His movies examine race relations, urban crime and youth and have influenced an entire generation. Swide's choice of 5 movies by him that is unforgettable....
It is almost impossible to pick 5 movies out of the amount of good cinema Spike Lee is responsible for, but these are Swide's must-sees if you really want to get to know Spike Lee’s view of the world.
1.Do The Right Thing (1989)
One of his first films, ‘Do The Right Thing’ is about one of the most sacred themes to Spike Lee, social class and racial tension. The pressure builds in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn until violence explodes. The movie is visually stunning and features star actors such as Danny Aiello and John Turturro.
2. Jungle Fever (1991)
Another study of society and racial issues: a married black architect is having an affair with a white Italian secretary, and his friends don't react well to it because of the racial difference. With Anthony Quinn and Halle Berry, the movie has been rated (like most of Lee movies) for "sensuality, strong language, drug content and violence", which gives us a measure of how Mr. Lee...doesn't have any hang-ups - in a positive way - when comes to telling a story.
3. Clockers (1995)
Often overlooked, this thriller is about the battle between rival drug gangs and the police. The movie was originally supposed to be directed by Martin Scorsese with Robert De Niro among the actors, but when he chose to direct ‘Casino’ instead, he asked Lee to take charge.
4. Malcom X (1992)
There is no other way to describe this movie: it's a biopic of the Black Nationalist Leader (played by Denzel Washington), one of the most emblematic symbol of our age. At the same time, though, it is much more: it is a prism through which Lee takes once again the chance to examine the racial issues and their interaction through different societies.
5. 25th hour (2002)
Edward Norton is a convicted New York drug dealer who re-evaluates his life in the 24 hours before going to jail for his seven-year sentence. With a stunning performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman, the movie is touching and succeeds in putting the viewer into the protagonist's perspective although the movie does not have a plot or a real ending. Most of all, it questions how we live each day of our life.
But Spike Lee hasn't started to surprise us yet. The sequel to ‘Inside Man’ (2006) has been announced but is not yet in pre-production, whereas ‘Old Boy’ is. This year ‘Red Hook Summer’ has been released and in 2011 he directed a film for television, ‘Da Brick’. Last but not least at all, the 69th Venice Film Festival is heaving right now with special guests and awards and Spike Lee among them.
Having presented, out of competition, his Michael Jackson documentary, ‘Bad 25’ (2012), yesterday (August 31st) has received the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker 2012 award, awarded to who brought innovation to contemporary cinema.
Spike Lee and family dressed in Dolce&Gabbana on Venice Film Festival's red carpet
Written by: Elisa della Barba