have to give Spike some props to start
this review. Of the major independent
directors of today he is turning into
the most prolific. I didn't hear much
about this film until right before it
came out. How many years has it been since
Tarantino made JACKIE BROWN? Spike has
made three or more movies since then.
Not all great films, but interesting social
commentary. It was only fitting that I
saw this film on Election Day.
is one of those movies that needs to marinate
a little in the head, but I'm gonna write
this on the gut. This may get a bit unP.C.
, but that reflects the subject matter.
story is relatively simple. Damon Wayans
plays the role of Pierre Delacroix. That
name is not the only thing that's bullshit
about him. He is the only black writer
on a major network TV writing staff. Rapaport
is the young wannabe-black executive who
entrusts his only black writer with the
responsibility of creating the new, hip
black TV program. Rapaport is great as
a character he has played in a number
of films—the white guy who desperately
wants to be down, trying to live an experience
that is completely alien to him. He doesn't
want the bullshit middle-class sitcoms,
he wants ghetto. The problem is Delacroix
has had a bug up his ass his entire life,
trying to make himself white. To escape
from the ghetto, kind of like what TV
is. That was sounding way too philosophical.
Delacroix's brainstorm is to turn two
black street performers (Glover and Davidson)
into black-faced vaudeville performers.
There's a lot of stuff to dig into here,
but I'll save that for the college professors.
Racey (literally) issues for primetime
TV. He confides to his assistant (Pinkett
Smith) that this is his plan to get fired
from his job. I've seen where this goes.
course the show becomes a hit. Resurrecting
slave mentality plays great on white-dominated
primetime TV. The rest of the movie is
the backlash against the show, culminating
into an act of black-on-black violence.
first third of this movie was very funny.
The social commentary during the creation
of the show is right on. Things started
to change once the show went on air. We
watch two black men in burnt-cork faces
make fools of themselves in front of the
live studio audience. It got very hard
to watch. I wanted to see something different,
but I knew how this story was going to
end. By the end I was shell-shocked from
all the images of early post-slavery.
Spike may disagree, but I would like to
believe that most people have risen above
usual this Spike film has a blazing soundtrack.
Lots of Stevie Wonder with some contemporary
rap thrown in. Several rappers also make
appearances in the film as members of
the Mau Maus, a crew of militant rappers.
The poet Mums is also a member of the
group. The Mau Maus are like the rest
of the movie, funny until the show gets
think people need to see this movie. Not
because it is great, but because of the
topics raised. This is a film the black
community should see, but I don't think
it's going to reach that audience. Instead
I predict it turns into an arthouse film
that mostly Spike Lee fans and college
students will see. Spike is making films
about topics textbooks don't teach, and
you don't learn racism from books. I've
seen better Spike Lee movies. And please
Spike, next time you make a movie, shoot
it on film.