Spike Lee – Chi-Raq (2015)

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It may not take much to make Spike Lee angry, but there’s no denying he gives us his reasons and then some in “Chi-Raq,” a sprawling, blistering state-of-the-union address that presents Chicago’s South Side as a cesspool of black-on-black violence, gang warfare, gun worship and macho misogyny, ruled by unbreakable cycles of poverty and oppression. All that social outrage clearly demanded similarly outsized treatment, and Lee and co-writer Kevin Willmott (“CSA: The Confederate States of America”) have found a remarkably accommodating vessel in Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata,” whose tale of an ancient Greek heroine leading an anti-war sex strike has been updated here as an alternately soulful and scalding, playful and deadly serious 21st-century oratorio. Blunt, didactic and stronger on conceptual audacity than dramatic coherence, this is still the most vital, lived-in work in some time from a filmmaker who has never shied away from speaking his mind or irritating his ideological foes, as he seems destined to do again with this attention-grabbing first feature to be released by Amazon Studios. (Via Variety, by Justin Chang) Continue reading