Still of Spike Lee in Red Hook Summer
Red Hook Summer
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Spike Lee
Acclaimed director Spike Lee came to the 2012 Sundance Film Festival to present his latest, studio-free feature film, but somewhere down the independent road, Lee lost his professional footing and delivers a slapped together storyline that is as absurd as it is unhinged. A spoiled teenage vegan from Atlanta, who goes by the alias Flik (Jules Brown), is dropped off at the doorstep of his estranged preacher grandfather, Enoch (Clarke Peters), in New York so he can spend the summer receiving guidance at his local church, A Little Piece of Heaven. As Flik documents his experiences with his iPad 2 (It’s made very clear that’s the product he’s using on multiple occasions … when does the Apple product placement check clear?), he is constantly bombarded (and when I say “constantly” I mean NON-STOP) by Enoch and asked to bring Jesus into his life. Rather than accepting Enoch’s request, Flik documents his surroundings by meeting the residents of Red Hook, Brooklyn including a wacky alcoholic (Thomas Jefferson Byrd), a drug-dealing gangster (Nate Parker) and a mouthy (a.k.a. irritating) girl named Chazz (Toni Lysaith) (Lee even reprises his pizza-delivery character Mookie from “Do the Right Thing”), but when a devastating secret is unearthed, the residents of Red Hook may never be the same again. When Peters is given more than five seconds to stop yelling “Jee-sus!” at everyone on screen, he actually conveys a powerful presence, but those sought after times are few and very far between. Peters also brings authority to his sermons, but Lee allows these scenes to go on far too long, which ultimate diminishes their muscle in the end. As we observe a depressed Flik in his new surroundings, you’d think we’d feel bad for the youngster who only wanted to enjoy his summer vacation, but his snot-nose attitude and disregard for others' personal property only makes his character that much more obnoxious. I won’t be excessively cruel and ruin the surprise ending, but after it's unveiled, Lee’s entire storyline is called into question, since no loving mother in her right mind would ever put her child into the volatile situation. Sorry, Lee, but it may be time to go knock on the studios’ doors and ask if you can be friends again.
Time: 3:00 pm Date: 1/28/2012 Venue: Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center