Spike Lee goes back to his hometown of Brooklyn with RED HOOK SUMMER. The film, which opens at Lamar this Friday (9/7), tells the story of Flik (newcomer Jules Brown), a young boy who is forced to spend the summer with his grandfather Enoch (Clarke Peters). Enoch is a very strict, old school preacher who has lived in the film’s titular neighborhood his whole life. When Flik arrives he wants to espouse on him life lessons about being a man and give religious guidance so Flik can let the Lord into his heart. Flik, on the other hand, just wants a normal summer.
Lee makes the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook come alive with its mix of electic residents such like he did in DO THE RIGHT THING, SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT, and CROOKLYN much earlier in his career. It eventually becomes a character in itself.
RED HOOK SUMMER has many similarities to his earlier works. Like those films Lee’s newest effort is loose in structure, which allows its characters to move outside the realm of cinematic stereotypes and become something more original, more real. This is especially true for Enoch as Clarke Peters delivers a powerful and undeniably memorable performance as Flik’s grandfather. It’s pacing is also closer to the fluidness of real life and not the tightly controlled structure of a Hollywood film.
Spike Lee has become one of the most discussed and polarizing American filmmakers of his generation. Even if you don’t like his films you have to admit he’s always putting something new, interesting and provocative on the screen. Going back to Brooklyn may make RED HOOK SUMMER look like Lee’s earlier work, but it’s his filmmaking that makes it feel that way, too.
Here's what critics are saying about RED HOOK SUMMER:
“The new drama is a return to the kind of corner-chat indie cinema Lee revolutionized, with an emphasis on a towering performance by The Wire’s Clarke Peters.” –Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
“Perhaps the most notable feature of this film is something relatively new to the director’s oeuvre: patience. Red Hook Summer may evoke comparisons to earlier Lee joints like Do the Right Thing, She’s Gotta Have It!, or Crooklyn, but it’s clearly something more contemplative, even austere.” –Bilige Ebiri, New York Magazine
“No one accustomed to the easy solutions and monochrome characters of mainstream Hollywood is going to understand what Lee's after with Red Hook Summer. But there is more cinematic energy, more artistic truth, more anger, more tenderness and more love in this movie than in any five recent titles you can name.” –Ray Greene, Box Office Magazine