Cruel Summer: Spike Lee Takes Us Back To BK
Suffering through the extreme heatwave suffocating the east coast the last few weeks felt as if New York City was trapped in Spike Lee’s classic 1989 film Do The Right Thing. The Oscar-nominated movie centered around Brooklyn resident Mookie and a range of other personalities trying to survive both the hottest day in New York in years and the racial tension festering in their Bed-Stuy neighborhood. Well, this August an all grown up Mookie’s back in Red Hook Summer, the fifth installment in Spike’s Chronicles of Brooklyn film series. But Spike wants the world to know that Red Hook Summer is “not a muthafucking sequel.”
In fact, Mookie isn’t even the main character in Red Hook. This time Spike tells his story through the eyes of 13 year old Fik Royale. Fik (Jules Brown) is uprooted from his middle class Atlanta lifestyle and sent to the Red Hook projects of Brooklyn to spend the summer with his deeply religious grandfather Bishop Enoch Rouse played by Clarke Peters. Like Spike’s previous Brooklyn tales She’s Gotta Have It, Do The Right Thing, Crooklyn, & Clockers, his latest film addresses the social, political, and economic issues that confront the African-American community in Brooklyn. Red Hook Summer also focuses on a new area of the black experience that Spike had yet to explore; religion.
I think this film could work on the levels She Gotta Have It worked. It appealed to black audiences and played art houses too.
Spike has said that his turn towards a faith-based movie wasn’t an attempt to specifically target the church going black crowd that have made religious themed movies like those by Tyler Perry box office successes. Spike had a very public feud with Perry about the quality of Perry’s movies, and he wants it to be clear that Red Hook Summer is an art film that’s still capable of appealing to a large body of theatergoers.
“I don’t think there’s one specific audience for this. I think this film could work on the levels She Gotta Have It worked. It appealed to black audiences and played art houses too,” Spike told The Daily Beast in January.
Spike also stated he felt the only way a film about a black teenager’s self-discovery could be made is by ignoring the Hollywood gatekeepers. Spike has been very vocal in his criticism 0f the studio system’s lack of interest in telling authentic African-American stories, so he avoided the system altogether and financed the project himself. Using his New York University film students as part of the crew, Spike and his co-writer/co-producer James McBride completed the project in just 19 days of shooting with a budget under $1 million. The film will be independently distributed for theatrical release by Spike’s 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks in partnership with Variance Films.
Red Hook Summer will be released in select New York City theaters August 10.
Red Hook Summer will be released in select cities beginning August 24.
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Check out the trailer for Red Hook Summer:
all photos courtesy of imdb.com