Sunday, February 15, 2009
So I just watched the NBA all star game/weekend for the past few days and obviously I saw Spike Lee in the audience. This got me thinking- Spike Lee's movies are pretty good, huh? Everyone talks about his earlier stuff (School Daze, Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, etc.) , but I feel like Spike deserves some more props for his recent efforts. 2006's Inside Man saw Spike directing big league actors such as Denzel and Clive Owen in what, for my money, was the best heist movie in recent memory. Sure, it was a little "Dog Day Afternoon"-y, but I liked the way Spike brought the NY vibe to the classic bank heist, and the ending/subplot was definitely cool too.
Earlier today, I watched Spike's last movie, "Miracle at St. Anna", which was WIDELY trashed by critics.Admittedly, "St. Anna" is ambitious in its efforts, as its a 2.5 hr+ WWII epic, but I was pleasantly surprised, especially after reading dozens of reviews trashing it as meandering junk with no narrative. The film is framed as a murder mystery, but is really the story of a group of four young African-American soldiers who are trapped behind enemy lines in WWII Italy. The story itself is very well written, and brings in many ideas, from racial and sexual tensions to religion and supernatural elements. This, though, is what I thought got Spike into trouble with critics. St. Anna begins as a tightly woven knot which quickly unravels, ending with a single thread. Many saw this as a downfall, but to me, its this narrative style that really sets St. Anna part from not only other WWII films, but even other Spike Lee films. Spike paces the film wonderfully, slowly maneuvering each piece of plot one from the central knot, until only one remains. This process is robust, however, as the film weighs in at a hefty 160 minutes- another reason why it was trashed by critics. In the end, though, maybe it's just my pre-existing interests in some of the facets of this movie, but I liked it. Spike does a great job of spinning the traditional war movie into a suspensful and enlightening film- definitely worth watching if you get a chance.
Posted by Matt at 11:18 PM