When his mom deposits him at the Red Hook housing project in Brooklyn to spend the summer with the grandfather he’s never met, young Flik may as well have landed on Mars. Fresh from his cushy life in Atlanta, he’s bored and friendless, and his strict grandfather, Enoch, a firebrand preacher, is bent on getting him to accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Only Chazz, the feisty girl from church, provides a diversion from the drudgery. As hot summer simmers and Sunday mornings brim with Enoch’s operatic sermons, things turn anything but dull as people’s conflicting agendas collide.
Playfully ironic, heightened, yet grounded, Spike Lee’s bold new movie returns him to his roots, where lovable, larger-than-life characters form the tinderbox of a tight-knit community. A story about the coexistence of altruism and corruption, Red Hook Summer toys with expectations, seducing us with the promise of moral and spiritual transcendence. Spike is back in the ’hood. –Sundance Film Festival
As a writer, director, actor, producer, author, and entrepreneur, Spike Lee has revolutionized the role of black talent in Hollywood, tearing away decades of stereotypes and marginalized portrayals to establish a new arena for Afro-American voices to be heard. His movies, a series of outspoken and provocative socio-political critiques informed by an unwavering commitment toward challenging cultural assumptions not only about race but also class and gender identity, both solidified his own standing as one of contemporary cinema’s most influential figures and furthered the careers of actors including Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, and Laurence Fishburne. Born Shelton Jackson Lee in Atlanta, GA, on March 20, 1957, he was raised in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. After attending Atlanta’s prestigious Morehouse College, returned to New York to make his first movie, 1977’s Last Hustle in Brooklyn, a portrait of the area’s Black and Puerto Rican communities… read more
It was like watching Lee trying to slap his film awake... really trying to get that old flare goin. And sometimes that old flare really did show. He still has some ingenuity and artistry up his sleeves for sure! And this was a quick, low budget, guerilla-made film (I read), so that should count for something. It may also account for other things. Its a rough and rushed, but enticing glimmer of the auteur working.
Peters gives a great performance, but nobody else really measures up. It may work as a portrait of the area, but the characters didn't click for me, especially Flik, whose ipad was as much a character as he was. There were suggestions of character that never appeared, and hints of Spike Lee's talent that never developed. A scandal that appears as if out of nowhere and feels a bit forced kept it from being successful.