I was just a wee lad growing up in the 'hood. And I could totally connect with Flik as I never liked being in places I really didn't wanna be. Who wants to stay with a relative away from all your stuff? In short, it feels really, really real to me. As far as the story goes, well there isn't much of a story per say; Red Hook Summer was shot guerilla style, so the camera follows the actors around as they spout there lines. It never really feels like they're telling a story, it's more like you watching these instances/events unfold (something like a reality show, with less cheese). Again, it feels real to me and I understand what the characters are going through. I get what Spike is doing and I totally dig it. Now the high point, which takes places after that one hour mark, weighs heavy and it sits with you till the end credits. Literally my jaw dropped, I couldn't believe it when it happened, but damn… just damn! While the acting is just OK, the only person who needs the highest praise would be Clarke Peters, who rocks the shit out of his role as Bishop Enoch. If the dude isn't a real bishop, then he should be because he knows how to spit hot fire. It's a shame he didn't get an Oscar nod for his performance and I hope beyond hope he's considered for next year now that the film is getting a much wider release. And this is what I loved most about the film – it's preachy, but it doesn't feel like it's preaching to you the viewer. And believe me I've sat through my share of religious films both growing up and those that have slipped through the cracks here at TOV. To me, Enoch's preaching's in Red Hook never felt like they were for me exactly, it's as if Enoch knows his audience is his grandson, the congregation and his community, but the words don't come across as being for the viewer. Now that's my own personal experience with the film and each person may or may not feel the same way, but that's how I felt about it. Overall, ya done good Spike. You done real good.
My only negative is that once you get hit with that climax, you're unsure how it effects the community overall because it really changes things and I kinda want to see the effects of how everyone takes this bit of news.
Red Hook Summer is an instant classic and you can find it on digital download (Netflix or Amazon Instant) and also DVD and Blu-Ray. It's worth picking up for the dedication, hard work and love that not only the cast brings, but what Spike Lee infuses into the film on the whole. I highly recommend it. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm going for the gold and giving Red Hook Summer a 5.