Note: This feature originally ran in 2017. His next feature, Da 5 Bloods, premieres Friday, June 12th on Netflix.
Ever felt overwhelmed by a director’s extensive IMDB page? In Five Films is here to help, offering a crash course and entry point into even the most daunting of filmographies. This is your first step toward fandom. Take it.
Spike Lee probably doesn’t need your praise or condemnation. He’s been fighting to make the art that he wants to make for the last 30 years. Recently, he’s used Greek tragedy and sex strikes as a means of deconstructing the dire state of gun violence in Chicago (Chi-Raq). Who has the nerve to make a film like that? Then again, who would want to draw parallels between modern “urban” television and minstrelsy? Who slams the lucrative artifice of college basketball while reveling in its Americana? Who else but Lee could make bona fide masterpieces out of hot-headed racial tension, the dangerous life of Malcolm X, and the misery of New York right after 9/11?
Lee. And Lee’s always gonna have it, his way, for mostly better, and occasionally worse. He doesn’t need us to talk about him, but his films have a power to them that demands discourse and constant conversations. That’s why it’s always worth discussing 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks and what the Bed-Stuy filmmaker is all about. No Knicks jokes today. No courting controversy, either. We’re all for just appreciating dolly glides and Denzel and dynamite filmmaking here.
With his latest drama Da 5 Bloods about to drop on Netflix, we’re looking back at five of the most definitive films in Lee’s filmography. In Five Films aims to remember, evaluate, and reconsider five distinct and key works (not always the best) in the career of a prolific filmmaker. And at 60-plus diverse directorial credits, Spike Lee’s got a whole lot of game.
Senior Staff Writer